NEWS: Erdington community mourns ‘local legend’ and Town Centre Manager Terry Guest

Introduction & pics by Ed King 

Local residents and businesses across Erdington are in mourning for the “local legend” and once Town Centre Manager Terry Guest, after he sadly passed away during the Christmas period.

Having run the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID) from 2011 to 2022, and acting at the Town Centre Manger throughout that period, Terry was a well known and respected face on Erdington High Street and beyond.

A local resident and business owner, Terry knew all the good, bad, and bright possibilities Erdington had to offer and worked tirelessly to champion the High Street – from fighting for the rights of local retailers, to supporting the music and art events that continue to bring the High Street together.

On hearing the news of his passing, Erdington Local asked some of the people who worked closely with him to express their condolences – which you can read below.

We would also welcome more thoughts, prayers, pictures, and personal messages from anyone who knew Terry for a wider memorial feature in our February/March newspaper. To get in touch please click here or email edking@erdingtonlocal.com

From everyone at Erdington Local: Terry, you will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and love are with Jill, your wider family, and friends.

Cllr Robert Alden: “It was an honour to call local legend Terry Guest a friend as well as a colleague, having worked with him as BID Manager in my roles as a local Councillor and director of the BID for over a decade.

“Terry in his time as a fellow Erdington resident and first shop keeper and then BID manager for the High Street truly left his mark on the community and helped to make it a better place than would otherwise have been.

“They simply don’t make them like Terry anymore and Erdington is worse off without people like Terry. Our thoughts and prayers and with Jill and the rest of his family and friends at this awful time.”

Cllr Gareth Moore: “Terry Guest was a true stalwart for the High Street for many years and strived to make it a vibrant destination for people to shop and visit.

“I am grateful for all of the considerable effort he put in, working with myself and Robert, to secure improvements for the High Street, some of which are still there today, and to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour which has sadly blighted our local centre for far too long. It was a pleasure to work with him as BID manager and he will be missed by local residents and businesses alike.”

John Lynch, Erdington Street Warden: “Terry did a lot of work on the High Street and a lot of people respected him, and he’ll be sadly missed.

“He lived in Erdington so this was his home as well and he really cared about the High Street; he always did his best to make sure things were OK here and help as many stores and people as he could. He made a difference, a big difference.”

John Hodgkiss, Town Centre Manager: “Terry worked tirelessly to continually improve Erdington Town Centre. He was extremely kind, generous, and was so well loved by all retailers and stakeholders on the High Street. Terry will be greatly missed by everyone in Erdington and all who knew him.”

Paulette Hamilton MP: “I am deeply saddened by the news of Terry Guest’s passing. As the former BID manager, Terry made a lasting impact on Erdington’s Business Improvement District for over a decade.

“He was instrumental in improving the security, environment, and vitality of our High Street, as well as being a strong voice for our local business community.

“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and worked with him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Claire Marshall, Active Arts: “In one of our last conversations he fondly joked how he loved how out of mad and wild ideas, events would happen.

“Not everyone saw all that he did for the High Street, but he was often quietly supporting local activity and open to thinking about new ways to bring people to shop on the High Street.

“Thank you, Terry, for letting us put on music, crafts, and doing some really bonkers events, and for loving Erdington in a way that it deserves.”

If you would like to contribute any words or pictures to a wider memorial feature for Terry Guest in our Feb/Mar newspaper, please email: edking@erdingtonlocal.com

FREE SANTA’S GROTTO at Erdington Library, Erdington High Street – Saturday 2 December

Words by Ed King / Pics by Connor Pope

On Saturday 2 December, the big man in red and white will be setting up a FREE SANTA’S GROTTO at Erdington Library at the end of Erdington High Street – inviting local children and families to meet him and his elves as they prepare all the presents for Christmas Day.

Open from 10am until 3pm, no booking is required for the FREE SANTA’S GROTTO – families and children are invited to just come down to Erdington Library and join the fun.

A queue system will be in place, getting people in to meet Santa first come first served, with Santa’s elves on hand to help keep the younger ones occupied with special Christmas crafts and fun.

