Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Get into your parks this summer! Active Parks spreads out across the city - Fox Hollies on the list

In 2013 Birmingham City Council launched a pilot programme in partnership with Birmingham Open Spaces Forum called the Active Parks Programme. The Active Parks pilot programme sought to demonstrate how much can be achieved by and for the health & well-being of local people in parks and open spaces. Working closely with Birmingham Open Spaces forum and Birmingham’s unique Friends of Parks Groups to create “Leisure Centres without Walls”, the programme to get people active and engaged in their local park was piloted in 5 Birmingham Parks, plus Edgbaston Reservoir. Activities took place in parks and green spaces giving people the opportunity to be active on their own doorstep and interact with the natural environment. They aimed to provide something for everyone including:
  • YogaBugs, Buggyfit (mums and tots); 
  • Park Fit and Community Fit (individuals and families, any fitness level);
  • Tai Chi (popular with older participants but surprisingly, data has shown sessions popular with all ages from 3-79yr olds!) 
  • Zumba (for all ages and abilities)
  • Rowing and Cycling (for all ages and abilities, getting people who would otherwise not have the chance to try rowing, get out on the local reservoir with a programme of support)
  • Walking and jogging (for all ages and abilities) 
  • Non-traditional physical activities that get people engaging with their green space – Bushcraft, Little People in Parks (rangers linking with local early years settings to bring them into parks for various activities) 
  • Volunteering – involving people in their local park and community has resulted in an increase in volunteering hours and an increase in social capital
We'll be expanding that programme this year and Coke Zero has agreed to support us as part of their commitment to invest £20m nationally by 2020 to encourage people to be more physically active. They'll be supporting 70 locations across the country and most of them will be in Birmingham. The multi-million investment will see Active Parks provided with hundreds of sessions of basketball, rush hockey, buggyfit and rounders - amongst other sports - with coaches, kit and equipment to promote activity outside during the summer months. 

Acocks Green isn't in the vanguard, but we should have activities up and running in Fox Hollies Park, the Stockfield Estate and Archbishop Ilsley in July at the latest. 

Fox Hollies Park in the rain

On Saturday, despite the rain, I joined some local volunteers and an advisor from Waterside Care (part of Britain in Bloom) to have another look at the state of Fox Hollies Park. Some bits need some serious attention - these two pictures show me looking like a drowned rat and gazing upon the collection of rubbish that appears to have been dumped by a local resident. That's too far from the road or path to have been dropped their by a passing fly-tipper, but just right to chuck over a fence. We'll have to get that cleared and I've already contacted the parks team to get them involved with it - it is too difficult for amateurs to have a go at that safely.

The walk also highlighted some potential areas for work and we'll have other agencies down there to try to work with the parks department and local volunteers to see what can be put together to help get the water flowing better under the bridges, which are clogged with rubbish and to stop the flooding that you can see below, making the path impassable at that point unless you want to get wet. I've also been in touch with Amey to find out what they intend to do about the light columns which have been completely wrecked along the footpath over the past few weeks.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Election Results

The result locally on Thursday wasn't great for Labour, although I'm delighted that our voters turned out again to support an excellent candidate, who put up a good fight against an established candidate who fought a better one. No excuses - we need to up our game for 2015 and beyond. The prize in 2015 is not just Acocks Green - that's a key part of defeating the current MP. Interestingly, the Labour vote in Acocks Green and across Yardley translated almost completely across to the European vote (in fact, we only lost 9000 votes between the locals and the Europeans across the entire city, with 93,000 votes cast in Birmingham for our European candidates). The LibDem vote pretty much halved, which means that we would have won both Acocks Green and South Yardley and UKIP would have taken Stechford and Yardley North and Sheldon, if that vote had translated to the local contests.

For those who missed it, here's the result:

Roger Harmer (Lib Dem)  2679
Rachel Seabright (Labour) 2041
Amanda Baker (Green)     422
Charlotte Hodivala (Con)   372
Eamonn Flynn (TUSC)      254
Peter Johnson (SDP)         98

So, congratulations again to Roger and to his campaign manager, Iain (who I'd also like to thank again for his service to the ward over his years as a councillor and wish him well for the future). It is really easy to forget that we don't (I think) actually dislike each other and we'll work together for Acocks Green.