The West Midlands 'turbocharged'
Plus: A couture dance party
Good morning readers and welcome to Thursday’s Dispatch.
We had lots of interesting reactions to yesterday’s piece about the origin of those curious adverts about Birmingham’s roads. I’m really enjoying learning from Dispatch readers who seem a very knowledgeable bunch. I received an email from Protect Birmingham Roads too and they are happy to chat with me so I should have an update for you shortly.
Today’s Brum in Brief leads on news of a new pro-Palestine political party to challenge Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood, plus a couple of items about yesterday’s budget — in short, the mayor is happy; those working in the night-time economy less so. There are also a few recommendations including a really interesting-sounding photography walk.
I also spent a couple of hours in Handsworth yesterday and have some great ideas for upcoming stories so stay tuned for those. And if you live in Handsworth or know it well and have some tips for me, please let me know in the comments or by email as I’m keen to cover this often mis-represented area.
I picked up these delicious snacks from Suraj Sweet Centre. I had never tried khandvi before — the food next to the samosas with the coriander. For those who don’t know, khandvi is rolls of soft gram flour and yoghurt, garnished with poppy seeds and it tastes wonderful.
Before that, as usual, an update on subscribers — we’ve passed the 4,000 mark! We now have 4,061 of you on our list, which is remarkable growth in less than a month since we went public. Brilliant news thanks for all your sharing and support. We also have 55 pledges to pay for our journalism now which is fantastic. You can log in and hit the green button below if you want to pledge.
I was speaking with someone yesterday who said they would like to subscribe and buy another subscription to “pay it forward” and allow someone who might not have the spare cash to read us too. I think this is a really good idea. Once we turn on paid subscriptions, there will be the option to gift a subscription which we can then give to someone who needs it. I’ll give more info on this closer to the time.
For now, thanks to this pledger whose simple but effective message made me smile:
Brum in Brief
🍉 The Never Forget Gaza Political Party has been established to challenge Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood at the next general election. Peace campaigners have been protesting Mahmood’s abstention from a recent parliamentary vote on a ceasefire in Gaza. We wrote about last Saturday’s protest here.
💸 The West Midlands has been confirmed as an investment zone in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement. Focusing on specific areas in Warwickshire, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham, the sites will receive tax relief and incentives like funding for roads and power facilities. The BBC reports: “Mayor Andy Street said the move by the chancellor could ‘turbocharge’ the area and improve ‘our ability to attract global companies to our region’”.
🌙 Birmingham’s Night Time Economy Ambassador has warned the government that it will face a backlash at the ballot box following the Autumn Statement yesterday. Lyle Bignon described Jeremy Hunt’s budget as a “missed opportunity” to bolster the UK’s “fifth biggest industry”. Bignon welcomed the extension of business rates relief but criticised the lack of VAT relief and said the freeze on alcohol duty was merely a “temporary fix”.
⚖️ A judge has formally opened an inquiry into Lucy Letby’s crimes which will examine how the nurse murdered seven babies and tried to kill another six. It will also consider how the NHS handled the case and responded to doctors who raised concerns. However, hearings may not begin until next autumn.
📸 Fans of both photography and urban architecture will be interested in this guided walk around Dudley, led by artist Tom Hicks on Saturday. Known for his project Black Country Type, Hicks’s work explores “the post-industrial landscape of the region, focusing on words, typography, handmade lettering, and signs”. Tickets are £12 and sales end soon, so get yours now.
A new night for lovers of “off-kilter” dance music and dress sense alike takes its first spin on Saturday. Midi Couture at the Dark Horse in Moseley combines alternative grooves with alternative fashion. The organisers say: “This is your chance to dig out those clothes that you bought on a whim but only wore once. Those shoes you wouldn't think to dance in but haven't found any other purpose.” 8pm-2am. Free.
🎁 The Grinch is coming to Sutton Coldfield town centre on Saturday to kick off four weekends of festive celebrations funded by the Business Improvement District. Soon to come are: roller skating Christmas presents, The Snowman and his Snowdog, Jack Frost, and magical walking winter trees. Passers-by can also take photos in a walk-in snow globe.