Sunday, March 18, 2007

Telephone mast is obtrusive

There's a planning proposal for a new telephone mast at Tower Hill and we've circulated some 600 local homes with leaflets asking for their comments. We will forward these comments to the planning department when we receive them.

The proposal is for a 10m mast with a "shroud and equipment cabinet".

I believe it can be stopped on planning grounds and have already expressed some views to the planning department. Tower Hill is simply too cluttered already - it has one mast with a large grey box that is the base station along with a recycling centre.

The council has just spent a fortune improving the area for pedestrians with new crossings, bus lanes and bus stops. Having revived the shopping centre here, it now needs to concentrate on making it a pleasant environment. A forest of masts does not achieve that.

I'm assuming there will be little support for this proposal. There was a great deal of opposition to the first one. And when it comes to issues of appearance, local people are more than entitled to their views. So let's hear some good arguments from local people!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hospital changes

I've just been to a meeting at City Hospital to be briefed on the latest thinking over the changes to our local health services.

City and Sandwell Hospitals have been consulting on a series of immediate changes - and also on their long term plans to create a single "super hospital" in Smethwick, on the Birmingham border.

The immediate changes would involve moving children's wards from City to Sandwell along with emergency surgery - although City would retain its 24-hour accident department.

This has caused me concern because some of the families from the Aston end of our ward rely on public transport to get to City Hospital and get treatment for their children.

So managers are making some concessions here - and a paediatrician was present to confirm they wanted these changes. They are hoping that City Hospital will continue to provide a 24-hour assessment unit for children - originally 12 hours was proposed - and this could keep a child in overnight for up to 24 hours. They are also looking at providing free transport from City to Sandwell for parents if a child is admitted to the wards.

Second concern is about emergency surgery. What happens for example if a gun or knife victim is deposited at City Hospital's front door? The answer seems to be that they will call surgeons into City to perform the emergency surgery. The patient would of course be made stable by accident staff.

Looking ahead to the superhospital planned for 2014, it seems inevitable the plan will be approved. Many people from Perry Barr and Great Barr will lose out by having to travel further and there was a lot of concern about this when it was discussed at the ward committee a month ago.

They are promising a mini-hospital with urgent care facilities in Aston. The concern is that these urgent care facilities may only be open 12-14 hours a day. Also that the record of these mini-centres is that they can be cut back when the financial times get hard in the NHS. So we need to keep a close eye on the development of these facilities.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Carnival coming

We've been involved in a number of meetings about the Birmingham Carnival coming to Perry Barr Park this year, on Sunday August 5th.

The aim, as always, is to minimise the traffic chaos that sadly accompanies this event.

Ray Hassall has been able to put the block on other major community events being held in the park in the first part of the summer holidays - ensuring that the Carnival will be the only weekend that disrupts the neighbourhood.

Two key tasks: to get the procession to start on time. Being late by up to two hours is unfair on many of the dancers who have to dance all the way - and also contributed to most of last time's traffic problems.

It will be forming up in Handsworth Park this year and lorries and generators will be parked overnight. The organisers will be told that the road closures will be lifted if they fail to start - lorries would then have to make their way through ordinary traffic.

Second task is to get more tow trucks in. It is now apparent that only one or two vehicles were towed last time despite massive illegal parking. We're looking at the barriers erected along Thornbridge Avenue to see if they are necessary - as they only block off some roads and this was the one neighbourhood last time where there did not seem to be parking problems. We'll be consulting residents about this.

The third objective is to get cars into car parks. There are always plenty of unused spaces very close to the event. We need better stewarding and the procession to arrive on time!

The Carnival's a great event but every time something goes wrong with the traffic. The "exclusion" zones, which prevent visitors parking on side roads, are proving their worth but can come under big pressure - especially when other arrangements break down.