OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Words and pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

This month, I have been pleased to support Erdington Friends of the Library in their campaign to protect and preserve our local library, following a consultation by the Council.

Our libraries serve as essential hubs for learning, community engagement, and have historical relevance. As a local resident of Erdington who has used our local libraries for decades, I understand how important these local facilities are to our community.

These spaces promote knowledge, creativity, and social connections, and we must preserve them for future generations.

I wrote a letter to the Council expressing my strong opposition to any closures of our libraries and also attended the library consultation event in Erdington, where I was heartened to see so many passionate individuals coming together to voice their concerns.

I signed Erdington Friends of the Library’s petition, urging the council to carefully consider the views of local people about the future of their libraries.

I would also like to extend my warmest congratulations to our new Mayor of the West Midlands, Richard Parker.

His leadership and vision will undoubtedly benefit our community and region. I look forward to meeting him soon to discuss how we can work together to fulfil one of his key pledges: revitalising our High Streets and making it a thriving destination once again.

Results like these send a clear message that people in Erdington, Kingstanding, Castle Vale, and across the country deserve better. After 14 years of Tory chaos and mismanagement, it’s time for change.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Words and pics supplied by Erdington Ward Cllr Robert Alden – Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

The last month has been busy as always, with colleagues and I continuing to push a number of campaigns to support residents.

Together with Kingstanding local campaigner, Clifton Welch, we recently met with staff from the NHS to continue to push for Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre (soon to be closed for urgent roof repairs) to be reopened longer term.

I have also been supporting Clifton Welch with his new ‘Pride in Kingstanding’ campaign that has seen him clearing dozens of bags of rubbish off the streets of Kingstanding, including clearing the alley between Gainford Road and College Road and clean numerous road signs locally to remove graffiti and dirt.

Cllr Gareth Moore and I were also joined by Kingstanding Campaigner Clifton Welch, who is leading the campaign to keep Perry Common and Kingstanding Libraries open, and Parliamentary Spokesperson Steve Knee at the public consultation event on the future of libraries in the city.

We have been clear to the Council that we think Erdington, Kingstanding and Perry Common Libraires should be protected and remain open.

We have put forward a fully costed alternative, approved by Council officers, which would allow the Labour administration to scrap their plan to close our libraires. We will continue to push them to listen to the calls of residents.

Finally, thank you to everyone who voted for Andy Street in the recent West Midlands Mayoral election, sadly Andy lost by under 2000 votes across the whole urban West Midlands..

For more from Erdington’s Councillor Robert Alden and Councillor Gareth Jones visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Words and lead pic supplied by Erdington Ward Cllr Robert Alden – Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Cllr Gareth Moore and I, working with Parliamentary Spokesman Steve Knee and local campaigner Clifton Welch, have been leading the campaign to save Erdington, Kingstanding and Perry Common Libraries from the savage Labour Council’s bankruptcy cuts.

Gareth, Steve and I (pictured) joined the recent Friends of Erdington Library for their ‘read in’ protest and also held a public meeting calling for the saving of Erdington Library.

Erdington Library is a vital part of the heritage and character of our local High Street, it provides valuable services for local residents and gives people access to resources they may not otherwise be able to use. It must be saved!

This month has also seen the Labour Council launch their consultation on the ‘Be Heard’ Council consultation site. We attended the public consultation event for Erdington Library recently held by the Council. Sadly, the Council did not allow residents to make any verbal contributions, nor was any Erdington specific information shared with residents who attended.

This was frankly totally disgraceful and no way for the Council to treat residents. Sadly, the way the consultation has so far been run by the Council suggests they have contempt for the Library service.

Thank you to the 100’s who have already signed our petition to save our libraires, if you have not yet signed you can by going to our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews and also to the Friends for their continued efforts fighting to save our local library as well.

For more from Erdington’s Councillor Robert Alden and Councillor Gareth Jones visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

NEWS: Councillor Robert Alden will not stand for Birmingham Erdington seat at upcoming General Election

Words and pics by Ed King / Profile pic of Cllr Robert Alden supplied by Birmingham Conservatives

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden will not be standing for the Birmingham Erdington seat in the upcoming General Election – as he has done successively since 2010.

Birmingham Conservative members who live within the Erdington constituency will be voting for their new parliamentary candidate on Wednesday 13 March – alongside further votes to select Conservative candidates for the Erdington, Pype Hayes, and Kingstanding Wards.

Party members outside of the specific constituency and Ward boundaries will not be eligible to vote but have been invited to attend the selection meeting, where the nominees will be presented and voted on – to be held tonight at the Erdington Conservative Club on Orphanage Road from 7:30pm.

Whilst the date for the next General Election is yet to be set, in accordance with parliamentary process it must be called by 28 January 2025.

However, many have speculated Prime Minister Sunak will announce May as the month – with growing speculation about a ‘snap election’ following the recent defection of Conservative Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson to Reform UK.

Leader of the Birmingham Conservatives, Robert Alden has been an Erdington Ward councillor since 2006 after taking it from Labour – a position he now shares with Conservative running mate, Cllr Gareth Moore.

A prolific figurehead in the area, who lives in central Erdington, Cllr Alden stood against Erdington’s previous MP Jack Dromey in four General Elections. After the sudden death of Mr Dromey in 2022, he stood against Paulette Hamilton in the March ’22 by-election – losing a fiercely fought campaign with 36.3% of the turnout.

