Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Planning Applications to the 17 November 2014

2014/08155/PA - 452 Fox Hollies Road, Hall Green, B28 8RN
Erection of two storey side extension, single storey rear extension and loft conversion.

2014/08085/PA - 2 Greenwood Avenue, B27 7QJ
Erection of first floor side 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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Warwick Road Update

The work to open Station Road up to two way traffic has been completed. This is an experimental change, so we'll need to keep a close eye on it. BT also completed work to redirect some of their utilities around Victoria Road.

The pictures also show the removal of the trees from the central reservation. Work has also been done to remove the furniture from the central reservation and will continue this week. Some of the blocks used to make up the retaining wall on the reservation originally formed part of the wall of the convent. These have been saved for reuse as part of the scheme.

Some pedestrian crossing points may need to be adjusted, but safe crossing points will be maintained.

The contractors are required to keep one lane running in each direction, but there may be the occasional need for traffic control, as there was last week with the tree felling.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A quiet revolution?

Friday was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, so it was perhaps fitting that it also marked the end of division between the Black Country and Birmingham, with the announcement of work towards a West Midlands Combined Authority. Fortunately, this rapprochement was achieved without the intervention of David Hasselhoff. 

I have no doubt that this is in the interest of Birmingham and the rest of the Midlands. This is a potentially transformative change in how the Midlands works – putting power back in our hands and reducing reliance on Whitehall. It isn't the most exciting proposal on the doorstep, I grant you, but the potential is huge. Bringing the West Midlands together creates a single region generating 15% of the nation's GDP - we'll have a tremendously powerful voice.

A combined authority isn’t, as some have suggested, a “super-council” – the constituent local authorities will carry on, representing and delivering services to their residents, but there will be a process for them to work together. Primarily, this will be about economic development and transport – we have the chance to create a body that could work like a regional version of Transport for London and the authorities will work together on the economy. Powers can be passed up from the local authorities, but they decide that together and the councils don’t have to surrender those powers completely – members of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority retain their economic development powers.

What does that mean? Economic development is crucial to the function of a local authority like Birmingham – businesses like Deutsche Bank brought 2000 jobs to this City as the result of a coordinated effort to identify their potential interest and provide a matching package of help to ensure that they made the right choice. That’s the sort of work that the combined authority will do – working across borders for the benefit of all.

Neither employers nor employees look at local authority borders – I actually worked out that apart from being a councillor, I’ve not actually worked in Birmingham since 1996. My career has taken me to Coventry, Mansfield and Oldbury (twice) and that’s not unusual. Employers moving into Birmingham or Sandwell or Walsall will employ people from across the city region – what’s good for one authority also has benefits for others.

Crucially, powers also come down from government. Last week’s deal for Greater Manchester promises this:
  • a new housing investment fund of up to £300m, with the aim of building up to 15,000 more homes over 10 years
  • greater planning powers
  • responsibility for local transport, including power to run franchised bus services and provide Oyster-style integrated tickets
  • welfare-to-work programmes, with a budget of £100m, to help up to 50,000 people back into work
  • control of existing health and social care budgets, which have been pooled by local authorities across Greater Manchester
  • greater responsibility for business support and further education
  • up to £30m a year for the growth generated by its economy
We’ve a long way to go before the authority is legally constituted or before we understand the precise deal on the table from government.

So this is a real opportunity for the Midlands, but there are some that disagree. Solihull seems quite lukewarm on the idea, but that has a knock on effect – current rules require that councils making up combined authorities have to share boundaries, so unless Solihull join, Coventry can’t join in.

The Conservative candidate for Solihull, Julian Knight has decided that this whole idea – of working together to bring jobs and prosperity to the whole region – isn’t a good idea.
There has been increasing talk of a Greater Birmingham authority encompassing Solihull. Julian Knight, parliamentary candidate for Solihull has looked at the early proposals and is deeply disturbed over the plans. Julian is also launching a campaign to stop Solihull being subsumed into this ill-conceived Greater Birmingham authority...
Now, even a basic understanding of a combined authority means that no council is “subsumed” into Birmingham or anywhere else. Indeed, if he is opposed to this proposal, I assume that he will also be campaigning for Solihull to withdraw from CENTRO or the West Midlands Fire Authority, upon both of which councillors from across the region sit to run and monitor key services. I assume he will insist on Solihull's immediate resignation from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. But I suspect that Julian will declare victory at some point, having saved Solihull from being swallowed up in a way that nobody has actually proposed. (See also George Osborne saving us from paying £1.7 billion to the EU. Which we were never going to have to pay in the first place,) Even if Solihull does decide to stay outside the CA, I'm sure that Julian will be only too happy for the residents to take up any new jobs delivered thanks to the policies of the neighbouring councils.

