Sutton residents warned on vehicle crime

Residents in Sutton Coldfield have been reminded that there has been a rise in vehicle crime.

Among the trends noticed by West Midlands Police are:

  • Ford vehicles are in the main being targeted
  • Most thefts happen after 8pm
  • Tools are being stolen from vans
  • Cars are being stolen for parts because of the national shortage of car parts
  • Most crimes are keyless thefts. Which means the key’s frequency is scanned, copied and used to unlock the vehicle

Stefanie Sadler, Police, Engagement & Consultation officer, Birmingham Partnerships, says concerned residents in Sutton and across the West Midlands are now advised to take precautions which include:

  • Keeping cars parked in well-lit areas or secure car parks – especially in the evening
  • Keeping your keyless fob in a faraday bag so the frequency cannot be hacked
  • Removing all valuables from the vehicle when parked. This includes tools
  • There’s lots of vehicle security solutions that are available including steering wheel locks or immobilisers

Police say they know they cannot respond to all individual thefts. However we desperately need information that could help to stop this rising trend. If you see or know anything please visit our website and speak to us on Live Chat, call 101 or Crimestopperson 0800 555 111.

 Taking a motor vehicle belonging to someone else without the owner’s consent or without lawful authority is illegal. A motor vehicle is legally defined as ‘a mechanically propelled vehicle made, intended or adapted for use on roads’.

If the suspect who steals the car drives in a dangerous manner, or is involved in a collision that injures someone else, damages the car or other property then they could face charges of aggravated vehicle taking.

If a suspect takes a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission then this may be an offence known as Taking Without Owner’s Consent (TWOC).

For information, visit:

Supercars with power and panache

The stylish and powerful McLaren GT
The more powerful, yet equally stylish McLaren 720S

McLaren GT and 720S

By Bill McCarthy

When is a supercar not a supercar? Well according to McLaren, it’s the GT, classed as Grand Tourer, but without doubt delivering supercar performance. Its stablemate, the 720S, has no such nuances and is classed as an out and out supercar.

There’s no doubt both deliver supercar prices, with the GT starting at £163k and the 720S from £215k.

Both offer stunning performance on the track or, when permissible, on the open road.

Both look stunning with 720S coupe and 720S Spider cabriolet delivering a brutal 720PS from its four litre V8 engine, while the GT delivers a less muscular 620PS, but both are capable of reaching 200 mph.

Both are light with monoframe bodies surrounded by carbon fibre chassis and aluminium panels, which also allows for good interior space and the lowest kerb weights. At 1,530kg (DIN), the McLaren GT is more than 130kg lighter than its closest core competitor

There’s also practicality in the shape of the GT, with ample room under the full length, glazed, powered tailgate for a set of golf clubs and, because it is mid-engined, space in the front storage area. The 720S is tighter with baggage space behind the seats and 150 litres of space under the front pane.

The low height of the engine and positioning of the exhaust system has allowed the volume, shape and usability of the luggage bay to be optimised. 

A golf bag or two pairs of 185cm skis and boots, as well as luggage, can be carried with ease, while a further 150 litres of storage at the front means the GT can accommodate a total of 570 litres.

And unlike some supercars where you need to be a contortionist to get in and out, the signature gull-wing doors offer easy access and egress, although the GT offers the easier access of the two.

They look the part, sleek and elegant with longer overhangs, muscular curves, with large air scoops, showstopping alloy wheels and aerodynamically turned to slice through the air with minimum resistance.

A key feature on the 720S is the absence of radiator intakes on the side of the car, which has been replaced unique ‘double-skin’ aerodynamic form of the dihedral doors, which channel air to the high-temperature radiators that cool the mid-mounted engine. 

As you would expect with both cars, the cabin is sports focussed, but offers some luxurious leather offset by aluminium switchgear, and high-end sound system although not on the same level as a similarly priced Bentley Continental GT.

The GT has a more sophisticated feel, with the 720S more stripped back to unleash the extra power.

