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Supermarket takes shape

Sutton Lidl construction gathers pace

A spider’s web of steel and concrete reaches into the sky in Mere Green as work gathers pace on a new Lidl supermarket. In the pictures here you can see the steel erections, which are the skeleton of the new building, in place. Other pictures show a newly-surfaced car park for the site is near completion. The store looks to be on schedule for completion by the end of the spring, but the German owned store are tight-lipped about the opening date and how many jobs will be created.

Diggers are parked up waiting for the next phase to begin at the former industrial site in Mere Green Road, which has lain derelict for more than 10 years.

The new store will provide competition for Sainsbury’s across the road the M&S food store on Mulberry Walk. The new store has provoked anger among local residents, many of whom have safety fears over increased traffic and delays around the Mere Green island. There is also concern over the closure of the Waitrose supermarket in Belwell Lane which shut down last year, with resident Dave Brown saying Lidl could have taken over the Waitrose store, with new site being used for much needed housing.

He said: “This store should have been forced to take over the former Waitrose store. If Lidl business model is so successful, it would work anywhere. Why build a new supermarket and have any empty one two hundred yards away. There will be no more jobs created than there were lost at Waitrose.”

He was also worried about traffic problems and added: “Unless a roundabout is installed it will be horrendous. Anyone that lives in Mere Green or travels along Mere Green Road will know that when schools are open, there is a queue from Mere Green roundabout back to St James every day except Sunday.

“This site should have been use to proved housing, maybe some flats like those in Farnborough Close near Broads travel. It just goes to show how big business always seems to get it’s way with the promise of jobs.”

Before the steel erection were put in place at the new supermarket

Sutton vaccinations start for over 65s

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Sutton Coldfield Town Hall vaccinations are now available for the over-65s

Immunisation gathers pace in town

The success of vaccinations for Covid-19 in Sutton Coldfield has meant the programme is ahead of schedule, with the over-65s now getting the life-saving jab after the town hall was added to the vaccination sites.

The target for all over-70s is Monday next week, but patients over the age of 65 are being contacted to come forward by Sutton Coldfield Group Practice for their vaccinations, starting this week.

No-one from the practice nor Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group was available for comment on the move, but the programme appears to have been enhanced after the group announced a change of vaccination arrangements from February 1. The it was granted permission by NHS England to change the designated Falcon Lodge Medical Centre to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall to enable it to triple current rollout, which stood at 2,300 per week at Falcon Lodge.

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That site has revered to a surgery and open to patients again, while Ley Hill Surgery will continue to provide vaccinations.

There is free parking in the pay and display car park on Anchorage Road opposite the town hall and The Townhouse (Royal) pub has also granted free parking there for people attending for vaccination.

Both the Pfizer or Astra Zeneca ‘Oxford’ vaccines, both of which are very effective, are being administered depending on the deliveries received.

A spokesman for the practice said that permission for the change had been granted after a lot of work behind the scenes aided by University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Trust, Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (BSOL CCG), Sutton Coldfield Town Council and local MP Andrew Mitchell.

A spokesperson added: “We have a wide pool of vaccinators including retired doctors and nurses, paramedics, nurses seconded from different organisations, physios, podiatrists etc to enable us to continue to deliver medical services from our individual sites. The site is active for 9 hours per day seven days a week vaccine supply permitting.

“We are pleased to report that Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust (BCHC) staff have also begun doing home visits to vaccinate our housebound patients who are not able to travel to any vaccination centres.”

The practice said it has received positive feedback from patients who have had their vaccinations at Millennium Point in Birmingham city centre. There is free parking right next to the centre and it is well signposted and marshalled with short waits.

Work progresses on new Lidl

Work on the new Lidl store in Mere Green appears to be gathering pace after slow progress since work got under way back in November. The store is expected to be completed some time this year. 

The site has been pretty much cleared of rubble from the previous demolition while diggers and now preparing the groundwork for the building of the new store and the car park to go with it.

Work on the former industrial site in Mere Green Road, which lay derelict for years, is expected to finish by summer.

The new store will provide competition for Sainsbury’s across the road the M&S food store on Mulberry Walk. The Waitrose supermarket in Bellwell Lane closed down last year.

Sutton solicitors in free will offer

Legal firms move to support hospice

People living in Sutton Coldfield can get their wills written for free by local solicitors in return for a donation to St Giles Hospice this month..

Five solicitors’ offices across the region are taking part in ‘Make Your Will Month’, organised by St Giles Hospice, between February 1 and 28.

