NEWS: Free Easter Egg Hunt to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – from 12noon on Saturday 30 March

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Short Heath Fields Trust

A free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields this Saturday (30 March) with local children and families from across the Erdington constituency all invited.

Running between 12noon and 2pm, special festive eggs will be hidden along the hedgerows and sides of Short Heath Playing Fields – which sits in just off Short Heath Road and next to Bleak Hill Park – with each egg carrying an individual pattern.

Children must first hunt for the eggs across the parkland, draw the patterns – to prove they’ve found the eggs, then head back to the Easter Egg Hunt HQ and claim their prize from the Short Heath Easter Bunny.

There will also be an Easter Bonnet Parade held at 1pm, where those attending are invited to show off their festive head gear and decorated Easter hats – with prizes given to the ‘best boy’ and ‘best girl’ in the parade.

The event is totally free, to enter or attend, with no charges for the prizes or anything given to the children for taking part.

Organisers have confirmed the prizes for children will contain chocolate, and there will be a paid for raffle held with more prizes that adults can enjoy.

There will also be a refreshments tent open during the event, run by the Short Heath Wombles – the local community group who litter pick across the park. All money raised with help support future events on the Playing Fields, such as the annual Halloween Pumpkin Hunt which attracts families from Castle Vale to Kingstanding.

Organised by Short Heath Fields Trust, who took over the management of the parkland in May 2023 after a fiercely fought battle to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ from a Council led housing development, the Easter Egg Hunt is now in its third year.

Run by dedicated volunteers and supported by the local community, the Trust has been responsible for organising many free to attend events on the Playing Fields – whilst also arranging for regular football sessions to be held there every Saturday, run by Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy.

Ahead of the Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, a spokesperson from Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) told Erdington Local: “The Easter Egg Hunt is a great event for the kids and their families. SHFT are establishing this free event as a regular for the community’s calendar, as this is our third one.”

They added: “It’s a chance to have some family fun, and with it being free it means it really doesn’t matter what your background is – it’s for everyone to enjoy, especially with money being so tight for so many families at the moment.”

The SHFT free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 30 March, between 12noon and 2pm. For more details, click herE to visit the SHFT Facebook event page.

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit: www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Councillor Robert Alden will not stand for Birmingham Erdington seat at upcoming General Election

Words and pics by Ed King / Profile pic of Cllr Robert Alden supplied by Birmingham Conservatives

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden will not be standing for the Birmingham Erdington seat in the upcoming General Election – as he has done successively since 2010.

Birmingham Conservative members who live within the Erdington constituency will be voting for their new parliamentary candidate on Wednesday 13 March – alongside further votes to select Conservative candidates for the Erdington, Pype Hayes, and Kingstanding Wards.

Party members outside of the specific constituency and Ward boundaries will not be eligible to vote but have been invited to attend the selection meeting, where the nominees will be presented and voted on – to be held tonight at the Erdington Conservative Club on Orphanage Road from 7:30pm.

Whilst the date for the next General Election is yet to be set, in accordance with parliamentary process it must be called by 28 January 2025.

However, many have speculated Prime Minister Sunak will announce May as the month – with growing speculation about a ‘snap election’ following the recent defection of Conservative Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson to Reform UK.

Leader of the Birmingham Conservatives, Robert Alden has been an Erdington Ward councillor since 2006 after taking it from Labour – a position he now shares with Conservative running mate, Cllr Gareth Moore.

A prolific figurehead in the area, who lives in central Erdington, Cllr Alden stood against Erdington’s previous MP Jack Dromey in four General Elections. After the sudden death of Mr Dromey in 2022, he stood against Paulette Hamilton in the March ’22 by-election – losing a fiercely fought campaign with 36.3% of the turnout.

As a local councillor, Robert Alden has held the Erdington Ward with a comfortable majority – securing his position in the 2022 local elections with over 50% of the turnout.

