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: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/1796186.pdf

· 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:

www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1795445

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:

www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1794946

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

www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/decentralisationguide

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 http://is.gd/is2Qo.

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 duty@fostercarecooperative.co.uk.

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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Have You Got What It Takes to be a Games Maker?



Today sees the launch of the London 2012 Games Maker programme. If you'll be 18 or over by 1st January 2012, you can volunteer to be a Games Maker - the Young Games Maker programme is coming in 2011 for younger volunteers.

This is your chance to be involved in something very special and historic. And this isn't just an opportunity for Londoners - for example, some of the football matches will be played at Coventry City's ground. Here's a map of all of the venues.

Get registering at http://is.gd/f8fMX.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quinton Football Tournament and Family Day Coming Soon!



Don't forget that the Quinton Football Tournament and Family Day will take place on Saturday 25th September from 11am until 3pm at Tennal Park, off Tennal Lane.

The main activity will be the 6-a-side ‘World Cup’ for local schools, but there'll also be:
  • Under 5’s Corner
  • Face Painting
  • Words on Wheels Bus
  • Health Bus & Health Checks
The following stalls and services will also be there:
  • Local Police
  • Local healthcare
  • Fire Service
  • Children’s Centre
  • and many others
For further information, please telephone Sophie Keene, Neighbourhood Manager, on 303 4989, Ken Brown, Ward Support Officer, on 303 2501 or Jo Reeves, Safe Haven Officer, on 626 6054.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Challenge - Part Two



I returned to Four Dwellings High School today to talk to another group of 16-year-olds doing The Challenge. This group wanted to campaign to reduce alcohol consumption and consequently crime in Quinton. Again, we discussed a few ideas about how I could help. So I'd better get on with it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Supporting The Challenge


Today, I was very pleased to meet with a group of 16-year-olds who are all doing The Challenge, which takes place in the summer after Year 11.

The programme consists of lots of different activities, including some you design yourself. It lasts two-and-a-half weeks full-time during the summer, plus four days over the following five weekends.

This particular group has decided to campaign around road safety in Quinton, which is something that the local Councillors and Police have been working hard to improve over the last few years. We talked for about an hour, exchanging ideas about how they could campaign and how I could help. They were also interested in what being a Councillor is really like, so maybe we'll see some of them in the Chamber in a few years.

It was great to see some young people engaging so positively in such an important topic, and I wish them well in their campaign.

If you'd like to find out more about what this group are doing, please visit their website (http://qrsc.blogspot.com/) or follow them on Twitter (http://twitter.com/QRSChallenge).

For more details, about The Challenge in general, please visit www.the-challenge.org, call on 020 7921 4203 or text on 07503 849738.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting It Done

Local residents raised a few issues at the recent Quinton Ward Committee meeting - here is a progress update:

1. The two large bags of soil have now been removed from Quinton Road West, opposite Four Dwellings School.

2. Litter reported at the side of Tesco in Ridgeacre Lane. The Council has made two site inspections; however, nothing unusual has been identified as yet. The Ward cleaning crew have been directed to monitor this area and carry out additional cleansing as appropriate.

3. Knotweed reported at a particular address. This has been passed to the Housing and Parks Departments who are investigating, and obtaining a quote for dealing with it.

4. Alleged litter spillage and recycling crew throwing boxes around Lower White Road. The Ward Manager has interviewed the crew about their behaviour and reminded them of their obligations. The Council is performing additional performance monitoring.

5. Bin bags out too early in Hollybush Grove. The whole of the Grove was delivered a leaflet detailing their collection days and asking people to comply. If this doesn't work, the Council may need to involve the wardens and look at enforcement action. The Council also delivered similar leaflets to Four Acres, Six Acres and parts of Quinton Lane.

6. The missing litter bin on Quinton Lane has now been replaced.

7. Missed bulky waste collection at a particular address. The items were cleared on the Saturday following the meeting, and only counted as one of the occupier's three free collections.

8. Access to containers blocked by parked cars on Simmons Drive. This was passed to Housing, as they are responsible for the land where the nuisance parking is happening. Housing has written a newletter to the block's residents about the inappropriate parking. The Estates Services team will be monitoring the parking outside the block and placing notices. Ultimately, we may liaise with the local Police to find out who owns any problem cars.

Anything else, let me know!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today's Health and Adults Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Today saw the monthly meeting of the Health and Adults Overview and Scrutiny Committee. I haven't blogged about this for a while but I thought it was time that I did again...

We spent quite a lot of time talking about 'Delayed Transfers of Care', commonly known as 'bed blocking'. Something that seemed to interest everyone was the level of 'reimbursement for delayed discharges', commonly known as 'fines', that may have been levied on the Council for not being ready to accept discharges (for whatever reason). We should have some definite numbers for the next meeting.