On the road, both are remarkably responsive and the harder you push, the better the drive. Both were taken on a simulated Alpine route, followed, a straight mile power run and laps on a two mile oval banked track.

Both are mated to a seven-speed auto transmission with the option of using steering wheel paddles. 

The immense power and torque of both were evident at all times as was the superb handling on the twisting, sometimes icy mountain track.

With the aid of the new generation of McLaren’s Proactive Chassis Control combined with power-assisted, electro-hydraulic steering they deliver a thrilling experience as they cling limpet-like to the road on the tightest of hairpins. 

They respond with an almost balletic poise as the steering keeps the car where you are pointing it.

In addition, the Proactive Chassis Control suspension of the 720S, uses inputs from sensors to ‘read’ the road ahead, interpreting what is likely to happen next and reacting predictively in just two milliseconds.

Switch to the straight mile run for blistering acceleration, both the GT and 720 race to 60mph in 2.8 seconds, and 3.2 seconds respectively. Stand on the brakes as they end of the track approaches at 150mph and the car comes to a standstill in just over four seconds.

For those looking for an even more raw, full-fat driving experience, choose from Comfort, Sport, or Track modes for an even more jaw-clenching experience.

Just as impressive is the GT which can hit 60mph in just 3.1 seconds and on to 125mph in just nine seconds, again with instant braking.

And just in case anyone hadn’t noticed you, a bespoke exhaust system can deliver a spitting crackling roar under acceleration, or a more discrete sound under more normal circumstances.

Stunning performance, but both are capable of being driven in a more sedate environment with the braking and steering at lower speeds optimised for everyday ease of use as ride height and ground clearances engineered for urban usability

Creature comforts are catered for with the GT offering Standard, Pioneer and Luxe interior specifications with high-quality materials throughout and advanced technologies including ambient lighting, new McLaren Infotainment System II and optional electrochromic panoramic glazed roof.

The 720S comes as Standard, Performance and Luxury trim.

Suffice to say economy and CO2 emissions are nothing to write home about, but when you spend on a car, it’s not a major issue, is it? 

There’s no doubt they are superb cars and brilliant to drive. Supercars in the true sense of the word.

Special party for Sutton residents

Tea party bring almshouse residents together for first time since pandemic

It was time for a celebration as Sutton Coldfield residents enjoyed their first party since the lockdown.

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust (SCCT) held a special tea party for residents of its 46 almshouses following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions this autumn. 

Guests at the Residents’ Tea Party were treated to afternoon tea, coffee, cakes, sandwiches, and music. For some residents, it was their first opportunity to see one another in over 18 months, due to Covid-19.

The tea party was one of three separate events organised by Almshouse manager Pamela Johnston, with Almshouse wardens Marie and Michael. A number of trustees joined Pam at the events, alongside Tina Swani, Chief Executive of the trust, and trustee Ammo Singh.

Of the events, almshouse manager Pamela Johnston commented: “The residents have greatly missed our regular social gatherings during the past eighteen months, and it was a pleasure to organise the tea parties where they could meet and socialise in person whilst maintaining sensible protocols. I know that they thoroughly enjoyed the events.”

The event coincided with the 75th anniversary of The Almshouse Association, a support organisation representing over 1,600 independent almshouse charities across the UK.

Pamela Johnston with Tina Swani and trustee Ammo Singh taking a break from the celebration

While Covid-19 has seen management exercising extra caution to protect its residents over the festive season, Christmas hampers have also been arranged to spread some cheer among Almshouse residents.

With 2021 coming to an end, the trust will also be releasing its 2020/2021 annual review, highlighting its many achievements throughout the year. The review details the total grants awarded, which came to approximately £1.1m in 2021.

This includes over £73,000 in school uniform grants, with almost 50 per cent more local families in poverty receiving grants to buy school uniforms in 2021.

For many years, the trust has supported local residents in sheltered or retirement accommodation with a contribution towards their festive celebrations. This year, 21 groups were awarded grants totalling £14,171.