A recognised campaigner, Cllr Alden has been a long supporter of community groups such as the Erdington Litter Busters – and was heavily involved in the fight to stop a housing development on Short Heath playing fields, backing the successful campaign led by the Short Heath Fields Trust.

Alongside Cllr Gareth Moore, Cllr Alden is currently campaigning to secure the future of Erdington Library, Perry Common Library, and Kingstanding Library, following fears they will be sold off by Birmingham City Council as part of a £500m assets sale to repay a loan from central government to tackle the city’s financial crisis.

However, at the time of writing it is unclear if Cllr Alden will also be withdrawing from contesting the Erdington Ward in the next City Council elections – as well as the Birmingham Erdington constituency in the General Election.

An email sent to Birmingham Conservative members in February said: “As an Association, we have been fortunate in that Cllr Robert Alden has kindly stood as our parliamentary candidate in five previous elections and has achieved some phenomenal results – turning Erdington from the safest Labour seat in Birmingham in 2005 to now the most marginal Labour-held seat in the City in what has sometimes been trying circumstances for the Party.”

The message continues: “Robert has decided to not stand as our parliamentary candidate on this occasion which means we need to choose a new candidate for the General Election.

“In addition to selecting our parliamentary candidate, afterwards the Association will be selecting our local government candidates for the 2026 elections for Erdington, Pype Hayes and Kingstanding Wards.”

Erdington Local has approached Cllr Alden for comment and has been told more information will be released after the selection meeting on 13 March.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

NEWS: Birmingham City Council agree Financial Recovery Plan which could see Erdington assets sold and a rise in Council Tax

Words by Ed King

On Monday 25 September, Birmingham’s elected officials approved a Financial Recovery Plan which could see assets from Erdington and across the city sold to pay off the Council’s debt, as well as a potential rise in Council Tax introduced.

In a heated four hour Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), councillors from the city’s ten constituencies debated the two Section 114 notices recently issued – which effectively declared the city ‘bankrupt’, highlighting Birmingham City Council (BCC) does not have enough financial reserves to balance its books – before voting on a four point strategy presented by BCC Chief Executive Deborah Cadman.

The first recommendation in the BCC Financial Recovery Plan was to ‘Agree to accept the Section 114 notice issued on 5th September 2023’, allowing the Council to move forward and work with government appointed commissioners. The vote was carried.

The following three recommendations outlined approaches that could either save or generate money for BCC, including an ‘Assets Review to identify options to raise funds’ – which could pave the way for Erdington’s libraries, parks, community hubs, and leisure centres being sold on the commercial market, alongside other BCC assets from across the city.

Also included were spending control measures until emergency and balanced budgets could be approved, a potential ‘Organisational Redesign’ of ‘services around citizens’, and an ‘Income Review to maximise sustainable income from all sources’ – including Business Rates, Council Tax, and Grants. The vote for these recommendations was also carried.

According to BCC’S official list of property published in 2019 – the latest Erdington Local could find – the Erdington constituency has 464 assets owned by Birmingham City Council, excluding social housing and operational public highways.

These include social hubs such as both Erdington and Kingstanding Leisure Centres, Highcroft Community Centre, Elim Pentecostal Church, the Magnet Centre, The British Legion Social Club in Perry Common, Stockland Green Sports Centre, and Lakeside Childrens and Family Learning Centre.

These Erdington facilities could now be sold to address the financial crisis faced by Birmingham City Council.

Birmingham City Council could also look to sell the green spaces in its portfolio, which according to the 2019 published portfolio includes allotments across Erdington – from Castle Vale to Wyrley Birch – Erdington Playing Fields, Twickenham Road Playing Fields, Short Heath Playing Fields, Spring Lane Playing Fields, and Yenton Playing Fields.

Larger public spaces such as Brookvale Park, Rookery Park, Highcroft Park, and Pype Hayes Park could also be sold – alongside Perry Common and Witton Lakes.