Also in pursuit of short term political gain are UKIP, who have also decided to oppose this. I’m not entirely sure to which part of jobs, prosperity or genuine local control they are opposed, but opposed they are. Just as over HS/2, they don’t have the interests of the West Midlands at heart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crime Update

At the Housing Liaison Board last night, PCSO Kevin Large reported back on reported crime for October to date. Overall, crime is down 18% compared to same month last year 52 offences against 72 at the same point. Burglary is down by 66% to just three offences this month. There have been no robberies either so far this month. Vehicle crime remains a problem with 10 offences so far this month, compared to 11 last year and they were up 33% year on year in September.

Officers are focussing on this and have been tracking down owners of vehicles left unlocked or with items left on display to tempt thieves.

There's been a spate of shoplifting, but a suspect has been identified for thefts of meat from Aldi and Farmfoods. Two have been arrested for theft of aftershave from Boots, having been detained by the security officer employed by the Business Improvement District. There were also a couple of thefts of customer from Ladbrokes and the Red Lion. One person is also wanted in relation to a theft of money and a debit card - the victim was followed into Sainsburys from the cashpoint, the thief got talking to them and stole the items.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Planning Applications to the 4 October 2014

2014/06872/PA - 31 Olton Croft, Acocks Green, B27 6PG
Erection of single storey rear extension.

2014/05110/PA - 1225 Warwick Road, Acocks Green, B27 6PX (Dolphin Fish Bar)
Variation of condition number 1 attached to 2011/04182/PA to allow extended opening hours from 12 noon to 10pm on Monday to Saturday and closed all day Sunday.

2014/06403/PA - 109 Holcombe Road, Tyseley, B11 3PR
Erection of two storey side & rear extension and single storey front & rear extension

2014/06500/PA - St Mary's Church, Warwick Road, Acocks Green, B27 6QX
Display of 3 non-illuminated post mounted signs

2014/06210/PA - 184 York Road, Hall Green, B28 8LE
Erection of single storey rear extension

2014/06254/PA - Shaftmoor Lane, Former Lucas Site, Tyseley (Morrisons site)
Application to determine the details for conditions numbers 2,4,5,11,17,32 and 39 attached to approval 2011/06776/PA
I've been in touch with Morrisons and plans are still afoot for construction - this relates to some of the aspects of the plans that have to be agreed in advance. No start date as yet - I'll keep you up to date. I have to say that Morrisons' communications department aren't lightning fast (although spectacularly better than the glacial movement of Network Rail's team)

2014/06016/PA - 1025 Warwick Road, Acocks Green, B27 6QJ
Erection of first floor rear extension, single storey forward & rear extensions and installation of dormer to rear

2014/06046/PA - 162-166 Yardley Road, Acocks Green, B27 6LR
Change of use from Sui Generis (Service Station) to Use Class B2 (Tyre Repair)
They keep coming back. There's significant residential objection to this already.

2014/06231/PA - 25 Broom Hall Crescent, B27 7JR
Erection of single storey forward extension, erection of conservatory and installation of porch

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.

Last week in brief....

A surprisingly busy week last week, despite only a few meetings planned. Monday was the usual ploughing through emails and casework, but I also made contact with the fire service and the police regarding the series of fires affecting a building on Tyseley Lane. Fortunately, the damage was contained and, while worrying for residents, didn't affect any houses. Yardley School did remain closed for the remainder of the week to allow the safe removal of the remains of roof sheeting that had dropped into the grounds. Investigations are under way into what are believed to be three separate arson attacks and the police did release CCTV footage of a man that they would like to interview in relation to the incident.

What is clear is that this building was a specific target for arson - this is not a problem that should worry the community at large. Both the local fire service and police were clear on that.

On Tuesday, I was invited to be in the audience for the BBC Radio 5 Live debate on the Tory party conference at the Alexandra Theatre, a meeting regarding the Fox Hollies Forum and a home visit to look at a potential environmental health problem on Edenbridge Road in response to a resident's complaint. Wednesday saw a home visit to a disabled resident regarding a serious social care issue, a quick meeting in the Council House with Cllr Bore and Cllr Stacey and then a walk up and down the Warwick Road discussing Christmas Lights.

That's an important issue this year, as the planned works on the Warwick Road will be taking place at the same time as the scheduled display for the lights. It looks like we won't have any festive light displays on the into-city side (Aldi side only) from Dolphin Lane to Holy Souls Church, as those lighting columns are planned for replacement towards the end of the festive period. The displays not used there will be used elsewhere in the Village, though, so we won't lose out! I've also ensured that the traditional cross displayed on the column outside the Church will be kept in the same spot this year - work to that column will be delayed.

On Thursday, I had a performance review with the head teacher of Cottesbrooke Infants School, where I'm a governor and also found time to drop into Warwick House respite home on the Warwick Road, which is doing well. After that, there was time for some good old-fashioned door knocking in Acocks Green to canvass support and talk to residents about issues or problems that they have.

