ELECTION NEWS: Erdington MP hopeful Paulette Hamilton and Labour Deputy Angela Rayner visit Spitfire Services on Castle Vale

Words by Jasmine Khan / Pics by Claire Taylor

On Thursday, 3 February, Cllr Paulette Hamilton was joined by Labour Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, at Spitfire Services on Castle Vale High Street – to find out about the issues facing people on the ground who support their community on a daily basis.

Spitfire Services is a Castle Vale based charity providing ‘a range of welfare information, support and advice services’ – as well as operating local facilities including Castle Pool, Castle Vale Library, The Meeting Place Café, and the Upcycle shop and showroom.

Cllr Hamilton has been recently confirmed as the Labour candidate for the upcoming Birmingham Erdington by-election and remarked on how volunteers and staff at Spitfire Services are “like a big family.”

She told Erdington Local: “What we’ve seen on the (Castle Vale) estate, and in wider Erdington, are the aftereffects of the pandemic. Inequalities have been exacerbated.

“On certain parts of Castle Vale, you live nine years less than you would in Sutton Coldfield. I have got to fight for people locally and what their needs are.”

“The Castle Vale area has felt neglected over the last three years. The issues they (Castle Vale residents) have talked to me about on the door are HMOs and Exempt Housing. Not so much anti-social behaviour, but also waste and fly tipping in the area.

“They’ve seen their shopping bills get bigger and are also talking about gas and electricity and the rise that’s happening there.

“They’re working class and they’re worried about how they’re going to cope.”

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, who joined Cllr Hamilton on Castle Vale, added: “It’s amazing to see the work of Spitfire Services.

“It’s bittersweet. I’m still grieving the loss of Jack (Dromey), as I’m sure many of the people of Erdington are as well. But to see the community come together in the way that they have, and the legacy of supporting each other, it’s humbling.

“What Jack stood for is looking out for each other…its lovely to see that the community are there for each other when they need it. That, to me, is what the working class are all about.”

A practising nurse for 25 years, Cllr Hamilton was made Mental Health Champion for Birmingham City Council in 2013 and Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care in 2015.

During earlier stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, she returned to nursing to help deliver vaccines to local people.

She added: “I felt it was so important for us to not just talk about it, but do it. That’s why I’m really upset and annoyed with the government.

“In the mist of Covid we saw an enormous amount of people’s mental health effected. (If elected Erdington MP) I would start to challenge and look at (mental health) legislation, and work with other politicians to ensure mental ill-health goes down.”

But some local voters are concerned that another Labour MP might not be able to hold their ground and fight for Erdington’s interests with the wider City Council.

When Cllr. Hamilton was asked whether she would be able to effect genuine change in Erdington, as a Labour MP in conjunction with a Labour Council, she said:

“I’ve lived in Erdington for the past 35 years. I’ve raised my five children here. I’ve worked as a nurse in the local area, in Warren Farm. I’ve been a governor in the local school; I’ve worked with voluntary organisations.

“Because I’m so local and I absolutely understand the needs of the community, I’m best placed, at this moment in time, to represent the community at a national level in Parliament.

“I’ve been a local counsellor for 17 years. With the current council, you have just got to talk and negotiate with them. I believe I’m best placed because I know the services well; I know what the community wants, but I also know how the council provide it.

“So, I am best placed to go in, challenge and work with them (Birmingham City Council) to get change for Erdington.”

Deputy Labour Leader, Angela Rayner, further commented: “I think Paulette will be a massive asset to us (Labour Party), because she has a long history of helping her community. She has worked in the NHS. HMO’s, housing and inequality – those things are her bread and butter, and she comes with a wealth of experience.”

“The Parliamentary Labour Party would learn a lot from Paulette. Not only will she raise things for the people of Edrington. But I’m sure my constituents in Greater Manchester will do well from Paulette being in Parliament.

“I hope the people in Edrington give her a resounding victory.”

Maggie Whitehouse, who volunteers at Upcycle, told Erdington Local: “I’m thrilled with Paulette (running for Erdington MP) because she’s on our wave length and she’ll keep traditions alive.”