During these four weeks, the solicitors will donate their time and expertise for free to help clients make a new will or update their existing one. All clients have to do is make a suggested donation to St Giles Hospice of £100-£150, depending on the type of will being created.

The firms taking part include Enoch Evans, in Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield, who can be contacted on 0121 355 2336.

All of the money raised from the campaign will support care services for local people living with a terminal illness and their families.  Because of the current COVID-19 lockdown, solicitors and will-writing consultants will be conducting their appointments via phone, email or video call.

Elinor Eustace, Director of Income Generation at St Giles Hospice, said: “Our message to supporters who don’t have a will or who might be thinking of making an alteration is: Don’t put off protecting your future. 

“By taking part in Make Your Will Month you have peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones are protected should anything happen to you, you can save yourself money by taking advantage of this charitable service and you can help your local hospice – all at the same time.

“Writing a will ensures that your family know what your wishes are, and know about your plans for your belongings and about funeral arrangements if you choose to include them. It can spare your loved ones from having to make important or complicated decisions at a distressing time.”

Elinor added that it costs St Giles more than £10 million to provide its care services each year, which means that every donation and gift – big or small – really does make a difference to the hospice. As 30 per cent of its fundraised income each year comes from gifts in wills, this means that one in six St Giles patients is cared for through legacy giving.

“We are truly honoured to receive legacy gifts in the wills of our supporters,” she said. “Each gift helps to secure the future of our hospice, meaning that they are helping us continue to care for local people and their families for generations to come.

“This generosity is particularly important in 2021 as our fundraising has been badly affected by the Coronavirus crisis, which has led to the cancellation of many charity events and the closure of our shops.

“Your support will allow us to continue our vital work in your local community. If your donations and gifts stop, we stop. Any donation you can make will make a massive difference to our patients in your local area at a time when they need us most.

“We’re also very grateful to all of the solicitors who take part in ‘Make Your Will Month’ for their support and would encourage anyone wanting to write a will to get in touch soon, as appointments are limited.”

For more information and to book your appointment visit: or call 01543 432538.

The firms taking part are:

  •  Astle Paterson Solicitors, in Horninglow Street, Burton on Trent, phone: 01283 531366.
  •  Ansons LLP, in Breadmarket Street, Lichfield, phone: 01543 263456.
  • Moseleys Solicitors, in Bore Street, Lichfield, phone: 01543 414100.
  •  Enoch Evans, in Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield, tel: 0121 355 2336.
  • Enoch Evans, in Hatherton Road, Walsall, tel: 01922 720333.

Chance to enjoy a Fjord fiesta

Hurtigruten launches Dover 2022-23 season


Guests will travel onboard the refurbished MS Maud to destinations such as the Norwegian fjords

FANCY a trip to see the midnight sun when we finally come out of lockdown, or even a chance to see the spectacular aurora borealis, the Northern Lights?

Scandinavian cruise operator Hurtigruten has launched its Dover 2022/23 season, extending its existing programme to include nine new itineraries to the Norwegian coastline and the fjords.

Sailings will take place throughout the year, offering guests the chance to chase the Midnight Sun and witness the aurora borealis.

The 10- to 21-night itineraries will see guests travel onboard the refurbished MS Maud to destinations such as the Norwegian Lofoten Islands, which are notable for their distinctive dramatic peaks, North Cape, one of the northernmost points in Europe, and the tranquil Unesco designated Fjords Norway area.

Hurtigruten’s showcase voyage for the 22/23 season is a journey along the Norwegian coast to the Svalbard archipelago, The Norwegian Coast and Svalbard Autumn Cruise, home to arctic wilderness.

With 11-days above the Arctic Circle, guests can expect to see the northern lights.

The nine new sailings will join the existing five expedition itineraries departing from Dover, exploring some of the most remote locations around the British Isles, Norway and for the first time in Hurtigruten’s 127-year history, southern Scandinavia. 

Anthony Daniels, UK general manager at Hurtigruten, said: “Since launching our Dover departure sailings, we’ve seen an increased demand and appetite for no-fly cruises that venture closer to home.

“We’re delighted to be expanding on our inaugural Dover season with a series of new and unique itineraries offering our guests the opportunity to experience the Norwegian coastline and beyond like never before.”

Cruise operator adds fourth ship

Pacific Princess sails in for Azamara

Luxury cruise operator Azamara has revealed plans to add a fourth ship to its fleet after new private equity owners Sycamore Partners purchased Pacific Princess. 

