COVID-19 Update BCC. Supporting social distancing in our parks

To enable people to use the city’s parks and open spaces safely during the coronavirus pandemic, the city council’s grounds maintenance team has come up with a social distancing solution.

From this week (commencing May 11), crews mowing grass at the city’s 591 sites are now cutting ‘channels’ that are roughly 2m in width.

They are then leaving channels of the same width uncut, to act as a visual and practical guide for the safe use of the city’s open spaces – following the Prime Minister’s national address on May 10, in which he eased some of the lockdown restrictions.

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks at Birmingham City Council, said: “A significant number of our parks staff have been diverted onto other street scene tasks during the early days of the coronavirus crisis.

“This meant that regular grass cutting duties were paused, but now we have reached the point where some of those staff can start returning to some of their regular duties. This initially began with grass cutting at key road junctions for safety purposes and now can be extended to other tasks at parks and open spaces.

“Because the grass has been left to grow for several weeks, it means where the grass is cut there will be a notable difference.

“By cutting these channels, we will be making our parks more usable – and usable in a safer way, where people will have some guidance on how to follow the national guidelines to stay 2m away from people outside of your family.

“The fact that we have 591 parks and open spaces of vastly differing sizes means it is not easy to promote the social distancing message across each and every site, but this is a way of doing something, best utilising the limited resources we have at this challenging time.

“We were already looking at this idea, but now the Prime Minister has made announcements that will inevitably lead to a significant increase in visits to city parks, now is the time to try this out.

“Sadly, we’re not yet able to open up our visitor centres, cafes, play areas, games areas and outdoor gyms, but if the country continues to make good progress, then I hope we can open them in coming months.”



B26 reporting on social distancing in Birmingham parks

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75th anniversary of VE Day

We in Great Britain and also the rest of the world, have been going through a different kind of war than the 1939-45 War. We are fighting a war at the moment that we can’t see and many brave people in the NHS and other supporting services, have unfortunately have paid a very heavy price with their lives. No doubt there with be a vaccine produced that hopefully, will kill this enemy, as they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

As you all know this is very special day of celebrations, however, with the lockdown, we are not able to have street parties, or go to our clubs and pubs to celebrate this momentous day. There were of course many sacrifices made by the armed service people from the Commonwealth, America, Europe and of course Great Britain, who fought Hitler until he was defeated and Germany surrendered on May 8th 1945. However, we must not forget the Home Guard, the vounteer fire fighters, the people in the factories and the Land Army girls who helped bring food to our tables and of course not forgetting the Merchant Navy who lost many sailors due to U-boat attacks.

I hope all of you manage to have a glass of something, or even a cup of tea to celebrate this momentous day. 

Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26


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Keeping fit during COVID-19

Since we have been in lockdown for quite some time, I’ve noticed how many people are riding around on bicycles. It is an excellent way of getting some fresh air and keeping fit, also, we have some excellent pathways in Sheldon which are ideal for cycling and walking, providing you keeping to social distancing.                                                                         This gave me an idea, I have a very good bicycle which I no longer use due to an arthritic knee. I have kept it in my garage for quite a few months, but alas, I’m now unable to use it. Please see the photo below, if you are interested in the bike, please get in touch.

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Waste Services in Birmingham re-opening

Update on waste services in Birmingham (Tuesday 5 May 2020)

As part of the ongoing review of services during the coronavirus pandemic, Birmingham City Council is now able to restore a key waste service to residents.

Four of the city’s network of five Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) will re-open on Thursday (May 7). The HRC at Castle Bromwich will remain closed until further notice due to urgent road works outside the entrance to the site. The following HRCs will be open to the public:

  • Lifford Lane, Kings Norton, B30 3JJ
  • Holford Drive, Perry Barr, B42 2TU
  • Norris Way, Sutton Coldfield, B75 7BB
  • James Road, Tyseley, B11 2BA

The four sites are expected to be very busy, so residents are advised to plan ahead, considering quieter times of the day and only make a visit if it is absolutely essential.

The HRC opening hours at sites in Kings Norton, Perry Barr, Sutton Coldfield and Tyseley will be limited until further notice to:

Monday to Friday: 11am to 8pm

Saturday and Sunday: 8am to 2.30pm

Vans and large trailers will not be permitted at any site and only one person should be in each vehicle that visits an HRC. The only exceptions to this are lone parents who have no other option but to travel with children and Blue Badge holders, who are allowed to be accompanied by one family member. Only one adult will be permitted to exit the car when on site.

As usual, those going to the sites need to produce ID to prove they live in the city, which they will be asked to show against closed car windows.

And given the coronavirus pandemic is not over, social distancing will be maintained on sites at all times, which means the sites may operate in a different way to normal. Therefore, the staff on site will not be able to assist the public with their waste disposal/unloading to ensure social distancing rules are upheld.

Each of the HRCs has a “view the queue” webcam to help inform on the likely waiting times at our four open sites, which are likely to be lengthy as vehicle numbers on site will be restricted.

