Sunday, 4 December 2011

New Dorridge group wants to "work together"

A NEW community group has been formed in Dorridge and Bentley Heath as a result of wrangling over a Sainsbury’s plan for the village.

Click the headline or link below to read the rest of this story.

The Dorridge & District Local Sustainable Community Group wants villagers to “work together, creatively, constructively and in partnership with others” for “sustainble development”.

It aims to produce a list of “issues, risks, solutions and opportunities” affecting the area and create interest groups.

It also wants to “make it easy for everyone, expert or non-expert, to make contributions to the discussion, to take a considered view and to own the results”.

The idea was devised via comments on The Silhillian in the aftermath of a Sainsbury’s plan for Forest Court being approved by councillors on Wednesday night.

Residents are invited to the Station Cafe Bar at 7.30pm tomorrow (Monday) to discuss ideas.

Its website adds: “We will work within any wider network of national and international groups with a similar agenda in order to share information and to achieve greater influence in decisions which affect our community.

“It's early days, but there are a great number of active groups who have information and expertise that could be useful to us in thinking about what we could achieve in Dorridge.”

The group has been proposed by Chris Baker, a villager for 24 years, in “close consultation” with the Dorridge and District Residents Association (DDRA) and Dorridge Residents Opposed to Village Superstore group (DROVS).

The website adds: “This is intended as an impartial, open and transparent forum to inform and to support activities, discussions and decision making processes which affect the sustainable development of Dorridge.”

Some residents have expressed disappointment with the DDRA, which backed the Sainsbury’s plan.

What do you think? Leave your comments below. No registration required. Posts must abide by the terms and conditions. Report comments at

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  1. Too Little Too Late4 December 2011 at 15:14

    DDRA (Daren't Deter Retaillers' Ambitions) had no mandate to oppose the store - they did not poll their members or the wider village. Their credibilty is in tatters. How they will rise from the Ashes, I don't know.

    As for this group - good luck but I fear they maybe the DRIPS - Dorridge Residents Investigating Pie in the Sky.

  2. It's a shame TLTL is so cynical about this new group!

    However, I agree that DDRA is a busted flush. As a parent of school-age children, I feel strongly that they failed to represent our 'younger' (well, 30-45 year-old) residents who were broadly against a development of such a size, instead focusing only on "their own sort" - the 50-60 somethings who were out in force in favour of Sainsbury's on Wednesday.

    Perhaps we should consider forcing a Special Meeting of DDRA and call for the Association to be Disolved. The relevant details from their constitution are below....



    7.1 A Special General Meeting can be called either by the Committee or when at least 25 Members of the Association submit a written request to the Secretary, signed by all 25 and stating the reason for the meeting.

    7.2 Such a meeting will be held locally at a date not less than fourteen days and not more than thirty days from receipt of the request. The meeting will be publicised in the same way as the AGM.

    The Association can be dissolved at any time by a resolution supported by at least two thirds of Members present at a Special Meeting (see Para 7) of which at least twenty one days' notice has been given by advertisement in the local press and by notices displayed locally. Such a resolution may give instructions for the disposal of the Association's assets provided that if any assets or property remain after the settlement of all debts and liabilities these may not be paid to or distributed among the Members or Committee Members, but should be given or distributed among other institutions whose objects are similar to those of the Association.

  3. Woodchester Road Resident4 December 2011 at 17:06

    I continue to support DDRA. Just because you disagree with their opinion, there is no need to behave like petulant children. The committee had clearly spent much time discussing the project and the chairman always reponded fully and politely to the many comments posted.
    Good luck DDRA and thank you for all you have done over the years.

  4. I do apologise for the expletives - but it does all bring this clip to mind -

    (Again - there are expletives in the clip - bear this in mind before deciding to click on it or not - it's from The Life of Brian)

  5. To be clear, this tenative proposal is emphatically not to dissolve DDRA. It supports DDRA aims.

    I, and other supporters of this simple proposal would welcome the support and active participation of DDRA members, DROVS, Sainsburys (now a member of our business community), SMBC and anyone else who is interested in developing positive ideas.

    The idea is not developed. The drafting on the web site is illustrative and dates from March 2010 - so please be kind! We would welcome creative proposals for how to make this work in practice and useful to our community.