Following a full renovation, the ship – which is a Renaissance-class vessel similar to Azamara Pursuit, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – is scheduled to sail its inaugural season under a new name in Europe in 2022.

The expansion news follows a recent announcement that Sycamore Partners had entered into an agreement to acquire Azamara from Royal Caribbean Group. 

The deal is expected to close in Q1 of this year.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our fleet with a fourth ship, allowing us to visit even more regions of the world and better serve our guests,” said Azamara president Carol Cabezas.

“We look forward to launching even more unique and immersive itineraries and feel this is just the beginning of an exciting growth phase for Azamara.”

Pacific originally entered service as R3 for Renaissance Cruises in 1999.

The sale of the 670-passenger vessel to an “undisclosed buyer” was announced by Carnival Corporation last week.

Winter alert

Fines snow joke for motorists

Failure to clear car roof could lead to penalties

Drivers have been warned of potential winter fines misery. A survey of 2,000 motorists  has revealed that 63 per cent of Brits will start their drive with snow on the roof of the car, which could lead to a hefty fine.

While this isn’t against the law, if it falls from your windscreen while driving or into the path of another car, you could be penalised for offences such as ‘driving without consideration’.

With snow blanketing much of the country, it’s likely that many motorists could be hit with not just a £60 fine, but also three points on their licence.

The survey also revealed other laws that aren’t commonly known, such as honking your car horn in anger, an offence not known by 79 per cent of motorists, well as flashing your lights to give way, which is an offence that 95 per cent didn’t know about, according to the survey by

In contrast, many people also think some activities are illegal, when they are in fact legal. As for footwear, 52 per cent thought it was illegal to drive barefoot, 46 per cent think it’s illegal to drive in flip flops and 33 per cent think it’s illegal to drive in high heels, all of which are legal.

Many of us were told when we were younger that it’s illegal to drive with the interior light on in the car. A whopping 46 per cent still believe that this is the case, when it is in fact legal.

Phil Morgan, Head of, says: “While the chances of getting fined for doing any of the above offenses are extremely low, they’re still not worth the risk. While some of the offences might not be commonly known, but nobody wants to risk their safety or have to pay a hefty fine for something that they didn’t know was going to cost them, so it’s best to know these sooner rather than later.”

You can read more about what motorists think is legal and illegal here.

Travel firm launches advice hub

MacfivenewsTravel newsJanuary 18, 2021

Photo by Pixabay on

Kuoni guide to the Covid-19 travel maze

With light at the end of the pandemic tunnel after the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines, people’s thoughts are turning to holidays, and the prospect of getting away this spring and summer.

There is a bundle or red tape to unravel about restrictions and travel requirements.

To guide people through the Covid-19 travel maze, a one-stop advice hub has been launched this week, making it easy to see what requirements and restrictions are in place.  

The Covid Travel Advice Hub from worldwide travel company Kuoni is available online for anyone to use.  For the first time, it brings together all of the travel restrictions and requirements from around the world making it much easier to plan holidays for the year ahead.  It’s the definitive guide to travel corridors, quarantine and testing. 

As well as showing which destinations are welcoming visitors, the advice hub includes travel corridor information, current FCDO advice, Covid testing requirements,  and quarantine rules on entering a country or returning to the UK.   

Whilst it’s not possible to travel overseas on holiday within the current lockdown, the advice will be continually updated as legal restrictions are eased and holidays become possible again.  

Early signs in January indicate there are plenty of people desperate to plan a holiday overseas this year and are prepared to book now. The advice hub will help travellers to see which places are open to book now for travel at a later date.  

Derek Jones, CEO of Kuoni, said: “This is about making an increasingly complex situation simple to understand, providing answers to questions we know people are asking in a clear, searchable online format that anyone can access.   

“The hub is available to everyone, free of charge – we’re providing this service because we want to play our part in opening up the world again. Travel Agents are welcome to use the resource to help them to provide the most up to date advice and guidance for their customers.”

Mr Jones added: “During the pandemic we’ve seen two types of travellers emerge.  There are those who want to get away quickly, who will go at short notice as soon as borders are open and the necessary Covid tests are in place.  These customers want to know what’s possible now and the travel advice hub will be a valuable tool for these last minute bookers. 

“Alongside that we have customers planning holidays a long way in advance so again this is a really useful way to simply search for what’s bookable now for travel later. 

