Monday, January 23, 2012

Appeal for pre-1980 close-up photos of the South African War Memorial in Cannon Hill

I’m wondering if any residents have pre-1980 photographs of themselves standing next to the South African War memorial in Cannon Hill Park, showing the bronze corner pieces that were there until the 1980s. We are trying to get close-up photos of these bronze corner pieces so that we can reinstate replicas of them, as part of the restoration of this memorial.

Readers may be aware that work is about to commence work on restoring this 1906 South African War Memorial in Cannon Hill Park. More details can be seen at my blog entry on

As was mentioned in that blog entry, several bits of the memorial have been stolen by metal thieves. These were: the four eagles at the corners of the granite plinth; the olive branch held by the allegorical figure called Peace; the rifles and bayonets on the backs of the two solders.

For this restoration we will be making a replica of the olive branch. Subject to funding we would also like to make plastic copies, coated in bronze, of the other missing items.

Since my last blog entry, we have managed to find one of the two original bronze cast rifles. A member of the Parks Service saw the blog entry and had the item in their store room. The circumstances of how it got there we do not know. A photo of myself holding the bronze cast rifle is attached.


Also, a local resident has sent me a photo of themselves standing next to the monument in the 1970s. This is now the closest photograph we have of the bronze corner pieces that have gone missing – see attached photo. Previously, we assumed these corner figures were eagles, however from this photo they look more like a wreath with an S-shaped ribbon threaded through it.

If we can get some more similar photographs showing these corner pieces, from different angles, we’ll be able to make replicas.

So if you could check your old photo albums and spread the word to friends, this would be greatly appreciated.



Sunday, January 22, 2012

work begins on £170,000 investment in Highbury Park

Work begins tomorrow (Monday 23rd January) on a £170,000 investment in repairing the infrastructure and historic features of Highbury Park. The money is coming from the Council’s own capital programme, into which I bid for these works last Summer.

All work will be completed by the end of March.

The work will include the following:

1) Restoration of the historic Joseph Chamberlain platform. This feature was part of the ornate gardens of Highbury Hall, which occupied the land between the main pond and Yew Tree Road. These gardens were created between 1890 and 1914 by Joseph Chamberlain and contained many features such as an Italian Garden, a Dutch Garden, an Elizabethan Garden, a sundial on a raised platform overlooking the Tea Gardens. Many of these features still exist, but have been allowed to fall into disrepair since the early 1980s.

The Viewing Platform itself was created in 1890 and it was from this vantage point that Joseph Chamberlain was able to view his ornate gardens of Highbury Hall, looking down to the main pond that still exists today.

Last August, the platform was completely destroyed by vandals. However, a friend and I, using two wheelbarrows, were able to rescue most of the damaged stonework and hide it elsewhere in the park. This stop the ornate stonework being damaged any further.

I attach two photos showing the Viewing Platform both before and after the vandalism.

This Viewing Platform will be restored to its former glory, with new stones carved to replace any that are beyond saving. There will also be some repair work to the rocky outcrop that the platform rests on, including careful removal of any self seeding trees that are growing in-between the layers of rocks.



2) Repair of numerous footpaths. This will include the driveway from Shutlock Lane to the main car park. This has several large potholes, where the foundations are completely wrecked. The car park will also be relevelled.

Paths around the Oak Tree pond will also be repaired. The Oak Tree pond is a small pond, again part of the original Highbury Hall estate, immediately north of the Italian Gardens. The pond is almost completely silted up and hidden from view by overgrown rhododendrons. It is named after the 200 year old oak tree that grew beside it and whose dead trunk can still be seen today.

3) Repair to the footbridge at the Moor Green Lane end of the main pond. This footbridge is really nothing more than a 1960s concrete, covered with soil. I attach photos showing it. As you will see, the soil around the bridge has been significantly eroded by the stream and foot traffic and now starting to expose the foundations of the footbridge. Our intention is to rebuild the soil up and get back it back to how it probably looked in the 1930s.

4) Careful trimming back of over grown bushes and trees on the land between the main pond and Chamberlain House. Our objective for doing this is three fold:

a) Cut back several bushes and remove several self seeding sycamores that are adversely affecting the bees in the bee keeper’s area. The bee keeper’s area is on the site of the Highbury Hall Tea Gardens.

b) Recreate the view from the Viewing Platform down to main pond. In Joseph Chamberlain’s time, the Viewing Platform was easily viewable from the main pond. This vista has long vanished and we hope to recreate it by careful trimming. We also hope this will prevent any further damage to the Viewing Platform.

c) Trim back all laurel bushes in the area between the Viewing Platform and Chamberlain House. We still have a problem with indecent behaviour taking place in this area during the afternoon. There has been a joint Police and Council effort to reduce this activity since the Summer. The activity normally takes place between 11am and 2pm every day. As a result of this joint working, several individuals are about to be served with ASBOs banning them from both Highbury Park and Cannon Hill Park. We hope to significantly reduce this activity by at last trimming back all the laurel bushes under which it all takes place.





Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update on Moseley Road baths and this weeks HG constituency meeting

Moseley Road baths has hit the headlines today in relation to a heated Hall Green Constituency meeting where I was called a “tw@t” by the prospective Labour Council candidate for Hall Green Ward, Barry Bowles. The meeting also included an announcement that the baths would not re-open until April or May. I will try to explain the background to all this in a bit.

For some background, my last blog update was on 23rd December and can be seen at

First of all the final phase of re-opening the baths began on Monday 16th January with contractors moving into the basement to begin work. They will be replacing temporary scaffolding that holds up the floor in numerous places, with permanent scaffolding. This work will take four to five weeks to complete and we are hoping that the baths should be able to re- at the end of February.

What has confused the issue and the reason for the sudden announcement that the baths won’t re-open until April or May, is concern over flaking paint from the ceiling in Pool 2. Users of this pool prior to its closure in December 2010, will have noticed the flaking paint even then. It was particularly bad on the lower sections of the curved ceiling, on the right hand side as you entered the pool. The photo below shows the section I mean with big red arrows pointing at it.


The pool was last painted in 2003 and the flaking paint was due to the very high humidity in the pool area, which was caused by the staff not turning on the mechanical ventilation fans whilst people were in the pool. The staff wouldn’t turn the fans on, because they were very noisy due to worn bearings.

The bearings have now been replaced and hopefully such rapid flaking of the paint will not happen again.

Since the closure of the pool in December 2010 and the resulting dryer atmosphere, the paint flaking has accelerated to such an extent that officers in Hall Green constituency are concerned that flakes may fall into swimmers eyes. The staff in the pool have removed most of the flaking paint, but some still exists in the harder to reach parts of the ceiling.

To completely repaint the ceiling would cost £65,000 and take over six weeks to complete, thus taking the re-opening up until April or May. We have £80,000 ‘sticking plaster’ money which could fund this re-painting, however I would rather focus this money on fixing the roof of leaks – especially after all the recent lead thefts - and keep this building going until its big restoration in 2014.

Mindful that the pool has been closed for over a year and being quite familiar with the level of flaking, I have disputed the need to repaint the entire ceiling. As a result, I attended a meeting this morning with a Health and Safety officer to decide if the flaking paint was a concern. The officer said that the level of flaking is not of concern.

As a result of this, I have stressed to officers that the pool must re-open once the basement work is finished at the end of February. We will repaint the worse affected lower sections of the ceiling and this must be completed by the end of February. The rest of the £80,000 must be focused on the roof and again these roof works must not delay the re-opening of the pool at the end of February.

Coming to the Hall Green constituency meeting on Tuesday. Readers may or may not be aware that the day-to-day operation of Moseley Road baths is run by Hall Green Constituency. The Hall Green constituency committee have the final say on whether the pool remains open or not. Since May 2010, Hall Green constituency has had a Labour Party majority and is Chaired by Sparkbrook Ward Councillor, Councillor Tony Kennedy (Labour).

In recent months, I have become concerned about some of the messages I am hearing from Hall Green constituency office under this new political control. In October, I was informed that the Hall Green office was making enquiries as to whether my Cabinet portfolio would take the day-to-day control out of the constituency hands.

In early January, I was informed that an enquiry had been made from Hall Green office to my Cabinet officers, as to our views on not re-opening Moseley Road baths until after its partial restoration starting in 2014.

Then to discover last week that at the end of the agenda of the Hall Green constituency meeting for Tuesday 17th January was an item called ‘Moseley Road baths – Future Options’, then my alarm bells started ringing. Also, I know that the alarm bells were ringing with the Friends of Moseley Road baths.

As a result, even through the constituency meeting was held in the upstairs community room of Hall Green Library, there was still a large contingent of users of Moseley Road baths there.

The meeting began at 7pm and with Moseley Road baths being second last on the agenda, we eventually reached this item at 8.45pm. This only allowed 15 minutes for the remaining two items on the agenda, since the room was only booked till 9pm. As soon as we reach this item, the whole thing kicked off. Cllr Kennedy said the baths were "a financial burden". Cllr Quinnen (Labour, Sparkbrook) blamed both myself and the administration for not fully restoring the baths during the last seven years – I did point out that at the last constituency meeting she was complaining that we hadn’t spent £58million on a new Olympic pool in the city centre. In the midst of this Barry Bowles, Labour Party candidate for Hall Green Ward in the forthcoming Council elections shouted out that I was a "tw@t"....which resulted in the baths users shouting at him.

