Colors: Blue Color

Mike Hibbert, financial director of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), is to retire after 22 years in the role. When he was appointed in 1995 it was the organisation’s first full-time financial appointment at Board level, with the Chamber’s affairs having been looked after by honorary treasurers since its inception in 1813.

Since then the role has expanded into a broad brief and Mike, 60, has been at the forefront of managing the Chamber’s property affairs, its pension funds and also had spells in charge of the Chamber’s international division and work programme, which oversees start-up businesses.

“It was this wide diversity of the role which interested me so much,” says Mike. “I haven’t just been involved with the financial affairs of the Chamber but, of course, these have been central to what I have been doing.

“The possible development of the Chamber’s leasehold site in Edgbaston has been a huge responsibility in conjunction with colleagues and still very much at the forefront of the Chamber’s future.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said: “Mike’s input at the Chamber has been invaluable. The job has required a broad area of expertise and he has been instrumental in guiding the Chamber’s fortunes, which at times have been challenging, over the past two decades.

“On a personal level, Mike has been a great support and source of counsel since I joined the Chamber. He has been a fantastic colleague and an important part of the Chamber's recent developments.”

Born in Oldham and educated at Aston University, Mike qualified with an administrative/management degree and joined the accountancy firm Whinney Murray, forerunners of what is now EY (Ernst and Young).

Originally, Mike joined the Chamber on a three-month secondment under the then chief executive Bob Moore.

“Since then I have worked with three other chief executives – Sue Battle, Jerry Blackett and Paul Faulkner. I have also worked with 22 different Presidents from many aspects of business life, including property, finance, law, education, engineering, television, entrepreneurship and marketing – and this has been one of the other appealing and diverse elements of the job.

“The other fascinating part has been involvement with so many business interests in the city through their membership of the Chamber.

“All of this has made the job an amazing experience and it has been an honour to work in an organisation that has such a magnificent and integral heritage as part of one of the most important cities in the world.”

Mike says that the most challenging period of his time at the Chamber came with the financial downturn at the same time as the Chamber’s Business Link contract ended following a re-organisation of business support by the government.

He says: “The Chamber had a turnover of £36 million when Business Link was with us and we had to cope with losing a large proportion of that as well as the impact of the biggest global financial downturn in living memory.

“Those were pretty challenging days and it has been particularly rewarding to come through them and establish a Chamber that is financially strong and making sustained surpluses for the benefit of our members.”

Mike and his wife Susan, who he met at Aston University, have a son and two daughters, and has recently become a granddad..

“That will keep me busy but I hope to have more time to pursue my other interests, including travel and walking” says Mike. Paul Faulkner added: “Mike will be a hard act to follow and we are starting a recruitment process for a Chief Financial Officer.

A staggering 27,500 items which help people live safely and independently are loaned out to Sandwell residents every year. And adult social care services make sure that 93 per cent of people who need aids – like walking frames, high seated chairs, perching stools and toilet-related accessories – get them within seven days of being requested.

Now Sandwell Council's cabinet member social care, Councillor Ann Shackleton, is reminding people that wherever possible the council collects and recycles items when they are no longer needed.

The service, which integrates adult social care and health in a pooled budget, called the Better Care Fund, recycles more than half of items which are then suitable to be loaned out again.

The value of these recycled items in 2016/17 totalled a staggering £1.5m, enabling the service to significantly reduce spending on new equipment.

Figures released show more than 12,000 people are currently provided with equipment, to help keep them safe and living independently in their home, with another 2,500 active users of Telecare in Sandwell.

Councillor Shackleton said: "One of the major achievements of the past 12 months was to merge the ordering of equipment and Telecare onto the same system, which has allowed health and social care professionals access to a single ordering system and removed a lot of duplication.

"People who need equipment have it delivered within seven days of request and we are now aiming to increase the recycling rate of many of the items loaned out. I would urge anyone who has loaned items that are no longer needed to let us know so we can collect and recycle them for other people to use.

"The service has also introduced a dedicated occupational therapist role, which has led to greater knowledge of equipment and its suitability as well as realising significant year-on-year savings."

