Sutton first to host new digital hubs

Rebecca Hambleton, Street Manager at BT and Raj Mack, Head of Digital Innovation and Partnerships at Birmingham City Council
One of the new Street Hub units in Sutton Coldfield

BT Street Hubs offer free ads for local business and environmental monitoring

Sutton Coldfield has pioneered the introduction of new street digital advertising units, with a town business reaping the benefit of free advertising.

Birmingham is latest UK city to benefit from BT’s new digital street units, with the first three units unveiled in Sutton , and more to follow across the city over the next few months. 

As part of the launch, local businesses in Birmingham are being given the chance to advertise for free on the new Street Hub units.

The first to benefit in the town is Andy Thompson, owner of Live @ Level One, a 200-plus capacity live music venue in Sutton Coldfield, who is enjoying free advertising on the new units,

BT is donating up to £7.5 million of outdoor advertising space to small businesses across the UK, as it continues its nationwide roll out of the new Street Hub 2.0 units – which help build the UK’s digital infrastructure and include services such as ultrafast Wi-Fi, an emergency call button and rapid mobile device charging.

The launch comes as a recent BT study found that more than 60 per cent of small businesses agree that local advertising would help to increase awareness of their business, with 40 per cent saying it would encourage more people to shop at their local high street.

However, almost half (49 per cent) said that cost was a major obstacle to them investing in local Out Of Home (OOH) advertising. BT is now taking action to remove one of the biggest barriers to adoption, with the Street Hub’s digital advertising screens designed to help small firms attract more customers to high streets.

The new digital units can also help local councils achieve their social and economic improvement and sustainability goals. With Birmingham City Council aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030, each Street Hub 2.0 unit is to be fitted with air quality and CO2 sensors.

Birmingham participated in the first trials of air quality data monitoring with BT in 2019, with data collected from modular sensors installed on first generation Street Hubs units. The sensors provided insight to a group of researchers and scientists, led by the University of Birmingham, to help monitor air pollution in the area. 

With the next generation Street Hubs, Birmingham City Council can benefit from real-time, actionable data on Carbon Monoxide (CO), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NO), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Particulate Matter (PM1, 2.5 and 10). 

Expanding air quality monitoring across the city will provide Birmingham City Council with the insight needed to take action to improve air quality, contributing to the health and wellbeing of local people.

Street Hubs can also help to enhance digital connectivity and services for communities through features such as ultrafast Wi-Fi, access to  charity helplines, and local wayfinding via an integrated tablet. 

Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, Brigid Jones, said: “The last couple of years has seen a devastating impact on many of our local businesses, charities and community organisations.

“I hope our communities and voluntary sector organisations use this opportunity to raise awareness of the fantastic work they are doing to support our communities and local centres. 

Andy Thompson, Owner of Live @ Level One with his new advertisement

“We welcome this digital investment by BT, enhancing Birmingham’s growing reputation as a welcoming place for digital innovation and investment.”

Rebecca Hambleton, Street Manager at BT, said: “We hope that, by gifting free digital advertising space via our new Street Hub units, we can give small businesses in Birmingham an extra boost.

“Our new Street Hub units can play a vital role in rejuvenating local high streets – whether that’s through building greater awareness of small businesses through free advertising, boosting local digital infrastructure or helping cities to reach their sustainability goals.

“It’s great to see the new units will shortly be providing valuable ‘real time’ data on air quality for the local council, helping to keep Birmingham a clean city to live and visit.”

Andy Thompson said: “I’m already a relentless marketer, promoter, and advertiser but I’m limited to the avenues that we can afford as a small business.

“Local advertising opportunities, like those provided by BT’s new Street Hub 2.0 units, offer more exposure, and give new local businesses like mine a greater chance of survival and success.”

BT’s latest study also revealed that around two thirds (66 per cent) of local businesses think that mobile connectivity could be improved in their local community, to help them work faster and smarter. BT’s new Street Hub 2.0 units will enhance local digital infrastructure by including the option to install mini mobile masts or ‘small cells’ on the structure to further boost 4G and 5G coverage in the local area. 

Subject to local planning processes, BT is aiming to roll out around 300 of its new Street Hub 2.0 units across the UK in the next 12 months, working closely with local councils and communities.

Blooming marvellous gardens

Even smaller displays could be winners in the Heart of England in Bloom competition

Get growing for competition Sutton residents urged

Sutton Coldfield in Bloom is as much about people as it is about plants. After the last couple of difficult years plenty of you spent a lot more time in your gardens, benefiting from being outside and doing something healthy.

Have you got a fabulous outdoor space you’ve created? A gorgeous garden, a beautiful balcony, or a pergola to be proud of? We’d love to see fabulous photos of all things green and gorgeous as well as outdoor structures, great and small.

Summer’s coming and we want to celebrate your efforts and see the spoils of your hard work which would contribute to Sutton Coldfield taking part in the annual Heart of England in Bloom competition.