I was interested to know what the actual consequences of bed blocking are: if someone needs a bed, does this mean that they might not get one? It seems that this happens rarely and the main consequences are that more beds are provisioned than need to be, and there's sometimes quite a lot of work involved in finding someone a bed. So the consequences are serious but apparently more financial than clinical.

We also had quite a long discussion on the white paper published by the Department of Health called 'Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS'. This proposes massive changes to the way that the NHS is organised, many of which I've blogged about before. The response must be in by 11th October, so we need to get our skates on.

We received a short presentation on mental health services for older people. This was interesting and clarified in my mind why older people need specific mental health services, and the point of a separate Foundation Trust for mental health in the first place.

But in my view, the most important comments were made by Jim McManus, Joint Director of Public Health for the Birmingham Health and Wellbeing Partnership during his presentation. According to Mr McManus, in Birmingham:

1. Last winter, there were 48 preventable deaths.
2. Primary care is one of the major contributors to avoidable deaths.
3. We do prevention very badly.

In the world of scrutiny, bad news is often couched in fluffy sentences and I was taken by the directness and seriousness of these comments. Through the Chairman, I have asked Mr McManus to furnish the Committee with further information; if we have enough time to look at joint commissioning strategies, needs assessments and the like, we definitely should make time to investigate these comments further.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Planned Mobile Phone Mast Outside Toby Carvery (aka The Hollybush), Hagley Road West

I have recently been informed that Vodafone plans to install a 48-foot-high mobile phone mast outside Toby Carvery (aka The Hollybush), Hagley Road West.

I went down there today to investigate; the mast would be located between the phone box and the bus shelter on the left hand side of this photo.



The mast would be located at the following distances from local schools and nurseries.

1. Happy Days Nursery: 0.2 miles
2. Woodhouse School: 0.5 miles
3. World’s End Primary School: 0.6 miles
4. Four Dwellings Primary and Secondary Schools: 0.7 miles
5. Our Lady of Fatima School: 0.8 miles
6. Grasshoppers Nursery: 0.8 miles
7. Welsh House Farm Primary School: 1 mile

If you would like to object to these plans, please complete the petition at http://is.gd/e8PQh.

Alternatively, return a paper version of the petition at http://is.gd/e8UCa. No stamp is required.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More Hagley Road Plans



If you live at the western end of Quinton Ward, you might be particularly interested in the planned alterations to Hagley Road to accommodate the proposed Netto supermarket. You can find them here:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ss Faith and Laurence Family Fun Day



After my advice bureau at the Quinborne Centre, I went to Ss Faith and Laurence's annual Family Fun Day on the corner of Court Oak Road and (the newly resurfaced) Croftdown Road.

Politicians have a reputation, sometimes undeserved, sometimes not, for turning up at fĂȘtes and the like, cutting the ribbon, having their photo taken and disappearing. So I made sure I visited all of the stands and talked to as many of the exhibitors as I could.

I had some interesting chats with people from Troop Aid, The University of The Third Age, Cerebral Palsy Midlands, Queen Alexandra College, Positive Parenting, Quinton Local History Society, The Crossway, Beech Lanes Neighbourhood Forum and many others. We discussed ways that the Council as a whole or local Councillors in particular may be able to help - hopefully we'll be able to take some of the ideas forward.

Well done to Reverend White and all at Ss Faith and Laurence for putting on such a great event - already looking forward to next year.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Hagley Road Improvements



The Conservative-led Council has recently published proposals that are intended to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow into and out of the City Centre along Hagley Road. You can have a look at them here:




If you'd like to comment, please let me know your views, or email craig.newton@birmingham.gov.uk by Friday 16th July.

Great News for Bus Users in Welsh House Farm

From 25th July, the 636 bus will be extended from its current terminus at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital into the City Centre, terminating on Upper Dean Street, close to the markets. This will provide direct access to the City Centre for residents of Welsh House Farm.

Get your bus pass out!

Monday, July 05, 2010

STOP PRESS: Four Dwellings Building Schools for the Future Scheme to Continue

There has been some uncertainty lately about the fate of the Four Dwellings Building Schools for the Future scheme, as the new Government works to manage the £156bn budget deficit it inherited.

The Government today announced that the Four Dwellings scheme will continue to completion, which is excellent news. We may see some changes to the plans to ensure that best value is achieved, but the scheme will carry on.

You can read more in the Department for Education's press release:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

At Harborne Carnival



Up at eight this morning to get to Harborne High Street in time for the annual Carnival. Quinton ward includes an area that most people would consider to be part of Harborne, so it's good to support this event.