Friday started with a meeting down on Fox Hollies Park with the local Parks Manager, finalising plans to remove the disgusting pile of rubbish that's blocking the stream and we also talked about proposals to relieve the flooding around the bridge further up. I finished up the day with the usual Friday surgery and a catch up with Cllr Stacey.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

JobCentre Plus changes announced for Acocks Green residents

At present, all claimants in the B27 area use the Sparkhill Jobcentre.

From 20th October, the following changes will apply.

If you 25 or older AND are claiming JSA OR you are claiming Income Support, you will need to attend Yardley JobCentre.

If you are between 18 and 24 AND claiming JSA or you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance, your case will be handled by Solihull JobCentre.

JobCentre say
"We will be able to provide an enhanced level of support and resource to assist those claimants in their job search at Yardley and Solihull Jobcentre Sites. The B27 postcode is easily accessible on major bus routes to either site. 
The redistribution of our caseload in this way will also assist us with creating more space and capacity at Sparkhill Jobcentre. This is important for all our Jobcentres, particularly with the introduction of additional computers for customer use."

Tree on roundabout

As promised at last week's Ward Committee meeting, following concerns raised over the proposal to remove one of the trees on the Green, I arranged a meeting for last Thursday morning. Cllr Harmer, Cllr Stacey and the LD MP John Hemming all met Nick Barton, the tree specialist from Amey. Sadly, Julia Larden of the Acocks Green Focus Group couldn't make it, as she is away on holiday, but I asked her in advance for questions and also gave her a telephone call from the Green to give her a chance to put her points directly to Nick and the others present.

The photo shows the problem. The tree in question is leaning over the road and does show signs of damage to the trunk where it has clearly been hit by vehicles - although nothing recent. The tree's presence pushes larger vehicles out to the left hand side of the inside lane on the roundabout and there is always the risk that a driver unfamiliar with the layout of the Green could wind up hitting the tree. If the driver was "making lawful use of the highway", then now the council is aware of the problem, there is no defence to an insurance claim, leaving the council liable for the full cost of repairs to a damaged vehicle. Worse, there is always the potential for a collision to cause injury, putting any financial loss into the shade. Given that this is an A road, with junctions with two major B roads and a major route into the city centre, the risk of collision is significantly higher than a similar tree on a residential road not often used by goods vehicles.

Birmingham is very sensitive to this - and rightly so - since a fatality in Kings Heath a few years ago and the A38M case which saw a council officer facing trial over the death of a motorcyclist who had hit a drain on the Expressway.

There is a clear problem - so can anything be done to save the tree by changing the island layout? It would be possible to change the original line of the Green to create some additional space for grass, but that would change the road alignment and would actually need to run for about 30 metres before the tree to adjust the line of traffic smoothly. Added to that, the works would be carried out over the tree roots themselves, risking damage and possibly dooming the tree anyway. The work would not be cheap - with costs suggested of over £30,000.

Nick made the point that the tree wasn't put in the right spot in the first place - it was planted too close to the kerb. It is also not a great street tree - horse chestnuts are better suited to parks and this one would have thrived in a more central spot on the Green. There is also the risk that the tree will contract bleeding canker that has already killed a horse chestnut on Henbury Road.

The good news - and there is good news - is that the tree will be replaced by two new ones, better located on the Green itself and that the new planting should be completed this winter as part of the normal planting season. Amey don't use saplings, they plant trees that are about two years old. I'm sorry to see this tree go, but we have been able to get something more out of it.

Post Office move confirmed (UPDATED)

It has been confirmed that the current Crown Post Office in Acocks Green Village is to relocate to a new site on the other side of the road by Iceland. It will be in a new news, tobacco and confectionary store run by a firm called ZCO and will have extended opening hours too - opening 0830-1800 Monday to Saturday, rather than 0900-1730 as it is now. Accessibility for those with mobility problems is to be improved and a hearing loop installed.

A six week public consultation starts today with a proposed move planned for January 2015. There will be a Customer Communication Forum event as part of the consultation and I'll post details of that when I have more information. You can find details of the consultation here, including how to put your views into the process.

The Post Office have confirmed that there will be no compulsory redundancies - staff can transfer across to the new operator or can seek work within the rest of the Post Office.

I will be asking the Post Office to guarantee the long term future of this. Where this has happened elsewhere in the country and the new operator has subsequently closed, then the Post Office concession has also closed. I'd like reassurance that the Post Office will remain a feature of the Village - it is heavily used and valued by our residents. We will also lose the Home Office Digital Application Service - where will the nearest branch be that can offer this?

Let me know what you think. 

