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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEWS: Free photo walks around Rookery Park and Erdington High Street – ahead of Green Spaces exhibition at Ikon Gallery

Words & pics by Ed King

Across March, a series of free to access photo walks and workshops will be held in Erdington – with Birmingham born photographer Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora inviting local residents to explore how green spaces and urban settings can impact their mental health.

Starting on Monday 4 March, the first photo walk will take place between 10:30am and 12noon – with subsequent workshops held at the same time on Monday 11 March and Monday 24 March.

The events will run for about 45mins each, with regular stops, and no previous experience of photography required to take part. Organisers have asked those attending to ‘wear suitable warm clothing and footwear for urban walking.’

Locations outlined for the photo walks include Rookery Park and Erdington High Street.

As well as the photography workshops, participants will have the option to display their work at Ikon Gallery in June as part of a special exhibition called Green Spaces – alongside portraits of those who attended the events in green spaces that are important to them, taken by Dhaliwal-Boora.

Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora is an award winning Birmingham photographer and multi disciplinarian artist, who uses her work to ‘empower and give voice’ to marginalised communities and explore how to visually capture and represent ethnicity, gender, and place.

Awarded the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain prize for three years running, from 2022-24, her previous work has been exhibited at the UN Headquarters in New York, Wembley Stadium, The People’s History Museum in Manchester, and at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.

To see previous portraits taken by Dhaliwal-Boora, click here to visit her online portfolio or on the link below.

A collaboration between Ikon Gallery and Living Well Consortium – a group of 30 charities, volunteer groups, and not-for-profit mental health organisations – the Green Spaces project and exhibition are intended to ‘raise awareness of, and engagement with, topics centred on mental health and wellbeing’, according to organisers.

According to UK based mental health charity Mind, a quarter of the British population will experience mental health problems – with the Office of National Statistics finding the one in six people across the UK will experience depression at any one time.

Men’s suicide rates, often linked to mental health concerns or depression, are three time higher than women’s in the UK – as found in a report published by The Samaritans.

Green Spaces is scheduled to be on display at Ikon Gallery from 12–23 June, later this year.

For more information and to book a place on the Erdington photo walks, please email Green Spaces producer Amelia Hawk at [email protected]

To find out more about the Green Spaces photo walks and workshops in Erdington visit: www.ikon-gallery.org/news/view/photo-walks-and-workshops

For more on the Green Spaces exhibition at Ikon Gallery visit www.ikon-gallery.org/exhibition/green-spaces

For more on Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora visit www.jaskirtdhaliwalboora.com

FEATURE: Eco Together in Erdington, inspiring environmental action across the city at Witton Lakes Eco Hub

Words Ed King / Pics by Ewan Williamson

On 27 January 2024, the Bath born and Birmingham adopted Eco Together project celebrated a year of inspiring independent environmental action in and around Erdington – including a specially designed ten week course at the Eco Hub with Witton Lodge Community Association.

Erdington Local went to watch Eco Together cut the cake at the Witton Lakes ecological and community hub – and to hear how the Erdington held course has started a ripple effect of change across the city.

“…people have the power to create the change. It’s just the law of numbers; there’s way more of us.”

The room is full – of both people and passion. But also hope and ambition. Eco Together has been running courses across Birmingham for a year, brought to the second city by Stephanie Boyle – a retired clinical psychologist who found Eco Together whilst researching climate change online.

Starting in Bath, Eco Together works on a micro effecting macro approach, encouraging ‘small groups of friends, neighbours or colleagues’ to come together and realise the ‘powers’ they have in tackling climate change and environmental issues. And at this special anniversary celebration the energy in the room is palpable.

The Eco Hub, located at Witton Lakes, a converted century old gatekeeper’s cottage with ecological issues literally at its foundations, hosted the longest running Birmingham based Eco Together course – evolving the standard five week open platform programme into a special ten week series of workshops and group discussions.

Developed by Stephanie Boyle from the open source material offered by Eco Together, the extended course was commissioned at the request of Witton Lodge Community Association, who also built the Eco Hub. A group of about nine local residents met up every week to discuss environmental issues and to look beyond the bigger picture and ask what they, as individuals, could do to make change.

“It made me feel confident that I could do something,” explains Pauline Brown, who attended the Eco Together course earlier in the year. “As an individual you care about the climate and pollution, and you try and do your best, but you feel like you’re just a little isolated person trying.”

