Saturday, February 24, 2007

Installation of new vicar at St Paul

On the 23rd February we were invited to the licensing and installation of the new vicar of St
Paul, Hamstead, the Revd Smitha Prasadam. The service was carried out by The Bishop of Birmingham The Right Revd David Urquhart and The Venerable Hayward Osborne The Archdeacon of Birmingham.

It was a wonderful service where there was standing room only. It was very nice to see so many people from our community coming together to take part in the service.

We spoke to Smitha briefly (see picture) and she is enthusiastic about coming to work in Great Barr. We all welcomed Smitha and her family to the ward and would like to take this opportunity to wish her every success in her new role. We look forward to working with her in the future.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Checking the recycling programme

Jon and Ray joined Cllr Len Gregory, cabinet member for highways, at the Holdford Drive waste depot, Perry Barr, yesterday to look at progress on the recycling programme.

Our picture shows the party with a sample of the bottles and cans that are now being collected daily from throughout the city.

The aim is to extend the collection to most of the city within months - making it the largest recycling programme in Britain.

There is a pressing need to get good recycling plants in Birmingham. At the moment waste from throughout England is shipped to Blackburn for sorting. New technology means that cans can be lifted out easily - and as aluminium fetches a good price on the market, please make a special effort to recycle your cans. Plastic and glass can also be sorted and the latest technology can even enable glass to be sorted by colour whilst paper can be sifted according to its grade.

There is a prospect of getting such a plant at Holdford Drive, replacing the ugly old incinerator that dominates the sky-line in this area of Perry Barr.

We are keen to link these developments with other "green" developments, such as generating electricity through wind turbines and solar panels. A recycling plant would need quite a lot of power.

As an example, our swimming pools have taken a big hit this year with soaring energy costs pushing bills (and ticket prices) up. It is time to unhook these facilities from fossil fuels, which will only continue to get more expensive.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A 200th celebration and a Brummie link

In a few weeks time, the nation will be remembering the 200th anniversary of parliament voting to abolish the slave trade.

Karen Hamilton and myself tabled a resolution to last week's city council meeting - noting some little known links to north Birmingham.

The MP at the centre of the campaign - who tabled persistent resolutions to parliament over a 20 year period - was William Wilberforce. Wilberforce married a Brummie, Barbara Spooner, and her family home can still be viewed. It is Rookery House, Erdington, which still bears the cast-iron decor installed by her iron merchant father Isaac Spooner.

Wilberforce was a devout Christian and a film about his remarkable life Amazing Grace is set to hit the cinemas next month to coincide with the commemorations. And yes, there is a direct link to the well-loved hymn of the same name.

Our resolution to the council described the slave trade as a "stain" on our nation's history. The vote 200 years ago did not end it - but it enabled the British navy, strengthened after Trafalgar in 1805, to move against the slavers and end the kidnapping and trafficking that blighted millions of lives. It was indeed one of the most significant moments of British history.

We also noted that slavery in different forms still persists and that actions such as supporting Fair Trade - as Birmingham does now as a city - can help combat this.

Jon Hunt

Breaking the Chains is the organisation that is coordinating many of the local commemoration events. The website is still under development.

Anti-speeding campaign

At the city council meeting last week we submitted the first of a series of petitions being collected by local people for reducing speed limits. This was in Glendower Road.

I've been talking about getting 20 mph speed limits for some time. Tonight the local councillors were out on the doors again talking to people around Calshot School. The school has a good road safety scheme put in when I was chair of governors. But it needs to be backed by a reduced speed limit.

The police have organised a number of speed checks throughout Perry Barr and each one shows average speeds of about 30mph - legal but unsafe. There are conflicting statistics about the risk of fatality and injury at different speeds - but undoubtedly it is tiny when a driver is going at 20mph.

Highways department have also recently recognised this and asked us to make submissions for 20 mph limits.

So quite a few local residents are now also collecting signatures in different neighbourhoods. If you want one for your area, please let us know.

Dispersal and young people

The dispersal zone on the Beeches and Booths Farm estates is now in place, I understand.

The youth service report a complete absence of young people on the streets. It's good to see the police doing their job and some respite for people in these areas who have put up with growing problems over the last year.

It seems the gangs who walk around with dangerous dogs may have melted away.

However the youth workers are now concerned about the difficulty in tracking down young people who would normally be hanging out on the streets. Have they found back alleys to hide in?

So we are pressing for a young people's meeting to be organised on the estate.

At ward advisory board on Monday further funding for youth activities was supported. Some £15,000 will go to the youth service for holiday activities while further support goes to the Monday youth club at the Trehurst community centre, Beeches Road.

Metro challenge

A series of meetings this week began for me at a closed meeting at West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority.

Because it was private, I can't give details apart from saying that proposals for development of the Metro system will be tabled publicly in the next few weeks - and that I spoke at some length in criticism of the initial paper that was tabled.

So far as I am concerned I want transport planners to acknowledge the city council's view that the A34 "Varsity North" route is not a priority. There is some £140 million worth of capital that could be released for other routes and projects if they scrap this unnecessary "track to nowhere".

Some of this could even go on the A34 route to enhance the existing bus showcase schemes. Imagine putting serious money into the Birchfield roundabout and the Scott Arms to enable traffic to get through these bottlenecks.

I will post more information as the debate becomes public.


Friday, February 09, 2007


This is beginning to look like the worst weather we have had for several years. By all accounts all the extra grit bins that have gone in over the last few years are being put to good use. If your neighbourhood still needs a bin, please let us know.

Several people have reported running out of grit, eg Rockford Road, Wensleydale Road, and I understand the council crews should have been round today topping up bins.

There was a water leak on Cliveden Avenue and, again, it seems Severn Trent were very prompt at stopping it.

It has been pleasing to get positive responses to problems today from officers at the highways department, especially as they must be very busy indeed.

Please let us know the area(s) where there were traffic problems so that these can he highlighted as areas that need to priortised in the future.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cycle speedway

Following discussions with local councillors and officers a solution has been found to enable the track to be repaired. Over the last few weeks there have been numerous discussions to find a way forward for the club. Funding for the repairs has been identified and we will be continuing to work with the club to prevent them from having to struggle again.

Here's a picture of Perry Hall Park at sunset today. Jez the warden is now painting the gates in traditional Victorian colours. The transformation continues!

Questions were being asked at the ward committee on Monday about getting changing facilities in the park.

The following points emerged:
Perry Barr district has made bidding for capital funds for the project a priority;
the cricket teams currently pay a lower rate for using a facility without changing facilities;
during the summer portaloos are installed, paid for by community chest and neighbourhood renewal fund from the surrounding wards, Perry Barr, Handsworth Wood and Lozells.