Thursday, October 25, 2012

Matt to Talk about his Plans to Re-open Quinton Police Station

Matt Bennett (centre), the local Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, will be visiting Quinton soon to talk about his plans to re-open the local police station to the public.

If you’d like to talk to Matt about this or any other issue, come along to St Boniface Church Hall, Quinton Road West, B32 2QD, on Tuesday 6th November. Matt will be there from 7.30pm until 9pm.

Matt’s Five Pledges to You
  1. Introduce zero tolerance policing of crime and antisocial behaviour
  2. Ensure the Police spend more time on the streets and at the times and places where crime is highest
  3. Keep local police stations and front desks OPEN!
  4. Introduce a contract with the public, setting out what residents can expect from the police when a crime is reported
  5. Meet regularly with the public across the whole West Midlands by holding at least one public meeting every fortnight
Home Secretary Theresa May has just released this short video, which explains more about the role of PCCs...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Open Primary for Conservative Nomination for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner

Many people still don't realise it, but in November everyone in the West Midlands will get to vote for their Police and Crime Commissioner. This is a seriously important role with the power to set the police budget and to hire and fire the Chief Constable.

Labour selected their candidate, someone representing everything that's wrong with the current governance arrangements, via an opaque and uninspiring process. In contrast, the Conservatives are selecting our candidate via a series of open primaries, where anyone who's registered to vote in the West Midlands can come along and vote on the selection. You don't need to be a member of any political party - just register, turn up and vote.

Your choice is between Matt Bennett, until recently a Birmingham Councillor and Executive Member for Children's Social Care, and Joe Tildesley, a Solihull Councillor and retired police officer.

The four primaries take place as follows. All start at 7pm prompt:

  • 4th July: Erdington
  • 5th July: Walsall
  • 10th July: Halesowen
  • 11th July: Solihull

Email to register and for further details.

For more information, read the story on the Birmingham Conservatives website or have a look at Dominic Fisher's article on Conservative Home.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Thanks For Your Support

Thanks to everyone who supported me in yesterday's election and I'm sorry we fell short of victory.

It's been a genuine privilege to represent the people of Quinton ward over the last four years and I hope that I may have the opportunity again some time in the future.

Now for a short holiday...

Thursday, May 03, 2012

You have until 10pm to vote in TODAY's Local Elections

Please Support Me Today 

Whether it's protecting our parks from traveller camps, action on rubbish collections or fighting antisocial late-opening off-licences, I've worked hard for Quinton and Harborne over the past four years.

If you re-elect me today, I promise to keep working hard for you over the next four years.

Please use your vote to support me - polls are open until 10pm tonight.

Peter Smallbone

Promoted by Len Clark on behalf of Peter Smallbone, both of 1 Lyncourt Grove, Quinton, B32 1DG.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Please Support Me Tomorrow

The local elections take place tomorrow, and I’m asking for your support. I’m proud of my record and proud of what I’ve achieved for Quinton and Harborne:

  1. I’ve delivered protection from traveller camps for all of our local parks and green spaces.
  2. I’ve fought against mobile phone masts – not just for the sake of it, but when they would be unsightly or pose an unnecessary risk – and I’ve been successful in two out of three campaigns.
  3. I’ve worked hard to resist closures of the front desks at Quinton Road West and Rose Road police stations. Eight more Officers have just been relocated to Quinton Road West.
  4. I’ve tackled the problem of late-opening off-licences in the area and the antisocial problems associated with them. Two applications were withdrawn after I organised petitions against them.
  5. And I’m not afraid to stand up to my own Council, for example about problems with refuse collections or plans to build houses on the Martineau Centre’s playing fields, if I believe it’s in the best interests of local people.

There’s still more to do, and I’d love the opportunity to keep working hard for Quinton and Harborne. If I’m re-elected:

  1. I will make sure that the investigation I demanded into Quinton and Harborne’s rubbish collections is completed and see that the findings are implemented – fully.
  2. I will fight for restrictions on antisocial drinking on local streets, where there is clear support from residents.
  3. I will continue to work hard to make sure that Quinton and Harborne gets its fair share of the tax we’re paying.
  4. I will stand up to the Council, whichever party is in charge, to safeguard the Martineau Centre and its playing fields.
  5. I will argue for another Council Tax freeze.

Please use your vote to give Quinton and Harborne a bright future.

Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm (not the other way round as a small number of my leaflets recently claimed!)