Plus, the main library will be open with all it’s fantastic books and resources. And if the FREE SANATA’S GROTTO is especially busy there are a host of cafes and shops near to the library where you can grab a quick drink or bite to eat, or make a last dash for those special gifts ahead of the big day.

Organised by the Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID) and supported by local businesses and retailers, the FREE SANTA’S GROTTO will help take the financial sting out of the festive season – offering Erdington families a free way to meet Santa and join in on the winter celebrations.

Erdington Town Centre Mangere, John Hodgkiss, told: “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.”

He added: “Everything is totally free to attend, paid for by the BID and supported by the local shops and businesses. In these difficult times we still want people to be able to together and celebrate our wonderful Erdington community.

“Winter brings the longer nights and colder weather, but we look forward to welcoming local families, residents (and even the occasional reindeer who might fly by) for a bit a festive fun to brighten up the darker days. See you all on the High Street.”

On Saturday 25 November, Erdington High Street celebrated the official Christmas Lights Switch On event – where local Councillor Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative) and BBC WM Breakfast presenter Rakeem Omar kicked off the festive season and High Street illuminations, joined by a host of other familiar faces and family fun.

All EBID Christmas activities in Erdington Town Centre are supported by local retailers and businesses, who pay a yearly levy for bring services and activities to encourage people to use Erdington Town Centre.

Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID), for example, pay for the Street Wardens who patrol the High Street and act as an immediate line of defence against shoplifters – often in the absence of any effective police presence, and with community police resources having been significantly stripped back over recent years.

Erdington once had one of the busiest High Street’s in Birmingham, with a thriving market community and a bustling variety of independent traders and shops.

But the Covid pandemic, rising cost of living, rising energy prices, and increase in online retail hass seen shops across the country pull down their shutters and the culture of High Street shopping and community diminish.

Crime and anti-social behaviour have also affected Erdington High Street, with some local residents and shoppers becoming increasingly concerned about aggression and criminality in the Town Centre.

Organised activities such as the FREE SANTA’S GROTTO and Christmas Light Switch On event hope to encourage more people to visit Erdington High Street and support the local shops and businesses there.

Erdington Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss, added: “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.”

For more from the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk or follow the on Facebook at www.facebook.com/erdingtonBID

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS & SANTA’S GROTTO: Celebrate the festive season on Erdington High Street – free Christmas Lights Switch On (Sat 25 Nov) and Santa’s Grotto (Sat 2 Dec)

Words by Ed King / Pics by Connor Pope

The festive season kicks off on Erdington High Street from Saturday 25 November, with an afternoon of free and family fun to celebrate the official Christmas Lights Switch On and welcome winter to the Town Centre.

Come and enjoy an afternoon of music, dance, markets, food, drinks, and all the winter warming shopping you can squeeze into a Saturday – hosted by BBC WM Breakfast presenter Rakeem Omar.

Plus, there will be some very special guests arriving from the world of Pokemon to have their pictures taken with anyone, big or small, who wants to take home a special Christmas memory.

Starting at 12noon and running until the sun and shop shutters go down at 6pm, all activities are completely free of charge and open to children and adults of all ages – even the ‘big kids’ who still get excited when they know Christmas is in the air and a special someone is coming to town.

Then on the following weekend, on Saturday 2 December, Santa will be flying back into Erdington Town Centre coming back to Erdington High Street – inviting children and families to visit his free Santa’s Grotto at Erdington Library between 10am and 3pm.

Completely free, with no advance booking required, Santa hopes you can come and say hello before he flies off around the world delivering presents for Christmas Day.

There will also be free festive craft workshops at Santa’s Grotto, making sure everyone is entertained whilst waiting to see Santa – with his elves on hand to help people of all ages.

Organised by the Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID) and supported by local shops and businesses, the annual Christmas Lights Switch On not only illuminates the High Street as the nights draw in but helps celebrate all the fantastic shops and destination venues in Erdington Town Centre.

