NEWS: Temporary closure of International Superstore could be “turning the corner” in local race relations hopes protest organiser

Words by Erdington Local editorial team

The temporary closure of the International Superstore on Erdington High Street could be “turning the corner” in local race relations hopes one of the organisers of the recent anti-racist protests.

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo welcomed West Midlands Police successful bid to be granted a temporary closure order concerning the busy convenience store near Six Ways.

He told Erdington Local: “We were very pleased West Midlands Police took our protests seriously.

“Perhaps we are turning the corner on the authorities taking racist incidents seriously in Erdington.

“Though it is only a temporary closure; but the police worked with the community, who came out in force to show racism should not be tolerated in our society in 2024.”

Bishop Jaddoo, who was awarded an MBE last year, added: “We were disappointed the owner tried to work round the closure by having goods for sale on the pavement after the closure. However, great work by trading standards officers from Birmingham City Council have stopped all sales from the site.

“What hopefully will happen now is the apologists on Erdington High Street, and there are a lot of them who excuse all types of behaviour, will see a line in the sand has been drawn.”

The protests, promoted under the ‘Shut it down – Black Pound’ banner, were sparked when Erdington resident Leon Bedward, also known as DJ Warren G, his pregnant partner, and sister were attacked outside the shop on Erdington High Street on 17 May.

Mr Bedward also identified a young black teenager who stepped in to help the family, who was in turn also attacked. West Midlands Police confirmed three victims were “struck during the altercation” and are now investigating.

Holding the first protest on Saturday 8 June, organisers continue to encourage protesters to gather outside the shop every weekend to demand the shop closed.

Calling for the first protest, Warren G posted on Facebook: “The purpose of this protest is to shed light on the racist behaviour exhibited by the store staff towards my partner and sister.

“I initially tried to address this issue through Instagram, but I was subsequently attacked by 15 to 20 individuals, possibly more, from the International Superstore staff and surrounding shops who are from the Eastern European heritage or community.

“As a result of the attack, both myself and my partner were hospitalised. This peaceful protest aims to raise awareness within the community and encourage a boycott of all International Superstores in Birmingham.

He added: “It is also an opportunity for the black community to come together and support our own shops, ultimately building a stronger community for ourselves.”

Earlier this month West Midlands Police confirmed the shop “at the centre of problems for the community” will close for a month after the force “has been granted the closure order for International Superstore in Erdington High Street following recent disorder”.

The police, alongside a picture of the shop, posted on their social media: “We are aware of protests that have taken place and our officers have listened to the community concerns.

“We’ve worked alongside partners including the local authority and trading standards to take action, and a closure order was granted at Birmingham Magistrates Court.”

Sergeant Fran Clark, from the local neighbourhood policing team, said: “This property has been a source of significant distress for many in the Erdington community.

“We received numerous complaints regarding an attack that took place in May. Our investigation into the violent disorder and racially aggravated assault is progressing well, and six people who have been arrested remain on bail while we continue to gather evidence.”

The International Superstore will be legally allowed to begin trading on 4 August.

NEWS: Over 80 fire fighters tackle blaze behind Fort Shopping Centre

More than 80 firefighters are tackling a huge blaze in Erdington which has caused a smoke plume which can be seen for miles.

The blaze at a factory behind the Fort Shopping Centre on Wood Lane has been declared “a significant incident” by West Midlands Fire Service.

Roads around the fire at Hastingwood Industrial Park have been closed to traffic.

A WMFS spokesperson said: “This is a fire in a factory, which is not currently affecting The Fort shopping centre which is nearby.

“The fire is contained to the site, where sports equipment is produced. Everyone has been accounted for.”

WMFS confirmed thirteen fire engines, three 4×4 brigade response vehicles, and a hydraulic platform are tackling the blaze with more on the way.

The fire has destroyed the roof of the two-storey steel frame factory and an emergency evacuation point has been set up.

West Midlands Police confirmed it is helping fire colleagues with road closures.

Wingfoot Way is closed at the junction with Fort Parkway and Holly Lane is closed at the junction with Tyburn Road. The A47 Fort Parkway Eastbound is also closed with the AA reporting congestion on routes around the road closures.

