OPINION: Festive fun comes to Erdington High Street on 25 November and 2 December

Words by John Hodgkiss, Erdington BID & Town Centre Manager

With the challenging year which we have all had, it’s that time again when we focus on Christmas and maximising on footfall in Erdington Town Centre throughout late November and December.

The festive period is a crucial time for retail in general, so once again, we want to focus on showing Erdington in its best light and provide family entertainment to increase footfall from the end of November through until New Year.

Erdington’s Christmas Lights will be officially turned on 25 November, on what will be a packed day of entertainment and fun and maybe even a brief visit from Father Christmas himself! From The Salvation Army Band to Bhangra Dancing, there will definitely be something for everyone to enjoy as the festive season kicks off!

Then he will be back on 2 December at his HQ in Erdington Library, with a FREE Santa’s Grotto for Erdington Children, so it’s best to stay on his good list!

Further details of Christmas events through until the day itself will be advertised and posted online throughout the next month.

(Ed’s note… Erdington Local will be publishing a full CHRISTMAS SPECIAL feature on Sunday 12 November, giving you more info on what’s coming to Erdington High Street over the festive season.)

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A quick guide to the completely free Christmas Lights Switch On – Saturday 25 November

Check out what will be happening across the afternoon as we countdown to the official Erdington Christmas Lights Switch On. Five, four, three, two, one…

  • Completely free and open to all ages
  • Live music and dance on the High Street from midday – hosted by BBC WM Breakfast presenter Rakeem Omar
  • Salvation Army Band – playing your favourite Christmas carols and traditional winter songs
  • The Nitecrawlers playing live rhythm and blues – following on from the success of the Birmingham Jazz and Blues Festival
  • Bangra dance for children and adults – from award winning performer and CBeebies presenter, Sohan Kailey
  • Come and meet larger than life Pokemon characters – have your picture taken with Pikachu and Alakazam
  • A special winter market by the Village Green – outside Oikos Café and The Swan

Watch out for more about the festive fun on Erdington High Street on the Erdington Business Improvement District Facebook page: www.facebook.com/erdingtonBID

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