Arguments are far from resolved over the proposed merger of King Henry VIII and Bablake Schools, which is due to be actioned physically from September and already well advanced in the planning. The news that the Charity Commission have opened what they call a ‘fact-finding compliance case’, has raised the temperature more than a little. Julia McNaney, the Chair of Coventry School Foundation’s governors, the body which controls both schools already, is confident that the Charity Commission will be satisfied with how the governors have acted and has made an implied criticism of campaigners against the merger, whose concerns have brought about the Commission’s involvement. However she has as yet not answered questions about how the merger decision was arrived at which were raised with her 5 months ago by the Old Coventrians Association, which represents 4000 former King Henry VIII pupils as well as staff and parents. Parents, staff and the wider school community, including people with a Bablake background, remain angry and upset and some of the protestors believe that the whole merger process should be paused until the Charity Commission have delivered their findings. There is a strong feeling that notwithstanding the Foundation’s commitment to co-operate, the Commission would not have started their investigation if it did not appear that there were issues. These may include when and how key decisions were taken, and the fact those decisions were taken with a below strength governing body with unfilled vacancies after resignations. The status of the merger project from the Coventry School Foundation’s point of view can be found at the website: Coventry School but other than confirming that the Swallows site in Kenilworth Road will be sold at the end of the current academic year there is still little there to inform the general public about the implications for the ECHO area in terms of this site, and in the longer term, the King Henry VIII site in Warwick Road.
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Protect 999, go online
We need to keep our emergency 999 phone lines free to help those most in need.
Many of the calls we receive can be resolved online. So for all non-emergencies please try visiting our website first. http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/
If home doesn’t feel like the safest place to be, you can contact us on Live Chat https://west-midlands.police.uk/where specially trained officers can provide support and help keep you safe. Remember, in an emergency always call 999.
Officers break up uni accommodation party in flagrant Covid breach
We had to break up a party after dozens of people travelled to uni accommodation in Birmingham from as far afield as London and Newcastle Friday (22 January).
We issued around 50 Fixed Penalty Notices in the blatant breach of lockdown rules.
We are working with the university to identify the organiser and help them improve their security to prevent further breaches.
Latest update: The government has introduced new fines of £800 for people attending house parties of more than 15 people.
These will double for each repeat offence to a maximum of £6,400.
Officers crack down on people who attended protests
Following a planned protest in Birmingham two weekends ago (16 January), nine people were arrested, with eight of them being issued fixed penalty notices for their participation and a 20-year-old man was released on police bail following his arrest.
As we continue to investigate, CCTV and body worn video is being reviewed to identify more attendees as we crack down on people flouting Covid restrictions.
Chief Superintendent Kim Madill, who oversaw the event, said: “The current infection rate is significantly high and we all need to play our part by staying at home, protecting each other and saving the NHS.” Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly across the country
We’d like to thank you again this week because we know the majority of you are co-operating with lockdown and helping to reduce the spread of the virus and protect the NHS from being overwhelmed.
For anyone who is not clear on what you can and cannot do here is a reminder of the current government guidance:
You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:
• shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
• go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
• exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person (in which case you should stay 2m apart https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing).Exercise should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
• meet your support bubble https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-support-bubble-with-another-household or childcare bubble https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-childcare-bubble-with-another-household where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
• seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
• attend education or childcare – for those eligible
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay in your local area – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work.
This guidance is the law and we will continue to enforce it to keep everyone safe.
More information is available on the government website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae#summary-what-you-can-and-cannot-do-during-the-national-lockdown
Key differences between Community Testing (lateral flow) and the PCR testing (pre booked tests)
Community testing is a walk-in test for anyone who is not showing any symptoms of coronavirus. Results are returned within an hour. Please note you must not attend this test if you are showing any symptoms even mild.
Community Testing sites are walk in and no appointment is needed (Monday-Friday 8am-6.30pm and weekends 10am-3pm):
– Transport Museum – Indian Community Centre, Foleshill – Moat House Leisure and Community Centre, Henley – More sites due in the coming weeks
PCR testing is a pre booked test for anyone that is showing symptoms of coronavirus.
