Grow and Eat

02/07/2020 at 5:03 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Water | Leave a comment
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I have been growing more fresh fruit and vegetables this year in my backyard farm in Balsall Heath. The yard is concrete, but composting all my garden and kitchen waste I have filled 20 re-used containers, as my “fields”.  Rain from the roof is diverted to a 750 litre water butt, to keep them moist.

The period of ‘virus lockdown’ has had many of us investing in growing more at home. For me that has meant using the principles of stacking and companion planting to be able to grow and eat the following; potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, sunflowers, pak choi, cabbage, kale, watercress, broad beans, runner beans, mangetout peas, mint, thyme, sage, basil, raspberries, loganberries, strawberries and rhubarb. I have even had surplus plants and produce to give away.

Something fresh  to pick every day, as a result of my 10 minute gardening outside the back door. The front garden is down to flowering plants, to reward passers-by for walking instead of driving, and for the bees.

Thank you to all the gardeners for your efforts. Congratulations especially to ‘Moseley in Bloom’ for going online with their Open Gardens tour              John Newson


Moseley Road plan “shelved”

25/06/2020 at 10:59 am | Posted in Cycling, Streets, Trees, Walking | Leave a comment

The plan to widen Moseley Road and narrow the footways through Balsall Heath has been “shelved” according to Cabinet member for Transport Waseem Zaffar. He was  speaking to a Brum breathes meeting yesterday, held by SUSTRANS. Instead, he said that modifications to encourage walking and cycling will be designed.  Clearly that would not be possible if a fourth lane of traffic was to be inserted.

The case for bus priority has much reduced but there are some ideas from the public consultation that could be progressed and Cllr Zaffar has said he will investigate time savings  by making lights at the Middleway respond more quickly to the approach of every bus.

Meanwhile, two dying trees are to be replaced on Moseley Road, and bright orange umbrellas have signalled the reopening of the Mix Cafe as a pavement facility in front of the Old Print Works.  On Ladypool Road, pedestrians are getting more space, where some parking spaces have been removed to allow physical distancing against COVID19 virus. See below





Ask for Walking and Cycling

02/06/2020 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Cycling, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment

Widen My Path website offers you the power to submit detailed ideas, through an online map, as to where improvements to walking and cycling should be made.  Birmingham City Council wants to hear where, in Balsall Heath and surrounding areas we need more space to walk, with physical distancing, and to cycle in safety. You can also propose a road closure that would deter through traffic. To add a new idea or add a vote for one that has already been marked on the map. Widen My Path


Council to look again at Moseley Road

19/05/2020 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Cycling, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment
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An Emergency Transport Plan has been produced by Birmingham City Council. It aims to give people more space for walking, so they can keep 2 metres distancing against the COVID19 virus, and also to allocate space for safe cycling on and off the streets. Applied to Balsall Heath it says that they will review and change the Moseley Road plans from 2019, which would have narrowed the pavements and will also look for Quick Wins, which may be the temporary reallocation of space, removal of on-street parking spaces, temporary pedestrian crossings, or moving bus stops. The big fall in road traffic is allowing this, and government is urging cities to make the changes to allow people to return to work safely during the rest of 2020. Balsall Heathans have been taking to their bikes during the “lockdown” and there is an opportunity to keep more people cycling for transport and exercise. Routes already planned in the council’s Walking and Cycling Strategy will be put in this summer.  More details are in the Emergency Birmingham Transport Plan


Seven Streets Park Rescue

15/05/2020 at 1:15 pm | Posted in Green Spaces, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment

The application to City Planners for a line of garages across the entrance to Seven Streets Park as reported on this blog received a number of objections from local people and also from Council’s Leisure department and it has been REFUSED. The officer’s report said as follows;

“The proposed 3 garages are considered to be unacceptable in principle as the construction of any form of structure at this site would fail to re-inforce or create a positive sense of place and respond appropriately to the local area context. Due to the location, size and design of the proposed 3 garages, the proposal would have a detrimental impact on the design and visual amenity of the surrounding area and would also have a detrimental impact on residential amenity by narrowing the southern entrance/exit to Seven Streets Pocket Park and enclosing the part of the park to the rear of the application site, in turn creating an unattractive environment which would discourage surrounding residents from using the space.”

