OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

Erdington is my home. It’s where I have lived for more than 35 years, raised my children and where my husband opened his first business. So, I was incredibly proud to show Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities the brilliant work local people have been doing in our area.

We visited Witton Lakes Eco Hub in Perry Common to celebrate its 1st Anniversary. Lisa was absolutely amazed, and praised what she saw; local people coming together to work with our communities, and create a small paradise in the heart of Erdington.

We have many local community groups across Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale. They work day in, day out to improve our neighbourhoods, despite getting little help from the Government, who earlier this year rejected Erdington’s £11million Levelling-Up bid.

But how can the Government help? Whilst interest rates rise and local people face an annual mortgage payment increase of £1,900 this year, the Tory Government have been distracted by their on-going civil war.

The Privileges Committee found that Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament when he was Prime Minister, broke the rules, and was complicit in a campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the Committee. Instead of making his case to the people in his community, who put their trust in him, he chose to quit and run. The country now faces four more by-elections, costing taxpayers £100,000’s in a cost of living crisis.

Whilst the Tory soap opera continues, people in our community and across the country are desperate, and deserve a Prime Minister and a Government that they can trust, and who would always have their best interests at heart.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

(Ed’s Note: All monthly columns were written to be first published in the Erdington Local newspaper on 1 May)

April marked a special time for many people in our community as families celebrated Easter, Passover, and Eid. I hope everyone celebrating enjoyed the break and you were able to spend some valuable time with your family.

Whilst our community came together in celebration, the Government had other plans for our area. In early April, I learned that the Ministers decided to overturn the appeal for another betting shop on Erdington High Street – after Labour run Birmingham City Council rejected the original application. Words cannot describe my disappointment when I discovered that the Tory Government allowed the appeal, despite huge opposition from local people and businesses.

Ministers have chosen to back gambling bosses and ignore the wishes of local people. The decision will come as a blow for people in Erdington who have joined me in relentlessly campaigning to secure improvements for our local High Street. Sadly, this is yet another example of the Tories turning their back on our community after they rejected our £11million Levelling-Up bid earlier this year that would have transformed the area.

Our High Street has so much potential and needs investment, but we are constantly being let down by the Tories. The last thing we need is another betting shop, but it’s clear, the Government have shown that yet again they’re not on the side of local people.

Erdington High Street is the heart and soul of our community and despite this setback, I will continue to work alongside local people and traders to find solutions that help secure the investment we desperately need.

In brighter news, over the first weekend in May our country will come together to celebrate the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty The Queen Consort. I’m looking forward to attending community events across Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale, and joining local people in celebration of this historic occasion. Please let me know if you have an event organised!

Finally, it’s fantastic that the Erdington Local newspaper is back on the shelves in print. The team at Erdington Local do an amazing job keeping our community informed on local issues that matter to you, and they deserve all the support they can get.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

NEWS: Local businesses invited to MP meeting about crime on Erdington High Street – to be held on Tuesday 14 February

Words & pics by Ed King

On Tuesday 14 February, local businesses and High Street retailers have been invited to attend a meeting to discuss crime and anti-social behaviour within the Erdington Shopping district.

Organised by the Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID) and Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, the meeting will be held at St Barnabas Church in the evening – with all local shop owners, workers, and businesses invited.

Anyone wishing to attend should contact the EBID to register a place by emailing erdingtonhighstreet@hotmail.co.uk or calling (0121) 306 4270.

Erdington Town Centre and EBID Manager, John Hodgkiss, told Erdington Local: “I organised the meeting on the request of Paulette (Hamilton), to discuss the current crime situation in the town centre.

“Initially, it was to focus on the 6 Ways end of the High Street which seems to be having more problems in general.

“I visited them all last week to invite, but as a result I’m expecting that retailers from all over will attend.

“It’s essentially as a result of Erdington losing out on the Levelling Up funding. Paulette (Hamilton) wanted to look at more focussed projects including crime, retail, and the local economy, and push on with these as soon as possible.”

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton added: “I’ve called a meeting with local businesses along Erdington High Street to discuss how we can tackle the issues they are facing and work together to secure the investment our High Street desperately needs.

“Erdington High Street is the heart and soul of our community, but sadly it’s been in decline for many years.

