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: 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: Quick arrest made after “disorder” on Erdington High Street puts man in “life threatening condition”

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics taken from archive

Police have made a quick arrest after a vicious knife attack during a “disorder” on Erdington High Street put a man in hospital in a “life threatening condition.”

Officers were called an incident near Six Ways Island at 5.10pm yesterday (Thursday, 20 June) following reports of fighting at the top end of the High Street.

Arriving at the scene, officers found a man with knife wounds who was immediately rushed to hospital for emergency treatment.

A few hours after the stabbing a man was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and possessing a bladed article.

An immediate investigation began, with officers knocking on doors and closing parts of the High Street off the public. Parts of the busy retail area remained cordoned off overnight as forensic officers continued to collect evidence.

A statement from West Midlands Police said: “We’ve arrested a man after being called to reports of a disorder on Erdington High Street at about 5.10pm today.

“Officers attended and found a man who had suffered a knife injury. He was taken to hospital where we understand he’s in a life-threatening condition.

“A short time later officers arrested a man on suspicion of wounding with intent and possession of a bladed article.

“Part of Erdington High Street has been cordoned off as we remain at the scene, with forensic experts examining the area.”

The police added: “Officers are reviewing CCTV and carrying out door-to-door enquiries as the investigation continues.

“Anyone with information or footage can contact us via Live Chat or by calling 101, quoting log 3798 of 20 June.”

The stabbing on 20 June is yet another violent incident on Erdington High Street this month, as the once busy throughfare becomes more and more synonymous with crime and anti-social behaviour.

On 7 June another man was found with “life threatening injuries” after officers discovered the victim near Harrison Road during a routine patrol.

Last Wednesday, 12 June, another man was arrested in connection with a robbery and reports were made a man seen “threatening people with a hammer”.

Following the attack yesterday, social media was flooded with residents concerned about rising crime in the wake of another violent attack.

Eileen Monaghan said: “Yet another stabbing on the High St. When are the authorities going to go something about the open drug dealing and drinking on the High Street?”

She added: “There is a PSPO Public Space Protection order on the High Street yet not enforced. Why not?

“Are the police are too afraid the walk the High St or is there too much paperwork for them to fill out?”

West Midlands Police have asked the anyone with information or footage that might help their investigation into the attack on 20 June can contact the force via Live Chat – or by calling 101 and quoting log 3798 of 20 June.

NEWS: ‘Racist Attack – Shut It Down – Black Pound Protest’ organised for Saturday 8 June on Erdington High Street

Words by Erdington Local editorial team

For the second week running there will be an anti-racism protest on Erdington High Street.

The protests are in response to reports of a black family and teenage boy being racially abused and attacked by a group of men from local businesses, over an alleged parking dispute outside a shop on the High Steet.

The first protest was held on Saturday 1 June, with organisers calling for a follow up event to take place on Saturday 8 June at 1pm – billed as the ‘Racist Attack – Shut It Down – Black Pound Protest’.

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.

The police have further confirmed five men, aged from 22 to 45, were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and racially aggravated assault, and have since been released on bail.

A West Midlands Police spokesperson told: “Several people were involved in verbal abuse following an alleged parking dispute.

“A man, a woman and a teenage boy were struck during the altercation. We are working through CCTV in the area to establish the cause of the disorder and who was involved.

“We also ask anyone who witnessed what happened and hasn’t spoken to us, to contact us via Live Chat on our website or by calling 101 quoting crime reference 20/450892/24.”

Reports of the attack, which took place on 17 May, has been widely shared on social media causing much anger and upset in the local community.

On Saturday 1 June, black community leaders and Mr Bedward, aka DJ Warren G, gave speeches through an amplified megaphone outside the shop and plan to do the same at 1pm on Saturday 8 June.  

Bishop Desmond Jadoo MBE is one of the organisers of the protests and stressed the importance of keeping race on the agenda as the country gears up for a General Election on 4 July.

Bishop Jadoo is also currently leading the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John Reid’ campaign, which wants a law to ensure juries represent the demographic and racial profile of an area.

He told Erdington Local: “Last week was a success, a peaceful demonstration by the black community calling for racist abuse on Erdington High Street to end.

“The attack on Warren is not an isolated incident and we need to show it is not fashionable to attack people.”

He added: “We are in the middle of a General Election and race has to be on the agenda. Race has fallen off the agenda in recent years, but the politicians need to be reminded it is still an issue.

“And the politicians who want to represent Erdington after this election need to show they are aware of the problems which are blighting the High Street, especially for the black community.”

Mr Bedward also stressed the event on Saturday 8 June must be a “peaceful protest”, and called for a boycott on the shop where the incident took place and for “the black pound” to be spent within the Afro-Caribbean community.

He said: “The purpose of this protest is to shed light on the racist behaviour exhibited by the store staff towards my partner and sister.

“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.

“I initially tried to address this issue through Instagram, but I was subsequently attacked by 15 to 20 individuals, possibly more, from the shop staff and surrounding shops.”

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.”

In October 2005, Warren G was a DJ on a local pirate radio station and broadcasted reports coming from the local community that a black teenage girl had been gang raped by Asian men in the Beauty Queens salon in Perry Barr.

Beauty Queens is an Asian owned shop selling Afro-Caribbean products, based on Wellington Road in Perry Barr, and following the alleged attack the DJ encouraged a boycott of the business.

Warren G further organised “a peaceful protest” to highlight the issue which sadly ended in widespread violence and the tragic death of a 23 year old man, Isiah Young-Sam, who was stabbed to death.

