A community playground for Hall Green?

In November last year, local councillors from all parties, youth workers, community groups, educational representatives of South and City College and constituency officers met at the District Convention to discuss the needs of children and young people in the wider district and in each of the Hall Green Wards. There were a series of talks from Youth and Education officers from Birmingham City Council together with input from the assistant principal of the College, the Chair of Governors from Joseph Chamberlain College and Councillor Tony Kennedy.

All councillors representing the Hall Green Ward and representatives from local community groups and youth service providers discussed how best we could engage children and young people in Hall Green and a clear consensus was reached on the need to ensure that Hall Green had adequate provision and services to meet the needs of the 7,000 children and young people across the Ward, and the need to identify more spaces and places for young people to meet.

Unfortunately, this consensus seems to have been abandoned at this months Ward meeting at which residents from a local housing estate were in attendance solely to oppose the proposals for the installation of much needed playground equipment at Newey Goodman.

The case put forward in opposition was that any installation would result in an increase of anti social behaviour and criminal activity. This is not borne out by research undertaken by the local police neighbourhood team and could not be quantified.

Despite the Liberal Democrat Councillor not adopting a position of opposition at a previous meeting at which these plans were introduced, it now appears that she has decided not to support this proposal for additional provision of services for children and young people in Hall Green.

Consultation that has been undertaken by Hall Green BLP has found real support for these proposals which would give Hall Green a brand new playground with facilities catering for both children and young people.

Currently there is only one small park in Hall Green at Marion Way and despite plans to renovate the park next month, this existing provision is far from  adequate and in comparison to surrounding Wards, it is clear that the children and young people in Hall Green Ward are being short changed and let down in terms of the services and provision available to them.

It is seemingly a natural reaction to oppose change in the first instance but the current opposition to the playground proposals for Newey Goodman appears to be based on little more than ‘nimbyism’ on the one hand and the hope of some political point scoring on the other.

As we face impending reductions in council funded provision of non statutory services across Birmingham this adds up to a very real problem for the children and young people growing up in Hall Green.

The recent launch of the mobile play service was a real step in the right direction, alongside the youth project running at Highfield Hall but these are temporary solutions and do not make up for a lack of permanent playground facilities.

We need to welcome proposals that would result in an increase in services for our children and young people. How can we sit back and refuse our children and young people such provision?

Wherever any new such provision is proposed, it is always going to be in someone’s back yard, and is always going to be opposed by a minority. We need to stand together as a community and see the bigger picture and how we ensure the very best deal for our children and young people. We have the chance of doing this now with a real opportunity to have a  ‘community playground’ in Hall Green, but in order to realise this, we need first to become a real community.

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Emotions running high at HG Ward Meeting

The meeting was chaired by Cllr Burden who informed those in attendance of the extremely sad loss of Cllr Bowles’ wife  and that therefore he would not be in attendance this evening and had tendered his apologies.

The meeting discussed a variety of issues ranging from environmental issues, to community chest applications, with approvals being given to BCC Youth Service, Scouts group and Shire Country Park Friends amongst others. The issues that generated the highest level of debate are outlined below:

The issue of wheelie bins was yet again raised and a brief discussion was held about the forthcoming consultation. The new bins are currently being piloted in Brandwood and Harborne. The full details of the consultation process were as yet unknown but Cllr Burden reported how the introduction of wheelie bins impacted on the retention of weekly collections and the replacement of the fleet due to the financial pressures being experienced. He reiterated the need for residents to fully engage with the consultation process.

Some concern was noted about the suggestion that residents would be charged an annual fee of £35 for a green service once the new bins were introduced and a number of residents suggested that this would lead to fly tipping.

The meeting welcomed Sgt Chris Rigby who gave a brief report back regarding crime statistics. It appeared that although national crime stats had fallen, burglary in Hall Green was up by 11%.

A resident reported on the worrying increase of buildings appearing in people’s gardens and was very concerned that large, brick built buildings were appearing, not as extensions to properties, but being built at the bottom of gardens across Hall Green. He gave the example of a building which had recently received planning permission and informed the meeting that this building was 9 x 7m and 12 feet high, brick built with a tiled roof and a satellite dish. It also was reported that Liberal Democrat Cllr Smith had voted in favour of this build recently.

By far the biggest debate of the evening was in relation to proposals for a playground installation at the open space on Newey Goodman. Residents in attendance from the Newey housing estate opposing the proposals argued that it would result in an increase in anti social behaviour and criminal activity. Emotions ran high from opposing stances. It was reported that in a ward with over 10,000 households, current facilities were totally inadequate, and the only playground in Hall Green was at Marion Way, where the land was unsuitable and the equipment in desperate need of replacement. If the new proposals went through,  the park at Marion Way would also be revamped. A petition with approximately 250 signatures in support of the proposals was handed in. An application for Village Green status was presented.

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