I’ve lived in da ‘wood for...oooh...16 years now. Being a creature of habit I’m liable to remain here for at least as long...possibly challenging a near neighbour (now sadly deceased) who lived in the same house for 76 years. Wow. Clearly he liked Bearwood and, generally speaking, so do I. Of course we’ve all got our gripes and concerns, especially in the light of the impending budget cuts that will, no doubt, impact on our local Council. Against these we need to appreciate the good stuff that Bearwood offers and highlight the things that need to be addressed...so here are a few (cue Julie Andrews)...of my favourite (and not so favourite) things.
The parks – we’re blessed with some great open spaces round here and, now that Lightwoods Park has been rescued from the evil clutches of Birmingham City Council (whooohahahahah!) hopefully we’ll see some huge improvements. If you didn’t already know a community group is in the process of being formed to help make this happen and you...yes...you...can get involved. Keep checking this site for details of the next meeting.
The shops – actually I think our High Street’s surviving pretty well, given the economic tsunami that’s washing over us all right now. I’d like to see a few more ‘independents’ and possibly a ‘pop up’ shop or two (maybe something that ties in to locally made stuff – art, clothing, sculpture, literature, music...kind of like We Are Birmingham). I’d actually prefer to see a few shops turned (back?) into homes too, rather than stand empty for years. This has been already done on Abbey Road hasn’t it?
The people – There seems to be a good mix of people moving in, which can only be a positive for everyone who lives round here. This blog, residents’ associations and craft groups are all positive signs of a community coming together a bit more. On a side note the interweb seems to be driving a lot more of this stuff across Birmingham, making it easier for us all to connect with each other...now that no one actually ‘talks’ to their neighbours that is.
The location – Within walking distance of the City and on some of the most frequent bus routes in the Midlands...Bearwood is surely commuter heaven...unless you happen to work in Moscow...in which case it’s a bit of a ball ache.
Shoplifting – In the last few weeks I’ve personally witnessed several instances of meat (meat!) being nicked from the Co-Op and a huge bundle of stuff being lifted from one of the clothes shops. This is the last thing our beleaguered retailers need and it ticks me off. The more it happens the more the prices will go up to recoup the losses so we’re all paying for this. I’m not sure what we can actually do about it, short of tarring and feathering these people, but I guess the authorities would have something to say about that...and have you seen the price of tar and feathers these days? Shocking.
The Bail Hostels – Bearwood’s surrounded by these places (on the Hagley Road mainly) and, whilst I’m no NIMBY, aren’t there too many now? I have, sadly, found stuff used for ‘cooking up’ nearby...and I’m not talking a nice stew. There’s been a fair bit of coverage in the media about this issue. It seems to me as if Birmingham City Council has decided to stick these places as far away as it can and the border with Bearwood seems to be its favourite dumping ground. Like I say these places have to go somewhere but surely having half a dozen next door to each other merely encourages people who’ve been locked up for goodness knows what to mix with each other rather than the wider, more law abiding community? Just a thought...
Empty buildings – The Bearwood section of the Hagley Road is, quite frankly, a national disgrace. These places have been empty for ten years now. I believe there are plans to build a retirement village on some of the land...but it can’t happen quickly enough. I know this isn’t strictly Bearwood but it reflects badly on the whole area (not to mention the gateway to Birmingham City itself). The Pope looked distinctly unimpressed on his recent visit to da ‘wood and only a chicken kebab from Neelam’s managed to cheer him up. I hate to see old buildings demolished but I hate to see them crumble away too. Either do something with them or knock ‘em down and plant some trees. Now!
Dog mess – What is it with the dog mess at the moment? Grim. I note that the council are going to install some more bins for owners to ‘deposit’ their pet’s mess but it’s the irresponsible few that need to be tracked down and...well...I’ll leave the punishment up to you.
Maybe we could find a bin big enough to stick ‘em all in?
Litter – Oh good grief. Is it that difficult to put your crisp packet/chip wrapper/yoghurt pot or whatever else you’ve been ramming down your throat and pop it in the bin? I don’t think the litter is much worse in Bearwood than anywhere else but that’s not much of an achievement eh? I suggest arming litter wardens with AK47’s then I reckon we’ll all see a huge improvement...
So, that’s the good, the bad and the ugly and, like I say, it’s an entirely personal view. I’m sure you’ve got your own...feel free to post them, it’s very therapeutic.