Friday, April 04, 2014

Speech to budget meeting

 Belatedly, here's the original text of the speech I gave to the Budget Meeting in March (unchecked against delivery because I'm not going to watch myself - it is nerve-wracking enough delivering this). We had already had the annual invasion by the Birmingham Against the Cuts protestors, including one gentleman whose spectacular run down one of the aisles would have been more impressive if he hadn't run down one that was blocked at the end.

I started with a quote from Cllr Tilsley, Lib Dem, dating from February 2011, when he wrote to the Times, along with other Lib Dem councillors:

"These cuts will have an undoubted impact on all frontline council services... Rather than assist the country's recovery by making savings to the public in a way that can protect local economies and the front line, the cuts are structured in a way they will do the opposite."

That was then. Now things are worse.

We have a govt that talks a good game. They talk of freedom and localism, but it is a localism constrained by limits from the centre.

We have a govt that stays silent as half a million people rely on food banks, but Eric Pickles will leap into action to defend people who wish to park on double yellow lines.

We have a government that encourages the rich with tax cuts, but beats the poor with benefit sanctions.

We have a government that ignores rocketing child poverty, but when the floodwater laps at the playing fields of Eton, it opens the chequebook. 

This is a government that has social injustice and insecurity as a policy direction, as a desired outcome.

As Cllr Brigid Jones pointed out - even here, we have opposition councillors leaping to defend green waste collections, but silent on child services, social care and tackling poverty. Indeed, their proposals would further impoverish our lowest paid workers.

We have a new councillor joining us, who ran on a platform of standing up for Kingstanding and I'll welcome Cllr Sambrook to the chamber. Please, no more songs.   Sadly, the rest of his party has been lying down for the past few years and today shows them as supine in the face of government as ever.

To detail and the fantasy budgets from the opposition, only slightly more realistic than that proposed by our earlier visitors.

Cllr Tilsley suggested that we should cut the mythical bins police and instead try to track dumped fridges by their serial numbers. I have to tell him that in my decade of experience with a major UK white goods retailer, that those serial numbers are not recorded at point of sale and are certainly not retained in the second hand market.

Cllr Tilsley wants to restore the cuts in street cleaning. Sadly, he doesn't want to restore the 23% cut he and his colleagues voted through in 2012 that has been disfiguring my ward for two years. I will also remind him that the living wage remains his party's national policy, although it has been opposed by his party in Birmingham, controlled as they are by John Hemming.

I note that they promise to achieve £7m of savings in directorates. Their record in Yardley of working within budgets suggests that this pie in the sky at local level.

Cllr Alden promises me a new micro park for Acocks Green. This would be welcome, but I would like to know what he proposes to demolish to accommodate it. We already have to fight against his government's planning regime to hold onto our limited green space.

I was amazed to hear that he wants to outsource more administration. I have two words for him. 



if the people of Birmingham had been less wise in 2010, young Bobby would have been sat on very different and better upholstered benches, cheering on the coalition as they wielded the axe. Instead he tries to shift the blame to Labour. The Lib Dems do the same, ignoring the facts that under a Labour govt, they had the benefit of year on year above inflation increases in grant and the power to borrow, rather different from the policy that their government enforces on Birmingham.

Cllr Brew raised the deficits run by Labour. He fails to mention that the national debt was lower before the crash than when his party left office in 1997. And I do not believe that this crash was caused by spending on litter picking. Cllr Hutchings fails to mention that in opposition, David Cameron promised to match Labour spending. Their govt has borrowed more in four years than we did in thirteen.

Cllr Hunt spoke of public squalor, as if this Labour council would choose to scrap green waste collections or cut back on street cleaning as if it were not one of the least worst options to protect other, even more critical services.

It is with a heavy heart that I urge this council to support the Labour budget, unamended.

Sir Albert has been criticised as a doom monger, a Cassandra.

Remember this.

Cassandra was right. 

Planning Applications to the 29 March 2014

I've got a lot more to write, but no time to do it....

2014/01613/PA - 213 Yardley Road, Acocks Green, B27 6LZ
Display of 1 no. externally illuminated fascia sign and 2 no. hoardings for business signage
This relates to the earlier application for change of use to an undertakers. Convenient for the cemetery....

2014/01911/PA - Flat 5, 49 Yardley Road, Acocks Green, B27 6HG
Erection of single storey rear extension.

2014/01907/PA - 11 Greenwood Avenue, Acocks Green, B27 7QH
Erection of single storey front, side and 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.\