Party! Celebrating 10 Years of the Focus Group

August 25th, 2014
10 Years Ago - Saving the Green at Acocks Green

10 Years Ago – Saving the Green at Acocks Green – double-click on the cutting for a clear reading image.

We are having a party! If you live in Acocks Green or are involved with Acocks Green you are welcome:

Place Acocks Green Costa

Time 5.30-7.00 Friday 5 September

Purpose To celebrate 10 years of Acocks Green Focus Group, and to find out about what we do today, and how to get involved if you would like to. There will be displays and info.

Entertainment From Folk Acoustic Duo Annie and Bob James (See below.)

Admission Free – coffee and cakes on sale as usual.

We started in July 2004 when Birmingham City Council dropped a bombshell on Acocks Green by announcing, but rather quietly and only to those living near enough to get the Planning Consent application flyer, that they were going to take The Green away. The idea was basically to improve the 11 bus route by shaving 19 seconds off the time the bus takes to go around ‘The Green’.

The Green, Aug 2012-5- Mick - Resized for TwitterOur famous kidney-shaped ‘Green,’ as seen in the pics on the left, would have become a small conventional circular traffic island pushed up towards Shirley Road. The flowers and the trees … gone. At about a week’s notice a campaign took off gaining extensive media coverage.

Whistles on the Green We gained over 1,000 petition signatures and more than 130 people crammed into St Mary’s Church for a protest meeting. We were able to show very conclusively indeed that Acocks Green people value their trademark eccentric big traffic island, in the middle of the shopping centre, affectionately known as ‘The Green’ very DSCN3566considerably more than cutting 19 seconds off a bus timetable!

The Council backed down, and the rest is history as The Green goes from strength to strength today.

However, we promised that if we won this campaign we would start a group: temporary name: a ‘Focus Group’ for Acocks Green.

Result: we are still here today. We are Acocks Green Focus Group – the name just stuck before we could think of a better one, but that is what we do. As a group we don’t go out and dig over flower beds, or pick up litter (although plenty of members do those vital things today in other local groups.) We ‘focus’ on the longer-term future of the area and keep track of those quiet proposals. This is something which was not really happening pre-2004, which is how we nearly lost The Green. We are nosy – we read plans, we pick out worrying developments, e.g. the 2005 plan to destroy the front window of 50 Yardley Road, designed by an important Birmingham architect, the 2006 Council sale of 1073 Warwick Road (formerly known as The Churchill Club or The Knoll), the 2007 plan to knock down the fine Victorian houses at 42-4 Flint Green Road and build flats, the 2011/12/13 plan to put a plain concrete and glass structure where the Glynn Edwards Hall (still!) stands.

We also campaign for improvements. The Warwick Road is to get a makeover shortly: ‘The Smart Route’ starting in September 2014. This layout is partly based on our suggestions from as early as 2007, and the inspiration we took from many other place including Leamington and Kensington … which had simplified their road layouts and removed many miles of ugly guard rail, to good effect and reducing accidents.

We are currently awaiting the result of our Conservation Area application. After a lot of work we presented this scheme: a first for Birmingham, a community proposed Conservation Area, at Consultations in March this year. Acocks Green people voted resoundingly with 114 in favour and only 3 against.

That’s us: Acocks Green Focus Group. Still here and hoping to be here for another ten years at least. Why not come and meet us and find out more about what we do – and we are always on the lookout for new members …

We will be entertained by Bob and Annie

Bob & Annie at Rhyl Folk & Acoustic Music Club, 2013

Bob & Annie at Rhyl Folk & Acoustic Music Club, 2013

A recent review of a performance said:

A brilliant ‘Big-Spot’ by Annie and Bob James was the highlight of another super night at the happy club on Friday. An eclectic selection of songs entertained the appreciative audience, with Annie’s unique vocal delivery and Bob’s sympathetic guitar accompaniment. Often seen in a duo like this, is when the guitarist wants to be the ‘star’, but not with Bob, he plays in restrained perfection, allowing Annie’s voice and style to take the listener to the meaning of the lyric, a superb performance!.

Hope to see you there.

Bob & Annie pics collage

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