Birmingham fashion pioneer Patti Bell dies
Plus: the latest on the Measles outbreak
Hello all — this is your Thursday briefing.
When it comes to the newsletters that Kate has kindly — bravely? — let me take the reins for, you might be getting the sense that there are always multiple agenda items I want to get through. Today, readers, that is no different.
Firstly, the CCTV outage in the city centre. With police still unable to access camera feed footage in town, The Dispatch has spoken to those in the know about what impact this might be having on residents and business owners. The latest on that will be in today’s briefing. Also in this part of the newsletter is the latest on measles in the city with the figures showing the West Midlands is still at the epicentre of the outbreak.
Secondly, and quite importantly: our group name. Last week myself and Kate canvassed you on what a suitable name for this community might be. On our travels, out and about around the city, we’ve even received some suggestions in person. A good indication we struck the right nerve: deciding on a collective noun to connect us all probably is the right step to take. Especially as our group is growing. There are now 326 of us with paid subscriptions — top work everyone!
We’ve had a wide range of suggestions. All have been thoughtful: from names relating directly to Brummie-ness and Birmingham as well as our industry, and recent media portrayals, to suggestions relating to our creativity and passions. As such, choosing has been tough.
However, there seemed to be a good groundswell of support for ‘Patchers’. It works to the same logic as our sister paper’s Millers — without what I thought was the clinical prefix of ‘dis’ — is memorable, short and sweet, and, critically, doesn’t sideline those who read this briefing but wouldn’t classify themselves as Brummies. A nice inclusive demonym. Caroline Milne, I think that was your suggestion. Thank you.
In 24 hours time I will also share the suggestions we got in for famous Midlanders, sports teams, or institutions that have represented our area on the international diplomacy stage. We’ve had an excellent from-the-vaults mail-in about Aston Villa. All will be revealed in time.
Back with you tomorrow, Patchers. And, if you haven’t already, do consider subscribing below.
Brum in Brief
📷CCTV still out: With city centre cameras still unable to be accessed by police, concerns have been voiced about the safety for workers, residents and businesses in the area. There have been several break-ins, car thefts and assaults in recent days with worries that police have been compromised in their ability to carry out their jobs. Speaking to The Dispatch, Lyle Bignon, Night Time Economy Ambassador for Birmingham said: “This dangerous interruption to public service provision must be addressed as a matter of urgency.; lives and livelihoods are potentially are stake." Technical issues have been cited as the main reason police are unable to access cameras, which are still being operated by other professionals, says the council. Critics say that without an instant CCTV overview, police will not be able to efficiently respond to crime.
💉Measles latest: By mid-January, measles dominated headlines with the Birmingham outbreak considered a national incident. The latest figures show that the West Midlands is still the primary concern with 75% of the measles cases in England since 1 October 2023 within the area. As the UKHSA confirmed earlier this week, this means 260 of the confirmed 347 cases so far have been in our locality. There have been 127 confirmed cases in England in January alone with over two-thirds in children under the age of 10. Why is the West Midlands the epicentre of this outbreak? In a past edition of the Dispatch, we looked at how deprivation, vaccine hesitancy, and misinformation all play a role.
👩🎤Patti Bell passes: Birmingham-based fashion pioneer, Patti Bell, has sadly died. Bradford-born Bell, alongside Jane Khan, was seen as a frontrunner when it came to fashion in the 1970s — so much so that London fashionistas were said to be behind their futuristic and fantastical work. Based out of a shop on Hurst Street, Bell was a key driver of the New Romantic scene which went on to influence musicians and groups including Boy George, Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet.
😊Joint Stock charity success: The Old Joint Stock Pub and Theatre, beloved by many in Birmingham, has raised over £1000 for young people experiencing homelessness through a series of candlelit concerts. Proceeds will go to St Basils, a charity that annually supports over 4,000 young people in the region. Carlton Sealy, manager of The Old Joint Stock, said: “We are delighted to have raised this money for St Basils, a local charity that does great work and is close to the hearts of our team members and community.”
😊First Fridays are back: For those of art-world persuasion, or even those who are interested in what all the Digbeth gallery scene fuss is about, the first First Friday — what a mouthful! — is back on (you guessed it) Friday! Spread across seven separate Digbeth spaces, galleries open for visitors to engage with film screenings, video installations, performances and exhibitions from 6 PM till late. What’s even better: it’s free. For those who are worried this all sounds rather a bacchanalian, last time I attended I had a cracking cup of herbal tea and watched a film about housing inequality. Although Kate has promised me we can go down and have a pint after work at the end of this week. More details here.
🚶♀️West Midlands walks: If you fancy indulging in West Midlands nature this weekend, it’s worth checking out the Walk Midlands website which is an up-to-date guide of walks in the Midlands accessible without a car and for those “interested in all aspects of the region’s people, landscape and history.” Personally, I think the Water Orton-Tamworth walk sounds cracking.