Despite fears being raised on social media the fire is not in danger of spreading to a nearby oil terminal.

People have been warned to avoid the area and Erdington residents told to close doors and windows if affected by the smoke.

NEWS: St Barnabas Church celebrates 200 years in the heart of Erdington with special events and historical display

Words by Estelle Murphy / Pics by Ed King and Joe Marchant

St Barnabas Church is celebrating 200 years at the heart of the Erdington community with a series of special events and activities, before a special bi-centenial birthday service on 23 July.

There will also be a special display of the church’s history, from the Erdington Historical Society, in situ at St Barnabas until the double century celebrations are over.

Despite not being readily accessible to members of the public, after St Barnabas closed its café due to financial constraints in June last year, the display can however be seen during the church’s regular programme of community events and worship.

A Grade II listed building, situated on the corner of Church Road and Erdington High Street, St Barnabas Church was first consecrated on 23 July 1824 – with this year marking its 200 year anniversary.

The church was famous for its 16 stained glass windows, and cost £5000 to build at the time – over £1000 of which was from public donations. St Barnabas is the Patron Saint of Peacemakers and is often invoked against quarrelling and hailstorms.

Bi-centenial celebrations were launched on 8 June with an arts and crafts event, and the presentation of Erdington Historical Society’s display of St Barnabas Church history.

The display details the early plans for the church, which was originally built as a chapel of ease to the Aston Parish Church – meaning locals didn’t have to travel to Aston every Sunday to worship. At first St Barnabas could only conduct burials and baptisms, and weddings could not take place there until Erdington became a parish in 1858. The display also shows records of former clergymen and women, bells, and graveyard extensions.

But marking a sad point in the Erdington parish history, on 4 October 2007 arsonists set fire to the St Barnabas Church, destroying all but one of its stained glass windows and much of the roof – leaving only the clock, bell tower, and walls standing. Rebuilding took place between 2011 and 2012, it the church was rededicated in December 2012.

The display form the Erdington Historical Society also shows images of the former stained glass windows and the war memorial lost to the fire, whilst also providing more details of the fire.

Ahead of its 200 year anniversary, St Barnabas is hosting series of events and activities to mark the occasion. Erdington Arts Forum and Ceol Agency also hosted a special musical event on 29 June, bringing musicians and artists together in the church to celebrate it’s importance to the community.

On Saturday 13 July there will also be a Celebration of Relationships held at 2pm – a service to rejoice in all the bonds of love, from friendship and community to marriage and partnership.

Saturday 20 July will see a family fun day with arts and crafts, workshops, and refreshments, held in the community hub from 11am till 3:30pm, which people can attend without booking.

Then on Tuesday 23 July at 7pm, St Barnabas will host a special dedication service, to celebrate the building’s 200 year history and shine a light on everything that is good in the community of Erdington.

Reverend Emma Sykes at St Barnabas told Erdington Local: “It was consecrated on 23 July 1824, which is why we are holding a dedication service on that day.

“Leading up to that day, we have a whole range of events that celebrate Erdington and highlighting the good things here”.

Erdington Historical Society meet at the community hub area at St Barnabas every second Tuesday of each month, with a small fee for attendance.

For more on St Barnabas visit www.stbarnabaserdington.org.uk

For more on the Erdington Historical Society visit www.stbarnabaserdington.org.uk/erdington-historcial-society

NEWS: Paulette Hamilton retains the Birmingham Erdington seat for Labour as Conservatives lose their political grip to Reform UK

Words by Erdington Local editorial team

After voters headed to the ballot boxes on Thursday 4 July, Labour held onto the Birmingham Erdington seat in the 2024 General Election – keeping Paulette Hamilton as the constituency MP and following the trend of a decisive Labour victory across the UK.

But even as Labour celebrates one of the largest successes for the party in modern history, the 2024 General Election delivered a shock result in more ways than one.

Again mirroring the national trend, the biggest losers in Erdington were the Conservatives – who were well beaten into third with just 5,402 votes by Reform UK’s 25-year-old candidate Jack Brookes, who secured a remarkable 7,775 tally.

Only 44% of residents turned out to vote, more than 10% fewer than in 2019 and one of the lowest turnouts in the country, further raising concerns about disillusionment with the democratic process and a failure to inspire voters.

