All posts by Macfivenews

Motoring and travel journalist, opinionated gob on a stick

CHEERS! NEW MERE GREEN BOOZER OPENS DOORS

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.

New Mere Green boozer to open doors

Welcome for Sutton’s newest drinks venue

Sutton Coldfield’s newest pub will open its doors next week on December 2. Work is continuing at the Mere Green venue to get the micropub ready for the grand opening on Thursday.

Run by the McDiarmid family, it will be their fourth Ale Hub.

The former premises of Garner Canning Solicitors on Hill Village Road has been undergoing a refit and in its new incarnation will offer traditional ales for drinkers together with a selection of gins, other drinks and bar snacks and provide a relaxed environment for customers.

It will be open from midday to 11pm seven days a week.

The former solicitor’s office on Hill Village Road

The mini boozer, will have a capacity of around 12 tables. There will be background music, but no electronic machines, with the emphasis on conversation and socialising with few distractions.

Opening well in time for Christmas, it adds a new dimension for drinkers in the Mere Green area, adding more variation to the already vibrant food and drink scene.

The family 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.

The tiny new pub, sandwiched between a general store and a barbers shop, will offer another option for tipplers in the area.

New hotels on Larnaka horizon

A host of new hotels are on the horizon for the Larnaka region of Cyprus – including resort hotels, boutique establishments and even lodgings in historic, listed buildings, expanding the choice of accommodation available to visitors.

At present, there are 25 applications approved or under consideration across the city centre and beyond, whilst several units already under construction will soon be opening their doors to welcome their first visitors.

In particular, the Voroklini-Pyla coastal area (also known as Larnaka-Dekeleia Road) is seeing a luxury resort boom along its strip, starting with the 2022 season openings of the Radisson Beach Resort Larnaca and the Solaar Boutique Hotel.

The 5-star Radisson Beach Resort Larnaca will have a 404-bed capacity and rooms with private pools, a spa, four food and beverage outlets and event venues.

The Solaar Boutique Hotel & Spa (where the former Michael’s hotel stood) will have a 114-bed capacity, three private villas, luxury spa, rooftop restaurant and conference room with sea views.

Another three deluxe establishments along the same strip are in the approval process pipeline; a four-star hotel with apartments on the site of the former Beau Rivage Hotel; an adjacent five-star complex, and a further luxury hotel east of Golden Bay Beach Hotel. The addition of further high-star hotels along this particular area of the coastal road will also tie in with the area’s upgrading and further new development following the removal of the oil refinery tanks.

The beauty of accommodation in Larnaka region has always been its diversity, and with the increase in hotel units continuing to provide a balanced mixture of grand resorts for luxury laid-back relaxation, and quirky city establishments for the traveller who likes to explore, visitors are sure to find somewhere that is perfect for their ideal holiday!

For more information visit https://larnakaregion.com

Police in new knife crime crackdown

Operation Sceptre weapons sweep

WEST Midlands Police are again attempting to stem the tide of knife crime with another Operation Sceptre initiative in Sutton Coldfield.

Police says that with Covid restrictions in place they can’t involve the community in their work as much as they would like to, but Sutton residents may see officers involved with weapon sweeps where we will be looking for knives hidden in public places.

They will also be:

  • Test purchasing – where we will be checking that retailers are being responsible and only selling knives to people of the correct age
  • Using knife arches and knife wands to search for weapons
  • Having a more significant presence at transport hubs including bus stations

Police say they would normally be talking to children in school about knives and the dangers of knife carrying but we cannot do this at the moment.

However, if you want to take this week as an opportunity to talk to your child about knife crime officers have help and advice on how to have that chat, including what to say on our website.

https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/campaigns/life-or-knife

Fundraisers on the run at castle

Fun begins with St Giles Hospice Rudolph Run

Fundraisers are being invited to spread a little Christmas cheer and kick off their festive fun as the St Giles Hospice Rudolph Run makes a welcome return to Tamworth Castle next month (December).

Runners, walkers, teams of friends and families – and their four-legged friends – will be able to take part in the popular festive fundraising event either in Tamworth Castle Grounds on Sunday, 5th December, or in their own local area.

The annual Rudolph Run was cancelled last year (2020) because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with supporters taking part in their local area instead. Rudolph Run Your Way proved so popular that it is being offered as an option this year as well.

This year’s Rudolph Run hopes to see hundreds of supporters – many in fancy dress – stepping out to help St Giles Hospice, which cares for local people and their families living with a terminal illness.

