Stop Press: Just before we start … if you are looking to comment on-line to the Planning Department, to have your opinion counted (They are counting the number of for/against in the report to go to Planning Committee, 28th November, now.) then click here – look for the blue line ‘Add Comments Here’ if you would like to then carry on to cut and paste to share those comments with us, as well, in our own comments section then we would be delighted … but to be counted click above to make sure Justin at Planning sees!
Have you seen this yet? (Double click to enlarge)
You may have been the lucky recipient of this letter if you live in Alexander or Douglas Roads, or on the Stockfield Estate.
Did you know it was talking about replacing the building at the top with the one at the bottom here?
Mmmm lets take a closer look at that leaflet .. (Double click to enlarge)
What do we learn from this? Someone is offering to ‘[...] enhance our ‘spiritual, physical and mental well-being’ and ‘contribute towards the vibrancy of Acocks Green Community.’ In order to to these things they are going to provide a ‘[...] family Community Facility’. This is a ‘[...] much needed development.’ It is hoped that [...] you would like to see this development take place’ and that you will want to help [...] secure planning permission for this development.’
OK – what have you learned from this? Have you any idea at all what is being offered here? Could you describe it in your own words? We told that it is a ‘Family Community Facility. We are told three times that it is a ‘development’ and also that it is ‘much needed’ What is much needed? Since when did you wake up in the morning and say ‘I very much need a development to be built in my area in order to enhance my spiritual, physical and mental well-being’? Er, precisely how is this ‘development’ going to do these wonderful things?
Let’s read on and have a look: (Double click to enlarge)
What are the Benefits of a local Community Facility?
we are asked.
Ah, so now we are being offered a ‘Facility‘ Let’s read on.
‘The opportunity for the community to have something of its own’
This would sound touching except that the community has had ‘something of its own’ since 1924 when the far sighted Rev J. Glynn Edwards decided that we needed a nice big light airy Hall to meet in, and carry out many community activities in – and we still do. This is a picture of an Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum meeting in the Glynn Edwards in 2012.
OK it doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the Baptists. Who do you think the new ‘facility‘ would belong to? It would still belong to the Baptists but it is being set up in partnership with The Jericho Foundation – an employment training organisation and with Stockfield Community Association. (See September 4 2013 Ward Minutes, p. 7, which you can download here. ) Ward Minutes 4.9.2013 – G.E. Hall Discussion The main functions would be to train for jobs in the catering training industry, with a cafe, a kitchen, a training kitchen, and computer training room. There will be a very large entrance/reception/waiting area. oh, and there would be a ‘community hall’ upstairs less than half the size of the Glynn Edwards Hall and some tiny rooms for community groups to hire. Check out the floor plans here:(Double Click to enlarge)
Ground Floor Plan AG Baptists 2013
and here (double click to enlarge)
(The upper Arthur Moore Hall is also due to be renovated, but the additional new floor space will be smaller than The Glynn Edwards Hall.)
Lets read on again, what else are we being offered?
Senior citizens, adults, teenagers and children can all have a piece of this great facility.
Er, wow … haven’t you always wanted a ‘piece of a great facility‘? Note how, like ‘development’ this word is overused. (Exactly how much further does this get us in information than the previous statement?)
A place to get support whether finding employment, further education or starting a business.
Ah-ha … the first specific: it is an employment training centre, so quite possibly you will get some of that, although you can also presently get help with finding a job at the Yardley Friendship Centre, a few doors away … do we need two places offering this service so close?
Residents can come together as a group for:
Now that’s pretty cool – we can all meet together and get information, talk about stuff, do things together … what a lovely idea. Oh wait … we can do all those at The Glynn Edwards Hall, just like we have been doing since 1924. check out the meetings there: public information at Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum meetings – with all sorts of informative talks (see pic above) and at Ward meetings, group activities – Scouts, Pensioners, Weight Watchers, Mother and Toddler, take your pick … but it will be cramped – fewer of us will be able to meet together and there will be less room for any sort of activities.
Oh look … there’s more:
And many other purposes that will enrich the lives of the residents.
Bet your life is feeling ‘enriched’ just thinking about it. Bet you can’t wait for those ‘many other purposes’ … makes you want to sign that letter to get the lovely old Glynn Edwards knocked down right away so you can feat your eyes on the new ‘facilities’ thingy right now, doesn’t it? Wondered why they say ‘many other purposes’ rather than telling us what these ‘purposes’ are? Quite possibly because they haven’t a clue, and that was the best they could come up with?
And there’s more:
The chance to meet different people, make new friends, as well as learning about hidden passions and talents you may not have known you had.
Have you any idea at all what you are being offered that you cannot find in the present Glynn Edwards Hall? This is a place where many of us have come together as a community, over many years, discovering (if you like) a previously ‘hidden passion’ for caring for our area, for preserving the more attractive parts of it, keeping them from uncaring developers and building towards a Conservation Area to further help protect Acocks Green from such developers - a scheme that is likely to come to fruition by next April … if and this is a big if … if the Glynn Edwards is not demolished. Otherwise the destruction of that little corner of Acocks Green, where the Conservation Area is due to be centred, and its replacement by the ugly building you see here could mean that the Conservation Area is cancelled – is off, is over, doesn’t happen. This was the warning from Joe Holyoak, Birmingham Conservation architect who is helping oversee the scheme at the last Acocks Green Ward meeting on 23 October 2013. If we lose the Conservation Area we could lose other buildings round here which are only locally listed, or not listed at all. They will not be protected either. Which would you like to see go first: The Police Station, The Old Fire Station, The Great Western Pub (Not listed at all – note those great stained glass windows all nicely polished up now it is open again.)
Anything else on offer?
A local facility within easy walking distance easily accessible for those of age or within walking distance.
Perhaps English would help here? A local facility for those of what age? What is the function of the word ‘or’ in this sentence?
However, setting aside literacy issues, note you are again being offered a facility. It is a ‘facility’ within ‘easy walking distance and easily accessible – Hello – The Glynn Edwards Hall is within easy walking distance and easily accessible to those who have received this leaflet.
There is however a very good reason why we call the present building a ‘hall’ and why this leaflet burbles on merrily about a ‘facility’ or a ‘development’. The ugly new building would remove the hall and replace it with employment training facilities which local people would be allowed to fit into, at a price. As they admitted at the Acocks Green Ward meeting on 4 September 2013, room hire fees to help pay that big two million pound development bill could be pricey) as and when it was not in use by The Jericho Foundation. They daren’t grace it with the name hall because what would replace it would be far meaner and far more cramped, so they are struggling to think what to call it.
Are you still inclined to think that this new building is ‘much needed’? Or do you think we need the old one more? What can you do if you would prefer to keep the old one? If you haven’t done so already please find a petition and sign it pronto (lots in local shops on the Yardley Road – laundrettes, florists, post officer, newsagents next to the Railway Station etc or in Acocks Green Costa) or please, even better dig out one of the model letters opposing the scheme which you have had delivered and bung it off to the address top right of the letter … or if you can’t put your hand on those letters you can still download this one, Letter to Justin Howell objecting to G.E. P.A. 2013 or, even easier, click here: comment on-line on the plan to demolish The Glynn Edwards here - look for ‘comment on-line’ The plan goes to Committee on 28 November – a decision will be made then your letters, comments and petition signatures will be counted until a few days before, but hurry.