Year of the Rat

Rarely is the arrival of a Rat in a kitchen reason for celebration but when it’s the Animal Symbol for the new Lunar New Year, ignite those fire crackers.

Jas Sansi shares a little of what diners at Henry Wong Harborne can expect this weekend. 


This weekend welcomes the New Lunar Year. It’s celebrated across Asia by families who gather to share food, exchange gifts and wish prosperity upon one another.

As the world’s largest continent, those celebrating are found not only in the Far East, but in the Far West, Far North and Far South.

You will not have to venture far should you wish to witness the awakening of the sleeping lion and enjoy seeing the colourful creature dance.

Henry Wong Harborne are treating diners to a Lion Dance spectacle on Saturday night. If you are seated at 8pm and suddenly feel the brisk chill of an open door, brace yourself.


The Zen calmness of the plush restaurant on High Street Harborne will be temporarily shattered by the roar of drum beats and the clash of cymbals.

The Lion will dance around the restaurant’s tables stopping only to receive money in lucky red packets and no doubt one or two Lion selfies.

Henry Wong Harborne are no strangers to gifting funds, the fine dining Chinese Restaurant has raised over £50,000 for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity which supports military patients and Fisher House UK.

Henry Wong Harborne owner Mr Parm Rai told me ‘We are hosting a Wine Evening in aid of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity on Thursday 5th March 2020. Before that, we look forward to welcoming diners on Saturday to see in the New Year. We’d like to wish everyone a very Happy Chinese New Year, Kung Hei Fat Choy.

The year of the Rat is extra special for those born in 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984 or 1996. Those represented by the Rat are said to be Optimistic, Likeable, Hardworking and Clever. This can be officially confirmed by all who know him, Henry Wong Harborne’s Parm Rai was born in 1972. An extra special Kung Hei Fat Choy to him.


Henry Wong Harborne 

283 High St, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9QH

0121 427 7666

Lunch: Tues to Sat, 12pm–2pm | Dinner: Mon to Sat, 6pm-11pm

Twitter @HenryWong_Harb


GBCC Year Planner 2020

The anticipated Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce 2020 Year Planner has dropped.

Jas Sansi looks ahead on what the Events team have in store for the region’s Business Community. 



The 2020 Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) Year Planner landed yesterday. It’s got more dates than Bullring Nandos.

With events accessible from Breakfast for the region’s early risers to those who prefer networking after midnight at the Awards After Parties, there’s something for everyone.

Before we take a look, Grab your diary, pen and a coffee. Save these dates now as we exit January and look forward to a packed year ahead for Greater Birmingham and the West Midlands.

These are my personal highlights for the year and only scratch the surface of a planner that allows you to schedule events around your ambitions for 2020.

First off; the Quarterly Business Reports on 21 April, July 15 and October 13. These feedback the confidence and concerns of the region’s business community. The data is hot off the press and presented at breakfast events at Birmingham City University.

The venue allows an unparalleled vista over the HS2 development at Curzon Street. Book early as this is an incredibly popular event produced by the policy team.

Bank of England (BoE) briefings are scheduled for 3 April, 10 July and 2 October. These clear and insightful projections are delivered by the BoE’s local agent for the West Midlands, Graeme Chaplin, think Bond, Investment Bond. 

The GBCC Annual Dinner & Awards on 19 March is the one of the biggest business events of the year. It’s where CEOs, Political, Civic and Business Leaders rub shoulders with the Business Community on a glittering night at ICC Birmingham. 

The Awards showcase the most exciting business stories from our region and its a night not to be missed. 

Growth Through People returns on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 26 March 2020 and this year there is a Growth Through People Conference at Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre on 2nd April 2020. 

These series of events are perfect for developing leadership and management skills, understanding best practice, harnessing talent, improving employee engagement and increasing productivity. 

There are two Chamber Expos in 2020, 12 March at Aston Villa and 23 October (Venue TBC). Perfect for a full day of networking and seminars and large scale networking. Exhibition Stands are available from £230 + VAT. 

GBCC Summer Networking BBQ on 17 July allows a break from those beach body preparations. 

The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) events go from strength to strength. 2020 see events centred around the Subcontinent’s festival days of Vaisakhi on 16 April, Eid on 8 July and Diwali on 18 November. 

There are additional ABCC events on 5 March for International Women’s Day, 8 April for the AGM and the incredible annual Dinner and Awards (Date TBC) 

The US Election Results Breakfast on 4 November will be fascinating; will Trump do it again? Impeachment isn’t what it used to be! 

The ABCC Christmas Social partners up with the Birmingham Chamber on 10 December. This is a personal favourite for me as I introduced the ABCC Christmas Social celebration whilst a Committee Member of the ABCC Executive. There are 28 Million Christians in India. 