Also back under question is Erdington Library, which recently fought off a proposal from BCC that would have seen its entire facility squeezed into the corner children’s library area, and Erdington Baths, which was recently promised £2m from BCC to aid the development of an Enterprise Hub – as delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA).

Birmingham City Council is facing a projected deficit of £87m for 2023/24 and legal bill of ‘between £650 million and £760 million’ for new claims over equal pay, having already remunerated thousands of historic claimants over £1bn in liabilities.

In response to the growing financial crisis faced by BCC, the first Section 114 notice was issued by Birmingham City Council’s Interim Director of Finance, Fiona Greenway, on 5 September.

A following notice was then issued on 21 September, alongside a further Section 5 notice from the City Solicitor, after calls of inaction over plans for a workable job evaluation scheme.

Ahead of commissioners coming to take over Birmingham’s finances – as appointed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) – a Financial Recovery Plan was published by the BCC Chief Executive, Deborah Cadman, on 25 September.

An Extraordinary General Meeting was held that evening, with all councillors requested to attend, to debate and vote on the recommendations presented.

Council Leader John Cotton (Glebe Farm and Tile Cross, Labour) was the first elected official to speak, stating “(Birmingham City) Council is at a crossroads” and recognising the “severe challenges that we face”.

Cllr Cotton went on to “apologise to the people of Birmingham” for the “stark choices” and “worrying times” as the City presents a plan to save itself from financial ruin.

Erdington Ward councillor and Leader of Birmingham Conservatives, Robert Alden, was next to speak, acknowledging the “sad day for the city” and “tragic” circumstances Birmingham City Council now found itself in, following a “shameful amount of inaction across the summer” from the Council leadership.

Cllr Alden further presented a litany of official opportunities and advice given to BCC to address the equal pay liabilities over recent years, as well as highlighting the debt accrued was “a council issue” and that “the city of Birmingham has a bright future ahead of it; the city of Birmingham is full of amazing people.”

Alden added:  “And the city will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of this mess that’s been created by the Labour administration.”

A total of 30 local councillors stood up to address the Lord Mayor and Council Chamber during the EGM on Monday, 25 September – including Cllr Alden’s counterpart in the Erdington Ward, Cllr Gareth Moore.

Cllr Moore was quick to admit he was “quite frankly embarrassed and ashamed” over the “unprecedented” financial crisis facing the city.

He added: “Birmingham is an amazing city full of passionate people with a rich and diverse history, and yet the reputation and finances of this Council have been ruined by chronic mismanagement by the Labour leadership”.

No councillors from any of the remining six political Wards in the Erdington constituency spoke at the EGM, although time cut short the requests from six elected officials who were not given the chance to address the Chamber.

Commissioners appointed by the DLUHC will now begin working with Birmingham City Council to address the financial crisis.

NEWS: Erdington Ward Councillor issues open letter to Council Leader asking for ‘transparency and honesty’ about cuts to services or selling of assets following Section 114 notice

Words by Ed King

Erdington Ward Councillor and the Leader of Birmingham Conservatives, Robert Alden, has issued an open letter to the Leader of Birmingham City Council (BCC) calling for “transparency and honesty” over plans to save the City following the Section 114 notice issued on 5 September – including any proposed cuts to services or selling of Council assets.

Sent to Cllr John Cotton (Glebe Farm & Tile Cross, Labour) earlier today, the letter identifies 13 separate requests for information and documentation – asking for all to be included in the “document pack” issued ahead of an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on 25 September.

Click here to download a PDF of the letter issued from Cllr Alden to Cllr Cotton on 19 September

Following the issuing of a Section 114 notice, the Labour run Birmingham City Council declared it was unable to meet the financial requirements to run the city – citing a projected deficit of £87m for 2023/24 and legal bill of ‘between £650 million and £760 million’ for new claims over equal pay.

The EGM on 25 September will be when the Council will meet to discuss the Cabinet’s plans to pull the Local Authority back from financial ruin – including any potential cuts to public services and any assets within the City’s portfolio that could be sold.

