Martineau Galleries, a #550 million redevelopment of Birmingham city centre, has moved a step closer to being built after planners threw their weight behind the "world class" scheme. Members of the city council planning committee backed the mixed-use project, which will transform a 13.5 acre site at the eastern end of the High Street into shops, flats, offices, a hotel and a landmark 780-foot tower. Building work could begin in 2008 and be completed by 2011, if final approval is given by the Government. The council is hoping to repeat the success of the Bullring, whose developers the Birmingham Alliance are also behind Martineau Galleries.
Birmingham's social services has been criticised for putting an autistic teenager in lodgings without telling his landlady the full extent of his past, including starting a fire in a hostel and self-harming. The department also neglected to carry out progress reviews on the youngster and dragged its heels in making payments for his care to the landlady. A catalogue of "maladministration" by the service was highlighted in a report by the local government watchdog, which told the local authority to pay #5,000 to the landlady. Birmingham City Council accepted the case "highlighted some areas of weakness" and promised to make improvements.
There is "particular enthusiasm" for road pricing in the West Midlands, according to Transport Secretary Alistair Darling. Speaking to The Birmingham Post as he opened a new national traffic control centre in Birmingham, Mr Darling warned the region needed to reduce congestion if it was to remain competitive. He also confirmed that the region chosen to pilot a road charging scheme would enjoy a huge funding boost for public transport. The #160 million National Traffic Control Centre, in Quinton, monitors road conditions across the country and sends information to motorists via road signs and commercial services such as in-car navigation systems, as well as the internet, telephone services and the media.
A disabled grandfather jailed for three-and-a-half years for killing the elderly brother of Hollywood legend Deborah Kerr in a road rage attack has had his sentence reduced by 12 months. Eugene Warwood (56) pleaded guilty last year to the manslaughter of retired journalist Edmund Trimmer, aged 78, who died in hospital hours after an incident in Birmingham in August 2004. Warwood, of Salop Road, Redditch, Worcestershire, fractured the jaw of his victim with a punch during an unprovoked attack after a wing mirror was knocked off his van, Birmingham Crown Court had heard. Mr Trimmer, the younger brother of Kerr who starred in films such as From Here to Eternity and The King and I, struck his head on the ground when he fell and died of a brain haemorrhage later that evening.