Whilst Castle Vale Library Manager, Ian Bingham, added: “Paulette (Hamilton) will be a massive asset to the Erdington constituency and the Labour Party hopefully. She’ll carry on the good work that Jack started.

“Meeting Angela (Rayner), she’s so down to earth. It was humbling to meet a politician that’s in touch with grass roots.”

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

At the time of writing, the current candidates who have declared their intention to contest the seat are Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative), Dave Nellist (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), and Michael Lutwyche (Independent).

For more on Paulette Hamilton visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/49/paulette_hamilton

For more on Spitfire Services visit www.spitfireservices.org.uk

ELECTION NEWS: Paulette Hamilton launches campaign as Labour candidate for upcoming Erdington by-election

By Erdington Local election news team

On Saturday, 29 January, Councillor Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Holyhead) launched her campaign to be the next Erdington MP – meeting local Labour Party members during a special address at Highcroft Community Centre in Stockland Green.

Having been nominated to stand in the upcoming Erdington by-election via an online vote earlier in the week, winning a significant majority over her Labour Party opponent Ashley Bertie, Cllr Hamilton used her first public address as an MP hopeful to tell her supporters:

“Can I thank you all for your support. I cannot believe it, the overwhelming support I have had from people throughout the constituency.

“We have got a lot of work to do. We are going to run a clean campaign; we are going to fight at the doorsteps to take the Labour message to the people.”

In an email sent out to Labour Party members earlier in the week, Cllr Hamilton previously stated: ‘This is an election none of us wanted to be fighting but it is one we have to win. We owe it to the memory of our dear friend Jack Dromey MP and we owe it to the people of Erdington.’

At the time of writing, only Dave Nellist has also thrown his hat in the ring – with the erstwhile Labour MP for Coventry South East and Coventry City councillor declaring his intention to stand for the Erdington seat on behalf of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Joined by Shabana Mahmood MP (Lab, Ladywood), who is also the National Campaign Coordinator in Kier Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet, Cllr Hamilton launched her by-election campaign with around a hundred local Labour Party members – all giving up their Saturday to help her canvass across the constituency.

The atmosphere was a positive one; Cllr Hamilton and her team were met with raucous applause upon entering and beginning their speeches – with local Labour Party members and staff filled with optimism and excitement ahead of the campaign.

The event began with some opening words from Shabana Mahmood MP, who paid tribute to the late Jack Dromey: “I could not be more proud that we have got a local woman who is going to stand up and fight for the people of Erdington, and do Jack proud.”

The Ladywood MP was keen to kick the Labour campaign off with a “flying start”, building up excitement for the beginning of Paulette Hamilton campaign – which, if successful, would make her the first black Member of Parliament.

Addressing the crowd, Cllr Hamilton also began with an immediate tribute to Jack Dromey: “Can I start by saying; I absolutely adored Jack. I am really saddened that Jack has passed away.

“He was a stood for social justice and he championed the people in Erdington and the constituency. He fought for people who needed jobs and saving jobs.”

Cllr Hamilton then went into detail on her background – having lived in Erdington for 35 years and working as a nurse – as well as her work fighting for local residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

After her speech, and another raucous applause, campaigners got to work organising group photographs and teams for door-to-door campaigning.

One Labour Party member told Erdington Local: “I’m certainly enthusiastic. Paulette has definitely made a good impression.”

Judith Park, a local resident, went on to say: “I haven’t normally been involved in the party meetings etc. but I thought she really inspired us on the Zoom meeting.”

There were previous concerns over the organisation of the online meetings and voting process, with the Wednesday night candidacy selection starting hours later than scheduled – with a Labour source citing “technical difficulties” and problems verifying the identity of those attending to vote.

Andy Cook, who was present at the selection meeting, told: “We were all very impressed. Paulette was impressive in the way she came across and responded well to the questions put to her. I am more than confident we have made the right choice.”

Speaking to Erdington Local directly, Shabana Mahmood MP added: “We have got a fantastic local woman standing for a seat we already hold. Jack Dromey worked very hard for the people of Erdington.