Comments from the Post Office:

What will this mean for customers? 
  • A modern open plan branch in newly refurbished premises 
  • Longer opening hours
  • The same wide range of products and services. For reasons outside Post Office Limited's control, we cannot yet confirm whether or not a cash machine will be available at the new branch. The provision of a cash machine is subject to a survey by our cash machine provider and relevant planning permission. 
  • The new branch will not have the Digital Application Services for the Home Office 
  • Selected Post Office services available at the retail counter during shop opening hours

Friday, September 05, 2014

Planning Applications to the 30th August 2014

2014/05946/PA - 177 Shirley Road, B27 7NP
Change of use from accessway to rear of 175-177 Shirley Road to amenity space for 177 Shirley Road

2014/04299/PA - Lidl, Olton Boulevard East, B27 7RR
Variation of condition C2 attached to planning approval 2000/01878/PA to allow collection and
delivery of goods 06:00 to 22:00 Monday to Saturday and 08:00 to 20:00 Sundays & Bank

On the 18 June 2014, the Ward Committee agreed to object to this application. While the store opening times have changed and therefore there should be some flexibility in delivery hours, we felt that this needed to be balanced with consideration for local residents. We agreed that the following hours would be more acceptable: Mon - Sat 7am to 9pm; Sun and Bank Hols 9am to 6pm

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.

Tree Removals for Acocks Green

Two tree removals slated for the ward:

Opposite 920 Stockfield Road - structural integrity
Opposite Inn on the Green - highway obstruction

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Acocks Green Station Update

As you can see from the picture, the tower facings are almost complex and the brickwork is well advanced. The bridges are in place and the door has been knocked through to the main building. Things are moving along nicely. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

National Express agree to restore 31 bus to Olton Boulevard

I am delighted to be able to report that National Express West Midlands have agreed to return the 31 bus to the route along Olton Boulevard East and Gospel Lane. Service 1 will continue along Pool Farm Road and Pollard Road.

Cllr Stewart Stacey, Cllr Jess Philips and I had a tremendous response to our petition - hundreds of people supported a return to the original route. We have had complaints from residents along Olton Boulevard, protesting the loss of any bus service and we have had complaints from Pool Farm Road about 12 buses an hour (one count saw 17 buses in an hour) travelling down that narrow road. I have even had complaints from businesses in the Village, who have reported a drop in footfall that they directly attribute to the loss of the bus service.

We consulted local residents a few weeks ago on an alternate plan put forward by NXWM to run all services along Dolphin Lane and Thornfield Road, but overwhelmingly, the response was in favour of the original route.

I met CENTRO and NXWM last week and we had a full discussion of all the issues around the route. The outcome was that NXWM have agreed to reverse their original decision.

The exact timetables have yet to be confirmed, but I expect a 20 minute daytime frequency on both routes once the services return on the 26th October. It is worth noting that the Service 1 only operates between the city centre and Acocks Green Village in the evenings.

The level of public support was crucial in persuading National Express to change their minds. so thank you to everyone for your backing - it gave real force to our arguments. Thanks are also due to CENTRO for their support and to NXWM for correcting their mistake.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Watch out for the parking vultures

These signs have recently gone up on the land behind the shops on Shirley Road (accessed from beside Jeffries Hardware). Existing car parking immediately behind Jeffries isn't affected, but all the space beyond that is.

One thing that this government got right was to ban private wheel clamping on private land - that was simply extortion. However, it hasn't stopped parking companies issuing parking tickets - often termed as "Parking Charge Notices" so they look like council-issued Penalty Charge Notices, even though they aren't.

When you enter a privately run car park like this, the operator considers that you are entering into a contract and if you break that contract, then they will invoice you. They are not "fines" in the same way that a council or police-issued ticket is. The company has to go to court to obtain judgement against you - unlike the police or the council.

The excellent Moneysaving Expert has a guide on how to appeal dodgy fines. As GBPS are a member of the British Parking Association, there is an independent appeal process and a code of practice.

Always take care in where you park and unless you can see clear signs allowing you to park there, don't take the risk. These firms are after your cash, pure and simple.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bin collections - update

Despite extensive talks with representatives from Unite, the City Council has been unable at this point to reach an agreement over issues that have been raised by the Trade Union about terms and conditions of employment for refuse collection staff.

The Council is continuing to talk to the Union with a view to reaching a resolution, but regrettably, there will be some industrial action that will lead to disruption of collection services on Monday 11th and Friday 15th August. There is also a temporary ban on overtime working.

If you are due a collection either today or Friday, please put your bags, boxes or bins out as normal.

If they have not been collected by the end of the day, please take them back onto your property and put them out for the NEXT scheduled collection. 

That will be next week for rubbish and two weeks for either green waste or paper/glass/tins/plastic recyclables

There is no need to report a missed collection.

Sorry for any inconvenience - the council are trying to come to an agreement with the unions.

