NEWS: Castle Vale Councillor to hold ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ at Greenwood Academy on 18 May

Words & pics by Ed King / Profile pic supplied by Cllr Ray Goodwin

Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) is to hold a special ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ to address concerns of crime and policing on the estate.

Scheduled for Saturday 18 May, the event will be held in Greenwood Academy’s main school hall from 1:30pm – open to all and free to attend.

Local residents and community groups will be invited, as will the local police force, representatives from the estate’s main housing provider The Pioneer Group, and the Erdington constituency MP Paulette Hamilton.

Cllr Goodwin has informed Erdington Local he will further be inviting the sitting West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, who will both begin their new terms in office from 2 May.

Cllr Goodwin has organised the public meeting after being “fed up” with the “hands off approach” to policing on Castle Vale, and the dangers a lack of visible police presence can allow.

Having held a previous public meeting about safety on the estate in 2023, Cllr Goodwin has pushed forward this year’s ‘crime summit’ after police seemingly ignored local witness reports of gun shots following a “violent disorder” on the High Street on Thursday 5 April.

According to the police’s initial statement issued on Friday 6 April, the attack, which took place in broad daylight in and around the Nisa convenience store, was isolated to “four masked men – understood to be carrying machetes”.

However, multiple Castle Vale locals reported hearing what they believed to be gun shots and took to social media to warn others about the incident.

Cllr Goodwin repeatedly petitioned police to escalate their investigation and take seriously the potential involvement of firearms, even taking them to where spent shotgun cartridges had been found near the scene of the crime.

Days later and after heavy rainfall, police returned to continue with forensic investigations, stating they had received “a report of a firearm being discharged” and were “keeping an open mind” about the nature of the assault.

Cllr Goodwin told Erdington Local: “Like many residents, I am fed up with what feels like a hands off approach from the police when it comes to crime on Castle Vale. I understand budgets have been cut, but the lack of police presence on the estate is a serious concern.

“Plus, the seeming unwillingness to listen to local residents is totally unacceptable – we should be working together to keep Castle Vale safe; residents should not have to push the police into action over reports of serious crime.”

Crime on Castle Vale is often a cause for concern amongst the local residents, businesses, and civic stakeholders who live and work on the estate. In a recent Ward meeting, one of the action plan points was how to make Castle Vale ‘bold and safe’ – with a formal request to see the estate’s CCTV upgraded featured on the meeting minutes.

The absence of a local police station in Castle Vale has also often been criticised, following its closure after West Midlands Police announced an initial 28 community stations were getting axed in 2015. The building, situated at the end of Castle Vale High Street, has now been converted into apartments.

But whilst the impact of crime and the loss of community policing is felt across the city, there are a mix of opinions about how these issues directly affect life on the north Birmingham estate.

One Castle Vale resident told Erdington Local: “I don’t think the policing on Castle Vale is any worse than other areas of Birmingham. The recent incident (on 5 April) highlighted the fact that the police need to listen to the residents more and take on board what they say. 

“If it hadn’t been for Cllr Ray Goodwin and Erdington Local, they would not have investigated the firearms involvement. A bigger police presence would be appreciated at night when the street cruising and racing around the estate is rife.”

However, another Castle Vale local and young mother added: “I can’t let my children play out on the estate due to the amount of violent crime which goes unchecked. If there was a more visible police presence there wouldn’t be as many teenagers out to cause trouble. 

“Youngsters on motorbikes race round the estate and, even if reported, the police don’t come to investigate or find them. We also need the CCTV system to be fully functioning and monitored 24 hours a day.”

Organised by Cllr Ray Goodwin, the ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ will be held at Greenwood Academy from 1:30pm on Saturday 18 May – free to attend and open to all.

Updates will be posted online at www.facebook.com/thisiscastlevale and on Erdington Local

NEWS: Meeting held to tackle “endemic” crime and anti-social behaviour in Erdington Town Centre

Words & pics by Ed King

A meeting was held last week between West Midlands Police and High Street retailers, looking at ways to tackle the “endemic” crime and anti-social behaviour in Erdington Town Centre.