Lots of people came to visit the stall and there was a great atmosphere. Looking forward to next year already!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Labour’s Legacy – The Last Will and Testament of Labour 1997–2010

To my successors, I leave no money, only waste, debt and the deepest cuts of modern times.

To the young people of Britain, I leave one in five of you without work.

To pensioners, I bequeath you lower pensions. I reduced the value of pension funds by billions. I leave you working longer for less.

In 13 years, I have wasted the inheritance left to me.

Of the gold bullion my predecessors bequeathed me, I sold over 350 tonnes at the worst possible price.

I have spent and spent and spent again - and every man, woman and child will have £22,400 to pay for my profligacy.

I have taken your hard-earned money and wasted it. I lost £3 billion in benefit overpayments and paid the dead £10 million in tax credits.

I leave Britain a bigger deficit than France, Germany and Japan, greater than Greece, Italy and Portugal.

I leave 2.47 million of you without a job.

With more time I could have done more.

I leave no apology, no regret, no comfort, and not an ounce of contrition.

I leave you years of painful and difficult decisions.

This is my legacy to you.

From the document here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quinton Ward Committee

The next Quinton Ward Committee will take place at 7pm on Thursday 3rd June at the Quinborne Centre, Ridgacre Road, Quinton, B32 2TW.

You can find the agenda and more details at http://is.gd/ctdzd.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All change - in Quinton and in Westminster

Now everything's calmed down a bit, it's time to write about the last couple of weeks.

Firstly Quinton. I'm very sad that we've lost Jane James as one of the local Councillors. Jane ran a very good campaign, and the narrowness of the overall result (just 150 votes or so) reflected this. Jane was a great Councillor and will be sorely missed. Hopefully this will just be a temporary 'holiday' away from Council and Ward business.

Our Parliamentary Candidate Deirdre Alden was also unlucky not to win the Constituency by a similarly narrow margin (about 1,200 votes). Deirdre is a very genuine and hard-working person and has dedicated herself to the campaign for many years. I do hope that we'll still see lots of her in Quinton.


Now to more positive news. Naturally, I would like to welcome the new government as it starts work on its programme of change. The coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, with the Conservatives as the larger party, mirrors the progressive partnership we’ve had in Birmingham for the past six years. We’ve demonstrated locally that such an arrangement can be stable, successful and can be made to work for everyone’s benefit.

I thought it would be useful to pick out a few key policies that are particularly relevant to Quinton.

1. Council Tax will be frozen for at least one year, possibly longer. It won’t be difficult for us to meet this challenge locally as we’ve only had below-inflation rises since the current partnership entered office. The Council will also publish details of all spending above £500.

2. The local Council will be given new powers to make it much harder for people to build by ‘garden grabbing’. Unfortunately, we’ve seen quite a lot of this in Quinton and the Council has been powerless to act until now.

3. The local Police will be made more accountable and responsive to local needs through oversight by a directly elected person.

4. We will give the Council and the local Police powers to permanently close places that persistently sell alcohol to youngsters, and double the maximum fine for doing so. We will also ban the irresponsible sale of alcohol as a ‘loss leader’; that is, below cost price.

5. Communities, charities, parents and teachers will be able to set up their own local schools.

I look forward to working with the new government as it puts these policies into action.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Two hours left!



Just got time to do a quick post - you've got about two hours left to vote for Jane James and Deirdre Alden. Polling stations open until 10pm and you don't need your polling card to vote!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy St George's Day - Birmingham's No 1 for Events!


Can I wish everyone in Quinton Ward a very Happy St George's Day. I don't believe I'm alone in thinking that this particular day may have been a little overlooked in the past, but no longer, and certainly not in Birmingham.

The independent group StGeorgesHoliday.com has ranked Conservative-led Birmingham City Council No 1 in commitment to St George's Day events, beating Manchester into second place. Something else to celebrate today!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Manifesto Launched in Birmingham



Today in Birmingham, as well as the monthly meeting of the Council, we also had the regional launch of the Conservative Manifesto for the General Election.

Any accusations that we're light on policy were firmly put to bed today, if they were ever true in the first place. Among the tons of policies in the manifesto, here are a few corkers:

1. We will reverse Labour's unnecessary and damaging National Insurance increase.

2. We will implement an emergency Budget within 50 days to get rid of most of Labour's budget deficit - the largest racked up by any government in peacetime.

3. We will give parents the opportunity to take over and run schools themselves. Not an 'abdication of responsibility', which is what Labour's Parliamentary Candidate thinks, but a policy to give power and control back to ordinary people, which has to be better than Labour's centralised state targets.