    An immediate priority and focus, accepting the decision of the Solihull Planning Committee, is to seek to support and inform the development of the Travel Plan which is a pre-requisite for Sainsburys Development Plans to be signed off.

    Clearly it is important that this Travel Plan is convincing, so far as possible takes into account any concerns and ideas that the wider community might have about traffic volumes and traffic management in and around Dorridge and, perhaps, feeds into a longer term view about how we would like to see Dorridge develop as a sustainable community.

    kind regards,

  6. Monday 7.30pm station cafe Bar - might see you there5 December 2011 at 10:23

    I think its going to be very informal - just a small gathering.

    The Sainsburys plan can't actually go ahead until they have sorted out one or two issues around traffic, trolley management etc.

    My understanding is that, there may be (are!?) some residents ideas which could go forward to Sainsburys (and lets hope they decide to run a few more consultation workshops to gather suggestions).

    Rather than work in isolation Chris suggested meeting and getting our heads together - seemed like a good idea to me and I will be popping along.

    It may come to nothing, but whats the harm in trying?

    PS love the clip above as suggested above.

  7. To be clear, this initiative is, emphatically, not to attack nor to dissolve DDRA. It supports DDRA general aims for Dorridge. I would be delighted if DDRA and DROVS supporters would help to develop these ideas.

    This simple idea is not new. In essence, it is for more open community meetings, for a public domain ideas/issues/solutions board leading to better, more informed decisions which have a good level of buy-in from the wider community. The web site drafting is 18 months old, so please be kind(!) and regard this as a starting point for discussion.

    One immediate area of community interest is the Travel Plan. Perhaps we could find a way to gather constructive suggestions that SMBC, Sainsburys and the Planning Committee would find helpful.

    We need some new ideas to help the local democratic process. This is just one. I hope, at least, that it will stimulate some fresh thinking.

    Chris baker

  8. Woodchester Road resident - perhaps the DDRA Committee did spend a lot of time discussing this one. That's just the problem.

    Who gave this largely 50-60 year-old white middle-class men (with some exceptions) the authority to support the development on the behalf of a diverse area?

    Did they poll their members? Did they have a mandate to do so?

    No, they did not.

    The doctors can plead penury - or good old-fashioned greed. But what is DDRA's excuse for failing to put the case for more than 1000 residents?

  9. I think the answer is that 1,800 signed the doctors petition and at the planning meeting it was made clear by the coucillors that their postbags ran at 50% for: 50% against
    And yes there was an impressively large turnout from eldery residents from Cavendish Court (the sheltered accommodation opposite the doctors) - and these were people with mobility problems who were prepared to come along because they are for the scheme as they feel it will really improve their lives - decent local shops and a cafe improved surgery etc. There is a large older population in dorridge and they should be represented.
    The DDRA have been excellent and have even advised the antis on how to object to the scheme through informative posts.
    I am impressed that so many people want to move on and make sure the scheme is the best it can be
    Well done!
    31 year old mother of 2 (not a 60 year old middle-class white man!)

  10. Great if DDRA ex-DROVS and local people can work together with the SMBC and Sainsbury's and hopefully Chiltern Railways and the school.
    Must remember that there is no money for high faluting schemes and I'm against putting traffic calming measures, pelican crossings etc unless a need is demonstrated - that is what the £250,000 contigency fund is for. I'm not sure how great an impact local people can really have but its good to see a positive approach being cultivated

  11. "It was made clear by councillors that their postbags ran at 50:50"

    So 50% wanted a store more than 3x the size of Tesco Knowle and 50% wanted nothing? No! This was a very unsophisticated over-simplification of the situation from all three ward councillors - an abdication of responsibility that let this foregone conclusion become reality.

    I very much doubt whether a Freedom of Information request would back up their "50:50 postbag claims either. Honestly Ken, Andy and Ian?

    The polls that did take place showed that somewhere between 75 and 90% of people supported a smaller store. This was ignored, as were the 550 letters in opposition - but not the dodgy doctors' signature sheets.

    I do hope that the elderly people from Cavendish Court are still fit and healthy enough to make it to the store - and that they can find a parking space near the Justin King Surgery when they need one.

