Local Restaurant Lasan Wins Gordon Ramsey’s F-Word

Lasan restaurant Jewellery Quarter BirminghamLocal Jewellery Quarter restaurant Lasan has been crowned Britain's Best Local Restaurant after winning tonight's final of Gordon Ramsey's F-Word on Channel 4. It's no surprise to us Birmingham folk for whom Lasan was Birmingham's best kept secret, providing a modern twist on the traditional Indian restaurant.

I slid down the pavements to the Queens Arms in the Jewellery Quarter, one of the closest pubs to Lasan, to watch the final. It was a pub atmosphere more akin to a football match, as each score was accompanied by pantomime cheers and boos. Terrific, and totally expected for a cooking competition!

Is a Michelin Star now looming for Aktar and co?

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Birmingham School Closures

There is no blanket ban across Birmingham, but the following local schools will be closed on Thursday:

  • Calthorpe Special School, Highgate
  • City Road Primary, Ladywood
  • George Dixon International School, City Road
  • George Dixon Junior and Infant School, City Road
  • Lillian de Lissa Nursery School and the Children's Centre, Bellevue, Edgbaston
  • Mansfield Green School, Aston
  • Oratory RC Primary School, Ladywood
  • Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Birchfield
  • St John's CE Primary School, St Vincent Street West, Ladywood
  • Summerfield Primary, Winson Green
  • William Cowper Community Primary School, Newtown
  • Yew Tree Community School, Aston

The following local schools will be closed on Wednesday due to snow:

  • Oratory School, Ladywood
  • Heartlands Academy, Nechells
  • Chad Vale Primary School, Edgbaston
  • St. Clare's Catholic Primary School, Handsworth
  • Westminster Primary School, Handsworth

UPDATE (Wed 06/01/10, 7.25am):
Also closed:

  • Nelson Primary, Ladywood
  • St Clements C of E School, Nechells
  • Sacred Heart Catholic School, Birchfield
  • St George's Junior & Infants, Newtown
  • St George's School, Edgbaston

Plus, all campuses of the Birmingham Metropolitan College (Sutton Coldfield, Matthew Boulton, Josiah Mason, James Watt) are closed on Wednesday.

For a full list of Birmingham and West Midlands school closures, click here.


Gritting Record for Birmingham

This winter has seen the city of Birmingham smash the previous record for the number of consecutive nights the roads have been gritted. Last night was the 20th consecutive night, the previous record was 14.

Wrap up warm, folks!


The Electric’s 100th Birthday

This weekend marked the 100th birthday of the Electric Cinema in Birmingham - the UK's oldest working cinema. Opened in 1909 the cinema has been known as the Select, the Jacey, the Classic and the Tivoli and also been an amusement arcade!

I have been twice this year, once to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and once to see The Children as part of the Screen WM Film Festival. I'd recommend the Electric experience to anyone, particularly the sofa seats in the main screen, with some of the gorgeous "Just Rachel" ice-cream sold on the premises. They also have a traditional absinthe fountain, if that's your bag.

If you're interested in going along, check out the programme for the next few weeks. Up until New Years Eve you can catch Nowhere Boy and Nine. Guitar fans should check out It Might Get Loud on Tuesday 5th Jan, while Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll, a biopic of Ian Dury, runs from 8 - 14 Jan.

I'll see you there :-)


Planning Application – Jewellery Quarter Hotel

Ashfield Motors - Jewellery Quarter

A planning application has been submitted for a new hotel on the former Ashfield Motors site (above) in the Jewellery Quarter. A four-storey office block was approved for the land, on the corner of Caroline Street and Northwood Street, in 2008 and these plans are broadly similar. The hotel would also be four-storeys with the same overall height as the originally planned office block.

You can view the detailed plans on the City Council's Planning Online tool (2009/05947/PA) and you have until 7th January to submit comments.

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Happy 100th Birthday to the Old Fire Station!

The Old Fire Station - Jewellery Quarter
The Old Fire Station - Jewellery Quarter

The Old Fire Station - Jewellery QuarterThis afternoon I stopped by the Old Fire Station on Albion Street for a ceremony to mark its 100th birthday.