Promoted by Len Clark on behalf of Peter Smallbone, both of 1 Lyncourt Grove, Quinton, B32 1DG

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birmingham's Winners and Losers

I've been chewing over the Boundary Commission's proposals for the Birmingham area - here are my observations so far:


Cllr Robert Alden (Conservative, Erdington Ward). Bobby was our Parliamentary candidate for Erdington last time and is hot favourite to be again. The absorption of Sutton New Hall and Castle Bromwich and the removal of Kingstanding makes this a very winnable Conservative seat.

Gisela Stuart MP (Labour, Edgbaston). I'm sticking my neck out a bit on this one. Edgbaston becomes almost unrecognisable from its current state, with the bulk of the existing constituency going into new Birmingham Harborne. The revised Edgbaston, full of right-on students (Selly Oak) and champagne socialists (Moseley), looks good for Labour. I'm not entirely sure how Labour selects its candidates, but as the nominal incumbent, Ms Stuart surely has the edge in getting selected.

Keely Huxtable (Conservative, former PC for Northfield) or Cllr Nigel Dawkins (Conservative, Bournville). Keely and Nigel both came close to winning Northfield and Selly Oak respectively in the last General Election. Nigel's ward goes into the new Northfield at the expense of Weoley, making this a very winnable seat for the Conservatives. Both have a claim to be selected for this constituency.

One as yet unidentified Conservative. All-new Birmingham Harborne, consisting of Harborne, Quinton, Bartley Green, Weoley and Old Warley, should be a definite Tory target. The PPC for this seat will have an excellent chance. 


Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP (Labour, Hodge Hill). 'Dear Mr Byrne, I’m afraid to tell you there's no constituency left.' (Hopefully I'm the first person to make this crack, but I suspect not.)

Steve McCabe MP (Labour, Selly Oak). Selly Oak vanishes under the new proposals; along with Liam Byrne, he will have a fight on his hands to get selected for a different and winnable seat. Mind you, he's managed it once before.

John Hemming MP (Lib Dem, Yardley). John can't be happy with losing Sheldon in exchange for Bordesley Green.


Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP (Conservative, Sutton Coldfield). Andrew will rightly be aggrieved at the loss of part of Sutton Coldfield from the constituency that bears its name, but he is a very hard-working and high-profile figure and I doubt that his tenure will come under serious challenge.

Roger Godsiff MP (Labour, Hall Green). The redrawn Hall Green swaps a fading challenge from Respect for Lab/Lib and Lab/Tory marginals. I wouldn't expect this has given Mr Godsiff either a sleepless night or reason to open any bottles of champagne.

Shabana Mahmood MP (Labour, Ladywood). Swapping Aston and Soho for Hodge Hill and Washwood Heath is hardly tearing the heart out of this rock-solid Labour seat. I don't think that talk of a challenge from Liam Byrne will come to anything.

Khalid Mahmood MP (Labour, Perry Barr). See above.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Rapid Action on Travellers on Highfield Lane

A group of travellers set up camp on Highfield Farm Recreation Ground on Tuesday 23rd August. Accompanied by the Police, I visited them that evening and the following evening and demanded that they left the area. I'm pleased to say that they had left within two days and I’ve ensured that anything they left behind has been cleaned up.

Had the group kept themselves to themselves a bit more then perhaps a confrontation could have been avoided. However, a number of the group were tearing around the park and Woodgate Valley on quad bikes, which was very intimidating for local people. I have a zero tolerance approach to such behaviour and I'm very pleased that our robust stance has worked.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fighting for Quinton Police Station

First of all, I'd like to place on record my deep thanks and respect for Birmingham's police officers who put the safety of the City ahead of their own safety in the recent riots. Everyone in Birmingham owes them a debt of gratitude and I look forward to those responsible for this brief reign of terror facing the full majesty of the law.

These recent events demonstrate even more clearly the need for good local policing, and that's why I've launched a campaign to keep Quinton Police Station open to the public. The response from local people has been excellent and we've even been featured in the Birmingham Mail, which all helps.

If you live in Quinton ward, you'l be receiving a copy of my petition to sign and return very soon. If you'd rather complete the petition online, just visit this site:

Under the last Labour government, 400 police stations closed - that's more than one every two weeks. Together, we can keep this one open - please sign the petition.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Open Day at Woodgate Valley Fire Station

Woodgate Valley Fire Station (161 Stonehouse Lane, Bartley Green) are having an open day on Saturday 13th August from 10.30am until 3pm. They'll be lots to see and do, including:
  • Chip pan fire demonstration
  • Road traffic collision demonstration
  • Rope rescue demonstration
  • Stalls from partner agencies
Hope to see you there.

