Thousands missing from electoral register
Plus: We still want your job applications!
Dear Patchers — Welcome to your Tuesday briefing.
It’s Dan here and, at the top, Kate would like me to pass on her apologies for the typo in yesterday’s email that referred to Newman University as “Newton”. Although we have heard of Newton in Great Barr, it (as far as we know) doesn’t have much to do with the place of learning that was founded in 1968! The error has been corrected on our website.
Moving on, yesterday I started the day in Brussels and, due to the shenanigans at London Euston, ended up back in Birmingham several hours later than planned. I should’ve known the journey would take me a lot longer than my travel app predicted. I’m old enough to know better.
My cross-country travel naivety aside: with dusk arriving just as my train entered New Street station it did feel very good to arrive home. While I’m not Birmingham photography royalty — think Stacey Barnfield or Verity Milligan — I think my below shot captures just how magical our shared home can appear.
Much more important than my amateur skyline papping is the news that we still want your job applications for the full-time staff writer position. We want someone who has very strong writing credentials, someone who can come up with top-tier story ideas — from food to investigations as well as business and culture — and who can make and maintain a wide network of contacts. We also need a journalist who is keen to connect with readers and develop their writing.
Being able to hire a second staff writer is a direct result of your support for our long-read and deep-dive journalism in the West Midlands. As Patchers, we stand 10,000 strong. Indeed, so far your subscriptions have allowed us to cover the history of Midlands news to an investigative piece on a Wolverhampton landlord and what we mean by Birmingham Pride.
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Brum in Brief
🗳️Brummie voters missing: Tens of thousands of eligible voters are missing from the electoral register in Birmingham, most of them in Ladywood. An analysis by the pro-democracy Electoral Reform Society found 25,628 potential voters are not registered in that constituency, with 16,168 missing in Erdington, and 15,902 in Perry Barr. Selly Oak, Hall Green and Moseley, and Hodge Hill also make the list.
📢Palestine protest: Brummies took to the city centre yesterday evening in response to Israeli air strikes and an expected ground invasion of Rafah. Protesting outside Barclays on High St, a growing group waved Palestinian flags, made speeches, and chanted. Speaking to The Dispatch, Stuart Richardson of Stop the War Coalition, said it was galvanising that the crowd had turned up even though the protest had only been arranged in the morning. “It’s a big event and shows the sentiment” he added, “many are just wandering past and joining”. Naeem Malik, chair of the West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “We’re here to stop a genocide taking place.”
🧾Further council woe: Birmingham City Council has apologised after it sent letters to locals about renewing or cancelling their single person council tax discount. Those who received the letter were asked to fill out an online form within three weeks or face a full tax charge. Conservative councillor Meirion Jenkins said this had caused upset and fear amongst residents.
🚆Train pain: In a continuation of rail delays that vastly extended my own Monday travel, a landslip between Coventry and Rugby has blocked the much-used line between Birmingham New Street and London Euston. The line is not expected to be back in operation until the end of today and services will be reduced. For those who need to use the line, the latest information can be found here.
🏃Brum runnings: British Athletics is back in Brum with the indoor championships at the Utilita Arena in the city centre across the weekend. The championships will also serve as the official trial event for the World Athletics Indoor Championships. Tickets start from £12, which seems like a steal, and can be purchased for either this Saturday or Sunday. Events range from the Pole Vault to the 400m. There are also hurdles, a discipline which always tripped me up at school. Tickets via British Athletics.
💌 Valentine’s day roundup: For those looking for something different or something traditional this Valentine’s Day, The Dispatch has you covered. For a classic date night, The Jam House is offering a Valentine’s menu with musical accompaniment. Elsewhere: Aston Hall is laying on a Victorian-themed celebration, there’s speed dating in central Birmingham, and Stirchley’s Stir Stores is offering an artistic twist. Personally, I can take or leave Valentine’s Day but I did used to work at The Jam House and I think there’s photo evidence of me working on this most romantic of evenings, serving tables with a red rose in my shirt pocket. The things I used to do for