“As more shops close, the area has become a magnet for antisocial behaviour that has resulted in the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order.

“The latest blow came from the Government after they recently rejected our Levelling Up Fund application that would have transformed our High Street, and we’re still fighting to stop the approval of an eighth betting shop.

“It’s important that we all work together to make Erdington a better place and I hope to see as many local businesses as possible at the meeting (on Tuesday 14 February).”

Once one of the busiest roads in Birmingham, the Erdington shopping district has been blighted with crime and antisocial behaviour in recent years – with many people now avoiding the area due to concerns over street drinking, drug dealing, and harassment on the High Street.

Retailers are under daily siege from shoplifters, with a lack of any firm police presence giving criminals a green light to keep offending – according to High Street shop staff and security.

Several key shops have further closed their doors for good after the Covid lockdowns, with even major banks pulling down their shutters and leaving Erdington Town Centre.

But despite two recent rejections for Levelling Up Fund (LUF) money, and a previous rejection from the Future High Streets Fund in December 2022, there are still locally led plans in place to help regenerate the High Street.

Even though the project was a key part of the recent LUF application, Witton Lodge Community Association remain committed to transforming the old swimming baths into an Enterprise Hub – with ambitious plans to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities at the currently disused site.

St Barnabas are continuing to explore alternative funding to renovate their churchyard, a regeneration project that again would have been significantly supported by the LUF bid.

Whilst Central Square is turning over a new leaf, with the old shopping centre owners investing in a significant makeover and letting new units.

The meeting on Tuesday 14 February will be a chance for local businesses and retailers to voice their concerns over High Street crime directly to the Erdington MP and Businesses Improvement District.

Erdington Local will be meeting with West Midlands Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford on 28 February, to further discuss crime on the High Street.

If you have been a victim of crime on Erdington High Street we want to hear your story – please get in touch with us at: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

The chaos that has engulfed the Tories isn’t only causing havoc within their own ranks, it’s being felt in communities like ours.

Last year, Erdington applied for £11 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund that would have transformed Erdington High Street and made it a destination again. This was the second time an application for Erdington was submitted after Tory Ministers rejected our first in October 2021.

Our latest plan had secured financial backing from Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority, but when the Government announced the successful applications for the second round of the £2.1billion fund Erdington had sadly been rejected again.

Whilst our community is amongst the country’s top 10% of deprived areas and didn’t get a single penny, the Prime Minister’s own constituency – one of the most affluent – got £19million.

The Tory Government’s levelling up agenda has been exposed as nothing more than a slogan and a vote winning cash machine for panicking Tory MPs.

If that wasn’t reason enough to believe the Tories don’t care about Erdington, gambling bosses have now appealed to the Government in the hope that they stand a better chance of getting another betting shop on Erdington High Street.

The levelling up funding would have bought investment to our High Street and created jobs, skills, and improved infrastructure. Opening the eighth betting shop on our High Street is the last thing we need.

Erdington High Street is the heart and soul of our community and has been badly let down by the Government.  It needs investment but granting permission for more betting shops would risk changing it from a shopping centre to a betting centre.

Alongside local campaigners, residents and businesses, I have formally objected to the appeal. I’ve also raised my concerns directly with Ministers in Parliament.

The fight continues to stop the eighth betting shop, but one thing is crystal clear, the Tory Government has demonstrated a clear track record of simply not caring about Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale.

After being let down with our funding bid, I worry that Ministers will deliver a fresh kick in the teeth for our High Street and our community by approving the betting shop – but I challenge them to prove me wrong.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

NEWS: BoyleSports appeal against Planning Committee ruling over new High Street betting shop

Words & pics by Ed King  (image of Paulette Hamilton supplied)

BoyleSports (UK) are appealing a Birmingham City Council (BCC) decision to refuse planning consent for their proposed new betting shop at 56 High Street, Erdington.

After getting the knockback from the BCC Planning Committee on Thursday, 28 July – where all members present voted against the proposed application – the Ireland born betting giant has now taken its appeal to the national Planning Inspectorate.

Plans to convert the once HSBC bank into a betting shop were also heavily contested by local residents, community groups, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle.