The never ending list

Some kind soul decided to dump this at the end of the alleyway on Ninfield Road connecting to the Warwick Road. The bags contained roofing tiles, so I suspect that this is the result of a dodgy builder pulling into the car park and chucking waste out of the back of the van. I've had this cleared after it was raised by a local resident.

Also on the radar from last week - there's still work in progress to sort problems with an alley off Shirley Road. Following a resident's complaint, scaffolding on a council property on Gospel Farm Road has been removed.

A resident on Gospel Lane has raised concerns about a leaking sewer pipe, which he has been trying to get sorted for some time - that's now the subject of a formal s163 notice to Severn Trent, insisting that they deal with the problem within a few weeks.

The saga of the 31 bus route grumbles on. I've written to the respondents to our petition asking for feedback on the National Express proposal to remove the buses from Pool Farm Road and Pollard Road and run them down Thornfield Road instead. This doesn't restore the service to Olton Boulevard East and that's been a major concern of residents. I've fed the views of residents back through CENTRO, but further comments are always welcome.

Residents from Woodcock Lane had raised concerns about the "SLOW" markings becoming invisible and I've been on to Amey who will be repainting them.

I've also been chasing our Fleet and Waste team over a number of piles of flytipped green waste around the ward - chiefly on the Yarnfield and Gospel Estates. I'm pushing to have these removed.

Concerns continue about a property on Yardley Road, which has hedges overgrowing the footpath - that's still work in progress.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Planning Applications to 4 August 2014

Playing catch up again...

2014/04871/PA - 91 Westley Road, Acocks Green, B27 7UW
Erection of two storey side and rear and single storey rear extension

2014/04956/PA - 8 Botteville Road (and rear of 4-6 and 8-12 Botteville Road), Acocks Green, B27 7YD
Application for variation of Condition 5 attached to planning approval 2010/06541/PA for minor amendment for plans with 0920 prefix to be substituted with drawing numbers 417-101, 417-102, and 417-201 to 417-208 inclusive

2014/05175/PA - 17 The Avenue, Acocks Green, B27 6NG
Application for a Certificate of Lawfulness for the proposed erection of a single storey rear extension

2014/05119/PA - 55 Francis Road, Acocks Green, B27 6LT
Erection of two storey rear extension

2014/04575/PA - 980 Warwick Road, Acocks Green, B27 6QG
Erection of a single storey rear extension and installation of an extraction fan

2014/05396/PA - Land adjacent 70 & 91 Francis Road, Acocks Green, B27 6LT
Application to determine the details for Condition Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 14 & 16 attached to approval 2013/04805/PA

2014/05267/PA - 11 Edenbridge Road, Hall Green, B28 8QB
Erection of single storey side and two storey rear 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.

Wheelie bins roll out

Every household in Acocks Green should be receiving one or other of these cards to identify whether your property has been assessed as suitable for a wheelie bin.

Here's some key points:

If you disagree with the assessment of your property, you can challenge it - either if you have been denied a bin or have been deemed suitable.

If you need a larger bin for your non-recyclable waste, please let the council know by Tuesday 2 September. Properties with more than six residents can request a larger bin and those with more than nine can ask for an even larger bin.

If you need help moving your bin for collection, then the council will provide assisted collections - just as they do now.

There is NO CHARGE for either of these bins.

Collection days may change - the details will be provided when your bin is delivered. For Acocks Green, collection days will be either Wednesday or Thursday.

Bins should be delivered between the end of September and mid November.

The first collections will be during the week beginning 24 November.

The bins DO contain a chip, but this simply identifies the property to which the bin belongs.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask - but the bins team will be at the Ward Committee Meeting on the 10 September, 7pm in the Library, ready to give you some answers.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Litter pick in Fox Hollies Park

On Saturday, I joined a group of Acocks Green residents of all ages who are set on forming a Friends of Fox Hollies Park group. 

Their first venture was a cleanup session and we had Lee from Waterside Care and Dan and Alec from the local police neighbourhood team join us. 

We only managed an hour in the sun and heat, but we put together quite a collection of bin bags.

If you'd like to join in future sessions, then please get in touch and I'll put you in contact with the organiser. 

This is how community organisations start - a handful of people committed enough to do something. Can you join in? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Warwick Road works

Part of the Warwick Road improvement programme includes work on the remainder of the road. Much of this is new lines on the road or changes to parking orders. At the junction of Broad Road and Warwick Road, we've built out on the junction and the give way lines will be repainted to improve sight lines down the hill into the Green.

There will also be a new pedestrian refuge just to the west of the Broad Rd junction, which caused some concern once I saw the markings on the road. Residents had also raised concerns that the island would force larger vehicles to swerve around it and there were doubts that some would be able to make the adjustment in the space allowed.

