Thursday, November 28, 2013

Leisure Centres Update

You may have noticed that the council have confirmed plans to close nine leisure centres across Birmingham and build six new ones, which will then be operated by the private sector.

The news for Yardley and Acocks Green is good - Fox Hollies will remain and Stechford Cascades is lined up for replacement. Both of these are significant regional facilities - Fox Hollies provides one of the few all-weather athletics tracks in the city (just refurbished at the cost of £300,000) and the Cascades pool offers the only pool capable of hosting swimming galas. The problem with pools is that they are hugely costly to run and those costs spiral as the facilities get older - they weren't designed with current fuel costs in mind and only Bournville has a pool that benefits from free heat from the Cadbury's factory. There's an annual £6 million cost of running our pools across the city, which has proved unsustainable in the face of government attacks on our spending.

There was never a threat to close either the Cascades or to Fox Hollies.

Your Labour councillors in Yardley were very clear that they would not tolerate any plans that would see either closed and we backed the plans to rebuild the Cascades, which is pretty much at the end of its operational life. We actually had cross-party agreement on this proposal. Any suggestion that we even suggested closure of either site is absolutely untrue.

It is true that Labour opposed an opposition motion in council that would have blocked the closure of any pool in Birmingham, but that is because we believe in devolved power - these decisions rested with the districts. For example, Tiverton Road pool was slated for closure by Selly Oak District - it requires investment and will face competition for existing custom from the new pool at Birmingham University. I voted against the opposition motion to ensure that power stayed in the districts.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Acocks Green Station Update

I've just dropped by the consultation session on lift installation planned for Acocks Green station and I can now add an artist's impression of what you will see from the roadside. Two caveats on this - firstly, the facing is brick in this picture, which has been ruled out of the finished article on the grounds of cost (CENTRO are cutting back as well). Secondly, the pitched roof style is much more in keeping with the design of the station rather than the curved design shown in the other artist's impression - although the design drawings have a third plan - a flat roof with a fall to allow water to run off.

There is also the point that the photo on which the design is based is taken from a low angle on the opposite side of the road, minimising the visual impact from this quarter view. From the design drawings, the top of the towers are slightly above the level of the pitch roof of the two "wings" of the station building, but not above the height of the central pitched roof. In reality, the only visibility of the towers is going to be from station/car park level or from the brief quarter views approaching the station along Yardley Road - they will be invisible from the front of the station.

The walkways are glazed and uncovered, to ensure visibility and the whole arrangement is covered by CCTV cameras to improve security - so much as we can expect since the station staffing was slashed.

The towers are available in a range of colours - the grey has been chosen as a relatively unobtrusive colour for the flat metal facing. While I was there, there were certainly mixed views over the design, although most people who attended seemed to think that the addition of lifts was the most important aspect of this development. I've asked that CENTRO look at fitting the pitched roof shown on the top picture, as this would chime nicely with the existing roof of the station and they have undertaken to look into that. It is a particularly affordable solution, as the towers are largely pre-fabricated and can be installed with the minimum of track possession required. The height allows clearance of existing trackside lighting, but also for any potential future electrification of the line.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Licensing applications to 22 November 2013

Applications have been made for the following:

A convenience store/off licence premises license for Lakey Express - 233 Lakey Lane, B28 8QT
Planned opening hours for the store and for the off-sales licence are 0600-2300 every day.
Comments should be sent by the 9 December 2013, ref application 84576.

Michaels Drink Stop, 1164-66 Warwick Road, B27 6BS have applied for an off-licence for trading 1000-2230 Sunday, 0800-2300 Mon - Sat and 0800-2230 on Good Friday, with a licence to match those hours. Comments should be sent by 12 December 2013, ref 84645.

Details of the licensing team can be found here.

Comments can be sent by post to:
Licensing Section, Crystal Court, Aston Cross Business Village, 50 Rocky Lane, Aston, B6 5RQ
By email to or you can call them on 0121 303 9896