The deadline for representation is 2 February, where people can contact the Planning Inspectorate either in favour of or against the appeal – with many local campaigners and elected representatives encouraging locals to once again help block the application.

To contact the national Planning Inspectorate over the BoyleSports appeal, visit www.gov.uk/appeal-planning-inspectorate – click ‘Start now’ and ‘search’ for case 3307082.

Originally presented to Birmingham City Council in March 2022, BoyleSports (UK) had applied to turn the planning consent for the ground floor premises at 56 High Street, Erdington, from ‘Class E’ into ‘Sui Generis’ – allowing them to covert old HSBC bank into a gambling outlet.

The planning requests from BoyleSport (UK) also included an application to turn the first floor of the building into ‘self contained flats’, where it had previously been used for ‘office space’.

Launched in Ireland in 1982 by John Boyle, BoyleSports entered the UK gambling market in 2019 after buying out the independent bookmaker Wilf Gilbert – taking over 13 betting shops across the Midlands.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, as of May 2022 BoyleSports operates ‘more than 340 shops across the UK and Ireland, including 45 stores in Northern Ireland and two on the Isle of Man.’

Erdington High Street currently has seven betting shops open, one of which is already operated by BoyleSports (UK).

Official objections to were made in the initial BCC Planning Committee meeting on 7 July by Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington), Sargent Ellis from the Neighbourhood Police Team (NPT), and ‘a local resident’.

The planning officer’s report cited ‘increased litter’, the threat of ‘anti-social behaviour/crime’, and ‘increased demand for on-street parking’ as driving factors behind the objections. T

he report further stated the site’s requested opening hours ‘are excessive’ and ‘would be detrimental to residential amenity’, which could also ‘impact on (Erdington’s) application for Levelling Up funding.’

Objections were also made by more local residents, campaign groups, and Paulette Hamilton – with the Erdington MP challenging the current appeal made by BoyleSports directly to Leader of the House of Commons.

BCC’s final decision to refuse BoyleSports’s requested change of planning consent for 56 High Street, despite it initially being ‘acceptable in principle’, was based on the grounds another betting shop ‘would fail to maintain or enhance the vitality and viability’ of the area and ‘would result in an increased fear of crime and anti-social behaviour’.

Crucially, the Council’s decision cited these reasons as conflicting with Policies TP21 and TP24 of the Birmingham Development Plan 2017, Policy PG3 of the Birmingham Development Plan 2017, and the National Planning Policy Framework.

Aside from galvanising local campaigners and residents, the application to green light another betting shop on Erdington High Street incensed political figureheads on both sides of the aisle – with more than one laying claim to the challenge.

Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington) told Erdington Local: “Thank you to all the residents who signed the petition I submitted objecting to the original application, and for all the residents who supported protests against the application, this helped secure the rejection of the application.

“Now we need one more push as the applicant has appealed to the independent national Planning Inspectorate.

“When I spoke against the application at the Planning Committee meeting, they agreed with myself and residents that the application was wrong for Erdington.

“We now need residents to comment again and show the Planning Inspectorate that this application for another betting shop is wrong for Erdington and they should reject the appeal.

Cllr Gareth Moore (Con, Erdington), who sits on BCC’s Planning Committee and had previously been legally unable to comment, added: “It is vital people looking to comment on the appeal focus on the reasons the Council gave for refusing the application.

“The proposed development would provide a non-retail use that would fail to maintain or enhance the vitality and viability of the Erdington Local Centre or protect its primary retail function.

“The proposed development would result in an increased fear of crime and anti-social behaviour and would fail to create a safe environment that promotes positive social interaction.”

Cllr Moore further identified the relevant policies within the Birmingham Development Plan 2017 and National Planning Policy Framework – as referenced above.

Local resident and campaigner Basharat Dad, who ran as a Labour candidate for the Erdington Ward in the May local elections, also told Erdington Local: “I led the original campaign and our petition, supported by our local MP Paulette Hamilton and Police, was signed by hundreds of residents, community organisations and businesses all objecting to another betting shop coming to our High Street.

“It was rightly refused by Birmingham City Council. The company has now gone to government and appealed against the council decision. I now have led another campaign so that residents can write directly to the Planning Inspectorate and object, we will keep on persevering!”