Included in the letter sent by Cllr Alden to Cllr Cotton are calls for “all correspondence” between the Cabinet “relating to the issuing of the s114 notice”, including the date and times of phone calls.

It also asks the Council Leader to release “reports and briefings to Cabinet Members” from the last four years about the Job Evaluation Scheme, a “list of dates and times Officers have emailed” to the Leader’s office about equal pay in the last six years, and “the public and private cabinet reports of 2017 and 2019 relating to the waste dispute resolution”.

There are further specific requests to see any “proposals” sent to the Department of Housing, Levelling Up, and Communities (DHLUC) since Cllr Cotton was elected as Council Leader in May 2023 – alongside any “financial measures including solutions/savings/cuts/sales” that have been suggested by the City as part of the recovery package.

After the shock announcement of the Section 114 notice on 5 September, concerns have been mounting across Birmingham about where the money will come from to balance the Council’s books – as managed by an external team of commissioners, appointed by the DHLUC.

Birmingham City Council Chief Executive Deborah Cadman has already outlined aspects of the City’s £2.4bn property portfolio which could be sold, including museums, art galleries, and even the newly built Library of Birmingham.

In Erdington, public assets previously earmarked for community use and constituency redevelopment initiatives are now once again under threat – despite commitments from Birmingham City Council to finance and support the projects.

Public buildings in Erdington that could now be sold include Erdington Library, which recently fought off plans to decimate its facilities to make way for a developments led by Adult Social Care.

Erdington Baths could also find itself on the commercial market, despite recently securing funding from BCC and the West Midlands Combined Authority to become a new Enterprise Hub – designed and delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA).

Campaigners for Short Heath Playing Fields are also preparing to once again fight off potential developments on the green space that do not pertain to community sports – after a three year battle to stop BCC’s previous plans to build an 84 strong housing estate on the parkland.

Before leaving office, previous Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward had issued a license agreement to SHFT giving them responsibility for Short Heath Playing Fields until May 2024. Cllr Ward further stated in a letter to Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton that regarding any potential sales BCC’s “intention will be to market it as a sports field.”

A spokesperson for SHFT told Erdington Local: “For the last three years our community battled to save these playing fields and be in a position where they are secured for future use.

“There are few places left for us to use for sporting activities and we are very concerned that this will result in promises made being broken, and our playing fields being sold off for something other than sporting activities.”

In a separate statement issued today, Cllr Alden added: “Birmingham Local Conservatives are clear the sale of cultural and heritage assets would be totally unacceptable, they were left for the people of Birmingham to enjoy in perpetuity not for a Labour Council to flog off to fix their mistakes.”

NEWS: Free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – Saturday 19 August

Words & pics by Ed King

A free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day is being held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 19 August, running from 12noon to 4pm – organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Open to children of all ages, organisers are inviting local families to take part in a day a community sports, games, and outdoor activities.

Classic school sports day games will be held – such as three legged, sack, and egg and spoon races –  alongside more contemporary children’s sports, including soft archery and badminton.

All games will be free to enter and take part in, with stalls selling local gifts and refreshments available at The Womble Tea Tent. There will also be a raffle or tombola to help raise money for SHFT – the community group that fought to save, and now manages, the beloved local green space.

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council (BCC) tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

After a long fought battle with BCC, on 8 June this finally year SHFT signed a license agreement giving them official responsibility of the playing fields until 31 May 2024.

Championed for its importance to the local community, used by individuals and families for outdoor and wellbeing activities, the cherished parkland on Short Heath Road has hosted regular events for local residents – including the annual Pumpkin Hunt, which sees hundreds attend from all over the constituency.

With the UK Met Office predicting a comfortably sunny day on Saturday 19 August, event organisers are hoping the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day will offer more local families a chance to enjoy an active day together without breaking the bank.

A spokesperson from SHFT told: “SHFT have always believed that free events for the children of our community are important.