St Giles Hospice Events Manager Zoe Wright said the Rudolph Run is a fun-packed event suitable for all the family, including pet dogs, and with either a 3km or 6km route to run or walk, there is something for people of all abilities.

“Everyone at St Giles loves the Rudolph Run,” said Zoe. “For us – and for our loyal fundraisers who come back year after year – it marks the true start of Christmas. It’s a colourful, festive event, which never fails to get people in the Yuletide spirit and adds to the seasonal sparkle – and by raising sponsorship as well as dressing up and having fun you can make a real difference for the families who need us most.

“So many people who take part love to dress up, and they put so much effort into their fantastic costumes. Each year we see whole families and teams of friends or co-workers coming along dressed as Christmas trees, reindeer, elves and snowmen, which really adds to the fun.  So join us in your Christmas jumper, support us dressed as Santa or enjoy an adventure in your antlers at our 13th annual Rudolph Run!; 

“If you’re unable to join us at Tamworth Castle, you can still take part in your own time. Simply spread some festive cheer in your Christmas gear around your local area as we did last year – taking on Rudolph Run “Your Way” anytime between Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th December.”

Over the last 12 years, the St Giles Hospice Rudolph Run has raised a staggering £83,000 to help care for local people, and their families.

Zoe added: “We’d love to say a huge thank you to everyone who takes part each year. We simply couldn’t do what we do without your support. Your entry fee covers the administration cost of the event, but it would make a huge difference if you could raise sponsorship too.

“With only a third of our income funded by the Government, your support really is crucial in helping us deliver our care – especially at this time of year, when we are helping families who may be facing their last Christmas together and trying to make it as special as possible for them.”

A donation of £40 to St Giles could pay for one hour of the hospice’s Advice and Referrals team. A donation of £202 could pay for visits to a patient in their own home by St Giles community nurses, and £676 could fund 24 hours of hospice care for a patient at the end of their life.

St Giles has also unveiled a host of festive fundraising events and ideas to help people who want to support the hospice at home, work or school in the run-up to Christmas this year.

Zoe said: “Friday, 10th December will see our annual Jolly Jumper Day taking place, where people are encouraged to wear their wonderful woolly for a suggested donation of £1. We’re also promoting our Secret Santa Swap, encouraging people to donate the funds they would have spent on a Secret Santa to St Giles.

“You can also get a Merry Messages Poster to write messages for your family, friends or colleagues, make dedicated donations as gifts or we can give you loads of ideas to host a festive fun day. We’re also selling a wide range of our popular charity Christmas cards.”

For more information about this year’s Rudolph Run, visit http://www.stgileshospice.com/rudolphrun

For fundraising ideas to support St Giles Hospice this Christmas, visit http://www.stgileshospice.com/get-festive

Teeing up the best of the west of Scotland

The iconic lighthouse on Turnberry Golf Course, which is open to the public

The west coast of Scotland has many famous sons, and no, we’re not talking about Donald Trump and his offspring. Yes, Trump does own the famous Turnberry golf course, but this part of the world, Ayrshire, with its rugged coastline and secluded beach is famous for other Scotsmen and women.

King of Scots Robert I, better known as Robert the Bruce, was born at Turnberry Castle, he defeated the English during the first war of Scottish independence, while poet Robert Burns, also known as the National Bard and the Bard of Ayrshire, is also a native as is Alexander Fleming, who credited with discovering penicillin. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also hails from Ayrshire.

So there’s quite a history to the area and it attracts tourists looking for peace and quiet away from the madding crowd. Or, golfers looking for some of the finest courses in the world.

Our visit took us to a mobile home site halfway between the small village of Turnberry and the town of Girvan, just a stone’s throw from the sea. The views from the site, operated by Park Holidays are spectacular with the iconic Ailsa Craig dominating the view. Described as a huge volcanic plug of rock, it sits in the Firth of Clyde, 12 miles from the mainland.

It is famous for its  “blue hone” microgranite, quarried to make curling stones that feature in the Winter Olympics.

It was also a feature during coverage of previous Open golf championships, with cameras taking lingering shots of its brooding presence in the distance.

The site itself features a number of carvan styles and we were lucky enough to bag a bit of a bargain, with one of the lower grade ‘Bronze’ grade caravans costing us just £230 for the week.

An added bonus was that we were automatically upgraded to a range-topping eight-berth when we arrived.

Facilities are decent enough, with laundry, waste disposal, play areas, small shop and bar/restaurant available.

The Firth of Clyde waves lap onto the beach at Girvan, the ninth hole at Turnberry, St George’s Square in Glasgow an autumn sunset from the campsite and the brooding Ailsa Craig in the distance

The bar looks out over Ailsa Craig and hosts evening entertainment depending on what stage of the season you are there. It was still going reasonably well in late September.