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton (Labour) added: “Last year, following a campaign I led with local people, Birmingham City Council made the right decision and rejected the application that would have opened an eighth bookies on our High Street.

“The gambling bosses are now appealing to the Government to overturn the wishes of local people. It’s very telling when gambling bosses believe they stand a chance of securing another bookies on our High Street by appealing to Ministers. You can tell whose side the Government is on, and it is not the side of local people.

“I have submitted my objection to the appeal and would urge everyone make their voice count by saying no to another betting shop on Erdington High Street.”

Any concerned parties can contact the Planning Inspectorate, either in favour or against the appeal made by BoyleSports (UK), by visiting: www.acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk and searching for ‘case 3307082’.

For more on BoylesSport visit: www.boylesports.com

Anyone seeking help over issues around gambling, please visit: www.nhs.uk/live-well/addiction-support/gambling-addiction

NEWS: “A kick in the teeth” as Erdington High Street loses out on millions from Levelling Up Fund

Words & pics by Ed King (image of Paulette Hamilton supplied)

Erdington has once again missed out on millions of pounds to regenerate the High Street, as the Government rejects the latest Levelling Up Fund (LUF) application.

In a surprise announcement made in the early hours of Thursday 19 January, with no warning given to unsuccessful applications, all five of Birmingham City Council’s applications to the LUF were turned down – including the £10.75m petitioned to deliver ‘a transformational scheme’ for Erdington High Street.

Top of the list of Birmingham City Council’s recent LUF applications, the Erdington High Street bid would ‘be used to transform the High Street into a thriving centre, with business incubation space, housing, cultural, leisure and social activities, improved urban realm and physical and social connectivity within the area.’

At the centre of the regeneration of Erdington High Street were plans to support the renovation of St Barnabas Churchyard and the development of a Community and Enterprise Hub at the old Erdington Swimming Baths site – being delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association.

With local politicians and stakeholders reeling from the LUF rejection this morning – which is the second time the ambitious plans for Erdington High Street have been turned down – elsewhere across the county 111 areas will be celebrating their share of the £2.1bn from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

Today’s shock announcement, and complete overstepping of all five Birmingham LUF bids, is the latest defeat in a long battle to secure regeneration funding for Erdington High Street from Westminster – which began with an application to the Future High Street Fund in 2020 and saw further disappointment in the first round of LUF allocations in October 2021.

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton stated: “”I’m incredibly disappointed that, yet again, the Conservative Government have let Erdington down.

“Our funding bid would have brought investment into our community by creating jobs, skills, and infrastructure. The investment would have transformed Erdington High Street to make it a destination again.

“Sadly, Erdington did not receive a single penny from the Tory Government’s 2.1bn fund, despite ranking amongst the top 10% most deprived areas in the country.

“The Prime Minister’s own constituency – one of the most affluent – has received £19m.

“Tory failure and favouritism have been laid bare by this announcement. It’s just another kick in the teeth for our community in Erdington from this out of touch Government.”

Erdington Ward Councillor and Birmingham Conservative Leader, Robert Alden, told: “Over the last few years we have been putting in Future High Street Fund and Levelling up Fund bids and requests to the City Council, that is it is so disappointing that the Levelling Up Fund bid has not been approved.

“However, this is not the end of trying to get funding into the High Street here in Erdington.

“It is vital now that the Government and the City Council invest in our High Street to deliver the plans that residents want to see and we will continue to do all we can to secure further investment onto of the funding already provided by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street”.

Cllr Gareth Moore (Con, Erdington Ward) added: “West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has listened and the Combined Authority therefore put in over £2million to help turn the former Erdington Baths site, under Witton Lodge Community Association, into an Enterprise Hub to support local people into work and to set up businesses.

“Andy Street listened to the people of Erdington it is time that the City Council and the Government listen to the people of Erdington and invest to regenerate our High Street”.

Birmingham was one of three cities across the country that had all of it’s LUF applications turned down by Government, losing out on a total of £82.264m in potential citywide funding.

Elsewhere, Leeds lost out on a potential £120m through six LUF bids – whilst Nottingham had all three of its bids rejected, totalling £57m.

Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward told: “Today’s announcement is a kick in the teeth for Birmingham families who were already struggling to make ends meet after over a decade of Tory austerity – even before the Government crashed the UK economy.

