The planning hearing over the proposal to build houses on the wooded area on the Thimblemill Recreation Ground has been put back again and will now take place on Wednesday 24th September at 5pm.
The hearing was due to take place at the end of July but the Planning Committee agreed to postpone it to allow the site developers more time to provide information the officers had requested for the committee. It was postponed to 3rd September, but now has been put back again because they have been unable to provide the information in time for the meeting.
One of the issues centres around inadequate information for the planning committee in respect of potential wildlife in the woodland.
Councillor Richard Marshall, who represents the Smethwick Ward which includes the land, said, “The fact that the developers say they are still collating the information gives us a dilemma. If they appealed against a decision it may count in their favour if the Planning Committee didn't allow enough time for a developer to present all their reports. So the extension was granted, but we will be expecting a decision at the meeting on 24th.”
Meanwhile, protesters objecting to the development are calling on the Thimblemill Recreation Club (TREC) to do more to market the club and boost their membership, as an alternative strategy to selling off and developing the land.
The We Are Bearwood community group are holding a public launch of their new website tomorrow afternoon (Saturday).
From noon onwards there will be music and refreshments and an opportunity to find out about their website on the garden area outside Corks Club on Bearwood Road.
The Lightwoods Park and House Project Board have confirmed that work is expected to start in the January.
Work was originally due to commence in the Autumn of this year, but the complexity of the tendering process means it is now anticipated that work will not start until after the Christmas break, depending the outcome of discussions with HLF and contractors.
Councillor Steve Eling said, “There are some contract negotiations to be finalised and details are still being sorted out. That should be achieved in the next few weeks and a starting date in early January 2015 seems a likely start date. The way the tenders are organised it looks as if we may actually be able to complete the work over a shorter period so I would expect completion to be around the same time.”
The work will involve over £4 million pounds worth of improvements, funded by Sandwell Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and will involve restoring the listed Lightwoods House and the bandstand, as well as a number of projects to improve the park itself. Friends of Lightwoods Chair, Richard Marshall, said, “Obviously we are all anxious to see the work get underway as soon as possible, and we appreciate people keep hearing us talk about it, but we still expect to be on target for the grand re-launch.”
Project co-ordinator Cherie O'Sullivan will put out a formal statement about the work as soon as we can confirm the details.
The Albion Foundation has teamed up with Barclay’s and the Premier League to offer a great opportunity to young adults aged between 16-24 years, who are not in education, training or employment above 16 hours per week.
During this year long programme participants will be given the opportunity to gain a number of new skills and accreditations. Some of these include: numeracy and literacy key skills; money and life skills; social and educational workshops; Sports Leaders’ qualification.
Their aim is to support unemployed young people with real practical experience in the work place, along with the key skills required for their future career.
The overall purpose of the programme is to facilitate a young person’s progression onto an Apprenticeship programme, full-time education or sustainable employment.
The Committee at TREC, or the Thimblemill Recreation & Entertainment Centre (formerly the GKN Social Club) are having two Open Days to show the local community the amenities on offer, and to try to recruit new members.
The open days will be on Sunday 31st August between 1pm-3pm & Wednesday 3rd September between 7pm-9pm.
As you may be aware, the Social Club is proposing to sell-off the area of natural woodland alongside Thimblemill Road to housing developers, who are looking to build a dozen two and three-storey houses there. Protestors objecting to the sale have called for the club to consider an alternative way forward with a better marketing and membership strategy, arguing that this would be a more sustainable business plan than a one-off sale of land. The open days are presumably part of that marketing exercise.
This could be interpreted as a genuine attempt to look at alternatives to the sell-off, or a cynical attempt to try to say to the council Planning Committee that they had tried to recruit more members without any great success. Perhaps one of the things people would want to ask on the open day is…will members get a say over the land disposal, or will the club committee make the decision without any recourse to the members?
However, if we assume this move is in good faith, and people do think the Club can avoid having to destroy the woodland by a better marketing strategy, these open days are a good opportunity to see what the club has on offer. I suspect the prospective new members won't want to hand over their annual membership fee… only to find the Club sell the land to developers anyway.
Surely the best option would be to put the land disposal on hold whilst a sustainable membership strategy is developed, and only if that is seen to be a hopeless cause would they consider alternatives?
I love this. A feature on Moseley Road baths in Birmingham, due to close next year. In Bearwood we can appreciate the dilemma. How do you balance the incredibly high cost of trying to maintain the running costs of an efficient swimming centre in an elderly, crumbling building within a heritage building?
A modern, energy efficient leisure centre and pool can be run at a fraction of the running costs of a building like Moseley Road baths, or Thimblemill Baths for that matter. With massive pressures on areas like social care for the elderly (facing budget cuts of up to 30%) or safeguarding children, do you concentrate your resources on trying to maintain and preserve a beautiful old building?
Anyway… take a few minutes to watch this film.
Trading Standards have advised people to remain vigilant after they were notified of a scam operating in the Great Barr area. People are receiving calls/visits from someone pretending to be from Sandwell Council, advising the householder that they have been paying too much council tax and that their property is in the wrong property band. They then arrange a visit and ask for £175.00 cash/cheque for the service.
Another scam, that has taken place in the Cradley Heath area, is that an elderly person was visited by someone, again claiming they were from Sandwell Council, who upon entering the property unplugged the phone line (therefore the community alarm would not work) and demanded £300.00, they left with £30.00.
The police are investigating the above cases.