It was complicated by the bus stop on the other side of the road, which is used regularly by drivers to pause to catch up with their timetable before a crew changeover in the Green.

The design team came out on site and brought some traffic cones to create a temporary obstruction to mimic the changes in the road layout. We watched buses and trucks as they passed the site and as a result, the white road markings will be extended down towards St Mary's Close and slight adjustments made to the sizing of the refuge.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Road repairs - Cottesbrooke Road

As a result of an inspection, there are some localised repairs to be made to the road surface on Cottesbrooke Road.

The work is due to start during the week of the 28 July 2014 and is estimated to take about five days, with work being carried out between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Road closures will be in place while work is in progress and there will be some restriction on access to property. Please don't park vehicles on this stretch of the road during this period, as they may have to be removed and there will be a charge for release. If you need urgent access to your property, then ask the crew on site or call 0121 303 6644 (option 2). Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Acocks Green Station Update

Work continues on the lift installation at the station, with the start of work to build the bridge out from the existing building and the tower blockwork starting to go in.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Planning Applications to the 12 July 2014

Just a single one for this week:

2014/04675/PA - Forward House, rear of 32 Station Road, Acocks Green, B27 6DN

Change of use to a recording studio (Class B1) and rehearsal room (sui generis)

Sui generis is the term used where the usage classification doesn't fit into any of the defined classes. Class B1, for example, includes:

Offices (other than those that fall within A2), research and development of products and processes, light industry appropriate in a residential area.

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.

Bins update

A quick update on the bins situation.

Following the strike action last Thursday, all depots prioritised collecting black bag waste and on emptying litter bins in the busiest spots.

Our depot at Redfern Road was particularly badly hit by a lack of drivers and they have been playing catch up ever since. Bear in mind that as a city, we make 200,000 collections each day across the city and across all types of waste. The Lifford Lane depot have sent crews over to assist, but Redfern still has a couple of black bag rounds outstanding and a good deal of recycling and green waste collections.

They are making every effort to catch up on outstanding work

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Growth Deal Announces Funding - good news for Birmingham

This is a positive move for the regions - although Labour's proposals promise even more funding and freedom for regional groupings. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership - the government's chosen method of delivering funding - has been given £357 million to support training and education and deliver on infrastructure needs. The GBSLEP will be able to fund 34 projects over the next few years. Unfortunately, this doesn't even reach the targets that Lord Heseltine proposed in his No Stone Unturned report, as that promised an annual pot five times bigger than the £2 billion that the government is offering a year. It is ironic that a Tory peer gets the regional need far better than his government.

Within Birmingham, this will help fund major repairs to the Tame Valley Viaduct (better known as the elevated stretch of the A38M that carries 100,000 vehicles a day) and station improvements around Snow Hill. It will also help us maximise the benefit of HS2 by improving local transport links - connecting New Street and Moor Street, extending the Metro to Centenary Square, down to the Curzon Street HS2 station site and on to Edgbaston, bus rapid transit from Quinton into the city centre and put some more money into improving walking and cycling in Birmingham. There will also be funding to support the extension of Battery Way in Tyseley - something I want to keep a close eye on, as regenerating the brown field site there is one thing, but I'm wary of other potential side effects.

In terms of business support and training, money will go into skills to support car manufacture, life sciences, aviation engineering, food technology and advanced technologies.

This is good news for Birmingham and the wider area - the Black Country LEP doesn't do badly either.

It is just a shame that the government haven't been brave or generous enough. Lord Heseltine urged them to do more and Labour will deliver our proposals quickly if we're elected next year.

Planning Applications to the 5 July 2014

I've not done this in a while, so I'm starting again.

2014/04523/PA - 2 Ingram Grove, Acocks Green, B27 7SQ

Erection of two storey and single storey rear extensions and alterations to roof

2014/04084/PA - 72 Oakhurst Road, Birmingham, B27 7PG
Erection of 1 no. two bedroom attached house within curtilage of existing house

2014/04404/PA - 168 School Road, Hall Green, B28 8PA
This site is within the School Road Conservation Area
Erection of two storey side and rear extension to form new retail unit on ground floor and two bedroom flat above and single storey rear extension to existing shop

2014/04499/PA - 78 Lulworth Road, Hall Green, B28 8NT
Application for a Certificate of Lawfulness for the proposed erection of a single storey rear extension

2014/04197/PA - 21 Glaisdale Road, Birmingham B28 8PX
Erection of two storey side and single storey front extension with porch

2014/04299/PA - Lidl UK Gmbh, Olton Boulevard East, B27 7RR
Variation of condition C2 attached to planning approval 2000/01878/PA to allow collection and delivery of goods 06:00 to 22:00 Monday to Saturday and 08:00 to 20:00 Sundays and Bank Holidays

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.

