Thursday, August 01, 2013

Green in Bloom

For what it is worth, I've not seen Acocks Green looking better than it did on Tuesday morning in readiness for the Britain in Bloom judges' arrival. I spent an hour with them walking along the length of the Warwick Road, supporting Fran and Ged and explaining what had been done, the plans for the future and the tremendous community support that the In Bloom project has received. My horticultural knowledge is severely limited, so that speciality I left up to others better qualified. We dropped by the orchard on Mallard Close, where they met the young artist who has painted the brilliant mural and chatted to a half dozen other local people who were at the heart of creating our entry. I left them at the junction with Woodcock Lane, as I had another appointment, but I understand that they were impressed with the rest of the tour, including Millennium Green, Arden Road and St Mary's Close.

We spend a lot of time being critical, so I'd really like to pass on my thanks and praise to Fran and Ged for their work in putting it together and leading the project, to the dozens of other people in Arden Road, St Mary's Close and those who came to help from across Acocks Green (and the City). Thanks also need to go to the trustees of Millennium Green, that little oasis of the wild in the suburbs and to the businesses and management of the Business Improvement District for their help. I really must praise the city council people who helped out - Highways, Housing, Fleet and Waste Management and Parks managers and crews really got behind the project and they've all contributed to making it the best ever entry from Acocks Green to this contest, many of them going above and beyond the call of duty to help.

We deserve better than last year's bronze, but whatever the result, the hard work of dozens of people has paid off.

Pavement Repairs - Station Road

Amey have advised that they are carrying out patching and slurry seal work on the pavements on Station Road along the whole length. They've already started on site and it may take up to three weeks to complete the work. Work should be carried out Monday to Friday between 7:30am and 5pm, but there may be a call for Saturday working during the same hours.

Slurry sealing sounds unpleasant, but it is a way of recoating the pavement to add texture where it has worn smooth over years and it will also help to prevent water damage and thus extend the life of the footway.

Access will be maintained to properties during the work, but they ask that you do not park outside your property while work is being carried out. Parking restrictions are in place on a temporary basis. As always, if there are any concerns, you can contact them on 0121 303 6644.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Acocks Green Library - Temporary Closure from Tuesday 27 August 2013

After intervention from Stewart and myself, we've now received revised pricing on the work to the roof and a solution has been found that keeps the work within the allocated funding and allows the full replacement of the roof, we can now look to set a date. Amazingly, the initial plans only allowed replacement of the roof over the public areas and would have allowed continued leaking into the staff areas at the rear left of the building - some of the damage there already is quite worrying.

It is proposed that the library will be closed from Tuesday 27 August for an initial week to allow preparation of the building for work - we have also instructed that some additional protection is put in place for the train displays at the rear of the building. The contractors should move in from the 2 September to start work for about 12 weeks.

All groups that currently use the library will be temporarily relocated and any books out on loan can be returned to any other library. South Yardley Library will start extended opening hours from the 2 September. If you can't get the books back to other libraries, don't worry - no fines will be incurred if you wait until Acocks Green reopens.

I am inquiring as to whether we can push the closure date back to the end of the school holidays and will update you if that can be done - although I am concerned that we get the work done as soon as possible and before autumn and winter return.

After discussions with the local service manager, we've agreed that the closure date will remain as it is. There are sound administrative reasons that make the original date sensible. It will be inconvenient, as all closures are, but the library team need the time to complete the handover and establish new working regimes.

Planning Applications to the 27 July 2013

A whole load of them to celebrate the start of summer.

2013/05584/PA - 56 Broom Hall Crescent, B27 7JR
Erection of 6 metre deep single storey rear extension. Maximum height 3.9 metres, eaves height 2.7 metres

2013/05419/PA - 61 Marie Drive, B27 7NY
Erection of 3.6 metre deep single storey rear extension. Maximum height 3.8 metres, eaves height 2.6 metres

2013/04747/PA - 71 Lincoln Road, B27 6PQ
Variation of condition C3 attached to planning application 2008/05485/PA extend the opening times to 07:00 - 23:30 Mondays to Saturdays and 10:00 - 19:00 Sundays and Bank Holidays

2013/04963/PA - 79 Woodford Green Road, B28 8PH
Erection of two storey side/rear extension and single storey forward extension

You can find the details by inputting the reference number into the Council online database here

If you have any comments, you can submit them online - feel free to pass your comments on to me.