In attendance from West Midlands Police were the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, and Chief Superintendent Richard North – alongside Inspector Shameem Ahmed and Seargent Nicola Hooper, who oversee the Erdington police teams.

The meeting was held at St Barnabas Church, Erdington High Street, and was closed off to members of the public.

Representing the local retail community were managers and staff from a handful of High Street businesses including Superdrug, Card Factory, Erdington Pet Centre, The Church Tavern, and BoyleSports UK – the latter petitioning the local police to tackle alleged drug dealing outside their outlet at 210A High Street.

“Why can’t we have a dispersal order?” questioned a senior staff member from BoyleSports UK, asking the police directly what they are doing to challenge the alleged dealers.

“I don’t want these people outside my shop…” she continued, “they need to be gone, they’re a blight on the High Street. It’s relentless, they start dealing from 8am.”

Organised by the Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton and Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID), last week’s meeting was the continuation of conversations between the High Street business community and law enforcement representatives that began in February this year.

But whilst many retailers welcome any attempts at addressing the issues affecting the High Street, many others have pulled back from the meetings – telling Erdington Local they have stopped engaging with local police or politicians, who they feel are failing to get to grips with the problems or offer any effective solutions.

When the lack of local businesses in attendance was raised at the recent meeting, one longstanding High Street retailer explained: “The shop keepers have been at the first and fourth meetings, and they don’t see any change. What’s the point of calling the police when it takes them over one hour to respond.”

Another retailer supported the frustrations reportedly felt by many High Street businesses, telling the group: “There are no consequences to what they (the shoplifters) do. And there’s a lot of apathy from (High Street) retailers… nothing seems to get done.”

However, Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, who’s office invited local business to attend the meeting last week, was resolute that local businesses had been given adequate chance to be involved. She told: “We went to virtually every shop on the High Street… the people who aren’t here don’t want to be here. We can only work with what we’ve got.”

Further addressing the local businesses, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster – who has visited Erdington High Street several times – told: “It’s (crime and anti-social behaviour) endemic… we’re hearing about problems again and again. The issue is not being gripped… for a variety of different explanations.”

He continued: “A big part of the answer is making sure we rebuild community policing… visible policing helps keep families and communities safe,” before warning retailers “don’t underestimate the task” the police had in front of them to tackle crime on Erdington High Street.

Chief Superintendent Richard North also confirmed he had “seen some of the challenges and appreciate the frustrations”, and that he would “defend the officers here who are dealing with crimes across the constituency”.

He further told how West Midlands Police were recruiting new officers, but it would take time to train any incoming staff “up to independent control status”. Although Chief Superintendent Richard North did confirm that “going forward” there should be “more officers” deployed into Erdington.

He added: “As recruitment settles down, we should be in a better position.”

Outside of recruiting and training new police officers, there is also a ’10 Point Plan’ currently being worked through by Birmingham City Council to address issues on the High Street from street lighting to police presence.

Ending the meeting everyone in attendance was invited to comment, with Erdington Ward Councillor Gareth Moore telling: “It’s great that we met today but there needs to be more progression… I don’t want to meet again in a couple of months and be talking about the same things.”

Paulette Hamilton MP added: “I want to be able to walk up and down that High Street and feel as safe as I used to.”

The next meeting, which is open to all retailers in Erdington Town Centre, is scheduled for February 2024.

LOCAL Q&A: John Hodgkiss, Erdington Town Centre Manager

Pics by Connor Pope & Ed King

John Hodgkiss was appointed Erdington Town Centre Manager in August 2022, after his longstanding predecessor, Terry Guest, left the role. Responsible for delivering the Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID) agenda, and supporting the businesses that finance the EBID, the position stands between the retail community and local stakeholders and blue light services.

Now a year in post, Erdington Local caught up with John Hodgkiss to look back at the last 12 months and sneak a peek at the next.