“You cannot level up the UK economy without levelling up Birmingham, so today’s news brings into question the Government’s true commitment to hard-pressed households across this city. It’s now clear that levelling up is nothing more than a slogan.

“These bids would have delivered true change to communities across Birmingham, creating new jobs, improving life chances and restoring pride to our neighbourhoods.

“Instead, the Prime Minister’s constituency – one of the most affluent in the country – has received funding, while of the 80 successful bids in England, only half are in the 100 most deprived areas of the country. How is this levelling up?”

The Levelling Up Fund was first announced in the Government’s 2020 spending review, totalling £4.8bn in accessible funding for councils across the country.

Tranche One of LUF allocation saw £1.7bn distributed to 105 projects, including money for Moseley Road Swimming Baths in Balsall Heath and the Soho Loop development on Dudley Road.

Following today’s allocation of £2.1bn in Tranche Two – which saw 525 bids submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities in August 2022 – there is now £1bn left in the LUF budget.

Erdington’s Town Centre Manger and head of the Business Improvement District (EBID), John Hodgkiss, who came into post in August 2022, is “remaining positive about the potential of Erdington High Street.”

Mr Hodgkiss told Erdington Local: “It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that the LUF has not been awarded to Erdington, especially in light of the hard work so many have contributed.

“In terms of Erdington High Street, I know that we have so many dedicated stakeholders with one aim, which is to see Erdington prosper and thrive in the future.

“Here at the EBID, we will continue to push on with projects and events to attract greater footfall into the town centre. We will also continue to work hard in attracting new independent and national retailers into Erdington High Street.

“We also commit to promoting the great retailers which we already have on board and further improve the local trading environment for them.”

NEWS: Rt Hon Michael Gove MP visits Erdington High Street to see locations earmarked for regeneration in rejected Levelling Up application

Words by Erdington Local election news team

On Monday, 28 February, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP took a tour of Erdington High Street with Conservative Councillor and MP hopeful Robert Alden – looking at the locations earmarked for regeneration in the recently rejected multi mullion pound Levelling Up Fund application.

Michael Gove MP is the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and ultimately responsible for allocating funds from the £4.8 billion pot of Government money for regional investment into local infrastructure.

Erdington was the only Levelling Up Fund application made by Birmingham City Council in October last year that failed to progress to the next round – whilst millions are now on the horizon for other projects across the city, not a single penny was spared for the proposed regeneration of Erdington High Street.

The Levelling Up Fund application for Erdington High Street was at £12,700,000 – with further investment coming from the private sector, including the transformation of Central Square into a destination venue of shops, cafes, bars, and apartments.

Birmingham’s other bids, which all made it through the first round, included £19,941,000 for the A457 Dudley Road Improvement Scheme, £17,145,000 for the Birmingham Wheels site remediation, and £15,539,000 for Moseley Road Swimming Baths.

The Levelling Up Fund bid for Erdington High Street was the only application without match funding from Birmingham City Council, despite the local authority finding up to £17m in match funding for other projects.

In Birmingham for a visit to Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre in Tyseley – as part of a tour of the West Midlands – Michael Gove MP joined Erdington Ward Councillor and MP hopeful Robert Alden for a tour of Central Square and the old Erdington Baths – two locations that played key roles within the Levelling Up Fund application.

In a previous opinion piece written by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and published by Erdington Local on Saturday, 26 February, Michael Gove MP stated:

“If Robert Alden is elected as Erdington’s next MP, you’ll have a local champion making the case for Erdington directly to Cabinet members like me.

“This is what Erdington really needs — someone willing to stand up for the area and make sure residents are heard.

“He has been a vocal proponent for Levelling Up Funding to transform Edington’s high street, and I’m currently working with him to get this bid over the line.”

Erdington Local was made aware of Mr Gove’s visit after CCTV footage of the group entering and exiting Central Square had been sent to the newsroom.

After contacting the West Midlands Conservatives office for comment, and pictures from the visit, Cllr Robert Alden told Erdington Local:

“A key part of my plan for Castle Vale, Kingstanding, and Erdington is securing investment to regenerate Erdington High Street.

“That’s why I wanted to bring the Levelling Up Minister to see first hand both the need for investment but also the exciting plans that we have pulled together with the community to regenerate the High Street.”