“We’ve spent the last few months designing this one stop shop for all Covid related travel advice.  The information within the Travel Advice hub will be updated daily.  Customers and agents will no longer need to go off to different websites to try and make sense of it all.  

“We want to encourage people to travel again but complexity around travel will continue for some time, so it’s essential that we give people the information they need and the confidence to travel safely and smoothly.  That way we can get travel up and running again this year and help people have a much-needed break and give everyone something to look forward to.”  

Visit the site 

Tree recycling a record breaker

Socially-distanced volunteers getting ready to hit the road this month for a record breaking success

St Giles Hospice celebrates success

St Giles Hospice is celebrating the success of this year’s TreeCycle campaign after it collected more trees and raised more funds than ever before, including from venues Sutton Coldfield.

The environmentally-friendly recycling collection picked up 4,428 Christmas trees this month  in return for a small donation to St Giles, raising over £65,000 for the hospice.

Last year’s collection picked up 3,430 trees, raising £35,000. All funds raised by TreeCycle help to ensure that St Giles Hospice can continue to be there for local people and their families living with a terminal illness.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the challenges raised by the new lockdown, St Giles was able to run the popular annual fundraiser for the sixth year running thanks to collection teams who followed the latest Government guidelines as they hit the streets.

Working in same-household bubbles, 76 volunteers took part in a socially-distanced operation which covered 3,176 miles between Wednesday 6th and Wednesday 13th January. They collected trees from Lichfield, Walsall, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Burton, Rugeley, Burntwood, Uttoxeter, Swadlincote, Stafford and surrounding areas.

Chloe Herbert, Head of Fundraising at St Giles Hospice, said: “We are absolutely delighted by the success of this year’s TreeCycle campaign and we would like to say a huge thank you to all of our volunteers and supporters for their support.

We were bowled over by the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone who took part this year

“Our income was badly hit in 2020 and continues to be so because we were forced to close our shops and cancel many of our events, and as a result of the latest lockdown our shops have had to close once more. This means that TreeCycle is more important to us than ever as we need to raise £850,000 every month just to keep our services going.

“We were bowled over by the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone who took part this year and the money raised will make a massive difference to local people at a time when they need us the most.”

DHL provided St Giles with vital logistics support during the collections, and the trees will be recycled for agricultural uses at Greener Composting in Wall, Lichfield.

“We’d also like to thank Lichfield Tree Works, Darwin Electricals and HiB for supporting TreeCycle this year,” added Chloe. “Our TreeCycle volunteers and corporate sponsors have been amazing.

“Everyone enjoyed taking part and we hope they will spread the word about TreeCycle so that next year we will have more volunteers coming along to help us collect even more trees.”

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

Sutton ‘bomb site’ gets bigger

Uncertainty still surrounds the new huge telephone mast site in Four Oaks, where a failure to remove the previous mast and its associated boxes and cabinets have left it looking like a bomb site according to residents.

The anger has been compounded with the appearance of new telecoms equipment just yards down the Walsall Road.

Despite an enforcement order for the removal of old boxes, nothing appears to have happened, despite work going on at the site in recent weeks.

Four Oaks ward councillor Maureen Cornish last month said: “The enforcement order for the removal of excess (previous old boxes) is active and managing agents have agreed to remove them. Covid restrictions create delay, we need to have patience with this frustrating situation”.

The towering EE mast near The Crown pub, has recently been completed after the firm’s successful appeal against an initial planning refusal, much to the annoyance of many neighbours, who are angry at the ‘mess’ left after the previous mast was not removed.

Councillor Cornish had previously described it as a ‘frustrating situation.’

The work was completed during October, and will provide the latest 5G communications across the area, with the 50ft.

Councillor Cornish

The new mast was initially refused planning permission by Birmingham City Council but an appeal was upheld by an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Local resident Patrick James, from Four Oaks Common Road, described the scene as an unsightly mess.

He said: We all understand the need for better communication, but the area has been left in a right state, a bit of a bomb site really, not to mention the disruption while the work was carried out. And now we have new cabinets appear and no remedial work is taking place.”

 Councillor Cornish, Shadow Cabinet Member for Education Skills and Culture at Birmingham City Council, had previously launched an enforcement complaint over the what has been left at the site.

She said at the time: “The Telecommunication installation at the Crown Pub has and still is a frustrating situation. Residents do not object to providing 5G but the number of boxes  and the disgraceful appearance is unacceptable.”