Author Archives: karencaine

About karencaine

Photographer. Gadget freak. Loves reading. Noticed she has ADHD at 58. Senior Lecturer at Aston Business School, Aston University.

Please complete questionnaire – closing Monday!

Please complete the Ladywood Community First funding questionnaire we described a few days ago! If you are a Ladywood Ward resident or from a Ladywood organisation, we really need to hear your opinions so we can allocate money the way our community would prefer, instead of just according to what our committee thinks. This is your chance to influence which groups and organisations receive support. What should our priorities be?

You can complete the questionnaire here.

Please fill in in straight away as we need to close it on Monday 25th February! It only takes a few minutes.

Thank you very much for your help.

Karen Caine

City Centre Neighbourhood Forum,
and Ladywood Community First Panelist

Quick Questionnaire: what are your priorities? How should funding be allocated to local Ladywood groups?

Ladywood ward was chosen to receive £50,865 from the government’s Community First initiative over four years, from 2011 up to March 2015. The funding is to help communities come together to identify their strengths and local priorities in order to plan for their future and become more resilient. It will fund both new and existing community groups. Continue reading

Night time visit to Broad Street with the Police

John McDermott, a City Centre Neighbourhood Forum committee member, is our resident representative on the Broad Street Business Improvement District (BID) board. 

On Saturday 10th November, I and four other BID Directors took up an invitation from Commander Clive Burgess to join the local police team on their Night Time Economy Policing Operation.  This involved a presentation at Steel House Lane, a visit to the custody suite, the control room and several walks-about and walk-throughs in Southside and on Broad Street over the period 21.30 Saturday evening to 03.30 on the Sunday morning.
The aim of the visit was to help BID Directors to further develop their understanding of the totality of the challenges faced in the BID area by all of us.

There has been a recent increase in front line officers on Broad Street, back to 2010 levels, which is allowing them to return to neighbourhood policing methods and to adopt a more proactive and zero tolerance approach to policing. Examples of proactive policing included:

  • Briefing customers outside clubs on how not to become a victim of crime
  • Using a triage ambulance on Broad Street to avoid tying-up officers in A&E.
  • Issuing section 30 dispersal orders to ban troublemakers from the area
  • Having available a mop and bucket for those taken short!

There were 23 criminal offences reported over the previous weekend, on Broad Street, with Walkabout and Gatecrasher, in particular, targeted for theft of mobile phones.  The vast majority of the victims were young women having iPhones stolen.  One other current city centre issue noted was the “free huggers” who used this technique to pickpocket the ‘hugged’.

Separate from this visit, but obviously related to Broad Street safety and policing issues, is the question of Funding of the Taxi Marshalls. A recent paper on the Taxi Marshal scheme outlined the value of the service and the need to ensure it was funded into the foreseeable future. The funding for next year will be in the hands of the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner. All the Commissioner candidates visited Broad Street before the election, and were shown, first-hand, the importance of the role of the Taxi Marshals. Lets hope funding can somehow be found.

John McDermott

Culture and the Arts – a new future for Birmingham

. . . at least, that’s what the leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore foresees. He said as much as he launched his “Arts and Culture Summit” in mid-October 2012.

Five months after he took over leadership of the council in May, Sir Albert called together this mixed gathering of the cultural great-and-good with professional and amateur arts practitioners, and ordinary residents (including this member of your Neighbourhood Forum committee).

As a bonus, we were amongst the first to experience the new Bramall Music Building on the University of Birmingham campus. This is a splendid venue boasting a range of rooms from a smart 450-seater concert hall on downwards in scale. This building adds to the existing range of performance venues –  Symphony Hall, Town Hall, the renovated REP and its new mid-sized theatre, etc.

Sir Albert’s vision is that the cultural sector should make a major contribution to tackling inequality and deprivation in the city, as well as providing major economic underpinning, over the next 10-20 years. The subsequent speakers, admirably managed by Mary Rhodes of BBC Midlands Today, included Ruth MacKenzie (director of the Cultural Olympiad), senior people from the Arts Council and the British Council, Graham Vick (artistic Director, Birmingham Opera Company, – a true iconoclast, as those who have ever seen any of their productions will testify), and Darren Henley (CEO Classic FM, who has produced two defining reports on cultural education for the Government). There were also speakers from Lyon, Rotterdam and Chicago describing their different approaches to exploiting culture in the development and advancement of their respective cities. The set piece speeches were interspersed with small-scale discussion workshops on a range of topics  (examples “Local Identity”, “Young People’s Skills”, “Access to Finance”).