Prevention Stores is the council's in-house provider of equipment and Telecare in Sandwell and loans all kinds of household items to enable people to live safely and independently.

Telecare is the provision of a range of equipment and sensors that alert a carer or professional if something has or hasn’t happened in a property, for example, a person not returning to bed during the night after visiting the toilet. Other sensors include remote smoke detection, medication reminding devices as well as pagers to alert carers to any emergencies. Many items can also be linked to Sandwell’s Community Alarms service.

Work is underway to complete a further 110 homes in Erdington – and the first of the new homes will be ready to hand over from April this year. The new homes are part of a second phase of redevelopment of the Lyndhurst housing estate by Birmingham City Council, providing both social housing for rent and houses for sale.

Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for housing and homes, Cllr Peter Griffiths, said:  “This second phase of development will see 110 more houses, bringing the total to 251 quality homes.  As with the first development we are providing both social housing and houses for sale, making sure that we continue to tackle our housing shortage and provide homes for a range of needs and family size – from one to five bedroom properties.  The income gained from houses sold from this latest development will be reinvested into the council’s housing stock of social housing.”

Chris King, managing director for Kier Living added:  “Kier Living are committed to providing Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust and the communities in which we are working with high-quality homes and facilities. Our aim is to develop desirable and vibrant new homes at Abbey Fields in Erdington which will breathe new life into the area and make a huge difference to local people.”

Since 2012, the council has been developing new homes on the estate where a clearance programme of poor quality housing has been ongoing for a period of years.  Rebranded as Abbey Fields, the development has been undertaken as part of the council’s Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust programme.

The first phases of the redevelopment are now completed providing 141 new family homes. Of these 76 were for outright sale and 65 for social rent as new council homes.

The current phase under construction by Kier Living Limited will provide a further 110 new homes of which 85 will be for rent and 25 for outright sale. The homes include a range of two, three, four and five bed houses.  The first of the new homes will be handed over in April 2017. This phase of development is to be completed by June 2018.

Homes for sale in this phase of development are to be provided as part of the council’s own direct sales delivery arm, Forward Homes.  Abbey Fields is just one of the three schemes being delivered as part of the Forward homes programme.  Income generated by the sale of these homes will be reinvested into the council’s own housing stock.

The first eight homes for sale – not due for completion until June – have already been reserved, and the remaining will be released for sale shortly.

Alongside the creation of the new homes, work is also due to start on the new Abbey Fields Park in the centre of the estate in June 2017.

A “lifeline” adult social care service for people in Sandwell is helping almost 80,000 callers a year, latest figures show. Sandwell Council’s Enquiry answered 78,000 requests in the last year as members of the public, carers and health professionals sought assistance and guidance. The team also receives up to 160 email enquiries a day at peak periods.

Enquiry supports local residents and their relatives and carers, health professionals and other services. Councillor Ann Shackleton, the council’s cabinet member for social care, visited Enquiry team members at the Independent Living Centre, Smethwick, to find out more about the service.

She said: “Enquiry is part of our wider independent living team and the staff there do an excellent job. It’s a lifeline service for the many thousands of people who use it.

“We want to help people get the right services at the right time, so that they can keep their independence, stay safe and have a good quality of life.

“People get guidance and support on a whole range of enquiries on matters that are very important to them. Where necessary, Enquiry refers people to key workers and other specialist adult social care teams for the support or advice they need.

“The range of enquiries is quite remarkable – from requests for blue badges, personal care assistance and equipment and adaptions in the home to hospital discharges, safeguarding concerns and mental health support.

“Another key aspect of the team’s work is to give advice on home maintenance and staying safe and independent to people with disabilities, older people who may be frail and those with particular health problems.

“I was very impressed with team members’ commitment to helping people resolve their issues, and it’s good to know this kind of high quality support and advice is available.”

This May get ready to enjoy a fantastic shopping experience at the UK’s leading pregnancy and parenting event of the year. The Baby Show with MadeForMums will be taking place from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st May, at the NEC Birmingham. Find everything you need for bump, baby and you - with amazing offers all in one place, for three days only!