“Crucially, a free event like our Fun School Sports Day will mean all kids can join in and their parents/carers don’t need to pay a penny for it – unlike a visit to a zoo or adventure park.

“It’s all about inclusivity, and every child deserves to have FUN.”

For more on the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day, click here to visit the event’s Facebook page. 

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

FEATURE: “Our very own field of dreams,” FC Elite Academy to deliver football sessions on Short Heath Playing Fields

Words by Ed King & Estelle Murphy / Pics by Ed King & FC Elite Academy

Sport is set to return to Short Heath Playing Fields, as Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy have teamed up with Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) to deliver a programme of youth football coaching on the beloved green space.

Having secured planning permission to develop their existing home at Twickenham Park into a permanent sports facility and community hub, FC Elite Academy are now looking at Short Heath Playing Fields to train up some of their younger squad members.

The ambitious Kingstanding club are looking to develop their current College Road ground and are currently fundraising for the £70-80k they expect the project to cost – including building a 3G pitch, clubhouse, changing areas, café, on site office, and parking facilities.

Plans for Short Heath Playing Fields, revealed to Erdington Local, show the establishment of four football pitches, five training ‘grids’, a ‘runner’s route’ around the parkland, and an ‘event zone’ at the top end near Short Heath Road.

FC Elite Club Chairman, Mario Gerroni, told: “Football sessions will be taking place on Short Heath Playing Fields in May. FC Elite Academy and Short Heath Fields Trust are forming a new partnership.

“It’s a positive move for everyone involved and I am excited to see the growth of sports from Short Heath Playing Fields, bringing something back to the community.”

Short Heath Road resident, Ifan Stretkesia, added: “This is a good thing, it’s good that we are finally listened to and our children have something they can now do.

“We go to all the events at the (playing) field and my daughter wants to play football. There is nothing for children now, just Xbox. They need to grow strong.”

FC Elite Academy was set up in 2013 by Mr Gerroni, an experienced football coach who previously worked with Aston Villa and trained ‘soccer’ in North America. The club’s website describes its ambitions to ‘continue growing grass roots football in the North of Birmingham.’

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

But following years of fiercely fought campaigning by concerned residents, a recent letter from the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, confirmed the site will now only be sold as a ‘sports field’. The letter also confirmed SHFT would be give a 12-month license to manage the site and ‘establish themselves’ as effective landlords.

A report conducted by Birmingham City Council into the viability of using the playing fields for residential development further identified acid grass on the green space, making it harder to continue with their plans for housing. Further environmental concerns were raised by about the wildlife and plant life that would be affected by building on the parkland.

SHFT began talking to FC Elite Academy back in August 2020 about providing football on Short Heath Playing Fields, who were busy working on their planning application for the Twickenham Park site.

Plans to bring sport back to Short Heath Playing Fields, a parkland once used by several local schools for Physical Education, are now moving forward – with the club offering to both set up and maintain the football pitches and start sessions this May.

As part of the deal, all community events organised by SHFT will continue on the playing fields – including the annual Halloween event and Easter Egg Hunt. A special dog walking circuit will also be established, allowing the many local pet owners who use the green space to continue unheeded.

A spokesperson for SHFT told Erdington Local: “Mario from FC Elite becoming SHFT’s sporting partner and bringing football for 4 to 12 years olds back to Short Heath Fields is a community dream true, you might say our very own field of dreams.

“And with a guaranteed one year license from Education (at Birmingham City Council) you know those dreams will become a reality.”

SHFT added: “It’s been a hard fight to save the playing fields. Now it’s the people of Erdington’s chance to get involved and use the playing fields as a sports field again, this is a great opportunity for boys and girls of all ages 4 and up to come and train and take part.

“FC Elite have a proven track record and we are all looking forward to working together in the future.”

For more on FC Elite Academy visit www.fcelite.co.uk and for more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Community up in arms after “hurtful and ugly” vandalism destroys Covid memorial on Bleak Hill Park

Words & pics by Ed King

Local residents and community campaigners are up in arms after a “hurtful and ugly” act of vandalism recently destroyed a Covid memorial garden in Bleak Hill Park.

