Published on November 21st, 2018 | by John OMeara



The Handsworth Wood Ward Forum on 15th November focused heavily on crime and environmental issues, and there were signs that a new form of police engagement with tenants and landlords of houses in multi-occupation was reducing levels of disruption to neighbours’ lives. Questions were posed about how far decision making at ward level should involve wider leadership, collaboration across wards, and influence in city-wide policy making, but not for the first time it proved difficult to make the shift from pressing day to day issues to the policies which arguably lie behind the issues – not least because of a lack of time.

1. Police Issues: acting on information from residents, there has been a police focus on illicit activity by people hanging around in cars and on fly-tipping in Woodend, producing marked improvements and 2 prosecutions for fly-tipping. Sgt. Dominic McGrath from the Neighbourhood Police Team requested that residents with similar concerns get in touch with the Team (

There have been 6 recent arrests for burglary and 4 of these are currently in custody; 4 local premises have been closed down due to drugs and prostitution (again, residents encouraged to get in touch if they have similar concerns). Sgt. McGrath said the Team would follow up on two issues raised by residents where poor security arrangements, in one case round a recently sold property and in another round a supported housing scheme, are exposing whole rows of rear gardens to burglary risk.

John Tyrell, Chair of Handsworth Wood Residents Association, reported that there had been really helpful intervention from the police, particularly from the local PCSO Sam Shaw, with tenants in HMO’s who behave in an anti-social way and with landlords who fail to take responsibility for their properties. Where necessary Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have been used and the police are prepared to take further legal steps where required, said Sgt. McGrath, and to move towards the lengthy process of closing down the worst offending properties.

In order to gather the evidence needed to begin enforcement action concerns about properties have to be reported through the police 101 system or, which has proved easier recently, via the LiveChat button which can be found on the right hand side of the West Midlands Police website’s homepage. But this can be supplemented by discussions with the Handsworth Wood Team at the Uplands police surgeries or via their e-mail address.

It was confirmed that vehicles without  MOT  or with no tax for at least 2 months and 1 day can be reported to the local Police Team who will arrange for removal. You can check at, and also report the vehicle via this site as well (a message will automatically be forwarded to the local Team).

The estate bounded by Camp Lane/Sandwell Rd/Oxhill Rd now has a group of 120 residents who are carrying out informal patrols in order to increase security, and it was agreed that they would attend the next police surgery at Uplands Allotments  on 17th November to discuss how to become an official Streetwatch and/or Neighbourhood Watch group. The surgeries will now happen every month at Uplands and the next one will be on 15th December between 12pm and 2pm.

The way burglars most often get into properties is by snapping the locks on patio and other doors, and everyone should be looking to ensure that their locks are ‘anti-snap’ ones. More simply, windows are still too often being left open, and it is all too obvious when a house is empty – leave a light on. Sgt. McGrath emphasised the importance of this for Handsworth Wood in particular because of the degree to which it is seen and targetted as an affluent area.

The local Team now have 5 officers, compared to 10 before the cuts, so say that they are unable to come out to deal with residents’ concerns about car parking issues. To try and address this they are introducing Operation Parksafe: a system for residents’ making their own reports of dangerous parking in a way which will allow he Team to initiate action (parking tickets issued). Sgt. McGrath gave a verbal outline of the process, but like many others (I suspect) I was relying on being able to come back to the written information handed out to remind me how it works. Unfortunately this information is very inadequate – worded as if for police officers and failing to clarify which situations can be reported and how. There is also nothing on the Team’s website about Parksafe. The Team needs to get its act together on this if the scheme is to have any impact.

PCSO Paul Graham will now be dedicated to the Handsworth Wood area until at least the end of the winter.

2. Environmental Issues: local resident Eugene, from the Taverners Green area, shared his concerns about the steady reduction of green space as a result of front gardens being completely removed and replaced by concrete or other impermeable material: soon, he said, we would no longer be Handsworth Wood. He acknowledged the need for off-road parking but made a plea for people to limit themselves to a couple of parking spaces and to leave the remainder of the front garden, hedge, trees etc. There were voices for and against on this issue, which may represent a real ‘fault line’ within the local population.