Robert Alden added: “While Birmingham Labour have voted against investing in Erdington year after year, I will continue to campaign and work constructively to bring partners to the table to try and secure investment for Erdington High Street.”

Erdington will vote for its next Member of Parliament on Thursday, 3 March.

The 12 candidates contesting the seat are: Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), Lee Dargue (Liberal Democrats), Michael Lutwyche (Independent), Jack Brookes (Reform UK), Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Green), Thomas O’Rouke (Independent), Mel Mbondiah (Christian People’s Alliance), Clifton Holmes (Independent), David Laurence Bishop (Militant Bus-Pass Elvis Party), The Good Knight Sir NosDa (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party).

CCTV footage of Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP visiting Central Square with Cllr Robert Alden

For more on Cllr Robert Alden and the Erdington Conservatives visit www.erdingtonconservatives.org.uk

OPINION: “Conservative candidate Robert Alden is key to our plans,” says Secretary of State for Levelling Up

As the Birmingham Erdington by-election heats up, and voters explore all the candidates and manifestos to decide who is right to represent Erdington in Westminster, the Rt Honourable Michael Gove MP – Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – throws his weight behind the Conservative candidate, Robert Alden.

Polling day for the Birmingham Erdington Parliamentary by-election is on Thursday, 3 March.

Words by Rt Honourable Michael Gove MP

While talent is spread evenly across the UK, opportunity is not. In too many communities there’s a feeling that the only way to get on is to get out.

This needs to change — and it needs to change for good. That’s why our government’s defining mission is to level up this country.

We want opportunity to reach talent wherever it exists, investment to move wherever it’s needed. We don’t want to slice the pie in a different way; we want to grow the pie for everyone.

So levelling up is a team effort. And local champions like Robert Alden, the Conservative candidate at Erdington’s by-election, are key to this team. Let me explain.

Together with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and local MPs like Gary Sambrook, the government has already started to level up Birmingham — and not just the city centre.

Backed by hundreds of millions of pounds in government funding, the Commonwealth Games are helping to create jobs and drive investment to Birmingham. The regeneration of Perry Barr will be a lasting legacy in itself, restoring the community and transforming facilities for residents.

HS2 will put Birmingham right at the heart of our national high-speed rail network. The long-term benefits will see world-class businesses set up in the region and expand the local economy, while the short-term benefits are already being felt in the form of new jobs, including a thousand extra jobs to construct the new Curzon Street in the city centre.

So levelling up isn’t something that may or may not take place in the future; it’s happening, it’s happening right now, and at the risk of repeating myself, it’s happening across the West Midlands.

We’re regenerating the former MG Rover factory in Longbridge, a development that will create thousands of good jobs with decent pay. We’re recruiting hundreds of new police officers for the West Midlands.

And all of this is just the beginning. We have so much more planned, including here in Erdington. But to supercharge our efforts, we need a local team ready to work with us.

That’s why Conservative candidate Robert Alden is key to our plans.

If Robert Alden is elected as Erdington’s next MP, you’ll have a local champion making the case for Erdington directly to Cabinet members like me.

This is what Erdington really needs — someone willing to stand up for the area and make sure residents are heard.

To see what kind of MP Robert will be, take a look at his record as a local councillor. Over the last sixteen years, Robert has been a force to be reckoned with.

He has been a vocal proponent for Levelling Up Funding to transform Edington’s high street, and I’m currently working with him to get this bid over the line.

I’m thrilled that Robert has invited me to visit Erdington and see the opportunities for government investment myself. This is the kind of get-up-and-go that every village, town and city needs for our mission to work.

And if any readers are wondering how they can play a part in levelling up Erdington, I say this: at the Erdington by-election, vote for the person you believe can work with me and my team to secure funding and make things happen. To my mind, that person is Robert Alden.

For more on the Rt Honourable Michael Gove MP visit www.michaelgove.com

For more on Robert Alden and the Erdington Conservatives visit www.erdingtonconservatives.org.uk/

 

Candidates will be taking questions from the general public at the Birmingham Erdington by-election hustings – held from 6-8pm on Sunday, 27 February, at the GRS Lions Club, Church Road, Erdington.