According to Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT), the action group that fundraised and built the Covid memorial, vandals snapped in half the ornamental cherry trees that stood centre place in the garden – before using the wooden stakes to try and smash the sign welcoming people to the site.

Away from the memorial garden, which is situated along the path cutting through the park from Short Heath Road to Marsh Lane, vandals also damaged a bin for dog mess SHFT had also installed.

Short Heath Fields Trust began building the Covid memorial garden on Bleak Hill Park after having plans approved by Birmingham City Council in March 2021 and securing funding from the National Lottery.

400 trees were further donated by the Woodland Trust, as part of their ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ initiative.

Around 6000 bulbs have also been plated at the Bleak Hill Park Covid memorial, including British bluebells, snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils.

However, the community led project has seen challenges since the start – including plants being stolen, and the accidental destruction of 200 trees when ‘Council error’ mowed them down during routine park maintenance.

Local residents have also reported significant litter at the site, including broken booze bottles and drinks cans scattered around the two benches made especially from environmentally friendly recycled plastics.

A spokesperson form SHFT told Erdington Local: “This is a heartbreaking moment for the Trust and its members, many of whom have worked hard on this project.

“The community turned out in all weathers to make this a peaceful but engaging part of the park and a fitting memorial for Erdington people lost to Covid 19.

“This project has hit obstacles at every stage, including the Council mowing down the sapling trees in the area they told us to plant, to the plants being stolen. But this is by far the most hurtful and ugly.

“Local tempers are running high, and people are extremely disgusted at the mindless vandalism and destruction of the ornamental cherry trees in the memorial site and the dog mess bin further in the park.

“Locals are asking questions like ‘why?’ and ‘what possesses anyone to think this is OK?’”

But despite the cruel attack, which has brought widespread condemnation of those responsible, the local community are committed to rebuilding the Covid memorial garden and breathing new life into the project.

One of the four cherry tress remained untouched by the vandals, which residents and campaigners now see as a sign of hope for the community led Covid memorial garden.

A spokesperson for Short Heath Fields Trust added: “One tree remains, but that tree represents the hope and belief that we as a community will overcome and win against the adversity that stands in our way.

“The community will always win.”

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com/

NEWS: Halloween Pumpkin Hunt returns to Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 29 October

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by SHFT

On Saturday 29 October, Short Heath Playing Fields will see the return of the annual Halloween Pumkin Hunt event – as organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Completely free to attend and open to children (and big kids) of all ages, the SHFT Pumpkin Hunt has become a firm,  fun, and frightening fixture on the local community calendar.

Running from 5m to 8pm, people are invited to take part in the park wide ‘hunt’ – looking for the handmade ‘pumpkins’ hidden across Short Heath Playing Fields.

Handcrafted by SFHT Chair Estelle Murphy and hidden across the playing fields by the committee members and local volunteers that make up SHFT, the illuminated pumpkins each have different Halloween based motifs – such as bats, ghouls, and grinning Jack-o’-lanterns.

People entering the playing fields from Short Heath Road will be asked to find and draw the ten pumpkins hidden across site, which can be exchanged with SHFT event volunteers for a special surprise treat at the end.

Alongside the Pumpkin Hunt, there will be fancy dress competitions for ‘Best Dressed Under Five’, ‘Best Dressed Boy’, ‘Best Dressed Girl’, and ‘Best Dressed Adult’ – as well a pound entry raffle, and an array of stalls selling hot chocolate, sweets, bath bombs, scents, and other fancy goods.

There will also be a mystery haunted tunnel, where those that dare can enter and face the ghoulish surprises inside… suitable for all ages, but with adult supervision advised for younger children.

Organisers also suggest people attending should bring their own torch and a sturdy pair of shoes suitable for walking across parkland in the dark.