These two days were very upbeat about Birmingham and its opportunities. Their impact was severely dampened a couple of weeks later by the City Council’s announcement of the serious worsening of its financial predicament. Not that the Council itself promised much during the meeting. An underlying theme was how cultural sector players had to be enterprising in everything, not only in artistic creativity but also in finding resources.

David Foster

Christmas is coming!

Building the merry-go-round for the Frankfurt Market 2012

Building the carousel for the Frankfurt Market 2012

With the building of the Merry-go-round in Victoria Square this evening, it’s starting to feel like the Christmas Market is nearly here! This Saturday at 5:30 is the start of the Christmas Parade and light switch-on. See the route and timings here. Last year was pretty good – all the kids seemed to be enjoying it too! Here is a video showing some excerpts.

The Frankfurt Christmas Market (Victoria Square and New Street) and the Craft Market (Centenary Square and Chamberlain Square) will open on Thursday 15th November, and stay until the 22nd December. They are open from 10am to 9pm each day.


Karen Caine

More cycling news….a cycling forum

Following on from the recent article on a city centre cycling strategy, Stefan has also told us about a cycling forum. The forum aims to give updates to people with an interest in cycling, and provide a constructive outlet for dialogue, opinion and ideas.

We are told “The Forum could also open the door for the people with an interest in cycling to become more involved, offer support, develop links and aid the promotion and development of cycling.”

Its next meeting will be on Tuesday 30th October from 6.30pm to 8pm at Austin Court, Cambridge Street, Brindley Place, B1 2NP. Attendance at the forum is free but spaces are limited, so please register in advance by emailing I believe it is organised by the council’s Smarter Choices team. There is also a cycling area on the council web site.

Karen Caine

Peace Garden update – survey at last!

Fencing at the Pace Garden

You may remember we have written before about the Peace Gardens, and the dangerous state of the remains of St Thomas’s church, that have led to it being fenced off for well over a year. We are glad to say that AT LAST the ruins are being surveyed. Thanks to Councillor Kath Hartley for letting us know the details. We understand:

“As part of survey work being undertaken on St. Thomas’ Church, Bath Row, large mechanical person hoists are to be used to inspect the structure. This will require the west gate of the Peace Garden and adjacent garden footpath to be closed to the public between 07:00 and 18:00hrs on Wednesday 17th, Thursday 18th and Friday 19th October 2012. Notices to this effect have been posted in the immediate area.  The East gate will remain open and there is an alternative route around the affected area using the public footpath on Granville St. and Upper Gough St. Disruption will be kept to a minimum and should surveys be completed sooner than expected the area will be reopened immediately.”

Karen Caine

City Centre Cycling Strategy – public input

Birmingham City Council Transportation have just started the development of a City Centre Cycling Strategy, to look at the role cycling can play in the city centre within the (Middle) Ring Road, and including crossing points of the Ring Road. They want to identify priority routes for cyclists – which can include roads, public squares, towpaths, etc. They are asking for the opinions of cyclists and those who would like to cycle. Either ideas for good routes, or details of hazardous areas, would be welcome. Any matter relevant to city centre cycling can be included.

Please email comments to and put City Centre Cycling Strategy in the subject line, preferably by  Friday 19th October if possible.

(Many thanks to one of our readers, Stefan, for alerting us to this council request).

Karen Caine

Are you concerned about the lack of Peace Garden repairs? Ward meeting on Thursday!

St Thomas Church in Birmingham's Peace Garden, fenced off. Photograph by Ian Warren

St Thomas Church in Birmingham’s Peace Garden as it looked last year, newly fenced off. Photograph by Ian Warren. More recent pictures to follow soon!