Need to catch up on some Christmas shopping? Why not check out all the bargains at Wilton Market, dazzle a loved one with a special something from Goldbar Jewellers, or get the kids excited with toys and games from Griffins Gaming.

Or if you just want to catch up with friends and family you can grab something delicious to eat and drink up and down the High Street – from pancakes and smoothies at Oikos Café, to the main meals and fully stocked bar at The Charlie Hall (children welcome if accompanied).

Erdington BID and Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss, tells: “Erdington High Street invites everyone to come and celebrate the festive season with a fantastic, and free, afternoon of music, dance, markets, food, and drink, on Saturday 25 November – building up to the official Christmas Light Switch on that evening.

“Everything is totally free to attend, paid for by the BID and supported by the local shops and businesses. In these difficult times we still want people to be able to together and celebrate our wonderful Erdington community.

“Winter brings the longer nights and colder weather, but we look forward to welcoming local families, residents (and even the occasional reindeer who might fly by) for a bit a festive fun to brighten up the darker days. See you all on the High Street.”

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

  • 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

Check out some of the pictures from last year’s Christmas Lights Switch On and Santa’s Grotto in our special PICTURE GALLERY below.

25 NOVEMBER: Christmas Lights Switch On – 12noon to 6pm, Erdington High Street (free)
2 DECEMBER: Santa’s Grotto – 10 am to 3pm, Erdington Library (free)

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

 

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.)

_____________

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

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.)

OPINION: Making Erdington High Street a safer and more exciting place to visit

Words by John Hodgkiss, Erdington BID & Town Centre Manager

Our focus this summer has been to tackle both retail crime and anti-social behaviour in Erdington Town Centre.

We are delighted to welcome a new Street Warden to Erdington. They will be working closely with the existing Warden, John, patrolling the BID area to improve the current crime situation in Erdington which in turn will allow us to attract future inward investment into the Town Centre.

By concentrating on safety and security in Erdington and tackling this problem now will enable us to welcome new visitors to the High Street, as well as welcome back those who have not visited for some time.

By putting the fundamentals such as crime reduction in place, we can actively try and attract both new independent and national retailers on to Erdington High Street. It will also mean that footfall will increase as a result, making Erdington a far more positive economic prospect for investment.

With £19,000 extra funding secured this month, we will use this effectively to promote and market Erdington over the winter and festive season, with events to attract regular and new visitors alike.

If you have any suggestions on what events you would like to see hosted by the BID this winter, then please contact the BID on erdingtonhighstreet@hotmail.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you! 

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

(Ed’s note: This column was first submitted to the Erdington Local newspaper on 4 September, before the announcement of a Section 114 notice issued by Birmingham City Council.)

NEWS: Erdington BID enlists second Street Warden to tackle crime on High Street

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID) has enlisted a second Street Warden to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour on Erdington High Street.

Camran Montgomery-Ashiq is already getting on with the job, patrolling the retail district alongside existing Street Warden, John Lynch – with both men managed by longstanding local firm, Euro Guard Security.

Familiar with the problems facing Erdington’s retailers, Camran has family directly affected by the shoplifters and anti-social behaviour turning so many shoppers away.

“My brother is one of the managers on the High Street,” told Camran. “He introduced me to John (Lynch) who told me about the role and the company (Euro Guard Security) and I was interested.

“It’s life, people are going to shoplift and we’re here to stop them. But hopefully we’ll get the High Street back to how it used to be.”

Seeing two Street Wardens on Erdington High Street will be a welcome sight to many local retailers and residents. It also gives long needed support to John Lynch, who many regard as the only real defence against crime on the High Street.

“It makes me feel safer,” admits Lynch, “because I don’t get any support from the police. Now when it does get into a situation, I’ve got someone to back me up.”

Fulfilling part of the mandate that got the EBID re-elected in November 2021, the extra Street Warden is one step both the Erdington BID and Euro Guard Security are taking to turn the tide of criminality in the area.

Euro Guard Security Operations Manager, William Byrne, told Erdington Local: “First and foremost it was important to get another Street Warden along with John, due to the high risk in Erdington with things that are going on.