Campaigners worldwide, especially when dealing with worldwide problems, often cite those first few steps as the most daunting.

“But when it came to the (Eco Together) course I was with others who were interested,” adds Pauline, “and those ‘powers’, that’s what really got me – how you can communicate, your advocacy, and talk about it (environmental issues) to other people fires you up with ideas… you bounce of each other.”

“It was useful as a way of discussing what options are available to you as an individual,” adds Nettes Derbyshire – who attended a five week programme run with Shakti Women in Birmingham City Centre.

“I mean, there are things that I knew. But it really challenges you to say ‘well what are you going to do about that?’ and look at what little difference you can make – and to actually go away with something each week and say ‘I’m going to try and do that’.

“(The course) really opened my eyes to my own advocacy, and how you really can shout at the people to do things and really encourage the Local Authority, or whomever it is, and just keep on picking at it until they get it… and hope that they do.”

The ‘powers’ are the main tenet of Eco Together, and like every good collection of cornerstones there are four of them: lifestyle, communication, community, and advocacy.

Started by Sarah Grimes – who graduated with Distinction from Oxford University after reading Environmental Policy and who has worked in, around, and against local government for over 25 years – Eco Together uses these ‘powers’ to galvanise the strength of the individual and to show the simple steps one person can take to chip away at worldwide wall of ignorance and inertia.

Cleaning behind your fridge, for example, saves significant home energy use. It’s hard to think of anything more immediate and simple, but also exponential. Eco Together came from the Transition Bath project that saw around 500 households ‘cut an average of £570 from their annual bills and 1.3 tonnes from their carbon footprint,’ – and that figure of 500 households started with one.

Not bad for a community led charity, and one that proved so effective it started to grab the attention of Councils and Local Authorities across the county.

“It’s amazing, absolutely amazing,” tells Sarah Grimes – after thanking the Birmingham crowd for their involvement over the past twelve months and their ambitions for the next. “And what it shows to me is that the format can adapt to lots of different circumstance and lots of different ways of working.”

Sarah continues: “Initially it was thought of being just a neighbourhood group, but here (Birmingham – Eco Hub) it’s been run as a course, it’s been run by community groups, by organisations, with staff.

“And that shows that the main tenant of Eco Together is the ‘powers’. So, this is a slightly different framing to how we’re used to thinking about environmental issues, and thinking my powers go beyond the ability to choose one product over another product – they actually go into what do I do with the communities I’m in. What do I do, as a citizen, to represent to politicians and businesses. And whether or not I talk about climate change.

 “All of those things are things you can do to make an impact, and that principle can really be used with any issue and with any group of people. And that’s what happening here, which is so exciting.”

It’s a simple premise, but it works. In Birmingham, for example, Eco Together is now being looked at to help support the city’s Net Zero agenda and cut its emissions down to ‘zero or as close as possible to prevent further temperature increases’ – beating the Government benchmark by two decades.

In less than twelve months a handful of people, attending free to access workshops in and around Erdington, have shown the city how it can be done. And the city took note.

“We were invited to a specific session about community action, I think it was about week five,” tells Stockland Green Councillor Jane Jones (Labour), who attended one of the workshops where the power of ‘advocacy’ was on the table – alongside her Perry Common counterpart, Councillor Jilly Bermingham.

“But we were really impressed,” Cllr Jones continues. “We saw the training manual and it was really thorough. I learnt loads just reading one part of it. It was excellent, and the turnout… there were so many people there as well, and they were really interested in the environment.

“It didn’t matter where you were on the scale of knowledge, it really opened people’s eyes. Some people knew absolutely nothing (about environmental issues) and started from scratch, then there were people with more experience and still got something out if it. I certainly did.”

Bringing truth to power can be notoriously tricky, especially when the problem at hand is such a worldwide issue and local government is, well, local. But can the approach from groups like Eco Together actually have an impact, can an individual’s advocacy on an issue tun the relevant responsible authority heads?

“We encourage (local advocacy) that’s why we have open advice bureau,” tells Cllr Bermingham, “because we’re encouraging people to come and talk to us and tell us their issues. I’ve had people come and talk to me about community garden and women’s groups… everything. And they’re the advocates coming to me and pushing their groups, and that’s important.

“It’s all the things joining up. None of us can do it on our own.”

Cllr Jones, never one to duck a tough question, adds: “Whatever the policies the Council have, we’re not always very good at following them through. So, we need keeping on our toes.”

