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First Poundland Local to open in Sutton

How the new smaller Poundland Local will look

Poundland is to open its first West Midlands ‘Poundland Local’ store in Sutton Coldfield

It is following in the footsteps of the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s with their compact local stores.
The Boldmere Road store is part of a pilot scheme to bring convenience shopping to neighbourhoods it does not currently serve.

The first Poundland Local store in the West Midlands will open later this summer at the busy Boldmere Road shopping area in Sutton.

Poundland transformation and retail director, Austin Cooke, said: “Each of the new stores will have a range of items tailored to suit the needs of customers in each neighbourhood, whether they live or work locally.

“In the current economic climate, people are carefully watching how much they spend, and we want them to know that convenience shopping does not have to mean they compromise on value for money.”

The Poundland Local format was unveiled in May 2021, with four convenience stores in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Under the pilot scheme, Poundland is actively looking for other suitable locations particularly inside the M25.

Poundland Local stores typically employ around 12 staff and offer items from the main store’s core range, including groceries, snacks, household products, health and beauty and batteries.

Customers will also find items they would expect in a convenience store including fresh fruit and vegetables, chilled and frozen food, bread and morning goods, hot pies and pastries, nappies and formula milk, beers, wines and spirits.

Walsall-based Poundland has a network of over 850 stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Fantastic journey, for all the wrong reasons

First holiday since lockdown has a sting in the tail

When it all went pear shaped in the comedy Trains, Planes and Automobiles starring John Candy as Del and Steve Martin as Neil, Del said when they were at their lowest ebb: “You’re in a pretty lousy mood, huh?” Neil: “To say the least.” Del: “You ever travel by bus before? Your mood’s probably not going to improve much…”

We knew what he meant on a journey, if not quite from hell, but close to it.

Our first venture abroad since coronavirus struck turned out to be an excellent affair in Cyprus, but it was topped and tailed with something not quite so thrilling and a cautionary tale when preparing to fly from distant airports.

Our flight, from Gatwick meant a lengthy trip from the Midlands and paying for just over a week’s parking at a nearby site. At a cost of £74.

Trouble was, we never made it. Our car broke down on Good Friday and we were due to travel on Easter Monday. No way of getting repaired during the bank holiday.

Fortunately, our son was able to drive us to the airport, but as our return was landing at 2.30 in the morning, we felt we could not ask anyone to make that journey and then drive back.

So we kissed goodbye to the £74 (we should have insured it) and made alternative arrangements to get back.

This entailed booking a coach from Gatwick at 3.50 in the morning. What an adventure when we get back, we thought. A case of panic leading to temporary insanity.

Our journey back after eight glorious days eventually took us 16 hours.

Taxi, plane, coaches, two of them, a train and two buses.

It went like clockwork to start with, except we got there a bit too early by taxi and the airport took their time.

A four hour and 40 minute flight followed in the most uncomfortable airline seats I have ever used, but we arrived on time at around 2am.

As you would expect even at that time of the morning, around four flights came in at the same time, so passport control, as you would now expect did not have the biometric machines   working and the queues stretched an stretched . . . and stretched.

Feeling weary now, we eventually got through and boarded our first coach to London Victoria, on time mercifully and after various stop offs arrived at London’s Victoria coach station. From there we changed coaches for our three and a half hour drive to Birmingham, via Coventry.

From there, we thought we would walk to New Street Station. Mistake, dragging a 50lb suitcase, a smaller suitcase, two heavy handbags up the hill was takings its toll. We arrived at New Street Stations, back entrance and were faced with dragging the bags up 50 steps.

New Street Station is spectacular to look at inside and out but sadly I was baffled and really upset by the sight of the huge mountain of concrete stairs limiting access to the main entrance of the station for folks of all ages that are not able bodied. For people who have to hump heavy luggage. How on earth did the designers also expect parents with babies and buggies (plus other small children, not to mention many elders and folks with health problems) to climb the Everest like stairs? 

Gasping and sweating at the top, two young blokes asked, if we needed a hand. Cheers pal, but we’ve done the hard work.

Onwards. Our train was next, followed b the first of two buses.

Then it was the final walk to the house, just like Dell and Neil in the film the final scenes from the film.

We felt like we had been on a 14 hour workout, using suitcases for weights.

Tired through lack of sleep, but luckily with enough adrenaline to help us complete an epic journey.

The moral to the story is: make sure your car is ready for the journey; make contingency plans for when something might go wrong; try and insure anything like long term parking and finally, think. Do you really need that much luggage?

