Saturday, April 29, 2006

Poster Boy

Phew! Just got in after a night of intense postering in Ladywood ward. Well worth it though - we got most of the western part done, but we're not gonna stop there!

I've tried to do something different with my posters - instead of a dodgy mugshot or just my name, I've put my website address (this website in fact!). I can't remember of a candidate doing this before, but there has to be a first time for everything..!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Paper Boy

So anyway, there's a full-page article about me in today's Times (Page 24). The article by Ben Hoyle is a good representation about how tricky it can be for me to reach some of Ladywood's electorate. Rest assured, I'm trying my best - this blog is just one way of trying to bridge the divide.

The 'gated communities' reference slightly conjures up images of electrified fences and guys with shotguns (!), but other than that, I think it's a great article.

Ladywood Conservatives are on the up! We can win next Thursday!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Thursday's Leafleting

A big thank-you to everyone who came on City Branch's leafleting event last Thursday. We got a large part of Ladywood ward covered, and the reaction has been great! I've been getting phone calls, emails and letters from ward residents, and I'm working hard to respond to all of them. Sorry if you're still waiting to hear from me but I've had so much interest!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Pool resources

A second Labour leaflet's gone out in Ladywood. Unbelievably, the Ladywood Labour councillors are making a big issue about how much pressure they're putting on the Conservative-led Council to get a swimming pool in the ward.

They seem to have conveniently forgotten that we had a Labour-run council between 1984 and 2004 and we still have a Labour-run ward. The only thing they've achieved was closing Ladywood's only pool on Monument Road!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Labour's running scared

I've just been having a look at the April 2006 edition of the so-called Labour News that's being distributed in Ladywood.

The general theme is that our Conservative-led Council is taking all the money from Ladywood and giving it to Sutton Coldfield. This is classic, unreconstructed, Labour class-war rhetoric and the electorate won't fall for it! Only three days ago, the Council announced a £44 million building project for Special Care Centres for the elderly. The first centre will be built in - guess where? - Ladywood!

Labour can keep banging their class-war drum if they want, but our Conservative-led Council is getting things done. If they don't want to be a part of it, they should get out of the way...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Marginal benefits

Quinton is an area in the west of Birmingham, and outside my own ward of Ladywood, it's been a focus of my campaigning efforts. The ward is a marginal, which means that a small change in the number of votes cast for each party could cause a different result.

Cllr Jane James is the Conservative candidate, and she's seeking re-election in Quinton. And she's got every right to think she'll get the support she needs on May 4th (polling day). She's been doing a remarkable job for the area - appointing more litter patrols, getting more bins and taking measures to reduce speeding.

I've canvassed a few times there already, and the feeling on the doorstep is very positive! Here's to 4th May!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I've just come from a evening looking for bats in Ladywood! No, really. Ladywood Green Watch had organised a evening of bat finding with Ray Dutton from the Birmingham and Black Country Bat Group (

We started by using a little black box that picks up a bat's sonar. No luck there I'm afraid - it was a bit cold which meant no insects, which meant no bats.

Against all odds, we found a Pipistrelle roosting high up in some wood panelling on the side of Ladywood Arts & Leisure Centre. I wanted to take a photo of it and put it on here, but apparently it's illegal to photograph bats without a licence (!).

Not my normal night on the campaign trail, but a worthwhile one nonetheless!

Tune in again - same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bring it on!

The nominations are out! Of the five candidates nominated, I'm the only one who lives in the ward. Here's to victory on 4th May!

Monday, April 03, 2006

A few good men...

...and women!

Since announcing my candidacy, I've been so impressed by some of the people I've met, working hard, for no reward, just to improve their area. For example, I was speaking today to someone who's been trying to improve the Rotton Park area. He was full of ideas and information; for example, he was telling me about the Harborne Line, which is a now-defunct railway line that may be reopened as a cycle path. The more people I meet, the more I learn about what's happening throughout the ward and the more I'm convinced that we can make real and beneficial changes for all the people of Ladywood.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

What happened at the Ladywood Ward Committee

I attended the Ladywood Ward Committee meeting on 22nd March 2006 at St Paul's Church, St Paul's Square. All wards have Ward Committees that meet periodically to discuss ongoing matters of interest to ward residents, and anyone can attend.

It was good to see a change of venue for this meeting, which reflects how the ward is developing, and I would like to extend my thanks to the authorities of St Paul's Church for allowing the meeting to take place there.

One of the most important topics being debated was the proposed Tower Ballroom redevelopment at Edgbaston Reservoir. Cllr Rice reported that Cllr John Alden (Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture) will not sell the land to the developers and it's been earmarked for leisure, not residential use. Hopefully this will put an end to this issue!

There was a report concerning planning gain, which is money paid by property developers to the Council in recognition of the impact that a development can cause. For example, planning permission for a supermarket may be accompanied by planning gain to improve the roads surrounding the site. We were told that a lot of planning gain money has been 'stalled' - I don't know how we can get developers to cough up when they're supposed to, but there's a lot of money at stake here and we need to do something about it.

There was a very interesting presentation about the future of New Street Station (which sits within the ward). I must confess that I still have some reservations about the proposals as they stand. I thought that New Street was a bottleneck due to train capacity, but I was told that the problem's passenger capacity. Hmm, OK!

We were shown some flashy animations of the new station; as usual, it was a bright sunny day and people were just hanging about on the concourse having a laugh. Sadly, little was mentioned about whether the number of platforms will be increased and whether any additional daylight will reach them. In addition, the official website ( contains little or no information of use to the public at the time of writing.

There was also a brief discussion about whether New Street would be renamed. Seems a bit pointless to me, but I'm sure it would keep someone in a job!

You won't get any argument from me that New Street needs to be knocked down and rebuilt, but if we're going to spend £500m (including £300m of public money) and cause huge inconvenience over the five years of construction, I do think that we need more emphasis on trains and passengers and less on shopping and branding.

Moving on, there was a very useful presentation about redevelopment of some sites fronting Great Charles Street. Cllr Bore wanted to include the coupling of two sections of Queensway alongside this redevelopment, but I spoke in opposition to this. Every time there is an accident in Queensway, it can back up as far as the M6, and increasing the length of the tunnel will only increase the risk. After several others also spoke in opposition to Cllr Bore's proposal, the Chair (Cllr Hartley) backed away from having a vote on the matter.

The proposed Chamberlain Gardens Residential Parking Zone should provide some respite for residents, although one or two people voiced concerns about whether it will be adequately policed. We'll have to see how it pans out and increase enforcement if required.

The speaker on Jewellery Quarter matters was obviously passionate and committed, and it was a pleasure to hear him speak. Improvements to CCTV and street lighting are going to happen, and there is also a proposal for a public square by the 'Big Peg'. Long overdue is the proposal for a health centre and pharmacy in the area. Great stuff!

However, it was a real shame that his report was cut short due to lack of time. In addition, the topics of Coach Parking, City Centre issues and On-Street Parking around the Middleway weren't discussed at all. In my opinion, a couple of people were allowed to dominate the meeting with lengthy questions and comments, and I think we need more discipline from the Chair to ensure that these meetings are all that they can be.

Maybe it'll be down to me to chair the next meeting..? ;-)