Paulette Hamilton, who won the seat in 2022’s by-election sparked by Jack Dromey’s death, clinched the seat with 14,774 votes for Labour with 43% of the vote – retaining her seat in Parliament, but with a drop of 4.7% from 2019.

She tweeted after the declaration: “We did it! Thank you Erdington, Kingstanding, Castle Vale and South Oscott.”

Speaking to Erdington Local earlier today, she added: “I am truly honoured to be re-elected as the MP for Birmingham Erdington, and will continue to work tirelessly for our community, addressing the issues that matter most to you.

“The country has placed its trust in a Labour government, and I look forward to the opportunities and change it will bring. A new dawn breaks for our community and our country.”

Jack Brookes, who won 297 votes during his first tilt at a Parliamentary career during the 2022 Erdington by-election, increased his vote by 2514% – polling 7,775 votes and being thrust into a mandated position of being a serious opposition politician in the Erdington constituency.

Mr Brookes ascent is all the more remarkable after completing his campaign without a team of volunteers, advertising budget, or benefiting from the official Reform UK campaign leaflets – most of which were not delivered like the majority of other West Midlands candidates.

He told Erdington Local: “From 297 votes to 7,775 in two years is unbelievable.

“I am so grateful to Reform UK for giving me the opportunity in the by-election as a young candidate and now my second place will hopefully inspire others in my generation to enter politics.

“My campaign did not have a budget or anyone to help but Nigel Farage entering and electrifying the campaign certainly helped me, I thought I could come second when the election was called but I think Nigel added on at least 2,000 more votes.”

Speaking to Erdington Local after the result, Mr Brookes added: “This election raised so many issues which residents are struggling with. Law and order must be number one, people are sick of rising crime but also of the complete lack of policing.

“In Erdington, if you are burgled – but manage to collect the evidence and find the culprit – you could give it to the police and they will do nothing.

“Secondly, the local economy is just totally broken, business is going to the wall and jobs are hard to find. And the benefits system seems to exist to fund HMOs and deter people from work; I will be looking at job clubs and doing everything to make it worth working.”

Standing as an Independent, Dr Shaukat Ali won 2,250 votes but did not mirror the success similar Independents had in neighbouring Perry Barr which saw veteran MP Khalid Mahmood lose the seat he has held since 2001.

However, Dr Ali’s candidacy did give those disaffected with Sir Keir Starmer’s slow call for a Gaza ceasefire a political home and would explain Labour’s 4.7% drop in the vote.

The collapse of the Conservative vote across the country was replicated in the Birmingham Erdington constituency, where the longstanding Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden – and leader of the Birmingham Conservatives – stepped aside in March this year to let a new face, Steve Knee, contest the strong Labour seat.

The Derbyshire businessman convinced just 5,402 people to place a cross against his name, which represents the Conservatives’ vote share haemorrhaging 25.5%.

And just as the Tories national campaign was bedevilled by mistakes, strategic blunders, and damaging gaffes, there have been serious questions raised about the Conservative campaign in Erdington.

Mr Knee stopped posting anything on social media concerning the General Election weeks before polling day, and veteran Tories were dumbfounded to learn the new Parliamentary candidate had openly told members of the public his party thought he had no chance of winning.

Erdington Councillor Robert Alden, who is leader of the Birmingham Conservatives, decided against standing for the party for the sixth time in a row, after suffering five defeats

However, despite failing to win a safe Labour seat several times Councillor Alden has remained a popular local figure and has better name recognition in the constituency than any other candidate who wanted to succeed him wearing the blue rosette.

At the time of writing it is unsure if Cllr Alden will throw his hat in the ring as a potential Parliamentary candidate, in Erdington or elsewhere.

Representing other parties in the 2024 General Election, the Green’s Karen Trench polled 2,452 which earnt her fifth place – 48 votes behind Independent candidate Shaukat Ali.

Ms Trench received, however, over 1,000 more votes on 4 July than the Liberal Democrat candidate and Surrey based barrister Farzana Aslam – who did make it up to Birmingham to campaign for Lib Dems, earning her 1,128 votes.