Martineau Centre Consultation - More Dates

I have successfully lobbied the Council to add extra dates to the current consultation on the Martineau Centre on Balden Road. These are in addition to the two consultation dates that have already taken place. The consultations will take place at the Martineau Centre itself, on the following dates and times.

  • Monday 25 July, 10am–8pm
  • Saturday 30 July, 9am–noon
  • Saturday 13 August, 9am–noon

If you have any questions or comments about the Martineau Centre or any other matter, I would be more than happy to hear from you.

Supporting The Pod

The Pod, off Selcroft Avenue, is a new initiative to help local young people express themselves through art. I paid today's launch a visit and I was very impressed with what I saw. We talked over a few ideas about how I could help them achieve their goals, so watch this space!

Friday, May 06, 2011

2011 Elections - Commiserations to Len

I've managed to have a bit of a sleep after the manic election campaign in Quinton and Harborne and thought I'd do a quick post on the result. Clearly it's is disappointing that Len Clark was not successful in getting re-elected. Len has spent most of his adult life in public service and I've learnt a lot from him. I wish him a long and thoroughly deserved retirement from front-line politics.

Looking at the votes for each candidate, it appears that the Conservative vote held up very well: compared with 2008, we lost hardly any votes. Two things seem to have happened: the turnout increased, and most of this increased turnout voted Labour, and the (small but significant) Lib Dem vote collapsed, with those voters probably either staying at home or voting Labour too.

The local Labour team did an excellent job of exploiting their own government's economic incompetence by running a largely anti-cuts message, and this appears to have resonated well with voters. But I don't believe that the Labour party, either locally or nationally, is offering a credible alternative, and that's why I'll keep fighting to represent the people of Quinton ward.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Malcolm Harbour MEP Backs HS2

I've recently been talking to West Midlands Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour about the planned high speed rail link from Birmingham to London. Representing the whole of the West Midlands, Malcolm has to take a balanced view as to HS2's benefits versus any potential disruption caused along the route.

While recognising that some communities and individuals in the wider region will be adversely affected, Malcolm has given his firm backing to HS2. He says, 'The Government has pledged to build a new High Speed Rail network as part of its programme of measures to create a low carbon economy. I fully support this decision and believe it will be a vital measure that will help to deliver significant and long-lasting economic and societal benefits for Britain.

High Speed Rail has the potential to transform the way Britain works and competes in the 21st Century. It can also play a significant role in easing congestion and making the transport system in the UK greener, by offering an alternative to thousands of short haul flights and road journeys. Furthermore, it will also free up capacity on our existing rail infrastructure and improve frequency and service levels for passengers. The Birmingham and West Midlands economy will benefit significantly from the links to the North and South, with the planned extension to Manchester and Leeds which will continue our region’s regeneration.'

I welcome Malcolm's commitment to HS2 and agree that the benefits to Birmingham and the West Midlands will be significant and long-lasting. Bringing Birmingham and London closer together will be a great thing for both cities.

John Lewis comes to Birmingham

The rumours are true! Scheduled to open in 2014 as part of the New Street Station regeneration project, the new 250,000 sq ft John Lewis will be one of the largest outside London. Featuring more than 350,000 products including fashion, furniture, homewares, beauty and the latest technology, it will be another great boost to the city centre and bring in much needed jobs.

Monday, January 31, 2011

West Midlands and Chilterns Rail Route Consultation

If you want to have your say on this important rail route, you have until the end of the week. More details here:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Refuse and Recycling Collection in Birmingham - Update 2

  • Tomorrow's and Friday's half-day strikes have been called off.
  • The work-to-rule by the regular crews is also off for the time being.
  • The Council will continue to deploy the casual crews as well as the regular crews to clear any backlog.
  • Further talks are scheduled for Tuesday.
If there's any more news, I'll let you know.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Refuse and Recycling Collection in Birmingham - Update 1

Despite the snow in mid-December, the trade unions decided to press on with their strike on Monday 20th and they’ve been working four day weeks and refusing overtime since.

To compensate, we’ve recruited a casual workforce, working seven days a week, to pick up the work that the unions are leaving behind. Over the last weekend, this workforce of over 200 members of staff in 70 vehicles collected 1,410 tonnes of refuse in 282,000 black bags.

We’ve also continued to extend the opening hours at the City's five household recycling centres to 8am to 9pm, seven days a week.

