Never had a man less reason to be humble about his talent

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Hall Green’s best loved comic, Tony Hancock would have been 90 today and it is only fitting to say happy birthday Tony from all of us in Hall Green who love your work . 

Hancock left us all too early but we are lucky to have records, films, BBC programmes and YouTube clips to enjoy his supreme talent.

Many have their favourite Hancock sketch from the classic Blood Donor to the Radio Ham. My favourite has always been The Missing Page. A clever, haunting evocation of the power of the written word. Hancock and his sidekick Sid James try to solve the mystery of a whodunit without the last page of the book. Their  travels and attempts to solve the mystery is a comic masterpiece.

One of thhancocke funniest scenes in set in a library. My recent campaign to save Hall Green library reminds me of the need for that continued place – the community library and the part it plays in our communities. Where we are free to roam the shelves and to enjoy the discovery of a novel, a biography or a recipe book.

I am so proud that we in Hall Green saved our community library although we know that our continued vigilance will be necessary with the challenging budget constraints we will be facing over the coming years.

Check out the video below of The Missing Page. It may be over 50 years old but it is still a great 30 minutes and when we talk about classic English humour then this portrays that so brilliantly.

Whether you are in Hall Green , East Cheam or wherever… raise a small toast to this long lost but not forgotten son of Hall Green.

Happy 90th Tony from all your fans!

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My invitation to a wondrous and beautiful place of return

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A warm welcome at Zawiyat al-Ma’ab al-Shadhiliya

I had a fantastic time at the official opening event of a new community asset in Hall Green. The Birmingham Shadhiliya Trust, a Sunni Sufi Muslim charity, took over the old hut that used to belong to the Sea Cadets.

This hut, and the land it sat on had been neglected for many years and both have now been transformed into a space that will offer the perfect home for many different activities.

Sunni Sufis follow a Sufi spiritual guide, Sheikh Nuh Keller, an American who converted to Islam in the 70s and was authorised as a master of the Hashamiya al-Darqawiya al-Shadhiliya Sufi order in the late 90s. Sufism is the form of Islam that focuses upon spirituality, mysticism, improving one’s inner state and serving others. This focus has been translated throughout the development and the building has been named Zawiyat al-Ma’ab al-Shadhiliya (A wondrous and beautiful place of return).

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Cllr Bowles, Kerry Jenkins and Birmingham Mayor, Mike Leddy

Lord Mayor, Mike Leddy undertook the official ceremony which was attended by members of the Trust, user groups, neighbours and councillors. We were treated to a falconry display, invited to have a go at archery, offered fabulous food and indulged with henna art.

With an unofficial motto of service before self’  – the  Sufi focus on spirituality, mysticism, improving one’s inner state and serving others was ever present and it was a day to remember and I am sure that a warmer welcome would be hard to find.

A number of activities have already been arranged with a scout group starting very soon, yoga classes and archery. I look forward to many further visits and getting involved in some of the activities that will be taking place over the coming months and urge others to take a look and see what is on offer.

Hands off Hall Green Library

Birmingham City Council are currently undertaking service reviews across a broad range of services that they currently provide. As a result, the Green Paper – Developing Successful and Inclusive Communities has been published and is open for consultation. This paper looks in particular at the future delivery model of library services and has ramifications for all community library services across Birmingham.

I believe that our library in Hall Green is at the very heart of our community, but this is under threat as councils are being put under indeterminable pressures as a result of the depth and frontloading of cuts being made to local authority budgets by the Tory-led Government.

Here in Hall Green, there is a very real risk to our Library, and the effect of such a closure would be felt across the whole Ward. There would be potential job losses. Any closing and reduction of access to libraries will remove or reduce Internet access for the many residents who do not have it at home, place more strain on already stretched school library services and impact on adult education. This just isn’t right.

I have set up the 4hglibrary campaign and hope that both residents from Hall Green Ward and others who believe in the very real benefits that libraries provide to join with me in this campaign. Please visit the website for more details of the campaign and information about how you can support it.

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Those who know me will know that I am an active trade unionist and therefore I do not underestimate the huge task ahead of us. While we can campaign for libraries and advocate their place in society we must be aware that as they are part of a larger organisation, that being the local authority, this fight will need to be one that is sustained. Whilst we have a Tory led government in power, the public spending cuts will become yet deeper over the coming years and libraries among other services will face continued attacks and ultimate destruction.

