Category Archives: Local Problems

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

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

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

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

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

Birmingham disturbances/riots – how to know what’s going on?

Whilst what has been going on in Birmingham and the West Midlands is bad enough, unfounded rumours have in some cases been making it sound even worse and can be very frightening. So how can you check out what is really happening? (Apart from seeing if it’s on the News)

Twitter can spread false rumours - but can also refute them.

Twitter can spread false rumours - but can also refute them.

Twitter user?

If you are a Twitter user, then one way is to follow the police themselves, who have been doing what they can to keep people informed and quash unfounded rumours. Just a few useful sources are:

@WMPolice and @brumpolice (there are also many more local police tweeters, there is likely to be someone near an area you are interested in)

@WMP_Helicopter (I’ve mentioned them before)

@ColmoreBID – the business district

@bhamresilience – Birmingham Resilience Group prepares for and responds to emergencies in Birmingham – Council, NHS, Police and Fire working together.

Please comment if you can recommend others.

In addition there are lots of sensible people who post interesting information, if you are a regular user you get to learn who you trust over time. Otherwise look for people who have seen something for themselves, and preferably photographed it, not those who have heard something might be happening. I quite liked the Guardian’s advice about responsible use of Twitter: .

Not a twitter user?

The Police are also releasing news on the web, as are the Resilience team.

the Resilience team also offer you free sign up to the Birmingham Community Alert – this is a full time service, not just for the current disturbances. You can register up to 3 post codes of areas you are concerned about, and ask to receive text messages, voicemails, or emails about emergencies that affect any of them. I personally have found this useful – to avoid major road closures for example – as well as knowing I should be informed if any serious major incidents are happening locally.

Karen Caine


Belated addition following comment from Simon Gray:

@bccdisruption on Twitter and for information about any disruption to Birmingham City Council services, and links to other services.

Riot Cleanups in Birmingham

Volunteers equipped with brushes, pans and bags in the city centre today on their way to a cleanup of havoc caused by rioters.

What a refreshing reminder of how good people can be! My sincere appreciation and admiration goes out to them for their inspiration for a better future.

One place to find out about volunteer activities is

Will anyone with further information please leave a comment for others to use, Twitter, Facebook, etc, perhaps?

Geoff Caine

City Centre Policing – what do you think of it?

City Centre Policing - any comments?

City Centre Policing - any comments?

The monthly police City Centre Tasking meeting is tomorrow morning. The area it covers is the main City Centre retail/business district, along Broad Street/Brindleyplace, and Southside.

Are there any points you would like me to raise? If possible please send me any comments by 10am on Friday, but feel free to raise things between meetings too.

More about the Tasking Meeting….what it is, and issues so far….

Continue reading

Opposing 24 hour/day Lapdancing venue on Broad Street

The Neighbourhood Forum is currently protesting against a proposed Licensing amendment from the Boujee Rooms on Broad Street. Many Broad Street businesses, the Broad Street Business Improvement District (BID), and the City Centre Partnership are doing the same, as you can read in the Birmingham Post . We will be attending a meeting of the Licencing Authority on Monday 28th June 2010 to oppose the proposed changes to their Licence.

The Boujee Rooms are asking for a variation in their Premises Licence to allow them to operate an Erotic and Exotic dance venue 24 hours a day which will include Lap Dancing and Pole Dancing and involve Semi/Full nudity. They are also asking to change the internal layout of the premises to create Private Booths and seating areas, with full nudity allowed in dance booths and private rooms.

Please comment below if you live in the area and want us to know what you think about this proposal.

Should WM Police be doing things any differently in City Centre?

Following a local reorganisation of the police, I am invited to the Birmingham City Centre Neighbourhood Tasking Meeting tomorrow (Friday) morning (as chair of the City Centre Neighbourhood Forum).

So that I can give other people’s views as well as my own, please comment below about anything you feel the police should tackle or change their priorities over.

Continue reading

New Advert on the old Grand Hotel

Advert on old Grand Hotel, Colmore Row

Advert on old Grand Hotel, Colmore Row

Members of your City Centre Neighbourhood Forum committee are very unhappy with this recently installed advertisement banner on the former Grand Hotel on Colmore Row. It seems a totally inappropriate installation on the facade of such a beautiful listed building. Not only does the banner create a negative visual impact on the building, its prominent location results in it detracting from the cathedral and surrounding conservation area.

Committee member Jon Lord has checked with Birmingham City Council, who confirmed that no application for the banner has been received.

It is important to note that unauthorised works to a listed building is an offence under Section 9 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act, 1990. Could this apply here?

We are very disappointed that it has been allowed it to deteriorate over the past few years without any realistic action plan to renovate such an important historic building.

What do you think?

What’s going wrong with city centre lighting?

As someone who lives in the Retail BID area and works just off the Colmore BID area I am very concerned about the state of some of the street/public lighting in parts of the city centre. I walk on a daily basis across St Philips Churchyard which appears to be in perpetual darkness with the majority of the lighting around the cathedral not functioning. Likewise New Cannon Passage off Cannon Street has been in total darkness for a number of weeks as have some of the lighting columns adjacent to Victoria Square/Town Hall. In addition, the lighting on Corporation Street/Bull Street junction appears to be working sporadically.

I spoke to a couple of Neighbourhood Police Officers last weekend about this issue who admitted to being ‘fed up’ reporting the street lighting issues in the city centre and agreed that it was impacting on their crime fighting operations. It also creates a poor image for visitors to the city centre.

We are trying to get this issue taken forward to the appropriate city council department.

Please let us know if you have any related experiences or comments. Thanks!

by Jon Lord, Committee Member.

Emergencies in the City Centre

A Public Meeting organised by the Resilience Group in Birmingham City Council.

Public Meeting about City Centre Emergencies

Please book a place by emailing , if possible by 25th September.

Find out more about Resilience and Emergency Planning in Birmingham as a whole at .

I work part time for the Resilience team – generally evenings and weekends. I have been asked to help organise this meeting because the needs of city centre residents like ourselves can be somewhat different from the rest of the city, and we want you to help us make sure we are thinking along the right lines. In addition we hope you would pick up tips about ways to help yourself, family and friends, and learn about what the resilience team does.

I hope I will get chance to meet you there!

Karen Caine

Birmingham City Centre Demonstration

Police Line

Well, while it didn’t quite look like a normal Saturday – with large numbers of police and what seemed to be pretty low numbers of shoppers – I didn’t see much of a problem when I was in the city centre this afternoon.

The main irritation was that New Street was blocked by two lines of police with demonstrators between, causing residents and shoppers to have to divert.

I see police have made arrests though – mainly 20+ people on a bus. When I left the shopping area about 5:30 they seemed intent on dispersal.

Did any residents have major problems we should know about? Especially if it points up any idea for something different and better the police could do on a similar occasion in future? If so please let us know!

Karen Caine