Eco Together in Erdington, anniversary celebration at Witton Lakes Eco Hub / Ewan Williamson

For more on Eco Together visit www.ecotogether.info

For more on the Eco Hub and other projects delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk

FEATURE: Erdington renters facing millions in extra energy costs as the government scraps efficiency plans

Words by Ed King and Josh Neicho

People renting private accommodation in Erdington could have paid out over £1.1million in extra energy costs this winter, after the Government scrapped plans to force landlords to up their energy efficiency standards – according to research by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

The legislative U-turn was announced in a press release issued by Downing Street before Christmas, outlining several points where the Prime Minister has “revised plans” previously set for the UK to challenge climate change and to reach net zero by 2050.

According to the United Nations, whose member states made collective promises on environmental issues in the 2015 Paris Agreement, net zero means “cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible” – and to a level where any remaining emissions can be naturally “re-absorbed from the atmosphere”.

Amongst these commitments, the UK pledged to introduce new legislation that would force all privately rented tenancies to carry an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above by 2028 – bringing their properties in line with the most energy efficient systems and reducing bills for renters.

However, under new plans announced by the Prime Minister in late 2023, the Government has now stated it will: “Scrap policies to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties” but would “instead continue to encourage households to do so where they can.”

In new analysis, published by the ECIU, it was found that 73% of private rented homes in Erdington currently carry an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower – meaning the new laws would have forced an upgrade in thousands of homes across the constituency and made their energy consumption cost less.

With improved energy systems, and based on figures from energy ombudsman Ofgem and net zero consultants Cornwall Insight, the ECIU estimate Erdington renters could save up to £26million in energy costs by 2050 if all homes carried an EPC rating between A-C.

The ECIU further calculated private renters across the constituency missed out on £1.1million in potential savings over the 2023/24 winter months alone.

Other policy shifts made in the Government’s statement include pulling back on their proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and extending the deadline for homeowners to install more energy efficient boilers.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls the new plans a “fairer” approach to the UK’s commitment to becoming net zero by 2050, insisting the UK will still meet its targets for 2030 and 2035 and the revised agenda is “a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic path”.

Organisations representing private landlords have also welcomed the changes, with Ben Thompson, Deputy CEO at Mortgage Advice Bureau, highlighting the “pressing timelines” many were under to retrofit new energy systems. 

Environmental and social activists, however, have challenged the Government’s revised plans – arguing they renege on the UK’s previous promises to effectively challenge climate change, and leave individual households paying hundreds more in their annual energy bills.

Paul Barnes, regional organiser for community union ACORN West Midlands, believes private households will bear the brunt of the Government’s shift in policy.

He said: “Tenants in the UK are facing an impossible challenge of rising costs and stagnant wages. The government’s decision to row back on its commitments for landlords to increase the energy efficiency of homes will push renters and our members further into poverty.

“With growing issues of rent increase linked with increasing energy costs, many of our members are already having to make impossible choices. We demand that the UK Government brings back its commitments to increased energy efficiency.”

Jess Ralston, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, added: “Private renters include some of the most vulnerable people in society, such as those with a long-term illness or disability and low-income families. There’s no two ways about it, they will be made colder and poorer by scrapping these standards.

“The Prime Minister has essentially picked the landlord over the renter with his U-turn, in a move that makes no sense to fuel poverty charities or to energy companies alike.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, or want more information about your rights and responsibilities over domestic energy use, contact Ofgem via www.ofgem.gov.uk

for more from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit visit www.eciu.net

LOCAL Q&A: Andy Harper – author of Knitted Swimming Trunks

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Andy Harper and Brewin Books

Just before Christmas, local author Andy Harper released his tell all autobiography – Knitted Swimming Trunks, published by Brewin Books. Click here for our first news story about the book and its author.

A searingly honest portrayal of school life in the 50s and 60s, told through the eyes of a self-confessed “massive target for bullies”, the 252 page paperback begins as the Erdington based author is born.

Knitted Swimming Trunks then takes the reader through his childhood growing up in the back to backs in Birmingham and continues across his troubled school years, until the day he received his City and Guild certificate after leaving education.

An intrinsically Brummie journey of hope and humility, hear more about Knitted Swimming Trunks as Erdington Local caught up with Andy Harper just before his debut book hit the shelves.

______

Congratulations on you first book, what compelled you to write about your life?

