About Us

This is the blog of the Abbey Ward Labour Councillors in the Borough of Sandwell in the West Midlands.

We want to use this blog to update people on a regular basis about items of news and information about Bearwood and beyond.

The Bearwood Blog will supplement our monthly Bearwood E-Bulletin which goes out in pdf format by e-mail each month to over 700 people in the Bearwood area. The Bearwood Blog contains news items which arise in between publication dates of the Bulletin and also give us the scope to include a wider variety of material and information. It will also give residents an opportunity to pass their comments on to the councillors about the items featured on the blog.

Feel free to give us your views, and to refer the Bearwood Blog to your friends and neighbours.

You can be added to the subscription list for the Bearwood Bulletin by e-mailing Bob Piper via bearwoodblog@gmail.com

Your Abbey Ward Councillors

CLLRS6884 Steve Eling has represented Abbey Ward on Sandwell Council since 1986. He was the first Labour councillor to represent Abbey Ward on the Council, and the first councillor to hold a regular weekly surgery in the Ward.

Steve is currently the Deputy Leader of the Council, with responsibility for Finance and Strategic Resources within the Council’s Cabinet, and he also represents the Council on a wide range of external bodies and organisations.

He is the Chair of the Warley Woods Community Trust, and he was instrumental in negotiating the transfer of Warley Woods from Birmingham to the new Charitable Trust.

Steve, has lived in Bearwood all his life, and is also a Governor of Bearwood Primary School.


Dr Ann Jaron was elected to the Council to represent Abbey Ward in May 1996. She is a member of the Council’s Audit Committee, after being the Chair of the Council’s Development Control (Planning) Committee from 2002 to 2011, and Cabinet Member for Adult Services.

She has been a governor at St Gregory’s Roman Catholic Primary School, she Chair’s the Friends of Thimblemill Brook and is a Friend of Thimblemill Library. Ann is a local General Practitioner at the Sherwood House Medical Centre. Her interests include the environment, gardening and working on her allotment.

DSC_16001Bob Piper is the newest member of the Abbey team. He was first elected to the Council in 1999.

Bob is Vice-Chair of Licensing and he sits on the Health and adult Care Scrutiny Board, as well as representing the Council on the Birmingham Airport Board. Bob edits the Bearwood e-Bulletin and hosts the Bearwood Blog

He has lived in Bearwood for over thirty years, and he has been a governor on Bearwood Primary School, where both of his children were educated, since 1989.

Bob has had a long interest in the National Health Service. He was the Chair of the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for 10 years until November 2014, and is currently a Trustee of Better Understanding of Dementia in Sandwell, and the learning disability charity Options for Life.

Contact us:

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Or leave a comment in the box below and we will respond. If you do not wish your comment to be published, please indicate.

57 Responses to About Us

  1. Catharine Jenkins says:

    I was wondering whether you were planning to include info on the blog about which local services are open over Christmas (eg chemists). If so perhaps you could add that Jaz at St Mary’s News (on corner of Upper St Mary’s Rd and Wigorn Rd) will be opening from 9.30-2.00 on Christmas day. She sells all sorts of useful things apart from newspapers.
    Thank you
    Catharine (deputy paper-delivery worker)

  2. sumayyah tall one bwood says:

    this website looks very interesting why not visit our blog called bearwood primary school sandwell blog and see all the amazing things!

  3. Lesley Ann Darling says:

    Although I have only visited a few times, Lightwoods Park is very, very important to me. My Mom and Dad met in the Shakespeare’s garden on Easter Sunday when they were 14 years old. We lost my Mom in 1996 and my Dad (at 80) last year. My Mom and Dad agreed to “meet again” in Lightwoods Park and I would love to honor them and their love for each other . I am inquiring to see what I can do that would benefit Lightwoods Park and also honor the most amazing Mom and Dad you could ever imagine. I welcome your reply.