  12. "Dodgy doctors" - love it! I expected them to answer "Hello Sainsbury's Surgery" when I rang this morning. (I only called to get an appointment for my wife - personally, I'll be using the surgery in Knowle instead.)

  13. The old people at Cavendish Court mostly can't drive - they're in sheltered accommodation. They want to walk to local facilities.
    So the councillors were lying - I should point out it is very unusual for people to actively write 'for' something - the norm is that people write against - therefore the letter for and the turn out on the night was significant.
    Being a bit silly about the doctors aren't you.
    I presume above 2 contributions are from the same person - you seem very bitter and angry - but like it or not lots of people are for the scheme
    31 year old mother of 2

  14. I feel for the doctors, the DDRA, the local councillors, individuals for the scheme - they do not eserve to be called corrupt. People who did not agree with DROVS see the potential going forward.
    Have you seen JO-JOs cards new shop - it looks great - Station Approach looking better already.
    Well done everyone who got this store through.

  15. Bitter and Angry5 December 2011 at 18:01

    I want to walk to a local swimming pool.

    It doesn't make it right for everyone or dictate that it should be Olympic sized.

    Surely the blue-rinser brigade could have walked to a smaller store equally happily.

    Poor argument Mum of 2.

    PS People may well write 'for' something if encouraged enough by a PR agency ;)

  16. Bitter and Angry5 December 2011 at 18:07


    have you seen the new deli/restaurant/gardening shop/dress shop/carpet shop/Music School they look great.

    Oh, hang on... they're not there anymore!

    And nor will JoJos be 12 months after King's Bazzaar opens its doors.

  17. Bitter and Angry: love to see your shopping bill. Bet a fraction of it ever went into Forest Court. Oh yes, what about the wonderful small Spar we had in there. Suppose you are going to blame Sainsburys for the loss of that some 5 years ago too. Wise up please.

  18. Bitter And Shandy5 December 2011 at 19:28

    I shop online for groceries and top up at any smaller shops I pass plus the Co-op in Bentley Heath. I also make the odd trip to Birmingham Market or the Wing Yip in Nechells to fill the freezer.

    Why anyone would want to waste a second of their life under the fluorescent lights of a supermarket when you can have it delivered for less than a fiver baffles me.

    As for Spar...I'm not sure any shop in a horrid 60s precinct was ever going to do very well, so that's a poor argument. And it was a Spar. Not very Dorridge!

    If this development wasn't a Sainsbury's, M&S or Waitrose, it would have been unanimously opposed. Dorridge ASDA anyone? Come off it!?

    As I say, if JoJos is still trading in 2015, I'll show my **** in Woolies' window.

  19. We are elderly, live near Forest Court and have always supported local businesses. ( until they closed!) We still support local businesses that are appropriate but do larger grocery shops in Knowle. Our excellent doctors have always been in Knowle and will most definitely continue to support them.
    We did not support the Sainsbury's proposal and will not be shopping there as we do not like the store and wish to remain loyal to those who have given us good service.

  20. I'm with you Bitter and Shandy
    The main fault was the precinct environment not necessarily the shops in it.
    The Co-op is surprisingly good for a small store and Birmingham Market great fun and we visit it regularly for fresh produce.

  21. We had a good first meeting of the Dorridge Local Sustainability Group yesterday evening and a lot of positive reaction to the concept. Most of our discussion focussed on ideas for avoiding traffic and parking problems and including issues such as pedestrian safety, the School Run, parking for the Doctors Surgery and Commuters.

    Our next steps are:

    1. to update and re-configure the website,

    2. to begin to publish, in a structured format, all of the constructive suggestions and ideas that are being sent in

    3. to promote this community ideas pool and invite more ideas, reaction and response.

    If you want to send in your own ideas for how to make Dorridge a more sustainable and better place to live, if you want more open discussion and to get involved in this new community project, please do contact us via the web site (under development!!)

  22. Silhillian: there were five attendees; a number of apologies (short notice) and other contributions by email.

    Thank you, truly, for your support, but, as I am sure you are aware, your 'announcement' on Monday morning did rather bounce me into a premature launch and gave no time to promote this preliminary meeting - which was held on the same day.