So there you are, just a scratch of the surface of what is happening in the year ahead. Please consult the planner for additional events in this, a leap year where you have 366 days to accelerate your profile forward and exponentially upwards. 

As you close your diaries and click you pen shut, make a resolution you can’t afford to abandon; Make 2020 your year.

Link to the Planner:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum and Contributor for The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505




The Wonders of Westside (WOWs) 2020

Westside BID salute the businesses from Birmingham’s entertainment district on a glittering night in the city later this month. 

Jas Sansi looks ahead to what we can expect on one of the first major social events of the year.

Westside Skyline.JPG

Birmingham’s relentless social calendar kicks off with the annual WOWs (Wonders of Westside) in two weeks.

The WOWs celebrate the venues, bars, clubs, restaurants, businesses and of course the people behind the Westside Business Improvement District (BID) in and around Broad Street and Brindleyplace. 

The WOWs is an opportunity for the teams, who work tirelessly over Christmas and the New Year, to let their hair down and raise a glass to their success in making Westside BID the go-to destination for a great night out.


Mike Olley, Manager of Westside BID said ‘This year promises to be the biggest and best WOWs ever with Des Coleman, weatherman at ITV Central hosting the event and the legendary Heatwave  who will be performing on the night.

Heatwave is an international disco/funk band formed in 1975. They are responsible for some of the most iconic songs in the last five decades including Always and Forever, Boogie Nights and Groove Line.

It’s been a remarkable year for the BID, Director Saqib Bhatti became President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, awarded an honorary doctorate from Aston University, an MBE in the New Years Honours and became Conservative MP for Meriden. 


Paul Thandi CEO of The NEC Group which has ICC Birmingham and Birmingham Arena within the BID became a Commander of the British Empire in the New Years Honours. 


Here’s something you wouldn’t have read in the New Year’s Honours Headlines, Westside BID Manager Mike Olley inherited a Barony as part of his family heritage. 

Recent developments in the Royal household mean there is room at the top and should Mike wish to assert his right to the title, he would be known as Sir Michael Olley Bt 17th Baronette of Chiselhampton. 


The WOWs recognise the contribution the district makes to the success of Birmingham and the wider region. Nationally, the night time economy is the fifth largest industry in the UK accounting for 8% of all jobs generating over £66 Billion.

Mike Olley added ‘Westside BID has demonstrated how resilient the night time economy has proved to be in Birmingham in 2019. I can’t believe how many people are out, in and around Broad Street. We welcome more than 25,000 people on a Saturday night and as many as 10,000 on a student night in the middle of the week.


WOWs 2020 are being hosted at PRYZM, a Superclub at the Fiveways end of Broad Street. It has three floors, four cutting edge Club Rooms and a VIP luxury lounge. 

What can we expect from WOWs 2020? key contenders for Hotel of the Year will be Hyatt and Park Regis but never under estimate Jurys Inn, Hampton by Hilton and Novotel. 

Hyatt Autumn.JPG

Pushkar are always hot for fine dining but the food options in and around Westside BID are world class. 


ICC Birmingham, THSH and Library of Birmingham will be hard to beat for Best Conference Venue. 

ICC 10

There will be recognition for the best Door Staff, Emergency Services, Wardens and the teams who ensure the safety of visitors to the District. 


Very best of luck to all the businesses based in Westside BID, I look forward to photographing you all in your finest splendour and should you bump into Mike Olley, don’t forget to curtsy. 

Wonders of Westside 2020 is being held at PRYZM Birmingham on 26th January 2020. 


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a Trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today.

@jassansi 07930 837 505


2020 Vision for Brum

Jas Sansi looks forward to 2020 and sets out some of the incredible highlights our region will be celebrating as we enter the new decade. 

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2020 will be a fantastic year for Birmingham and the West Midlands. Liverpool have all but mapped out the victory parade for their first ever Prem title, but closer to home West Bromwich Albion have firmly set their direction on automatic promotion back to the Premiership. 

And what a year it will be if that happens, 2020 marks the 100th year since the Baggies etched their first ever win in the Football League. 


Villa lifted the FA Cup in the same year beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 

At the risk of upsetting my Birmingham City FC friends, Blues hammered Midlands rival Nottingham Forest, 100 years ago in 1920, 8-0 in a season which saw 40,000 fans pack into St Andrews. 

Beyond the realms of sport, what else will the city region be celebrating as we enter a new decade? 

The Canal behind Centenary Square was extended in 1820 to create a Wharf and laying the foundation of Brum boasting more canals than you know where 200 years ago. 

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Birmingham Evening Mail, previously known as The Birmingham Mail would have celebrated its 150th birthday in 2020, had it not reverted back to its original name a few years ago. Habits die hard in Brum and it’s still known by many as The Evening Mail. 

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra mark their 100th birthday since Sir Edward Elgar conducted their inaugural symphony concert in 1920 at Birmingham Town Hall.


