I WANT to pay tribute to the hard work of the local campaigners who have successfully fought off the threat to build a motorway service area. For 13 years now this threat has hung over the village of Catherine-de-Barnes.
By sheer dogged perseverance the community has campaigned against these potential incursions into the green belt, impact on the local environment and an extra obstacle on this already dangerous stretch of motorway, supported by Solihull Council which rejected successive planning applications.
For once, the planning system has worked in favour of local democracy, so well done to all those who fought so hard – it restores our faith in the planning process.
Caroline Spelman, MP for Meriden
A good record
RE- article ‘Starving’ since cut in benefit (Solihull News, Jan 16).
I have every sympathy for Natasha Bonjovi who is having difficulty gaining employment. In the article, she referred to her attendance at Forest Oak School being a contributory factor to her lack of employment.
As acting head teacher at Forest Oak School, I would like to balance this view.
There are many positive examples of former Forest Oak pupils being fully integrated into the workforce. Pupils from Forest Oak make good progress and leave school with a range of qualifications and accreditations including GCSEs and Entry Level Qualifications. Examples of employment gained include chef, hairdresser, and manager in McDonald’s.
Whilst I acknowledge that we need to continue to work to reduce prejudice and discrimination for young people with disabilities, it is important to celebrate the successes of many employers.
I wish Natasha every success in her search for employment and hope that with perseverance, she like many other former Forest Oak Pupils will find employment.
Mrs A Mordey, acting head teacher, Forest Oak School
CONSERVATIVE wannabe MP Maggie Throup has ended up with egg on her face having circulated false allegations that the Liberal Democrats want to introduce bin taxes in Solihull.
If Ms Throup had done her research she would know that her claim could not be further from the truth.
Indeed, no councils, including every Lib Dem run council in the country, have come forward to participate in the Government’s trial bin charging scheme.
It seems to me that Ms Throup is so desperate to be elected as an MP that she is prepared to make any allegation under the sun, whether it is true or not.
She even declared on one of her leaflets “when I am the MP for Solihull”! Our excellent local MP Lorely Burt would never take the people of Solihull for granted in this way.
CounTim Hodgson, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, Solihull MBC
WITH delight I enjoyed reading the poem written by Jeff Deekes (Letters, Jan 17).
Jeff, you summed it all up as I hope I did, the loneliness and unhappiness of old age. There must be many more of us and until we find ourselves on our own we don’t think about it.
When we are first retired we can enjoy all the activities Jim Bumstead wrote about with Friends in Retirement but as we age and become less active then we start to think “when we go to bed at night will we be here in the morning?”
I am 88 and people say I appear to be very strong.
I have bought a computer and this helps and I recently had two stories accepted by United Press who are bringing out a children’s book so I do try to keep my mind occupied, but it is not enough.
Joan Morris, Brackleys Way, Solihull
I HAD a most upsetting dream recently that I had passed away and gone to hell and each morning they put us all in a large building and played repeats of Dancing on Ice. My wife thought she was in heaven and I could not understand why all the dancing ladies applied their make-up even more badly than women of the night.
Ray Dyke, Leafield Road, Solihull
VERY sadly my stepson Paul Jenkins, aged 56, passed away at Selly Oak Hospital on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 13 after a painful three-year deteriorating illness.
The staff at the hospital, his BUPA Care Home and Solihull Hospital, plus Social Services looked after him excellently and treated me, my wife and relatives with nothing but 100 per cent kindness.
The funeral is at 1.30pm today, Friday, January 30 at Robin Hood Crematorium. His and our many friends are welcome to attend. Rather than floral tributes, we prefer caring friends to post donations to Solihull Carers Centre, Hedingham Grove, Chelmsley Wood, Solihull B37 7TP. For many years this centre gave him and us valuable help.
Don and Joyce Bargery, Solihull
I WOULD like to most sincerely thank the very honest gentleman who handed in my bag which I had left hanging on the trolley hook when I put it away in Sainsbury’s car park on Tuesday, January 20.
Also I would like to thank Sainsbury’s staff who were very kind and helpful. I was so relieved to get it back.
A very grateful pensioner
On the buses
I WAS most interested to see your article concerning the Midland Red buses.
Between 1952 and 1956 I was a pupil at Solihull High School for Girls (Malvern Hall). I lived in Peterbrook Road, just over the Drawbridge. We had no car so I had to use the 179 and 154 buses to get to school.
The 179 bus (Earlswood to Birmingham) only ran every two hours, so I had to make sure I got on the 8am from the Drawbridge stop. During the winter it didn’t always run and if that was the case I had to walk to Shirley to get on the 154 (Birmingham to Solihull) which was a more regular service.