When it came to the vote for the ‘future options’ report, the Lib Dem side voted against, but asked for another vote on a slightly different motion, namely "support an Options Report, as long it looked at ways of keeping the building as a swimming baths and managed by the constituency". It was seconded by Cllr Hendricks.

Cllr Kennedy said he would not accept this motion.

I said if we could ask the audience to see if they would support this alternative motion. He responded by saying that he would not allow any further decision and moved the meeting onto the next item on the agenda. In the resulting uproar, Cllr Kennedy got the Labour group to agree to the next item straight away and ended the meeting.

The constituency officers will now be coming back in March with a set of options for the future of the baths.

In the meantime we are about to start work on the Heritage Lottery bid to restore the baths. Our proposal is to submit a HLF bid in April. The bid would be for phase 1 of the restoration, totalling £8million. The £8million will include the following:
• Making the entire building stable, by completely fixing the roof and stopping any more leaks; removing all the dry rot from the caretakers area. This will stop any further decay in the building.
• Pool 2 – the present pool will remain an operating pool
• Pool 1 – the ornate first class pool will be boarded over and used for community events. In phase 2 of the restoration we would aim to get this back as a swimming pool
• Possible installation of a Combined Heat and Power system, which would heat this building and all surrounding buildings.

Bidding for Heritage Lottery monies is a lengthy process and if successful, the earliest we could start on phase 1 of the restoration is 2014. It is estimated work would take two years to complete.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Planning Committee will be visiting the former tram depot offices at 582 Moseley Road at the corner of Trafalgar Road. The Committee will be looking at the state of building following my complaint at Planning Committee today about the lack of planning enforcement on this building.


582 Moseley Road is one of the few tram depots in Birmingham that is statutory listed and is certainly the grandest in design. The site consists of two buildings:

Building 1: the large shed to the rear which housed the trams and is now used as a skateboard and rock climbing centre.

Building 2: the two storey building that fronts onto Moseley Road is the former offices and canteen for the depot. This is now empty and is the focus of this visit.

This is a long history of unauthorised work at this building since 2004. Indeed, many residents will know that I made a YouTube about the state of this building in 2005. I had become fed up with the lack of action by our Planning officers to stop the owner doing unauthorised demolition on the building. My YouTube video showed some of the unauthorised demolition work, which included the complete gutting of the interior. It also showed how the owner had undermined the foundations, which for a period made the entire building structurally unstable. For this piece of public service, I was suspended for a month as a Councillor, since 21seconds of the video involved me walking inside a section of the building and was deemed to be trespass.

Roll forward to 2012 and the owner has continued to do unauthorised work on the building. Indeed, in 2008 the owner was given retrospective planning permission for some of his work, with conditions that the worst parts of his previous work was reversed. To date the owner has made no attempt whatsoever to satisfy these conditions.

The owner in 2009 even built a front boundary wall that was not to the design or materials as agreed by Planning – it was excessively high, using poor quality bricks and the quality of the bricklaying was so poor that one section of the boundary is not even level, with a 2 degree slope to the horizon.

I complained to Planning in 2009 about the front boundary wall and the lack of action in satisfying the conditions of the 2008 planning application. Since then no further work has happened on site, but equally no enforcement action has taken plan either.

At today’s Planning Committee I also asked if a Section 215 notice could be issued against the owner to force him to tidy up the frontage – this is after all a gateway site into Moseley. A Section 215 notice can be used to force property owners to tidy up their properties if they are deemed to be eyesores from the public highway. I’ve managed to persuade Planning to issue several Section 215 notices against Moseley and Kings Heath properties since 2004.

Actions that could be undertaken by a Section 215 on this property include:

  • Secure the perimeter of the site – at the moment children can wander around the front which has rubble and bits of wood with nails sticking up. It is even possible to access the rear of site and the interior of the building by squeezing through a gap in the perimeter boarding. The skateboard park to the rear inform me that drug users regularly congregate inside the building and have to cleared out by the police.
  • Remove all the mouldy boards that have been left leaning up against the frontage.
  • Remove all the bags of sand and rumble around the frontage.

The date for the site visit has not yet been set, but if anyone would like to attend, please e-mail me back and I’ll let you know the date when it is sent to me.






Monday, January 09, 2012

My libraries letter that the Bham Post won't publish

On 17th November, the Birmingham Post published a lengthy letter from John Dolan which raised questions about the future of Birmingham Library Service. Indeed, the Post also reported this letter in an article and added an editorial piece about the letter.