“The whole point of brining the wardens onto the (High) street is to make everybody’s environment a safer place to work, and a safer place to be in. Hopefully, if we can bring some of that to the High Street we may then increase the footfall which will in turn benefit the shops.”

And with many of retailers relying on them in the absence of more police presence, Byrne recognises “having the Street Wardens is an integral part of keeping Erdington safe.”

John Hodgkiss, Erdington BID and Town Centre Manager, added: “From the beginning of this year the (EBID) board recognised that crime and anti-social behaviour was one of the biggest – if the not biggest – issues facing Erdington Town Centre. So, back in February we started consulting with BID levy payers and the public, and we realised that we really needed to do something to tackle these major issues.

“It’s great to now have Cam on board to enhance all the great work that John (Lynch – original Street Warden) does, and to have support and help for him.”

“It’s (crime on the High Street) basically one of our biggest problems; we want to improve inward investment into Erdington Town Centre, we want to increase footfall, we want to bring new retailers in, and one of the only ways that we’re actually going to do this is if we tackle the crime issue and start getting the positives in.

“The BID essentially a private sector organisation, and our levy payers are paying over and above on their business rates to pay for these enhanced services (Street Wardens).

“But it would be nice to have some extra help from the public sector.”

For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.facebook.com/erdingtonBID

NEWS: Local businesses invited to hear ‘10 point plan’ to tackle crime on Erdington High Street – meeting on Thursday 23 March

Words & pics by Ed King

On Thursday 23 March, local businesses and retailers are invited to a meeting with Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police, to hear their combined ’10 point plan’ to tackle crime on Erdington High Street and in the Town Centre.

Crime and antisocial behaviour have become key concerns in the central Erdington shopping district, with High Street retailers losing thousands each week to shoplifters and many local residents feeling unsafe to visit the area.

Organised by the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID) and Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, the meeting is a continuation of consultations between the elected officials and the local business community – this month to be held at Oikos Café and Church at 6pm on Thursday 23 March.

Anyone wishing to attend should contact the EBID to register a place by emailing erdingtonhighstreet@hotmail.co.uk or sending a message through their Facebook page – click here.

Local businesses and retailers can also secure a place at the meeting by emailing Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton’s office at paulette.hamilton.mp@parliament.uk

Promoting the event, a message on the Erdington BID Facebook page said: “The next police and crime meeting, focusing on Erdington Town Centre will take place on Thursday March 23rd at Oikos Church, Erdington High Street at 6pm.

“West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council will be talking through their 10 point plan to help improve the High Street moving forward.”

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton added: “At my previous meeting in February, I heard many local traders talk about the problems they are facing on the High Street. There is no doubt that something needs to be done to improve the situation if we want to prevent more shops from closing.

“This week, I have called a follow-up meeting with local businesses and look forward to hearing about Birmingham City Council’s action plan for our High Street.

“I’m pleased that we are making progress and I hope to see as many local businesses as possible at the meeting.”

Erdington suffers with a higher than average crime rate across the city, with an already stretched local police force facing a huge challenge with limited resources.

Since 2010, police teams across the region have been decimated by budget cuts – losing around 50% of officers dedicated to neighbourhood and community policing.

But in a recent meeting Chief Constable Craig Guildford maintained his force’s commitment to “…providing the best service we can to the residents, business owners, and any visitors to the High Street in Erdington.”

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

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

To secure a place at the crime strategy meeting at Oikos Café on Thursday 23 March, at 6pm, email erdingtonhighstreet@hotmail.co.uk or paulette.hamilton.mp@parliament.uk

For more on the Erdington BID visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk or www.facebook.com/erdingtonBID  
For more from Paulette Hamilton visit www.paulettehamilton.org

For more on Oikos Café visit www.oikoscafe.co.uk

If you have been a victim of crime on Erdington High Street we want to hear your story – please get in touch with us at: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

NEWS: Local businesses invited to MP meeting about crime on Erdington High Street – to be held on Tuesday 14 February

Words & pics by Ed King

On Tuesday 14 February, local businesses and High Street retailers have been invited to attend a meeting to discuss crime and anti-social behaviour within the Erdington Shopping district.

