Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wheelie bin update

Jon Hunt proposed a motion in the city council last night "regretting" Labour's hasty decision to introduce wheelie bins and calling for a proper census of residents to find out whether they can manage this three-bin plan or not.

This link tells you what happened:

You can view the "debate" on wheelie bins here. The debate starts after about 7 minutes. Earlier on several councillors had asked for extra time for the debate with limited success:

and here:

The Evening Mail today has carried a head to head debate piece between Jon Hunt and cabinet member Cllr James McKay on the subject

And finally here are the stats that back up our case. It seems the proponent of wheelie bins don't understand the history of Birmingham.

Proportion of private homes built in the 1920s and 1930s:
England: 18%
Birmingham 34%

Proportion of private homes built after 1965:
England 40%
Birmingham 27%
Source: City council housing department document 2010 based on national HCSC surveys.

The fact is that Birmingham expanded massively in the inter-war years as the city's industry boomed on the back of car and motorbike production. It is truly different from elsewhere in the UK

The city expanded its boundaries in almost every direction and building companies moved into build affordable homes on the land that became available. That is the real Birmingham and is also the history of Great Barr and Perry Barr.

It also means the number of streets unsuitable for wheelie bins is likely to be far greater than the council planners seem to think.

This fascinating website gives an insight into the building techniques that were used: Can any local historian come up with a more specific account?

As Jon Hunt said: the builders almost certainly did not use heavy earth moving equipment. They built up the hillsides and dug foundations into them. And although the city may not seem as hilly as say Sheffield or Bristol in fact it has three rivers and plenty of hills in between them.

Watch live video from bcc_meetings on

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wheelie bins - residents say NO!

Karen Hamilton checks out wheelie bins in Sandwell

So the Labour council has got its grant to introduce wheelie bins and what's going to happen now?

We circulated all households in Perry Barr ward over August and September and received hundreds of replies.

Overwhelmingly, by 10 to 1, residents rejected the council's wheelie bin plans.

In other areas of the city surveys are finding opposition breaks at about 3 to 1. That highlights that our area is uniquely

unsuitable for wheelie bins.

Take Cramlington Road with about 160 households. One side is raised. The households are almost all accessed by quite steep steps. Many of the residents living up these steps are quite elderly. Some householders have carved out small parking bays - but we have seen very few of these with spare space for three wheelie bins.

What about the other side of the road? It's a little flatter and most households have created front drives. Many of these slope down to the houses. You'd think they would be okay for wheelie bins on that side and indeed one or two householders have asked for them. Think again. Most householders squeeze two cars on the front drive. The cars fill up the frontage. They might store bins by their front bay window or their side shed. To get them out, they'll have to move a car off the drive and push them up the slope.

This road is typical of dozens in our ward, especially on that estate but also elsewhere.Take Rocky Lane - 400 houses, some of them perched on top of steep banks. Or Charnwood Road - one side - about 30 houses sits entirely on top of a bank accessed by steep flights of steps.

Then there is the Yew Tree estate in Aston - Village Road and Yew Tree Road in particular. As flat as a pancake. Front doors on the pavement, houses terraced with very, very few side alleys. Every now and again there is a narrow alley leading to a path behind the houses. If they store their bins on the pavements the pavement will be blocked.

Labour came into power and rushed this proposal through without consultation. We are now promised a consultation.

We found no more than two roads in our area where residents might be in favour - and one was a close call. We'll be pushing to ensure every resident is asked whether they can manage the bins. We'll also be pushing to ensure that residents who don't have them don't get a second class service.

Karen Hamilton said: “They’re not suitable for much of this area.Whatever happens the council needs to think again about its plans to impose them on this area.”

Jon Hunt reports survey returns to Council
 Jon Hunt pushed the issue at the council's October meeting. He was surprised to be told that only 5% of households in Birmingham would be exempt. That's 20-25,000 households. Of those we estimate 8,000 in Perry Barr ward would need exemption.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Tower Hill safety campaign updates

Karen Hamilton and Jon Hunt with petition outside Co-op
Karen Hamilton asked transport cabinet member Cllr Tahir Ali about progress on the Tower Hill safety petition at the monthly city council meeting yesterday.

Cllr Ali replied:  "I can confirm that following the recent fatal collision at the junction of Walsall Road and Tower Hill, Highway officers have met with West Midlands Police to assist in the course of the investigation. As is the procedure in these cases, the Police will submit a report to the Coroner’s Court, with their recommendations as to potential road improvements that should be considered in light of the circumstances of the incident.

"Whilst we will need to wait until the outcome of the Coroner’s Inquiry, to understand what recommendations will be brought forward, please be assured that Highways officers are in close contact with both the Police and the Coroner’s Office, to ensure that they have our full assistance in reaching those recommendations."

* Other related developments: The city council yesterday backed a Lib Dem initiative to introduce more 20mph zones in residential areas. Ray Hassall got to speak in the debate.

* We're consulting residents about the 952 bus route. Our suggestion is to reverse the direction around the Beeches and Booths Farm estates so it does not have to stop at the top of Beeches Road. This would also help deal with some of the bottle-neck issues around the route. We've put forward the idea as Centro have announced a review of bus routes in north Birmingham. We understand that operator National Express agrees there are problems. At the moment bus drivers have to pull out from the left hand bus lane on the Walsall Road to get into the right filter for Beeches Road. They are then stuck at a bus stop preventing other right turning traffic getting down Beeches Road.

* Karen also presented more signatures from the petition to the council meeting.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tower Hill safety petition

We've been around collecting signatures for a large petition calling for road safety action at the Tower Hill/ Walsall Road junction.

Last week Karen Hamilton presented some 600 signatures at the monthly meeting of the city council.

We collected the petition after a series of disturbing accidents over the summer months including one tragic fatality.

This has highlighted several issues but we think the priority is to reduce speed through the junction. It's currently at 40mph and we think it should be cut to 30mph as it is at the Scott Arms up the road. This is because it's a very, very busy pedestrian area with bus stops, the library, GP surgery, pharmacy and a big Co-op together with a post office and other shops.

Cllr Karen Hamilton -   
presented petition

There are other causes of concern. There is bad and illegal driving - with people frequently doing illegal and unnecessary u-turns. There are problems turning right into Tower Hill and Beeches Road. And there is a pedstrian route to the north of the main traffic lights that is not protected by pedestrian rights - so too many people are dodging through the traffic to cross the road. And there are complaints about the visibility of  the pelican crossing by the post office - as drivers coming down the road at 40mph may focus on the main junction.

Karen Hamilton said: "Our petition says urgent. There is a great deal that can be done without spending lots of money. We know there are accident investigations going on. But we need senior engineers and police officers to support us in recognising there is a serious problem caused by speeding and reckless driving."

Our thanks to those who have helped collect signatures. We are planning to submit more so please get in touch if you want a form!

Don't forget the councillors put regular updates on their Facebook pages. You can now "like" or "subscribe" without having to make a friend request!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Travellers on Perry Park

Cllr Ray Hassall checking out the site of anti-traveller fencing
We've been informed that 'travellers' got onto the front of Perry Park again today.

Somebody seems to have removed some of the older metal fencing off Church Road.

This has happened just as the new anti-traveller barriers are fitted across the front of the park. This is being fitted after we secured investment for our parks - and responds to the invasion last year onto the last unenclosed area of park.

The police responded with a rapid visit and the visitors have now moved on.

Something similar happened elsewhere in the city when they started putting up the anti-traveller fencing. Our parks are used for many things - but they are not camping sites!