You would think the Birmingham Post in fairness would allow me a response. But no. I sent my letter in on 9th December and waited for the letter to be published. A month later, nothing.

As I have said before, the Editor of the Birmingham Post is running a politically biased newspaper. Articles praising Labour or criticising the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition are given ample room. Opportunities to provide balance are ignored.

My letter that the Birmingham Post won't publish is as follows:

Dear Sir or Madam,

The letter from John Dolan OBE regarding library services in Birmingham (Birmingham Post 17th November) contained a series of questions on the future of the Birmingham library service and I felt compelled to provide detailed answers to them.

However, before answering those questions, I hope you will allow me the opportunity to comment on the overall tone of Mr Dolan’s letter. It was quite clear from the letter that he believes Birmingham City Council is abandoning its library service. I would argue that the case is the complete opposite, which I will try to illustrate below.

Since 2004, the City Council’s present administration has invested £4.3million in improving the fabric of its community libraries. Many of our community libraries operate from within aging buildings that have been poorly maintained over the last 20 years. Since 2004, we have been correcting the impact of that poor maintenance. In addition to this £4.3million, a further £1.1million is being invested in our libraries in this financial year. Kings Heath, Selly Oak and Hall Green Libraries will have new roofs by April 2012.

Further, we are investing £188.8m in a new Library of Birmingham, to replace the Central Library. This will be a world-class facility, with world-class resources and a re-energised vision for the library in the twenty-first century.

I hope your readers will accept that these are challenging times for our libraries: not only are libraries up and down the country having to absorb the impact of the national financial crisis, but technological advancements such as the internet are questioning the future role of the public library.

In Birmingham we recognise that there is still the need for community libraries in: up-skilling our citizens; improving literacy, especially in communities where English is the second language; and in reducing the digital divide. It is for this reason that no community library in Birmingham will close under the present administration’s proposals. Subject to approval from the Constituency Committees, 16 out of our 39 community libraries will remain open five days a week, as now. The remaining 23 libraries will open four days a week, instead of the present five.

While other cities are closing down community libraries, I think what Birmingham is doing is highly commendable and deserves praise. New operating models will need to be considered, but these are tough times and we need to maximize every penny spent on our library service.

I think it would also be helpful if I outlined where the responsibilities lie with regard to Birmingham’s Library Service. As the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture I have the responsibility to set the strategic direction and policy for our libraries, I do not however have the responsibility for community library budgets or their management, this rests with the relevant Constituency Committee.

Having said that however I will seek to address the questions raised by Mr Dolan, I have included his original questions for ease of reference.

Q The Birmingham Post sets out cuts planned for Birmingham Libraries This comes out one day before the last Council public consultation meeting on its budget plans. There was no mention of libraries in list of cuts up for public consultation. In all the public papers (at; the words 'library' or 'libraries' are not used anywhere.

A Libraries are not referred to in the consultation, since the new consultation exercise relates to savings required the 2012/13 financial year. Library service savings for the next three years were addressed in last year’s budgetary and consultative process.

Q This is actually about dismantling the service through the back door while pretending to fix the front door. Birmingham has already dismissed most of the senior and middle management.

A A number of library staff have chosen to take voluntary redundancy, but Birmingham still continues to employ a substantial number of qualified librarians – many more than most library authorities both as professional librarians and as managers

Q Previous cuts: What is the financial value of cuts and savings already made this financial year? - Managers and staff? Bookfund? Other resources? The closed Children's Mobile Library? The closed Schools Library Service? Maintenance budgets? Training budgets? Reduced hours? Libraries closed "for repair"?

A The savings target for Community Library services in 2011/12 is £1.3m and this cumulatively increases to £2.3m by 2013/14. The savings target for Strategic Library Services is £2.5 million cumulatively rising to £2.7 million by 2013/14. Savings are being made through staffing budgets.

Q Investment: What is being invested in library buildings, their maintenance, on re-opening libraries closed "for repair"? How many libraries already require repairs over say, £50,000? How much will be spent on self-service machines? What's the timescale? Who will be charged with installing them and training staff?

A The City Council has invested over £4.3 million in its Community Library buildings since 2004. A further £1.1 million is being spent on library buildings this year. In addition the city is investing in the £188.8 million Library of Birmingham. Funding was found in 2010-11 for a number of self service machines for 10 Community Libraries. These are currently being installed by the city’s IT provider and training will be provided. The Central Library has had self service for some time.

Q People: Why does this report not say that, already, nearly all senior and middle management have been made redundant, that the majority of librarians are being made redundant? Why are you deliberately getting rid of librarian skills? How will you provide library services of any quality?