___________

What have been the biggest challenges facing Erdington High Street?

Like every town centre in the county, the cost of living crisis has continued to cause uncertainty for retailers and shoppers on the High Street.

This all comes at a time when town centres are moving in a new direction in the Post Covid era, such as becoming a home for community projects and charities able to connect more widely with those who need help.

The biggest challenge facing Erdington High Street has proven to be the raising level of crime and anti-social behaviour. To really be able to continue growing footfall and attract inward investment, it is vital that we work hard to reduce crime which will in turn change people’s perception of Erdington High Street, enabling us to do so much more when marketing the town centre in the future.

 

And what have been the main highlights and achievements from your time as Town Centre Manager?

The main highlight has been working with some of Erdington’s great charity projects. I haven’t worked in a town before with such a strong community as in Erdington. There is so much great work going on out there. Erdington is most certainly a leader in this field, but more work needs to be done here in getting the word out about these organisations, not only to Erdington residents, but Birmingham-wide.

The Christmas, Easter, and Jazz & Blues Festival events were great fun, and they were opportunities to welcome visitors from outside Erdington and showcase the town.

Another highlight has been applying for and securing funds over and above what we receive via BID levy in order to pay for extra events this winter and to employ a second Street Warden to patrol the High Street.

 

We agree, especially the Jazz & Blues Festival gigs at Oikos – any more events like this planned?

We’re really pleased with how the Birmingham Jazz and Blues gigs turned out. Despite the awful weather, the town pulled together to make sure the show went on.

It was the first time that Erdington had taken part in the city-wide festival. The feedback was extremely positive with great attendance. We have already been asked to take part again next year, so let’s hope we can make it even bigger and better in 2024 and attract people from all over Birmingham to attend.

 

As we head out of summer and into autumn and winter, are there any seasonal events in the pipeline – over Halloween or Christmas for example?

Believe it or not, we have been working on Christmas for a few weeks now, recruiting community members and volunteers to help make Christmas in Erdington even bigger and better this year.

We were really pleased with the turnout for the switch-on last year, but we aim to improve in 2023 and put on a great switch-on as well as other events throughout December.

November and December are crucial times for retail, so we want to work alongside retailers to bring in as many shoppers possible, reminding local residents and shoppers further afield that they can get so much of their Christmas shopping in Erdington.

 

The EBID was reinstated for its next five year tenure a few months before you took over, do you feel it is making headway on its campaign promises – to tackle crime, encourage higher footfall, and promote Erdington to a wider audience?

These issues are still those that are the most important to deliver for Erdington during the lifetime of this EBID tenure and it’s very evident how these goals are ultimately linked, with a ‘knock-on’ effect on each other.

As mentioned, crime is still the biggest issue facing Erdington at the moment. By recently employing a new Street Warden, we hope to see a decrease in anti-social behaviour and crime, making full use of the Public Space Protection Order.

Through getting to grips with crime, we would expect greater footfall, bringing back those shoppers who have been concerned to visit the High Street more recently. At this time, it is vital that we continue communicating the positives about Erdington far and wide and encourage shoppers to revisit and enjoy Erdington Town Centre. Therefore, it’s essential that these three promises stay at the top of the list for delivery.

 

The EBID recently helped set up meetings between the retail community, local police teams, and elected officials, to draft a 10 point plan for the High Street – can you update our readers on this?

The formation of this 10 point plan dates back to February this year with a public meeting to discuss a way forward with the crime situation in Erdington. The latest meeting took place in May and the next I believe is to go ahead in October (later confirmed to be scheduled for 19 October).

The EBID has been involved by offering to take details of crime from retailers on the High Street due to the wide-spread observation that they are unable to get though the 101 non-emergency number to report crime.

We were also very keen to help with the provision of a ‘pop-up’ police surgery, providing an essential point of contact for those affected by or concerned about crime on the High Street.

We are still waiting on updates on progression with these projects, which is why we felt it necessary to do what we could in the private sector, by seeking extra funding to employ another Street Warden to help alleviate the worsening situation right now.