    However, I am optimistic that we have the core of a good idea and that we can build on that to achieve a successful and useful initiative.

  23. Thanks Chris, please keep in touch with news

  24. This simple Community Ideas initiative, at, is now open.

    There is still a lot of work to do to make the web site tidy and to improve functionality but the essential Ideas List is started and contributions are starting to flow in.

    With my apologies if your Idea is not yet posted, I'll do my best to get these up as soon as possible.

    I hope that people with constructive and practical Ideas will now choose to share them with others on this site and that this will build to become a useful community resource and stimulate more discussion about what we would like to see done in Dorridge.

    It would be especially helpful if people could help those without internet access (yes, there are many) and who are effectively excluded from this discussion, to find out what they think and help them to share their ideas too. I, for one, would like to hear them. It would be nice to get some school children's ideas too, so please encourage them.

    There are already some interesting ideas which might be relevant to the Travel Plan that SMBC Planning Committee asked for. But it would be good to have more Ideas for example:

    How can we ensure visitors to the Surgery in Dorridge get to their appointments by car if/when Sainsburys car park becomes full? How can we deal with increasing railway commuter parking? How can we help make the school run safer and avoid the need for parents to park on the pavements? Are there any other options, other than speed humps and a 20mph speed limit, to make Station Road safer for schoolchildren?

    I will aim to publish all new Ideas, impartially. I, hopefully with some helpers, will edit the list simply to avoid repetition. We are learning as we go, so please so visit the site and send in your ideas for how to make the initiative better. And if you are a web designer, please help!

    Please contact me via the site feedback form or, I'm planning to be in the Station Cafe Bar on Monday at 7.30pm, for anyone who would like to have a chat.

  25. Chris - happy you are taking this initiative - but who are yourepresenting exactly - aren't the DDRA better placed to sort these things out with the council?

  26. To Anonymous 11:19
    Thanks for your support.

    I am not representing anyone in this initiative. That is the point.

    This initiative is intended to create a selection box of practical ideas and considerations, submitted by the public and shared with everyone, as part of an open community process.

    I will promote the existence of the initiative itself and the Community Ideas list to SMBC etc. but, it is up to individuals, lobby groups and other mandated organisations to promote or campaign for the particular 'Ideas' that they or the people they represent, prefer.

    I would hope that DDRA, DROVS or any other organisation, will look at this list and if they have any ideas which are not already on published, will share them with the wider community before promoting these or entering into formal negotiations on behalf of the wider community. I would hope that, in discussions, this will help to assure people not directly involved that all relevant ideas submitted by the community are considered in principle, even if many can be easily rejected e.g. on cost grounds.

    Similarly if, during discussions with officials, or in workshops, new thinking emerges e.g. a new ideas or more detailed arguments for and against, I would hope those partipants will share that information, at least in summary, with the wider community, by offering updates to this site.

    I'll try to get these questions up on the FAQ section, so thanks for asking.

    It's early days. I hope this idea, itself, is becoming clearer, non-theatening and that it will be useful to local democratic processes.

    I'd welcome more people and organisations letting me know what would be helpful to them and to get involved in developing the initiative.

  27. 11.19
    My personal feelings are that if DDRA had involved the community more there wouldn't be a need for the initiative that Chris is proposing.
    Chris is simply doing what any community driven resident's association would do.
    However, regardless of who organises the meetings the community still has to support them and what strikes me is many don't appear to care enough to do that but are very quick to blame should it not go their way.
    Perhaps all those who turned out to support Sainsbury's on the night of the planning meeting should now turn out to contribute ideas on how best to make it work for the village and its residents.

  28. Until there is a perceived 'problem' that people feel will directly affect them then there is a general apathy. That is why I feel that the people who decry the DDRA are very unfair. I have found Ian Spencers posts the most fact-based informative on these forums and the DDRA have been there in quieter times too.
    Unfortunately for me I am a member of the Knowle society which never, ever comes up with a positive solution to a perceived problem - just vetoes everything. This means they tend to be disregarded even if they have a point.
    Would much prefer DDRA problem solving approach.