More than a year after it was first fenced off pending a survey, the ruins of St Thomas’ Church in the Birmingham Peace Gardens are still fenced off, in case they are dangerous, and pretty overgrown. We are aware this is a matter of concern for nearby residents, and have asked for it to be raised at the next Ladywood Ward meeting on:

Thursday 26 July 2012 at 7pm

Ladywood Health & Community Centre,

St Vincent Street West, B16 8RP

If you share the concerns, please try to come to the meeting to help us show our councillors that resident feeling is strong! If you can’t come in person, please comment below so we can pass your message on (or write to our councillors directly  ,  , )

It seems a shame that this well known local landmark at the corner of Holloway Head and Granville St.  has been allowed to get in this mess, and seems to be being left to deteriorate further.

You may have seen this recent comment from C. Matthews on a previous story on this site,  saying:

“There has been a bit of a tidy up. Slight improvement – must do better. Look at the main exit onto Holloway Head with foot-high grass & weeds & paintwork on the ornamental metal gates peeling. Worse, the garden has become an open toilet for the dogs of local residents, many of whom have no intention of clearing up afterwards.”

Hopefully our councillors will be able to update us with the latest news on Thursday.

To save you the pain of trying to find additional details of the meeting on the council website (it took me getting on for half an hour to find them) you can read details, agenda, and other related documents here.

Karen Caine

Will you be voting on May 3rd? Only if you are registered by 18th April!

Place your voteAre you registered?

If not, there is only a week to go to register to vote where you live. Take a look on the government About My Vote site to find out how.

Please note that if you are a student living away from your normal home, you can register twice – many students don’t know that they might be eligible to register to vote at both their home and university addresses, so they can vote wherever they are at the time of the election.

If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, call or visit the Elections Office.

Our local electoral register office is:

Birmingham City Council
Electoral Registration Officer
2nd Floor
150 Great Charles Street
B3 3HS
0121 303 2731
Email Birmingham City Council

New Ladywood Police Newsletter and Photographs

The April Ladywood Policing newsletter is already available….

If you like or need Police photographs its also worth looking at West Midlands Police’s Flickr Photographs…

Day 62 - West Midlands Police - Force Helicopter (Air Ops) & Crew

This shows the Force Helocopter (Air Ops) and crew – you may be familiar with it over the City Centre! From West Midlands Police Flickr Photostream under creative commons licence – click on photo for more details.

As of today West Midlands Police are on day 87 of posting one police photo a day for their ‘Photo of the Day 2012’ project – some of them are great! What’s more they are making them available under a creative commons licence, which means you can

  • to copy, distribute, and display them
  • to make derivative works
  • to make commercial use of the work

As long as you:

Attribution — You must give the original author credit.

Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a identical licence to the ones with the photographs.

I think its a great project! Take a look!

Karen Caine

Next Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery 3rd April 17:30-19:00

Social Media Surgeries siteVolunteers are offering free social media help to voluntary organisations, community groups, charities, clubs and societies in a relaxed, informal setting.

No boring speeches, no jargon.

Tools like blogs, podcasts, video and social networks can give a real boost to campaigning organisations, often for no or little cost. So these experts (and I) are offering you approachable one-to-one help and support because we believe it can help. You might just want to see what is possible and go away and think about it. You might be itching to set up a blog and start using it. Perhaps you think video might help you tell your story but don’t know where to start? All is possible.

There’ll be no lectures, just people with knowledge, ideas and a passion to help you make best use of the internet for your group or organisation.

Let us know if you can come here:

Karen Caine

Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery 6th March 5:30-7pm

Social Media Surgeries are events where non-profit organisations can get free advice on using social media like blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. You can read more about them here.

If you are involved in a non-profit organisation and would like to get help using social media, please come along to the next Central Birmingham surgery on
Tuesday 6 March 2012 5:30pm – 7:00pm.  If you don’t need help yourself, maybe you could tell someone you know about it?

Karen Caine

Bug counts and worm surveys – free diversity event midday 6th March.

Free talk at Birmingham University’s Winterbourne Gardens midday tomorrow Tuesday 06 March 2012.

Continuing the historic house’s series of free events about biodiversity, the talk will focus on resources that the OPAL project can provide to those interested in wildlife and their local green spaces. OPAL is a national initiative designed to involve and inspire a new generation of nature-lovers, it aims to encourage people from all walks of life to see themselves as nature detectives. The talk will explain practical tips for helping the environment and monitoring nature in your local area.

Congratulations to Social Media Surgeries on Big Society Award!