There were two other friends who attended Malvern Hall with me. Hilary Moon came from the terminus in Earlswood (her parents kept the café opposite the Reservoir pub) and Eunice Coleman lived in Norton Lane.
We would get off the 179 at the Saracens Head and cross the road to connect with the 154 to take us to Solihull.
Sometimes it was a rush to get across the road if the 179 was late. The terminus was in Solihull High Street (it was outside a pub, I think it was called the Snooty Fox and then renamed Rosies). We then had to walk down past the church, through the park and the gullies which came out in Brueton Avenue, and then turn right and down to the school.
If I remember rightly, the afternoon bus left Solihull at 4.15pm, with a connection, in Shirley, to catch the 179 back home.
There were times in the winter when there were no buses running and I walked all the way to school. In those days it was very rare for schools to close in bad weather and you were expected to get there, even if you were late. What you would call the ‘good old days’, but it never did us any harm.
If you caught the 154 to go to Birmingham, the terminus was in front of St Martin’s Church. The street was cobbled and buses coming down the hill from New Street would slide and skid down if the weather was icy. With the old buses you always got on at the back and there was no door, only a platform.
Ann Turner, Neville Road, Shirley
The case against
MR McGinn’s letter regarding the planning applications for the redevelopment of the Birmingham Solihull RFC ground at Sharmans Cross Road and enhancing the Solihull Moors FC ground at Damson Parkway, was critical of anyone who has petitioned or objected to the proposals. If he had taken the trouble to read and analyse the 600 plus pages of the application and the 235 plus personal and organisations’ objections he might have understood why the current applications were unsustainable, inadequate, inappropriate and full of errors and omissions.
Birmingham and Solihull Rugby Club does not have the most enviable track record. No accounts have been submitted to the financial authorities since 2003/4. In the eight years ending April 30 2009 it is likely to have lost in excess of £1.2m and to have mortgaged or sold all its assets.
During this period no real investment has gone into the grounds. No real community activity has taken place until this season.
Apart from the deficiencies of the business case a number of other issues have arisen.
1. All of the site at Sharmans Cross Road has SMBC covenants regarding its use solely for sporting purposes.
2. The developer, Oakmoor Estates confirmed in writing to SMBC in June 2008 that the land would continue to be used for sporting purposes.
3. Solihull Arden Club has objected on the basis of the major damage it would do to their very existence.
4. There is ample evidence that there is demand for this sports ground with at least three sports clubs interested in joint use and enhancement of its facilities.
5. Solihull Moors’ ground at Damson Parkway is in green belt. The proposal for its development includes the installation of a 1000 seater stand - over 7m high and over 40m long, plus floodlights and other external lighting.
6. Yes, the local residents do have strong feelings about an estate with 14m blocks of flats and townhouses.
Pat Montague, chairman, Sharmans Cross Action Group
Get it sorted
I FEEL it is quite wrong to expect the residents of Ralph Road to foot the bill to remedy the flooding problem (Solihull News). Exactly who to approach is another matter, either the council or Severn Trent or even both of them should become involved.
At the very least I would suggest a surveyor should be sent to trace what is causing the flooding. Severn Trent make a charge for sewage and surface water services - the ball could be in their court!
Much of Shirley lies on a plateau beneath which are layers of sand, gravel and clay. In a number of properties, water lies underneath the floorboards. The lowest point is the corner of Bills Lane and Hurdis Road where the gardens are often flooded. Another problem is caused by small plots of land left undeveloped which are used as dumps, sometimes blocking ditches.
Quite apart from the nuisance caused by stagnant water, what about the health hazard! If the homes belonged to the council, would they charge the tenants for any remedial work to the drainage system? I think not!
F Carpenter, Shirley
I AM not of the same faith as Mr Omar Ahmed but I do share his views on the disgraceful assault by Israel on the Palestinian people as a whole on the pretext that they are only defending themselves against Hamas.
How a people who have claimed for so long that they have been oppressed and have received so much help and sympathy in the past for the wrongs that were done over 60 years ago can perpetrate such acts on another state beggars belief.
Nor can I understand the complete lack of criticism by the British Jewish community. Do they not realise that to the majority of people Israel represents the Jewish people and any oppression such as starving people by closing the borders and then using indiscriminate bombing to subdue them must reflect very badly on Jews in general.
LJ Cartwright, Elms Close, Solihull
A BIG thank you to Storage King in Garretts Green Lane for supplying boxes to send my knitted garments to Africa. Also to Midland Equipment for Offices in Knowle who printed out my invitations for Macmillan Cancer Support. I also thank the people who have donated unwanted Christmas presents and the Solihull News for their help.