The centenary celebrations were organised by the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum with help from the History group of the West Midlands Fire Service and the owner of the building, which is now predominantly a nursery school.

Children from the nursery came outside to meet the firemen and take part in the celebrations. Simon Phillips from the Neighbourhood Forum gave a short speech before 100 red balloons were released to mark the centenary. TNT News were also on hand to film the day so watch out for their report soon!

A few of us also got to see inside the courtyard. Once home to firemen and their families, the buildings are now home to numerous creative and media businesses.

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Ladywood Circus Improvements

Approaching Ladywood Circus from Icknield Port Road

Ladywood Circus signBirmingham City Council is consulting on proposed improvements to the Ladywood Circus junction.

The A4540 ring-road roundabout is at the very heart of Ladywood and feeds on to both Monument Road and Icknield Port Road. It's a tight roundabout for the amount of traffic so I fully support these improvements, designed to increase safety and ease traffic flow.

The changes include a central lane for ongoing northbound traffic, with signals for those using the junction.

I'm keen to see significant changes to pedestrian and cycle crossings to improve safety for those on foot or bike. Ladywood Middleway cuts right through the middle of Ladywood so safe, well-lit crossings are a must.

You can view the proposals on the City Council website here.

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Christmas at St. Paul’s

St. Paul's Church in the Jewellery Quarter opens its doors for a number of Christmas concerts this month.

On the lunchtime of Tuesday 15th there will be community carols, followed by a service of nine lessons and carols with the Birmingham Bach Choir on Sunday 20th.

The church will also be open for midnight mass on Christmas Eve from 11.30pm and a Christmas Day service at 10am.

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Birmingham Tory Questions Climate Change

Just days ahead of Copenhagen, the Conservative PPC for Birmingham Ladywood has questioned the science behind the man-made climate change argument.

As the City Council was passing the "Birmingham Declaration on Climate Change", Cllr Colin Hughes went on a libertarian rant accusing his Council colleagues of using climate change as an excuse to boss people around.

Whilst I agree complex government "just for the sake of it" is unnecessary, solving issues such as climate change requires cross-party support and strong leadership at all levels of Government. This is exactly what Birmingham has done - something which should be celebrated, not belittled.

According to Adrian Goldberg's Stirrer website, Hughes said:

“Climate change devotees still rely on these models, despite the fact that we know these models to be wrong, for end-of-the-world predictions to justify their proposed actions.

“What this means is that we should be very careful before spending huge amounts of the public’s money on schemes that may not be necessary.

“The research needs to go on because there is huge gaps in our knowledge and understanding but while the science is lacking there are authoritarians on all sides of this chamber who can’t help but to use this issue to boss people around and to tell others how to run their lives.

“They’ve jumped on this bandwagon and use it to excuse any and all government interference into private lives. We are elected by the people of Birmingham and we owe them better leadership than that.”


Birmingham Declaration On Climate Change

Ladywood ward - city centre housingBirmingham Liberal Democrats took a bold step this week proposing the “Birmingham Declaration On Climate Change”, which was adopted at Tuesday's full Council meeting.

Proposed by group leader Cllr Paul Tilsley and seconded by Ladywood’s Parliamentary Candidate Cllr Ayoub Khan, the Declaration shows Birmingham’s desire to lead the way out of this dual economic and environmental crisis we find ourselves in.

The Declaration will mean the country’s biggest local authority will use its purchasing power to stimulate the city’s green economy, creating new jobs whilst reducing energy bills for the residents.

I am delighted to see a commitment to connect 10% of homes to district heating systems, something which is already happening in Ladywood. There’s also a commitment to create a further ten eco-communities based on the successful Summerfield model.

In addition to this, the declaration states that by 2015 all Council vehicles should be electric or LPG, an electric car charging infrastructure will be developed, 50% of the Council's energy use will be from renewable sources, the Council's energy consumption will be cut by 25% and 10% of homes will have retrofit insulation.