Planning Application – Tesco Superstore

Site for proposed new Tesco storeTesco has submitted plans for a new superstore on the edge of Birmingham City Centre, within walking distance of the Jewellery Quarter and much of Ladywood.

The land, bounded by Camden Street, Icknield Street and Spring Hill, has been derelict since 2002 when the former Brookfield shopping precinct was demolished. It had long suffered from a lack of tenants and vandalism. Tesco have owned the land for some time so an application has been expected.

But the application is for more than just a Tesco!

The existing Spring Hill Library is sympathetically blended into the development, benefitting from a new glazed entrance and external lift. There will also be four smaller retail units facing Spring Hill with office space above, a small number of maisonettes on the Brookfields side of the development and undercroft car parking.

I'm cautious of new supermarket developments and the impact they can have on local businesses. However in this case I think the development will benefit surrounding businesses - and help provide new jobs in the constituency with the highest unemployment in the UK.


Ladywood Chippie Up For National Title

Great British Eatery

I've blogged before about the terrific Great British Eatery at Broadway Plaza. Well, later this month, they're heading to London hoping to take away the title of "Best UK Fish and Chip Shop"!

Best wishes to the lads and hopefully it'll be another gong to add to Birmingham's growing culinary reputation following Lasan's win on Gordon Ramsey's F-Word last week.

I fancy some fish and chips now...


New Council Homes for Ladywood

Ladywood looks set to benefit from a share of 101 new local authority homes as part of a £5.4m Local Authority New Build (LANB) grant. New affordable homes are desperately needed in the city so I welcome this news.

I urge the Council to ensure these homes are insulated to a high standard, to keep living costs down. According to the press release, the homes will be built to "high energy efficiency standards meeting Level four of the Code for Sustainable Homes", which sounds positive.

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Delivering in the Snow

This morning a small group of dedicated campaigners made it out in the snow to deliver our latest Focus leaflet to the residents of Ladywood. As we made our way around the streets, several people stopped for a chat and were pleased to see us out and about. I also noted down two items of casework and picked up a potential supporter. Not bad for a morning in which I very nearly threw my alarm across the bedroom and stayed in bed!

Delivering in the snow in Summerfield, Ladywood

Delivering in the snow in Summerfield, Ladywood


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.


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 :-)


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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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.


Cardinal Newman “Miracle Man” Visits Birmingham

Deacon Jack Sullivan from Boston USA, who was cured of a crippling spinal disease after praying to Cardinal Newman, founder of the Oratory Church, visited Ladywood earlier this month.

The only TV interview he gave was to local project TNT News. He told TNT how the Vatican earlier this year approved the cure as a miracle and Newman is likely to be made a saint next year.

This is of special interest to me due to my ongoing involvement with the Cardinal Newman Project. The Deacon spoke to one of the project team and his input (and particularly the video record) will be an invaluable addition to the project archive.