VOX POP: Remembering Jack – “He was a Birmingham man; he was a local man. And he cared.”

VOX POP quotes & pics taken by Claire Taylor / Intro words & pics by Ed King

Soon after the announcement of Jack Dromey’s death on Friday 7 January, flowers and messages of remembrance started to appear outside his constituency office on Mason Road. – with further tributes flooding social media.

Many were in shock at the sudden and unexpected news, sharing their stories and grief both online and off.

Erdington Local took to the High Street he fiercely championed and asked for comment from some of his constituents – for our weekly VOX POP.

(Ed’s note… we used the headline quote to show how Jack Dromey was perceived, by many, as a ‘local man’ – despite being born in Middlesex. The full quote is the last in the VOX POP, which we felt was a testament to the fervour with which Jack represented his Birmingham constituency.)

Holding a position where concerns and complaints were part of the day to day, Jack Dromey heard first hand about the issues affecting people across Erdington – with many looking to his office for answers.

From large scale employment strategies to supporting school fundraisers and independent retailers, the ‘to-do-list’ in the local MPs office was often as varied as it was unending. But as Erdington’s elected voice in Parliament, it was down to Jack Dromey and his colleagues to work through it with tireless dedication.

When Erdington Local asked for comments on Jack Dromey’s death, and life, many people had many things to say – but not all were comfortable having their condolences captured on camera.

Thank you to everyone who stopped to share thier thoughts and stories with us, and to all who agreed to be featured in the article.

Remembering Jack memorial service on Sunday 16 January

A wider public memorial service is being organised by the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce on Sunday 16 January, to be held outside the Co-op supermarket on Erdington High Street from 1:30/2pm.

Speakers will include colleagues from Jack’s constituency office, alongside figureheads from local organisations and community support groups such as Witton Lodge Community Association, Urban Devotion, Erdington Street Pastors, and Spitfire Advice and Support Services.

Jack Dromey’s political peers will also be attending, with further public condolences and remembrance coming from Liam Byrne MP (Hodge Hill), Jess Phillips MP (Yardley), Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Hollyhead, Birmingham Conservatives Leader Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington), and Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End).

The memorial for Jack Dromey is open to all members of the public – with the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce inviting people to gather by the Co-op from 1:30pm, with the service scheduled to begin at 2pm.

A spokesperson for the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce told Erdington Local:

“On behalf of the people of Erdington, partners of the Erdington Covid-19 Task Force have come together to organise this tribute event for Jack.

“His legacy went beyond politics. His tireless campaigning on behalf of constituents touched so many lives so we wanted to create a fitting tribute to a man who was progressive and impactful in positively changing lives and communities.

“It’s a chance for the people of Erdington to pay their respects to Jack, to reflect on his work and to share memories of him.

“It should be a great occasion, celebrating the life of a man whose commitment to improving lives made him a hero for the community he served with such passion and honesty.”

Here are a few more memories and messages of condolences from people on Erdington High Street.

Harriet Spencer, Oikos Café, Erdington High Street

“He used to come relatively frequently into Oikos and he would always order a strawberry milkshake, which we used to love.

“He was such a champion of the café and enjoyed that we were hear and all the things we did, especially the music event. It’s really a shock to the area and all of us.”

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Christine Scarl, Pype Hayes

“I heard that he had died… its such a shame. He was really good at letting us know what was going on in the area, we would always be getting the leaflets through the door and everything. It’s such a shame.”

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Pat Wandby, Stockland Green

“I’m sad that Jack Dromey died… it was a shock, he was a nice chap and he always seemed to be fighting for the workers – to help them keep their jobs.

“Like with the HP Sauce factory, which should never have been closed. And he was always fighting for the Jag (Jaguar Land Rover, Castle Bromwich) and other industries.

“He came to our house once over an issue with some garages at the back… I did have a moan at him about Stockland Green and the potholes on the road, by the chip shop. But since then it’s been done.”

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Vera, Holly Lane, Erdington

“He passed away, bless him. He did a lot for Erdington, as out local MP. He did a lot for Jaguar and everything else.