Organised by the Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID) and Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, the meeting will be held at St Barnabas Church in the evening – with all local shop owners, workers, and businesses invited.

Anyone wishing to attend should contact the EBID to register a place by emailing erdingtonhighstreet@hotmail.co.uk or calling (0121) 306 4270.

Erdington Town Centre and EBID Manager, John Hodgkiss, told Erdington Local: “I organised the meeting on the request of Paulette (Hamilton), to discuss the current crime situation in the town centre.

“Initially, it was to focus on the 6 Ways end of the High Street which seems to be having more problems in general.

“I visited them all last week to invite, but as a result I’m expecting that retailers from all over will attend.

“It’s essentially as a result of Erdington losing out on the Levelling Up funding. Paulette (Hamilton) wanted to look at more focussed projects including crime, retail, and the local economy, and push on with these as soon as possible.”

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton added: “I’ve called a meeting with local businesses along Erdington High Street to discuss how we can tackle the issues they are facing and work together to secure the investment our High Street desperately needs.

“Erdington High Street is the heart and soul of our community, but sadly it’s been in decline for many years.

“As more shops close, the area has become a magnet for antisocial behaviour that has resulted in the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order.

“The latest blow came from the Government after they recently rejected our Levelling Up Fund application that would have transformed our High Street, and we’re still fighting to stop the approval of an eighth betting shop.

“It’s important that we all work together to make Erdington a better place and I hope to see as many local businesses as possible at the meeting (on Tuesday 14 February).”

Once one of the busiest roads in Birmingham, the Erdington shopping district has been blighted with crime and antisocial behaviour in recent years – with many people now avoiding the area due to concerns over street drinking, drug dealing, and harassment on the High Street.

Retailers are under daily siege from shoplifters, with a lack of any firm police presence giving criminals a green light to keep offending – according to High Street shop staff and security.

Several key shops have further closed their doors for good after the Covid lockdowns, with even major banks pulling down their shutters and leaving Erdington Town Centre.

But despite two recent rejections for Levelling Up Fund (LUF) money, and a previous rejection from the Future High Streets Fund in December 2022, there are still locally led plans in place to help regenerate the High Street.

Even though the project was a key part of the recent LUF application, Witton Lodge Community Association remain committed to transforming the old swimming baths into an Enterprise Hub – with ambitious plans to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities at the currently disused site.

St Barnabas are continuing to explore alternative funding to renovate their churchyard, a regeneration project that again would have been significantly supported by the LUF bid.

Whilst Central Square is turning over a new leaf, with the old shopping centre owners investing in a significant makeover and letting new units.

The meeting on Tuesday 14 February will be a chance for local businesses and retailers to voice their concerns over High Street crime directly to the Erdington MP and Businesses Improvement District.

Erdington Local will be meeting with West Midlands Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford on 28 February, to further discuss crime on the High Street.

If you have been a victim of crime on Erdington High Street we want to hear your story – please get in touch with us at: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

NEWS: “A kick in the teeth” as Erdington High Street loses out on millions from Levelling Up Fund

Words & pics by Ed King (image of Paulette Hamilton supplied)

Erdington has once again missed out on millions of pounds to regenerate the High Street, as the Government rejects the latest Levelling Up Fund (LUF) application.

In a surprise announcement made in the early hours of Thursday 19 January, with no warning given to unsuccessful applications, all five of Birmingham City Council’s applications to the LUF were turned down – including the £10.75m petitioned to deliver ‘a transformational scheme’ for Erdington High Street.

Top of the list of Birmingham City Council’s recent LUF applications, the Erdington High Street bid would ‘be used to transform the High Street into a thriving centre, with business incubation space, housing, cultural, leisure and social activities, improved urban realm and physical and social connectivity within the area.’

At the centre of the regeneration of Erdington High Street were plans to support the renovation of St Barnabas Churchyard and the development of a Community and Enterprise Hub at the old Erdington Swimming Baths site – being delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association.