The competition is free to enter and open to residents, businesses, schools and churches with prizes in two categories:

  1. Best Garden (any size, front, back or side)
  2. Something Small (hanging baskets, window boxes, planters)

It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced gardener or a beginner – we’d love you to enter this year’s competition.

To enter, simply take a picture of your garden and email it to stating which category you would like to be assessed on. Closing date is 19th June and winners will be contacted week commencing 27th June. Photographs will be used for Town Council publications including our In Bloom portfolio.

Cheers as Four Oaks opens after facelift

The Four Oaks in Sutton Coldfield has reopened after a huge facelift

Upmarket features and outdoor dining featured in multi-million pound refit

A second pub in Sutton Coldfield has opened after undergoing a multi-million pound facelift, offering an upmarket feel and an extra bonus for electric car drivers.

Following the reopening of the former Blake Barn, the Four Oaks pub in is now open, with a remodelled and striking interior, beautiful outdoor spaces and an exceptional food offering that celebrates the very best of British produce.

Not only that, the pub also offers much-needed multiple electric car charging points on the car park for the convencience of the local community.

Sitting in a prime location next to Sutton Park and the historic four oak trees giving rise to its name, The Four Oaks pub has been radically transformed, both inside and out, to showcase an outstanding venue that provides the perfect setting for all social occasions all year round. The extensive restoration has also created 54 new jobs locally.

From its beautifully elevated main entrance to its stunning interiors, The Four Oaks pub has been extensively re-designed and every detail carefully re-imagined to create a hand-crafted feel to inspire and welcome its guests.

Internal features include a new walnut bar, blackened steel bar fonts and limestone flooring, offset with elegant velvet upholstery in earthy tones, and real oak. The impressive crittall wine room, raised private dining room and Scandi inspired spaces, with warming fires throughout, beautifully blend tradition with innovation to offer a relaxed and cosy environment.

Guests looking for an al-fresco spot to socialise with family and friends can choose to enjoy the terraced patio at the side of the pub or scandi-style garden at the rear of the pub, featuring fire pits and a fully-stocked outdoor bar.

Liam Smith, general manager at The Four Oaks, said: “We have created a beautiful and inviting space to welcome guests at any time of day – whether they’re joining us for brunch or for Sunday lunch after a family or dog walk in Sutton Park, or for an evening with friends. 

“With increased dining capacity for 180 guests inside and 100 outside, the food and drink offering at The Four Oaks showcases the best of British farms and vineyards and the new menu focused on outstanding food, from exceptional Sunday roasts to small plates and stix, perfect for shared grazing. There is an extensive selection of drinks, including special craft ales and lagers, classic and crafted cocktails, plus an array of non-alcoholic drinks. 

“We can’t wait to share our impressive new space with our surrounding community and look forward to welcoming our guests – both old and new – to The Four Oaks.”

For more information, please visit

New hospice boss springs into action

St Giles CEO joins hundreds of riders at charity cycle event

The new CEO at St Giles Hospice is starting as he means to go on after joining cyclists at the charity’s annual Cycle Spring fundraising bike ride on 8 May.

Interim Chief Executive Officer Andrew Harkness, a pharmacist and experienced NHS executive director, took up his new role this month and set off on the 77-mile cycle alongside St Giles’ Chair of The Board of Trustees, Robin Vickers.

He said that taking part in Cycle Spring was the perfect way to introduce himself to staff, volunteers and supporters, as well as play his part in helping to raise the vital funds needed each year to keep the hospice running.

“St Giles is a wonderful organisation and I’m honoured and delighted to have taken part in Cycle Spring in my new role as its CEO,” he said. “Our Cycle Spring and Autumn events play a huge part in raising the funds that St Giles needs to support its care services and as soon as I joined the hospice I wanted to join in and play my part. 

“Cycle Spring attracts hundreds of riders from across the region and I’d like to thank everyone who attended this year’s event. Its continuing success is down to the fantastic goodwill of our wonderful supporters and our dedicated hospice volunteers who turn out to help make sure that our events run like clockwork. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed my ride through the beautiful Staffordshire countryside and the community spirit of everyone involved was truly inspiring – I’m looking forward to taking part in more fundraising events over the coming months.”

Starting from 7.30am, 509 riders set off to enjoy one of three different routes through the countryside – with 27-mile, 50-mile, and 77-mile distances catering for cyclists of all ages and abilities. All of the rides began and ended at the Whittington hospice.

Zoe Wright, Events Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: “Cycle Spring had a fantastic atmosphere this year and it was great to see our new CEO getting involved. We were also heartened to watch everyone getting back in the saddle after having to cancel our events in 2020 and make changes in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As usual, we couldn’t have done it without the expert help of Freedom Cycles, Rugeley Bicycle Repairs and BikeBOT who helped our riders to deal with any last-minute mechanical issues.”

