Thief legs it with Bloxwich diamond

Andrews Jewellery
Andrews Jewellery decorated for ‘Bloxwich Celebrates’, 31 July 2010

Bloxwich police are appealing for information following a theft of a diamond ring worth over £3,000, from a local jewellers.

The theft occurred at Andrews Jewellery in High Street, Bloxwich at approximately 2pm on Tuesday 31 January.

A man, described as white, approximately 5ft 8in tall, medium build with dark short hair wearing a black waist length jacket and dark trousers, entered the jewellers and asked to look at a white gold diamond engagement ring.

The shop operates an entry system and whilst the man was looking at the ring another potential customer asked to enter the shop. As the door opened the thief leapt from the shop and made off towards Harrison Street.

It is believed that he may have been in company with another man, who is described as white in his early twenties, approx 5ft 7in with short dark hair. The two were seen getting into a small black vehicle, before escaping from the scene.

PC Stuart Mahon, from Bloxwich Police Station, said: “The theft happened on a busy afternoon on the High Street. We are hoping someone can help us identify these men or the vehicle they used to flee the area.

“If you remember the incident and can help us with our enquiries, we are urging you to contact us as soon as possible.”

If you have any information that will help the inquiry then please contact PC Stuart Mahon at Bloxwich police station by calling 101. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.


Bulls Head at Bloxwich to rise Phoenix-like from ashes

The Bull's Head before closing, summer 2007

One of Bloxwich’s best-known watering holes, which closed in the summer of 2007 amid reports of violent incidents, and which was later targeted by vandals and arsonists in November 2010 leaving the upstairs and roof burnt out, now looks set at long last to spring back into life as a JD Wetherspoon’s pub.

Bull's Head Burnt Down 6 Nov 10
Firemen damping down the badly burnt Bull's Head, 6 November 2010 (Pix by and courtesy of Terry Humphries)

The mock-Tudor styled Bull’s Head in Park Road, which replaced its genuine 16th-century namesake, famed for the legendary ‘Bloxwich Wishing Tree’ outside its doors,  in 1928, has been a local landmark since living memory, but went into decline in the last years of its life, partly due to the economic downturn and partly due to a troubled reputation.

Up for sale since closing, the “Bull” as it is affectionately known to Bloxwich folk, narrowly escaped being lined up by owner Aldridge based Dorchester Land Ltd for conversion to shop units.  Not being a listed building, presumably due to alterations over the decades, the historic pub had little legal protection from redevelopment despite being situated within the Bloxwich Conservation Area.

In the event, there were no takers until recently, when the heritage-minded Wetherspoon’s pub company, which has long had a track record of sympathetic conversions of historic buildings, reportedly took a tentative interest last year.

Original Bulls Head Bloxwich 10 June 1927
The original Bull's Head and The Wishing Tree (left), Bloxwich, 10 June 1927 (W. Meikle)

Since then there has been public silence on the matter, but now a planning application is up for consideration by Walsall Council this Thursday, and the refurbishment and extension of the pub, if it goes ahead, will hopefully generate up to fifty new jobs at a cost of £1 million in investment.

Not everyone thinks this is good news, however, and a letter with 28 signatures protesting against the proposal has apparently been received, together with an additional five individual letters, all from local residents citing noise, litter, anti-social behaviour and parking issues as factors against reopening the pub.

In mitigation, the planning application states that, as in keeping with many Wetherspoon’s pubs, there will be no music, that adequate parking will be provided and that the pub is close to public transport.

Members of Walsall’s planning comittee will be recommended to approve the application, subject to conditions, in their meeting at Walsall Council House on Thursday evening.

The JD Wetherspoon company was founded as a single pub  in 1979 by Tim Martin.  The company now owns 835 outlets including the recently converted St Matthew’s Hall (formerly the County Court) and the Imperial (a converted theatre), in Walsall town centre.  They have a reputation for decent food and good beer at reasonable prices, so hopefully things now are looking up in Bloxwich on the foodie pub front at least.

Walsall Labour petitions against NHS bill

Labour in Bloxwich NHS Petition George Makin

Labour councillors and supporters were out in force again in Bloxwich on Saturday, this time campaigning against the UK government’s proposed ‘reform’ of the National Health Service, as pictures kindly sent in by George Makin clearly show.

Supported by respected Walsall North Labour MP David Winnick, local Labour councillors Ian Robertson (Blakenall),  Julie Fitzpatrick (Bloxwich East), Ann Young (Blakenall), Shaun Fitzpatrick (Bloxwich East) and Short Heath candidate Matt Ward amongst others were apparently kept very busy at Bloxwich Market Square collecting signatures on their petition protesting against the Conservative/Liberal Democrat’s troubled ‘NHS Health and Social Care Bill in England’, which is top of the British political and news agenda at the moment.

