A round-up of local news from the past week
Submitted by Geoff Caine
Featured this week:
• Grand Hotel Refurb gets Thumbs Up from our Heritage Guardians
• Free Tour of Longbridge MG Plant
• Frogs Enjoy the Early Spring
• A Metro Vision for East Birmingham
• Notice of Elected Mayor Referendum
Grand Hotel Refurb gets Thumbs Up from our Heritage Guardians
At last the Grand Hotel in Colmore Row appears to be saved and marvelously!
The Council’s Conservation and Heritage Panel has given approval to £30million of revamping to the late 19th century building.
This is one of the most impressive ancient buildings in Birmingham and well deserves restoration to its former glory as a top class hotel and venue.
This is splendid news for Birmingham, as the hotel will have the quality to entertain the richest and most influential people on earth. It could bring huge investment for the region. We should all rejoice in and support this bold venture.
Historically, it closed in 2002 with crumbling facades and generally in need of structural attention and refurbishment. Street level shops and other businesses have kept going since then but scaffolding, canvas sheets and vulgar advertisements have variously defaced its majestic appearance.
A full planning application was submitted on 20 February this year (ref: 2012/01147/PA), by the owners of the property, Norton Estates, and the consultation period ends on 22 March. We should have a decision on whether it will be granted planning permission soon after that, and hopes are high.
Talking to Norton representatives at the recent public consultation in early January, I understand that funding is available to carry out the refurb and so hopefully there wouldn’t be significant delays in starting the work.
Free Tour of Longbridge MG Plant
If you’d like a free tour of some of the MG car site in Longbridge you’d better apply soon.
The tours take place every Thursday at 1 pm and lasts 2 hours.
You will be treated to a visit to Lord Austin’s Office, the MG Museum and the state of the art Technical Centre.
To book a place on a tour phone 0121 251 6533 or email
At the end of January this year MG launched the 2012 MG KX MOMENTUM racing team to the press.. Two MG6 GT cars will be driven by BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) Champion Jason Plato and BTCC rising star Andy Neate .
All pictures courtesy of MG Motor UK Ltd
Frogs Enjoy the Early Spring
Last weekend was a fun time for frogs around the West Midlads
I took the photo (above and enlarged left) on Sunday last at Moseley Bog. (Do Click on these for a larger view.)
Many thanks to David Foster (of KEW 1) who sent in the excellent video below which he took of frogs at Earlswood Lakes – I love the noise and festivity of the occasion! Croaking is apparently largely by male frogs as a mating call to attract female frogs! I usually solve a croak with a gentile cough, not being warty!
A Metro Vision for East Birmingham
At the Transport Summit 2012 meeting on 15 March, a vision for a future extension to the Metro tram system was announced.
He explained that this vision was a set of ideas for discussion but in the final analysis it is what the people of Birmingham want that will happen.
The new line would connect Fiveways in the West to a new HS2 Station – the HS2 Birmingham Interchange – in the East via a series of stops at key points including the Moor Street HS2 terminus station.
This Metro line he believes would attract private sector investment to the Eastside and drive its regeneration. Improved connectivity and accessibility thus created to the areas of economic growth would benefit residents and businesses.
The Metro Vision Brochure shown above is freely available but I have yet to discover where from (will anyone who knows contact me, please?)
Below are two illustrations from the brochure.
Click images for larger view.
Notice of Elected Mayor Referendum
In case you missed it the notice below has been published on Birmingham City Council’s website.
How you can decide how to vote escapes me as the pros and cons of having an elected mayor have not been well publicised and time is running out.
Anything I find to help I will publish, but I would also ask that you email me with any information sources you may have.
The date for the referendum vote is 3 May 2012.
Submitted by Geoff Caine