A Birmingham continues to employ a substantial number of qualified librarians – many more than most library authorities - both as professional librarians and as managers. In addition we employ professional conservators and archivists in recognition of the unique and valuable resources within our special collections.

Q Volunteers: You talk of using volunteers. What skills will they need? What will be their responsibilities? Who will manage volunteers? How will they be trained? Will they be able to do information searches, tell stories to children, advise on reading, assist with homework, show people how to use the computer, plan and run summer reading/literacy programmes? Will they have access to my personal information?

A Our Volunteer policy is on the library website. Libraries have been working with volunteers for some time to assist with the Summer Reading Challenge, ICT support, Friends Groups etc

Q Bookstart: Who will distribute the Government-funded 'Bookstart' books for babies as the 'Bookstart' librarian has been made redundant?
A Alternative arrangements have been made following a voluntary redundancy request and we will continue to deliver Bookstart through our libraries

Q Income: Where's the business plan for leasing rooms? How many rooms? Rooms are already 'leased' - so does this mean the end of reduced / free room use for voluntary community groups? What is the additional income forecast?

A This is a localised matter – each Constituency will make its own decision under the current governance arrangements. You will need to contact the various Constituency Chairs for this information.

Q Co-location: Which buildings are you planning to share with others? Aston has already moved to smaller premises; which others are to move?

A The new Shard End Library will open in 2012 sharing premises with a Neighbourhood Office and community facilities. There are plans to re-locate Kents Moat Library in a future Poolway development to bring local authority services together. Plans are also being developed to re-locate West Heath Library as its current building is no longer fit for purpose. Co-location opportunities which will enhance library provision and meet user needs will always be considered.

Q Library of Birmingham: You have a chance to do something special to put Birmingham on the map. How much are the "savings being made on the £187 million Library of Birmingham"? Are you still planning for the LOB to be a "world class" library - in services as well as architecture?" How will the LOB work with and support local libraries in local communities? Do you have a revenue budget for the LOB? Will it be what was envisaged or will you downgrade the world class vision to the provincial ordinary?

A The Library of Birmingham will be a world class library with world class resources. The savings have already been made through procurement bringing the overall cost from £193 million to £188.8 million, and we expect through excellent project management to deliver further savings against this budget without compromising the quality of the library. The revenue budget forms part of the city’s medium term financial strategy. Your quoted figure of £187 million is inaccurate press reporting. Work is underway to pilot innovative new relationships with Constituency Libraries through a pilot project with the new Shard End Library, due to open in February 2012.

Q Community libraries: How do you envisage a community library will play an active part in community life if it's only open "two days a week"?

A The Scrutiny report on Community Libraries - which was wrongly reported in the newspaper - is available on the City Council website. Nowhere does it mention libraries only being open for two days a week. The developing proposal to meet is that over a third of the community libraries will retain their current 5 day per week opening hours and the remaining smaller less busy libraries would reduce budget savings from 5 to 4 days per week. However, it will be up to each Constituency Committee to decide if they wish to accept this proposal or to find another means of meet their savings target

Q Birmingham Library Services: This was an historic, outstanding and innovative public service. Will the library service be reunited as one service or remain divided across constituencies, duplicating and wasting resources? How much does each constituency have to save? What if some agree and others don't? Or what has already been agreed out of public view?

A The Localisation and Devolution governance arrangements were reviewed by the City Council in 2010 and re-confirmed with all party support. However, I do hold a similar view that the library service would benefit from being managed strategically, with Ward Councillors being able to influence the service in their local libraries. Although I have put this view forward on more than one occasion each Constituency will continue to be responsible for implementing its own budget savings. The developing proposals provide a consistent future operating model for Constituencies within the overall reduced level of funding available. It will be up to each Constituency Committee if they wish to accept these proposals or to meet the savings target through another means.

Q Total savings: These savings were not in the list for consultation with the total savings target. Why were they omitted? Are they extra to those announced?
A Libraries are not mentioned in the present consultation because libraries are not required to make any contribution in this extra round of savings. The 2010-13 budget savings which affected library services were announced in the Council Business Plan 2011+.
Q Public consultation: Why has there been no public information about these proposals? Why was this information deliberately omitted from the presentations at the public meetings? Why is there no public consultation about library service cuts? What do intend to do about that?

A Libraries are not mentioned in this budget consultation because libraries are not required to contribute any savings towards this new figure. When finally developed, proposals will go to Constituency Committees for consultation and decision.