Road Repairs - Arden Road and Norland Road - starting wk comm 14 July

As a result of an inspection, there are some localised repairs to be made to the road surface between 75 and 91 Arden Road and on Norland Road between Pool Farm Road and Dolphin Lane.

The work is due to start during the week of the 14 July 2014 and is estimated to take about five days, with work being carried out between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Road closures will be in place while work is in progress and there will be some restriction on access to property. Please don't park vehicles on this stretch of the road during this period, as they may have to be removed and there will be a charge for release. If you need urgent access to your property, then ask the crew on site or call 0121 303 6644 (option 2). Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Strike action - Thursday 10 July

As you may have heard, local authority staff will be taking strike action on Thursday 10 July. This is likely to affect bin collections, so here's the advice on what to do if you have a collection scheduled for that day.

Please put your green bins, black or green sacks or recycling boxes out AS NORMAL.

If they have not been collected by the end of the day, please LEAVE THEM OUT for collection. It will be cleared over the weekend or sooner if possible.

There is no need to report a missed collection

Sorry for the inconvenience, but the rubbish will be cleared as soon as possible.

Quad bikes and antisocial behaviour

I've heard a lot of complaints about anti-social use of quad bikes and off road bikes. These have been passed on to the local police, who have responded, despite their limited resources.

Sadly, due to service cuts, there aren't as many traffic officers trained to ride the off-road bikes, so there is a huge demand for their services. These are the team that can conduct pursuits safely across areas like Fox Hollies Park - there used to be a unit operating out of Stechford, but that was removed. Nevertheless, the police have put together a sufficiently persuasive bid that saw the bikes put to work in Acocks Green and they recovered the stolen bike in the next picture.

They have also been tackling quad bikers who are driving in an anti-social manner, particularly on the Gospel Estate. Two have so far been issued with s59 notices, which means if they are caught repeating the behaviour, the drivers will have the bikes removed and impounded. They then face a £250 recovery charge, plus £10 a day until the bike is collected by somebody insured to take it.

The police have also had helicopter support to deal with the problem - with the chopper even lifting on a number of occasions specifically to support operations against anti-social behaviour and vehicle theft in Acocks Green.

The problems haven't been fixed, but it is really good to hear that the police have been able to respond to the concerns raised.

They always need your support, so if you have any information that can help tackle this behaviour, you can always contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Carnival 2014

A really good day at the Acocks Green carnival yesterday. After heavy showers very early on, the rain held off for the rest of the day and the parade went off well. We had our usual stall under the treeline and I spent some time helping with the parade marshalling (sorry to any drivers who were inconvenienced while the parade passed down through the Village).

This is a great annual event, which is part funded by the Ward Committee Community Chest, but driven by a dedicated community organisation. It just shows what people can achieve together.

And the Guess the Weight of The Cake competition was won by a Mr SW from Sheldon, who was closest at 3lbs 8oz.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Bob Jones

We've lost one of our own today. The first Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, Cllr Bob Jones, died overnight. He was just 59. 

Bob was a fine PCC - competent, fair and knowledgeable. He was also a good man. For a busy guy, he managed to find the time to come over and visit us here in Acocks Green - he was out here on election day in May this year.

He will be much missed by his own family, but also by the West Midlands Labour family. You don't get many like Bob and we were lucky to have him.

My thoughts today are with Sarah and his family. 

Work on the Warwick Road

You may have noticed some road works starting along the Warwick Road from Dudley Park Road towards the city. These are spot improvements to help cyclists and pedestrians, with new road markings and build outs from the kerb. There will also be some sense brought to the traffic orders along this stretch and the signage update is ongoing.

The work should take about 11 weeks to complete along the whole length of the road. It forms part of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund works - the same pot that will fund the major work in Acocks Green Village.

Location:Douglas Road,Birmingham,United Kingdom

Brumtunnel Closures 2014 - deja vu all over again

A reminder that the A38 St Chads and Queensway tunnels will be closed again during the school holidays this year.

The full closure will apply from 10pm on Friday 18 July through to 6am on Monday 1 September.

Starting on the 4 July, there will be two weeks of overnight closures from 10pm to 6am and a further four weeks of overnight closures to the 28th September. There will be up to 120 people working in the tunnels at any one time and work will continue round the clock to ensure that the tunnels reopen for business on time

This will complete the upgrade work started last year, which left the tunnels resurfaced, cleaner and brighter. The new phase of works will see the ventilation system, pumping stations, plant rooms, security and communication systems upgraded. 32 vehicle detection cameras will be installed to spot breakdowns and set signs to warn motorists. New smoke extraction and fire response systems will be installed to ensure that in the event of a fire, emergency exit doors can be opened remotely to ensure people don't escape into moving traffic and to make sure that smoke is removed quickly and safely. Over 40 miles of cabling will be installed as part of the work. .