Get your brains in gear as quiz returns to Sutton Coldfield

Amnesty International Quiz returns after two years

Amnesty International quiz back in town after a two-year pandemic absence.

A popular quiz is returning to Sutton Coldfield after a two year absence caused the the Covid pandemic. The royal town’s Amnesty International group is inviting you to pit your wits some of finest quiz brains when its annual quiz returns to Sutton Coldfield Football Club.

The group has held online events for the past two years due to Covid but is looking forward to being back in person for its blockbuster quiz.
Sutton Coldfield Amnesty International chair Andrew Hindle, who is also quizmaster, said: “We are so glad go be back with an in-person quiz and we’re hoping local people will come out in their droves
to support us.
“We aim for the quiz to cover as many subjects as possible from sport, music and television to current affairs, history and geography. It’s a fun event which also raises money for a great cause.”
Taking place on Friday 24 June from 7.30pm, entry is £5 per person which is paid on the door.Teams are a maximum of six people and there is also the chance to buy raffle tickets for a range of prizes.
Drinks and bar snacks are available at the bar of the Coles Lane football club.
All money raised goes to Amnesty International’s essential work supporting human rights across the world.
The Sutton Coldfield Amnesty International group meets at 8pm on the second Tuesday of every month (except August) in the Conference Centre, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 69 Lichfield Road,
Sutton Coldfield, B74 2NU and new members are always welcome.

For more information see https://www.amnesty.org.uk/groups/sutton-coldfield/about-0

Kebabs come to Sutton and they’re German

Doner kebab shop to open doors in town

Many people’s experience of German food may well have been trying the traditional bratwurst at the Birmingham Frankfurt German Market, held every Christmas.

But people in Sutton Coldfield are about to ge a different kind of German food experience.

German Doner Kebab will open soon in the town, bringing its fast-casual dining experience to the West Midlands town.

The gourmet kebab chain has confirmed that it will open a new restaurant at 123 Parade, Sutton Coldfield.

The restaurant is scheduled to open in July and will create in the region of 40 new jobs, bringing employment to the local area.

The opening has been announced as German Doner Kebab forges ahead with plans to open 78 new restaurants in the UK during 2022, building significantly on the 47 opened during 2021.

German Doner Kebab is revolutionising the kebab in the UK, bringing a fresh, high-quality taste sensation that has made it the number one spot to enjoy a kebab.

Freshly prepared in front of customers, the game-changing kebabs are made using premium, lean, succulent meats and fresh local vegetables, served in handmade toasted breads with unique signature sauces.

The brand now has over 100 restaurants in the UK alone as it continues to bring the GDK experience to more locations across the globe.

Daniel Bunce, GDK Global COO, said: “We’re delighted to officially announce plans to bring the German Doner Kebab experience to Sutton Coldfield.

“Our game-changing kebabs are revolutionising the kebab in the UK and we are excited to be bringing a new fast-casual experience to the area, offering great tasting fresh food in a relaxed and modern setting.”

Once opened, German Doner Kebab will offer a full dine-in experience, as well as Takeaway and Click and Collect. Delivery will soon be available through GDK’s Delivery partners.

For more details, please visit the website www.germandonerkebab.com.

Plugged in for action

Updated Volvo XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T6 AWD Inscription

Volvo XC60

By Bill McCarthy

ONE of the mainstays of the excellent Volvo range is the XC60, which sits right at the heart of the firm’s electrification strategy and is good enough to challenge anything in its segment of the market.

Revamped last year, it now features three plug-in hybrid and four mild-hybrid powertrain options, with front and, in this case, all-wheel drive options. Safety features have also been upgraded to include rear auto brake to help avoid reversing scrapes and updated Pilot Assist, now with emergency stop assist function.

Although classed as a mid-sized SUV, it is a big car in size, in terms of technological innovation and yes, it has a pretty big price tag as well. But you get what you pay for and with this Volvo you get plenty.

The revamp saw tweaks to the front and rear design of the car together with new alloy wheel designs. Changes include new front grille, new lower front bumper and air intakes, and a refresh of the lower rear bumper. A familiar feature remains and that is the signature ‘Thor’s hammer’ light design, the LEDs built into the front light clusters in the shape of the Norse god’s hammer.

What previously would be a key design feature, exhaust pipes, have now been hidden, in a nod to the firm’s journey to full electrification.

The interior quality is exceptional with soft-touch materials throughout, powered and heated leather seats which are firm and supportive and a large glass areas. There is good leg and headroom all round.

Features include two-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, electric windows and door mirrors, parking camera, head-up display in the windscreen and heated steering wheel.