Cleveland Tower, Birmingham’s tallest tower block, turns 50 in 2020. Located opposite the Radisson Blu hotel, the tower comprises 31 floors.


2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath’s self titled album credited as the first album in the heavy metal genre.


The NEC’s Arena is 40 years old in 2020, it’s now called the Resorts World Arena having started it’s journey as the Birmingham International Arena. 


The very first Aldi in the UK turns 30. Stechford in East Birmingham was chosen as the first site for the German discount food supermarket chain. 

Hyatt Regency in Birmingham’s Westside BID also turns 30 in 2020. The new General Manager, Mohammed Labban joins the hotel’s team at a very exciting time for the city. 


The Regeneration of Birmingham has seen the city region transformed over the last two decades, and The Mailbox which is 20 in 2020 is right at the heart of this incredible change.

Mailbox 29

Just as the ribbon was cut on this upscale retail destination, the bulldozers moved into the old Bullring.

05 Bullring.JPG


With lots to look forward to, may I be the first to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. 

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today Newspaper 

@jassansi   07930 837 505 


ABCC Awards 2019 – The Ones to Watch

The Asian Business Chamber of Commerce rides into the National Motorcycle Museum tonight. 

Jas Sansi revs up his Nikon ahead of capturing the event and suggests the ones to watch on what will be a high performance night.

5 Jas Sansi and Qasim Majid

If you are driving along the M42 this evening around 6pm, you may see the red beacon and white strobe lights of an Air India Dreamliner Jet descend into Birmingham Airport. 

Flight AI117 will have left North India basking in winter sun nine hours earlier transferring its passengers to the brisk chill of a North European metropolis.

A passenger lucky enough to be flying Maharajah Class with only hand luggage, can disembark, rush through the automated E Gates and be land side in ten minutes. A two minute cab ride will drop them over the road at The National Motorcycle Museum, hosting this year’s Asian Business Chamber of Commerce Awards. 

They may want to shower and change though. It’s a glittering night showcasing the region’s business success stories across eight categories.

Here’s my take on a few of the categories and who you should keep an eye on tonight. This is purely a personal opinion, I have no access to the judge’s decisions and the results are not disclosed ahead of the announcements. 

Outstanding Business Woman of the Year

There are five finalists for Business Woman of the Year including Fiona Allen CEO of Birmingham Hippodrome. Fiona has made headlines recently with her appointment as Regional Chair for Tourism. Brum is gearing up for the Commonwealth Games, an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the Midlands to the world. 

You’d be brave to bet against Fiona taking those steps to the stage to collect the award. 

Outstanding Charity of the Year 

Sense TouchBase Pears Centre have established a huge presence in Birmingham with their purpose built site in Selly Oak. Sense support people with complex disabilities including deafblindness to communicate and experience the world. 

Outstanding Contribution to Society 

Younis Bhatti & Co Ltd have to be firm favourites to collect this award. Mr Bhatti was instrumental in establishing the Institute of Asian Businesses 32 years ago and the legacy continues with Saqib Bhatti the President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. 

Saqib is currently campaigning as Conservative candidate for Meriden, ahead of next Thursday’s General Election. 

Outstanding SME Business of the Year 

This has to be a close call between Falcon Insurance and Love Your Postcode. Both companies are headed up by engaging and engaged business leaders. They contribute a lot to the region’s business scene in a category that must have been very difficult to judge. 

Outstanding Venue of the Year 

Another category packed with big hitters with Hotel du Vin Birmingham quite possibly the one to watch. The Business District’s go to venue has invested heavily in upgrading their rooms and conference spaces. 

General Manager Tom Gallimore is supported by an incredible team including those based at their sister hotel Malmaison and I wish him, his team and all the finalists the very best of luck this evening. 

See you there.


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505, a trustee for LoveBrum, the charity for a better Birmingham and contributor to The Asian Today Newspaper.

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Is the NHS on the table?

We appear to be transfixed on whether the NHS is for sale or not for sale, part of a Trade Deal or not part of a Trade Deal. 

Jas Sansi sets out two political models for an NHS for the future.


The NHS is the only Socialist Project that has ever succeeded at a national level. 

China, is a Communist state and they don’t have anything like the NHS. I was in Beijing a few years ago, and had to visit the hospital with my daughter. We were directed to the payment desk first. 

I don’t think we really appreciate the NHS and what it represents, and I think it’s because, for 70 years, it’s just always been there. Much the same way, very few people ever gave much thought to our EU membership. Until it was weaponised for political reasons. 

If you are a British citizen and fall ill, or have an accident, the country will pick you up and put you back together again. It doesn’t always succeed but if you can be saved, the chances are you will be saved. 

And sent back to the arms of your family and friends, all of whom would have had to deal with the loss of a loved one if the NHS wasn’t there in your hour of need. 