Social Media Surgeries siteCongratulations go to Nick Booth and everyone involved in the Social Media Surgeries today as they win a Big Society Award!

You may have noticed we often advertise upcoming Central Birmingham Social Media Surgeries in this blog, events where non-profit organisations can get free advice on using social media like blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. We also explained back on our 250th post how they helped us get started with this site, and thanked them.

You can read more about the award here, and about the Social Media Surgeries .

I hope this award helps the Social Media Surgeries to grow. If you are involved in a non-profit organisation and would like to get help using social media, perhaps you would like to come along to the next Central Birmingham surgery on
Tuesday 6 March 2012 5:30pm – 7:00pm

I hope to meet you there (as nowadays I volunteer as a ‘surgeon’). If you don’t need help yourself, maybe you could tell someone you know about it?

Karen Caine

Three new Ikon exhibitions open today, including free opening event this evening

For an early look, with a glass of wine thrown in, you could pop along to this evenings free opening between 6pm and 8pm.

Additionally, between 4pm and 5pm in the Ikon Cafe, the curators of the  Postcards From Japan exhibition will lead an informal discussion about the exhibition and their personal experiences and observations on the effect of the Japanese tsunami. They will also be signing copies of the catalogue.

The exhibitions are:

Sarah Browne: How to Use Fool’s Gold

Hamish Fulton

Postcards From Japan – A Message From Tohoku Artists

In case you haven’t been before, the Ikon Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, B1 2HS.

24 Carrots Jewellery Quarter Farmers Market Saturday

24 Carrots Jewelry Quarter Farmers MarketIf you failed to find the relocated Birmingham Farmers Market today, or even if you didn’t, why not take a look at the 24 Carrots Farmers market in the Jewellery Quarter – supposed to be bigger and better than ever with even more stalls, including a variety of arts and craft stalls for great Christmas presents. There is also ready to eat food, and live music too, with West Midlands-based Giocoso Saxophone Quartet. Plus lots of family fun with face-painting and a chance to decorate and take home your special 24 Carrot Christmas biscuits.

You can find it on Saturday 19th between 10am-3pm at the Big Peg car park, Warstone Lane, B18 6NA.

Birmingham’s Christmas Parade

Birmingham started getting ready for Christmas today with the Christmas Parade and Lights Switch On. Here is my video of the parade, and some of the entertainment in Brindleyplace – its not very polished, but hopefully you will get the gist!

The atmosphere was great – the kids were loving it – and the crowds seemed huge. The police are apparently estimating 40,000 along the route. Now the parade is finished the Frankfurt Christmas Market stalls can be built in Victoria Square and New Street ready for the opening on Thursday 17th (the Craft Fair is already being built in Chamberlain Square). This will be the 10th Frankfurt Christmas Market!

Karen Caine

Brian Gambles birmingham

Learn more about plans for the city centre – and perhaps even get involved!

The Birmingham City Centre Neighbourhood Forum is holding a (free) public meeting, 14th November 2011 at 6:45pm in the Museum and Art Gallery Learning Zone. There will be talks by the Police Chief Inspector and by Birmingham Council on city centre developments. Continue reading

Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery, Today – Mon 3 Oct

Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery on Mon 3 Oct. 5:30 – 7pm


Volunteers are offering social media help to any voluntary and community groups in the Birmingham area in a relaxed, informal setting.

It doesn’t matter if you are the head of communications at a major charity or an active citizen in your neighbourhood. If you’re at all curious come along:

The Studio 7 Cannon Street,  Birmingham B2 5EP

No boring speeches, no jargon.


Our 250th Post – thanks to Social Media Surgeries!

This is our 250th BrumCityCentre blog post!

It seems like a good opportunity to say thank you to Nick Booth and all the other Social Media Surgery volunteers. Nick Booth from Podnosh organised the first social media surgery in Birmingham in October 2008. Nowadays volunteers in a variety of places help many people to learn how to use social media to help their community groups and local charities, or otherwise increase their effectiveness as local active citizens, at free and friendly meetings.