The latest advice from Cllr Huxtable, who's the Cabinet Member responsible, is to put out fresh waste only on your scheduled collection day.

The unions are determined to inflict as much disruption as possible on the ordinary people of Birmingham and no-one in the Labour leadership, locally or nationally, has come out and condemned their actions. However, I’m determined that Labour and the unions won’t take Birmingham back to the 1970s.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Refuse and Recycling Collection in Birmingham

I hope that everyone had a good Christmas and is looking forward to the New Year.

I thought it would be a good time to update everyone on the situation regarding refuse and recycling collection in Quinton ward. I have been in direct contact today with Cllr Huxtable, who's the Cabinet Member responsible, to get the latest information.

Unfortunately, we've been hit with a 'perfect storm' of industrial action by our regular workforce on the 20th December and work-to-rule since, the unusually bad weather (even for December) and the extra refuse generated due to the holiday period.

However, none of this is much consolation if your black bags and recycling boxes are still outside. To try to get around the problems, the Council has recruited a casual workforce to provide collection services in the absence of the regular workforce. This workforce is being expanded as drivers are recruited. The Council intends the casual workforce to work continuously including the weekend and to catch up on the work as soon as possible.

The Council has also arranged for extended opening hours at the City's five household recycling centres: 8am to 9pm seven days a week.

The current advice is to leave your black bags and recycling on the kerbside, even if it's not your normal collection day, and the Council will try to collect them as soon as possible.

There are also a few scheduled bulky refuse collections taking place in various parts of Quinton ward; these are all expected to go ahead as planned.

I am in regular communication with Cllr Huxtable and I will update the blog if the information or advice changes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Letter from Eric Pickles about the Localism Bill and Local Government Finance Settlement

A new relationship between central government, local government and local people starts today.

Like all Conservative Councillors in England, I've just received a letter from Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, with some information about the Localism Bill and Local Government Finance Settlement. I thought it would be useful to post the letter in full. Here is is.

Dear Colleague,

Localism Bill and Local Government Finance Settlement

Today the Coalition Government has published the Localism Bill and announced the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for English councils. I wanted to take the opportunity to outline some key political points on these two major announcements.

Local Government Finance Settlement

Local government finance is notoriously arcane and ridden with Whitehall jargon. So my department has published a plain English guide to the settlement, to help explain the detail. It can be found at:

· This is all about how we raise and spend taxpayers’ money. Every part of the public sector needs to do its bit to help reduce Labour’s legacy of debt and the massive overdraft they left the nation. The Labour Government had been living a credit card lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense, and now it is time to pay off some of those bills.

· This is a progressive settlement – we are taking into account that some councils are very dependent on central government grants, and we are taking steps to mitigate the effect of spending reductions in those needy areas.

· The settlement will be fair between different parts of the country – north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire. Unlike Labour, we will not play one part of the country off against another for narrow partisan gain.

· We are limiting the reduction in councils’ spending power. Making savings to grants is not the same as reducing council spending by the same amount – this is since councils raise money from council tax and other sources.

· Council tax bills more than doubled under Labour. So we are providing additional funding to help England’s councils to help freeze their council tax bills this year. This will provide real help to struggling families and pensioners.

· Councils can protect frontline services by sharing services and back office functions, improve procurement to get more for less, bring escalating senior pay under control, and use transparency to empower the public to see how their money could be better spent. Next month, councils should be publishing online their spending over £500, creating an army of ‘armchair auditors’ to cut out waste and deliver better value for money.

A Government press release with top-line local figures on spending can be found at:

Localism Bill

· The Localism Bill overturns decades of central government interference and gives power back to local communities. We are not just devolving power to local councils – we are also giving more power to citizens, community groups and neighbourhoods, to help local people shape and influence the places in which they live and help build the Big Society.

· We are giving more freedoms and flexibilities to councils, from reducing ring-fencing to bringing in a general power of competence in the Localism Bill. By cutting the red tape and Whitehall micromanagement which holds councils back, this will give them the ability to protect frontline services and focus their spending on local priorities.

A Government press release on the Bill can be found at:

My Ministerial colleague, Greg Clark, has also today published a pamphlet on our decentralisation agenda which is available at:

Key policy initiatives in the Bill which may be of direct interest to your ward include:

· The abolition of Labour’s Regional Strategies and top-down system of planning. This legacy of John Prescott threatened environmental sustainability, and it completely failed to deliver the homes that communities wanted by fuelling resentment at development.

