Archives for posts with tag: Stirchley

A new venture in Stirchley calls families to enjoy ‘good, old-fashioned fun


Annaliese Griffin of America’s Quartz Media writes:

“I’m not saying that starting a board-game group in every town and village will put us all on the path to world peace. But in a society where the most common answer to the question “How many confidantes do you have?” is zero, it’s clear that a lot of people are hungry for connection and civilized conversation. Inviting the neighbors over for game night is a good place to start.”

A Childwise survey of 2000 children aged 5-16 in schools across the UK reported that children in all age groups are spending ever-longer periods online. The internet overtook television as the top media pastime for British children last year, according to the media regulator Ofcom. Children aged five to 15 are spending 15 hours a week online.

Following the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, government acted on Lord Laming’s advice and set up the office of children’s commissioner. It has four aims: one is headed ‘Digital’ (left)

In an interview with the Observer the commissioner, Anne Longfield, criticised the way social media giants draw children into spending more time and said that parents – though most are seen in public using their phones to chat of view – should stop their children from ‘bingeing’ on the internet.

Parents often don’t have a valued activity to offer in place of online activities

A paper published in Psychological Science, based on research into ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ found that moderate use of devices by teenagers may be beneficial. Co-author Andrew Przybylski (University of Oxford) said: “It’s not so much that it’s bad for a kid to play Minecraft for 12 hours on a Sunday, it’s that as parents we often don’t have a valued activity that we put in place of that”.

Ben Parkinson, co-founder of the Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network, a charity, has just visited Gulu for its latest ‘boardgame extravaganza’ (Facebook picture). Gamechangers is a new project from Chrysalis born from its recent Village Boardgames Convention in Koro, Northern Uganda.

He writes: “Children from villages have been clamouring to play the games and, of course, there is no place for them to play or even buy boardgames, were they able to afford them.

However, we see a future time when boardgames will be more readily available in Uganda and believe that there is much change that can take place through giving access to a range of boardgames”.

Ben Parkinson comments: “Here the boardgames are less needed for social reasons, as Ugandans are very social people.  Where they score is on providing variety of entertainment and building confidence, though the kids also enjoy the social aspect.

Via Youtube visit Uganda to hear the young people talking about the games with brief shots of them playing – the prizes are school books.

In England a new profession is proliferating – community building; I met my first community builder last week and visited a community group in a Gloucestershire council estate which was clearly working well.  A search revealed five pages of items relating to England and thereafter many accounts of community building in other countries.

Will most of these efforts rebuild what has been lost in England?






A reader alerts all to National Express West Midlands’ review of Birmingham’s bus network. Here we focus on proposals in one area:

Its website says that traffic is getting worse, making journeys slower. Some routes are now 10 minutes slower than they were three years ago. This means fewer passengers, which is bad for the economy and social inclusion. Some might switch to cars, making congestion and pollution worse.


Route 27 may not operate and could be replaced in some areas by changes to other routes, some of which may be run by other operators. This is particularly disturbing in that if this proposal goes ahead, it will leave a significant part of Bournville without any public transport. There would be no link up with Bournville Railway station which is a common stop for commuters from parts of Bournville who daily use the 27 to get to and from the railway station.

Stirchley and Bournville residents working in Northfield or visiting the banks and shopping centre there would also feel the impact of the loss of the 27, the only direct service.

Bournville Conservative Party has set up a petition to be submitted to National Express West Midlands, Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands:

One main route is proposed on the Pershore Road – the  76 being diverted to serve Cartland Road and Pineapple Road instead of Dogpool Lane.

Maypole and Shirley readers need to consider the impact of merging routes 2 & 3

There would be only one route 3 with all buses running via Stoney Ln in Sparkbrook, and Trittiford Rd, Priory Rd, School Rd, Ravenshill Rd and Priory Rd to the Slade Lane terminus.

Would the proposal to run route 49 via Highters Heath Ln, School Rd and Yardley Wood Rd between Maypole Ln and Solihull Lodge compensate?

