No. 37 Bus Protests
Dozens meet to oppose route change
In July we reported that we'd been contacted by bus users, angry at a poorly publicised change to the route of the 37 bus. It no longer stops at Olton Station, instead staying on the A41 Warwick Road.
Since then there have been two well-attended protest meetings, led by local resident Adam Pearce. Around 40 were at the first, with 60 attending the second at Olton Library.
Lib Dem Councillor John Windmill said "National Express have treated bus users badly, with a lack of decent consultation and warning. We heard of one blind man who waited for 90 minutes at the station stop for a bus that would never come."
Organiser Adam Pearce said “the Lib Dems have been very helpful to our campaign, and have been working very hard for local people”.
Many were sceptical about National Express's justification for the changes. We made sure the Council knew of the concerns, and they have since installed temporary bus- stops a little closer to the station, by the library.
Points raised at the meeting were:
● The bus now often waits at the stop near Aldi because it's running ahead of schedule (avoiding the station stop is meant to prevent delays)
● The service is effectively discriminating against elderly and disabled people, as well as parents with pushchairs
● People of all ages have reported being late for work due to delays crossing Warwick Road
● The changes discourage the use of public transport at Olton Interchange
A third protest meeting will take place at St Margaret's Church on October 8th at 10am.
We'd like your feedback here
Good Rail News
There’s some good news for rail users. From October 2017 there could be extra capacity, more frequent services and free Wi-Fi under a new, locally managed West Midlands rail network.
Councillor John Windmill’s News In Brief
TAKING A STAND OVER DISABLED PARKING SPACES
I was shocked at a planning application presented by the owners of Mell Square which came to us on the Planning Committee recently. They aim to create a new eating area in Drury Lane which would result in a loss of eight disabled parking spaces. No disabled organisations were consulted, yet Council Officers recommended the Plan to our committee. I spoke against the proposals, appalled at the lack of consultation.
There seems to be a wish to remove all vehicle access to Mell Square, even for people with disabilities, to improve the 'outdoor dining experience' and street scene. Ironically this came to the Planning Committee just as the Paralympic Games were opening in Rio.
Our committee sent the plan back for amendments. Either disabled parking must be allowed to remain alongside a smaller outdoor dining area or the applicant should provide alternative surface level parking.
GRANGE ROAD PHONE MAST
We spoke to residents near the proposed site of a mobile phone mast, on Grange Rd by the railway bridge. Some were concerned, but most welcomed a phone signal improvement. The final decision depends on whether the mast can be erected so close to other underground services.
THE LITERARY LITTER PICKERS
Join Chris Dunster and her volunteers at the next community litter picking events on Oct. 15th and Nov. 12th, starting from Olton Library at 10.30am. See you there!
I contacted the Council over a tree stump obstructing the pavement in Dunsmore Grove. They removed the stump and repaired the pavement. A similar problem arose in Bourton Road and your Olton Councillors approached the Council. This has been partially fixed although, at the time of publication, some tarmacking is still to be done.
MONASTERY DRIVE NO WAITING ZONE
Olton recently got two new double-yellow-line zones. The first is near the station, to prevent rail travellers blocking residential roads. The other zone is outside the synagogue on one side of Monastery Drive. I have officially requested that the double yellows be on both sides of the road, following appeals by residents there.
UNITED REFORM CHURCH, KINETON GREEN ROAD
The Group campaigning to re-develop the Church as an Olton community centre have been on a fact-finding visit to a volunteer-run community centre in Chelmsley Wood. They are talking again to the Church Authorities, and are seeking expert advice about the repairs required and the costs involved. We’ll keep you posted in future Focuses.
Recycling and Waste
Less frequent collections or paying to have garden waste removed?
Solihull Council has been asking residents their opinions on the future of waste and recycling collections. A charge for garden waste? Less frequent collections? A fourth bin for food waste? The survey has ended, but you can still tell us what you think so we are prepared for when these decisions come to the Council.
The survey asked for your opinion on the frequency of collections, whether you'd be prepared to have a fourth bin for food waste, and how much (if anything) you'd be prepared to pay for the garden waste collection.
Perhaps you think that houses with larger gardens already pay a higher Council Tax, and shouldn't pay more for their garden waste collection? Or maybe you think that if more of us composted our garden waste the Council could save money with less frequent collections?
We believe recycling is important. Solihull lags behind other similar Councils so we should do more. Do you agree?
Brookvale Care Home
Solihull Council is demolishing Brookvale Care Home in Olton so the site can be sold to fund a new care home in the south of the Borough.
The new one should be better suited to caring for those with advanced dementia. However, it’s unlikely to open before 2019 at the earliest.
The Council decided in February to close the home, due to the difficulty involved in bringing it up to modern standards. Clearing the site at 111 Warwick Road should take until mid-December.
We are hopeful that some modern medical facilities can be included on the Olton site when it is redeveloped.
JLR Reveal Expansion Plans
Jaguar Land Rover want to build a new Logistics Operation Centre on green belt land off Damson Parkway.
This scheme would consist of 22 acres of warehousing, offices and parking. JLR say it would provide a more efficient and effective logistics operation for the Solihull Plant. They want to realign Damson Parkway putting in two roundabouts, possibly slowing traffic flow at busy times.
Many see this as good for local jobs and the region's economy. Others are concerned about the effect on the nearby nature reserve and park.
What do you think? Tell us here.
Hundreds of homes to be built in the town centre?
Station could be moved too
The Council has big and, for some, controversial plans for how Solihull Town Centre is to develop over the next 20 years.
The MasterPlan talks about a future relocation of the station to Monkspath Hall Road, opposite Tudor Grange Park. The site of the old station could then be used for housing.
Council planners also discuss creating a new residential quarter to the North-East of Mell Square. This could cater for retired people looking to ‘downsize’, as well as young professionals.
They hope to develop more of an evening economy for the town centre, with more restaurants and entertainment venues.
The initial consultation has ended, but if you missed out this time there'll be another chance. The overall Solihull Local Development Plan, of which this is one part, will be open for consultation at the end of the year.
We have details of the MasterPlan here - Tell us what you think.
MENTAL CARE BEDS TO CLOSE IN SOLIHULL
Our regional Mental Health Trust may soon be closing the Bruce Burns Unit at Solihull Hospital.
This mixed stand-alone unit is being reviewed by the Trust, with the possibility that Solihull residents would instead be treated in specialised units in Birmingham or Smiths Wood.
We expect a public consultation to begin soon.
Lib Dem Councillor Jo Fairburn will be keeping a close watch on this to make sure that local patients benefit from beds within easy travelling distance for relatives and friends, and that we don't return to the awful large scale practice of shipping patients 200 miles for a bed.
If you are unhappy with the current or proposed mental health bed provision, or have a relative who is currently in a mental health bed many miles away, please contact us.
Lib Dems winning across Britain
In by elections across the country since the local elections in May, Liberal Democrats have been taking council seats from Conservatives, Labour and UKIP.
Liberal Democrats are doing better than any other party in local by elections, which is down to our traditionally hard-working councillors.
Welcome to our new members
We are delighted to report that over the past few months, membership of our party has shot up! Liberal Democrat membership is now the highest it has been in 10 years.