Monthly Archives: April 2008

Weather washes out cup final


JKS will have to wait a while before adding to their silverware collection this season. Last night’s Challenge Vase final at Stratford Town’s stadium against Greenhill was washed out, following a series of very heavy downpours. Another local fixture suffered the same fate, while the match at Chasetown was abandoned after 50 minutes.

Castle Vale FC did manage to play their match, going down 3-1 against Loughborough in their final game of the season. Vale FC are likely to finish 5th in their league, unless Pershore leapfrog them with an away win on Saturday against Brocton.

St Gerards balloon found 70 miles away


     Rutland Water

The first of the 40 St Gerards birthday balloons, released from the school in Castle Vale on 23rd April, has been found 70 miles away on the shores of Rutland Water, in the County of Rutland, bordering Leicestershire.

The balloons were all numbered, and tagged with the address of the school, urging finders to contact St Gerards. The balloon that travels furthest will earn a prize for its sender, and finder. This particular balloon was Number 4, sent by Sinead Flynn of Year 5. The finder is Rachel Hynds, an assistant teacher in Rutland, who is so impressed with the idea that she plans to organise a similar event at her own school.

Rutland Water is one of the largest man-made lakes in Europe, a beauty spot famed for its bird and nature reserve.

Point deduction for Vale FC


  The Midland Combination have deducted a point from premier division side Castle Vale FC for fielding a player while he was under suspension. The club have also received a censure from the County Football Association.

Club Secretary Bill Mort says that the transgression was an oversight by the club, who thought that the player, Craig Nicholls, had served his suspension. The single point deduction, with no fine attached, is a reasonable punishment, he says.

Vale FC are likely to finish in the top five, high enough to earn qualification for the preliminary rounds of next season’s FA Cup.

Bill Mort told Vale Mail: “We were favourites to win the league this season, but we’ve had some injury problems, and some poor  refereeing decisions go against us. One of our key players, Nicky Harris, hasn’t been able to play since the second match of the season, and top scorer Aaron Smith has been injured since the end of December. They’ll be back for August, and I think we can win the title next season.”

Castle Vale FC play their final league match of the season tonight, at Loughborough.

Polling stations – high time for a re-think


Thursday 1st May is local election day. Last year, Birmingham City Council reviewed where people should go to vote, and made very few changes. All voters in Castle Vale will have to go to one of three primary schools – Chivenor, Topcliffe, or Pegasus, to cast their vote.

So why does the City Council choose primary schools – the one place where you can guarantee there wil be hundreds of vulnerable occupants each week day ? Are there no other buildings in Castle Vale where voters could go ? Places used on a daily basis by fewer people ? Places that would not have to be closed down for the day for their normal business?

Each of the three primary schools will be closed to children on May 1st. For Topcliffe School, that will be the third day of disruption in as many months. Last Thursday the school was closed by the teachers’ strike. In February the council workers’ strike shut it down for the day. More strikes, and more closures, are likely in the coming months.

Topcliffe’s acting Headteacher Chris Robinson says that health and safety concerns mean that the school has to close for polling day. “We could not have the school open to the public, and at the same time guarantee the safety of the children. We do not choose to be a polling station, but our responsiblity to the safety of the children means that we must keep the children off site.”

That’s Chris Robinson’s professional view. But, and he stresses that this is a personal view, we could all benefit from having a radical rethink of the way we vote. “Why have voting on a Thursday ?” he asks. “Why not have voting over a whole weekend ? Then we wouldn’t have to close schools. And it would be a lot easier for working adults to cast their vote. Not so many would be at work.They use this system in other countries. It would make a lot more sense here, too.”

The Electoral Commission, who oversee local and general elections in the UK, have experimented in some areas of the country with other systems of voting, such as using the internet, and expanding the postal voting system. The internet experiment in a dozen areas of the country increased voter turnout. But it isn’t secure, they conclude.

So, electronic technology enables us to send money securely, and to communicate with people 12,000 miles away with the click of a mouse in an instant; but in order to cast a vote at a local election, we still have to close down 75% of Vale’s primary schools.

Even the Electoral Commission has conceded that our current system is ‘rooted in nineteenth-century practices and legislation.’

Vale ‘activists’ open on Wednesday


Castle Vale is holding an Open Day on Wednesday 30th April, from 3-7pm, at the secondary school in Farnborough Road. The main organizations that manage, direct and scrutinise the services and events on Castle Vale, one of the largest estates in Europe, will be displaying their wares, hoping to inform the public about their activities.

The housing association, CVCHA, landlord to 60% of homes in Castle Vale, along with the TRA – which acts as trade union/social worker/legal adviser to all the Vale, and the green team, the Environmental Trust, will be amongst the hosts at the event.

Many of the ‘activists’ in Castle Vale work on a voluntary, unpaid basis. Members of one of the leading organisations, the 2005 Way Forward Group, who act as a scrutiny committee, checking that service standards such as bin collections, transport, and health services are decent, feel that they need some younger blood in their team. Since the regeneration of Castle Vale, the building of new homes and the consequent improvement in Vale’s reputation, many new families have settled in the area. Optimistic organisers hope that some members of the new influx can now be persuaded to become ‘activists’, working to consolidate the progress that they have created in the past decade.   

Cup success for JKS


JKs won the Jack Mould Trophy, beating Henley Forest 4-1 in the final at Highgate this afternoon. In three days time, JKS will be playing in another cup final – the Challenge Vase at Stratford’s new ground, against Greenhill. Kick -off on Tuesday night is 7.45pm.

In the premier division of the Midland Combination, two second half goals, from Timmins and Andrews, earned three points for Castle Vale FC against Coventry Copsewood.

Hunt the balloon


          (click here for more pics on Photos page)

If you find a red balloon, perhaps in fragments, with a tag attached to it, look carefully – it may be one of the 40 released by pupils from St Gerards School on St George’s Day, the school’s 40th birthday. At 1pm on Wednesday lunchtime, after an excited and dramatic chorused countdown from forty to zero, forty chosen pupils released their specially numbered  balloons, each one tagged with the School’s address. Pupils and Staff watched as the helium-filled spheres sailed into the air, gradually shrinking into tiny red dots in the sky as they headed south east , towards Minworth., Coleshill.., Coventry…, …..London……. Italy……….. Kenya……….. Australia ???
The person who finds the balloon that has travelled furthest will be given a prize… and so will the pupil who released it. By Friday afternoon, an anxious school waited….. no news yet.