There is plenty to see and do within the immediate area, particularly if you are a fan of ancient buildings with castles.

Further afield, Glasgow is less than 50 miles away and can be reached by rail if you have had enough of driving. It’s a beautiful city and well worth a visit, with Glasgow Central one of the most iconic railway stations in the UK.

More locally, there are golf courses everywhere with Turnberry just a couple of miles away, while other Open courses like Troon and Prestwick are just up the coastline.

The most picturesque of course is Turnberry with the iconic lighthouse, built by the family of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, in the middle of the course and Ailsa Craig in the distance. Public footpaths allow people to wander up the lighthouse and the runways which were used during the Second World War are still part of the course, although now unused.

Just next to the lighthouse, are the still visible ruins of Turnberry Castle, home of Robert the Bruce who defeated the English in battle. It is located between the 9th and 10th holes of the Championship Ailsa course.

Slightly further afield is Culzean Castle and Country Park is the perfect place for a family day out, while if you fancy a wee dram, a specialist whisky shop is nearby.

Turnberry itself offers some small beaches with rolling sand dunes and its flora, fauna and wildlife in general give the designation of Site of Special Scientifc Interest (SSSI), so well worth bringing our binoculars along. While Ailsa Craig still dominates here, further in the distance are the Isle of Arran.

While the site shop is small, carrying necessities, there is a boutique farm shop just down the road and for a more substantial shop in the small town of Girvan is about three miles away.

It’s a picturesque little town with a small harbour and a long promenade with access to beaches.

It hosts a large supermarket and the railway station for that trip to Glasgow.

We had postponed a foreign holiday and, given the huge rise in staycations during the pandemic, we were lucky to find somewhere as picturesque and relaxing. A first holiday in Scotland, definitely not the last 

FACTFILE

Park Holidays UK, a major group of 40-plus parks in England and Scotland. Due to the popularity of holiday home ownership, there are currently no plans to provide any letting facilities in 2022. However, says the company, it’s likely that some holiday home owners will wish to make their accommodation available for sub-letting next year – and by the end of December, details will be known and published on the company’s website (www.parkholidays.com).

Sutton hunt for park rapist stepped up

Police at the scene in the park behind Princess Alice Drive

CCTV search and extra police patrols

Police in Sutton Coldfield have stepped their hunt for the man who raped a woman in a park.

West Midlands Police have increased patrols and are trawling through CCTV in their hunt for the rapist,

Officers say they are continuing to support the woman and want to reassure residents that the investigation is “still very much ongoing” weeks after the attack.

The attack happened in Princess Alice Park between 8pm and 9pm on Sunday, October 3.

Superintendent Annie Miller, who is overseeing the investigation, said: “I know the local strength of feeling about this.

“People are rightly shocked that this has happened on their doorstep.

“This crime is despicable. It’s a really difficult time for the survivor and her loved ones.

“We thank everyone who has contacted us with information so far.

“Our efforts to find this man continue and we’re doing everything we can.

“Local officers continue to patrol the area, as we want women to feel safe and be safe.

“Male violence against women is not acceptable.”

Officers say they are methodically going through CCTV footage in order to identify the man who is described as white, aged 20 to 35, of medium to stocky build and “extra broad” around the shoulders.ADVERTISING

He spoke with a Birmingham accent and was wearing a grey tracksuit and black trainers.

Police believe after speaking to people in the area, that he may have been in the park in the days and possibly weeks leading up to the attack

They say they have also checked whether there have been reports of similar attacks, and although at this time, they don’t believe there have been, they are not ruling anything out.

Drinkers warned of spiking menace

Photo by Marcus Herzberg on Pexels.com

Sutton Coldfield revellers warned to beware

With drink spiking reaching epidemic proportions, not least in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands Police have offered guidelines over how to avoid the it.

Our priority, as always, will be to keep you safe. We know that there’s still lots of concerns about being spiked while out so we’re doing even more to stop crimes before they happen.

Our officers on patrol and CCTV operators will be using behavioural science techniques to identify suspicious behaviour and body language. If they spot something, they’ll have a chat and see what’s going on and take further action such as stop and search if they have to.
Our sniffer dogs will also be out walking queues ready to detect drugs and weapons while our drone team will be monitoring crowded places.