“Lockdown came along and I was bored to tears. I help out with a charity called Dogs for Good (based in Banbury), socialising assistance dogs, and that gave me an excuse to go out. But everywhere was closed down and it was weird, it was a bit like a horror film. And there’s only so many repeats of Bargain Hunt you can stay indoors and watch.

“So, I started to write things down about those very early years as a legacy for my children and grandchildren – and then it seemed to grow and grow, and my wife said you’ve got a book here.”

 

The narrative focuses on your difficult school years, but what made them so challenging for you?

“It wasn’t until the back to backs were being knocked down, and we ended up moving to Rubery, that I was enrolled for any length of time into a school. And when I started at Colmers Farm I was very weak, very frail – emotionally and educationally I was well, well down. I was a massive target for bullies. And I was put on the ‘thick table’ which didn’t help.

“Then I went into senior school, and I remember sitting in reception and the headmaster coming onto the stage and telling us: ‘there are two types of people in this world, there are the chefs and they’ve passed the Eleven Plus and gone onto Grammer School. You lot are destined to stir the pot.’

“Now if you say that to a frail young lad who is very emotionally damaged because of the bullying and everything, what’s going to happen…? I went into a little bubble, sat at the back of the classroom, and just looked out of the window. And I did that for the majority of my school years.”

 

That must have been difficult as a younger child.

“I did feel let down by my schooling. But it isn’t a ‘woe is me’ book because it wasn’t just happening to me, it was happening the thousands of other children at that time. And all the teachers seemed to be interested in were the bright ones at front who keep putting their hands up and answering questions.

“But really they should be concentrating on those ones at the back who just sit there – those are the ones who need the teacher’s attention. But it wasn’t given, that’s just the way education was back in the 50’s.”

 

And where did the title, Knitted Swimming Trunks, come from?

“Back in the 50’s mothers used to kit you everything: hats, gloves, jumpers, everything. Because it was cheaper. My mother, bless her, decided to knit me swimming trunks… it didn’t work out. I didn’t notice the flaw in the design until I got into the sea at Westen Super Mare; I got a very strange feeling in the material around the groin, then they just billowed out and became very saggy.

“And it was a hell of a long walk back to where my mum and dad were, at the far end of Weston beach, holding on for dear life to these soggy knitted swimming trunks.”

 

That sounds embarrassing…

“All through the book it’s the rather embarrassing, rather bizarre things that happened to me. And that just typified what might have started out as a wonderful idea but ended up in complete disaster. So, the ridicule of that walk back sums up a lot of what was happening to me in those years.

“But It’s not just about knitted swimming trunks, it’s about my personal story of growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, seeing how the world and Birmingham was changing through my eyes. It’s very nostalgic.

“There are lots of tears in the book but also lots of laugh out loud moments; I experienced the whole lot across those twenty odd years.”

 

And for someone learning about your life today, through this book, what would you want them to take away from reading Knitted Swimming Trunks?

“This book is about making sure you’re not defined by the bullies and doing the best you can. It’s about making the most of yourself and not allowing it to be a bad experience. It’ll make you cry on one page, then loud out loud on the next.

“Hopefully some teachers will read it and think, let’s see what’s happening at the back of the class…”

Knitted Swimming Trunks by Andy Harper is out now, available through Brewin Books. For more information and links to online sales visit: www.brewinbooks.com/knitted_swimming_trunks

To contact Andy Harper directly please email: [email protected]

NEWS: Knitted Swimming Trunks – “It’ll make you cry on one page, then laugh out loud on the next”, local author releases tell all autobiography of 50s and 60s school life

Words by Ed King / Pic supplied by Andy and Bridget Harper

Local author Andy Harper has released his tell all autobiography of 50s and 60s school life in Birmingham – Knitted Swimming Trunks is out from 17 November, published by Brewin Books.

A searingly honest portrayal of life in and around the classrooms of the 50s and 60s, told through the eyes of a self-confessed “massive target for bullies”, the 252 page paperback begins as the Erdington based author is born and takes the reader up to the day he received his City and Guild certificate after leaving secondary school.

Having lived across the city – from early beginnings in Weoley Castle, to the ‘adventure playground’ of the back to in Birmingham City Centre, to starting his married life in Erdington – Andy Harper is a brummie born and raised.

However, his entry into the world was not an easy one. Delivered at home with nuchal cord asphyxiation, where the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck preventing air supply to the new lungs, Andy suffered with “every illness going” when he was a young child – keeping him out of education until attending Colmers Farm School in Rubery several years later in life.