Well done to those who have been digging and planting there; they will surely be encouraged . The coronovirus has made walking and outdoor space even more important for us all.  John Newson, BHIOP

This space needs to be looked after !!!


Space to Walk – and be safe

08/05/2020 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Cycling, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment
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Kings Heath is the first high street in Birmingham to have its pavements widened, so that people can observe ‘social distancing’ guidelines of  2 metres apart, and so prevent transmission of the coronovirus .  Some car parking spaces have been taken out on both sides of  Alcester Road. The 4 metre wide pavement now has a 2 metre extension; total width 6 metres. Photo is below.

Moseley village may be next – very good – but Balsall Heath, also on the A435, is still threatened with having our 3 to 4 metre pavements permanently cut down to 2.2 metres, so that social distancing will be designed out (at a cost of £2.5 million). A contradiction to be resolved, surely?

Birmingham Cit Council is now saying that it will bring forward its Walking and Cycling Strategy,  by re-allocating space to walk and cycle. WMCA has a transport survey, so you can Have Your say about what you want after the ‘lockdown’ hurry closes 11 May.



Kings Heath above, Ballsal Heath below

Walk in Space

27/04/2020 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Cycling, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment
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Well done to Moseley Forum, for asking  to have road space reallocated to pedestrians , in front of Sainsbury’s and the Coop on Alcester Road. The pavement is narrow and there is a bus stop, so it is hard for people to follow public health guidance giving 2 metres of spacing, as a precaution against the COVID19 virus.

Roads are quiet, with many people working from home, and some cities are fencing off road space to walk and to cycle safely . The Forum were responding to an offer from Birmingham’s Transport Cabinet member Waseem Zaffar to consider locations suggested by residents. 

In Balsall Heath, we benefit by pavements 3 to 4 metres wide. However, BHIOP has made the point to the decision makers that the narrowing of footways to 2.2 metres along Moseley Road as proposed by Transport for West Midlands,  would prevent people keeping “social distance” in the future, in order to avoid disease.


Pedestrian space in Moseley



Threat to Seven Streets Park

18/04/2020 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Green Spaces, Walking | Leave a comment

There is a planning application to build garages across one entrance to Seven Streets Park in Balsall Heath (Runcorn Road). This has been public space since 1980, but a strip was sold by the council to a private owner, who has applied to put up garaging for three vehicles. Already it has been fenced off and the path dug up. Comments and objections about it can be made online until the end of Thursday 23rd. The application number and details are here 2020/00796/PA click on associated documents. The link for you to make your comments is here use this link

I can supply more details if you want. John Newson bhiop[at]

Picture of the park entrance


Everything has changed

04/04/2020 at 8:37 am | Posted in Air pollution, Cycling, Gardens, Green Spaces, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment

The virus COVID19 has required everyone in Balsall Heath to Stay at Home, so as to avoid spreading the disease. There is fear of infection, of losing your job, of getting into debt, so these are very difficult times for many people. All gatherings of more than 2 people are banned but local organisations are trying to offer advice and help.

Yet, it is also true that the restrictions have made the area much quieter and cleaner. Cars are mostly parked up, giving people  the space to walk and cycle. Footways are clear to use. Traffic congestion has gone and the air is cleaner than we have ever known it. . People are walking and exercising every day in the local parks. Gardeners are hard at work. There is hardly any street litter because the takeaway outlets are closed and people are preparing food at home.  We could say that in some ways a healthier way of life has been forced on us, and it would be good to keep some of those benefits after the virus has gone.

More working from home and less driving  would remove the case for widening the Moseley Road, as proposed by Transport for West Midlands. A city with less traffic is proposed by the new Birmingham Transport Plan, which the city council has put out for consultation, asking if the public support it ( ending 9th April) – Birmingham Transport Plan

John Newson, (working from home)


Coronavirus – walking the right way

27/03/2020 at 10:48 am | Posted in Green Spaces, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment

A very good and full advice summary has been produced by Living Streets, covering when and how to walk outside, so as not to add to the transmission of the virus HERE


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