As a local councillor, Robert Alden has held the Erdington Ward with a comfortable majority – securing his position in the 2022 local elections with over 50% of the turnout.

A recognised campaigner, Cllr Alden has been a long supporter of community groups such as the Erdington Litter Busters – and was heavily involved in the fight to stop a housing development on Short Heath playing fields, backing the successful campaign led by the Short Heath Fields Trust.

Alongside Cllr Gareth Moore, Cllr Alden is currently campaigning to secure the future of Erdington Library, Perry Common Library, and Kingstanding Library, following fears they will be sold off by Birmingham City Council as part of a £500m assets sale to repay a loan from central government to tackle the city’s financial crisis.

However, at the time of writing it is unclear if Cllr Alden will also be withdrawing from contesting the Erdington Ward in the next City Council elections – as well as the Birmingham Erdington constituency in the General Election.

An email sent to Birmingham Conservative members in February said: “As an Association, we have been fortunate in that Cllr Robert Alden has kindly stood as our parliamentary candidate in five previous elections and has achieved some phenomenal results – turning Erdington from the safest Labour seat in Birmingham in 2005 to now the most marginal Labour-held seat in the City in what has sometimes been trying circumstances for the Party.”

The message continues: “Robert has decided to not stand as our parliamentary candidate on this occasion which means we need to choose a new candidate for the General Election.

“In addition to selecting our parliamentary candidate, afterwards the Association will be selecting our local government candidates for the 2026 elections for Erdington, Pype Hayes and Kingstanding Wards.”

Erdington Local has approached Cllr Alden for comment and has been told more information will be released after the selection meeting on 13 March.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

Our local Libraries in North Birmingham are vital community hubs helping to support residents of all ages. Erdington Library in particularly has a brilliant children’s library, excellent staff and services. While the building itself, a Carnegie Library, is listed and a key heritage site on our High Street.

A recent investigation has revealed in the last two years 92,950 people have used Erdington Library while 31,586 people have a membership and 67,779 books have been issued. Making Erdington Library one of the busiest libraries in the city.

As residents you will know Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been fighting over the last few years for the repairs and investment into the Library that are required to ensure that the service is what residents would rightly expect.

Sadly having effectively bankrupted the Council, through their equal pay crisis and botched IT rollout, the Labour administration have now announced that they are closing 25 libraries across the city. Meaning that Erdington Library, along with all the rest in North Birmingham are at risk of closing and being sold off.

Cllr Gareth Moore and I are clear that Erdington Library, along with Kingstanding and Perry Common libraries, must be saved. It would be totally unacceptable for it to close and so we have launched a campaign to protect and save Erdington Library from closure.

Residents can rest assured we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to save our libraries.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

 

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

Words by Ed King / Pics by Connor Pope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words by Ed King / Pics by Connor Pope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Words by John Hodgkiss, Erdington BID & Town Centre Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives – June ‘23

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

(Ed’s Note: This column was written to be published in the Erdington Local newspaper – out from 5 June)

Recently Birmingham City Council tried to convert Erdington Library into a Youth Centre. Cllr Gareth Moore and I jumped into action to fight to save Erdington Library – a campaign that was thankfully successful. This is how the campaign unfolded.

Cabinet Member Jayne Francis (at the time of writing, Head of Service for Libraries) and Cllr Robert Alden at Erdington Library

On 28 April, a Friday, Birmingham City Council announced they had submitted two planning applications to turn Erdington Library into a Youth Centre and extend the building.

Understandably residents contacted us, furious with the Council for attempting to close down our much loved and well used Library. On Saturday 29 April the library had over 250 visitors by lunchtime, proving how popular the service is.

By 1 May we had launched a petition demanding the Labour Administration at the Council scrap their plans to close Erdington Library.

On 2 May I met with the Chief Executive of the City Council to raise residents’ concerns and demand Erdington Library is saved.

On 4 May I met with the Cabinet Member and Head of Service for Libraries to discuss the situation.  This was a constructive discussion and that afternoon I emailed the Youth Services department and Library Services demanding the planning applications were withdrawn and a meeting set up to discuss how to protect Erdington Library and the service going forward.

Following our interventions, the Council withdrew the planning applications and have placed any changes on hold. In the coming weeks we will be meeting the services and pushing to protect and improve Erdington Library for years to come.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington – June ‘23

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

(Ed’s Note: This column was written to be published in the Erdington Local newspaper – out from 5 June)

Recently, Birmingham City Council submitted a planning application that would have reduced the size of Erdington Library to make space for a youth centre.

Although we can all agree that we desperately need a local youth centre, it shouldn’t come at the cost of our library.

Thankfully, following a community campaign led by Friends of Erdington Library, Erdington Lunar Society, and concerns that I had raised, the council swiftly withdrew the application.

The sad truth is that we need things for young people to do in our area but since 2010, the Tories have decimated our youth services. As a result, there are only a handful of services left for young people.

The YMCA youth charity found that nationally, council spending on youth services has fallen from £1.4bn in 2010 to £379m in 2021. During that time, 750 youth centres and a staggering 4,500 youth workers have been lost.

The youth services budget is down by 74% in real terms compared to what it was at the end of the last Labour government.

Government cuts have led to half of Birmingham’s youth centres closing their doors, including Erdington’s Malcolm Locker Youth Centre. It now sits empty, rundown and a shell of its former self.

More than decade of Tory cuts has failed a generation of local young people. The service is in serious need of investment and a government that is prepared to put young people at the heart of what they do.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org