“It wasn’t until the back to backs were being knocked down, and we ended up moving to Rubery, that I was enrolled for any length of time into a school,” explains Andy, “and when I started at Colmers Farm I was very weak, very frail – emotionally and educationally I was well, well down.”

He continues: “I was put on the ‘thick table’, which didn’t help. But I met some wonderful characters, and a lot of the book is about a very dysfunctional bunch of friends at school – getting into all sorts of scrapes.”

Pulling no punches, the title of the book describes a life changing humiliation at Weston Super Mare, when the titular knitted swimming trunks – made from love because “back in the 50’s mothers used to knit you everything” – prompted a long walk of shame back from the sea to his parents on the beach. 

The book goes on to challenge the cruelty of school life, from both teachers and fellow students, and stand as a stark warning not to disregard the quieter children as “those are the ones who need the teacher’s attention.”

But as the author himself describes, Knitted Swimming Trunks “is not a woe is me book”, but more a clarion call for young people struggling to navigate the challenges of youth.

“I really hope that when people read the book they can reflect on that (the difficulties some children face at school) because it may be happening to them now. And this is what I say – put your hand up, do something, tell someone about the bullying, tell someone what’s going on.”

He continues: “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done or what people say you are, you’ve every right to become the person you want to be. You don’t need to be an academic, you just need passion and desire.

“This book is about making sure you’re not defined by these people and doing the best you can. It’s about making the most of yourself and not allowing it to be a bad experience. It’ll make you cry on one page, then laugh out loud on the next.”

Knitted Swimming Trunks by Andy Harper is available through Brewin Books – out from 17 November. For more information and links to online sales visit: www.brewinbooks.com/knitted_swimming_trunks

To contact Andy Harper directly please email: [email protected]

 

NEWS: Erdington Rotary Club open Peace Garden at Spring Lane Playing Fields – Thursday 21 September

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Erdington Rotary Club

On Thursday 21 September, Erdington residents and people from across the district are invited to the opening of a new Peace Garden at Spring Lane Playing Fields – organised by Erdington Rotary Club (ERC).

Anyone interested in attending has been asked to arrive at around 1pm, ready for the ceremony to begin in full at 1:30pm. The event is free and all ages are welcome, with light refreshments served by the ERC.

Unveiled in line with World Peace Day, the ‘place of peace and reflection’ will be housed in the playing fields’ ‘tiny forest and ecological area’ and is the first stage of an ongoing commitment which will ‘develop over the coming years.’

Dignitaries honouring the event will include Erdington Ward Councillor and Leader of Birmingham Conservatives Robert Alden, alongside the Rotary Club’s Immediate Past District Governor (IPDG) John Parkinson and Past District Governor (PDG) Margaret Morley.

Participants will be invited to plant a Peace Rose to commemorate the occasion, with dignitaries present further invited to address the crowds. Once open to the public, ERC are also keen to bring young people into the Peace Garden’s development, hoping ‘community participation’ will further underpin the project.

Peace Gardens are described by Collins English Dictionary as ‘a public park that is dedicated to peace’,  and have an international legacy of representing nations and states situated together in a natural setting.

Whilst reports of the first ‘Peace Garden’ vary, many have been proposed and bult in the shadow of major conflicts, disputes, or disasters.

One of the most prominent Peace Gardens in England is located in front of Sheffield’s Town Hall, first built in 1938 and now containing several memorials for citizens of Sheffield who were killed in conflicts including in the Spanish Civil War and the Korean War – alongside both World Wars.

Sheffield’s Peace Gardens also contains a memorial to those killed at Hiroshima, after an internationally sanctioned atomic bomb was dropped on the city by North American forces in 1945 – reportedly killing up to 150,000 people.

Sponsored by the supermarket chain Tesco, who have an Express outlet at Six Ways near Erdington High Street, the Peace Garden at Spring Lane Playing Fields is part of the local Rotarian’s ‘Create Hope in the World’ agenda which sees the Club support many local charities and projects.

The project was further supported by £250 that ERC were awarded for environmental work with The Queen’s Green Canopy Project.

The idea for a Peace Garden came after ERC were awarded a peace pole for the work they do supporting Erdington Cricket Club and encouraging young people to play sport.

A spokesperson for Erdington Rotary Club told Erdington Local: “Club members decided to build the garden because we were awarded a peace pole by our District Leadership Team, this was in response to our very successful cricket project at Spring Lane.