We will continue to apply for extra funding where we can ‘step-up’ what the EBID is able to do in order to achieve lower crime rates in Erdington.

 

You have a strong history of working with BIDs in London and the West Midlands, do you feel they work well with other local stakeholders – such as the Council and police?

BIDs can certainly work well and closely with other stakeholders, but it is important to clarify that BIDs are here to provide services over and above what public sector organisations are funded to provide.

The EBID brings in just over 100k per year, so we’re working hard at the moment to apply for as much extra funding as possible to deal with the crime situation and make sure that we also deliver the projects outlined and voted for in the business plan. Unfortunately, we are unable to ‘pick up’ funding shortages of others.

 

You mentioned to Erdington Local before that you were keen to establish Erdington High Street as and LGBTQ+ ‘safe space’, can you tell us any more about this ambition?

This came up in response to the report that there was a lack of grass roots LGBTQ+ support in North Birmingham and the fact the team at the Recovery Foundation had launched an LGBTQ+ support programme, ‘Rainbow Minds Matter’.

Together, we want to highlight the fact that Erdington is safe and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community by highlighting the safe spaces throughout the High Street. This is a project we will be working on in the near future to get the message of diversity and inclusivity across.

 

Are there any other aims for the EBID in the next twelve months?

Looking at the next 12 months, tackling crime will continue as a priority, evaluating the improvement on the High Street over this time.

We will continue reporting on the many positives regarding Erdington Town Centre, enhance our events programme, and increase a higher percentage of shoppers from outside Birmingham.

Another important aim is to attract new retailers, both national and independent into Erdington Town Centre.

 

If you could wave a magic wand and change any aspect of Erdington High Street overnight, what would you want to see when you woke up in the morning?

I would love to see Erdington as leading the way in what a quickly evolving British town centre looks like. So many town centres are in a transition period at the moment due to many external and economic pressures not experienced to this extent before.

The exemplary community projects are here in Erdington already, so an ambition would be to have an Erdington Community Hub with a home on the High Street, to bring together as many opportunities and assistance together for the community together in one place and the perfect way to shout about everything Erdington!

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk or visit the EBID Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ErdingtonTownCentre

(Ed’s note: This LOCAL Q&A was first submitted to Erdington Local before the announcement of any Section 114 notice issued by Birmingham City Council.)

NEWS: Short Heath Road stabbing victim suffered ‘serious but not life-threatening’ injuries, emergency services confirm

Words by Ed King / Pics by Estelle Murphy

A man who was stabbed on Short Heath Road yesterday suffered ‘serious but not life-threatening’ injuries, emergency services have confirmed.

The victim, who has identified as 20 years old, was treated at the scene after the alarm was raised at around 5pm on Tuesday 3 July – following an attack that saw ‘injuries to his chest and arm.’

Centred around the Lifestyle Express newsagent on Short Heath Road, West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to an incident at 5.09pm – with the first ambulance arriving at the scene in only three minutes.

An unconfirmed post on Erdington Local’s social media, following our initial report of the attack, suggests the young man went into the popular convenience store seeking help after being stabbed on the street – with staff administering first aid and alerting the emergency services.

West Midlands Ambulence Service further told a second ambulance, a paramedic officer, the West Midlands Care Team, a MERIT trauma doctor, and critical care paramedic also attended – with witnesses seeing police cordon off the entrance to Short Heath Road from Station Road.

Witnesses to the response further say they saw ambulance crew attending to the victim for around 20 minutes before taking him away from the scene, presumably to hospital for further care.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman told: “On arrival, crews found a man with serious injuries.

“Ambulance staff immediately began administering advanced trauma care before he was conveyed to hospital for further treatment.”

A spokesperson from West Midlands Police added: “We’re investigating after a man was found with stab injuries in Short Heath Road, Erdington, at around 5pm yesterday (Tues).

“Officers attended and the 20-year-old was being treated by paramedics for injuries to his chest and arm. He was taken to hospital and is understood to be in a serious but not life-threatening condition.