As an alternative, bulky waste collections, which were suspended several weeks ago, can now also be booked again. For full details and to reserve a slot, please visit

If households have had COVID-19 symptoms waste should be left for at least 72 hours before disposal and personal waste should be safely double bagged. This applies when

putting rubbish in household bins, when visiting the HRC or if putting out the materials for a bulky waste collection.

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks, said: “I know there have been concerns over what to do with waste that would normally be taken to our Household Recycling Centres during their closure.

“We had to close them on public safety grounds as part of our effort to ensure social distancing to protect the NHS and save lives – as well as the fact that trips to the HRC were not listed as an essential reason for travel in the Government’s regulations

“As such, we’ve been reviewing daily what we could do to open up some of the related services which have also had to temporarily stop whilst we respond to the national emergency.

“I am pleased we have got to the point where we can now offer bulky waste bookings, and following recent changes to Government guidelines on essential travel – we can open most of the HRCs again.

“But it’s clear the HRCs will be very busy when they do re-open, so I’d ask people to start planning in advance, only go to the recycling centres if it is absolutely essential and consider if our bulky waste service might be of use in the meantime.

“We are not yet in a position to open up our paid-for garden waste service for new customers but the bulky waste service enables a customer to dispose of up to 20 bags of rubbish (including garden waste), so this is an alternative.

“We did consider a booking system for the HRCs but decided that it was impractical to implement reliably at short notice, so we’re looking to the people to use the service wisely and be patient if there are any delays at the site.

“As our supermarkets and other essential retailers have had to change the way they do business, so have we at the HRCs, but we will restore a normal service as soon as we can.

“But I must stress that the sites are likely to be very busy so would ask people to delay their visits unless there is absolutely no other option.”

The key workers at the Household Recycling Centres, operated by Veolia, will not tolerate abuse of any kind and reserve the right to refuse entry if there is a display of such behaviour.

Mark Powell, General Manager at Veolia, said: “Our frontline teams are working hard to ensure sites remain open during these extremely difficult times, but cannot help residents directly as social distancing rules must stay in force.

“It is important, now more than ever, that they are treated with respect so we continue to provide a safe place for the citizens of Birmingham to use this essential service.”



B26 updating the community throughout COVID-19

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B26 keeping up your spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic


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Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26


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West Midlands Police news update

Man claiming Covid-19 jailed after spitting at bus driver

A man has been jailed after he spat at a Birmingham bus driver and told her that he had Covid-19.

Austin Haynes, from Bristol Road South, Northfield, boarded the 126 bus in Ladywood last month and refused to pay the fare for his travel. The bus driver challenged the 43-year-old who became aggressive towards her, which resulted in him spitting towards the driver and her cab screen.

Last week (27 April), he was sentenced to 17 weeks in jail.

Inspector Rachel Crump, head of the Safer Travel policing team, said: “This is a heinous and disgusting crime against a vital key worker. We will not tolerate any violence towards transport staff who are bravely continuing to work on the front line during these uncertain times.

“We welcome the sentence given to Haynes and are pleased to see him face time behind bars for his revolting behaviour. We take this crime very seriously and we will continue to do so to protect transport workers.”

David Bradford, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said: “Spitting is not only disgusting – it’s a criminal offence. Our drivers continue to provide a lifeline to front line workers during these difficult times and they should not be expected to tolerate this shocking behaviour.

“We work very closely in partnership with the Safer Travel policing team to track down offenders and secure convictions at court. The recent sentence given to Haynes is welcomed and sends a clear message that we will not tolerate offensive behaviour towards our staff.”

Haynes was bailed following an appearance at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 14 April. However after breaching his bail conditions, he returned to Birmingham Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to battery.


B26 updating the community throughout COVID-19

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B26 keeping up your spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic



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Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26


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Community Initiatives Fund

New £200,000 Community Initiatives Fund launched by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner to community and voluntary organisations to help overcome social effects of Coronavirus isolation

Following a surge in voluntary and community activity to help those self-isolating under COVID-19 restrictions, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, has made £200,000 available over the next six months, to help fund voluntary and community activity which helps and supports people having to self-isolate under COVID-19 restrictions.

The new Community Initiatives Fund which comes into effect on Monday 4th May 2020, will be funded from money which has been allocated from items seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Each year, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner invites local community groups to bid for a grant from the existing Active Citizens Fund which is money which must go into community projects and cannot be spent on recruiting Police officers.

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Waheed Saleem said:

“This really is a fantastic way to support, in a practical way all those people who are rapidly responding and organising in new ways to connect with each other within their communities. This includes online, providing practical and spiritual support, and using local supply chains.

“Through local community policing, I want to encourage and support community initiatives and networks that are enterprising. I want to hear from people about how they can provide new solutions to reach the vulnerable, protect them from threats and harm and to help them thrive despite the current restrictions”.

Community organisations can bid for funding up to £5,000.



B26 updating the community during Covid-19

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B26 keeping up your spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic


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Lol Thurstan. Editor & Publisher of B26


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