4. We will allow everyone to choose any healthcare provider they want that meets NHS standards and prices.

5. We will get rid of mixed-sex wards, unlike Labour who pretended to.

6. We will give Birmingham City Council the right to shut places that sell alcohol to underage teenagers.

7. We will implement a points system and a ceiling on non-EU economic migrants to the UK. Labour's policy has no ceiling.

8. We will cut the number of MPs by 10%. (Yes, the Tories do cut some things!)

9. We will reintroduce the link between earnings and the basic state pension.

10. We will start building the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham immediately.

And here's one that might have passed you by - we will substantially reduce the amount of government advertising and use the money saved to keep your Council Tax down. Has anyone else noticed the sheer number of government adverts at the moment? I was listening to the radio the other day and virtually every advert in every break was a government one of one form or another.

So there you have it. Vote for change - vote Conservative.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bring it on!



Five more years of Gordon Brown or real change under David Cameron. That's the choice facing each and every voter on Thursday 6th May.

David Cameron's first visit of the campaign was to the QE Hospital in Edgbaston Constituency, which includes my own ward of Quinton. Not only does this show our leader's commitment to the NHS, but also to the people of Birmingham.

This is at least the second time that David Cameron has launched a campaign in Birmingham. I was there when he started his successful bid for leadership of the Party in 2005. Since then, the Conservatives have retaken the centre ground of British politics, and once again we're ready for government.

I'm looking forward to the campaign ahead. Bring it on!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Birmingham and Edgbaston Constituency supporting Young Readers



The second in the series of videos shows the support that Edgbaston Constituency and the Conservative-led Council give to young readers...

Friday, March 05, 2010

Park Inconsiderately and Risk a Fine!



Quinton's in Edgbaston Constituency, which is chaired by our fantastic Parliamentary Spokesman Deirdre Alden. The Constituency has commissioned a series of videos dealing with proper issues that concern local residents. The intention is to show them on public screens (muted!) and I am also making them available online.

This the first video and it illustrates the fines you can face if you park inconsiderately - you have been warned!

If you represent a local authority and would like to have this video customised for your own use, please let me know!



P.S. Never mind the quality - feel the width! ;-)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Cameron Direct comes to the Constituency!



Do you want to ask David Cameron a question? Perhaps you're concerned about crime in your area and what a Conservative government would do to tackle it? Would you like to know more about our economic policies, or what we would do for married couples? Whatever your question, David Cameron is visiting the Constituency this Thursday 11th February at 5.30pm.

If you'd like to come along and talk to David Cameron, just call 0121 426 6022 or email our Parliamentary Spokesman Deirdre Alden at deirdre4edgbaston@hotmail.co.uk.

Bharatnatyam Dance Performance at the ICC



My wife Laura and I have just returned from a splendid evening at the ICC to celebrate the Republic of India's 60th birthday. We were treated to a performance of Bharatnatyam dance by Geetra Chandran and the Natya Vriksha Dance Company. Superb!

The photo above shows us with His Excellency Mr Nalin Surie, High Commissioner of India and his wife, and Cllr Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Labour’s Flagship ID Cards Policy in Tatters



Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the full City Council. For me, the most interesting and important part was the debate on ID cards, where the following motion was put forward by two LibDem Councillors:

This council reaffirms its resistance to Identity Cards. Despite widespread political and public opposition, the Government appear intent on pursuing the implementation at a reported cost of £4.74billion for British and Irish Nationals and an additional £311million for Foreign Nationals over the next 10 years.

  • Abolishing this invasive scheme would save enough money to employ 10,000 more police on our streets.
  • The new IT systems implemented at the Post Office, Passport Office, Probation Service, Police Service, Courts Service and Child Support Agency have all run massively over budget, the ID card scheme would be the biggest and most expensive public sector project ever undertaken.
  • The implementation of the NHS computer system has cost billions and resulted in the reduction of frontline services as maternity and A&E departments are closed across the country.
  • The ID card will undermine the contract between the Police and the Public resulting in an increase in harassment and discrimination
  • There is no proof the ID card will help fight crime and terrorism – tests have proved that criminals have the capability of duplicating ID cards with little or no difficulty, rendering the ID card worthless.
  • There is no proof it will prevent illegal working, the fact that illegal immigrants will not be able to get ID cards will not change anything as long as there are unscrupulous employers and lax Home Office enforcement.

Given the UK's current financial situation, the financial loss to the individual and implications to civil liberty this council objects to the implementation of ID cards.

I agree with every word of this and wholeheartedly voted for this motion, as did all of the Conservative Group.

As the 'named' vote was called, all of the Labour members suddenly seemed a lot more interested in their BlackBerries. Not one used the voting machines to vote Yes, No or Abstain - they even abstained from abstaining!

I can't see how the government can carry on with this scheme when they don't even have the support of their own elected members - they should scrap it now.