We’ve bought in 500 multiple drug test kits and have detectives ready to respond to reports of spiking. The aim is to get samples from the casualty as soon as possible to help us detect drugs in their system. This will help us bring offenders before the courts

. We’ve also been sharing the signs of spiking so people know how to stay safe, what to look out for and when to get help.
Bars are briefed and almost all of them are taking extra measures to keep their customers safe. ID checks and extra searches can be expected along with more patrols inside the venue with close monitoring of CCTV.
Staff are ready to help if people need it, with larger clubs providing on site medics.

Some places are also offering free drug detection kits for people who are worried their drink may have been tampered with.
Street Pastors and wardens will also be out patrolling and ready to respond. 
Detective Superintendent Sean Phillips is leading on our response to the rise in reports of spiking. He said: “The aim of spiking may be to incapacitate someone enough to rob or sexually assault them. Sometimes it is just intended as a joke – a bad joke because it’s very dangerous.
“People can be spiked with extra shots added to their drinks or by drugs being added. Spiking has also come to mean being injected with drugs without their knowledge or permission.

“Spiking is an act of violence – most often by men against women and it’s got to stop. We’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”
No needle stick reports in the West Midlands have resulted in subsequent crimes against the victim, such as robbery or sexual assaults.
Sexual offences have followed in 10 drink spiking crimes. These include rape, attempt rape, sexual assault and causing a female to engage in sexual activity.

Spiking is against the law. It’s a serious crime with serious consequences.
People are more aware of spiking than ever before so you’re more likely to be found out.

If you spiked someone to enable sexual activity, you could face 10 years in jail, you may also be placed on the sex offenders register.
A criminal conviction will change your life. You may lose your job, your home, future careers will be affected when you tell them about your past and you may also face restrictions on travel with countries like the USA not giving visas to people with convictions for serious crimes.

Make the right choices and look out for each other.
Get information on spiking at west-midland.police.uk
The charity Victim Support are ready to help you if you’ve been spiked in the past and are struggling to cope. Call them 24/7 on 0808 1689.
kind regards
 

This message was sent by Stefanie Sadler (Police, Engagement & Consultation officer, Birmingham Partnerships)

Sutton Coldfield business ‘stronger after pandemic’

Firm goes for growth after lockdown

“The pandemic tested our resistance, with a tsunami of problems, but we have come through it stronger than when we started. I’m so very proud of our people.”

Those are the words of Jo Edwards, co-founder of JE Consulting, one of many businesses based in the thriving Sutton Coldfield area. 

The firm, founded in 1998, is emerging from the pandemic with new clients and optimism for the future.

More than 99 per cent of businesses in the UK are small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs and Sutton is a prime example of that.

Jo said: “Sutton businesses are not corporates, we do not have a Toyota, Nissan or Google on our doorstep, but strong SMEs are the backbone of a local economy and we are glad to be part of that.”

As they emerge from the pandemic and various lockdowns, the company is continuing to grow with new clients, with a diverse and professional team and confidence for the future.

The company provides marketing, PR and digital services to a range of professional clients, from accountants to solicitors and health care providers. They have around 140 clients, with some with them since the beginning.

Jo and business partner Paul Edwards are both Sutton born and bred and started their business on 1 April, 1998.

 They have not looked back since as the company has gone from strength to strength.

Both are natives of Sutton and educated locally, Jo at John Wilmott and Paul at what was Riland Bedford, but is now Plantsbrook.

They initially started with a small office in Gate Lane, Boldmere, but soon outgrew the premises and moved to their current location at Mitre Court in Sutton, an office development nestling somewhere between Bishop Vesey school and the Birmingham Met College.

While initially a marketing consultancy, the firm has diversified and grown and now offers graphic design services, web design and SEO services and  PR expertise. It employs people from very different walks of life and offers a relaxed but professional working environment.

It all started nearly 24 years ago. Jo had been a marketing director at another company but then moved to working as a consultant for one company supplying software to accountancy firms.

 Word spread and other firms approached and that was when she and Paul decided it was time to go it alone as a separate company. 

Working mainly with accountancy firms, they began to employ staff and soon solicitors came on board, followed by health care providers, usually referred by those accountancy firms.

The growth in clients in the south-east of the country led to a base being set up in London and Jo splits her time between there and Sutton, while also spending plenty of time on the road meeting clients. Paul, together with operations director Niki Dale, looks after the day-to-day operations of the firm.

Jo said that 70 per cent of clients are south of Watford and the referral base is much more vibrant, less price resistant and more open to bringing in experts and that’s why it was vital to have a presence in the south.

Part of the team outside the JE Consulting office in Mitre Court

“You need to be within the bubble. And our new London presence opened doors for us,” said Jo.

Growing all the time but their commitment to Sutton Coldfield remains strong.