Following on from the success of the past two years, the SHFT Halloween Pumkin Hunt on Short Heath playing fields has welcomed hundreds of families – with people coming from Kingstanding to Castle Vale to take park in the now annual event. Situated right on the No28 bus route, Short Heath Playing Fields is accessible across the constituency.

Organised and managed by Short Heath Fields Trust, the popular Pumpkin Hunt is one of the first regular events to be held on the parkland – following a fiercely fought battle to save the green space from development.

In August 2020, a campaign to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ was launched by local residents to challenge Birmingham City Council’s plans to build an 84 strong housing estate on the parkland.

Following over two years years of fierce negotiations, the housing development plans were finally scrapped by Birmingham City Council, and SHFT – which became a formally constituted groups from the original campaign group – are currently in talks with the Council about a lease to take over the official management of the site.

Organisers of the Pumpkin Hunt and other events on the playing fields, SHFT have long stated the area should be preserved as a community asset – used for health, wellbeing, community sports, activities, and events.

SHFT Chair Estelle Murphy told Erdington Local: “After the amazing success of the last few years the Pumpkin Hunt is back again. We have seen visitors from Castle Vale all the way through to Kingstanding.

“It’s a great opportunity for families to have some fun outdoors together. We always look forward to seeing friends we have made through previous events and making new ones.

“We have had some amazing fancy dress costumes over the last couple of years and we are looking forward to all the monsters, goblins, and witches we will meet this year.

“Bring a torch if you are coming after dark, but turn it off in the mystery haunted tunnel, if you dare…”

For more on the Short Heath Fields Trust Halloween Pumpkin Hunt visit www.facebook.com/events/607795361128944

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: ‘Picnic in the Park’ on Short Heath Playing Fields – today from 12noon to 4pm

Words by Ed King

On Saturday 4 June, a special ‘Picnic in the Park’ will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields between 12noon and 4pm – as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations.

Full details and updates can be found via the ‘Picnic in the Park’ Facebook event page, click here.

Completely free to attend and open to people of all ages, today’s ‘Picnic in the Park’ will host a range of family and children friendly activities including soft archery, swing ball, and football.

A special raffle will also be held with prize hampers to be won from local entrepreneurs Leanne’s PJ Pamper Hampers and Claire’s Body Treats, containing luxury personal care and bathroom goodies and a few grown up drinks.

There will also be as a special sweet tooth prize from Chocolate Bouquets by Claire, and a children’s raffle with prize hampers made just for young people.

Tickets are £1 per strip for the adult raffles and 50p per strip for the children’s raffle.

There will also be extra refreshments on site for anyone who wants to top up their picnic hamper – available from the Short Heath Wombles tent and served by the local ‘Wombles’ who diligently clean up the playing fields and surrounding areas.

All proceeds from both the raffle and the refreshment tent will be invested back into the local area, to help maintain the playing fields pay for more community events on the beloved green space.

Organised by Short Heath Fields Trust and supported by numerous other local community groups, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee ‘Picnic in the Park’ is the latest in a series of well attended community events to be held on the playing fields.

Following widespread success of their ‘Sports Day’, ‘Easter Egg Hunt’, and ‘Pumpkin Hunt’ events, Short Heath Fields Trust are hoping to bring the community together once again to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.

The events are organised by SFHT to help raise money to support the playing fields, which the local community saved from an 84 strong housing development – but also to show the importance of green spaces.

A statement from Short Heath Fields Trust said: “Many of us remember being on Bleak Hill Park years ago for previous Jubilee’s. This time we are on the newly saved Short Heath Playing Fields.

“We are hoping the weather stays dry so that families can come down and enjoy the day. Bring their own picnic, we have a refreshments tent, and ice cream van and plenty of outdoor games to play for family fun.”

Across the UK this weekend people are holding street parties and community events in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, marking Her Majesty’s 70 years ruling over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth – making her Britian’s longest ever serving monarch.