  29. To Anonymous 09:04, why not start sending in your ideas to this new web site There's nothing in a name - we can call it the Dorridge and Knowle Community Ideas site, if someone wants to suggest that.

    There are a lot of ideas which are shared between Knowle and Dorridge, or which would apply equally well to each community. For example, the Ideas for traffic calming in Station Road and the Ideas that we might set up a delivery service or even a true Community Bus Service - which could take people to and from the local shops (all of them), might take commuters to the station, children to shool, and also deliver heavy shopping - and not just from the major retailers - from smaller shops too, helping the elderly and infirm - and all helping to reduce traffic and the need to park in our village centres. What do you think?

    If the DDRA and Knowle society committee members, businesses, - and Councillors and SMBC officials, have Ideas for Knowle and Dorridge, I would hope that they will join in and support this open community initiative. Let's all see the Ideas, before we see the 'consultation' notices on the lamp post!

    Anyone can do this, whether they work together as a committee, a group of friends in a pub, or chatting outside school - whatever Ideas you have, share them, anonymously, with everyone.

    p.s. I'll be in the Station Cafe Bar, myself, Monday 7.30pm if anyone feels like a chat.

  30. Unfortunately, I had booked a holiday which flew out on the 30th so haven't been involved (and have been where there is no Internet access - highly recommended!). For obvious security reasons, I didn't want to publicise my absence. Sorry!

    Obviously, with things being sensitive, DDRA have not wanted to rush out any quick statement on Sainsbury's. I have had some good feedback on the meeting already. My main concern was that there was detail that would not be scrutinised as the focus of the night would be on the big picture - it is unrealistic to expect such a meeting to be effective, so the ability of the Planning Committee to oversee the officers by calling back the conditions for signoff is important. It is worth considering that this creates an opportunity to influence the signoff through the committee rather than the officers.

    I am very comfortable with Chris and his initiative. The problem which I unsuccessfully wrestled with around Village Plans was the amount of effort and involvement required when the changing Government legislation underpinning localism was being directed to force communities only to support development. Also, it has been difficult with timing - once Sainsbury's was in the picture, it was natural that the Village Plan would be seen as a means of resisting Sainsbury's without understanding that if they were not themselves involved in its production as major stakeholders, such a plan would have dubious validity. Current proposals also say that it has to be compliant with the SMBC plan (but we don't know what that is) and it has to be able to withstand professional scrutiny (current estimates suggest budgets of £30k-£50k to produce something that will not do what people want to think it will do).

    A further thought - DDRA do not seek to be the monopoly view of the community. I hoped that we were clear that from early on we felt it would be wrong to seek to form opinion on Sainsbury's - I think that this has been interpreted by some as a lack of leadership, where we felt it would be wrong to lead. We deliberately gave DROVS space - and took criticism for that. We also had to be mindful that there was a distinct possibility of approval for this development so felt we had to be positively engaged while looking for evidence that the scheme was unworkable (and I made it clear that policy arguments or number games weren't really what was going to be persuasive).

    A Village Plan, or whatever the new name will be, needs to be built from all sections of the community, not from one particular group. Chris wants to put a lot of energy and effort into this (and has made this clear over some time), and it would be foolish not to support a member of the community prepared to do this. Chris wasn't aware that I was away so I am sure that he's been frustrated because there is a window of opportunity. Chris is an optimist and I am more pragmatic - both approaches have their uses. Now is a good time because it can be done in a wholly positive way, rather than as being a campaign vehicle.

  31. Supermarket Sweepover16 December 2011 at 10:20

    Nice to have you back DDRA, hadn't noticed your absence.

    Hope you had a nice break on Justin King's luxury yacht.

    Well he certainly owes you one.

  32. Good to read that Ian of DDRA and Chris of DROVS are going to work togther with the Travel Plan and other comunity ideas for after Sainsburys develop Forest Court.

  33. Well Said Simon,I totally agree with you . Chris has some good ideas and working together with Ian and DDRA,is the best way forward. We need the best ideas for Dorridge to make sure that the parking and road congestion is sorted out before the new Sainsbury#s is actually built. We have an opportunity to get things right for Dorridge. Lets all work together with Chris DDRA and Sainsbury's for our village that we love.