All South Birmingham residents are invited to take part in a consultation: click this link to be taken to the survey:





Updating an earlier post:

cllr huxtable“After the Stirchley floods of 2008 (and other minor flooding events previous to these floods) I am very pleased that there has been investment by the Government and Severn Trent in flood defence works in Stirchley.

“Obviously there was the flood alleviation scheme referenced in the article, but the redesign of the Dogpool Lane bridge, the money put aside to develop a River Rea strategy –  mentioned at the December Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum meeting – the flood storage tanks in Bournville Park adjacent to the River Bourn (which flows into the River Rea just before Dogpool Lane) and investment in floodgates fitted to properties along Ripple Road and Cartland Road have also played their part in protecting properties from flooding”.

stirchley2 floods park 08 Skinny’s Videos

He adds that he is not complacent and believes that more needs to be done along the River Rea (and River Bourn) to protect nearby communities from flood risk (both from river and surface water flooding) but that Stirchley (and Bournville) is in a much better place now to cope with heavy rainfall than in 2008.

flood aqueduct road cars mill around

The Rivers Cole and Blythe in and around Solihull are ‘threatening to burst their banks’ according to the Birmingham Mail. Solihull Lodge was said to be at risk as the Cole rose to more than half a metre above its usual level on Sunday morning. ‘Aspirational’ housing was recently built above this regularly flooded area.

Some councils are not yet changing their approach to planning applications for houses to be built above or in traditionally flood affected areas, often approved despite warnings from local residents and councillors.

An FT report published yesterday estimates that one new home in every 14 built in 2013-14 — the most recent year for which data is available — was constructed on land that has a significant chance of flooding, either from a river or the sea.

ea 2current solihull lodge

Solihull Lodge residents who saved the Environment Agency link to their area – current version above – will be able to monitor the situation, but those living elsewhere will find it difficult, perhaps impossible, to navigate the EA’s website. Areas like Selly Park and Stirchley need this information in easily accessible form.

Birmingham Resilience offers help

  • 1% of residents have signed up to receive warnings by phone, text or email from an automated flood warning gauge which records the water level every 15 minutes. This will give them time to move their family, pets and possessions to safety. Read on here, scrolling down.
  • People who live in a Birmingham area at risk of flooding and would like to set up a flood action group can be referred to the flood group co-ordinator. Resident groups have been set up in Witton, Selly Park South, Rea Valley and Frankley.

stirchley floods 08 Skinny’s Videos – Floods in Greater Stirchley, 2008

Residents confirm The Stirchley News report that Severn Trent solved the flooding problems in Dogpool Lane earlier this year.

Severn Trent Programme engineer Claudia Sequeira explained that £3 million has been invested to install a kilometre of new, bigger sewer pipes and two large underground storage tanks in the Cartland Road area to store rain water, which will help to prevent sewer flooding. Storage tanks had also been built next to Pershore Road and Ripple Road, new sewers installed in Newlands Road, Ripple Road and Cartland Road and connected to the existing network.

In 2013, government negotiated an agreement with the Association of British Insurers, to give cover to all private housing and cap flood insurance premiums

All UK household insurers were to pay into a pool, creating a fund that can be used to pay claims for people in high-risk homes. The flood insurance premiums would be linked to council tax bands so that people will know the maximum they will have to pay. Implementation has been delayed and will not be in force until April 2016, however, and the process is far from transparent; insurance companies have different ways of assessing insurance costs:

  • some offer their own products.
  • some rely on the Environment Agency’s assessment and
  • some follow the rulings of the Association of British Insurers.

The Federation of Small Businesses will continue to press government to offer SMEs cover under the government’s flood programme, Flood Re

flooded business in yorkFlooded businesses in York

Smaller businesses will be excluded from the programme, which guarantees affordable insurance to domestic properties, except for rentals; landlords are not eligible, so tenants in flooded properties face the prospect of being removed.

Yesterday the Financial Times reported the FSB’s estimate that about 75,000 smaller businesses at risk of flooding had found it difficult to find flood insurance and 50,000 had been refused cover nationally.

