A number of high-profile child deaths in Birmingham in recent years, children’s services could be taken over by the Department for Education before Christmas if standards do not improve, according to a recent report.

Two years after concerns were  recorded in the local press, homeless people from Birmingham and Solihull are still being placed in unsatisfactory bed and breakfast accommodation at the Norfolk Hotel, Hagley Road, Edgbaston.

Norfolk hotel 1After meeting a group of them, Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) called on Birmingham and Solihull Councils to find alternative accommodation and to stop using the Norfolk Hotel.

Many heard their revelations on BBC Radio WM’s Adrian Goldberg phone-in last week that the hotel is “not fit for purpose” for many reasons.

It was alleged that:

  • Fire doors are padlocked shut
  • Internal fire doors are propped open with extinguishers
  • Smoke alarms are hanging from ceilings
  • Rats and mice are seen on the premises
  • Cannabis use has been noted inside the hotel
  • Single women are being harassed outside the hotel by kerb crawlers
  • Letters are not being promptly passed on to homeless tenants, some of whom await letters regarding their housing applications.
  • Degrading treatment by many staff at the hotel has included being laughed at when for asking for toilet paper.

Following his intervention, West Midlands Fire Service Headquarters have undertaken inspections and have repeat visits booked in, having found some concerns. Councillor Williams said:

“I am saddened by the alleged maltreatment of such vulnerable people who have lost their home for whatever reason. “Repossessions, people struggling to pay their rent and domestic violence all play their part in people becoming homeless. Surely we should be providing them with decent accommodation while we find them somewhere to live?”

Earlier complaints were said to have been ‘spiked’ due to legal issues and legal threats from the owners. Will effective action be taken this time?