Neil De-Costa (Senior Service Manager, Neighbourhood Development and Support) suggested that the Handsworth Wood in Bloom initiative could take a lead in promoting this theme, and that this should be considered as part of the Ward Plan and funding bids arising from it. Councillor Kooner said that planning permission had to be sought for concrete/impermeable drives. There was a reminder that it was illegal to remove trees with Tree Protection Orders, and that the only people authorised to deal with trees on Council land were the Council’s contractors Amey. The Environmental Enforcement Team will be attending a future ward meeting.

Keith Smith from Amey talked about the programme of inspections and works on local roads to ensure that anything judged a serious hazard is dealt with, such as severe potholes, faulty street lights and overhanging trees. Every road is inspected every 6 months, potholes are judged on a 3 point scale of severity; the most urgent are dealt with within a month, but less urgent ones are only done if there is spare time. All trees and lights are subject to a set programme of inspection, and there is a programme for tree pruning which fits in with the seasonal variations of each type of tree. There is concern about faulty/poor street lighting in the Copthall Road area, but it was confirmed this is not currently on a schedule to be dealt with; Keith Smith did, however, commit to an examination of tree concerns in that area to see if pruning is required.

3. Ward Plan: Neil De-Costa outlined the ward planning process, which should produce a document combining statistical data and the budgets available locally, information about ward resources/capacity, and priorities for the ward agreed by all parties (these may be largely ones agreed before, or new ones that have been identified). Neil stressed the advisability of focusing on a small number of priorities that are achievable as opposed to a very long ‘wishlist’. A separate ward meeting will be set aside to work on the plan: Thursday 24th January 7pm at Hamstead Pavillion. You can see the proforma for the plan and some background information underneath 4. below.

4. Wider Engagement: local resident Richard Hatcher, a leading voice in the city on education policy, repeated his call from the last meeting to look beyond the ‘hyper-local’ and consider how local areas could influence the big policy decisions on education, health, social care, housing, the environment and other core themes. This would be achieved not just by collaborating on shared issues across the 5 ward boundaries in Handsworth, but also by delegating local people to represent the area on central policy making committees. Currently there seems to be local puzzlement on how to practically move from where we are now to this new situation, and there is a need to look at the idea alongside discussions about the role of Neighbourhood Forums, residents’ associations, inter-ward collaboration, and the Council’s current proposals on local democracy.

In a packed meeting of the old bigger Handsworth Wood ward in November last year* Councillors Hamilton and Kooner responded to demands from the meeting by committing to a Handsworth-wide (all 5 of the current wards) strategic event on the future of Handsworth, to include planning, jobs and skills, and drawing on the knowledge of a wide range of officers/experts. This is where the smaller and bigger pictures could be combined, and the need for such an event is becoming more pressing. Is this now about councillor leadership or other people’s leadership?

*click on StrategicForum and scroll down to last para of the report

Date of next meeting: 24th January 7pm at Hamstead Pavillion (for Ward Planning)

Ward Planning background information and pro-forma:

Council Priorities

  • Birmingham is an entrepreneurial city to learn, work and invest in
  • Birmingham is an aspirational city to grow up in
  • Birmingham is a fulfilling city to age well in
  • Birmingham residents gain the maximum benefit from hosting the Commonwealth Games


Ward Priorities (Conference September 2015)

  • Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
  • Governance
  • Crime and Disorder
  • Cleaner and Greener
  • Economy, Jobs and Skills
  • Community Support and Development


Local Innovation Fund Priorities (latest ward priorities) 2017

  1. Traffic flow – College Road /Cornwall by the Co-op
  2. Community Cohesion
  3. Environmental/Cleanliness-Education working with Schools and the local
  4. Health and Wellbeing – Elderly and young (Dementia and childhood obesity)
  5. Jobs and skills – Re-skilling the over 50’s
  6. Healthy Villages – Mental Health issues and Dementia .Local café  and get together areas
  7. Crime Reduction
  8. Public spaces enhancement


Ward Tracker Priorities (from ward meetings May 2016 – April 2018)

  • Environment
  • Highways – parking/speeding
  • Crime and Policing (including ASB)
  • Housing – Private Rented Sector / HMOs

Handsworth Wood Ward plan as at  November 2017  

  What’s the Issue? Where is it? What do we want to see done about it?
1.       Parking (including schools)


Grestone Av, Cherry Orchard, Rookery Road, St. James

College Road, Coopers Road,

The Grange


Increased/improved parking/better implementation of enforcement
2.       Grass verges (management & maintenance)


Outside Grestone and Cherry Orchard School Preserve verges
3.       Litter / clean streets / litter bin collections


Mainly Handsworth





All over ward

dumping/tipping/dropping rubbish, inconsiderate and illegal parking, speeding and noise.