With local politicians and stakeholders reeling from the LUF rejection this morning – which is the second time the ambitious plans for Erdington High Street have been turned down – elsewhere across the county 111 areas will be celebrating their share of the £2.1bn from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

Today’s shock announcement, and complete overstepping of all five Birmingham LUF bids, is the latest defeat in a long battle to secure regeneration funding for Erdington High Street from Westminster – which began with an application to the Future High Street Fund in 2020 and saw further disappointment in the first round of LUF allocations in October 2021.

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton stated: “”I’m incredibly disappointed that, yet again, the Conservative Government have let Erdington down.

“Our funding bid would have brought investment into our community by creating jobs, skills, and infrastructure. The investment would have transformed Erdington High Street to make it a destination again.

“Sadly, Erdington did not receive a single penny from the Tory Government’s 2.1bn fund, despite ranking amongst the top 10% most deprived areas in the country.

“The Prime Minister’s own constituency – one of the most affluent – has received £19m.

“Tory failure and favouritism have been laid bare by this announcement. It’s just another kick in the teeth for our community in Erdington from this out of touch Government.”

Erdington Ward Councillor and Birmingham Conservative Leader, Robert Alden, told: “Over the last few years we have been putting in Future High Street Fund and Levelling up Fund bids and requests to the City Council, that is it is so disappointing that the Levelling Up Fund bid has not been approved.

“However, this is not the end of trying to get funding into the High Street here in Erdington.

“It is vital now that the Government and the City Council invest in our High Street to deliver the plans that residents want to see and we will continue to do all we can to secure further investment onto of the funding already provided by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street”.

Cllr Gareth Moore (Con, Erdington Ward) added: “West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has listened and the Combined Authority therefore put in over £2million to help turn the former Erdington Baths site, under Witton Lodge Community Association, into an Enterprise Hub to support local people into work and to set up businesses.

“Andy Street listened to the people of Erdington it is time that the City Council and the Government listen to the people of Erdington and invest to regenerate our High Street”.

Birmingham was one of three cities across the country that had all of it’s LUF applications turned down by Government, losing out on a total of £82.264m in potential citywide funding.

Elsewhere, Leeds lost out on a potential £120m through six LUF bids – whilst Nottingham had all three of its bids rejected, totalling £57m.

Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward told: “Today’s announcement is a kick in the teeth for Birmingham families who were already struggling to make ends meet after over a decade of Tory austerity – even before the Government crashed the UK economy.

“You cannot level up the UK economy without levelling up Birmingham, so today’s news brings into question the Government’s true commitment to hard-pressed households across this city. It’s now clear that levelling up is nothing more than a slogan.

“These bids would have delivered true change to communities across Birmingham, creating new jobs, improving life chances and restoring pride to our neighbourhoods.

“Instead, the Prime Minister’s constituency – one of the most affluent in the country – has received funding, while of the 80 successful bids in England, only half are in the 100 most deprived areas of the country. How is this levelling up?”

The Levelling Up Fund was first announced in the Government’s 2020 spending review, totalling £4.8bn in accessible funding for councils across the country.

Tranche One of LUF allocation saw £1.7bn distributed to 105 projects, including money for Moseley Road Swimming Baths in Balsall Heath and the Soho Loop development on Dudley Road.

Following today’s allocation of £2.1bn in Tranche Two – which saw 525 bids submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities in August 2022 – there is now £1bn left in the LUF budget.

Erdington’s Town Centre Manger and head of the Business Improvement District (EBID), John Hodgkiss, who came into post in August 2022, is “remaining positive about the potential of Erdington High Street.”

Mr Hodgkiss told Erdington Local: “It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that the LUF has not been awarded to Erdington, especially in light of the hard work so many have contributed.

“In terms of Erdington High Street, I know that we have so many dedicated stakeholders with one aim, which is to see Erdington prosper and thrive in the future.

“Here at the EBID, we will continue to push on with projects and events to attract greater footfall into the town centre. We will also continue to work hard in attracting new independent and national retailers into Erdington High Street.

“We also commit to promoting the great retailers which we already have on board and further improve the local trading environment for them.”