The show is a great way to get your hands on products and try before you buy. Brand and product experts will be there to tell you everything you need to know, so it’s a great opportunity to compare products and find the right fit for you and your baby. There will be over 200 exhibitors showcasing a huge array of essential baby products including buggies, nursery furniture, carriers, clothing, feeding, sleep and bathing equipment.  All the major baby retailers such as Mothercare and Babies R Us will be there, alongside other market leading brands such as iCandy, Stokke, UppaBaby, Chicco, Britax, MAM, Nuby, Baby Björn and Italian brand Peg Perego!  There will also be independent brands that you won’t find on the high street. And once you’ve shopped until you’ve dropped, don’t worry about all the carrying as you can take advantage of the free Emma’s Diary Collect-By-Car service where you can drop off all your purchases and continue until you’ve got a carful!

Wing Yan Lee, Marketing Manager at The Baby Show says: “The Baby Show is the UK’s biggest pregnancy and parenting event and a must-visit shopping venue for new and expectant mums and dads.  After a hugely successful show at London ExCeL, we can’t wait to open the doors in Birmingham NEC.

“We will have over 200 of the very best baby brands exhibiting their products, some for the first time giving shoppers an exclusive first look at what’s hot on the market.  And don’t forget we have the MadeForMums stage where we have another fantastic line up of some of the UK’s best parenting experts ready to share their advice on how to get through – and enjoy – those tricky first months of parenthood.  We look forward to welcoming everyone there.”

There will be a wonderful line up of speakers on The Baby Show Stage with MadeForMums including experts from the world of breastfeeding, sleep and nutrition.

30 is the age when people from the West Midlands finally know who they are and feel comfortable in their own skin – but their sense of identity starts to fade at 61, according to new research.

By 30 years of age, the typical West Midland resident will have refined their taste in music and they’ll have six close friends.

35 percent will have cultivated their TV and film preferences, while one quarter will have developed their tastes in literature. Nearly four in ten will know what their fashion preferences are and will also be at ease driving.

But 33 is the age people from the West Midlands will worry least about what other people think of them.

Despite this, they are concerned they will lose some sense of who they are by the age of 61.

Commissioned by My Nametags, manufacturer of durable stickers and iron-on labels for care homes, the research of 2,000 UK adults found that the biggest fears Brits have about growing old are losing their memories, feeling isolated or forgotten - with 74 percent fearing they’d become isolated if they were to ever move into a care home.

Two thirds of those polled are worried about close relatives one day living in a care home. Seven in 10 are concerned they would be forgotten by friends and family upon moving into a retirement home.

68 percent of people said they’d worry about losing some sense of self if they ever were to move into a care home - while 70 percent are worried they’d lose their possessions.

Lars B. Andersen, Managing Director, said: “For many of us, our sense of who we are – our tastes, preferences and opinions - takes time to develop so it’s understandable that the prospect of losing this is daunting. Particularly for the older generation of our population and those moving into a care home.

“Moving into residential care is a big life change and the thought that you might lose some part of yourself in the process doesn’t make it any easier. In addition to losing your identity, 70 percent of people are worried they might lose their possessions when moving into a care home which is a great concern! Our nametags help these residents maintain their sense of identity and keep hold of their treasured possessions which often hold lasting memories.”

Three quarters of those polled said their belongings reflect who they are as a person.

While 83 percent said they own items which have particular importance to them - including jewellery, photos and keepsakes.

Memories, family and sense of humour are among the things that form our identity according to those polled.

Friends, morals, hobbies and the place where you grow up are also among the factors that shape who we are.

I Want! I Want! Art and Technology, opening at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on the 1 April, explores work from the Arts Council Collection by artists that have been influenced by technology as it has developed and evolved over the last 20 years. Each of the 27 artists’ approach to their practice is different, presenting varying views of the world and culture around us.

The show presents contemporary artists’ use of technology in the production (using various media including computer animation, videos, computer graphics, audio, photography, gaming technology), presentation and engagement of their work (films, moving image, sculptures, paintings, interactive games, drawings). The artworks themselves tackle a range of themes including human relationships, surveillance and the habits of modern society.