A packed weekend

On the run...
It was a very busy weekend. Saturday brought the excellent Stechford Police Station open day, which gave people a great opportunity to see their police service up close.

On the left, you see a demonstration of public order officers about to detain a violent thug carrying a weapon. Actually, that's Sgt Danny Cooke in heavy protective kit so that the officers involved can safely use the right level of force to detain him. It was also good to have a chat with the Flightpath Protection Team, who keep an eye on a sizeable area of the West Midlands and Warwickshire that falls within the take-off and landing flightpaths of Birmingham Airport. Alongside a range of community groups, we also had attendance from the Royal Signals and Sheldon fire station, who provided a demonstration of how they can swiftly create a Mondeo convertible with only the help of powerful cutting equipment. It was also good to catch up with some colleagues. The left hand picture shows me with Diane Donaldson, the Labour candidate for Stechford and Yardley North in 2014, Cllr Zafar Iqbal, Cllr Jess Phillips (our parliamentary candidate for 2015 for Yardley), Cllr Nawaz Ali, Cllr Yvonne Mosquito (Deputy PCC) and myself. The next shot also includes Cllr Maryam Khan, Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones and Cllr Mohammed Aikhlaq. It was also good to catch up with Bob and have a brief chat about policing in Acocks Green and raise a couple of issues from residents - in particular the hardy perennial that is the anti-social use of motorbikes on parks around the ward.

Sunday brought the annual Sheldon Country Park Festival which was blessed with warm weather. Again, a good turnout for this local show with plenty to see and do and the decent weather was welcome!

Acocks Green Labour - down to work!
After that, a quick dash back across to Acocks Green to help out with the cleanup on Millennium Green. Cllr Stacey, Cllr Phillips and Rachel Seabright, our candidate for election in 2014, were already hard at work - collecting rubbish and painting over graffiti on the end wall of the garages. I joined in, with the help of one of my children, in clearing rubbish from the banks of the stream.

This is all in aid of today's visit by the Britain in Bloom judges, who came to visit Pemberley Road last Friday and will be around and about Acocks Green this morning. Thanks must go to Fran and the team for their hard work over the past months in creating the orchard and generally tidying up. I've also got to note the support of the Business Improvement District, our Parks team and the Fleet and Waste Management crew who have supported the work throughout.

Incidentally, Sunday also saw the judging of Birmingham's entry in the Entente Florale, a Europe in Bloom competition, where Birmingham is the sole UK entry this year. Given our outstanding record in horticulture, we should have high hopes of success, so fingers crossed that the eight hour judging period worked for us.

I had to abandon the team early and dash across to the Arden Road residents' association tea party, who had kindly invited Stewart and myself over. As always, it was good to catch up with local residents and talk about local issues. They'd laid on a fine spread, too, with jam produced from berries harvested in the garden of the hall. I couldn't resist buying a jar of Bee 27 honey - produced from a hive in the road.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Odds and Ends

From the miscellaneous files:

Leaking pipe repaired on Dudley Park Road
This was leaking up through the carriageway and I liaised with Severn Trent and Amey to get the repair completed as rapidly as possible. Allowing for a couple of days to move the bus stop temporarily and get the necessary approvals into place, the work was completed, the leaking water main repaired and the road reinstated in just over a week.

Pedestrian crossing signal on Westley Road fixed

Lamp post repaired on Hartfield Crescent
This actually had the head hanging off the post and only held on by the cable.

Amey barriers removed from Woodcock Lane (and recovered from the canal)
Left behind after the relighting programme had been completed