Q Would you accept that there is actually no strategic thinking here about public library services? There has been no meaningful consultation on library service cuts or its future. isn't your real intention is to neglect and downgrade the service to be, at best, mediocre? How therefore, do you intend to meet your duties under library legislation? You must provide a "comprehensive and efficient library service" to everyone who wishes to use it. How will you do that?

A We are conducting a full service review to provide a strategic approach to library provision in a very difficult economic climate. We’re awaiting the findings of the full service review but, against a backdrop of closures up and down the country, we remain committed to keeping our 39 community libraries open.

Further to this, I have suggested that if Mr Dolan has any further questions, then my senior portfolio officers are more than happy to meet him to provide further explanations.

Councillor Martin Mullaney
Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture
Birmingham City Council

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Planning Applications in Moseley & Kings Heath Ward that are still live– Sunday 8th January 2012

These are applications, where no decision has been made and residents can still comment on.

Drawings and further details on each of these planning application is available on-line at

If you wish to comment on any of these applications, you do this by the following means

• e-mailing to

• telephoning (planning will accept comments on planning application over the telephone) 303 1115 – please remember to quote the planning application number you are commenting on

• post to Planning Management, Birmingham City Council, PO Box 28, Birmingham B1 1TU

2011/08663/PA 165 - 167 High Street Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7DJ Installation of new shop front and other external alterations to the rear. Registered 22-12-2011

2011/08574/PA 63 Goodby Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8RP Erection of single storey rear extension. Registered 20-12-2011

2011/08760/PA 50 Dad's Lane Kings Heath Birmingham B13 8PQ Erection of single storey rear extension, alterations to shopfront and resiting of internal staircase. Registered 29-12-2011

2011/08717/PA 66 Moorcroft Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8LU Erection of two storey rear extension Registered 28-12-2011

2011/08695/PA 20 Moor Green Lane Tennessee House Moseley Birmingham B13 8ND Application to extend the time of extant planning application 2008/00431/PA for a proposed 1, 2 & 3 storey extensions & alterations to existing old people's home providing 30 No. apartments & associated car parking works Registered 23-12-2011

2011/08393/PA Moseley Hall Hospital Alcester Road Birmingham B13 8JL Removal of existing tile hanging cladding panels and replacement with new rendered board cladding panels to all elevations of the existing Ward Blocks and associated buildings Registered 12-12-2011

2011/08605/PA 49 Elizabeth Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8QH Extension to first floor side and rear, and alterations to roof. Registered 21-12-2011

2011/08090/PA 41 Poplar Road Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7AA Installation of new footway crossing and alterations to car park to create additional parking spaces, storage shed to rear, and installation of posts and railings and gates to front Registered 29-11-2011

2011/08524/PA 8A Wake Green Road Moseley Birmingham B13 9EZ Change of use from offices (Use Class B1) to an Education Centre (Use Class D1) Registered 19-12-2011

2011/08511/PA The Uffculme Centre 52 Queensbridge Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8QY Listed buildings consent for the demolition of existing timber framed building and reinstatement of the demolition to form hardstanding. Registered 19-12-2011

2011/08494/PA 100 High Street Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7JZ Variation of Condition 1 to allow opening times Sunday to Thursday 12:00pm to 12:00am and Friday & Saturday 12:00pm to 1:00am attached to planning approval 2010/03512/PA Registered 16-12-2011

2011/08065/PA 93 Addison Road Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7EP Erection of single storey side and rear extension Registered 28-11-2011

2011/08344/PA 20 Moorcroft Road Moseley Birmingham B13 9SW Erection of two storey rear and single storey rear extensions. Registered 09-12-2011

2011/08216/PA 118-120 Springfield Road Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7DY Change of use from vacant ground floor retail unit and first floor flats to 2 dwelling houses (use class C3) and erection of two storey rear extensions Registered 06-12-2011

2011/07101/PA 24 Amesbury Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8LE Replacement of glazing to front Registered 21-10-2011

2011/07965/PA Maple Dene 10-14 St Agnes Road Moseley Birmingham B13 9PW Replacement of windows Registered 24-11-2011

2011/06885/PA 25 Institute Road Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7EG Retention of existing hostel at first and second floor levels & retention of bay window to ground floor front elevation Registered 12-10-2011

2011/07963/PA 63 Alcester Road South Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7JG Change of use from retail (Use Class A1) to restaurant (Use Class A3) and hot food takeaway (Use Class A5) Registered 22-11-2011

2011/08012/PA 348-354 Moor Green Lane Land to the rear of Moseley Birmingham B13 8QP Erection of 4no. 3 bedroom dwelling houses Registered 25-11-2011

2011/07838/PA 91A Alcester Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8DD Erection of rear extension to existing vehicle maintenance garage Registered 17-11-2011

