Friday, April 19, 2013

Spare an hour or two on Saturday? Join the Millennium Green clear up.

If you are feeling inspired to lend a hand clearing up a great community project, you could do worse than pop along to the Millennium Green on Saturday. Kicking off at 10am, volunteers will be helping to clear up the park which provides a welcome green space on the north side of the Warwick Road. There's lots to do, so please come along if you can.

Rookwood Road rail bridge repairs

The coping stones along the wall of the footbridge that links Rookwood Road and Alexander Road were dislodged a few weeks back and pushed over onto the embankment below. The stones on the other wall were similarly vandalised late last year and have already been replaced. The new stones are now secured with rods driven down into the brickwork beneath. British Transport Police will be increasing activity in the area, as a result of the vandalism on this bridge and the risk to trains below. If you know anything about this, please give Crimestoppers a call or you can call BTP directly on 0800 40 50 40.

New fountain for Acocks Green.

Photo from @AftabRahman
OK, so it was a temporary addition to the street scene on Arden Road. A local resident contacted me about this early yesterday evening and I was straight on to Severn Trent to check that they had a response team on the way, who attended within an hour of the first call from another resident and fixed the problem.

By the way, the barriers have been put up because we're using some money from a developer and from local highways project funding to improve the junction layout there and calm traffic speeds.

Diary Date - Transport, Connectivity and Sustainability O&S Committee - Friday 19 April

Transport, Connectivity and Sustainability O&S Committee
Friday 19 April - 10am
Committee Room 6, Council House, Birmingham

Key items on the agenda:
  • Cabinet members - 
    • Green Safe and Smart City (James McKay)
    • Development, Jobs & Skills (Tahir Ali)
    • Health and Wellbeing (Steve Bedser)
  • Birmingham's Green Commission Vision Statement
    • Building a Green City
    • Carbon Plan analysis
  • Response to consultation - World Class Rail Network for the West Midlands
Sadly, this one isn't webcast, so you'll miss the excitement. You can always come along though....

Fox Hollies Leisure Centre Path

After years of waiting, the footpath from Fox Hollies Road through to the leisure centre should reopen on the 1 May. There is a bit of cleaning up to do first, but things are well on track to see this brought back into use, allowing easy access to the leisure centre from the busy bus routes and meeting a demand from local residents.

We had a couple of options to sort this. One was to reopen the old path closed when the school raised security concerns, but this required some work to deal with problems of subsidence and would also have left us open to dealing with further potential costs further down the line. The solution we have came to a very similar cost, but without the ongoing risk. It has been paid for through the Community Chest money available to Acocks Green Ward Committee.

Yes, this is still about wheelie bins

We've got preliminary results from the wheelie bin consultation survey that is currently ongoing and they make interesting reading.
  • 61% of respondents agree that wheelie bins will help to reduce the number of vermin in their neighbourhood (25% disagree and 14% didn't know)
  • 58% agree wheelie bins will reduce the amount of rubbish spilt onto the street (31% disagree, 11% unsure)
  • 51% think wheelie bins will improve the cleanliness of their neighbourhood (35% disagreed and 14% didn't know)
  • 50% think wheelie bins will be good for the city (36% disagree and 14% are unsure)
That seems very reassuring - especially when you remember that apart from a few streets in Selly Oak, wheelie bins aren't even in use. A 2011 survey for YouGov found 77% support for wheelie bins nationally, with just 10% of respondents opposed to them. 

Want to have your say? Then go here. 

I think everybody appreciates that change - especially a change on this scale - makes some people worry. It isn't helped by some scaremongering from the opposition parties, warning people that they will face charges of £90 a month to clean their bins (they won't). There are bound to be problems with the switchover, but at least we have the chance to learn from the experience of the 82% of councils that have already made the switch and we'll have the experience from Brandwood and Harborne to build a Birmingham perspective on transforming our waste collection service. 

We've also got the figures from those wards on property suitability - 96.7% of low-rise homes in Brandwood and 91.9% of low-rise properties in Harborne have been initially assessed as suitable. Of the 16,000 properties identified as suitable for wheelie bins across both wards, only about 100 have challenged their assessment as suitable and there have also been some challenges raised by householders originally deemed unsuitable for wheelie bins. The assessment considers each property and if it has steep steps or slopes to the roadside, no storage space for wheelie bins or poor access for the wagons, then they will be deemed unsuitable for wheelie bins and red carded. They will continue to get the black bag service. I suspect that there will be wards that will have a higher number of unsuitable properties than either of these two and we've got to handle the switch sensitively. I'll certainly be making sure that properties are correctly assessed in Acocks Green and supporting residents who have been wrongly identified - but we're still a way away from that. 

Meanwhile, figures show that the government's changes to benefits will take over £9 million out of the Birmingham economy thanks to the bedroom tax alone. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Planning Applications to the 13 April

Only a couple of applications

2013/02474/PA - Highway verge off Fox Hollies Road, B27 7US
Installation of replacement 15m high telecommunications mast with 3 no. antennas, 1 no. equipment cabinet and associated ancillary works
(This is the current site beside Merestones petrol station and is replacing the existing mast that has been there for a number of years.) 

2013/02386/PA - 25 Olton Croft
Installation of step lift to front

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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Diary Date - Acocks Green Ward Committee - Wednesday 17 April 2013

Acocks Green Ward Committee
Wednesday 17 April 2013 - 7pm
The Oaklands Primary School, Dolphin Lane

Key items on the agenda:
  • Community Chest Projects
  • Wheelie Bin Consultation
  • Environmental Health Update
  • Meetings for the year ahead
  • Other urgent business

Monday, April 15, 2013

Illuminating Woodcock Lane

Stewart and I have been working very hard on keeping Woodcock Lane at the top of the list for urgent replacement of the streetlighting on the road, pushing Amey to prioritise it, given that it is probably the worst lit street in the ward and has some blocks of accommodation used by our most vulnerable residents.

I'm delighted that we can now announce that this is about to start.

The work is due to start on the 13 May and is scheduled to take about 30 days in total, working between 8am and 6pm on weekdays, with the possibility of some Saturday work. It isn't unusual for there to be a delay between the new columns being installed and for the connection to the power supply to be completed - this part of it is done by electricity operator and not Amey, so has to work to their timetable.

The new lamp posts will be installed towards the back of the pavement so that they cast light across both the road carriageway and the footpath.  This also means that they are less likely to be hit by motorists. The new lamps will be LED types, which save up to 60% on energy bills and because they direct the light downwards - where it is actually used - they reduce light pollution. The difference is striking.