· A new system of neighbourhood planning to put local communities in charge of the look and feel of their locality. Parish councils and new neighbourhood forums of local people – rather than town hall officials – will lead the way in shaping their community. Incentives, such as the New Homes Bonus and a reformed Community Infrastructure Levy, will ensure that local people directly benefit from new development.

· Protection for local taxpayers from Labour’s planned tax hikes. We are abolishing Labour’s bin taxes, cancelling Labour’s planned council tax revaluations in England and Wales, and giving local residents new powers to veto future excessive council tax rises via local referendums.

· New rights to protect community facilities and build the Big Society: A Community Right to Buy will give local groups new rights to protect vital community asset including local shops, pubs, libraries and leisure centres, giving them the opportunity to take over services which face closure. An accompanying Community Right to Challenge will open the door for local community and voluntary sector groups, as well as parish councils and council employees, to bid to take over and improve local council services.

We have a strong message that the Coalition Government is championing the interests of local taxpayers in difficult times, and is putting more power and responsibility into the hands of councils, communities and citizens.

Yours truly,

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP

Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nativity Play Photos – A Victory for Common Sense

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has recently issued some guidance on taking photographs at school concerts or plays this Christmas.

He says, ‘Having a child perform at a school play or a festive concert is a very proud moment for parents and is understandably a memory that many want to capture on camera. It is disappointing to hear that the myth that such photos are forbidden by the Data Protection Act still prevails in some schools.

‘A common sense approach is needed – clearly, photographs simply taken for a family album are exempt from data protection laws. Armed with our guidance, parents should feel free to snap away this Christmas and stand ready to challenge any schools or councils that say “Bah, Humbug” to a bit of festive fun.’

This guidance should put an end to this persistent myth, and I’ve written to all of the local schools to make sure they know about it. Now let’s all get on and enjoy Christmas!

You can download the guidance note at

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Welcoming an Irish Councillor to Birmingham

I spent the morning at our popular Advice Bureau at the Quinborne Centre. Many local people came to see me for all sorts of help and advice, and I'm looking forward to resolving each and every issue.

I was then pleased to welcome Cllr Sean McKiernan, elected Member of Cavan County Council in the Republic of Ireland and Vice-Chairman of the Fine Gael National Executive to Birmingham.

We had a very interesting conversation about the various issues in our respective countries and localities - it was great to meet someone else who had a genuine passion for improving their area. I wish Sean well in his visit to Birmingham and I hope that I can pay a visit to Cavan at some point in the future.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Recycling Queries

A couple of recycling queries were mentioned at the last Quinton Ward Committee - here's an update.

Recycling at Wellington Court on Brook Lane. Council officers have visited Wellington Court and spoken to the staff. The staff are are trying to identify a suitable area to place recycling bins without having too much of an impact on the grounds. They will contact the Council once they identify a suitable location.

Recycling on Barnwood Road. The Council officers are preparing a leaflet with all of the necessary information, which will go out to all properties from tomorrow onwards.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Could You Foster a Child?

Today, I dropped in to support The Foster Care Co-operative's efforts in Quinton. The Co-operative is a non-profit fostering agency dedicated to recruiting and training new foster carers.

If you're interested in finding out more about fostering, please contact The Foster Care Co-operative, Penny Hall, The Haysfield, Spring Lane North, Malvern WR14 1GF, call 01684 892380 or email

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Celebrating Diwali in Birmingham

The festival of Diwali is approaching, and I was honoured to attend tonight's celebration of this important date in the Hindu and Sikh calendars. Presented by BBC Midland Today's Satnam Rana, we had a splendid evening of prayer, dance and festivities.

The photo features me with Mr Mahendra Dabhi, President of the Hindu Council of Birmingham.

Thanks to everyone who made this possible, especially the sponsors XLN Telecom.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quinton Football Tournament and Family Day

The weather couldn't have been better for today's Quinton Football Tournament and Family Day. What an excellent event, enjoyed by everyone. Special thanks to those who organised it, especially former Councillor Jane James (pictured with me and Cllr Len Clark).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Challenge In Action

The Challenge's Quinton Road Safety Campaign was out in force today, advising motorists to slow down around an important and busy local roundabout. I joined them in support of their campaign, and we've come up with a few ideas as to how I can help in other ways.

Young people often have a bad reputation with older generations - this has probably been the case since the dawn of time. When I was 16, if the press were to be believed, we were all watching video nasties, ram raiding shops and going to illegal raves. Today's event just goes to show that the reputation of young people is not well-deserved; the group I met were enthusiastic, respectful and fully engaged in their community. Long may it continue.