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         NOTICE:      Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir Annual General Meeting              

              Date:     Tuesday 18th May, 7pm refreshments for 7.30pm start

To be held at:     Tower Ballroom, Ladywood, Birmingham, B16 9EE


Main Agenda Items:      Edgbaston Reservoir as a Local Nature Reserve

             The future of the Tower Ballroom - a presentation by the new leaseholders


A member's view of the Reservoir by video

Dick Jones shares with us his fascination of the place he holds close to his heart - Edgbaston Reservoir.

Click to view videoClick image to see Video.                              


NEEDLE POINTS -  The Reservoir from Ranger Debbie Needle's point of view

January 2010

Malcolm and myself would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year

2010 will certainly be an interesting year and a time for change, although the country is being told there are still tough times ahead perhaps in the end the changes will be for the better.

Meanwhile, here at the Reservoir, although the cold weather may not be for everyone, there were certainly lots of people enjoying the Reservoir on New Years Day. The bird life was also very active with grebe, swans, tufted ducks and goosander all being seen on the water and pied wagtails searching for crumbs along the waters edge.

Although through most of the year we ask people not to feed the birds here at the Reservoir in the very cold weather some occasional treats seem only fair. If you want to find out more information about feeding the birds in your garden in winter and throughout the year visit the RSPB website

Local Nature Reserve Status

We managed to get the LNR report onto the agenda for the December Ladywood Ward meeting so we are on our way to getting the final support required for us to gain this status.


 



              



Ring the Rangers Debbie Needle or Malcolm Jacques on 0121 454 1908 for further information or if there is an event or activity you would like to suggest for the future.

Water Levels:

January 2010: The water level is at an average for winter at present and water is still coming in from the Titford feed (at Gillott Road entrance).


                     The Tower Ballroom Opens: History is Made and Rewritten

 

At 8 pm on Thursday April 3rd 2008 the Tower Ballroom opened its doors again and more than a thousand people descended on this corner of the Reservoir, in most cases to renew their acquaintance with the famous venue. I also went along. The atmosphere was good. The interior is shiny and new with all the glitz and glitter a dance hall should have. The original decor is retained and the revolving stage preserved. 

Twelve hours earlier I had taken part in an interview for Radio WM  with the new proprietor, Liam O'Connor. The interview was conducted in the ballroom by WM's ebullient reporter, Kate Walker. She and Liam walked in, chatting all the while. I was situated about 20 metres away.When they eventually reached me, she then thrust the microphone at me and said:" You've been campaigning to keep the Ballroom open and there's been some opposition to this, hasn't there?"  

Since FER and everyone I know connected with the Reservoir including our local councillors had concluded that to open the ballroom as a dance and entertainment venue was totally unrealistic and so was never any part of our campaign, the question caught me out. I sensed that there is now a new myth in the making. This was confirmed for me that evening when the first group of musicians on concluding their set said: "We want you to acknowledge the achievement of one man. They were going to build a bunch of flats and houses here and he has single-handedly stopped them.  Please put your hands together for Liam O'Connor and if you don't want to see flats and houses built here, please support this venture!"  

Liam O'Connor has put a lot of money and effort in relaunching the Tower Ballroom. It will be a big success and all the signs are that it will be well-run. FER didn't think flats and houses were appropriate for the Reservoir.  In its favour, the Tower Ballroom confirms the Reservoir as a site for leisure and recreation and if its previous owners hadn't closed it down and if some people in the Council hadn't proposed replacing it, we would still be seeing the Tower Ballroom as a permanent feature of the Reservoir landscape. But since the controversy over the flats and houses, it has become apparent that  the Tower Ballroom itself has no connection with what the Reservoir is really about. Perhaps, when the Loop Development takes shape, the Tower Ballroom will come to be seen as the anomaly it truly is. What do you think? 

Chris Vaughan 

Chair, Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir


Tower Ballroom - The Campaign               

Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir have campaigned vigorously over the last two years against having houses and flats built within the boundaries of the Reservoir, as we think it is totally inappropriate and sets a dangerous precedent. We have received a lot of public support for our campaign and we are grateful to the many individuals and organisations that joined in. We also feel that as a result, we now have a closer relationship with our local politicians, our planners and city officials and can now start to move forward in truly valuing the Reservoir as a tremendous and unique asset for all the people of Birmingham     

Background

Planning permission was granted to Countrywide Homes for flats and houses to be built on the Tower Ballroom site to Countrywide Homes Ltd in January 2006, in the teeth of fierce local opposition. Because the outcry would not die down Countrywide were asked to reconsider their proposals. But the plans were delayed in a far more serious way because the then Chair of Leisure Services, Cllr John Alden would not give his permission for a change of use of the site.  However, in a report to the Ladywood Ward Committee on June 14th, 2007, by the Director of Planning, Clive Dutton, it would appear that Cllr Alden's successor, Cllr Ray Hassall, has conceded or has been forced to concede a change of use. The report states, "Meetings held with the developer have thus far failed to generate new designs/layouts of sufficient quality to convince the City Council to dispose of its land holding interest. Countrywide are aware of the position and a response from them is awaited." In other words, if Countrywide can come up with the right proposals they can build their houses and flats. When the current lease was drawn up with Mecca forty four years ago it was expressly stipulated that the site was not to be used for housing.  It is now evident that the current office holders do not see themselves as bound by their predecessors' legal requirement and so for the first time in its 180 year history the Reservoir faces having houses built within its confines. In the meantime we will be investigating the facts of the matter such as when was this decision for change of use made, by whom and by what decision making process, before taking further action.

                    Please feel free to leave a message in this website's Guest Book.


                 NEW!!!       Friends of Harborne Walkway Action Group set up


Membership

Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir was formed more than 10 years ago when an eclectic group of local residents came together with one common aim, the prevention of proposed waterskiing on the reservoir.

The pressure group was successful in preventing the use of noisy power boats on the water and remained as an association to preserve this secret treasure in the heart of Birmingham.

View from the rear of homes in Summerfield Crescent

For those of you whom are unaware, the Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir exist today as a group of local residents and other interested people, to monitor and promote the area as a designated Site for Nature Conservation (SINC).  Since formation the FER have maintained a constituted presence in the area to represent the views of local people and other organised users (wildlife and bird watchers, Midland Sailing Club, Birmingham Rowing Club, Training Ship Vernon, the anglers and the walkers, cyclists and joggers) to both fight unwanted development and to promote sensitive improvements for the benefit of both the general public and wildlife.

The FER are a voluntary group with a Birmingham City Council recognised Constitution and aim to keep everyone informed of everything to do with The Reservoir through regular meetings, newsletters and through
this website   We are currently focused on monitoring planning and development in the local area, the preservation and maintenance of historical buildings and features around The Reservoir, the provision of public toilets at The Lodge, and promoting encouragement of the abundant wildlife that uses the area.

Unfortunately we have no charitable status and do not receive any significant funding from anywhere except through membership subscriptions.  Our current spending plans are for the small things that Birmingham City Council cannot fund quickly, such as more bat boxes and nest boxes.  We are also starting a fund to provide a floating nest platform for swans.

Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the reservoir and its surroundings. FER organises various events each year in an attempt to encourage a wider appreciation of the interesting features around and on the water.

Click here to join FER

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