2011/07727/PA 9 Middleton Road Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7HX Erection of a detached garage to rear. Registered 14-11-2011

2011/07621/PA 17 High Street Kings Heath Birmingham B14 7BB Change of use to restaurant and hot food take away (Use Class A3/A5) and erection of single storey rear extension Registered 09-11-2011

2011/07780/PA Unit 6 39 Forest Road Moseley Birmingham B13 9DH Change of use to form bed-sit accommodation (single unit) with bay window to front elevation Registered 16-11-2011
2011/06726/PA 12 Sarehole Mill Gardens Moseley Birmingham B13 8BL Proposed erection of 3 no. one bedroom bungalows. Registered 04-10-2011

2011/07252/PA 42 Wake Green Road Moseley B13 9FP Erection of a two and single storey side extension. Registered 26-10-2011

2011/07715/PA 107 Edgbaston Road Land adj to Balsall Heath Birmingham B12 9PJ Erection of 1 no. four bed detached dwelling house Registered 14-11-2011

2011/07644/PA 2 Yew Tree Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8QQ Listed building consent for the change of use to form new school and erection of single storey front extension to form entrance and reception area and erection of 1.8m high boundary wall and gates to front Registered 09-11-2011

2011/07642/PA 2 Yew Tree Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8QQ Change of use to form new school and erection of single storey front extension to form entrance and reception area and erection of 1.8m high boundary wall and gates to front Registered 09-11-2011

2011/07388/PA 582 Moseley Road Birmingham B12 9AA Redesign the glass conservatory extension to rear to omit the hipped roof section and replace with gable end Registered 27-10-2011

2011/07383/PA 582 Moseley Road Birmingham B12 9AA Redesign the glass conservatory extension to rear to omit the hipped roof section and replace with gable end Registered 27-10-2011

2011/05740/PA 2 Oxford Road Moseley Birmingham B13 9EJ Change of use from hostel (C2) to single dwelling house (C3). Registered 26-08-2011

2011/06712/PA 145 Alcester Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8JP Change of use to a car wash operation Registered 03-10-2011

2011/06672/PA 169 Alcester Road Moseley Birmingham B13 8JR Change of use of vacant buildings to retail (use class A1) and formation of new residential unit (use class C3). Registered 04-10-2011

2011/06256/PA 49 Billesley Lane Moseley Birmingham B13 9QT Reconstruction and extension of 2 no. existing tennis courts and installation of floodlighting. Registered 21-09-2011

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Sarehole Mill, Moseley, to get three new sluice gates

Please before you delete this message due to its boring sounding topic, give me the chance to persuade you why three new sluice gates for Sarehole Mill in the coming weeks is actually very interesting.


The millpond behind Sarehole Mill, that keeps one of the two wheels spinning, is nearly completely silted up. Unless something is done to desilt the millpond in the next two years, we will have to permanently stop the one operating wheel. The installation of these three new sluices in the coming weeks, needs to seen as phase 1 of the de-silting of this pond. When we eventually get this pond de-silted, not only will we get more wildlife into the pond, but it opens up the opportunity to get the second wheel operating as a hydroelectric generator.

The millpond to the rear of Sarehole Mill was once a 1metre deep pond stretching 50metres from the Mill to Wake Green Road. The source of the water for this millpond comes from a spring hidden underneath the junction of Billesley Lane and Greenhill Road. Sadly, two thirds of the millpond is completely silted with trees going on it, whilst the small bit left is only 6 inches deep. The few ducks you see there do not paddle across the pond, they instead walk along the pond bed. No fish live in the pond, since they are simply poached during the Summer. Before we can even start the desilting process we need to replace three sluice gates that are either broken or on the point of complete collapse.....which in turn would completely empty the millpond and flood the mill out.

Sarehole Mill is one of the last two watermills within the boundary of Birmingham – the other one is New Hall Mill in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield. Up until the 1850s, there were approximately 90 watermills in operation in the modern boundary of Birmingham. Many of the millponds that powered these watermills still exist in our parks as boating ponds, for example Swanshurst Park, Cannon Hill Park, Trittiford Mill.

Sarehole Mill has two water wheels – the northern most one, called logically the ‘north wheel’, is still in operation and can be seen slowly spinning whenever the mill is open to the public. The other one, the ‘south wheel’ is hidden from public view and has not operated since before 1969. The south wheel could easily become operational, but during the 1969 restoration it was decided to focus all resources on making the north wheel operational.

Sarehole Mill has five sluice gates. The sluice gates are nothing more than thick planks of oak wood that can be lefted up-and-down, under which water flows, which in turns controls the water flow into the water wheels. One water wheel is used to move water out of the millpond, by passing the two wheels, in the event of a heavy rain storm and the mill being flooded. The sluice gates are moved up-and-down either by the use of a lever, or by a simple handle.