    Lesley Ann (Bunting) Darling

    • Bob says:

      Lesley, that’s really nice. I know Warley Woods and a number of other parks have schemes where people can have a bench dedicated to a loved one, with a small plaque of remembrance. That could be the sort of thing that we could suggest for the park. I’ll ensure it is fed in to the friends group.

  4. sumayyah says:

    no i am in year five we are a very creative year group just visit year 5 5h, but thank you any way i hope your school is as good as ours i think it might be

  5. Stefan Smith says:

    Great site, despite the minor political leanings.

    I am trying to put together a sort of key contacts matrix for residents of Bearwood. This initially will be pasted to my friend’s facebook group “let’s make Bearwood VIBRANT” as a document which will be a useful aid to anyone thinking of doing anything in Bearwood.

    But if I could refer to back to this page where people could click a link and see the who’s who and their contact information for Bearwood that would fantastic. It all seems a bit spread out across a few sites at the moment.

    Let me know if you can help.


  6. Cerys Atchison says:

    Do you know who I could contact to ask to play at Picnic in the Park this year? Thanks.

  7. Hi, I am a local business woman and I wanted to know what the best sources of advertising are for Bearwood?

    Also, I would like to be able to advertise on the Bearwood High Street notice board (by Argos), could you let me know his I would do this please?

    • Bob says:

      Mel, one of the best sources of advertising is through Gem Media who handle the advertising/sponsorship for Warley Wood picnic, Bearwood on Ice and other events. The notice board is really for community based organisations rather than commercial traders because if every trader wanted to plug their business it would be a massive task.

  8. David Dunne says:

    HI there. Farlands Games run a board games night at The Thimblemill pub every Thursday night, £2. entry fee. We supply a lot of games, ranging from Scrabble right the way through to Wargames. We are trying to get people away from the TV and computers, and back to playing real games. We also sell new board games at a discount, as we understand that these can become expensive. We offer a range of special offers throught our facebook page and blog. (www.facebook.com/farlandsgames , farlandsgames.blogspot.co.uk)

    I would be interested if there could be a way to help me promote this here. Its a great community event if feel, and one that I do not think is already being done around Bearwood/Smethwick. If you want to post some details up, please get back in contact with me so I can give you the full details about Farlands Games Thursday Night Gaming.

  9. Theresa Casey says:

    I contacted the council last year after a tree had to be felled on Lightwoods road, to ask about replacing it. I was informed it is not Sandwell’s policy to replace trees but as I had asked for one a replacement would be planted during the winter. This has not been done and although I have chased it up I havn’t had a response. Can a councillor help shed any light on this and the bizarre policy of not replacing trees despite the levels of pollution in bearwood?
    Theresa Casey

  10. Bob says:

    I have attached the policy for you in relation to the trees in a nutshell the key things are that:

    1. Policy 13 States The Council will seek a replacement of all felled trees subject to a suitable location being available and financial resources being available.

    2. Policy 17 The Council will endeavour to respond positively to requests made by residents of the borough for tree planting.

    If the resident complaint is in relation to a replacement around No.182 Lightwoods road where a tree had fallen down, they will be putting a tree back into place but they are behind on replacements due to the poor weather etc however I have asked for a date when this will be done, once I have it I will forward it you.

  11. Marie says:

    I’m wondering if it’s possible to add to the ‘what’s on in Bearwood’ section or the ‘Bearwood Links’?

  12. Dean painter says:

    hi there, i’m a officer from a local boys brigade company in bearwood, is it possible to add a website to your page please as we are a organisation for children from 5 – 19 yrs? thanks

  13. John Holland says:

    Would you be able to warn people of scam e mails purporting to come from Royal Mail .I have received 4 e mails to say there is a problem with a parcel i recently posted.At this time of the year the people behind the scam know there is a better than normal chance that a parcel may have been posted. In my case no parcels have been posted.