“We started our business in Sutton and we have no intention of leaving,” she said.

Marketing firms need to be agile and receptive to change and JE has had to keep pace with the growth in the internet and the huge changes triggered by digital technology.

Jo noted that over the last few years there has been a significant move from traditional marketing methods like direct mail to a more digitally focussed business, which has been embraced by professional clients.

She said: “Digital growth through the pandemic has shown marketing objectives can be achieved on digital platforms. 

“Referrals are still important, but digital is key as the next younger generation of business owners have grown up with the internet. First resources used tend to be Google searches for finding suppliers or contacts.

The company takes an enlightened approach to recruitment, being colour blind to ethnicity, gender and age.

Jo explained: “We have always looked for quirkiness with individuals. We do not necessarily expect university degrees, previous experience, or knowledge of the accountancy market place.

“Personality is important to us, employing the right person with the right attitude. You can teach the right person to do a professional job and the best possible training in marketing is doing the job.”

While the pandemic is still with us, the firm has taken a flexible view on working arrangements.

During lockdown, nearly all worked from home, but since restrictions were lifted, there is a combination of home and office working.

While accepting the current arrangements, Jo says she cannot imagine working from home permanently. She believes staff miss out on mentoring and young people in particular have missed out on the social aspect of the workplace.

Looking to the future, she is happy to further expand but values quality over quantity.

She added: “We are seen by clients as part of their team and yes we can expand and provide off the shelf packages for social media websites etc, but every business is unique. In marketing one size doesn’t fit all and we provide excellent support for good quality clients that value us and stay with us.

“As to the future, we will stay in Sutton, but if the need arises we will expand and open offices in Manchester, Tyneside, Scotland or wherever necessary. But we are very much Midlanders and that is our business base.”

Fore more information on JE Consulting visit the website here

Sutton firm swings in with golf day boost

Logan Khan, Samantha Storey, Steve Withers and Paul Withers at the golf day in Uttoxeter

Company’s event raises £4,774 for St Giles Hospice

A Sutton Coldfield company’s charity golf day has raised a tee-rific £4,774 in aid of St Giles Hospice.

The event, hosted by Logan Khan, Practice Director at The Boss Partnership based in Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Lichfield and Birmingham, took place at the JCB Golf & Country Club, near Uttoxeter, on Monday, 20th September.

Logan’s friend and golf club member Steve Withers, Chief Executive of Burton on Trent-based Herongrange Group Ltd, donated tickets for the event. Steve also provided tickets for another golf day in aid of St Giles hosted by his brother Paul, Managing Director of Tamworth car dealer AW Carhouse, on Monday, 6th September.

Logan’s mother Vivian spent her final days at St Giles Hospice in 2019 after she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Paul and Steve both knew Vivian who, Logan said, had received ‘world-class care’ at St Giles.

Logan said: “At St Giles the staff really understand the meaning of end-of-life care and they work so hard to make you five-star comfortable. The staff there were all marvellous, and members of staff gave my mum as much love as my sister Rachel and I could have. They were incredible.

“After the last turbulent 18 months when charities have been so badly hit by the pandemic, this has been our first opportunity to fundraise for St Giles and I’m so grateful to my friends Steve and Paul for supporting this charity.”

The players line up at the charity golf day in aid of St Giles Hospice

Steve added: “Herongrange’s charity golf days have together raised a grand total of £10,058 for St Giles Hospice. This is an incredible amount and resounding success, and I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to our partners and to everyone who attended and donated for making this possible. 

“St Giles Hospice is a charity that has great significance to the Withers family, and we have proudly supported them for a number of years now.  They provide such vital services and support for families and individuals when it is needed most, and I am humbled by the important work they do.”

Samantha Storey, Regional Fundraising Manager at St Giles, which cares for patients who are living with a terminal illness and supports their families, said the hospice was very grateful for the fundraising efforts of all three companies and their guests.

She said: “We would like to thank Logan, Steve and Paul so much for organising these fantastic events and thank everybody who took part for their incredible generosity. We really couldn’t carry on providing the care services we offer to local families without the kindness of our community and the support of our local businesses. 

“The money they have raised will make a huge difference to the lives of the patients and families we care for. It costs £676 to fund 24 hours of hospice care for a patient at the end of their life. If any other local businesses would like to organise an event in aid of St Giles Hospice we would be delighted to hear from them.”

Businesses can contact the St Giles Hospice fundraising team on 01543 432538 or contact fundraising@stgileshospice.com

For more information about St Giles Hospice and the expert care it provides, please visit www.stgileshospice.com