“He was a Birmingham man; he was a local man. And he cared.”

If you have something to say about any of the issues raised in this VOX POP (or anything else you want to tell us about) please email: mystory@erdingotnlocal.com

For more on Jack Dromey visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

VOX POP: Would you like more art, music, and events on Erdington High Street?

Pics & quotes taken by Claire Taylor / Intro by Ed King

Erdington High Street was once one of the busiest in Birmingham. But even before Covid closed shops and businesses across the country, Erdington’s central vein of commerce was already getting clogged – with many local shoppers put off by an increase in antisocial behaviour and street crime.

Recently, there have been more hopes dashed as Erdington missed out on two multi million pound pots of Government funding that would have kickstarted major regeneration of the High Street – being rejected for the Future High Street Fund on Boxing Day 2020, then the Levelling Up Fund in October last year.

And whilst more banks move out and budget shops move in, those responsible for promoting Erdington’s business community continue to try and turn an increasingly troubling tide – with the recently reinstated Erdington Business Improvement District (Erdington BID) allotting ‘£20000 towards marketing, events and promotion’ from their annual budget.

But whilst Westminster side steps Erdington’s ambitions and recognised national chains hover on the side lines, the local arts community has been making an impact – with creative events and community projects bringing crowds and attention to the waning High Street.

In October 2021, the global phenomenal and ‘living puppet’ Little Amal visited Erdington High Street, as she came through selected places in the UK at the end of her 8,000m walk across the world – raising awareness for the plight of child refugees and displaced people.

Hundreds of people gathered on Erdington High Street in celebration and solidarity, joining Little Amal as she walked from the Co-op supermarket to Central Square Shopping Centre.

To read/see more about Little Amal’s visit to Erdington click here.

So, can art and creative activity help breath life back into Erdington High Street? Are the creative industries picking up the slack from a distant Government and nervous national brands?

Or do these events bring more problems to an already strained shopping hub, distracting people’s attention from the shelves and taking footfall out of the shops and onto the pavement?

Erdington Local’s VOX POP reporter, Claire Taylor, went onto the High Street to ask local shops and shoppers alike… would you like more art, music, and events on Erdington High Street?

Pete and Pat Ferrans, Erdington

“We came to the puppet one (Little Amal), the big walking puppet one, and thought that was great. Anything that would bring people to the High Street. If its that, or a food fair, or a farmer’s market.”

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Raven Dixon, Erdington

“I’m a creative person; I’d love to see more arts and events on the High Street.

“I can’t think off hand of any specific events, but what was really great is when the big puppet (Little Amal) came – everybody was talking about it, including people who don’t normally come to Erdington. More high-profile stuff like that.”

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Daniel Byrne, Erdington

“I think they’re a good idea. You know when there was the big doll (Little Amal) here, I saw that. I was up there (car park above Wilton Market) watching it, I’d love to see more things like that.

“But anything that livens it (High Street) up is good, like music – I love seeing people playing, I give them a bit of money every now and again. I love to see it.”

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Nancy Singh, clothing stall – Wilton Market

“I would like to see more events; it encourages people to come here when they see things happening on the High Street. Music, or whatever people like and will bring them here.”

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Kevin Boustead, The Wilton Cobbler – Wilton Market

“I like having the events, but it just takes everyone out of the (Wilton) market. I’ve been here for 30 years next month; we want to bring people into the market.

“What you’ve got to do is to get the people, the general public, not to be frightened to come into Erdington. They can still be scare stiff of the High Street.”

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Sohrab Hesari, Aster Alterations

“I like the events on the High Street. I think music events would be better, and food events, for the High Street. Better for the public.

“Better for me too, when she came (Little Amal) it brought more people into the shop.”

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Aparna Binoop, New Oscott

“More events would benefit the High Street, for sure. I would like to see some areas made specially for people, so they can gather around and play.”

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Caitlin Wood, Erdington

“Definitely. It would be really nice if there were more live music events, I always thought that would be good. But it would be good if there was a venue for 18-30 year olds.”

If you have something to say about any of the issues raised in this VOX POP (or anything else you want to tell us about) please email: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com