  14. Miranda Alison says:

    Hello, is it possible to have an update about what’s happening with the closure of the tunnel under Hagley Road at the Bearwood/Lordswood Road intersection and the installation of pedestrian crossing lights? I know there have been numerous repeated delays in finally getting this done but I noticed the other day there was some kind of vehicle which looked like a cement mixer parked at the corner and a workman poking a hose from it down into the tunnel. I got excited that perhaps they were finally starting work on filling it in? If you could post an update on the Blog that would be really helpful. Thanks

  15. Keith Bracey says:

    Hear! hear! Miranda….we soon hear enough from SMBC Councillors when BCC mess up….how about a bit of praise for a change now they are getting on with the reconfiguration of The Kings Head Junction which will have a fantastic effect on Bearwood….?

    Praise where praise is due please!

    • Bob says:

      I’m not sure how much praise we should give the City Council for the eight years of dithering and delay, but well done to Sir Albert Bore’s administration for sorting out the mess inherited from the Conservative-Liberal coalition. Now…can we have the clock back at the junction, currently residing in a City Centre backwater?

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  17. Oliver says:

    Dear All, I have recently started commuting by bike to work from Bearwood to City Center via Hagley Road and frequently cycle around Bearwood and Harbourne. Could you please confirm whether there are any plans of making King’s Head junction and Bearwood Road/Sandon Road/ Hagley Road more suitable for cyclists as it’s currently rather dangerous, especially at peak times during the week.
    Kind regards

    • Bob says:

      Oliver, looking at the proposals I’m not entirely sure I can offer you much assurance. The work on the junction is being carried out by Amey on behalf of Birmingham City Council.

  18. Rose says:

    Over the last few week I have noticed that there has been an increase in graffiti from the tagger ‘Flave.’ From the handwriting and positioning of the tags he/she is also responsible for the ‘CNS’ tag too! If you drive from Halesowen to Bearwood (plus now Bearwood high street) it is everywhere! I understand that the tagger is know to the police but I’m guessing that unless he/she is caught in the act they are powerless to do anything! Can you please tell me the policy on such continuous graffiti being removed and the time scale that the counci aim for?
    On a seperate note we are loving all the new developments that are happening in and around lightwoods park.

    • Bob says:

      I’m not sure, to be honest Rose, I’ll check, although I suspect it varies depending upon whether it is reported or not.

      • Rose says:

        Hi Bob,
        Can I just check to see if you had heard anything back about what is being done about the graffiti kids doing the CNS/Flave/Fanta tags? Its been going on for so long now it’s making our streets look appalling and frankley making a mockery of the councils ability to clean it up! We really need to take the, ‘New York stance’ towards graffiti! If it goes up then it comes down withing 24 hours! This will clean up the city and make it look like ‘we’ own the streets and not these immature nobody’s! Also, they will get bored and eventually stop! The police know who they are, for goodness sack even I know who they are so why isn’t something being done about it!

      • Bob says:

        Rose, all I can say is the police in Dudley, Sandwell and Birmingham are aware of it and are calling for information in pages such as this: http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/your-local-police/dudley/local-news/localnews.aspx?id=1497 Over the last couple of months it seems to have got worse. Someone was given a 5 month suspended prison sentence in Halesowen last year and it slowed it down, but it’s getting worse again. I agree about the ‘immediate removal’ policy, but councils don’t have sufficient resources to turn this around that quickly I’m sorry to say.

  19. Rose says:

    Thank you Bob. I’ve just done a bit of research on what the tags mean and this facebook page came up! https://www.facebook.com/flave.fanta.5?fref=browse_search
    It looks like it will be continuous for a while 😦

  20. David Jones says:

    Quick query about the Kings Head junction. It all looks done and dusted and very safe. However, I was wondering if there were plans to put the yellow hatched markings back in the centre of the junction? Also, a few advanced cycle stop markings wouldn’t go amiss especially at the Lordswood Rd crossing which is an uphill start across Hagley Rd into Bearwood. I’m a bike commuter and these two things would improve my safety immeasurably.

    • Bob says:

      David, I don’t know about the yellow hatches, but both myself and others complained about the lack of an advanced cycle strip coming from Lordswood Road in particular during the construction phase, but Birmingham City Council ignored our pleas, despite their claims to be ‘cycle friendly’.

