Friday, October 27, 2006

What happened at the City Centre Neighbourhood Forum Public Meeting

The City Centre Neighbourhood Forum Public Meeting was on Monday 23rd at the Council House. It was quite well attended considering it was a cold night in late October - a quick show of hands told us that the leafleting we did was the main reason people attended.

Chief Superintendent Debbie Harrod, who is in charge of city centre policing. Main points:
  • 96.1% of city centre visitors feel safe.
  • Priorities are violent crime, business crime and retail crime.
  • The local police are currently moving to the neighbourhood policing model.
  • The police have a long-standing policy of never responding to building or car alarms - if you want them to attend, you'll need to describe a crime.
  • They have an 'architectural liaison officer' to ensure that new developments are built with security (e.g. CCTV) in mind.

I asked the Chief Superintendent whether she was confident the police know where everyone lives, which is obviously important if we need to evacuate again. She replied that she was not confident and that you should contact the police on their non-emergency number 0845 113 5000 if you wish to make sure. I do wonder whether there should be a more proactive approach from the police on this one...

Lots of interesting questions from people, although probably too many on specific incidents, which of course the Chief Superintendent found it hard to comment on.

Phil Brook, recycling officer for Birmingham City Council. Main points:

  • Each Birmingham household produces an average of 3/4 ton of domestic waste each year!
  • Birmingham's recycling performance is 'about average' when compared with other large metropolitan areas.
  • Last year's 18% target was almost hit.
  • Next year's 20% target should be hit.
  • This is against a background of waste production increasing by 2-3% per year.
  • Some of Birmingham's paper-based waste goes to a local cardboard mill - this is more tolerant of paper types than paper mills.
  • At present, only 1/4 of households receive a recycling collection.

Some interesting questions and answers again - possibly too much technical information though. Phil asked all of us to contact his office to arrange recycling collections for our buildings (currently almost no-one has one). Phil can be contacted on 303 1935. I suggested that someone in the Council should sit down with the Yellow Pages and phone all the management companies - there can't be that many!

Bob Blackaby spoke last (and briefly) on a new survey for city centre residents. I remember doing one about five years ago when I moved in from Selly Oak. He will be surveying about 12,000 properties and was looking for suggestions for survey questions. I made the point that the main three issues people talk to me about are (a) noise (b) planning (c) car parking and these should be reflected in the survey.

That's all for now...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A little bit introspective but... has some really good pictures of the worst (chiefly US) political websites.

When I started blogging, I promised myself that I wouldn't be like many other political bloggers out there, and try to appeal to non-bloggers. So I'll make this my yearly introspective entry then...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Clare Short finally does the inevitable...

According to Guido Fawkes, Clare Short has resigned the Labour whip. More details when I get them...

Update 24/10/2006: I've left the dust to settle before posting again. The BBC News website has a good article detailing what's happened. As you might expect, she's given the New Labour government both barrels, talking about an '...arrogant, error-prone government...' and '...the prime minister engaged in a series of half-truths and deceits to get us to war in Iraq.'

Strong stuff, but she did stand on a Labour platform barely eighteen months ago when she was reelected. When interviewed on Radio 4's PM programme a few days ago, she refused to be drawn on whether she should be standing down as an MP to give the electorate an opportunity to decide if they're happy with this fundamental (and it is fundamental) shift in her status. It seemed obvious to me that she thought that instigating a by-election would be the right thing to do, which is why she stuck to the 'we'll have to agree to disagree' line.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Harborne - a hotbed of political activity

Harborne is a suburb in South Birmingham, in Edgbaston Constituency. I was there this morning at the Farmers' Market to promote the Conservative's Action Day on the NHS, along with Deirdre Alden, Parliamentary Spokeswoman for Edgbaston. We were there last month too, but it looks like Labour's trying to rip us off, because they also turned up today. They sloped off before the market finished, but what can you do..?

See you there next month..!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Siôn of the Red

Birmingham Labour MP Siôn Simon's pointless video 'parodying' David Cameron has been removed from YouTube. I'm a fan of political satire, but Siôn forgot the golden rule: it has to be funny in the first place...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

City Centre Neighbourhood Forum

The Birmingham City Centre Neighbourhood Forum is holding a public meeting this month. The Forum exists to represent the interests of City Centre residents and is supported by the Council. This meeting will hear from:

  • Chief Superintendent Debbie Harrod, discussing the new licensing laws
  • Bob Blackaby, talking about how City Centre living has changed over the last 5-10 years
  • Phil Brook, a Council recycling officer, explaining recycling options for City Centre residents

  • Location: Council House, Victoria Square
  • Date: Monday 23rd October 2006
  • Time: 7pm

The meetings are always well attended and informative. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

At conference... part 2

Just a couple of conference highlights:

Fringe meeting by 'big swinger' Grant Shapps MP about how to win elections. Personally, I think it's the kind of thing that every delegate should attend. Great advice.

Tory Reform Group fringe meeting on foreign policy, attended by (among others) Sir Christopher Meyer. I've blogged about this already, but what a great speaker.

Meeting up with some old and new friends, for example my old university chum Jo Shinn, now political reporter for the BBC Asian Network. She's done brilliantly since those days at York. You go girl!

David Cameron's speech. A true performer, and a real sense that the Conservatives are back in business.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

At conference...

...finally. After arriving on Sunday, I was only issued with my Conference pass this morning. Didn't seem to matter that I'd delivered the form personally to our regional office in Coleshill in August - they had no record that I'd ever applied. After numerous taxi rides to get new photos taken, tracking down someone with a cheque book (credit cards are apparently too new fangled to be accepted), I then had to wait for the inevitable 'police checks' to be done. I'm sure the Treaty of Versailles was negotiated in a shorter time.

We need a full investigation into this fiasco, and not by some party mandarin - someone independent and credible.

On the plus side, I went to some great fringe events. It was a particular pleasure to listen to Sir Christopher Meyer, a former high-ranking British diplomat. Incredibly engaging and informative. Well done to the Tory Reform Group for organising it.