Friday, April 20, 2007

Safer pavements and safer roads

Following on from one of my campaigns to make our pavements safer, planters were placed on pavements in Westley Road last year. There are still problems with dangerous parking and safe access for the children at Acocks Green School and others. John wants to see School Zones set up across the ward. These inexpensive moves would help by:

· Lowering speed limits
· Banning vehicles stopping during school hours
· Installing clear warning signs and new road markings

This is the pavement at the Westley Road/Warwick Road junction, which is close to Acocks Green School. It used to be used as a car park by all and sundry, putting pupils and parents at risk on a daily basis, despite it being illegal to park on the pavement. Here, the shops still own some of their frontage, so cars can park there if the owners wish, but the paved area is council-owned footpath. After a campaign backed by local parents, we managed to get new bollards installed and a couple of heavy planters added to stop cars threatening pedestrians.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I need to say sorry to the local readers. I've not posted as often as I should over the past few months. That doesn't mean that I've not been standing up for you in Constituency and Ward meetings, nor that the work has stopped.

As I pointed out last year, in Acocks Green, your Labour team is small, but dedicated. Sadly, we don't have the funding that councillors pick up (in excess of £40,000 between the three of them) and we don't have the backing of a millionaire MP either. Everything we do is run by volunteers, who have families and full-time jobs to do. There's precious little money from the Labour Party - we fund ourselves and scratch money from wherever we can.

This isn't an excuse, just a statement of fact. I think it does say something that so many people give up their time and effort to make a difference to their community. Thank you to all of my friends and colleagues who think that what we do is worthwhile.

More Cuts on the Way?

Last year, the Liberal Democrats cut pest control and we have one of the worst rat problems in the City. Indeed, Environmental Services submitted a bid to a recent Ward Advisory Board to try and fill the gap. As Neighbourhood Renewal Funds aren't supposed to support mainstream services, this was rejected, although I understand that other local wards have handed over the money.

This year, the efficiency savings cuts are threatening our swimming pools as part of a wider review of leisure services.

In 2004, the Liberal Democrat manifesto for Birmingham promised to ‘expand swimming opportunities’ - one of their many pledges that they forgot when they took control of the council. In 2007, under pressure from the Tories, options being considered to cut costs are a 12% cut in the opening hours of our local leisure centre and the partial closure of another local pool - Stechford Cascades. I don't think that either are satisfactory answers when we should be looking to expand involvement in sport. My wife and I do use these pools with the children fairly regularly.
In contrast, the Tory/Liberal Democrat council found £700,000 to spend on a Sutton Coldfield pool – including fitting air-conditioning to the cafĂ©. Strange priorities.

Meanwhile, councillors in Acocks Green agreed to increase charges for sport by up to 30% and have backed an inflation-busting 5% increase in rent for council tenants.

Nothing like hitting the poorest the hardest, is there?
I have challenged these options at the Constituency Committee and will continue to do so. We don't need our services cut further.