      Could I urge you to write to councillor James McKay about this, he’s a Harborne councillor with Cabinet responsibility for a ‘Green, Safe & Smart City’ and you can contact him direct via james.McKay@birmingham.gov.uk.

      Let me know how you get on!

  21. john says:

    After reading the shocking news of child abuse in Rotherham can we be confident that this cannot happen in Sandwell

    • Bob says:

      I think that is a very reasonable question. I will ask that same question to the Cabinet member for children’s services, and I will let you know the response.

  22. Rose says:

    Thanks for getting back to me about the graffiti Bob,
    Hopefully the police will catch them soon and our streets will start to look nice again 🙂

    • Bob says:

      I would very much like that Rose, but they are suffering drastic cutbacks too so I suspect the best chance is if someone gives them up.

  23. Sophie Blick says:


    Over the past two weeks, I’ve noticed an increasing number of cars parked on the pavements outside the vacant properties at the top of the high street (between Tesco and Boots) I am concerned about safety for pedestrians as the car drivers are driving over the footpath to park on the path close to the shops. Also I was displeased to be stuck behind a car who was waiting for a “parking spot” to become available so they blocked the lane of traffic during rush hour before mount the curb a few minutes later!
    (From what I’ve seen, This problem is one that occurs mainly during the late evening 5pm-7pm)
    Can you please sign post me so I can contact someone about this or pass this to the relevant department of the council please

  24. Jason says:

    There is no doubt that things are looking up in Bearwood. With this in mind is there anything that can be done about the state of Thimblemill road? The footpath particularly opposite the baths is constantly cluttered with bins and litter. It is a very depressing walk. It is in full view of visitors to the area too. Those using the baths or walking to the events at the library must have a dim view of the area.

    • Bob says:

      Jason, the area immediately around the shopping area down Thimblemill Road is litterpicked once a week – I’m afraid with the budget cuts to local government there is simply not the money to do it more often than that. Our budget has been reduced by £156million in the last six years. Having said that, I share your concerns. I’ll take a walk along after the refuse collection and make a note of the addresses where bins are not being taken in and get a letter to residents asking for them to replace their bins responsibly.


  25. Jason says:

    Bob, thank you for the swift response. I appreciate your budget constraints. The main area for concern is the stretch from the cornershop at Katherine Road to The Abbey pub but particularly the narrow stretch closer to the corner shop opposite the swimming baths. Thank you for your help


  26. Jo Capper says:

    I live on Galton Road and for the 4th time in the last 12 months we have been subject to car crime. 2 occasions the front part of our car was removed – resulting in considerable damage which had to be claimed through insurance. As well as 1 attempted robbery on my husbands van about 12 months ago and 1 actual robbery from his van – last night, both of these occasions happened on a sunday tea time around 6pm (My 9 year old and 13 year old were seconds away from being involved in this confrontation – which would have been very distressing). All of these incidents have been reported to the police and have been dealt with through insurance for considerable cost, needless to say increase in insurance premiums are guaranteed. However the hardest part of this is the general feeling of being unsafe and questioning my place in a community and neighbourhood I love and invest lots of time and energy (Im part of the Bearwood Pantry). I have Needless to say we have had enough and am attempting to rally neighbour interest in developing neighbour watch scheme and would like to know how the council can support us.

    • Bob says:

      Hi Jo, sorry to hear about the problems you have had. After what seemed an improvement, it seems issues of car crime are on the increase over the last year.

      Neighbourhood Watch is a police-based scheme. If you contact the Sgt Shannaghan, who is the Sgt responsible for Smethwick he should be able to get someone to come and have a chat with you about setting a scheme up for your area. His e-Mail is p.shannaghan@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

  27. John Holland says:

    Hi Bob Do you know if anyone at the council are aware of the dangerous condition of the glass window at the former Blunts shop on Bearwood Road?