Clearly, this will cause inconvenience - that's unavoidable - but the work has to be done. The lessons of last year were that it could have been a lot worse. Carrying out the work during the holidays makes a difference and we also found that many people chose to find alternate routes or modes of transport into the City for the duration.

For the most up to date information, refer to Brumtunnels.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Acocks Green Station Lifts Update

Final designs for the lift installation at Acocks Green are now on display at the station. The roof caps have been changed to pitched, the towers are slightly lower, the panelling on the side is a little less 'silo-like' and there is good visibility across the whole length of the walkway because the sides are glazed. Apparently been a real challenge to find glazing that would meet the design brief and satisfy the tough safety demands of Network Rail.

The floor plans show the station now (top) and on completion. The new access to the walkway is on the right hand side as you come into the building, between the stairs to the car park and the booking office machines.

The need was amply demonstrated as I got off the train - helped a mother up the stairs with her pushchair. She can't wait for the work to be completed. 

It looks as though the steelwork will arrive on site during July and work will continue across the summer with completion in September. There will be delays as some of the work depends on having the tracks beneath taken out of service. This has been one of the causes of delay so far, as the Chiltern Line has been a diversionary route for other lines and gaining possession hasn't been without problems. 

Hopefully, things should pick up pace now. 

Incidentally, in answer to a question earlier - the lifts are 16-person lifts with walk through access, so they are perfectly capable of taking a bike, should you wish to. 

Also, two dates for the diary for residents immediately around the site. The heavy work of installing the foundations and the piledriving is all complete, but on the 17th and 26th of July, the steel sections are scheduled for installation and that will involve night work and a big crane. The noise will be nothing like that of the foundation work, but there will be some. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Acocks Green Station lift update

On Monday 30 June between 1530 and 1800, representatives from CENTRO, Network Rail, London Midland and the contractors, J Murphy, will be in the booking office at Acocks Green Station to discuss progress and plans for the lift installation. This is now scheduled for completion in the autumn. I understand that there may be delays because of difficulties in obtaining possession of the tracks to allow safe working.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Canalside Community Litter Pick

I joined a number of local residents on Monday evening on a litter pick along the canal side. We picked up half a dozen bags full of litter either side of the Woodcock Lane bridge. Further up, opposite the Millennium Green, the remains of the burnt-out narrow boat are still sunk in the canal. The Canal and Rivers Trust are aware of it and say that it will be removed, but they have to follow a process that takes some time to go through.

Quieter nights for the Stockfield Estate

Last year, residents on the Stockfield Estate around the park and games area were disturbed on most nights by a group of young men who came out to play football very late at night and into the small hours. I had a number of complaints, so I made a point of coming out after midnight to see how bad it really was. Coincidentally, I was there just as the police response crew turned up to have a chat with the football players and see if they could be persuaded to move on. On that night, they did, after about half an hour or so of further play. The police were clear that there wasn't a lot they could do, despite the level of noise from the games area. It wouldn't have been a problem during the day, but on summer nights, the noise carried too far. 

There have also been other issues of anti-social behaviour elsewhere and to help deal with this, we've worked with the police to give them the power to disperse groups. This was used to great effect on the Gospel Estate last year and I'm hopeful that it will prove equally effective on the Stockfield. Residents have certainly been delighted with the news. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The axeman cometh

Amey have provided a new list of trees for removal over the next month.

That's a fair few.

And in at least one case, the notice has gone up BEFORE councillors have been notified. It also contains the statement that we have been consulted and have given approval for these removals.

I have insisted that this is corrected, as it was supposed to be the last time it was used.

Site Name
Reason for removal

outside 141

outside 126
Structural Integrity

Structural Integrity

outside 282

outside 272

outside 229
Highway Obstruction

outside 67
Structural Integrity

side of 999 map required
Structural Integrity

outside 24
Highway Obstruction

outside 2

outside 31

outside 52
Structural Integrity

outside 195

outside 520
Structural Integrity

outside 112-114
New Planting Vandalised

outside 251-253

outside 301
Structural Integrity

outside 4
Structural Integrity

outside 155
Structural Integrity

outside 361

outside 247-249
Structural Integrity

outside 14

outside 289
Structural Integrity

outside 435

outside 71

outside 71,73
New Planting Vandalised

outside 48
Structural Integrity

side of 467

outside 4
Structural Integrity

outside 30,32

right of 1291 Warwick Road
Structural Integrity

outside 186

outside 257
Structural Integrity

outside 77

outside 1005-1007
Structural Integrity

opposite 28

opposite 3

side of 50
Structural Integrity

outside 261
Structural Integrity

outside 221
Structural Integrity

outside 16

outside 475

side of 90

opposite 912 Warwick Road

outside 95,97
New Planting Vandalised

outside 24

outside 121
Structural Integrity

outside 34
Damage to Structures

outside 312,314

outside 7

outside 28