We started with a report and a request for views on the discussion of future council services, in particular with regard to three specific service areas:
- Adults and Communities
- Education Services - this relates to the central administrative services for all schools, not to the schools themselves.
- Support Services Part I - Back office administrative functions of the council
While David Cameron and John Hemming tell us that we're only facing small reductions, in the real world, Birmingham City Council will have to slash our controllable spending by MORE than 50%. This will have devastating effects on the services that this council is able to provide - we've already got rid of 27% of our employees over the past few years. I think the message is getting through to people about the challenges that we are going to face over the coming years.
If you would like to read the discussion papers and comment, you can find the details here.
Unfortunately, our environmental health officer was on leave this week, so her report was held over.
We then moved on to the controversial issue of the redevelopment plan for the Acocks Green Baptist Church on Yardley Road. The Stockfield Community Association and the Baptist Church want to demolish and replace the Glynn Edwards Hall with a new building. That is intended to have a range of meeting rooms, a training kitchen and community facilities and they will also repair the Arthur Moore Hall and bring that back into full use, as well as complete repair work on the church itself. The Arthur Moore and the church building are statutorily listed, but that Glynn Edwards Hall isn't. It is fair to say that there was a full exchange of views, but little meeting of minds. This will continue to be controversial - the planning application is about to be submitted and it will be interesting to see the final designs. It is a genuine strength of Acocks Green that we have so many people who care deeply about the area.
On that note, we then ran through some other planning applications that are currently live - nothing was flagged as particularly controversial, although the proposals for the former Johnsons dry cleaning site came up for some discussion.
We then considered some community chest projects, agreeing funding for
- £1000 Laptops for the Friends Centre on Yardley Road
- £1000 towards Acocks Green Christmas Lights, replacing the money previously provided from central City Council funding
- £3000 for the TUC Centre, which provides advice on social security applications and support to people in need. The service is provided by qualified advisors and in a range of languages. The centre receives funding from a number of wards, in relation to the number of clients from each ward. Most of the clients from Acocks Green are from the Yarnfield Estate.
- £6300 for the Tyseley & Greet Employment Resource Centre. This also offers advice and will support those who are struggling with the government's changes to the benefit system, as well as those in dire need or dealing with pay day lenders.
- £1000 for Acocks Green Carers, to provide two events to give this local group a break over the festive season
- £1000 for Gospel Lane Allotments. The members are improving paths through the site and we're helping them with funding for equipment and materials.
After years where I don't remember seeing any petitions presented, we had not one, but two offered to us this week. One contains about 300 signatures asking for more litter collection along the Yardley Road and we had another of around 50 signatures asking for an end to cuts.
Our next meeting will be 7pm, Wednesday 23 October 2013 at Fox Hollies Forum.