Tea, sandwiches and cakes on the party menu

The trust remains committed to major ongoing expenditure to maintain and improve its almshouses and residents’ facilities, as well a wide range of communities throughout Sutton Coldfield.

With the release of their Social Needs Review coming in spring 2022, the trust will gain invaluable insight into Sutton Coldfield’s most vulnerable local communities, which will heavily influence their long-term strategic decisions and plans.

The trust recognises that the outcome of the Review will be of interest to the wider community and statutory agencies, and therefore aims to hold dissemination events from spring 2022. 

On track for a dance celebration

An innovative project which provides free training to children with a talent for dance celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2022. And to mark the occasion, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Dance Track is inviting everyone who has been through its programme to a celebration, including anyone form Sutton Coldfield who have been involved.

Launched in 1997, Dance Track offers specialist dance training to hundreds of inner-city children aged between six and 11, providing free classes, uniforms, the chance to see live shows and the opportunity to perform.

Run by BRB’s Learning, Engagement, Access and Participation department, the programme aims to reach into the community and support children who may not have access to high quality dance education.

Many Dance Track children have gained places at the Royal Ballet and Elmhurst Ballet Schools and have gone on to dance professionally but the team believe all the participants have benefited.

“I am so passionate about the programme because we are changing lives – it’s not just about teaching dance,” says BRB Learning and Participation Manager Rebecca Brookes.

“It’s about teaching social skills, self-development, independence, how to interact and communicate with each other. It’s also about understanding how to work as a team, how to perform, be an appreciative audience member and learn to be a critical thinker to enhance their ballet skills.” 

Dance Track would not be possible without its many supporters. The programme’s 25th anniversary activities will be supported by HSBC UK and Birmingham Royal Ballet is totally committed to the project.

Since its launch, Dance Track has supported 3,500 youngsters and now the team are keen to hear from as many former Dance Track students as possible for the 25th anniversary celebrations which include a new book and an event in the spring.

Dance Track children perform in the BRB production of The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome

 “We want to reach all those people who remember Dance Track, remember their teachers, remember what it did for them – however big or small – to know what that impact was. Maybe it changed their life choices,” says Rebecca. “We would like to celebrate the achievements of everyone, students and staff, who have been involved in the programme.”

Nine-year-old Joshua McKenzie was just five when the Dance Track team visited his school, St Teresa’s Catholic Primary in Handsworth Wood, and he was offered a place on Dance Track.

Joshua has excelled and is now a Royal Ballet Associate and an Elmhurst Young Dancer and was picked to dance a child role in this year’s BRB production of The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome. 

“It’s a life-changing experience for him,” says his mum Pei. “We didn’t know that he would find that ballet was something he would go on to become really passionate about. Before this he was someone who liked to be in the background but ballet has changed him and given him so much more confidence. He now enjoys being in the spotlight.”

This September, Joshua’s seven-year-old sister Kimora also joined Dance Track and Pei is grateful for the opportunities the programme brings.

“Most of the kids on Dance Track are just from normal families,” she says. “Dance Track is a place where everyone comes together and we feel we are valued. It is free and they get the best. Everyone is so wonderful, it’s the best programme in the world.”

*If you are an alumni of Dance Track, the team would love to hear from you at

Sutton Coldfield practice aims for 1,000 jabs a day

Dr Rahul Dubb
Dr Rahul Dubb 

A leading Sutton Coldfield GP has said a massive effort was under way in the town to vaccinate 1,000 people a day as the new omicron Covid variant spreads.

Sutton Coldfield Group Practice has ramped up its capacity, to meet that ambitious target, according to a report in the Express and Star newspaper and website.

Doctor Rahul Dubb, the local GP leading on vaccinations, said the efforts were in response to the government announcement and target of offering booster vaccines to all over 18s by the end of the year.

He said: “We are putting these appointments on the National Booking Service and you can book either online or, if you do not have access to the internet, by ringing 119.