Click here or on the image above to register for your free ticket – have your voice heard.

 

NEWS: Erdington Business Improvement District voted back for another five year term

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington Business Improvement District has been successfully voted back for another five year term, receiving a landside endorsement from High Street retailers and the local business community.

With voting taking place over the last four weeks, Friday 12 November saw the final results counted – returning nearly 74% in favour for renewing the Erdington BID, with 45 of the 61 votes cast by local businesses saying ‘yes’.

Erdington BID represents businesses from Six Ways to Edwards Road, charging members 1.75% of the rateable value of their business to help promote commerce in the area – as well as tackling civic concerns such as street safety, crime, and fly tipping.

Erdington BID has also become a voice for the local business community, one able to challenge Birmingham City Council and Government over issues that affect Erdington High Street and local traders.

Recently, Erdington missed out on two multi-million pound funds from central government to regenerate the High Street – being rejected for the Levelling Up Fund in October, and the Future High Streets Fund back in January.

But local stakeholders, including Erdington BID, remain committed to finding other ways of attracting the long fought for financing to transform the High Street.

Terry Guest has been Erdington Town Centre and BID Manager since assuming the role back in 2011, successfully taking the BID into it’s now fourth term and generating over £100,000 per annum for investment into the High Street.

Following the results of the vote, Terry told Erdington Local: “I’ve been greatly encouraged this week by the number of businesses that offered support face to face, but you never know how these things are going to turn out.

“Walking down the High Street I am struck by how many shops we’ve got that are full; we don’t have a lot of empty shops and I think our percentage (of empty units), around 4%, is one of the lowest in the country. So, we must be doing something right.

“We’ve now attracted Poundstretcher to the High Street, in a massive unit that used to be occupied by New Look. So, it shows that shops here (on Erdington High Street) aren’t staying empty for very long.

When asked if he had a message for local businesses that took part in the vote, Terry added:

“A great big thank you – a great big thank you whether you voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s a democracy and if you voted ‘no’ we’d like to engage you and find out if we can do things better.”

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden also sits as Director of the Erdington BID.

Cllr Robert Alden said: “The Town Centre Manager Terry Guest does a huge amount of work for Erdington and the size of this ballot, almost 74% in favour of a further term, demonstrates just how highly his work and the BID is viewed locally in Erdington.

“The BID brings in around £100,000 of funding ringfenced to Erdington High Street area, every year. It was therefore vital that this was renewed to ensure that measures like the additional security continued going forward.

“The BID is a key part of the ongoing efforts to try and improve and regenerate Erdington High Street and to make it safer for residents.”

During the campaign to renew the Erdington BID, plans for the next five years were outlined if the vote was successful – with extra policing and increased High Street security very much a priority.

Robert added: “Looking ahead over the next five year term a key focus is going to be on trying to help regenerate Erdington and make the High Street cleaner, safer and more welcoming. To support existing businesses and to attract further ones into Erdington.

“Erdington is an amazing place with a brilliant community and we will keep doing all we can to help the BID deliver for local businesses and residents”.

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk

INTERVIEW: Terry Guest – Erdington BID & Town Centre Manager

Words & pics by Ed King

“The main plan and priority have to be now… increased security, we have to emphasise to the police and the Council the importance of providing the necessary security for this High Street and the support for our Warden.”

On Friday 12 November the future of the Erdington Business Improvement District (Erdington BID) will be known, as voting to renew the organisation finishes on Thursday this week.

Over the past month, local shop owners and businesses have been casting paper ballots ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – a vote which if successfully passed will see the Erdington BID in place for another half decade.

Each business that falls within the catchment area – which stretches from Six Ways to Edwards Road, including all shops on Erdington High Street and Sutton New Road – pays 1.75% of their rateable value to finance the BID, which stands as ‘a partnership between the business community and other local stakeholders… helping to sustain Erdington as a vibrant urban village.’

Initially voted in by local businesses in 2007, Erdington BID’s current five year term is set to expire in July 2022.

Terry Guest has been Erdington BID & Town Centre Manager since assuming the roll in 2011. He explained the organisation’s responsibilities:

“It’s twofold these days. One of the things that the BID has always done is put the basics in place – such as security, the Christmas lights, hanging baskets.