The works featured in the exhibition have been principally selected from the Arts Council Collection, as part of the Collection’s National Partnership Programme. The four partners include the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne; Birmingham Museums Trust; The Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Over the next two years the galleries will deliver a year-round programme of exhibitions and events enabling even more people to see and enjoy works from the Collection.

The works in I Want! I Want! date from the mid-1990s to the present day and include significant contemporary artists, such as Rachel Maclean, Julian Opie, Ed Atkins and Daria Martin. The exhibition also includes works from Birmingham Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum, artists and private collectors.

For busy parents determined to keep the adventures coming even with little ones in tow the team at Bedruthan have created a four-night break that is the perfect combination of exploration and relaxation – you'll all leave feeling like you have had a proper holiday. This break gives families the chance to enjoy the beautiful and tranquil beach setting as a family for longer, the perfect combination of exploration and relaxation.

After a generous Cornish breakfast each morning in the family friendly Wild Café, head to the indoor and outdoor pools for a splash around. While away the afternoon in the sea view lounge areas, let your little ones explore Jungle Tumble or embark on a fabulous outside adventure on the play equipment, all with breathtaking views across the golden sands of Mawgan Porth.

With two hours complimentary childcare included every day the indoor spa is a welcome retreat for busy parents; try out the cedar sauna, eucalyptus steam room and unwind completely in the sea view hydropool, or escape for an hour in the Sensory Spa Garden to invigorate all your senses in a one-hour experience, inspired by fire, earth, water, air and space. Guests will be invited to move through the seven stages designed to detoxify and renew your body.

A vibrant image showcasing what Wolverhampton’s new city centre market will look like has been released. It comes on the back of the planning application being submitted for the new Southside site, fronting Cleveland Street.

City of Wolverhampton Council announced in January the relocation of the market from Market Square. Dozens of enquiries have been received from prospective traders interested in being part of the new market. It will provide increased footfall from the Wulfrun Centre and transport Interchange, as well as situating the market in a student catchment area.

Enquiries have come in from the likes of bakers, jewellers, hairdressers, children’s clothing and cosmetics retailers, and a variety of world cuisine outlets.

The current city centre traders will have first refusal on obtaining licenses at the new market, which will offer the flexibility to trade from bigger cabins, a secure site, CCTV, integrated lighting and power, free WiFi, canopy-covered walkways, offices, customer toilets, and comprehensive parking and storage facilities.

Traders have also been consulted over a servicing strategy to move stock with a dedicated motorised truck, which will keep on-site vehicles to a minimum and create a pleasant and safe retail space for customers.

This model operates successfully at other markets across the country. Councillor Steve Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment, said: “This new image really shows off what an exciting prospect the new city centre market is. We are consulting regularly with the current traders over the relocation – and we will be announcing exciting new traders in the coming months. Their addition will provide a more varied range of sales lines to differentiate it from a traditional market offer.

“This ideal location, funded by the sale of Market Square as part of the Westside scheme, has loads of potential – and we want this to be the people’s market, where events are also encouraged.

“It will prove an asset to the city centre.”

The former Netto store and adjoining buildings were cleared from the Southside site last year, paving the way for the move, which will see 48 tented stalls and 16 purpose-built cabins transferred from Market Square in phases.

It is anticipated the move will be completed in winter 2017/18 – but not during the Christmas trade period.

The Market Square location is to be absorbed into the new £55 million leisure-led Westside development by preferred developer Urban & Civic.

This will deliver a multi-screen cinema, restaurants, bars, hotel, multi-storey car park, apartments, and public realm to the heart of the city centre, in two phases, over five years.

A temporary market has been in place since April last year when the indoor traders joined the outdoor traders in Market Square to enable the demolition of Heantun House and the old indoor market.

For the ninth consecutive year, NH Hotel Group will support the WWF global initiative Earth Hour, switching off the lights of its hotels' façades all over the world.

With this gesture, which will be made by the Company between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm on Saturday 25 March, NH Hotel Group is demonstrating its firm commitment to respecting and protecting the environment in which it runs its business.

With its commitment to this WWF initiative, the Company aims not only to involve its hotels and employees across the world, but also its clients and help increase society's awareness of the importance of looking after our planet for future generations.