“Please remember, if you have not had any vaccination as yet or not completed your initial complete two jabs, or three for those who are immunosuppressed, you can have these at the Sutton Coldfield Town Hall as well.

“It is also vital to continue precautions of washing hands, maintaining space and wearing a mask as advised by the government.”

He added: “I am forever grateful to our volunteers and all SCGP staff who are making this possible by lengthening the times they work to 13 hour days, with more vaccinators and working through some of the bank holiday period to ensure we get our local residents protected as best as possible.

“Although the government have advised us to focus on vaccinations and urgent care as top priorities, I am proud that the practice is being run without closure of services while simultaneously upscaling the vaccination effort.

“Please get your booster jab at three months after your last jab, as soon as you’re eligible to have it. Wishing all Sutton Coldfield residents a safe and Merry Christmas.”

To book online visit

Deserted Parade paints a grim picture

This is the slightly eerie picture of The Parade in Sutton Coldfield at 7.30pm on December 16, virtually devoid of revellers just a week before Christmas.

There’s little sign of the festive season and the Christmas lights and decorations looking slightly out of place in the deserted street.

The place would normally be packed with works Christmas party-goers, but it would appear people have voted with their feet to avoid the Omicron virus.

While many of the pubs and restaurants had people on their premises, they were far from full and most had emptied by around 9pm.

Maybe people are saving cash or waiting to get further news of the virus and its spread, but its clear that yet again hospitality is suffering more than any other sector and prosperous Sutton Coldfield is no exception.

Best in the business

Some of the successful JE Consulting team

Sutton Coldfield firm wins recognition for supporting clients during lockdown

A leading consultancy firm involved with delivering more than 3.6 communications to businesses across the UK during the COVID-19 lockdowns, has scooped a prestigious award.

Judges at this year’s Just.Marketing Awards have announced Sutton Coldfield marketing agency, JE Consulting, as a winner of Best Performance During COVID-19 category for its support of accountancy and legal firms during the pandemic.

The firm helped deliver this staggering number of communications to the clients of some of the UK’s top professional service firms during the last year.

The hard work and commitment not only helped them to retain clients during the most difficult of circumstances but also win new clients.

The win places them alongside top campaigns produced by Sage UK, Mazda and Green Cola.

This achievement and its team’s wider work to support these sectors impressed the judges at the awards that were organised with the help of the PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association) and backed by the Creative Marketing Council.

They were particularly impressed with the speed and effectiveness of the content produced by the firm’s Recover and Rebuild campaign.

Working with more than 100 firms of accountants and solicitors, JE Consulting’s team helped their clients to educate and inform businesses and individuals throughout the nation about the complex changes brought about by COVID-19 – a role they continue to support to this day.

This was achieved through the production of regular articles, press releases, guides, social media content and dedicated hubs.

Jo and Paul Edwards, JE Consulting’s founders and directors, said: “We are over the moon to win this award. It is fantastic recognition of the incredible hard work that we put in during one of the most challenging periods in recent history.

“The content and marketing strategies that we implemented for accountants, solicitors and many other companies have played a significant role in helping them to survive and thrive.

“A big thank you has to go to our team, who worked tirelessly, and our clients who stood by and supported us through all that the pandemic has had to offer.”

Tree-mendous effort to help St Giles

Julie, Ian and Riley Deaves taking part in TreeCycle in January 2021.

Recycling Christmas trees raised £65k for hospice

Sutton Coldfield people are being urged to help make St Giles Hospice’s annual TreeCycle campaign next January (2022) the most successful yet.

Since 2016, local families and businesses have been disposing of their real Christmas tree in a clean, convenient and eco-friendly way by signing up to have their trees collected by the hospice’s army of volunteers in return for a small donation.

In January this year, 76 volunteers took part in TreeCycle. They picked up 4,428 Christmas trees, raising over £65,000 for the hospice, which cares for local people and their families living with a terminal illness.

This year St Giles is hoping that even more people will sign up to have their real Christmas tree recycled – and is calling for volunteers to step forward to help collect trees in January (2022).