“I think we can go into this by-election fairly confident and I hope we can do Jack proud and do right by his legacy by holding the seat strong for him and for Labour.

“Jack was an immense figure of British politics and of the Labour movement across the whole country, so naturally he leaves behind a record that few can match. However, we have an amazing candidate who is going to get stuck right in.

“I think if Jack could have chosen for himself the successor for his seat, he would have chosen Paulette, and I believe that is the highest honour I can pay her.”

For more on Paulette Hamilton visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/49/paulette_hamilton

NEWS: A strong start to a long awaited season for Erdington United FC

Words by Liam Smith / Pics by Ultimate Kingz & Erdington United

Sunday League football is back in full flow with the ending of lockdowns and the easing of Covid restrictions this year.

Excitement has been building over the summer for the players at Erdington United FC (EUFC), who are now getting back on the pitch for some long awaited fixtures.

Erdington United FC are off to a strong start in their current season, securing a 3-0 victory away from home for their season opener, followed by a 4-1 home victory against Hundred Acre Streetly.

In their most recent fixture Erdington United again came out worthy winners, giving Castle Vale Olympic a thrashing with a 9-1 win.

The club have moved to the Sutton League from the Festival League in search of a new challenge, after a comfortable title win in their first season. EUFC have been placed into Division One, after some pre-season and cup success.

Erdington Local caught up with their manager, Tyler Ward, who is optimistic about the season ahead – as well as giving an insight into the club’s beginnings.

“We’re a club who have most of our players from and based in Erdington,” told Ward. “We’re a young side with many of us having known each other for the past 10+ years, having gone to school together etc.”

EUFC’s manager is confident on his team’s success this season, after their first season title wins. At the point of being confirmed as league champions last season, Erdington United had a 100% record in the league – something which Tyler believes can help them push on with their aims this season.

“Our priority for the season is to get promoted into the Premier Division, and to get as far as possible in the four cup competitions we’re in. We know the quality we have amongst the players. We are confident that come summer we’ll be exactly where we need to be.”

Erdington United are always on the lookout for players to further improve and develop their squad; information on specific player profiles they are looking to fill can be found on their social media.

The club play their home games at Holly Lane on Sundays and always welcome people to go along and watch.

Regular updates on fixtures and results are also posted on their social media platforms – with all links available via the Erdington United FC website.

For more on Erdington United FC visit www.erdingtonunited.org

NEWS: Two arrested over suspicion of attempted murder after attack in Springthorpe Green

Words by Ed King / Pics by Lisa Smith & Estelle Murphy

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following a vicious attack in Springthorpe Green, Tyburn, at around 5.20pm on Saturday 28th August.

The quiet Erdington suburb became filled with emergency services yesterday afternoon, as armed police and ambulance crews responded to an alert – alongside Dog Control Units and a police helicopter circling above the local area.

West Midlands Police reported a 30-year-old was attacked with a knife and suffered serious wounds at the scene.

After being receiving ‘emergency first aid’ from responding officers the victim is now in a stable condition in hospital – his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

The offenders reportedly fled the scene in a vehicle.

Following some ‘quick-time enquiries and intelligence checks’, investigating officers later spotted a van that was believed to be linked to the stabbing.

West Midlands Police further report the van ‘failed to stop for our officers before being abandoned in Chester Road. Two men ran from the vehicle but were arrested following a foot chase.’

Residents were told to stay in their homes as West Midlands Police blocked off the garages at end of The Feldings, Sprinthorpe Green – beginning an immediate investigation into the attack.

Locals trying to drive home were asked to leave their cars outside of the crime scene.

Eyewitnesses and local residents saw a body on the floor and what appeared to be bank notes strewn across the ground, with police on the scene unable to give further information.

Local resident, John Dale, told Erdington Local: “The guy had been… well he’d been stabbed, when we came here. And he was at the top there, and the armed police, they followed us to… where they’re parked up now.

“There was money all over the floor. £20 notes. But they seemed to think it was counterfeit or something, but they was all over the floor.”