My politics is right down the middle, I’m not telling anyone to vote for any particular party. I’m not sure any Government can save the NHS without radical action. 

Conservatives are instinctively sceptical of the socialist principle of the NHS, they voted against its creation 70 years ago. 

Tory philosophy is to minimise the burden of tax payers, give them the option of paying into private medical care and hive off as many parts of the health service to private providers to extract maximum efficiency. 

Labour want to raise taxes, and invest heavily in the NHS ensuring everyone has access to free medical care at the point of delivery. 

It’s clear, the NHS is struggling. As a country, we have an ageing population and medical needs increase with age. We also have a problem with obesity and life style choices that are having an impact on NHS resources.

If both parties were allowed to model their perfect health care scenarios, Labour would have a very highly taxed economy with huge spending commitments on the NHS. They want to take 10% of all FTSE 100 Companies into public ownership to help fund their programs. 

The Conservatives would shift the NHS from a tax payer funded model to one where everyone takes out insurance for health care. This provides greater choice in where treatment can be sought. 

This would allow the Conservatives to slash taxes for individuals and corporations to the tune of £150 Billion a year. 

There are valid arguments for both options. We need to have an honest debate about what sort of NHS we want. 

We appear to be transfixed on whether the NHS is for sale or not for sale, part of a Trade Deal or not part of a Trade Deal. 

I can’t imagine the Conservatives auctioning off entire hospitals to the highest bidder, and I can’t see how sustainable a Labour Government would be if the tax rate started at 50%. 

Of the two models, the insurance based one is more likely. All employers may have to incorporate health care cover as part of their renumeration package to attract workers. The self employed, free lancers and zero contract workers will have to purchase their own. 

Those who are unwilling to work will have to decide whether health care is a priority. It really will be this brutal. Those who are unable to work may have to face the insecurity experienced by those in pretty much every country outside of Europe. 

Post Brexit, no one wants to buy the NHS, it’s the Insurance Policies where the real money is. 

General Election Thursday 12th December 2019. 




How to Dismantle the NHS

As an ultra Remainer, I always argued membership of the EU was about saving our Economy. I was wrong, our economy doesn’t need saving, it will always bounce back. 

For ultra Leave Strategists, the prize for Brexit was always dismantling the NHS.

Jas Sansi explains how you end the NHS with the Will of the People?

Street Art 1

Imagine sitting around a boardroom table discussing how to dismantle the NHS without damaging  your credibility as a Political Party. 

How would you plan to end an organisation that commands over £140 Billion per year as the fifth biggest employer in the world? All with the unwavering support of the electorate who rely on this service.

Reducing bed numbers, closing wards, removing some drugs from the approved list are all damaging but would not prove fatal for the NHS. They would however, be fatal for a Party looking to win a General Election. 

If you want to sink a Titanic, you’re wasting your time kicking the bulkhead, you need an iceberg.

Before dismantling the NHS, first identify how to ensure the decision to dismantle the NHS is perceived to be the will of the people.

The next step in dismantling the NHS is to make it unaffordable for the country. No Political Party could campaign on such a ticket. Abolishing NHS funding requires a much bigger and longer game plan. 

The way to destroy the NHS is to damage the economy it is dependent on. To engineer an economic shock that makes the NHS impossible to support. 

How do you create an economic shock, one that does not destroy the economy but forces it to address public spending to the degree a National Health Service is no longer viable? 

The NHS is free at the point of delivery, but it’s not free, it’s paid for by taxes we all pay. The way to sink the NHS is to compromise the size of tax revenue. 

The conductor of this shock cannot be Government, it has to be the people who are responsible. The electorate have to deliver a democratic decision and implementation carried out by Government with a clear mandate. 

The Government will continue to promise support of the NHS distancing themselves from the prize; ending the NHS.

How do you get the people to accept responsibility for the chain of events that result in such an action? 

You can’t do it by offering a Referendum that asks ‘Shall we change the funding model of the NHS from tax receipts to an Insurance based one?’ 

You can trigger the chain of events by offering a Referendum that if implemented would mean we are forced to re-evaluate the core values of the UK, not least the defending of the NHS. 

Brexit is the vehicle that delivers this change. Brexit means ending the NHS as we know it. 

The Government’s own economic predictions signal the damage Brexit will inflict. And yet people continue to insist democratic decisions must be obeyed whatever the consequences.

Rebuilding the UK Economy after leaving the EU will focus on a trade deal with the USA, a trade deal where the £140 Billion NHS is on the table. 

Every man, woman and child will need insurance to cover the cost of any contact with a health professional. 

This is the real end game for Brexit. The campaign used toxic political weapons to engineer the electorate into complicity with the move from a public funded NHS to an insurance funded one. 

This was always the prize. 


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505