    • Bob says:

      Hi John, obviously it’s not our window, but if it’s dangerous there’s the public safety aspect. I’ll get someone on to it, thanks for letting us know.

  28. Denis Hennigan says:

    We appear to have more and more beggars appearing on the high street. Both my wife and my daughter have been approached recently and felt intimidated. What can be done.

    • Bob says:

      It’s a policing issue, Denis. They are trying, but no sooner have the police left, then they re-appear.The real solution would be for people to just stop giving them money, but that’s easier said then done I’m afraid.

      • Denis Hennigan says:

        Thanks Bob. Bob I must say I am on the high street a lot, I can’t tell you the last time I saw a police person on the high street. Is begging a criminal offence.

      • Bob says:

        Yes, Denis. There have been some beggars issued with exclusion orders, and then prosecuted, but it has little long term impact. In truth, there are so many less police officers these days – 17,000 officers have been cut over the last seven years and another 15,000 police civilians cut which results in officers filling out paperwork. So I have some sympathy with them, but the Police Community Support Officers do patrol quite often, although they have no powers of arrest I’m afraid.

      • Denis Hennigan says:

        Thanks Bob. How do we turn it into a priority. My concern is long term. We as a family are more and more moving away from the high street. How long before the footfall on the high street is not sufficient to support in the first instance small embryonic businesses and then the major chains.. Shops close and an area dies. The beggars will move on the richer ground and we are left with an empty high street.

      • Bob says:

        Difficult to make it more of a priority than it currently has, Denis. We really are in a situation now where the police operate in response to incidents.

        I know what you’re saying about the dangers to the shopping centres, but it isn’t exclusive to Bearwood. My daughter lives in Kings Heath and they have the same problem, as does Harborne according to councillors we speak to there. A combination of increased poverty and decreased policing is causing this, and anywhere near homeless hostels (Hagley Road for us) is suffering the same problem. The council have no legal powers to stop begging I’m afraid.

        Shopping centres have enough problems as it is, combatting internet shopping and big supermarkets. The future of high streets will be pubs, coffee bars, hairdressers and mobile phone shops. The sort of things you don’t do online. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but this begging thing has been going on for a few years now. One thing residents were organising was a leaflet campaign urging people not to give money to beggars to spend on drink and drugs.

      • Denis Hennigan says:

        Bob thanks for your prompt and open replies. Unfortunately I agree with the majority of your points.Have ( bearwood as a community ) contacted the larger chains, Aldi, Co Op, Iceland, Boots ETC to actively ask the management to report to the police beggars outside of their shops, to get security to prevent the shopping trolley helpers, hustling your pound. In a word, ANYTHING that can be done to make begging an unattractive option in and around Bearwood.

      • Bob says:

        Yes Denis. The police have spoken to both Aldi and the Co-op about it, but not with any great deal of success I’m afraid. We’re waiting to see whether this leaflet campaign has any success, and the police have convened a meeting to discuss the issue with people from the community. Unfortunately I’m on holiday then, but here are the details:

        Following on from our recent post to the Bearwood Page, thank you for all your replies and comments; We can now confirm that a COMMUNITY MEETING will be held at St Mary’s Church Hall, Bearwood on Wednesday 13th September 2017 at 18.45hrs.

        We have waited until September to allow for the Summer holiday season and hopefully mid-week, early evening will be suitable for most.

        However, if you are unable to attend, you can contact us at smethwicktown@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk with any comments, concerns or issues.

      • Denis Hennigan says:

        Bob is the meeting open to all.? Or just those who reside in Sandwell.?

      • Bob says:

        I suspect most will be from Sandwell, but I very much doubt anyone will object to people who use Bearwood shopping centre from attending.

      • Denis Hennigan says:

        Thanks Bob. Fortunately or unfortunately we live in Birmingham however, a 5 minute walk to the high street.

      • Bob says:

        You’ll be welcome Denis…just bring your passport!! 🙂

      • Denis Hennigan says:

        Will do. Thanks Bob

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