Jean, another local resident, who was drying her hair at the time but looked out of here window to see the disturbance, confirmed there seemed to be bank notes on the floor.

Two men aged 22 and 23 remain in custody for questioning, having been arrested for attempted murder.

Superintendent Paul Minor from West Midlands Police said: “The victim has suffered serious wounds from what is believed to be a knife and is lucky to be alive.

“Our armed police attended the scene and performed emergency fast aid (an advanced from of first aid) to stem the bleeding before paramedics arrived.

“Our enquiries quickly led us to identify a vehicle we believe was connected to the stabbing and around an hour later we had arrested two suspects. That’s brilliant work from all the officers involved.”

West Midlands Police are e appealing for witnesses who’ve not yet spoken to them to come forward.

Anyone with information can message West Midlands Police on Live Chat via www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/live-chat

People can also call 101 quoting crime ref 20/1708818/21 – or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

NEWS: Police swarm on The Feldings, Springthorpe Green as residents told to say in their homes

NEWS: Police swarm on The Feldings, Springthorpe Green as residents told to say in their homes

Words and pics by Lisa Smith & Estelle Murphy – reporting from the scene.

Following an incident this afternoon, police and emergency services swarmed across The Feldings, Sringthorpe Green investigating a potentially serious crime committed earlier today.

At around 5-6pm on Saturday 28th August, the quiet Erdington suburb was awash with uniformed police officers and Dog Control Units all attending the scene, along with local ambulances crews and a police helicopter circling above the local area and Pype Hayes Park.

Residents were told to stay in their homes as West Midlands Police began investigating an unconfirmed incident that had taken place at the scene – blocking off the garages at end of The Feldings, that neighbour the grounds of the Hollyfield Sports and Conference Centre.

Motorists who were trying to return home were stopped by officers still investigating the scene.

Eyewitnesses and local residents saw a body on the floor and what appeared to be bank notes strewn across the ground, with police on the scene unable to give further information.

Local resident, John Dale, told Erdington Local: “The guy had been… well he’d been stabbed, when we came here. And he was at the top there, and the armed police, they followed us to… where they’re parked up now.

“There was money all over the floor. £20 notes. But they seemed to think it was counterfeit or something, but they was all over the floor.”

Jean, another local resident, who was drying her hair at the time but looked out of here window to see the disturbance, confirmed there seemed to be bank notes on the floor.

Speaking to an Erdington Local correspondent as events unfolded at the scene, Jean witnessed: “There are now what look like incident police at the scene… the helicopter has left, I’m not sure on (the status of) the victim.

“Another neighbour was with him before the police or the ambulance came.”

According to a motorist driving up the Chester Road during the time, armed police were also seen stopping someone in a white Audi near the scene – although it remains unclear if the incidents are related.

Erdington Local contacted West Midlands Police who were unable to comment at the time, with no further reports issued by emergency services.

NEWS: Bagot Arms pub burns down in ‘deliberate’ arson attack

Words & pics by Liam Smith

Smoke billowed across North Birmingham yesterday as over 40 firefighters tackled a blaze at the old Bagot Arms pub at the Tyburn Road roundabout.

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) were alerted to the fire by “multiple calls from the public” at around 5pm on Thursday August 5, dispatching seven fire engines to the scene.

Pumping water from the canal, emergency services shut down several roads around the area – including the busy thoroughfares Eachelhurst Road and Tyburn Road.

Firefighters worked tirelessly to control the blaze until late in the evening, finally starting to reduce the number of fire engines at the scene at around 10pm.

WMFS Station Manager Mark Hudson, who was Incident Commander at the site, told Erdington Local: “Our engines arrived on the scene very quickly to a fully developed fire in the roof space and on the ground and first floor.”

“The pub is void/derelict and due to the multiple sources of fire within the pub it is likely that is has been started deliberately. We have attended a number of incidents here previously, so we are comfortable in saying that the fire has been started deliberately.

“There isn’t anybody injured as far as we are aware. We still need to conduct a full search of the building; we have been unable to up to now due to the fire spread and also the damage to the building.