More bins, Enforcement and Education

4.       Parks & open spaces (management & maintenance) All our parks


Better enhancement and improved facilities
5.       Amey roads / pavements / lights / trees Endwood Court More trees
6.       Road safety Cornwall Road/College Rd

Grestone Avenue & Rookery Road

Improved Traffic Flow & Road safety


7.       Neighbourhood policing / community safety


Amhurst Avenue

Cornwall Road

Worlds End Road

Aylesford Road

Rookery Road

Headingly Road

Somerset Road

Windermere Road

Stockwell Road

Crime, burglaries

Damage to properties asb, and crime



Tackle Modern Slavery & Prostitution

8.       Housing & private renting


Cornwall Road

Stockwell Road

Sandwell Road

Newcombe Road

Greenhill Road

Uplands Road

Antrobus Road

Somerset Road

Selbourne Road

Issues with ASB

Better control and limit % of HMO in an area


9.       Local jobs & skills Throughout ward


*Focus on all residents including over 50s

*Look at impact of Brexit on local businesses and tackle

*Better access to advice and upskilling of residents

10.   Older people’s care Throughout ward


To tackle loneliness, mental health, dementia, depression – organised activities


  1. Youth work – both Centre and street based, and cross-cultural.
  2. Anti-social behaviour: dumping/tipping/dropping rubbish, inconsiderate and illegal parking, speeding and noise.
  3. Vulnerable people, including disabilities, domestic abuse, mental health, FGM and modern slavery.
  4. Access to advice: dealing with the spectrum across benefits, debt, housing, basic legal, computer skills, advocacy and the ability to accompany and represent people when required.
  5. Increased control over numbers and operation of HMO’s, and induction of new arrivals in the area – aimed at reducing problems arising under 2,3 and 4 above.


PRIORITY THREE:  – Neighbourhood focused planning.

Draw on best practice elsewhere in the city and nationally to ensure that planning control is used in a way which bests manage the housing and other social and environmental issues. whilst also preserving the area as predominantly residential, comprised of dwelling houses /single occupancy rather than Houses in Multiple Occupation.  Industrial and commercial activity would be controlled so that the area maintains its essential character.  A mixture of community education to existing and newly arrived communities explaining planning expectations, together with consistent enforcement based on a shared vision for the area.  This could deliver both consistent planning decisions and messaging across the area designed to develop a shared understanding amongst residents of permissible activity. An important theme of the HMO issue is identifying best practice to prevent HMO’s being let as ‘supported accommodation’ where this support is inadequate, and pressures are increased for local residents.



[insert ward name] WARD PLAN 2018 – 2022




[Insert new ward map below]









Item                                                                                                  Page

Ward Description                                                                         4

Policy context                                                                              X

Priorities 2012-14                                                                         X

Useful Contacts                                                                           X




Ward Description


[insert ward name] Ward is made up of the following neighbourhoods (or roads): [insert neighbourhoods or roads].



Ward Councillor(s):

[insert ward councillor(s) name(s), photo and contact details]



The [insert ward name] Ward is within the parliamentary constituency of [insert constituency name].



The local Member of Parliament for [insert constituency name] within which [insert ward name] Ward is situated is in is [insert MP’s name].



[Insert interesting history about the ward/the origin of the ward here (if appropriate)]



Key information


[insert ward name] Ward:

  • has a population of approximately [insert population details];
  • has a [delete as appropriate – young/older/or mixed] age profile;
  • has a [insert detail] demographic profile;
  • has a total claimant unemployed rate of [insert detail];
  • is ranked [insert detail] on the indices of multiple deprivation;
  • has a tenure profile of mainly [insert detail i.e. owner occupier, rented, housing or mixed] properties.