She added that this year’s Cycle Spring has so far raised almost £35,000.

“If you weren’t able to make it to Cycle Spring this year – or enjoyed your ride so much that you want to take part again – then don’t forget to sign up for Cycle Autumn, which will be taking place on Sunday 11th September,” said Zoe.

“And if you are thinking of coming along we’d also ask you to consider raising sponsorship, as the entry fee only covers the event’s administration costs, so all funds raised on top of this make a real difference to the services we can provide for patients and their families who are living with a terminal illness. 

“A donation of £40 could pay for an hour of our advice and referrals team, £202 could pay for visits to a patient in their own home by our community nurses, and £676 could pay for 24 hours of hospice care for a patient at the end of their life.”

For more information about Cycle Autumn, please visit

New look as popular Sutton pub reopens

The Quill & Taper at Four Oaks opens on May 19
The newly revamped Quill & Taper at Four Oaks opens on May 19

Blake Barn becomes The Quill & Taper after major revamp

The manager of a popular pub in Sutton Coldfield which has undergone a huge facelift and a change name has promised customers a fantastic experience when it reopens this month.

The oddly-named Quill & Taper, formerly the Blake Barn in Four Oaks, has been closed for more than a month while the multi-million pound refit took place.

It opens official on May, but there will be a ‘soft’ reopening for invited guests a few days before with 50 per cent off food offered.

The Blake Barn before the major revamp

The pub says customers can expect crafted cask ales, alongside a dedicated shelf of malt whiskeys, gins and an extensive wine list and an extensive food menu.

There are limited slots for soft opening on Friday, May 13 and Sunday, May 15. To book online at

As well as the comprehensive interior revamp, the outside garden area has a new look with more chairs and tables and an upmarket atmosphere

Chris Todd, general manager, said: “We can’t wait to welcome guests to our pub after this incredible refurbishment. We want our guests to feel comfortable and happy during their visit to The Quill & Taper at Four Oaks, so our team has put a great level of detail into creating a friendly and inviting atmosphere.

“We have got an incredible range of refreshing new drinks and mouth-watering food options for guests to enjoy as they celebrate and toast to a fantastic summer ahead!”

Sutton Trust awards £133k to good causes

Mrs Jayne Luckett, Head Teacher at Deanery C.E. Primary School, a previous recipient

Eight initiatives in town to share windfall

A charitable trust in Sutton Coldfield, which has been in existence for almost 500 years, has revealed new beneficiaries who will share more than £133,000.

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, which strives to improve the quality of life in Sutton Coldfield, has announced beneficiaries, with a total of £133,490 being awarded to Sutton Coldfield Grammar Schools for Girls, Walmley Tennis Club, Walmley Junior School, Salus Fatigue Foundation, Harvest Fields Community Centre, Town Junior School, Memory Café in Walmley and Sutton Coldfield Acoustic Guitar Club.

The funds will help towards a number of initiatives such as improving playing courts, equipment and venue hire space, as well as a ‘Daily Mile’ track creation for Town Junior School and funding local support for Salus Fatigue Foundation, to help sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Over the past few years, the trust has granted well over £1,000,000 in grants to organisations and individuals across Sutton Coldfield, with plans to continue making vital improvements and helping those in need, in the area.

Tina Swani, chief executive of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, said: “It’s always great to see the impact that our grants have on the local community. We’re dedicated to improving the quality of life in Sutton Coldfield and these grants will help to achieve that.”

David Cole, grants manager at Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, said: “We’re proud to support organisations and individuals in need of funds. For those who would like to apply for a grant, it must be for the benefit of residents and organisations within the Borough of Sutton Coldfield.

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust has awarded well over £1 million in grants

“For an individual, this can be anyone who is currently a resident in and has lived in one of the council wards of Birmingham City Council known as the Sutton Coldfield constituency for at least five years and is in need.”

“We’ve received a high volume of grant applications in the last year, which is the biggest the trust has ever seen, and we’re proud to have invested more than £423,000 in the past seven months, to support the local community.”

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust supports individuals in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, or other disadvantage, and anyone in these categories can make an application for items such as domestic equipment, further education, childcare costs, school clothing grants and to meet other needs.

The trust also provides school clothing grants, with application forms available through its website and uniforms can also be picked up from a local school. The closing date for receipt of applications is 12pm on Thursday 30 June 2022.

To find out more information about how to apply for a grant or Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, please visit: 

What is Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust?

  • The principal objectives of the Trust are the provision of Almshouses, the distribution of funds and other measures for the alleviation of hardship and other needs for inhabitants and organisations within the boundaries of the former Borough of Sutton Coldfield.
  • The Trust’s origins can be traced back to Tudor times. Throughout a long history it has improved the lives of generations of people in Sutton Coldfield, particularly those in the greatest need.  It has sustained its core priority to alleviate suffering, while redefining and extending its benefits to reflect changing times and needs.