“At the moment we are focusing on defensive firefighting (putting the fire out) until we get the go ahead from the structural engineer.”

“There are currently seven fire engines, including two specialist resources which consist of a hydraulic platform, which can apply a lot of water at height and a high-volume pump, which is taking water directly from the canal and being pumped into the fire.

“Eventually we will be scaling back our resources but for now we remain in place”

In a previous statement, West Midlands Fire Service Group Manager Rob Davis told Erdington Local:

“First call received at 17:02 with a large amount of multiple calls from the public. We had seven fire engines with supporting vehicles and 45 firefighters attend this incident. We also deployed our high-volume pump to supply water from the nearby canal.

“This was a derelict public house due for demolition and there were no persons involved. Following an investigation by our officers this fire is believed to be started deliberately.”

Seven fire engines and 45 firefighters tackle blaze at Bagot Arms

For more from West Midlands Fire Service visit www.wmfs.net

PICTURE GALLERY: Erdington locals celebrate the return of Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair to Pype Hayes Park

Words by Liam Smith / Pics by Hannah White

Beautiful weather over the recent half term holiday saw families flock to Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair at Pype Hayes park.

Rides, games, prizes and food were in abundance, with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions meaning the family favourite attraction could return to the park for the first time since 2019.

Erdington Local paid a visit to soak up the atmosphere. Whilst resisting the urge to have a go on the waltzers and dodgems, we spoke to the local residents and families who had also paid a visit.

Courtney, mother of two, told Erdington Local: “It’s lovely, it’s been very good. It’s good to finally get a good day out, it’s been horrible being stuck inside for a year so it’s nice to get out and have something for the kids to do.”

We also spoke to Lee, a staff member running one of the games at the fair. He said: “It’s brilliant to be back. It’s nice to see people out enjoying themselves again.

“We’ve all come out of lockdown and people are wanting to get out and spend their money, which is good for the fair and the community.”

Other parents we spoke to shared the sentiment, with some saying they had been “desperate to get out and do something… the kids have been looking forward to it for weeks now.

“It makes a nice change from only being able to go to school then being stuck in the house all the time.”

Louise, 25, from Pype Hayes, added: “I used to come here all of the time as a child, so for me it’s great to see it back with all of the old favourite rides here. It’s very nostalgic walking through the fair seeing kids running around having fun like we used to.

“I can’t imagine how exciting it must be especially for the younger kids who this could be their first time here. It’s nice to see smiles on everyone’s faces.”

The fair’s return was overall hugely welcomed in the area, with the organisers staying for a week longer than originanlly planned.

Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair has been a longstanding favourite amongst Brummies, popping up in parks across the city for the past 30 years.

Pype Hayes Park is a regular site for the family focused attraction with plans already being made to welcome back the funfair.

PICTURE GALLERY: Robert Wikinson’s Family Funfair at Pype Hayes Park – by Hannah White

For more on Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair at Pype Hayes Park, or to watch out for further events across the city, visit www.facebook.com/Robert-Wilkinsons-Family-Funfair-Birmingham

NEWS: Multi vehicle fire at Pype Haye Park sends thick black smoke across Chester Road

Words & pics by Liam Smith / Video by Tina Kerr

Local residents watched on today as thick black smoke billowed out from behind a residency near Pype Hayes Park.

Two fire engines were called to the scene at around 16:08 on Chester Road – at the vehicle entrance to the park – as a large group gathered on the street to watch firefighters tackle the blaze.

The cause of the fire was identified as two mini-coaches that had been set alight, emitting thick smoke which filled the nearby roads – causing passing cars to come to a standstill as extremely low visibility made it dangerous for traffic.

Smoke was visible far across the local area, with local resident Sue Parker saying: “I saw the smoke from my back garden on Tyburn Road.”

Lisa Smith, who lives in Pype Hayes, told Erdington Local: “I could see black smoke billowing out whilst in my garden. I alerted my family members right away who quickly ran to the scene.

“Initially, we were worried that it could have been a neighbour’s house on fire, but fortunately this was not the case and nobody was hurt as a result of it.”