“We all felt that it would be lovely for the community to have a place to meet within the local green space.

“We will be installing a bench so that people will have somewhere to sit for a while and in due course we will be planting a rose garden there as well, these will be Peace Roses and Rotary Roses.

“The garden will also be used as an educational opportunity to introduce young people to the concept of positive peace. We feel that such a facility is much needed in the modern world.

“This is a Rotary/United Nations project and has no religious or political affiliations, we hope that everyone will use it and that it will become a genuine community asset.”

Click here for more on Erdington Rotary Club – or visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087397171800

For more on Spring Lane Playing Fields visit www.sports-facilities.co.uk/sites/view/6007466

NEWS: Erdington based gun dealer jailer for over 14 years after operation by the Regional Organised Crime Unit

Words by Ed King / Pics & video released by West Midlands Police

Earlier this week an Erdington based gun dealer was jailed for over 14 years after a successful operation by the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU).

Jordan Geoghegan (23) from Summerlee Rd, Pype Hayes, was arrested at his home address after police discovered the ‘tools’ needed to repurpose blank firing ammunition into lethal bullets, along with shotgun cartridges and bullet casing.

Further searches of his mobile phone uncovered video footage of Geoghan brandishing a series of guns, including a variety of handguns, alongside text messages of being able to buy cheap guns from the United States and how he planned to kill someone with a shotgun – West Midlands Police reported.

WMP further reported one of the guns featured in the video was recovered and confirmed it was ‘found to be live’, although it was ‘not clear if the others were real or imitation.’

Police also found evidence the ammunition Geoghegan was looking to sell was being made directly by him, possibly at his Erdington home address.

WATCH: Gunman who boasted about weapons in videos jailed for more than 14 years

Following his conviction this week, West Midlands Police released the incriminating pictures and video footage of Geoghegan engaged in the attempted sale of deadly weapons.

Police also released a selection of the text messages found to have been sent by Geoghegan, where one states: “12 double barrel, Model 27 semi auto MK sten…. There the kinda things I can get aha just don’t tell no one.”

Another said: “Need a pocket rocket for tomorrow g if you got one cheap that slaps.”

Jordan Geoghegan was brought to justice after a successful operation by Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), as part of the wider Operation Target – conducted by West Midlands Police and the ROCU across the region.

Operation Target works with regional partners and in line with the National Crime Agency to tackle organised crime in the West Midlands, which the force say nationally leads to more deaths ‘than all other national security threats combined, including terrorism’ and costs the UK over £37 billion annually.

Det Chief Insp Peter Cooke, from the Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Geoghegan was what was known in the criminal world as a ‘clean skin’ – with no criminal record. This obviously gave him some confidence that he could carry on his illegal operation undetected.

“He was wrong. A thorough investigation found traces of his DNA found on the bullets, as well as numerous mobile phone videos showing him handling guns.

“The text messages he was exchanging with other criminals show he was serious and committed to the trade in illegal firearms.

“He had the tools, knowledge and skills to produce large quantities of live ammunition which would certainly have made their way into the hands of criminals who use illegal firearms on the streets of Birmingham.

“We are absolutely committed to tackling serious and organised crime in the West Midlands and will use all of our tactics and powers to bring those involved in it to justice.”

Geoghegan appeared at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday 11 September, admitting possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition, and being involved in the sale or transfer of ammunition.

He was jailed for 14.5 years.

West Midlands Police further stated: ‘Others who Geohegan were in contact with have been investigated, with one person jailed for five years for possession of a firearm.’

BACK TO SCHOOL: ‘Ambitious’ Stockland Green School impresses Ofsted inspectors with ‘tenacious’ approach to safeguarding

Words & pics supplied by Stockland Green School

Staff and students at Stockland Green are celebrating after inspectors praised the school as a place where “leaders care deeply about pupils’ well-being”.

Ofsted inspectors, who visited the site in Slade Road, Erdington, on 14-15 February, confirmed that Stockland Green School remains a ‘good’ school, and praised it for its “family approach”.

They also praised safeguarding and wellbeing measures at the school, which is part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership.

Head of School Rebecca Goode said: “We were delighted with this Ofsted report, as we really saw the inspection as an opportunity to showcase our school, to show the inspectors the very best of our team and our students, and help them understand the journey we are on as a school.