Chloe Herbert, Head of Fundraising at St Giles Hospice, said: “TreeCycle is a brilliant fundraising campaign which supports our work at the hospice and makes a real difference to the environment too, so we’re delighted to be running it again this year. 

“We received an amazing response from our supporters and volunteers last January, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re hoping that this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever. If you’ve got a real Christmas tree then please sign up to TreeCycle, and we’ll take away your tree with no mess and no fuss.

“We’re also looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join our TreeCycle team – so if you want to banish your winter blues by taking part in something truly worthwhile then we’d love to hear from you. It costs St Giles £850,000 every month just to keep our services going so every donated tree and every hour volunteered makes a huge difference to everyone at the hospice.

“St Giles would also really like to thank Lichfield Tree Works, Greener Composting and Wincanton – without their support this campaign would just not be possible.”

Julie Deaves (47), a regular St Giles volunteer who lives in Lichfield and runs a business with her husband Ian (48), has taken part in the last two TreeCycle collections with Ian and their 12-year-old son Riley.

She said: “We absolutely loved taking part. It was really nice to do something worthwhile together as a family. St Giles is a great cause and it was really good to be able to help out. Riley really enjoyed it too – he said that when he’s a teenager he’s going to volunteer and get all his mates to join in.

“Volunteering for TreeCycle is our way of giving something back to the local community and we’d encourage anyone who is thinking of taking part to get involved. Signing up as a volunteer for TreeCycle is also a great way to be able to contribute to a good cause by giving up your time.

“Not only is it very rewarding,” she added. “It’s a great workout too and a good way to start getting back in shape after Christmas. It’s also great for the environment as you are putting your old tree to good use, as well as saving you time as you don’t have to queue at your local tip.

“TreeCycle is a great event which really helps the charity and the difference it makes is beyond words – especially when the charity is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic when shops had to close and events were cancelled.”

This will be the seventh year that St Giles has been running TreeCycle to raise funds for the hospice, and teams will collect trees from around Lichfield, Walsall, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Burton, Rugeley, Burntwood, Uttoxeter, Swadlincote, Stafford and surrounding areas.

TreeCycle will be collecting trees from Wednesday 5th until Wednesday 12th January 2022. The suggested donation for trees up to 8ft is £10 and the donation for trees up to 10ft is £12. For trees over 10ft, please call 01543 432538. 

Collections must be booked by 5pm on Wednesday 5th January 2022 and trees should be left out overnight on Tuesday 4th January as collections will start early the following morning.

Lichfield Tree Works and Greener Composting in Wall, Lichfield, will be recycling the trees for agricultural uses and as a result artificial trees cannot be accepted. 

To find out more about volunteering for TreeCycle, please email or call 01543 432538. For more information or to book a collection visit


The impressively laid out bar area at the new Ale Hub in Mere Green

Sutton’s newest drinks venue pulls in the punters

‘People have been really welcoming to us and we have had a really successful opening day.’

Those are the words of the manager of Sutton Coldfield’s newest pub, which opened its doors on December 2.

A tiny yet welcoming atmosphere awaits ale enthusiasts at the tiny, but impressively laid out  micropub.

Locals enjoy a drink at the packed venue on Hill Village Road

Run by the McDiarmid family, it will be their fourth Ale Hub and manager Dan Truepenny says he has no doubt it will be a success.

He said: “It is our first pub on a main road and the feedback we have had so far has been really positive.

“People have been very keen to welcome us and we offer something that is pretty unique in this area.”

There was standing room only on the opening night and locals welcomed the fact that its specialises in real ales.

It is small with around 12 tables, but people spending their first evening there were able to do what the owners had planned for the venue.

That was to be able to socialise and enjoy good ales with just background music as the only distraction.
The former premises of Garner Canning Solicitors on Hill Village Road will add more variation to the already vibrant food and drink scene.

The owners said they have a love of real ale and their aim is to help to revitalise the local pub scene and provide the community with a choice of refreshing and well-kept drinks in a relaxed and friendly environment.