“Neighbourhood teams are patrolling in the area to offer reassurance to residents. Anyone with information can contact investigators via Live Chat on our website or call 101, quoting crime reference number 20/576105/23.”

Following the first reports of the attack by Erdington Local, many people took to social media to lament the rise in knife crime over recent years – alongside a stripped back and arguably underfunded local police force.

However, others were also quick to recognise the issue as a citywide concern.

NEWS: Police shut off Short Heath Road after reported stabbing in local newsagent

Words by Ed King & Estelle Murphy / Pics & video by Estelle Murphy

Police shut off Short Heath Road this afternoon, following reports of a stabbing at the Lifestyle Express newsagent – next to the Facethetics beauty salon and just opposite The Red Lion Pub.

Full details of the incident are yet to be confirmed by emergency services, although Erdington Local had a reporter at the scene talking to the many local residents who were witnessing events.

Rush hour traffic was brought to a standstill after emergency services attended the scene at around 5pm, with hundreds of commuters forced to take alternative routes following a police cordon blocking the entrance to Short Heath Road from Station Road.

Pictures taken from the scene show at least four marked police cars and one ambulance in attendance, as blue police tape is extended to block off the busy thoroughfare.

Witnesses at the scene further told they saw police dog vans, a Critical Care Team vehicle, and an armed response unit also attend.

One eyewitness told Erdington Local: “I think it happened at around 5pm, I saw them (emergency services) working on a young man, possibly in his early twenties, for about 20 minutes before the took him away. I’m pretty sure he was stabbed, possibly by a machete.”

Another explained: “I was driving home, down Station Road, and the traffic was almost gridlock. Then I saw all the flashing lights and eventually the police tape.

“It’s just a regular afternoon, a Monday. You don’t expect to literally run into a crime scene on your way back from work.”

Police at the scene were not able to confirm or deny any information. Erdington Local has contacted the emergency services involved for more information or an official public statement.

NEWS: Hundreds delayed after ‘casualty on the tracks’ at Erdington Train Station

Words by Erdington Local editorial team

Hundreds of passengers were delayed this morning, after trains were cancelled due to a fatality on the line at Erdington Railway Station.

Emergency Services were called to the Cross City Line station just after 8am and trains between Lichfield and Birmingham were stopped.

Police and ambulance services were at the scene this morning, with local commuters seeing the emergency services around Station Road and taking to social media to warn other to avoid the area.

West Midlands Railway estimated there could be delays until just before midday, and the police have confirmed the death is not being treated as suspicious.

A British Transport Police spokesman said: “Officers were called to Erdington at 8.09am following reports of a casualty on the tracks. Paramedics also attended however sadly a person was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The incident is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service added: “We were called to an incident on the railway line near to Erdington Station at 8.06am. One ambulance and a paramedic officer attended the scene. On arrival we discovered one patient.

“Sadly, it quickly became apparent nothing could be done to save him and he was confirmed dead at the scene.”

A popular route for people heading out to work, Birmingham University, or the QE Hospital, National Express West Midlands are accepting tickets from affected rail users on its bus services until further notice.

West Midlands Railway tweeted at 9am: “Cancellations to services between Birmingham New Street and Lichfield Trent Valley. Due to the emergency services dealing with an incident between Birmingham New Street and Lichfield Trent Valley Hl the line is blocked.

“Tickets will be accepted on NXWM bus routes – 11A, 11C, X14, 14, 65, 66, 67, 907, X3, X4, X5, 6, 77, 77A.

“Coaches have been requested starting at Lichfield Trent Valley and Sutton Coldfield shuttling between stations.”

For more on all train services across Birmingham visit www.westmidlandsrailway.co.uk

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

Last week, a local resident told me that their 70 year old father “carries a personal attack alarm when he goes on his morning walk” and despite installing home security, does not sleep well at night. There are many people across our community who share the same concerns – that they feel unsafe and want more to be done.