Accountants – KPMG [Press Reader] and PwC [BBC] – have warned that thousands of businesses will face financial ruin because they will have to bear a fifth of the estimated £5bn national cost of flood damage, with inadequate or non-existent insurance cover.

John Allan, the FSB’s National Chairman, said: “Ministers should look again at the availability of affordable and comprehensive flood insurance for small businesses, potentially through a dedicated Flood Re style agreement. The financial cost to small businesses following the 2012 flooding was £200 million.

“We can’t hope to create a buoyant economy . . . if vulnerable small businesses can’t sufficiently protect themselves from increasingly unpredictable and severe weather that in the worst cases can close a business.” 

small bus sat header

Today MP Steve McCabe is backing local independent businesses across his constituency as part of this year’s Small Business Saturday.

Five million independent stores are hoping to benefit from “Small Business Saturday”, when retailers, local authorities and large sponsors team up to promote small businesses, which account for almost two in every three shops in the UK.

Some local authorities have suspended parking regulations for the day and there have been sponsored advertising slots on prime time TV and other media to promote independent shopping.

This is a key shopping day in the year in the run-up to Christmas and the MP is encouraging local people to shop locally in small firms as part of Small Business Saturday and aims to give a long-term boost to trade and a lift to the high streets.

Independents named on his website include local Indian restaurant, Dilshad; motor repair garage, Tyreco; independent wine store, Stirchley Wines and Spirits, the recently opened P Café in Stirchley and Vegan Shop in Kings Heath.

Steve McCabe said that he is proud to have such a choice of local unique and independent businesses in his constituency. We should do all we can to thank them for the vital contribution they make to the local economy, adding to the local community and boosting diversity on the High Street.

He hopes to build on the success achieved with Small Business Saturday in the last two years and believes the campaign is a great way of raising awareness and helping boost trade in the run up to Christmas.

bid header

The ‘man in the street’ in Bournville, Cotteridge, Kings Norton and Stirchley, is only just becoming dimly aware of BIDs, which are replacing LEPs in the local headlines at the moment, and wonders what is meant by the term.

“This has been a truly business-led and business-driven project”

If he searched the internet he could uncover the information on the website of the Lifford Business Association (LBA), which advocates “taking back control of our area from an authority that can’t afford to give us what we need and to deciding together what we think is best for the business community and our customers in Bournville, Cotteridge, Kings Norton and Stirchley” (emphasis added).

People, if paid a full living wage, buy goods and services and create jobs

Residents were not involved or given a vote on the final decision – yet residents far and near, are the customers without whom businesses – large and small – could not survive. Business Insider and others are reminding us that – contrary to the prevailing rhetoric – as Nick Hanauer, investor and entrepreneur explains, what creates jobs is a ‘healthy economic ecosystem’, customers paid a full living wage and more. In economic jargon this is known as ‘effective demand’.           

Compete or co-operate?

bid bournville greenThe Lifford BID – via street improvements and advertising – proposed to work together to make the trading environment across Bournville, Cotteridge, Kings Norton and Stirchley one which stands on its own two feet and can compete with any other high street in the city.

Some businesses have claimed that a grassroots approach is behind the success of a revitalisation of Stirchley. Writing on their blog, the bakery Loaf, argues: “It is possible that a BID in the area will actually hamper these grassroots activities through a top down approach. Of course this is dependent on the attitude of the BID committee and there could be a positive effect too, but the history of relationships between the Lifford Business Association and some of the organisations listed above does not give us hope.” The Birmingham Bike Foundry, also on the Pershore road, asked local residents to encourage local businesses not to vote away their say on local services.

bid loafLoaf cites the development in Stirchley’s High Street and cultural life over the last five years with companies and organisations like Birmingham Bike Foundry, South Birmingham Food Coop, Stirchley Stores, Stirchley Market, Stirchley Wines and Spirits, Stirchley Happenings, Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum, Stirchley United Club, the Stirchley Baths committee, Stirchley Park, Love Stirchley, Super Stirchley, Loaf, Birmingham City Council’s Town Centre Manager, Kings Norton Farmers Market and many others contributing to a vibrant cultural life and community atmosphere in the area, adding:

“This grassroots regeneration is not dependent on a BID. It is possible that a BID in the area will actually hamper these grassroots activities through a top down approach. Of course this is dependent on the attitude of the BID committee and there could be a positive effect too, but the history of relationships between the Lifford Business Association and some of the organisations listed above does not give us hope . . . A BID is a step in the direction of privatisation of our high streets. A BID subtly suggests that the businesses in the area have ownership over it, and can decide what improvements and changes they would like to make and have the right to carry those out . . .”.

A correspondent, having just heard about this initiative, after summarising these views by email, agrees that “there are better ways of organising as Stirchley’s self-made revival testifies”:

“What’s lost of course is that the BID could have been redistributive, as Stirchley and Bournville’s successes could not necessarily be replicated in the poorer areas the BID would have covered without the cross-subsidy the BID would have engendered… though I’m not sure if this redistribution would have happened in practice beyond a few minor street improvements”.

handshake subsidies

At least there is now one well-received prospective political leader clearly offering to build a ‘healthy economic ecosystem’, increasing the effective demand which would be spent on goods and services and so revitalising business and manufacturing – instead of giving the hidden subsidies, direct grants and tax breaks to big business (‘handshakes’) which are reported to amount to £3,500 a year per household.

IMECHE logoImechE, the fastest growing professional engineering institution in the UK, with100,000 members working in the world’s most important and dynamic industries, has a range of programmes for young people at primary as well as secondary schools. This needs to be more widely known and emulated.

Too little, FAR too late

We recently reported on the British Chambers of Commerce call for Chancellor George Osborne to focus on youth employment, training and enterprise in his Budget speech, in order to secure Britain’s future, but this focuses on the 16+ age group.

Skills training at 16+ comes far too late for thousands of young people in inner city areas of high unemployment who need to be reached in primary school, before their outlook is formed by the apparently ‘cool’ disaffected peers who will be their only ‘real life’ role models.

Leicester MP Liz Kendall explains: “If your parents don’t work, or if no-one in your family has been to college or university, you’re more likely to end up in the same situation when you’re an adult, too  . . . to boost children’s chances . . . we need to open their eyes and minds to the different options that are possible when they grow up”.

A professional engineer sent news of the work of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

imeche graduateTheir Schools Ambassadors are involved in many activities geared towards inspiring the next generation and challenging the misconceptions which exist about careers in engineering.

By reaching outside their own classroom, teachers and lecturers collaborate across subjects, enhance and enrich the school curriculum, make links with the world of work, and use varied contexts to help young people relate school STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to their real-world experience.

Feedback from staff after a series of IMechE visits to a primary school near Leeds

“The children were challenged and focused throughout the project, linking ideas together through different experiences and through the support of practising engineers.  They gained knowledge and understanding not only of different engineering techniques and scientific theory but also in skills like working in a team and communication.The project was a great way for the children to combine the development of engineering skills with their fascination with all things related to historical violence! With the support of the Network Rail engineers, the children gained a real understanding of pivots, elasticity and their application in the modern and historical world. The project also made many of them consider engineering as a possible future career because of the challenge and reward that they experienced.”

One of the tasks set on these visits

imeche flood

Such opportunities should extended to all sectors

We end by referring to just one of many potential primary school visitors whose work might appeal to those with other aptitudes.

imeche other baker

In the Birmingham Press, Ros Dodd reported that former NHS nutritionist Tom Baker, who built his own wood-fired clay bread oven, now has a thriving bakery in Stirchley with six paid workers.

There are varieties of gifts and varieties of service: the very least we can do for those in areas of high unemployment is to show what is possible, what is interesting and what will bring ‘job satisfaction’.


Next: aspirations raised at Park Primary School in Leicester.