There are [x] schools within the ward [insert number of primary schools and secondary schools], [x] colleges for further education and [x] universities [delete/add information as appropriate].


Significant resources in the ward include:

  • [insert detail]



Key stakeholders within the ward include:

  • [insert detail e.g. West Midlands Police, West Midlands Fire Service ].





Policy Context


The Paper Localism in Birmingham: A Framework for Future Policy, March 2018 set out objectives for future ward-based working which will focus on: improved service delivery in neighbourhoods, an agenda of “Neighbourly Neighbourhoods” and a commitment to a “Whole Place” and “Whole System” way of working.


The new ward planning process is one of the main mechanisms by which citizens and communities can participate in setting local priorities themselves. The ward plan will be used to develop and enhance local engagement and community governance. The ward plan will highlight local priorities and planned actions.



The ward plan aligns with Birmingham City Council Vision and Priorities 2017-2020


BIRMIINGHAM CITY COUNCIL VISION –A city of growth where every child, citizen and place matters.




·       Birmingham is an entrepreneurial city to learn, work and invest in

  • Birmingham is an aspirational city to grow up in
  • Birmingham is a fulfilling city to age well in
  • Birmingham is a great city to live in
  • Birmingham residents gain the maximum benefit from hosting the Commonwealth Games




Ward Priorities



Although new ward arrangements provide an opportunity through ward meetings, councillors’ advice surgeries and stakeholder engagement to re-establish local priorities, it is important to revisit and note previously agreed ward priorities and the ward action tracker, which has tracked ward priorities for over 12 months.


Ward Tracker Priorities [insert previous ward name]:

  • [insert old ward priorities] e.g. ASB, Environment, Housing – Private Rented Sector / HMOs etc.


Local Innovation Fund Priorities:

  • [insert old ward priorities] e.g. community cohesion, local engagement, environmental improvement


Local Community Safety Partnership and/or Neighbourhood Tasking Group Priorities (where applicable):

  • [insert priorities] e.g. Community engagement, street crime,






  1. The sum of £48k from the old ward arrangements have been devolved to the organisations within the ward to deliver Local Innovation Fund (LIF)


Project Org. name Sum awarded Status



  1. A share of the Proceeds of Crime funding (where/if applicable) will be allocated to the ward [insert exact detail]


Project Org. name Sum awarded Status





  1. Highways Ward Minor Transport Measures budget [insert exact detail]










Project Org. name Sum awarded Status







Housing Environmental Works budget – tba


Project Location Sum allocated Status



  1. Section 106 funding (where/if applicable) [insert detail]


Project Location Sum allocated Status





  1. Neighbourhood Network Scheme (where/if applicable)


Project Location Sum allocated Status



  1. Community Infrastructure Levy (where/if applicable)


Project Location Sum allocated Status



Please list any other sources of ward-based funding below.




Useful Links!/vizhome/2018BirminghamWardProfiles/2018Birm inghamWardProfiles


[agreed links to be agreed and added]







This plan has been drafted following engagement and discussions with local residents and ward stakeholders. It was been agreed and adopted by those present at the [insert ward name] Ward meeting on: [insert day, date and year], which was held at [insert meeting venue name].



Signed [elected member(s) signature(s):                                                                              




Elected member (2)                            Signed:                                                            



[insert ward name] Ward Plan – September 2018


A city of growth where every child, citizen and place matters.


Priority 1 [insert priority (a maximum of 6) e.g. Children & Young People, Environment, Parking and Road Safety etc.]



Action(s) / What needs to be done? Where? By Who? By When Stakeholders/





Priority 2 [insert priority]



Action(s) / What needs to be done? Where? By Who? By When Stakeholders/





Priority 3 [insert priority]



Action(s) / What needs to be done? Where? By Who? By When Stakeholders/







Priority 4 [insert priority]



Action(s) / What needs to be done? Where? By Who? By When Stakeholders/




Priority 5 [insert priority]



Action(s) / What needs to be done? Where? By Who? By When Stakeholders/ Resources Update



Priority 6 [insert priority]



Action(s) / What needs to be done? By Who? By When? Stakeholders/ Resources Where/with who? Update


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