Commitments to sustainability

As a result of its commitment to the sustainable development of its operation, NH Hotel Group has completed various initiatives, enabling it to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 70% and its energy consumption by 29%, involving not only the Company as a whole but also the suppliers with whom it works.

NH Hotel Group also has ISO 14001 certification in terms of environmental performance, and is the first global hotel chain to obtain ISO 50001 certification, the most important standard in energy management systems. The Group also supports renewable energies and 78% of the energy supplied to its hotels is green energy.

The biggest initiative against climate change

Earth Hour is an initiative led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), supported every year by hundreds of millions of people all over the world, joining their voices for the protection of the environment.

Since its creation in 2007, more than 7,000 cities have taken part in this initiative, enabling millions of people, companies and governments to join voices to demonstrate that a future based on clean energy is possible.

The Race for Life - Pretty Muddy five kilometre obstacle course will be coming to Sandwell Valley on Saturday 30 September, bringing hundreds of women together to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

It’s the first time this muddy version of the Race for Life has come to Sandwell and the council are calling for local ladies to scramble over A-frames, crawl through mud pits and have fun with your friends, all in a bid to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

A 5k race is great for all abilities; any girl or woman over the age of 13 can apply and make a difference. The event takes place from 10am at Sandwell Park Valley, with the route leading participants through a mixture of terrain including grass, paths and woodland areas.

Councillor Richard Marshall, cabinet member for leisure said: "The Pretty Muddy Race for Life event is a fantastic opportunity for local women, together with their friends and families to raise valuable funds for Cancer Research UK.

“It’s exciting news to hear that Sandwell Valley will play host to such a positive and inspiring event later this year.”

Local Sandwell ladies are urged to show their support through taking part in the Pretty Muddy obstacle event in September - sign up now at

Event registration costs are £10 for girls aged 13-15 and £19.99 for those over 16.

Farmers at Sandwell Valley are working on a special breeding programme to increase a stock of very rare goats on the fields in West Bromwich – and to preserve the breed for ever.

The attractive black-and-white Bagot goats are part of a special conservation effort to increase their numbers, because there are now fewer than 200 registered breeding females left.

The council is helping with the scheme to breed the goats naturally and by artificial insemination methods in a project run by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST).

Melissa Underwood-Grattage, working farm manager at Sandwell Valley, said the Bagot goats are owned by the RBST and in the care of Sandwell staff to care for as an approved farm park.

She said: "We have successfully managed to harvest four grade A embryos from four of our nanny goats.

"These have been frozen and put into the RBST’s gene bank and we are pleased with the result because this was the first time that this has ever been tried with primitive goats."

Farmers at Forge Mill Farm in the Valley helped with the work during a month-long fertility programme.

Melissa added: "In theory, by storing frozen embryos we have helped to preserve the breed for ever.

"We have also successfully bred the other four nanny goats and the first of them gave birth on 28 February. The offspring from these goats will form part of our breeding stock here at the country park in years to come.

"The goats which are at Sandwell Park Farm and Forge Mill Farm are particularly popular with our visitors and do an important job in managing some of our land through conservation grazing."

Tom Blunt, the field officer co-ordinating the project, said: "We are extremely happy with how the work has gone and would like to thank the team at Sandwell Park Farm for their part in helping us achieve a successful outcome."

Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for leisure, said: "It is pleasing to know that the work our staff have been doing to protect this breed is proving to be so successful.

"I am sure that the visitors to the Valley attractions will be pleased to see these very attractive animals in the fields and to know that they are part of a scheme to save a species."

The Bagot is believed to be Britain’s oldest breed of goat with records of them being around in 1389 at Blithfield, the Staffordshire home of Sir John Bagot.

The exact origin of the Bagot is unknown and there are two leading theories.

One is that they were brought to Britain during the Crusades in the Middle Ages and the other that they originated from native goats in medieval times.

A new vision for canalside living in the heart of the City of Wolverhampton has been revealed at MIPIM in Cannes. City of Wolverhampton Council is working with the Canal & River Trust, Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Network Rail, and the West Midlands Combined Authority in the Canalside Delivery Partnership to develop the city centre’s canalside area.