Another local resident, Tina Kerr, took a video of the scene from the Chester Road – warning people to stay away from the area as conditions got worse. Watch her video below.

Families attending Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair were also caught up in the chaos as the fire raged on not far from the event site, emergency vehicles and fire engines causing a congestion of cars wanting to leave the park whilst the incident was dealt with.

Once the situation was under control and there was no danger to public safety, the West Midlands Fire Officer in charge at the scene told Erdington Local: “there are no casualties, nobody was present at the scene when we arrived thankfully.”

When asked what could have caused the fire, or if it could have started accidentally or naturally, he added: “it looks like a suspicious fire; we’re not treating it as accidental”.

The flames were soon under control, after multiple hoses were deployed with the second engine present at the scene leaving relatively quickly.

However, several curious onlookers stayed to watch as the firefighters continued to control the blaze, with one lady even buying some cold drinks for the emergency service staff from a nearby shop.

The fire has since been completely subdued and a team of investigators are now working to determine the cause of the multi-vehicle fire.

According to the public safety website fireprotectiononline.co.uk in the UK alone ‘there are approximately 100,000 cars fires and around 100 people are killed in a vehicle fire each year.’

Video of smoke across Chester Road – filmed by Tina Kerr

For more on fire safety from West Midlands Fire Service visit www.wmfs.net

NEWS: Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair returns to Pype Hayes Park for first event since 2019

Words by Ed King & Liam Smith / Pics by Ed King

Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair comes back to Pype Hayes Park this week, opening its gates for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdowns.

Running from Saturday 29 May to Sunday 6 June, the funfair is open to families from 12noon until 7:30pm everyday – with classic rides for both children and adults, alongside carnival stalls and refreshments.

Following the announcement of the event’s return via social media, hundreds of local residents took to the funfair’s Facebook page – many looking forward to the event after widespread closures and cancellations.

Michaela Aichaoui said: “Excellent news, perfect timing for my daughter’s birthday week.”

Adam Edwards added: “I’m heading down to the fair on Saturday, might even see some old faces from back in the day?”

Another local mum, Raychel Hetherington, said: “We’re coming my special needs lad loves how u all treat him here.”

Hosting events across Birmingham for over 30 years, Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair has been a regular fixture on the city’s cultural calendar – operating from large Council owned parks such as Pype Hayes, Small Heath, Cannon Hill, and Acocks Green.

But since the pandemic all events were put on hold, with Pype Hayes Park the first place to welcome back the Family Funfair since the Government began easing restrictions – returning to the site where the event was last held in 2019.

Speaking directly to Erdington Local, Pype Hayes resident Lailla Silini said: “A fair at Pype Hayes park has been a welcomed event since I was very little girl and still brings a day of enjoyment for many families.

“An affordable day out compared to themed parks and I really hope the weather holds out for them to get some money into their pockets.”

Ruth White added: “It’s nice to see some normality again, something for the kids in the area to look forward to. I hope this is the first of many events in Pype Hayes/Erdington this summer.”

But coronavirus was not the only challenge for the team behind the Family Funfair, as a week of torrential rain and sudden downpours had organisers working around the clock to ensure the event was operational in time.

Thankfully as the half term holiday week approached the bad weather eased up, allowing the crew to complete rigorous checks across the site and open as planned.

Robert Wilkinson, founder and operator of Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair, told Erdington Local:

“The funfair has been out of action for 18 months and this is the first event we’ve been able to put on since the pandemic hit – we’re excited to be coming back to Pype Hayes, bringing the families of Erdington a safe and fun event that they can enjoy together.

“The past year has been hard, people have lost jobs and loved ones, and we’re operating under Covid safe conditions to make sure safety is our top priority.

“People deserve a chance to smile and have fun as a family and that’s also what we’re here to do. So come down and enjoy yourselves; we’d be thrilled to see you in Pype Hayes Park this half term holiday week.”

For more on Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair at Pype Hayes Park, or to watch out for further events across the city, visit www.facebook.com/Robert-Wilkinsons-Family-Funfair-Birmingham-385221918652307