Since 2010, the Tories have cut £175million from the West Midlands Police Budget that has led to over 2,200 fewer police officers, hundreds of police staff jobs slashed, and the closure of many police stations – most recently for our community in Kingstanding, where the station is currently being sold off.

The reality of more than a decade of cuts to policing has been devastating for Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale.

Our community ranks as the second highest in the West Midlands for reported crime, and as crime hits a 20 year high, the number of people being charged is falling to a record low in England and Wales. Criminals are being let off and victims are feeling let down.

Recently, at a meeting I arranged in Stockland Green with residents’ groups and businesses on Slade Road, Birmingham City Council confirmed that they would be installing new CCTV cameras in the area. The announcement came as a huge relief to local people and traders as the CCTV cameras will help monitor and deter criminal behaviour, as well as assist the police when it comes to catching offenders.

In other parts of our community, despite their limited resources, I have been working with local police teams and held similar meetings to address crime and antisocial behaviour in Erdington and Castle Vale.

In Kingstanding, people have told me that following the closure of many youth clubs, young people have been left with nowhere to go. Our communities were once home to locally run youth centres that provided activities and a safe space for young people.

Sadly, 13 years of devastating Tory government cuts have decimated our youth services with £1billion cut from youth funding, over 4,500 youth work jobs lost, and 760 youth centres closed nationally.

The first duty of the government is to keep people safe and our country secure – this is the foundation and the test for any government – but the Tories have failed.

13 years of Tory failure have left many communities, like ours, worse off and it will be left to a Labour government to pick up the pieces. For me and many others, that can’t come soon enough.

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

NEWS: WMP Chief Constable “determined to put more resources” into local policing and build “a higher level of visibility” in areas such as Erdington High Street

Words by Ed King / Pics by Ed King or taken from live feed of SPCB

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford is “determined to put more resources into local (policing)” and assures local retailers “when our operating model changes there will be a higher level of visibility” and police presence in areas such as Erdington High Street.

Following our feature last week titled ‘Erdington retailers are losing thousands on “lawless” High Street scourged by shoplifters’, Erdington Local met with the region’s most senior police officer to discuss crime in the once busy shopping district.

As part of the Strategic Policing and Crime Board’s (PSCB) monthly meeting, chaired by Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil, the urgent plight of Erdington’s High Streeet retailers was presented directly to the WMP Chief Constable.

Issues including a lack of police presence on the High Street, the Public Space Protection Order, CCTV, and better support for the existing shop security and Erdington Street Warden were all raised – with a particular focus given to shops that report crimes and claim no effective police response.

According to many High Street retailers, repeat and violent offenders are also left unchallenged by local law enforcement – with some shoplifters let go by police who attend the scene, even after being caught on CCTV stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods and detained by shop security.

(Click here to read more about the experiences of staff working at Peacocks and the Coop on Erdington High Street.)

WMP Chief Constable Craig Guildford responded: “(What) you’ve said about shoplifters being detained does cause me some trouble and I intend to have a deeper look into that.

“Because if a shopkeeper is ringing up, and there’s a shoplifter there to be arrested, that’s being a pain in the backside, we need to go and deal with it.”

He added: “But proportionately. Sometimes if that shoplifter is of a young age, or it’s a lower value item, we may… try and use restorative justice to prevent reoffending. And I also support the officers in doing that.

“But sometimes, from a business owners perspective, that might not be the best thing since sliced bread.”

Many High Street retailers have further told Erdington Local of the problems with using emergency numbers to report crimes to the police, spending “45mins to an hour trying to get through to 101.”

Alongside no immediate response to potentially dangerous situations, one store manager also previously explained:

“One person off that shop floor could allow three of four shoplifters in the shop. I physically can’t do it; I literally can’t leave the shop floor.”

The failings of the 999 and 101 numbers were also on the Strategic Policing and Crime Board agenda, with Chief Constable Craig Guildford “less content with our position on 101s” but looking to introduce “a raft of measures” to improve the service that the force is “moving forward with at pace.”