Statements from West Midlands Police at the time told how they were “pursuing routine lines of inquiry” but that there was “no evidence to either confirm or deny the (rape) allegation”.

The ‘Racist Attack – Shut It Down – Black Pound Protest’ is being held at 1pm on Saturday 8 June at the top end of Erdington High Street, near the Six Ways Island.

NEWS: Erdington High Street cordoned off as police investigate man found with “life threatening injuries”

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics taken from archive

Parts of Erdington High Street have been cordoned off today after police discovered a man with “life threatening injuries” yesterday evening.

A police investigation has been launched to find out what happened to the man, who is now in hospital, after patrolling officers found him at 7:30pm on Thursday 6 June.

At the time of writing there is no confirmation on how the man suffered his injuries, and police have not stated if it was or was not a result of any violent attack.

Several outlets around the Halifax Building Society and Craft Bakery, opposite the top of Harrison Road, have been sealed off with blue and white police tape whilst officers conduct their inquiries.

Shops have shut down to allow the investigation, with many workers sent home this morning.

A statement from West Midlands Police confirmed: “An investigation has been launched after a man was found with serious injuries in Erdington High Street.

“Officers patrolling the area found a man with serious injuries in Erdington High Street, at around 7.30pm on Thursday 6th June.

“He was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he remains.

“A scene is currently being held to establish the circumstances as to how the man was injured.”

Police are further asking for anyone to contact them with information that may assist their inquiries, whilst assuring concerned members of the public there will be “a police presence” on the High Street whilst they conduct their investigation.

A spokesperson for the force added: “If you saw anything or can help with the investigation, you can contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101 quoting log 4572 of 6 June.

“Officers will continues to patrol the area and a police presence will remain to reassure the community.”

A spokesperson form West Midlands Ambulance Service added: “We were called at 7.31pm to an incident on High Street, Erdington. One ambulance attended the scene.

“Upon arrival we found a man in a serious condition.

“He received treatment from ambulance staff at the scene before being conveyed to hospital for further treatment.”

NEWS: Newly elected West Midlands Mayor wants people “to be proud of Erdington High Street”

Profile and campaign pics supplied by Birmingham Labour

Newly elected West Midlands Mayor Richard Parker wants to improve the fortunes of Erdington High Street and for people “to be proud” of the once bustling retail hotspot.

Labour’s first ever West Midlands Mayor won an incredibly tight election against the Conservative and two time elected Andy Street, but now he just wants to get on with the job.

Mr Parker has plans to introduce new policies and innovations to attract businesses to high streets like Erdington’s across the region, which will encourage residents to shop local and invest in their retail community.

He told Erdington Local: “I want people to be proud of Erdington High Street again.

“We will utilise new powers from a Labour government to bring empty shops on our high streets back into use and to help businesses to set up – in partnership with Business Improvement Districts and councils via a range of measures such as compulsory purchasing orders, ‘meanwhile’ uses, and flexible business rates.”

He added: “I want to establish a new Local High Streets Taskforce to ‘innovate and regenerate’ empty shops and to identify derelict sites that can be put back into use.

“We will establish an empty property register for our high streets and a proactive introductions system, which will work with partners to search for occupiers and promote empty spaces.”

The former business consultant and Price Waterhouse Cooper partner is also a big fan of market stalls as a way of revitalising high streets and has pledged to establish a new fund to help support market traders across the region.

Erdington Business Improvement District has itself been exploring plans for a new market to be held on the pedestrianised area by the Co-op supermarket.

Anti-social behaviour is also high on the list for the new West Midlands Mayor, and whilst his office lacks the powers of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – which would have been absorbed by the Mayor’s office if it had not been recently blocked in the High Court by the PCC Simon Foster – the newly elected West Midlands Mayor Richard Parker wants to fight the scourge of anti-social behaviour and the impact it has on communities.

Mr Parker added: “I will work with the Police and Crime Commissioner, councils, faith and community groups, and West Midlands Police to make the streets of Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale safer.

“Anti-social behaviour blights the lives of many people and we know that having visible policing out on the streets tackling crime, gathering intelligence, and cracking down on anti-social behaviour is essential to making our communities safer.

“We will guarantee town centre patrols dedicated to their areas.”

For more on West Midlands Mayor Richard Parker visit www.facebook.com/RichardParkerWM

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: New life for Erdington Baths

Words by Afzal Hussain – Chief Officer of Witton Lodge Community Association

After almost six years of perseverance and the tireless support of our community and stakeholders, we were delighted to finally secure the £4million needed for the first phase of works that will breathe fresh life into the former Erdington Baths.

The Baths are almost a century old, and have stood empty since they were closed in 2014. Many residents have already shared their treasured memories of growing up and visiting the Baths with family and friends, and I’m certain we will hear many more as the project develops.

With work expected to start later in the year, the first phase will see funds invested into the overall fabric of the building to restore the roof, undertake essential repairs, create a main reception area, and convert the pool hall into a co-working space, studio pods, events and community space.

Situated between Erdington Library and the Erdington Skills Centre, it is a great opportunity to create a Learning, Skills and Enterprise Quarter in the heart of Erdington.

Complex projects such as these are only possible with the support of many stakeholders – our community, local businesses and partners. We want to thank Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Combined Authority for investing in the project.

We are particularly appreciative of the Council’s leadership for taking this brave decision, especially as it deals with its financial challenges. Mayor Andy Street continued to back the project even against the backdrop of three failed funding bids to government.

The late Jack Dromey and more recently Paulette Hamilton MP have been huge advocates, and Cllr Robert Alden has been on this journey with us right from the outset. Thank you!

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association, visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk

Witton Lodge Community Association is a key partner in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

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

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