Tory Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley’s highly controversial bill, which many say will result in “privatisation by the back door” and the disastrously disjointed dismantling of one of the nation’s most important public services, looks set to be forced through by a government which has sets its face against all those who disagree with it, despite serious opposition from many professionals and respected bodies such as the Royal College of Nursing, who this week said that “…serious concerns expressed by [RCN] members have not been addressed during the parliamentary process, listening exercise or political engagement”.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has also now come out against the bill, and were not alone with the RCN and the British Medical Association in being unhappy about not being asked to attend Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting about the bill at Number 10 last Monday, from which several major opponents of the bill were effectively excluded.  They said “We are disappointed that the RCGP has not been invited to the meeting at Downing Street today.  The RCGP, with its 44,000 members, is the largest professional body of GPs in the UK. It is our Members who will have to implement the changes if the Bill goes through so it is very important that we are part of any discussions on the way forward.”

Despite increasingly strident claims that their changes to the National Health Service are “essential”, the government, which before the general election claimed that there would be “…no top down reform of the NHS…” has been unable to successfully engage with a number of major professional bodies such as the RCGP, whose members will be expected to take on massive extra responsibilities as a result of root and branch changes to be imposed on a service which is already creaking under the weight of heavy budget and staff cuts.

Widespread opposition has already resulted in hundreds of amendments being made to the incredibly complex bill, but many are saying it should now be thrown out altogether as unworkable.

Meanwhile angry doctors and students who are members of the British Medical Association are seriously considering industrial action over the government’s proposed ‘reforms’ of their pensions.  Last month they overwhelmingly rejected the Government’s “final” offer on pensions, which involves higher contributions, ending the final salary scheme, and altering the lump sum paid on retirement.

The BMA say the changes would see younger doctors contributing more than £200,000 extra over their lifetime and being forced to work eight years longer, to age 68.  Industrial action from doctors, were it to take place,  would be the first since the 1970s, possibly signalling a “spring of discontent” in the NHS.

Labour in Bloxwich NHS Petition 2 George Makin
Members of the public sign Walsall Labour's petition on the NHS Bill in Bloxwich

In the meantime, Saturday’s enthusiastic response to Labour’s petitioning in Bloxwich seems to indicate that members of the public are finally beginning to realise that in England at least, one of their most highly valued and respected public services is in serious danger.

Pictures courtesy George Makin

Retired sheriff brings musical posse to Bookmark Bloxwich!


Knoxville Highway

Country and Western fans should mosey on down to Bloxwich next month to catch Knoxville Highway on stage.

Retired Bloxwich police officer Bob Gessey will be coming back to his old stomping ground with his posse of Black Country cowboys on Saturday 3 March to perform at Bookmark Bloxwich Theatre in Elmore Row.

The six piece band is promising “a musical road trip across the heart and soul of Country and Western music” and is bringing the sound of Nashville into the borough.

The show features songs from Country greats such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Glenn Campbell and the Eagles right up to today’s modern country stars with a sprinkling of Blue Grass classics.

Doors open at 7.30pm with the show starting at 8.15pm.

Bob said: “It promises to be a great night.

“You wouldn’t normally see a line up like ours outside of Nashville – there’ll be something for everyone I’m sure.”

The event is presented by Bloxwich Library Forum as part of the Bookmark Bloxwich Live Music Review gig series.

Tickets cost just £5 and are available by contacting Bloxwich Library on 01922 655900.

Staffordshire Police appeal to trace missing 20-year-old

Thomas Haddock

UPDATE:  According to BBC Midlands Today a body has been found in woodland in Fradley, Staffs. Police believe it to be that of 21 yr old Thomas Haddock who went missing last week.

More information will be posted when it is released by Staffordshire Police. Meanwhile please see the earlier story below.

Posted 21 Feb 2012:

Officers are appealing for help to trace a man who went missing from his mother’s home near Lichfield on Saturday night, 18 February.

Thomas Haddock left the house in Shaw Lane, Riley Hill, Kings Bromley, saying that he was heading for Lichfield.

The 20-year-old currently lives in Cheltenham but regularly visits the Lichfield area.

Thomas is described as white, 5ft 10ins tall, of medium build, with short dark brown hair and blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing dark blue Armani jeans and a dark-coloured top by a friend near the house walking along the A515 Lichfield Road towards Lichfield at around 8pm.

Inspector Jed White, Lichfield local policing commander, said: “Thomas has never been missing before and we’re very concerned for his safety.

“It appears he intended to head to Lichfield to meet some friends for a normal Saturday night out.

However, we don’t know if Thomas reached Lichfield and, when he didn’t return home, his family raised the alarm yesterday afternoon.  Since then we’ve carried out extensive inquiries to try and find Thomas – these are continuing today.

“We want to speak to anyone who saw, or spoke to, Thomas on Saturday night or on Sunday or who knows where he might be.

“Anyone with information should ring Staffordshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 497 of 19 February.’