“But the BID has also done its own projects, such as the garden area we created next to the library – that was a project that proved very popular.

“One of the things I’m keen to do is to expand that green aspect of the High Street… so that anyone there can actually sit down and relax and have something of a more pleasant view than just concrete.

“There’s that sort of basic thing. But the other side of it now is that the BID has become more of a voice – a voice with the Government and a voice with the Council. And we need that now more than ever.”

Erdington High Street has recently seen applications rejected for two multi-million pounds pots of Government investment, missing out on the Levelling Up Fund in October and the Future High Street Fund back in January.

If successful, each application would have seen over £50m pumped into the High Street from the private and public sector.

Terry added: “We’ve been behind both the Levelling Up Fund and Future High Streets Fund applications, which have failed so far – but we’re not stopping at that. In the future, what the BID is evolving into, and has been for some time, is to be a voice with the Government and the Council.

“Which is important, because we know that both governments and councils recognise BIDs – and that’s becoming a larger part of it, where we have to make our voice be heard and get the best deal for businesses.”

But the fate of the Erdington BID still hangs in the balance, as local businesses ultimately vote and pay for the organisation’s next five years – a levy of around £116,000 per annum. And as in any election there are mandates and manifestos.

“One is policing,” explained Terry. “We’ve been involved very heavily in getting a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) put in place for the High Street – which, when we’ve got that in, allow us, allows anyone, to contact the police to remove anyone who is causing anti-social behaviour. Drug deals, minor crime, and so on.

“We’ve seen since 2018, when the last PSPO was cancelled, that really the aspect of working with the police is incredibly important. As it is with the Council, such as the state of the roads and pavements, the fly tipping and so on – a big portion of my job (as Town Centre Manager) these days is walking up and down the High Street taking photos of rubbish, then reporting it to the Council.”

Fly tipping and anti-social behaviour are problems raised by people across the constituency. But what can the Erdington BID do to tackle these issues on the High Street?

“What I think the BID has done… and I had evidence about this in an email from Birmingham City Council this morning about the PSPO, is that the BID has been very active in raising these issues and perhaps now getting some results.

“We’ve had a few incidents on the High Street recently which has caused me to react to the slowness of the police and Council to act in this (reinstating the PSPO).

“We are now at the stage where the Council have issued a press release and a notice of public consultation about the PSPO

“So, we’re at that stage, we will go into a public consultation about this. Not quick enough for me, whenever it is.

“I pressed the councillors about this, and I was told it could be pushed towards the end of the year.

“The original promise, by the Council earlier in the year, is that this would be done and dusted by the 30 September. To me it’s three years too late, not three months too late.”

But Erdington BID does more than tackle crime and disorder on the High Street, as the organisation allots £20000 per annum to ‘marketing, events, and promotion’ – including the long standing Christmas lights switch on.

“What we’ve also taken to doing in the last few years is sponsoring other people’s events,” explained Terry.

“So, when Oikos Café have a street event we’ve sponsored that in the past. When St Barnabas Church have their village fayre in the middle of the summer – before lockdown – we sponsored that as well. So, there’s number of ways we can promote ourselves.

“This year we’re not going to have a Christmas lights switch on… I would have had to order the lights a few months ago, when our futures were all in doubt; we didn’t know if we were going to get another lockdown so we had to abandon that.

“But there is a proviso in the business plan that if we have money somewhere that we can’t spend, then we’ll put it somewhere else.

“For instance, it’s about time we had some new litter bins on the High Street – we could perhaps finance that if we haven’t got the event money (for the Christmas lights switch on).”

But the main priority for the Erdington BID, if re-elected this week, remains a firm hand on crime and disorder – seeing anti-social behaviour on the High Street as a systemic problem.

“The main plan and priority have to be now… increased security, we have to emphasise to the police and the Council the importance of providing the necessary security for this High Street and the support for our Warden.

“The ideal is that we want daily police patrols back on the High Street and our Warden in support of those, rather than him being so proactive.

“I’m keen to get the High Street looking greener than it is; I’m keen to get more awareness of the High Steet out to the shoppers.

“But the shoppers need to feel it’s a safe place to walk up and down, or a safe place to sit on a bench and have a cup of coffee and enjoy the scenery.”

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk