A little known gem in the borough is the Wellbeing Service provided through Solihull Community Housing (SCH). What some people may have thought, including myself, is that the service is for clients of SCH; This is not so.

The full range of services provided can be viewed on their web pages via this link: https://www.solihullcommunityhousing.org.uk/Home/Tenants/SCHWellbeing/

Most of us will probably know someone who may need some assistive technology or assistance in their day-to-day living and here at the Wellbeing Centre there is help.

You may not know the value of assistance available for elderly residents or vulnerable people. You may be able to get some expert advice before buying some of these items. This will avoid expense only to find the item bought was not really suitable.



‘Run by Solihull Council in partnership with Solihull Clinical Commissioning group and SCH Wellbeing, The Better Living Centre works to provide support to elderly adults, young disabled adults or carers. It gives free impartial advice from trained staff and demonstrations of useful gadgets, adaptations and equipment’.

A range of equipment they have to assist is shown below:

The Better Living Centre is located at:
Unit 4, Elmdon Trading Estate, Bickenhill Lane, Solihull B37 7HE (just past the airport turn off).

A video showing more of the Better Living Centre can be viewed on their website but is reproduced here: https://youtu.be/qRzt106XFkU

RECYCLING – An update

This post is to just refresh messages about recycling and confirm what can go and what can not go into the recycling bins, especially the fortnightly Brown Bin.


My last post about recycling was on 1 June this year. That post went into detail about costs and the reasons why some bins were left uncollected. It explained issues surrounding contamination. That post can be viewed vis this link: https://cllrkenhawkins.co.uk/2016/06/01/2316/

Since then the council commissioned a short video to help explain things. We used children from Coles Heath School, Chelmsley Wood. This video, which should be viewed, even just for the fun value is reposted here: https://youtu.be/b-iEz3qmnyU

What must NOT go into the Brown Bin:

We will not empty bins/sacks which contain the following:

  • plastic carrier bags
  • newspaper supplements still in plastic packaging
  • crisp packets
  • cellophane/bubble wrap
  • polystyrene
  • plant pots
  • food
  • glass
  • tissues and kitchen roll
  • household waste
  • cards with glitter or foil
  • nappies
  • metal i.e. cutlery or paint tins
  • hard plastics i.e. CDs, DVDs, toys or sweet tubs
  • clothes or textiles
  • wallpaper
  • plastic film
  • food pouches (e.g. pet food pouches)

What CAN go into the Brown Bin:

Your recycling should still be loose in your bin so that it will fall out easily when it’s emptied.

  • newspapers, magazines, telephone directories, catalogues
  • junk mail, envelopes, greeting cards
  • shredded paper (please place inside a used envelope or wrap in newspaper)
  • cardboard food boxes and egg boxes
  • toilet or kitchen inner cardboard rolls
  • corrugated card
  • food and drink cartons such as juice, milk and soup
  • household plastics such as drinks bottles, shampoo bottles, cleaning bottles, make-up cleanser bottles and washing up liquid bottles
  • food and drink cans/tins
  • metal caps and lids
  • food trays and tubs (e.g. fruit punnets, trays from microwave meals)
  • yogurt pots
  • aerosol cans
  • clean foil

I hope this post helps explain things more.

TRAVELLERS – a personal review

This report relates to the issues surrounding the trespassing of travellers in and near to Blythe ward from 21 September (approx.) to Saturday 1 October 2016. The former date is approximate because I was on holiday. I believe the time line is accurate (give or take).

 Time line:

Whilst relaxing by the pool in Lanzarote on Wednesday 21 September I became aware, via my twitter feed, of travellers trespassing on Hillfield Local Nature Reserve (Monkspath Park to some). I liaised with my ward colleague, Cllr Alex Insley to confer with Solihull Council (SMBC) officers to facilitate their removal. I was confident they would be required to be removed quickly and this was achieved by Friday 23 September.

It then transpired, on Monday 19 September, another group of travellers had trespassed onto the rear field of Audi, Stratford Road, Shirley (this is just over the boundary of the ward into Shirley South ward). This is private land and the council and police liaised with the owners to advise regarding the legal process. It is fair comment that an amount of anti social behaviour and other criminal acts were alleged to have been committed by members of this group.

On Wednesday 28 September, once it was realised a civil court order had been granted some of the group began to move away from the Audi site and it appears they were somewhat threatening and broke into Hillfield Local nature Reserve (the second incursion in just over a week). Both myself and Alex Insley realised what was happening and went down to the entrance to find the locks to both gates had been broken by a bolt cutter, or some similar implement. This group were hostile.

The following day saw Solihull Police and Solihull Council report to the travellers they were to use their powers under section 61, Criminal Justice Act 1994, directing the trespassers to leave the land by 9am the following day (please see a copy of the notices that a resident found littering the site).

That evening the group from that part of Hillfield Local Nature Reserve (they were situated on the main car park and surrounding football pitches) left that area and broke into the ‘top end’ of the park, still off Monkspath Hall Road near to Thornton Road. A resident saw some breaking down the low fencing, breaking a tree to allow access to that area. I presume the travellers went there believing that as it was another site a different court order was required; they were mistaken and Solihull Police facilitated their removal from the force area in quick time. The council then set into motion the clean-up of the whole park – there was quite a mess.

Whilst this was all happening another group of travellers had descended on Monkspath hall car park (opposite Tudor Grange Park, in St Alphege ward). Whilst these were still trespassing this group were known to be French, posed no anti social or crime problems and had been returning home from a Christian Festival up north when there was some sort of breakdown. However, this group were known to package and bag up all their litter etc. This group left on Sunday 2 October, leaving the site relatively clean.

Gypsy and Travellers in Solihull – accommodating need:

Local authorities are bound by law to provide for the needs of travellers and gypsies and SMBC was the first local authority in the country to adopt a sound plan.

Section 1.2.4. highlights the problems in failing to allocate sufficient land to meet the need for new pitches has a number of impacts includes:

  •  Continuing the current problem of unauthorised development and encampments, as well as tensions with the settled community;
  •  Reinforcing the cycle of nomadism for those Gypsies and Travellers who may  prefer a more settled existence, but cannot find a permanent site;
  • Restricting the Council’s ability to enforce against unauthorised development as our ability to enforce is related to our proactivity in meeting the need for new provision.

The last bullet point is crucial because in spite of some local opposition this plan has helped both Solihull Police and Council when tackling travellers and gypsies.

SMBC and Solihull Police have achieved a great record in having travellers moved off within three days. The plan can be viewed here: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/Gypsy/Gypsy_and_Traveller_Site_Allocations_Plan.pdf



Powers available to both Police and Local Authorities:

Powers have been available from 1994 through the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. A full breakdown of all powers that could be used can be found within this document (Dealing with illegal and unauthorised encampments: A summary of available powers):         This document was published in 2015 so it up to date. 150326_dealing_with_illegal_and_unauthorised_encampments_-_final


However, as with most legislation guidelines are also published and this 2006 document (Guide to effective use of enforcement powers) is important for police and local authorities: travellers-enforcement-powewrs




As if the guidelines to use of the powers was not enough there is legal points of law, derived through practice over the years. Whether we like it or not (and there will be some that do not) the rights and needs of the traveller community have to be accommodated.


I found this article on the internet; Eviction from unauthorised encampments by Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers: fft-eviction-from-unauthorised-encampments-mw9_-3-2015 I have every reason to believe this paper is crucial in understanding the issues police and local authorities have to accommodate.


Three important paragraphs are, 20, 21 and 22, which includes the following points:


Para 20


Relying upon the decision in R. (on the application of Casey) v Crawley BC [2006] EWHC 301 (Admin); [2006] B.L.G.R. 239, the Welsh Government Guidance on Managing Camping 2013 advises local authorities in the following terms:

“Effectively, if an unauthorised encampment arises and there are no alternative authorised pitches in the area, local authorities have three clear paths relating to how they can resolve the encampment. Each option should be carefully considered: Path 1 – To seek and obtain possession of the occupied site (eviction proceedings).Path 2 – To ‘tolerate’ the Gypsy or Traveller occupiers, if only for a short time, until an alternative site can be found or the occupiers move on voluntarily. Path 3 – To find an alternative site, if only on a temporary basis, and offer the Gypsy or Traveller occupiers the chance to move onto it.'”


Para 21 – This relates to welfare consideration of travellers.

Para 22. If the police or a local authority or other public body fails to comply with the Government Guidance, and/or with the principles laid down in case law then a decision to evict may be susceptible to challenge by way of an application for judicial review.


I hope I have covered the legal and procedures aspects sufficiently. I also hope the reader understands why the local authority can not just go into an unauthorised camp and evict the trespassing travellers.


Other Issues mentioned on the Facebook site:

  • Were any usual car park visitors given parking tickets whilst the travellers were on the car park?
  • The answer to this is I don’t know. I could find out but I would have thought we maintained the usual terms of conditions for using the car park. The French travellers did not really cause too much disruption to the car park
  • Were any fixed penalty tickets given out for driving offences and other offences such as littering?

I suspect not. In relation to the travellers on the Audi site and Hillfield Local Nature Reserve, even police officers did not confront them by themselves. I also know from my experience there would be substantial problems in following up any tickets that would have been issued. Is this fair? No. Is it practical? Yes.

  • Can we take measures to stop the coming again?

All measure currently taken will be reviewed. We must though keep things in perspective, especially as we do not have too many encampments (far less than those authorities who have successfully sought a civil court injunction). It is important to note that the illegal trespassing through causing damage to facilitate entry is an important point in gaining a court order allowing the eviction of travellers. This is why we have measures in place: the two locked gates and the ridge and moat surrounding the park.

Yes, the locks can be broken but digging a hole in the ridges is simple enough as well, but how far do we go? Do we need measures that will only serve to make things more uncomfortable for the normal park users? Do we really want boulders around the park and an entry system that makes it difficult to drive into the park? These are questions that we will ask ourselves and I will be consulting on.


I do ask readers to keep a perspective. We had visitors in January 2015 and then two within days of each other last week. On the first two occasions the trespassers were moved on within three days through an order the local authority sought from the civil court. The trespassers who had come from the Audi site proved to be a different sort and, because of the problems they had and were creating; Solihull Police chose to use the criminal law powers to evict them. This is a rare use of these powers but it was appropriate on this occasion.

As always we will review and try to learn from anything. This report itself is one part of that (I doubt there is evidence of another councillor doing something similar).

We do take travellers seriously is Solihull and since the adoption of the Gypsy and Travellers Plan we have had a solid record in evicting trespassing travellers within three days through diligent use of civil law powers.

Please fee; free to comment on this post, or email via khawkins@solihull,gov.uk . I wish to avoid any nastiness and welcome any constructive comments.


I have today received a document from Arden Cross which provides a timely update on the proposals for the High Speed 2 interchange area once the HS2 Bill receives its Royal Assent (at the end of this year) and subject to Solihull’s own Local Plan Review, also expected later this year/early 2018.


You will see from the literature this is a massive opportunity for Solihull and the region, with potential to delivering:

  • more than 2,000 new homes
  • 246,000 sq m of new commercial space
  • 20,000 employment opportunities
  • new retail, leisure and public realm
  • maximum benefit from the HS2 Interchange station

A ‘vibrant, mixed-use, location surrounding a significant transport hub with fast connections to London, Manchester and Leeds’ will be created.

These links provide more information within the documents: img_20160927_0001 img_20160927_0003 and more information may be found via http://www.ardencross.com



Planning Application on Shirley Aquatic site


Planning application PL/2016/02122/PPFL relates to a proposal to develop an 87 bed care facility for Barchester Healthcare. The application documents can be found via this link:  http://publicaccess.solihull.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage

In brief he application  seeks : the demolition of existing houses at 1353 & 1355 Stratford Road and retail unit at Shirley Aquatics and the erection of 2 no. Class 2 care homes comprising a 12 bed Specialist Care Facility and 75 bed Care Home

The pre-submission consultation document delivered to nearby houses can be read here: Consultation Flyer Shirley Aquatics




SOLIHULL and International Promotion

At cabinet yesterday evening we agreed to seek greater trade and other links with our traditional twin towns (Cholet and MTK) as well as forge new links with two cities in the USA and China.

The report before us can be read here: International Promotion and Cabinet agreed to:

A revised approach to developing international links and “twin town” or “sister city” relationships, to be led and coordinated through Economic Development & Regeneration, and in particular to:-
(a) endorse the development and entering into of a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese city of Changzhou, and authorise the Leader of the Council to sign the agreed version;
(b) work towards the development of a similar formal arrangement or Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Mentor;
(c) pursue opportunities for stronger economic links through existing partnerships and relationships, such as Main-Taunus-Kreis, where there are clear opportunities;
(d) agree to the development of a wider international engagement strategy, providing a clear framework within which these links can be established and developed, complementing activity being undertaken at a Combined Authority and Midlands Engine level, to be considered by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Managed Growth in due course.

We also agreed that before we move forward with this a business case must be brought back to Cabinet to ensure any promotion has a defined purpose and has benefits for the borough.

SOLIHULL Town Centre Plan

An interesting report to Solihull Cabinet this evening related to Solihull Town Centre and the Master Plan we are looking at; a public consultation will be launched next week (which I will post when the survey is launched).

Town Centre

The Solihull Town Centre Masterplan aims to provide a blueprint for future investment and development which maximises the opportunities for Solihull, capitalises on its
existing assets, and sets out a clear vision for Solihull 2036; as a vibrant, sustainable, aspirational and diverse 21st century town. Solihull is already a successful and popular town, and has consistently been named as one of the best places to live within the United Kingdom. With its excellent shopping, cultural facilities, employment opportunities with about 15,000 jobs currently and attractive setting, Solihull has a lot to offer to residents, businesses and visitors.

The reports before Cabinet members this evening can be read here: Solihull Town Centre Master plan Consultation Rpt (this report outlines the issues and refers to the Master Plan and consultation) Appendix B (This document sets out the approach for the consultation on the proposed master plan for Solihull town centre ) Appendix A Solihull TC Master PLan Viewable on line only. 11th-Aug-2016 18.00 Cabinet (this document is the draft Master Plan providing more context as to what might be achieved and some thoughts to start the process off. This is a detailed document – just scroll down the=rough the first five pages).

You may have a view as to what you want of your town centre. The consultation will begin next week, Monday 15 August and run for over one month. I will remind readers when it actually begins, providing the appropriate links.



Residents of properties on Monkspath that surround the Shirley Aquatics are today being delivered a leaflet outlining a proposal from Barchester Group to build a care home facility on this site.


The entire leaflet can be accessed via this link: Consultation Flyer Shirley Aquatics

It does appear the aquatics centre has not been going to well and the owners have decided to sell.

Details as to who to respond to regarding the consultation is shown on the leaflet. A formal planning application is expected in the near future.


I attended a briefing on 27 July for councillors on the review of the local development plan. This follows on from the ‘Call for sites’ which took place earlier this year. The sites have been submitted by land owners and/or developers who wish their land to be included in the next phase of Solihull’s Local Development Plan (LDP). The current one, adopted in 2013 has been found, via High Court challenge (supported at the Court of Appeal), to necessitate at least an addition 4,000 new homes between now and 2033.

The current LDP runs to 2028 but the next phase will take in on another 5 years. This means the borough already having to identify some 608 dwellings per year (13,336 up to 2033). We have identified a supply of 9,500 within the existing LDP and are required to supply an addition minimum of 4,000 dwelling. This is a minimum and may need adjusting when considering any redistribution for within the region. Many areas are taking their allocation, with districts in Lichfield and Warwickshire taking on thousands between them. It is hoped we can get our final figure by the end of summer. This will be the figure we will need to identify within our LDP up to 2033.

The sites put forward are now being appraised and a preferred option will be published in Autumn this year, going to Solihull Cabinet in November and Council a few weeks later. There will then be published a Pre-Submission Draft in Spring 2017 before an Examination in Public (conducted by a Planning Inspector) during 2017. The council will hope to adopt a revised LDP late in 2017.

How are our housing numbers assessed?

Factors influencing any local authorities housing numbers include Employment Trends; Land and Housing Plans; Rents; Affordability; Overcrowding/suppressed households. The numbers of jobs needed and housing is balanced accordingly.

Any plan put forward must meet three aims. It must be:



Deliverable (in both short and long term)

The rider is that if there is an insufficient supply of housing identified then the suitability of land must be adjusted accordingly. This has implications if there are insufficient brown field sites available (as is the case in Solihull).

I will report back following a further briefing session in September.

Call for sites:

I have posted this before but here is a map of all sites put forward for consideration only (note the emphasis on consideration).Call_for_Sites_May_2016_A3_for_website        I have also posted a document giving more detail as to who owns the land , who is putting it forward and providing more details as to the location of the sites. Schedule_of_Call_for_Sites_Submissions

Further information about the process can be found on the councils website http://www.solihull.gov.uk

A few personal thoughts:

Saying ‘NO’ to any more development is not an option. With at least 37,000 shortfall in houses in the region Solihull will have to take its share. We can bleat about Birmingham and other areas but I hope to be able to show you that Lichfield and Warwickshire are intending to take on several thousand new homes (am searching for the relevant news reports). This resonates with me because my Mom and Dad moved us from Small Heath, Birmingham to Lichfield, on the over-spill, in 1957. I am also conscious that (like many thousands of others) I moved my family from Birmingham to Solihull in the 1980’s when areas like Monkspath, Hillfield and Damson Parkway were built (all on greenbelt land).


We have all had our own families in that time and if we do not plan for housing and jobs for our children and their children then they will have been let down – whereas we benefited from the plans of previous decisions.


I was asked to write up my thoughts about development training for councillors following a ‘conversation’ on twitter with Dr. Catherine Needham from Birmingham University  following comments I made when I read the report she co-authored entitled ‘The 21st Century Councillor’ 21st-century-councillor . This is a great read for all councillors, old or new. I do though need to add that my comments are my personal ones and do not reflect the views of my home local authority or political group. Having had  30 year career in the police, 20 of them at leadership level, followed by almost 10 years as a college lecturer, I do stand by them. More information about the report and other works can be found via this website link: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/public-service-academy/about/twentyfirst-century-public-servant.aspx .

I also hope this link to their blog, which opens up further discussion, can be accessed here: https://21stcenturypublicservant.wordpress.com/blog/

A short bio: 62 years of age; 30 years West Midlands Police, retiring at Inspector rank . Elected to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in 2002 and have served as a scrutiny member, scrutiny chair of several boards and cabinet member for Resources and currently Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Environment, Housing and Regeneration.

My report can be read via this link: BARRIERS TO COUNCILLOR DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING but I have copied and pasted the text below.


 The report ‘The 21st Century Councillor’ identifies the importance of developing councillors skills and goes on to highlight the important skills required for present day councillors and also identifies some reasons why training and development has not moved on accordingly.

Since 2002 local government has witnessed substantial change; cabinet style governance, austerity measures, new ways of working, the push for regionalisation through combined authorities, and the growth of the digital age, amongst others. Most learning organisations will adapt to these important trends, identifying the key areas that affect their core business and developing strategies to ‘be ahead of the game’ – especially their competitors.

Successful and progressive local authorities have adapted accordingly, investing in staff development, especially developing a new breed of public sector leadership model. New ways of working are commonplace, as is agile working. These authorities have identified the need for greater engagement with the public it serves but I question whether local councillors have maintained the same pace.

The report mentions cuts in member training and development budgets following the onset of austerity measures and I believe councillors as a whole agreed to such cuts (or failed to challenge them) because they felt the public would wish that area of the budget should be cut before frontline services but also because of opposition, or not being confident about the need for councillors to identify individual training and development needs.

The new councillor:

Induction training for new councillors does exist and these are generally welcomed. Again, progressive local authorities recognise the opportunity for the more established councillor to take the opportunity to attend these events as a ‘refresher’. However, it is fair to state the take up of such invitations are not great. After the induction programme it seems councillors are left to themselves.

The established councillor:

Once established, perhaps gaining some expertise within scrutiny committees he or she serves on, it is my experience that any further development rests with the councillor. If that councillor has not had the benefit from working in learning organisations or within teams that do reflect then that councillor may not recognise the need for personal development plans.

My personal experience saw 30 years in West Midlands Police where as a police inspector I underwent a great deal of personal development, even undergoing 360 degree feedback as early as 1990. Following my retirement from the police I took, what was for me, a natural progression to lecturing at local college. Here, training and development was essential – for students and tutors.

My experience has reinforced the need for continuing development and that I found the report via twitter does I feel provide evidence that I do this. However, there must be thousands of councillors up and down the country who will be oblivious to reports such as this. Attempts within my own authority (around 2010) to establish personal development plans for some councillors was not wholly welcomed – I think I was the only member from a small cross party group to agree.

The concept of a councillor openly stating and admitting to a development need may be an anathema to them. They may feel this shows a weakness to opposition members, or competitors within their own group. Also, why bother with training and development if you own a safe seat? Of course, having the ‘Cllr’ in front of your name immediately identifies you as an expert in everything (or could do with certain members). If members have an employment history of working in progressive companies with established staff development ideals then they would no doubt appreciate the need and importance of such development as a local councillor. However, how many councillors actually have experience of working within progressive organisations that focus on the need to continually learn? If a councillor does not have this experience (and profiles of members might evidence this) then developing a need for training and development as a councillor might not be recognised.

The digital age is a great example to show which councillors embrace training and development and which councillors may not. The benefits of engaging in social media are real and clear to those who do engage – both councillors and residents. This though demands the councillor to recognise the value of social media and then make a choice to learn how to use it and engage with people on-line rather than face-to-face. Those that use social media do note this allows residents a voice and challenge their elected representatives in ways not experienced before. Engaging with hundreds, even thousands of residents via social media (as I do) certainly has its challenges but it is how you deal with those challenges that is important. Yes, there are those who will not ever appreciate what you do but there are those residents who do appreciate this wider engagement and support you at election time – voting for the candidate they can engage with, not the political party. However, why indeed go to the bother of engaging with residents and a wider public on Facebook and Twitter if you are only interested I getting the thousand or so voters out to vote for you at election times? Do they feel that attending a public speaking course, or some other staff training, really matter on their CV at election time?


The drive for personal development for councillors must come from within. There appears no body that seeks to suggest to a councillor they might want to consider a specific training need; it would be a brave officer to suggest to a member he/she undertakes a public speaking course, but why shouldn’t this happen? As a school governor I receive plenty of opportunities to attend seminar, training and other events but this appears not to happen locally (I do know political parties advertise some training but do not know how much this taken up).

Report and letter writing seems to me an evident training need for some councillors in my authority (as evidenced by some emails I have received). We could all benefit from public speaking and certainly the need for developing our scrutiny and questioning skills is continuous. How we get there is by prioritising the issue and creating a budget, but in a way that will identify positive outcomes for members, officers and residents. We really need a sea change in how we see ourselves and see our role as 21st century councillor.


Councillor at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. Blogging about issues in Blythe Ward (includes Monkspath, Cheswick Green, Dickens Heath and Tidbury Green) and Solihull.