He also urged larger local retailers to “up their own security” and build a bigger “provision of security to deter some of these offences… to make sure the most resources can be applied to the problem.”

In a Valentines Day meeting with the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID) and local retailers, held at the request of Paulette Hamilton MP, Erdington’s then serving Sergeant Simon Wheeler also urged High Street businesses to use 101 to report crime – explaining the numbers of reports can affect how many officers are deployed in an area.

But despite “regular meetings” between the police and Erdington BID “to share concerns and agree approaches”, the 14 February event was the first time several retailers had met either Sergeant Wheeler or the BID’s new Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss – both of whom came into post around six to eight months ago.

When questioned if this was an appropriate amount of time for such representatives to have made contact with local retailers, especially under the shadow of constant complaints around crime on the High Street, Chief Constable Guildford responded:

“I concur with many of the points made. I do run the police force, and eight months does seem like a long time to me too. All I would say is that we’re committed to improving that.

“I definitely need people to report, to ring 999, if there’s a shoplifter detained that’s kicking off or assaulting anybody.

“And at the same time, I’d also encourage (people) to engage the BID and encourage the local businesses to work with the BID as well.

“It sounds like the new person may be able to facilitate more of that.”

NEWS: One man and two women charged after ‘swift arrests’ following assault outside Swan pub

Words & pics by Ed King

West Midlands Police have charged one man and two women following a vicious attack outside The Swan pub on Friday 10 February, which left a man fighting for his life in hospital.

The three people arrested, all in their thirties, have been charged with ‘offences of public order and assault’ and have been remanded in custody until they will appear in court on 21 March.

The victim is in a ‘serious but stable condition’, after being rushed to hospital by emergency services.

The attack sparked widespread condemnation for those responsible, with many fearing the victim of the brutal assault had died from his injuries.

A statement from West Midlands Police told: “We have arrested three people following a disorder in Erdington High Street on 10 February, in which a man suffered serious head injuries.

“A 38-year-old man and two women, aged 34 and 31, have been charged with offences of public order and assault and have been remanded in custody.

“The injured man remains in hospital where he is in a serious but stable condition.”

The horrendous attack occurred early on the evening of Friday 10 February, with local law enforcement responding quickly to calls of a violent disturbance outside the popular High Street pub.

One Erdington local was drinking in The Charlie Hall when he saw uniformed officers come into the neighbouring pub, presumably on the hunt for those involved in the attack.

He told Erdington Local: “It was only early, around six or seven, and about four police (officers) turned up and started searching the pub and beer garden.

“I didn’t know anything about what had happened, I don’t think anyone did at that time, but you could tell they (the police) were looking for someone.

“It caused a few jokes when they came in, a few punters put their hands in the air. But to be fair to the police they were well natured about it – although it was clear they weren’t leaving until they’d either found who they were after or made sure they weren’t there.”

Erdington High Street has become a hotspot for crime in recent years, with many local residents and businesses feeling unsupported by the local police teams. And whilst people still strive to celebrate the positives in the area, the growing problems with theft and antisocial behaviour have become an unassailable issue for many who visit and work on Erdington High Street.

A meeting was held on Tuesday 14 February to hear the concerns of local retailers, who have told Erdington Local they are losing thousands in regular attacks from shoplifters – many of whom are known to both the shop staff and police.

Organised by the Erdington Business Improvement District, at the request of Paulette Hamilton MP, the meeting was the first time several local retailers reported having met with either the police or Erdington’s Town Centre Manger to discuss the problems over crime on the High Street.

Erdington Local will also be meeting with West Midlands Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford on 28 February, requesting a stance of ‘no tolerance’ to crime on the High Street and to support an ‘effective working partnership’ local officers and the High Street’s existing security staff.

Following the announcement three people had been arrested and charged over the 10 February attack, West Midlands Police further told Erdington Local:

“Keeping our communities safe is our priority and we know anti-social behaviour and public disorders like the one which occurred recently can cause upset and concern among local residents.