Corinthia Ward was the wooden spoon candidate after convincing 37 people to place their X next to Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

There were 152 rejected ballot papers.

But in a seat that has traditionally been a battle between red and blue, Labour and Conservative, there is now a clear new voice in the political conversation – Jack Brookes from Reform UK.

He added: “My result should put all the other politicians and parties in Erdington on notice, I am the official opposition, and it is just the start.”

BACK TO SCHOOL: Wilson Stuart hosts ‘Let’s Enable’ for equine therapy session

Words and pics supplied by Wilson Stuart School

Wilson Stuart School recently had the pleasure of welcoming ‘Let’s Enable’ and their special visitors: two ponies.

This unique session, funded by The Inclusive Communities Fund, was designed to provide students with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) an opportunity to engage in therapeutic activities with the ponies.

‘Let’s Enable’ is an organisation dedicated to supporting adults and young people with disabilities in Birmingham. Their programmes emphasise the mental health benefits of equine companionship and promote physical activity through horse care.

During the session, students participated in a variety of activities, including grooming, leading, and stroking the ponies. These activities were made possible with the assistance of volunteers from ‘Let’s Enable’ and supportive school staff.

Lucy Cook, Learning Lead for Inspire, stated that: “The work with the ponies provided an enriching experience, enhancing both the students’ sensory engagement and emotional well-being and it was lovely to see the student’s interaction with the animals.”

The event was such a success that Wilson Stuart has already booked two additional sessions, aiming to extend this beneficial experience to more students across the school.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to ‘Let’s Enable’ and The Inclusive Communities Fund for making this invaluable experience possible for our students

For more on Wilson Stuart School visit www.wilsonstuart.co.uk

Wilson Stuart School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Euros 2024. All you need to know…

Words by Larry Harris

Ed’s note: As England progress through the 2024 UEFA European Football Championship, Larry Harris from the Hive College put together a helpful overview of the tournament – explaining ‘all you need to know’ about the Euros in Germany. 

This article was first published in the Erdington Local print edition June/July.

The UEFA European Football Championship 2024 is taking place in Germany, and there are 24 teams in the tournament – playing through six groups.

Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland.
Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania. Group C: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England
Group D: Poland, Netherlands, Austria, France
Group E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine
Group F: Turkey, Georgia, Portugal, Czech Republic

Some Premier League players are playing in the Euros 2024, these are: Bruno Fernandes, Eberechi Eze, Cole Palmer, Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne, Rodri, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Ollie Watkins, Ezri Konsa, James Maddison, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Dean Henderson, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice, Conor Gallagher. There are also players from the West Midlands, including Jude Bellingham.

The tournament starts on 14 June and the first games taking place over the opening weekend are: Friday, 14 June Germany v Scotland (20:00 – Group A), Saturday, 15 June Hungary v Switzerland (14:00 – Group A) Spain v Croatia (17:00 – Group B) Italy v Albania (20:00 – Group B), Sunday, 16 June Poland v Netherlands (14:00 – Group D).

Italy are the defending champions having won the Euros in 2021. But the favourites to win Euro 24 are, in order: England, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium

Personally, I want England to win.

For more on The Hive College visit: www.hivecollege.org.uk

The Hive College is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Celebrated author Lee Benson engages students with Henry Egg series at Queensbury main school

Words and pics by supplied by Queensbury School

On 7 May 2024, our school had the pleasure of hosting Lee Benson, the acclaimed author of The Adventures of Henry Egg and the Henry Egg series, for a day filled with literary excitement and educational enrichment. Benson’s visit was highly anticipated, and he did not disappoint.

Benson conducted sessions with the Discovery and Quest classes, offering students a rare opportunity to engage directly with a professional author.

These sessions were not only informative but also inspiring, as students delved into the creative process behind Benson’s stories and even participated in interactive activities designed to spark their own storytelling talents.

During these class sessions, students were captivated by tales of adventure and moral lessons that the Henry Egg stories embody. Benson’s dynamic storytelling and engaging presence left a significant impression, encouraging students to explore their creativity and develop a deeper love for reading.

In addition to the workshops, students had the chance to purchase copies of Benson’s books, with a special treat: limited edition signed copies by both Benson and the series’ artist. This provided a cherished memento of the day, encouraging a lasting love for reading.