Canalside lies just minutes away from the £132 million transport Interchange, with the majority of sites in the ownership of the partners. As part of the scheme, a city centre living proposition for more than 600 new homes is this week being showcased to investors and developers at the international property forum in France.

Other ideas for Canalside include an anchor leisure scheme clustered around existing historic buildings, which could include restaurants and a micro-brewery.

Creative workspaces and a marina development are also being considered, and LED and feature lighting around the canals and tunnels is being progressed.

City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Housing and Assets, Councillor Peter Bilson, said: “Canalside is a large and exciting opportunity that will require determined and skilful leadership to realise the opportunity.

“The new image gives us a glimpse of how spectacular this area of the city could look.

“The partnership is working together to bring about a nationally significant development at this wonderful heritage location.”

Cheryl Blount-Powell, Senior Development Manager Midlands and North West, Canal & River Trust, added: “We strongly believe that waterways have an integral role to play in helping people to lead happier, healthier lives.

“By combining our in-house waterside regeneration and development skills with those of our consultants we form a really effective partnership, and Wolverhampton’s Canalside certainly has a very exciting future ahead.”

Spring has sprung at the iconic Orangery at Blenheim Palace and to celebrate a new seasonal Menu, they are hosting an exclusive wine tasting dinner on 5th April, with spectacular views of the Duke of Marlborough's private Italian Garden.

The art of 'Wine pairing' will be a key part of the event, and wine specialist John Ferguson-Smith has selected a range of unusual wines that pair perfectly to the flavours of each dish carefully designed by Head Chef Billy Bush.

On the evening, John and Billy will discuss each course's flavours and John will go on to explain why he has selected each wine. Grapes have been identified from unusual regions, or for their particular style, so that they are a little out of the ordinary to provide an interesting culinary match. An example of this being the choice of Albarino from New Zealand. This grape is nearly always associated with Spain, so this dinner is designed to offer a different perspective and a twist on the 'standard' wine choices we make.

The evening will start at 19.00 with a champagne reception followed by three courses, with a choice of two dishes per course and a wine specially selected for each dish. There will be an element of competition as guests at the event will be asked to vote for their favourite pairing at the event between dish and wine.

John works for Hatch Mansfield, which is one of the key wine and champagne suppliers Searcys work closely with. John has enjoyed his whole career in the wine industry, and his knowledge spans across the range of regions and styles. Searcys have previously run a range of wine pairing dinners which have always been very well received.

Birmingham City Council is launching the Zero Hero Challenge for students to make their mark on how to reduce waste and there’s £500 Amazon vouchers up for grabs for the winner.

Birmingham is a student city, with over 65,000 students from over 150 countries currently in Higher Education. In a bid to reduce waste across the city, Birmingham’s students are being asked to enter a new competition, the Zero Hero Challenge, to create their own social media video providing ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible, both at their places of study and where they live.

For the last year, everyone who lives or works in Birmingham has been encouraged to become a Zero Hero and reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.

The campaign has been developed in conjunction with the Cleaner, Greener Streets initiative, and is committed to providing online and offline resources supported by the dedicated CleanerBrum website to support those keen to help make Birmingham a Zero Waste City with a target of no waste to landfill by 2035.

The Zero Hero Challenge offers a great way for some of the brightest minds in the city to get involved in the campaign.

Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment explains the rationale behind the Zero Hero Challenge: “Students comprise a large proportion of Birmingham’s population, so it’s important that they help to create a zero waste city. Given the high calibre of students across the city, we have no doubt that there will be some fantastic ideas for videos, all with the potential of becoming a viral sensation!

“The £500 Amazon vouchers are not only being given as a prize but as an acknowledgement of the winner’s support for the cause. We’re looking for really imaginative ideas that will have measurable results, so we can see the real impact of the winning video.”

Any students wishing to take part should create a video around two minutes long and upload it to Facebook, YouTube or Twitter with the hashtag #ZeroHeroChallenge, preferably with Birmingham City Council tagged in too (@bhamcitycouncil on Twitter). The closing date for entries is 31st March 2017.