“As part of our investigation, we made swift arrests and three people have now been charged to appear at court on 21 March.

“We’re grateful to members of the local community who supported us with our enquiries. We will continue to challenge this kind of behaviour and our officers recently visited the Swan public house to offer reassurance and to make a further appeal for witnesses to the recent disorder.”

Anyone with information can contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat on www.west-midlands.police.uk or by calling 101 quoting log 3244 of 10 February.

If you have been affected by crime and antisocial behaviour on Erdington High Street, or by anything raised in this article, you can tell us your story via mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

NEWS: Police tape cordons off Erdington High Street after alleged assault on Friday evening

Words & pics by Ed King

Part of Erdington High Street remains closed off today, following an alleged violent assault that took place early in the evening on Friday 10 February outside The Swan pub.

According to sources on the High Street, a man was assaulted at around 6pm on the Friday as he tried to break up a fight between other people who were arguing on the street outside the popular Erdington boozer.

Another source who was close to the incident told Erdington Local the attack was unprovoked, with police reviewing CCTV footage to confirm details of the alleged assault.

A statement from West Midlands Police said: “We were called to a disorder in Erdington High Street shortly after 6pm on 10 February. One man suffered serious head injuries and remains in a critical condition in hospital.

“Following the incident, the offenders have made off and investigations are now underway. Anyone with information can contact us via Live Chat on our website or by calling 101 quoting log 3244 of 10 February.”

Blue police tape has cordoned off a large area outside the pub, with police riot shields laid over areas of the pavement – possibly protecting areas for forensics to study.

Erdington Local has not heard anything implicating The Swan with the alleged assault, with officers remaining on the High Street primarily to keep people away from the crime scene.

During a visit to the scene this morning, Erdington Local saw two members of the public crawl under the police tape – with one looking like he was trying to make his way into The Swan, despite the pub having closed its doors whilst police search for clues.

Officers at the scene confirmed to Erdington Local there is no ongoing danger to members of the public whilst the “investigation is ongoing.”

Two Street Pastors were also at the scene this morning, trying to find out what had happened and to offer support to anyone who might be frightened or worried by the significant police presence.

Erdington High Street is too often blighted with crime and anti-social behaviour, and the presence of blue police tape cordoning off parts of the busy thoroughfare can quickly spark fear and speculation in the minds of Saturday shoppers.

The Street Pastors, Sue and Janet, told Erdingotn Local: “We were just on our patrol this morning and somebody in The Cube has told us something has happened down here (by The Swan) so we walked up here.

“We don’t know what happened fully, but we just pray God’s blessings on the situation and the families affected. We will be here on the High Street if people want to talk; we’re here for them.”

Erdington High Street has become a hotbed of crime and anti-social behaviour over recent years, with routine shoplifting and brazen drug dealing turning what was once the busiest High Street in the city into a “lawless” area where people are increasingly too afraid to visit.

The Erdington Street Warden, who is employed by the Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID), and the individual shop security teams work tirelessly to keep people safe and deter crime on the High Street.

But private security in the area have told Erdington Local they feel often unsupported by a lack of official police presence – especially in the absence of PCSO Sue Haskin, who is well known and respected with her constant patrolling on the High Street but is off duty due to injury.

Even when shoplifters are apprehended and detained, if police do respond to their call the offender is too often released or not processed in anyway to act as a deterrent to other offenders – Erdington Local has been told.

Erdington Local will be meeting with West Midlands Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford on 28 February, as part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s monthly Board meeting.

We will be asking the region’s top cop if he will commit to a stance of ‘no tolerance’ to crime on the High Street, working with both local officers and the High Street’s existing external security to turn the tide of criminal activity and anti-social behaviour.

Anyone with information can contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat on www.west-midlands.police.uk or by calling 101 quoting log 3244 of 10 February.

If you have been affected by crime and anit-social behaviour on Erdington High Street, or by anything raised in this article, you can tell us your story via mystory@erdingtonlocal.com