The visit by Lee Benson was a resounding success, leaving a lasting impression on students and staff alike.

It was a day that truly celebrated the joy of reading and the power of imagination.

For more Queensbury School visit www.queensburysch.com

Queensbury School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Celebrating the special people in our families at Marsh Hill Primary School

Words and pics supplied by Marsh Hill Primary School

Children at Marsh Hill Primary School have been celebrating the special people in their families with two events held in school for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Every family is different and the people who take care of nurture the young people in their lives can come in all ages, shapes, and sizes.

So, at Marsh Hill we opened up the traditional events to include brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, and anyone who plays an important role in our children’s lives and who the children in turn wanted to show their love and appreciation for.

And what better way to do that on Mother’s Day than a fabulous afternoon tea, complete with scones, jam, butter, and a hug dollop of love.

Then on Father’s Day the children celebrated the important men in their lives by inviting them into school to share a cone of chips and play a variety of games.

A spokesperson for Marsh Hill Primary told: “It was wonderful to welcome all the families into Marsh Hill and to be able to share their special days with our children, it is amazing to see our young people be so excited and engaged that they can show their appreciation for the special people in their lives.”

They added: “We know all families are different, but the love that connects people is universal and it was a truly magical occasion to be able to celebrate that.”

For more on Marsh Hill Primary School visit www.marshill.bham.sch.uk

Marsh Hill Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Exciting field trips and celebrating hard work at Kings Rise Academy

Words and pics by KRA Editorial Team

Even though the end of the year is fast approaching, it has been another exciting term at Kings Rise Academy. Children have taken part in a number of exciting activities including: Sutton Park, Xtreme Jump, Cadbury World, and Tudor World.

Children love time away from the classroom and Sutton Park provides the perfect setting to get out and explore.

Mr Bentley says: “We absolutely loved playing cricket and football, enjoying a picnic in the park and an ice-cream before we walked home.”

Xtreme Jump was a fantastic way to celebrate how amazing the Year 6 children have performed during their SATs and a memory they will never forget. They enjoyed pizza and chips after jumping in a room made entirely of trampolines and had the best time!

Another example of some of the exciting trips this term is Tudor World and Cadbury World linking to the students’ history topics. They learned all about the impact of the Tudors through a crime and punishment workshop all the way in Stratford Upon-Avon and even got to taste the chocolate at Cadbury world.

With lots more to come, it’s safe to say Kings Rise Academy are busy engaging in fun learning activities.

For more on Kings Rise Academy visit www.kingsrise.org

Kings Rise Editorial Team: Sienna Mills (Y5), Zaneta Onojah (Y5), Liyana Walters (Y5), Riley Mortiboys (Y5), Hiba Ahmed (Y4), Ehichoya Jason Obor (Y5).

Kings Rise Academy is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Kingsthorne Primary School residential at YHA Ravenstor in Peak District

Words and pics supplied by Kingsthorne Primary School

Earlier in June, children from Kingsthorne Primary got the chance to spend time at the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) country house Ravenstor – as part of a special residential trip organised by the Kinstanding school.

Situated in the heart of the Peak District, looking down on the River Wye that runs between Bakewell and Buxton, YHA Ravenstor is a popular holiday destination for families and walkers who want to get back to nature.

During their stay, the Kingsthorne children got to explore the 60 acres of beautiful grounds that surround the National Trust property, playing games and taking part in fun activities.

With some wet weather coming whilst they were away, everyone got quite muddy but had a great time doing so – and luckily YHA Ravenstor had a special ‘drying room’ for all their wet clothes and muddy boots.

School trips and residential stays are a fantastic way to build confidence in young people, help them with social inclusion, and give many children the chance to see and experience things that may not be easily accessible to them.

National consortium Learning Away champions the benefits of UK based educational residentials and found the impact of the experience on primary school children can increase their relationships with both peers and teachers by over 70%.

Renowned mountaineer and explorer Sir Chris Bonnington told: “Children benefit in a profound way from the adventure of a residential and the opportunity and experience of being absorbed in what they are learning in the great outdoors.”

For more on Kingsthorne Primary School visit www.kingsthorneprimary.co.uk

Kingsthorne Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]