Alvechurch Parish Council Newsletter Autumn 2014

The Parish Council (PC) has had a busy summer. The final stages of the pitch improvements on The Meadows culminated in an invitation to our MP, Sajid Javid, to re-open the football pitch on 30 August, with a special charity match by Alvechurch Lions, the youth football team. This is especially suitable as he is secretary of state for culture, media and sport. The Alvechurch Sports Partnership (Alvechurch Parish Council, Alvechurch Playing Fields Trust, Alvechurch Lions Football Club and Alvechurch and Hopwood Cricket Club) got funding from Sport England in late 2011 to improve poor drainage and the playing surface, chiefly for football but ultimately with multi-sport benefits. The PC is also currently discussing commissioning a sculpture made from the fallen black poplar tree in the Meadows, with part of the funding coming from the proceeds of the Picnic in the Park.

The PC continued to work with Network Rail and London Midland to bring forward local concerns about the rail enhancement project. The replacement buses ran successfully, including a slight alteration of times to suit local people. The project is on schedule.

A group from the PC, together with the chair of the Patient Participation Group, met the head of the local GP practice Dr Potter to discuss areas of mutual concern. The useful discussion covered the capacity of the practice if more houses were built in the area: the current surgery building has a limited capacity and this needs to be taken into account. They also discussed the anomaly whereby Alvechurch is part of a Birmingham practice, so some services are only provided in Birmingham. Both the practice and the PC are committed to ensuring services are as local as possible for those who wish. Three changes have already happened, with patients now being able to go to Alexandra Hospital for the out of hours service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health services available locally, and BeFit Fitness, previously only available at Cocks Moor Wood for Birmingham patients but now available at Abbey Stadium.

The PC received several complaints from parishioners about HGV movements in the parish, including at Lye Bridge and on Callow Hill, and possibly HGVs unnecessarily coming through the village centre. It is undertaking a review of HGVs, some of which are a necessary part of the rural economy, and welcome your views on any HGV black spots.

The Neighbourhood Plan steering group has made progress, with help from Bromsgrove District Council. They are now looking at some possible areas for development if we have to take more housing from 2023. A public consultation in July had very useful results, which are reported separately. Meanwhile Bromsgrove DC’s Local Plan, has been sent back by the Inspector for more work to be done on the housing figures. Until this Plan is approved it is difficult for Neighbourhood Plans to be completed. The PC objected to a proposal for a travellers’ site on land at Hopwood, and to an appeal for the housing proposal for the same land, previously rejected, to be reconsidered. Our emerging Neighbourhood Plan recognises that some land will be taken out of green belt eventually, but that areas like this around our smaller villages are not appropriate. Alvechurch Middle School pupils have also taken part enthusiastically in a questionnaire on neighbourhood planning, with help from their teachers.

The PC has been trying to help with problems caused by travellers occupying local fields. They worked with the police, county and district councils to get them moved on, and to deal with the aftermath of the occupation. Now they have moved on, the PC would like to ensure this does not happen again, by encouraging the landowners to secure the site. However, this may only move travellers elsewhere. The PC would welcome comments from the public about any vulnerable sites which might have insecure access points, especially along main roads.

The gates of the Meadows have unfortunately had to be closed again because of the issue, so users of the fields have not been able to park their cars there. A new road sign has been obtained to make this clear before people drive down Meadow Lane.

This newsletter appeared in the September 2014 issue of the Village magazine. A summary of the latest PC meeting appears monthly here on our website.