Saturday, April 13, 2013

Digging for victory

Out again in Mallard Close at the site of the new orchard to help Fran and her team of volunteers launch Acocks Green in Bloom 2013. This little patch of wasteland beside some garages has been transformed into a small community garden. Trees have been planted and we were preparing the soil and planting box hedges today. My gardening skills aren't great, but I lent a hand moving the soil to be sifted, laying the gravel and even got to plant some sage and rosemary too. There's plenty more to do and there's a bit more good news too as the Ward Committee, of which I'm chair, is helping out the Acocks Green Village Partnership and paying for some more baskets to make the floral display that much brighter in the Village this summer.

By the way, next Saturday sees the spring clean up of the Millennium Green (off The Avenue) - do come along, bring your wellies and some gloves!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Scrutiny Committee Report on Cycling

I didn't get called to speak, but here's the speech I would have given.

It has been a great introduction to the life of this council to have served as part of a group that has shown such cross-party agreement in setting a transformational direction for cycling and other forms of low-carbon transport in our city. In that mood, it seems appropriate today to borrow from the Thatcherite's Thatcherite, Norman Tebbit, as we encourage the people of Birmingham to get on their bikes. Indeed, only last weekend, one of my children went solo on his bike for the first time.

In particular, I welcome the recommendation that specific targets should be set - it was a criticism of the last strategy document that it was long on words, but short on measurable outcomes. This report has not made the same mistake and I welcome the executive commitment to take it through to delivery. We have a chance to build on the legacy of the Olympics, to seize the moment to take this city forward, but it takes commitment at the highest level amongst officers and executives to deliver on the ambitions.

This report is also about road safety - I would particularly encourage the spread of 20mph zones and limits across appropriate roads in the city. These will help make our neighbourhoods better places to live as well as delivering proven benefits in terms of reducing casualties and the severity of injuries. There is safety in numbers - the more people we can encourage to get on their bikes, the safer it becomes for them, as drivers get used to their presence, as Cllr Barnett pointed out.

A public outcry over road safety brought about a massive change in the Netherlands. They made the same mistakes that we did after the war, building cities and towns designed around car ownership. It was only at the start of the 1970s, following a rise in injuries to children, that they took a political decision to change direction and embarked on building the system that we see today. Make no mistake, this is a long term project that will take decades, but we need to make a start and this report is a good point.

As a committee, we have had sterling support from cycling evangelists like CTC and Sustrans, in the gallery today, as well as individual enthusiasts in the city, for which we are grateful, but the are not our target audience. We need to deliver, but not for those hundreds of indefatigable cyclists, who will resort to two wheels no matter how hard we, as a council have made it over the years. We need to deliver for those thousands, or tens of thousands, who will cycle if we make it easier and safer. We need to deliver on this for future generations.

Build it and they will come.

Location:Chamberlain Square,Birmingham,United Kingdom

Acocks Green Policing Update

Recorded crime since the start of April has been exactly the same as it was last year - 37 offences recorded. One was a house burglary and we've had three vehicle crimes, but no robberies. Our local officers are targeted to cut recorded crime by 5% this year, on top of the 10% from last year.

To tackle some of the anti-social behaviour around Lidl and Merestones petrol station on Fox Hollies Road, the retail radio scheme that has proved very effective in the Green will be extended to those stores. This allows retailers to share intelligence and have direct contact with the police officers on duty, helping to speed up response to incidents.

As the days get longer and we head towards summer, the perennial problem of quad bikes and motorbikes being driven irresponsibly is likely to return. The police have removed one in recent weeks and it will be crushed - the owners rarely pay the collection and storage fees. Two other riders have been issued with warning letters and continued breaches will lead to prosecution. To tackle this, they need information on ownership, so please get in touch with them - you can contact them through Crimestoppers anonymously if you wish.

Some good news - money from the proceeds of crime has been awarded to the Acocks Green Village Partnership and has been used to support the Big Dig over on Mallard Road.

Location:Yardley Road,Birmingham,United Kingdom

Monday, April 08, 2013

Diary Date - Full Council - Tuesday 9 April 2013

Full Council
Tuesday 9 April 2013 - 2pm
Council Chamber, Council House
And you can now watch online here.

Key items on the agenda:
  • Question Time
    • Members of the Public to any Cabinet Member or District Committee Chair
    • Any Councillor to Committee Chair or Lead Member
    • Councillors other than Cabinet Members to Cabinet Member
    • Councillors other than Cabinet Members to Leader or Deputy Leader
  • Report of council business management committee
  • Reports of Overview & Scrutiny
    • Health of Birmingham's Third Sector
    • Changing Gear: Transforming Urban Movement Through Cycling & Walking in Birmingham
  • Motions for Debate
    • Tory motion supporting the alignment of government spending with the priorities of the local business community
    • LibDem motion about Pupil Premium
This is a meeting open to the public and we've certainly seen significant use of the online streaming - far more have watched online than have attended these meetings in a year. 

Planning Applications to the 6th April

This covers the couple of weeks over Easter.

2013/02121/PA - 1233-1237 Warwick Road (Olton Tyres)
Continuation of change fo use from retail (Use Class A1 to sale of tyre, tyre changing, storage and installation of new shop front

2013/02052/PA - 177 Shirley Road
Erection of two storey side extension

2013/02229/PA - 165 Tynedale Road
Erection of two storey side extension

2013/02272/PA - 18 Elton Grove
Erection of single storey rear extension

You can find the details by inputting the reference number into the Council online database here

If you have any comments, you can submit them online - feel free to pass your comments on to me.