Social Media Surgeries site

Continue reading

Peace garden – some action today

St Thomas Church in Birmingham's Peace Garden, fenced off. Photograph by Ian Warren

St Thomas Church in Birmingham’s Peace Garden, fenced off. Photograph by Ian Warren

We talked about the repairs needed to the church ruins in the Birmingham Peace Garden a few days ago. Simon Gray asked within the council for the latest news. You may have seen his comment:

“i’ve now spoken to The Relevant Chap, and he has re-stated that it is still the council’s intention to repair the building, but that the full survey they need is taking quite a long time to complete.”

Today we received more news from Dr Sheila Bonas, the local resident who originally told us about the fenced off ruins. (Thanks Sheila!) She says: “there is further news on the Peace Garden – I saw some workmen there this afternoon and asked what they were doing. They said that they were going to remove any loose masonry and do a safety survey to see what else is needed.”

Good to hear some progress is being made – we’ll let you know if we hear more. Please let us know if you hear news!

Karen Caine

When will Peace Garden repairs take place?

St Thomas Church in Birmingham's Peace Garden, fenced off. Photograph by Ian Warren

St Thomas Church in Birmingham’s Peace Garden, fenced off. Photograph by Ian Warren

We were alerted back in early June by local resident Dr Sheila Bonas that the ruins of St Thomas’ Church in the Birmingham Peace Gardens had been fenced off. Sheila wondered what was going on, a concern shared by others as the remains are a well known local landmark at the corner of Holloway Head and Granville St. She pointed out that no work seemed to be under-way. Unfortunately this still seems to be the case today – three months later.

We asked contacts in the council what was happening, and a few days later had a response. It seems that when the council did it’s annual inspection of the site they thought it’s condition had deteriorated, and that it appeared some bits of the church could possibly even fall off. They commissioned a structural survey which confirmed that the site should be  fenced off from the public pending repairs. Back in June the council was awaiting the full report from the structural survey so that they could discuss with English Heritage how to proceed. It was emphasised to us that there is both the will and intention to do what is necessary to be able to reopen it properly.

We think, nevertheless, it is something to keep an eye on to make sure it isn’t left too long (deteriorating further), perhaps because of the economic climate. In addition we now understand that people appear to be accessing the ruined church, moving or bending the fencing and possibly sleeping inside. With the building in this condition, we are concerned that someone might get hurt. We are letting the council know about the fencing and possible risk, and also asking for an update.

When we hear more we will let you know – or if you have any news or comments please let us know below! Thank you!

Karen Caine

Parking at the United Birmingham Peace event

Access to Gillott Road and Summerfield Crescent is being restricted to residents only. Limited free parking is available at the Ladywood Leisure Centre. There is also free parking on the car park at Edgbaston Reservoir. Police are asking that people remember this is a residential area and residents need access. A high volume of traffic is anticipated and parking will be limited.

Peace Event – Summerfield Park, Dudley Road, 3pm Sunday 14th August

On Sunday there will be a Peace rally in response to this weeks disorder and the tragic loss of life of Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir. This is intended to be a peaceful, and multicultural, event and police are properly aware of it (it is mentioned on their web site). Organisers are suggesting that anyone who wants to gather with others to show their feelings against the riots and deaths does so at this event organised by a number of community groups, and with cross-community support. They are hoping many people will join them.

The event is planned for 3pm Sunday 14th August at Summerfield Park (Dudley Road).

Participants are asked to share a sense of unity and respect for the occasion.

Lets get back to Birmingham city centre!

'We are open as normal' posterIt has been quiet for a couple of days and evenings now, and lets hope it will stay that way, but Birmingham city centre has been looking pretty quiet. Few travelling boats have chosen to moor here this weekend (though the many residential boats are still around). I worry this might be reflecting a ‘stay away in case’ attitude from many people that will further damage our city centre if it continues. The best way to fight the unwelcome influence of the rioters is surely to minimise their effect. So please play lets play our part by getting into the city centre as normal! Some shops may have boarded up windows, but almost all of even these are still open as normal regardless. Hope you can join us there over the weekend!

Karen Caine

Nigel Mansell and a Midlands Motoring event, Broad Street on Sunday 14th

Starting at 12 noon on Sunday you can enjoy an afternoon centred on Midlands Motoring with displays of both modern and vintage motoring greats, and interactive driving activities. At around 2:20pm Nigel Mansell will join the Broad Street Walk of Stars, followed by a question and answer session. There will also be live music and food offers available.

Find out more on the Broad Street site.