Like many parents of young children, I used the opportunity presented by the recent fine weather to take my daughters to the park for some fresh air and exercise.
I was struck by how poor the state of the children’s play areas has become in recent years. In Brueton Park for example, the climbing frame has vanished and the roundabout has been welded to the floor.
Tudor Grange and Monkspath are little better, and the state of the play areas gets even worse as you travel out to Elmdon or Olton.
The council boasted proudly of their Green Flag parks in their local election material, yet I see little evidence that they are being duty cared for (at least in so far as the play areas are concerned).
In the end we took the girls to Stratford and Warwick which have excellent parks. I find myself asking why parents in an affluent town like Solihull should have to travel to Warwickshire in order to access decent parks?
Our frugal council stress that they seek value for money when spending our council tax, but Stratford and Warwick are also administered by Conservative councils, yet they find the resources to keep their public amenities at an excellent standard while remaining prosperous. Why can’t ours?
Muswell Close, Solihull
I sadly have to concur with Shirley Otter on the state of local shops on Shirley High Street. However this is a sad reflection of austerity measures with the council cutting services and maximising land sales, the state of our shopping habits and the greed of national retail chains and store landlords and the local council maximising business rates.
Sadly gone are the days when shopping was not only a weekly necessity but also a social activity. I remember going shopping with my mother as a child, the butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger among the regular stops. Passing the time of day with the store keepers as well as bumping into several of my mother’s friends where prolonged conversations would take place.
With the weekly/monthly shop now being done by using a car to drive to a large store this feeling of community has been lost in all but a few shops still providing a personal service.
Now with on-line shopping we have seen the demise of smaller specialist stores and even larger chains are closing feeling the loss of footfall. M&S being among the more recent to announce closures on a national level.
The arrival of Park Gate and Asda in Shirley has resulted in the predicted demise of many of the independent retailers on the Shirley High Street. The high rents and rates of the smaller stores mean they cannot compete. There is a burgeoning influx of charity shops, take aways, coffee shops and eating establishments. However there are still many empty shop units from closed businesses, unable to pay high rents and council rates. The long term future of stores and retail outlets is not a secure one.
It is quite apparent that to rejuvenate Shirley, the High Street and its environs it is not stores or shops that people need but credible leisure facilities, as well as a more pleasing vista and reduction of traffic speed and volume on the High Street. The Powergen site should’ve been developed as a leisure complex for the long term benefit of the Shirley community. Instead what we have is another petrol station which in the long term, possibly another 10 to 20 years will not be able to sustain fuel sales as the switch to electric engines takes effect.
The High Street can be made a vibrant place if given the investment in facilities people want to use for recreation and with better pedestrian/traffic management.
Thank you to the people of Elmdon who put their faith and trust in me when voting during the recent local elections. I am honoured and humbled to have been elected to represent you as councillor and promise to continue to work hard for you over the coming years.
Meeting so many of you in the Elmdon community has made the last few months a real treat and I promise to do my best to repay your trust.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in recent months; your support and kindness means a great deal to me.
I would particularly like to thank the local supporters who helped me deliver thousands of leaflets. Without you I would be writing a very different letter today.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to retiring Councillor Martin Hewings, who served Elmdon for eight years. Martin has dedicated a huge portion of his adult life to the community, first in his work within the NHS and on retirement by serving his community as a councillor. He has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Elmdon residents and has succeeded in so many ways. He has left very big boots to fill and I’m sure the community will join me in thanking him and wishing him a very fulfilling retirement.
Councillor Laura McCarthy
I could not help but notice in the “Shirley “ edition of your newspaper that the front page was devoted to the “ Revamped memorial in time for centenary “ article on the work done in Knowle, on their war memorial.
Compare this to the less than quarter page 4 article on Thursday March 22nd covering the work done on the Shirley war memorial in the grounds of St James Church, adjacent to the busy Stratford Road.
The cleaning of our memorial is now complete and we are looking forward to having the lettering reinstated, subject to agreement from the War Memorial Trust.
I am sure that the population of Shirley, which in fact greater than the population of Knowle and Dorridge combined, would welcome seeing their war memorial on the front page of their edition of the “ Shirley Observer “, once this work is finished.