The Short Heath Fields Trust ‘Picnic in the Park’ has been supported by Birmingham City Council and the Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme.

For more on the Short Heath Fields Trust ‘Picnic in the Park’ visit www.facebook.com/events/975529143134382

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: West Midlands Mayor urges campaigners to ‘keep lobbying’ to save Short Heath Playing Fields

Words & pics Ed King

During a visit to Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 11 December, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street urged campaigners to “keep lobbying, to keep making their voice heard” – as the battle to save the beloved parkland continues.

Short Heath Playing Fields had been earmarked for a new housing estate of potentially over 84 three to five bedroom homes, to help support the city’s social housing agenda.

But in a recent surprise U-turn, Birmingham City Council deemed the site unviable and gave the green space back to the Education Department.

Andy Street had previously visited local residents fighting to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ in April this year, returning on Saturday to congratulate the campaigners – but also to warn against a possible private sale.

Despite a welcome win for Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT), the formalised group fighting save the playing fields, the Council’s shift could mean the parkland is now sold on the commercial market.

A previous statement from Birmingham City Council explained if the land was not developed by the city: “the options are limited and stark…

“With the current demand for land by house developers, it is anticipated that the land would be sold relatively soon to a private developer.”

An advocate of building on brownfield over greenfield sites, Mr Street explained:

“The first thing to say is that it’s really good news that their (Council) own plans for development are not going ahead, and the campaigners deserve huge credit for getting a change of heart there. But then I would say there is still another campaign to be run to make sure it doesn’t get sold off for development.

“So, what I hope will happen is that it moves into the Parks Department and can then be developed, as the team on the ground here have said, as a facility for the community. I hope that the Council will still see that is the right thing to do.

“(Now campaigners should) keep lobbying, to keep making their voice heard – particularly as this is the year of elections in Birmingham so it’s really important. I think we’ve already seen the power; the power of a community voice is really symbolic.

“Very clearly, we’ve got a huge housing challenge in the West Midlands. We all know that. But the good news is that we’re steadily choosing individual brownfield sites to be developed one after another and the policy remains absolutely to win Government funding we can use to close the viability gaps on individual brownfield sites.”

Erdington Ward councillor Robert Alden opposed the development on Short Heath Playing Fields when it was first identified in the Birmingham Development Plan.

Joining Andy Street on the playing fields, he told Erdington Local:

“This is a great first victory, but it is very much only the beginning, not the end.

“There’s a long battle ahead – residents have been brilliant at coming together and now it’s really clear the Council need to move this into the Parks Department rather than the Education Department, guarantee it won’t be sold, and allow the residents here to take ownership of this site and put it into use just like the local community wants.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant to see the way people have come together; you look at some of the events, like the Halloween Trail they had, the Sports Day in the summer, the clean ups being organised by the local community.

“This is exactly what Erdington and North Birmingham are about – a community coming together to stand up for what they believe in.”

Having grown from a Facebook campaign to an official lobbying body, the local residents that make up Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) are celebratory of the Council’s recent decision – but mirror the concern of the West Midlands Mayor and Erdington Ward Councillor.

Stephen Hughes from SHFT told: “(I am) extremely proud of my community, to see them today… it’s emotional, it’s always emotional. But it’s important that they’re still behind us, they’re still 100% backing everything we do.

“And moving forward that’s going to be crucial, because we want to make sure this (the playing fields) remain a green space and doesn’t become anything other than that.”

Also from SHFT, Estelle Murphy added: “I’m nervously hopeful; nervous that the Council won’t listen to us and give us the time to explore the opportunity for sport here, hopeful that they will.

“(The community are) very pleased we’ve got though the first part of the battle. They’re hoping that we’re going to keep on, which we will. We won’t back down. We’ll be there until the bitter end.

“There are no houses on here yet.”

Short Heath Fields Trust are continuing to explore uses for the playing fields, following on from previous community events organised there – alongside a focus on sport, health and wellbeing.

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

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