PCR tests should be booked by visiting the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or calling 119, sites are;
– Ricoh Arena – Broad Street Surgery – Moat Street Car Park – Whitefriars Car Park – University of Warwick, Westwood Games Hall
You will not need a confirmatory PCR following a positive lateral flow test from Monday 25 January onwards. Up to this date the PCR test is still needed.
Vaccination updates from the NHS
Housebound patients will be contacted by their GP and their vaccine will be delivered by the roving vaccinator team or by their GP practice.
Across Coventry and Warwickshire all care home residents are expected to have been offered a vaccine by Sunday 24 January with the exception of patients that are currently acutely ill with Covid.
To reassure those that have been sent letters inviting patients aged 80 and over to attend the new Large Vaccination Centre in Birmingham, this was an additional choice being offered by the NHS. Patients who receive a letter do not need to attend the centre and can opt to wait to be called for their vaccine more locally.
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This information has been sent on behalf of West Midlands Police.
Stay alert: watch out for a fake text message claiming to be from the NHS claiming you are eligible to apply for the vaccine and will include a link ‘to apply’.
The link takes you to a fake NHS website and asks you for payment and other personal details.
Remember to remain vigilant and remember that the NHS will never ask for payment for the vaccine.
Do not respond to the text message or click on any links. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726. This free-of-charge short code enables your provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.
If you have been a victim of fraud then please contact Action Fraud 0300 123 2040 or on their website at actionfraud.police.uk
Please share this message with your family and friends so we can prevent as many people as possible from falling victim.
There was a significant error in the piece in our December 2020 / January 2021 issue on Berkeley Court, the apartment development in Warwick Street.
We stated that the site was previously occupied by HIP Refrigeration, which was incorrect. HIP are still trading from the adjacent site.
The error was caused by a confusion on our part between two different historic planning applications which were both still visible on the City Council’s planning portal, one of which was for 19-35 Warwick Street and one for 37 Warwick Street but which was also referred to in some contexts as 35-37 Warwick Street.
We apologise to HIP for this mistake, which was entirely our responsibility.
Sherrie Edgar writes seeking support for the campaign to save part of the legacy of an Earlsdon-based architect of the early 20th Century:
Earlsdon-based architect J. H. Gilbert, who lived at 17 Palmerston Road. designed the iconic cinema The Paris at 150 Far Gosford Street, Coventry, which is set for demolishment for a six-storey building containing 100 student bed sits and ground floor retail units.
Gilbert’s cinema building was originally built for Frankie Turner in 1912 had turned out to be the first Odeon cinema. Public consultation led by Q+A Planning Ltd ends on 7 January 2021 after an application submitted on the 19 October 2020, with a full summary of plans drawn in July 2020. It was made public knowledge in April 2020 after a tweet from the 1500 capacity live music venue ‘The Empire’, saying they have to vacate due to the building being demolished for student accommodation; however The Empire lease had run out 12 months prior, as reported by Elis Sandford at Coventry Telegraph on 3 April 2020.
J. H. Gilbert’s architectural offices were at 59 Well Street in Coventry City Centre. He had designed many other famous arts and cultural entertainment buildings in Coventry such as The Globe Theatre, described as a ‘marvellously ornate frontage’ which opened in 1913 and was Oscar Deutsch’s (founder of the Odeon cinema chain) second cinema. In the 1990s it turned into The Colosseum Nightclub, which is now known as the Kasbah. Gilbert also designed La Continentale Cinema, on Earlsdon Street, opened in 1911, the Prince of Wales Theatre on Stoney Stanton Road, opened in 1913, and what which is now the Ellen Terry Building, the entrance featuring a bold Edwardian, baroque style building in white faience topped with balustrade and dome, part of the Gaumont in 1928.
Coventry is known historically for having as many as 30 picture houses, once said to be the most in a city. These included the Broadway, later Astoria, in Albany Road and the Plaza in Spon End. There was a demise of the cinemas in the 1960s with the growth of television. By the 1990s, Coventry had only two traditional cinemas still in operation, Theatre One (formerly the Alexandra), consisting of three screens and the Odeon Film Centre (formerly the Gaumont) with five screens.
Currently, Coventry has two multiplex cinemas, the Odeon Skydome and Showcase Cinema in Walsgrave. The state of cinema in Coventry is poor, with no independent site to support our thriving filmmaking, filmmakers, moving image and film screenings for the city and its region.