Staffordshire Police website

Police looking for missing person Louise Green of Willenhall

WMP On the beat

Police in Walsall are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of vulnerable 24-year-old, Louise Green, who went missing from Devon Road, Willenhall overnight on Wednesday (15 February).

She was last seen by her grandmother wearing cream and black leggings, black boots, a long black skirt, black top and khaki parka coat with a fur-trimmed hood. She was also wearing a gold engagement ring.

Louise is described as white, 5ft 6ins tall and of medium build. She has blue eyes, a clear complexion and shoulder length, blond straight hair. She has a tattoo on her left leg of a flower and a butterfly and the words “Jamie Lee Spence” on her right wrist.

If anyone has information about Louise’s whereabouts, they are urged to contact Walsall CID on 01922 433 255, or the new national non-emergency number, 101.

Deputy Mayor welcomes former Bloxwich metalworker to Harden Hall

Mrs Cross Harden Hall Feb 2012
Mrs Louis Cross and her daughter Sandra Holford meet Deputy Mayor Cllr Graham Wilkes

Walsall’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Graham Wilkes has returned to new care home Harden Hall just two weeks after attending the official opening of the home, to personally welcome its first resident, Mrs Louis Cross.

And Ideal Care Homes’ Managing Director, Mark Greaves, joined ninety-two year old Mrs Cross and her daughter Sandra Holford for a cup of tea as Councillor Wilkes presented Mrs Cross with a bouquet of flowers.

The Deputy Mayor had attended Harden Hall’s professional open day earlier this month and was so impressed by the facilities and staff that he asked to come back to welcome their first resident.

Born in Walsall, Mrs Cross started work at the age of fourteen, and during the Second World War made buckles for soldier’s uniforms.  She worked at the Samuel Wilkes Factory in Bloxwich for thirty-one years, before moving to Elliot’s in Walsall where she worked until she was seventy-three years of age.

Mrs Cross has three children, seven grandchildren, eleven grandchildren and four great great grandchildren, and has settled in very quickly to her new home.

Mark Greaves, Managing Director of Ideal Care Homes said:

“It is a pleasure to welcome Mrs Cross to her new home.  We never under estimate what a big step it is moving into a new environment, but I know that Adam and his team of carers will go to every length to make sure the move for all our residents are as smooth as possible.”

“This is the first home Ideal Care Homes have opened in Walsall, since the public open day on Sunday 5th February, there has been large public interest in Harden Hall, with a high number of rooms already being reserved.  This is a testament to Ideal Care Homes’ offer of affordable, quality care and also the demand for quality care in Walsall.”

For more on Harden Hall, see our previous news stories on the opening and open days.

Information and photograph provided by Ideal Carehomes.

NHS invites residents to PPG meetings

NHS logo

NHS Walsall has issued an invitation to local residents to take part in their Patient Participation Groups.  Officials are keen to encourage patients of General Practitioners to make their views on health services known by taking up these new opportunities to communicate with their neighbourhood practice.

Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) have been set up to empower patients by giving them the opportunity to join and talk about any issues and concerns they may have as well as looking at ways to resolve them, though the groups are not complaints forums as such.

A series of PPG meetings are now taking place at local surgeries are open to anyone interested, and are timed as follows:

  • Sina Health Centre – 16 February at 11am
  • Harden Health Centre (Drs Kaur and Dr Gill) – 16 February at 12pm
  • Sai Medical Center (formerly Dr Ray) – 22 February at 6 pm
  • Blakenall Meadow and Village Practice – 28 February at 10 am
  • Chapel St Surgery – 29 February at 1pm

The groups will help to support practices in achieving their targets and objectives, and to educate patients about managing their health more effectively.  Patients will also be helped to get more  involved in decisions about the Practice and their own health.

Group meetings normally take place 4 times a year and last for around an hour.

People interested in joining a PPG can approach their GP surgery directly or contact Karen Goldsmith, Involvement Co-ordinator for NHS Walsall via or by telephone on 01922 618380.

Children invited to make bunting in Blakenall and beyond

Union Flag Bunting

Creative children are being invited to get busy with bunting over the next few weeks as Walsall gets the flags out to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year.

Bunting making sessions are being held at libraries throughout the borough during February, March and April.

Sessions are being held this week at on Friday 17 February at New Invention Library and Pheasey Library all morning.

The sessions are free and young artists can use fabric pens to colour in a white flag with their favourite book or book character designs.

These will be sewn together to make bunting for Walsall town centre and the borough’s district centres.

Libraries in Aldridge, Rushall, Beechdale, Pleck, Willenhall, South Walsall, Darlaston, Blakenall and Brownhills are all taking part and Walsall Central Library set the wheels in motion earlier this month.

Rita Mills, Walsall Council strategic manager, said: “The sessions are great fun for all ages and we’ll be doing the Queen proud when we display our bunting to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee Year.”

For details on the March and April sessions please contact your local library or e-mail