The five sluice gates are located as follows:

Sluice gate 1 - Millpond overflow, by passing both wheels – this is permanently stuck shut
Sluice gate 2 – North wheel – inner sluice gate – this is permanently stuck half open
Sluice gate 3 – North wheel – outer sluice gate – this is still operational and can moved up-and-down
Sluice gate 4 – North wheel – inner sluice gate – this is permanently shut
Sluice gate 5 – North wheel – outer sluice gate – this is completely rotten, permanently shut and in danger of collapsing


The proposal is to replace sluice gates 1, 3 and 5

Replacing sluice gate 1 will allow the mill to lower the millpond level in the event of heavy rainstorms. The mill has been flooded several times in recent years, due to the present gate stuck shut and not repairable.

Replacing sluice gate 3 will allow us to close water off to sluice gate 2 and given us the chance to do regular maintenance on it. Plus we will be able to regularly remove silt from the millrace in between sluice gates 2 and 3.



Replacing sluice gate 5 will prevent an complete collapse of the gate and subsequent drainage of the millpond. It will also allow us to start to moving towards getting the south wheel operational. Our long term aspiration is to connect this wheel to a motor and generate hydroelectric power for nearby houses.

Once we have these sluice gates fixed, it will allow us to desilt the millpond. We had been warned by a millwright that desilting the pond first without changing the sluice gates would result in sluice gate 5 collapsing under the higher water pressure from the millpond.



Once the millpond is desilted, we can get the north wheel spinning faster. At the moment, it is kept to spinning as slow as possible, so as to prevent sucking any silt from the pond onto the waterwheel. We do have a problem with silt gradually building up underneath the waterwill and in the tailrace leading from the north wheel. Having the opportunity to do fast bursts of water will allow us to flush all this silt out.

The cost of desilting the pond is approximately £200,000. We already have £50,000 towards this from the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery Development Trust.

The three sluice gates will be replaced by the end of March.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Work begins on the restoration of the South Africa War memorial in Cannon Hill Park



Work is to begin in the coming weeks to restore the South African War memorial in Cannon Hill Park, Moseley. This follows a successful application to the War Memorial Trust for £15,000, plus match funding of £15,000 from the Council.

The memorial is a large and impressive feature at the northern end of Cannon Hill. However, the years have not been kind to it: features have been stolen; underground movement has cracked the granite plinth; a lack of pointing is allowing water ingress into the plinth causing more damage and finally, the bronze sculptures have lost their protective coating and now slowly corroding away.

The South African War memorial was unveiled on 23rd June 1906 to remember the servicemen from Birmingham who were killed in the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902. Similar other South African War memorials erected up and down Britain were the first known example of mass raising of war memorials in this country. The scale was unprecedented, no previous war, even those of a similar scale such as the Crimea (1854-1857) and the Napoleonic Wars (1798-1815), resulted in such a popular and public expression.

The Cannon Hill Park South African War Memorial was design by Albert Toft who would go on to design the King Edward VII stutue (now in front of Baskerville House) and the bronze allegorical figures around the Hall of Memory, Centenary Square.

This memorial portrays both war and peace, featuring two soldiers at either side of a gun carriage – one represents Courage, the other Endurance. Standing above the two solders is a female figure holding a shield showing the City Arms and an olive branch.

On three of the four sides of the granite plinth, are bronze plaques with the names of the Fallen, while the fourth face contains a bronze bas-relief showing two figures representing Grief and Sympathy.

The four corners of the granite plinth did contain bronze figures which we believe were eagles, but we have been unable to find any close-up photos to confirm their design.

As mentioned above a number of features have been stolen, these include: the four eagles at the corners of the granite plinth; the olive branch held by Peace; the rifles and bayonets on the backs of the two solders.

If you look at the four bronze plaques on the granite plinth, you will see where scrap metal thieves have tried to crow-bar them off – the granite has been damaged and the bronze plaques bent in places.

The restoration work will do the following:

  • Restore the bronze features back to their original bronze finish, not the present green corrosive coating. The bronze features will also have a protective coating to stop any further corrosion.
  • The granite plinth will be cleaned, carefully repointed and any missing sections of granite re-instated.
  • The olive branch for the Peace figure will be reinstated. We have good quality photographs which we can use to create a replica.

I am trying to find the extra £2,000 to fund the re-creation of the rifles and bayonets, but made in plastic resin.

We don’t have any detailed photos of the eagles that were around the base, so we are unable to recreate these.

We hope to have the restoration work completed by the end of March.