J. H. Gilbert drew up plans for The Paris (opened August Bank Holiday, 1912) as a 558-seat picture theatre, later expanding to 771 seats in April 1913 due to popular demand. Originally called ‘The Crown’, it had a very ornate facade above the entrance which held a large golden crown, either side of which were two circular windows. The entrance was up five steps to the central ticket box, flanked on either side by doors leading into the auditorium, approximately 22.8m x 11.5m (75ft x 38ft), sloped down towards the stage and screen. Seats were either side of a central gangway. In 1925, the cinema was taken over by the young chairman of a company called Victory Motion Pictures Ltd, Oscar Deutsch, the founder of the Odeon Cinemas chain. Born in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, his vision was to change the entertainment landscape of Britain; he started this in Coventry, later buying another picture house in Perry Barr, Birmingham, in 1930. Oscar Deutsch and Mr. Noakes sold ‘The Crown’ between 1930 and 1931 to Mr. H.F. Allen.
The Crown was temporarily closed in October 1940 due to air raid damage to the roof. After the war it had a complete modernisation and the old facade was rebuilt to give a new entrance. It was reopened March 1958 by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Alderman Mrs Pearl Hyde. The opening film was ‘Her Crime Was Love’ starring Eve Bartok, who made a personal appearance at the opening. The policy was to show continental films; hence its full name in 1958 was the Paris Luxury Continental Cinema. The Paris closed its doors for the final time on 21 November 1981.
By 1999, The Paris found itself the centre of cultural history again, as one of many clubs in the city to support the local rave scene as The Foundry, then becoming Riley’s American Pool and Snooker Club, then a live music venue, The Empire.
The Coventry City Council case officer is Darren Henry. The planning summary notes the “Conservation Area Appraisal does not identify the application site as a building which makes a positive contribution to the conservation area so its existing contribution must be considered to be, at best, neutral. The loss of the existing building and the potential for this to cause harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area must be considered in this context.”
Far Gosford Street Conservation Area is based on a former extramural medieval suburb located to the east of the old city walls on what was the main road out of Coventry to London and Leicester. The existing building at the application site dates from the early 20th century. It is largely of a functional design albeit one that follows the historical, medieval plot pattern with a narrow frontage to Far Gosford Street. The decorative features to the original frontage of the picture house have unfortunately been lost and the interior of the building has been adapted significantly over the years.
With lectures going online, Brexit and the loss of public spaces, do we need more student accommodation in what is already a highly dense student occupied area, on Coventry’s most cultural street which hosts the Fargo Village, The Pod Cafe and various multi cultural restaurants and shops?
The justification to keep The Empire (formerly The Paris) is that Coventry needs to retain some historical cultural history and landscape, the building can be maintained with cultural investment and Historic England support. This venue is perfect for its future arts and cultural projection, to house organisations that support enterprises, music and art schemes such as theatre, dance and visual arts. This venue is a place for the city to assemble and seek cultural engagement; it will be a positive to continuation of the Fargo Village initiatives, be a neighbouring venue, to be an independent place to host in the wider city, adding vitality and visibility to the cities investment to the creative industries. The city has a strong filmmaking industry, with talented filmmakers and theatre graduates from Coventry University and born in Coventry, and its region.
With award winning directors such a Debbie Isitt and Ken Loach from Nuneaton, film composer Clint Mansell, theatre director Barry John, actors Nitin Ganatra, Tamla Kari, Melissa Graham, fiction writer Graham Joyce, comedian Emma Fryer, and Chief Executive of BFI the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image Ben Roberts. Coventry also hosts the Asian Film Awards, Coventry Film Festival, and many other film groups such as Midland Film Hub, The Tin Music and Arts Centre and Department of Film and Television Studies Research at University of Warwick.
Coventry must oppose planning application to demolish The Empire. We need to save J. H. Gilbert’s building and preserve Earlsdon’s architect’s legacy. We are City of Culture 2021, and our neighbouring city hosts Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games cultural program. The West Midlands has an acclaimed arts and culture sector that is growing rapidly, supported by organisations such as The West Midlands Cultural Response Unit funded by the Arts Council England and the Midlands Engine, our city needs to preserve its heritage and develop places like this for concertgoers in years to come.