Mrs Pauline Brisker, Redlands Road, Solihull
The right track
IN response to ST Vaughan’s letter on the Monorail proposal (Letters). I am sure there are many people who travel between the International station and Birmingham New Street via the Coventry Road who would benefit from a journey time of 15 minutes if there were sufficient places to join/alight from the monorail. Perhaps if at an affordable price it would encourage my fellow drivers to free up the roads for commercial travellers who could then enjoy the 15-minute journey.
Tony Ludlow, Richmond Road, Solihull
I AM not in the least bit surprised that the planning application for the redevelopment of the Bees’ ground has been withdrawn (Solihull News).
It was totally out of kilter with the surrounding area and deeply flawed in its expectation. As a follower of rugby for over 40 years, both as a player and supporter, there would have been nothing more I’d like to see than Premiership Rugby, but this plan was unworkable.
Looking at the application it is fairly obvious that cash flow is an issue and I got the feeling that the sale of the land for development was a quick way of clearing their debts.
To make it to the top these days serious investment is required, Worcester being a fine example of how with the right funding and backing a club can progress, but it has cost many millions of pounds to do it - far more than the figures in the Bees’ proposal.
For them to make real progress they have got to find a fan base because at present they do not have one.
Who is going to come through the turnstiles on Saturdays? No fans means no revenue, equals no club. At present they can not afford to pay the players. I went to watch Bees at Northampton last season and in a crowd of over 10,000 I counted 29 Bees’ supporters in our enclosure.
The important thing for them is to start getting people in to watch them. They have got to provide something different, otherwise I can’t see a professional future for them.
Bees are in a good position to return to Division 1 next season but with the changes in structure to that league, going from 16 teams down to 12 fully professional teams, there is no guarantee they will qualify, especially if minimum seating standards are required. I truly hope that Bees can realise their ambitions and bring top class rugby to Solihull but it needs a radical re-think of how to do it.
Santa plays safe
THERE is a perfectly simple explanation for the ‘lights in the sky’ at Christmas (Letters). It’s all to do with the abundance of new health and safety laws that abound these days.
It is clearly written down that all flying beasts of burden and all toy-delivery sleds must be adequately lit and conform to strict safety standards. Clearly Santa was complying with the new regulations!
M Street, Shirley
I WAS so pleased when I read in the Solihull News that the market request had been brought to the surface again and I thank Kate Wild for taking this up and her sensible suggestion that the Woolworths building, sad as it is that it has had to go, would be suitable for a market.
I think too that the farmers’ market would be better in there than sprawled all up the High Street.
I was told when applying to the councillor concerned that the return of the previous market would lower the tone of the town! Now, when I went into the centre it was to see stalls along the high street. Well, I’m sorry but stalls are market!
Betty Tanner, Bentley Heath Cottages, Knowle
We’ll take it
MOST of us have spent a lot over Christmas and are now seeing price rises. However, charity appeals continue to make us aware of the great needs of so much of the world.
You can help without donating cash. At the Oxfam shop in Acocks Green (1142 Warwick Road, opposite Sainsbury’s) and Solihull (Station Road) a group of enthusiastic volunteers will convert your unwanted possessions into money.
So please bring in your unwanted clothes, the books you do not want to read again, the china you never use, the ornaments you have tired of dusting - in fact anything you no longer require (with the exception of electrical items).
Celia Cox, Oxfam
Nothing in common
RE- the letter ‘Much in common’ by Marwan’. Can we put to bed once and for all the myth that Islam and Christianity and the Bible and the Quran are similar. They are not, they are two completely different religions. Muslims do not believe that Jesus is God’s only begotten son, that he died on a cross for the sin of the world and that he rose on the third day, ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand side of the father. When this has been said there can not be any comparison.
P Thomas, via e-mail
WE would all like to say a big thank you to Peter, Ruth and the helpers for our Christmas lunch and gifts at our Wednesday over 60s club in St Margaret’s Church. Happy New Year to you all. The club gives us the best two hours every week.
The Rebels, Acocks Green
I WOULD like to thank all the generous people of Solihull who contributed towards our recent two carol concerts in Solihull on December 11 and 18. We collected £737 in total and this will be used to support many animal sanctuaries and animal welfare organisations, locally, nationally and worldwide.
Y Troth, treasurer, Solihull Animal Aid
ON December 1 2008 I had a cataract operation at Solihull Hospital performed by Mr Negi. I would like to say how excellent both the operation and all the care and attention from the surgeon, nurses and medical staff was, not only on the day of the operation but pre-op and post-op, both at Solihull and Heartlands.
J Randle, Hall Green