The controls are dominated by the now-familiar tablet-style nine-inch screen which controls major functions like the Android-powered infotainment system, which provides built-in Google apps and services and features include navigation with Google Maps, voice recognition with Google Assistant and access to the Google Play Store for in-car apps. Like a tablet you can pinch and swipe to select various controls and apps.

This plug-in hybrid Recharge version has recently been upgraded and offers blistering pace, but also with the combination of a 254bhp petrol engine and 87bhp electric motor delivering, literally, electric performance.

It powers to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. But the revised hybrid combination now extends electric range while lowering CO2 emissions, with a projected electric range of 55 miles.

To achieve anywhere near this takes careful driving, but Volvo says that with the average premium car owner travelling less than 30 miles each weekday, most drivers with home charging will be able do their daily motoring on pure electric power.

It is an engaging drive, Even at high speed, engine and road noise is muted, with just a hint of wind noise on the large, folding door mirrors, while the firmish suspension means  tight, twisty lanes are dismissed with ease.

There is negligible body roll and the on-demand all-wheel drive is perfect for rougher terrain or inclement weather condition.

As an SUV it has to be practical and boot space is decent with 468 litres, while the 60/40 split folding rear seats open up to 1,395 litres. It also features power-operated tailgate with a kick action facility.

Like all Volvos it is packed with safety kit including a full complement of airbags and stability and traction controls and a host of other, driver and pedestrian safety technology.

Factfile

Volvo XC60 Inscription T6 Recharge

Price: £56,965

Mechanical: 350bhp via 1,969cc four-cylinder petrol engine and 65kw electric motor driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 5.6 seconds

Insurance group: 42

Combined mpg: 100-113

CO2 emissions: 55-64g/km

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

Digging in for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Terry Wood planting the tree, with  almshouse residents, Little Sutton Primary School children and West Midlands Police Cadets at Manorial Wood for the Queen’s Jubilee Canopy Initiative

Sutton Trust plants yew tree to mark 70th anniversary

Sutton Coldfield residents have been digging deep to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust (SCCT) was joined by the local community to plant a yew tree at Manorial Wood, as part of the Queen’s Canopy tree planting initiative to mark her Platinum Jubilee.

Chairman of Sutton in Bloom Terry Wood joined SCCT staff and Keith Dudley, chair of trustees to plant the commemorative yew tree, as well of two long-serving almshouse residents, children from Little Sutton Primary School, West Midlands Police Cadets and two local chartered foresters.

Tina Swani, chief executive of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, said: “It’s fantastic that we were able to be part of the Queen’s Canopy planting at Manorial Wood, and what a great way to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

“We’d like to thank everyone who was involved in the project and for helping us plant the Yew tree, which will be here and part of Sutton Coldfield for generations to come.”

The tree planting commemorated a significant milestone in the Queen’s reign, celebrating 70 years on the throne, and within that time the Trust – which has origins that can be traced back to the Tudor times – has achieved its own milestones that align with royal events.

1528 – The Royal Charter established the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield in 1528, during the reign of Henry VIII – father to the first Queen Elizabeth. Four years before she was born, the first ever almshouses were also built at a total cost of £608.

1558 – Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne, when Royal Town Sutton Coldfield was celebrating its 30th birthday.

1926 – 10 Almshouses in Walmley were being built, just as Queen Elizabeth II had been born and electricity was installed three years later.

1971 – Princess Anne opened a new Residents’ Lounge and 13 dwellings on Walmley site. Trustees decided to rent a TV and buy a piano for the lounge.

Silver Jubilee in 1977 – Sutton Coldfield officially became part of the city of Birmingham. Around this time, the first grants to educational organisations were being made and included awards to five primary schools, a school music association and a sports association.

Ruby Jubilee 1992 – The Trust hit the £1 million mark for grants awarded that year. This is the first time the Trust granted this amount of money, which was a total of £1,357,163 to help individuals and organisations across Sutton Coldfield.

Diamond Jubilee 2012 – The name of the Trust was changed to Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, to reflect the Trust’s role more appropriately, within the town, as an independent charity which no longer has a direct association with the local authority.

This year, Princess Alexandra opened new warden’s flats in Walmley, and more trees were planted to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

To find out more information about Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, please visit: http://www.suttoncoldfieldcharitabletrust.com/alms-houses.htm 

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 enquiries@suttoncoldfieldtowncouncil.gov.uk 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 www.thefouroaks-royalsuttoncoldfield.co.uk.

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 www.stgileshospice.com/cycleautumn