Local issues really do matter!

Residents living in the shadow of a proposed new supermarket for Hall Green will have received a letter over the weekend from Cllr Burden outlining his concerns and urging them to participate in the consultation process.

I too have a number of concerns and have formally submitted an objection to the plans submitted.

I do of course know that some residents will be in favour of having another supermarket but any positives that this new provision might bring to the ward are outweighed by the potential problems.

I really believe that we do not need this supermarket.

There appears no logical reason it should be built. It is proposed to sit some 150 metres from another supermarket well established in Hall Green.

We already have a number of large supermarkets in Hall Green and we have a series of large and small independent stores all catering to the diversity of the residents of Hall Green.

The new store will be slap bang in the middle of an established residential area and if the plans are approved could have a devastating impact on the local area:

  1. Due to the size and proximity to an established residential area the proposed development would result in increased noise and activity to the detriment of the amenity of the occupiers of adjacent dwellings.
  2. The size and the range of goods available for sale in the proposed store will have a significant adverse impact on local shops and businesses in the vicinity of the site, to the detriment of the ‘vitality and viability’ of existing businesses.  There has been strong concern expressed by local businesses and the proposal could result in the closing of local businesses and loss of local jobs.
  3. The proposed store will introduce further traffic into an already busy area and will result in an increase in not only traffic, but also ‘on street’ parking and congestion to the detriment of highway safety and amenity of nearby residents.  The local community is concerned that increase in traffic and lack of parking will compromise the safety of local residents.
  4. Due to its siting and size the proposed development will result in an adverse impact on existing protected trees, to the detriment of the amenity of the wider area and local wildlife. The building because of its large foot print will have a significant impact on certain existing retained trees in that the development will encroach into Root Protection Areas(RPA’s).
  5. Finally the design and appearance of the proposed development is not in keeping with the local area and consequently would have a negative impact on the street scene and surrounding area. The design of the building would be compounded by the substantial proposed hard standing and distinct lack of soft landscaping along the frontage of the site, which would further distract from the visual amenity of the area.

We really do not need another supermarket in Hall Green! If you think so to then please sign this petition… click here

If you would like to find out more about the proposals and concerns please come and have your say on Tuesday 10th September, 6.30pm on the car park of the proposed site, corner of Wycombe Road/Stratford Road, Hall Green, B28 9EH

Notes:

The plans are available from http://eplanning.birmingham.gov.uk ref 2013/05304/PA or from Hall Green Library.

Comments can be made online or by writing to:

Pam Brennan, Planning and Regeneration, PO Box 28, Birmingham, B1 1TU

Hidden treasures in Hall Green

I write today firstly with an admission of my own lack of awareness as to some of the vital services being provided here in my community in Hall Green. What led me to this recognition of fact… my discovery, on Saturday, of a real treasure.

This wasn’t treasure in financial terms, but in terms of a service being provided to a small number of extremely vulnerable adults by a committed, professional team – it was a discovery of the ‘crown jewels’.

Optimum Care Services were celebrating 21 years of providing specialised, residential care for adults with learning difficulties at their site in Green Road where I had a fabulous afternoon at the Funday organised and took full advantage by getting my face painted! I was also pleased to be joined by Cllr Bowles and Cllr Burden who supported the event, alongside neighbouring residents, family members and other supporters who enjoyed such treats as goat curry, samosas and burgers as well as trying their luck at the Tombola and raffle which both offered a great range of prizes. We were also entertained with live music in the lovely garden at the care home.

At a time when many voluntary organisations and care providers are facing huge challenges, I was interested to hear that they are currently fundraising in an attempt to buy a minibus for the home. Manager Tim showed me round and I saw the wonderful garden furniture that had recently been donated and was being put to great use on a day that luckily remained warm and sunny for the duration of events.

In the current austere times, it was great to see that the many funding challenges being faced had not dampened spirits or affected the quality of services being provided at this care home in Green Road.

Now I have discovered them I will be certainly keeping in touch and if anyone reading this can offer any assistance to their fundraising activities then please do get in touch.

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