“The report talks about us as a ‘family’, and how we really care for our children and about our safeguarding work being ‘tenacious’ – because we are very driven as a team to ensure that our children get the very best in all aspects of education.

“However, it’s not just about grades and results – it’s about ensuring that we give the very best to our young people.

“We always want to ensure that the children have the belief to be whatever they want to be, and that ultimately they become fully rounded citizens who are going to contribute positively to the community.”

According to the Ofsted report, pupils at Stockland Green are happy, and say that they feel safe.

It said: “This is because leaders care deeply about pupils’ well-being and they make sure that staff know pupils well.

“When bullying occurs, pupils say that teachers help resolve the issue quickly and make sure that it does not happen again. Leaders have ensured that the school’s values of ‘aspire, believe and achieve’ are shared by all staff. This has created an environment where there are high expectations about how and what pupils will learn.”

Inspectors said the school’s leaders actively promote pupils’ wider personal development.

It said: “Well-being weeks linked to lessons provide a range of valuable experiences that help make learning real. Most pupils take part in extra-curricular clubs or activities.”

The school was also praised for creating an ambitious curriculum for all pupils, including those with Special Educational Needs.

It said: “Teachers have secure subject knowledge, and they know their pupils well. They create purposeful learning environments for all pupils, including those with SEND. Teachers also use a range of routines to help pupils learn.”

On safeguarding, the report said staff were motivated to prioritise wellbeing.

It said: “Staff morale is high, and they are proud of the role they play in pupils’ education. Leaders make sure that safeguarding is of the highest priority for staff.

“They provide regular training and updates. Staff are vigilant, and quick to report any concerns they have. Leaders are tenacious, and they follow up all concerns raised.”

Headteacher Marie George said: “I’m delighted for Mrs Goode, her team, the students and the community that Stockland Green has been recognised in this way.

“It’s a great achievement, especially when you consider the impacts of the pandemic, which were compounded in our own community, around Stockland Green.

“The school’s response has been to make sure that our children have a safe place to come to, that they are loved and cared for, and get an ambitious curriculum, which was also recognised by the inspectors.

“By taking that caring, ambitious approach, we give our children real life chances, to ensure that they are equipped to go on and meet the demands of the world around them.”

For more on Stockland Green School visit www.stockgrn.bham.sch.uk

**If your school would like to be part of Erdington Local’s BACK TO SCHOOL pages then please email [email protected] – with the name of your school in the subject box.**

NEWS: Bagot Arms Golf Society hope to raise over £5000 for men’s mental health charity

Words & pics by Liam Smith

Preparations are being made by the Bagot Arms Golf Society ahead of their charity golf day on 21 July 2023, where organisers hope to raise over £5000 for a men’s mental health charity.

The event, which is taking place at Bromsgrove Golf Centre in Worcestershire, is in support of ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’ – a nationwide campaign ‘which uses sporting themes to encourage people, particularly men, to talk about how they feel.’

According to the charity’s website, 5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders, for example anxiety or depression. The website further states suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst males aged 15 to 29, and that three out of four of all suicides are men.

The Bagot Arms Golf Society, now operating out of Hollyfields Conference & Sports Centre in Pype Hayes, formed in 2009 out of the old Bagot Arms pub less than a mile away from Pype Hayes Golf Club.

The society have a history of organising and being a part of fundraising events and charity days, including a ’72 holes in one day’ challenge in aid of MacMillan which saw four members raise over £5,000 for the cancer charity.

They have also raised money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Tony Roche, founding member of the Bagot Arms Golf Society told Erdington Local: “Mental health issues can affect anyone and can be caused by several factors. Suicide continues to be three times more common in men than in women.”

Steven Smith, also a founding member and Pype Hayes resident, told: “Since our inception in 2009, we have always felt it important that we try to raise money for charities. It is an important part of our society.

“We have a day upcoming in July, which is fully booked, with 60 golfers in attendance and all 18 holes of the course generously sponsored by local businesses.”

The society are still actively raising as much as they can as the event nears.

Steven added: “We have recently set up a JustGiving page. We set an initial target of £1,000 and we have already hit £735 and it would be great if any of your readers could help.”

The Pype Hayes golf group hope to raise over £5,000 with all the money raised from the event along with online donations. A JustGiving page can be found here: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bagotarms-golfsociety

For more on the Bagot Arms Golf Society visit: www.bagotarmsgs.com

For more on the ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’ campaign visit: www.ittakesballstotalk.com