Friday, December 31, 2010

Bin bag pile-up

Residents who read the papers will have an idea of why so little refuse has been collected this week.

The refuse collectors are taking industrial action. On Mondays they strike and the rest of the week they "work to rule" - which means not doing overtime and various go-slow techniques.

The council has hired extra crews to try to clear the backlog but the combination of rubbish left over from the snow, Christmas rubbish and the go-slow has made this a tough job.

We're now being told the backlog in this ward will not be cleared by the weekend - as they are still working on the backlog from Monday and Tuesday.

We do not think this is acceptable. We are pressing the council to take on more temporary staff. We have made it clear to senior managers and leaders of the council that this area is taking a big hit. We don't think the council can buckle in to the industrial action which is about long-running issues over overtime, pay etc which must be resolved. Once this is settled the council plans to take on permanent extra staff to make up for reductions in overtime working (which had become a routine part of the working week and was effectively preventing the creation of extra jobs.).

We also think the snow was used as an excuse for not collecting rubbish (on health and safety grounds). This picture shows a private refuse collection vehicle using Derrydown Road. It wasn't a council vehicle but showed that a council vehicle could easily have got down that road in the week before Christmas - yet it was missed on that Wednesday. Thankfully the black bags have now been cleared from Derrydown after we highlighted this.

Many thanks to all those residents who have contacted councillors about non-collection. Believe it or not we want those calls! We have highlighted every complaint we have received and, as during the snow, will badger managers to take action on roads that are missed. So we do also want to know when a road does get collected. We are doing our own patrols but may not check every road. Drop an email to

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tree planting ideas

The estates of Great Barr and Perry Barr were built in the woods on the edge of the historic Cannock Chase. Lots of trees survived the house-building and new ones were planted down the new roads.

This all helped to mop up the water and the hillside streams displaced by the house-building.

So for local reasons, as well as good global ones, we've been keen to retain trees and find sites to plant new ones. It's not always easy and sometimes the wrong roadside trees can annoy residents and cause serious nuisance. Shortage of parking space has also played havoc with trees as front-gardens have been up-rooted and drop kerbs installed.

Mostly residents like their tree-lined roads and the woody view from a thousand trees growing in back gardens. In one or two cases we've been able to support community tree planting - where residents have undertaken to help maintain new trees planted by the council.

Sometimes there's a stretch of grass verge which could take more trees - or a patch of land. There's nothing like a cherry blossom in the spring!

Do you have any ideas? If so here's a new on-line scheme from the Woodland  Trust to help you. It allows you to select trees and see how they would look on your photos.

Interested? Give it a try:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New advice bureau arrangements

Councillor advice bureaux will continue to be on Wednesday evenings but there have been some changes of venue, starting this week.

The weekly advice bureau in Perry Barr/Great Barr will now take place at the Trehurst Community Centre between 7pm and 8pm. That can be found just behind the Neighbourhood Office building on Beeches Road.

A monthly advice bureau for the Witton area will take place on the second Wednesday of the month at 5.45-6.45pm at the Witton Community Centre, Deykin Avenue.

We are currently awaiting details of a venue for a new monthly advice bureau on the Yew Tree estate. In the meantime if you cannot make another venue, please call our office on 240 9689 to arrange to see a councillor.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Neighbourhood Office and Advice

Jon Hunt writes:
The future of the Beeches Road Neighbourhood Office has been under review for some time. Originally it was opened as a walk-in office but as residents know, its hours have increasingly shrunk and talks have been going on for some time about the best way to provide neighbourhood advice services..

As councillors we take a special interest as we hold our weekly advice sessions in the same office on Wednesday nights.

So I was a little shocked to turn up last Wednesday and see notices announcing it would close this Thursday on July 22nd.

I have contacted senior managers and as a result advice workers will continue to work from the office throughout the summer. They will only see residents by appointment however. If you need an appointment please call 303 1111. So final closure will not take place until the autumn.

Three questions to answer, then.
What's happening to advice services?
What's happening to the Beeches Road Neighbourhood Office?
What's happening to our councillors advice bureaux?

Advice services: these will mainly be by appointment in the future.This enables workers to manage their time and ensures no queuing. The advice workers tend to be expert in the benefit and housing system and if you need help with these, please do use their services and call 0121 303 1111 to make an appointment.

The management plan was to create a base at the Old Oscott community centre where advice workers could keep their appointments with local people.

We've said this is not good enough. There needs to be a base in the Beeches Road/Walsall Road area. Many users of services will need to use buses and we don't think Old Oscott is accessible to our constituents.

Beeches Road Neighbourhood Office:
This is a good building and we're pressing for it to be kept in community use. It's right next door to the Trehurst Community Centre, which is currently housed in a container. So that's one possibility.

Councillor Advice Bureau:
We're currently reviewing all our venues - as they all have to change - but intend to keep the same schedule as in the past. That is weekly at 7pm in the Great Barr/Perry Barr area, first Wednesday of the month on the Yew Tree estate at 5.45pm and second Wednesday of the month in Witton - probably back at the refurbished Witton Community Centre.

Because we've been using schools in Witton and Yew Tree, we've not been able to open in the school holidays recently. We're hoping we will be able to offer a holiday-time service soon. But please bear in mind we take holidays too - so we may not be able to open every week.

In the meantime if you want an appointment with a councillor during August please call our office on 303 4204.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Snow and rubbish

The heavy snow in the middle of last week meant most of the rubbish collections were not done.

Crews worked on Saturday to catch up but didn't manage to clear the backlog. As today is bin day for most of Perry Barr, we hope most bags and boxes will be cleared today.

We're now asking residents to let us know which areas are worst affected. We know that in some roads bags have split spilling rubbish.

Most people realised collections were missed because of the snow and have been pretty patient. But please don't put up with rubbish on your road. Let us know! You can post here or email cllrs @ . (You'll have to type out this email address as I've added spaces to prevent spam).

We have a good local cleaning team, which will tackle the worst areas. We also have access to extra help over the next few weeks - but we need to know where the problems are!