Friday, November 01, 2013

Struggling to make sense of the green waste cutbacks?

This is a briefing note circulated to councillors explaining next year's new system for charging for green waste. All three Perry Barr councillors voted against this Labour cut. However we think it is important that residents get as much information as possible.

The Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 provide that a Local Authority can charge for the collection of household green waste.

As a response to the need to make substantial financial savings a new household green recycling service has been launched, based around a wheelie bin collection service, for which an annual service charge of £35 per bin will be made.

The charges for this service will be reviewed annually through a Fees and Charges Report, with a view to ensuring that the charge covers the full collection costs incurred by the Fleet and Waste Management Service.

Customers are able to subscribe to this new service by contacting the call centre on 0121-303-1112 or going online at

The Wheelie Bin
The wheelie bin will have a capacity of 240 litres and holds the equivalent of 3 x 80 litre green waste sacks. The body of the bin will be grey and the lid will be brown.

The bin will be fitted with a radio frequency identification chip containing a Unique Property Reference Number which allows the Council to identify green recycling wheelie bins to the property they were assigned.

The wheelie bin is owned by the Council.  The charge is for the collection service, not the wheelie bin.

If a customer has subscribed to the service and moves address, they must not take their green recycling bin with them when they move. The wheelie bin must remain at the property. The new owner of that property will benefit from the green recycling collection service for the remainder of the period subscribed to.

Where it is not practical to supply a wheelie bin to a property, for example, because of steep steps or a steep slope, an alternative sack service will be provided.  This is not an optional service but based on the suitability of the property for a wheelie bin.

If a customer is eligible for the sack service, they will be provided with 60 translucent brown sacks that will bear the Birmingham City Council logo and the year of the service. The customer will be provided with 2 rolls of 30 sacks.

The cost of the Service and Method of Payment
The annual charge entitles the customer to receive up to 20 collections. Customers who subscribe to this service before the 15 November 2013 will be eligible for a £5.00 “early bird” discount.

If customers subscribe to this service after 31 July 2014 there will be a half-year fee of £17.50 and they will be eligible to receive the remaining scheduled collections until the service ends in November.

Customers can subscribe to the service at any time during the green recycling collection service period, however, subscription fees are based only on a full year or half-year service.

Payments can be made by Credit or Debit Cards only.  This is because it is the most cost-efficient way for the Council to take payment for this service. Cash and cheque payments would be the most expensive way for the Council to administer the payment, and given the relatively low cost of the green collection service, it would mean that much of the customer’s payment would be used to process the payment, not to deliver the service.

Customers can share a green recycling wheelie bin with their neighbour if they choose to do so.  However, they will need to make their own local arrangement to share the bin and the costs.

The Council will only process the request from one resident and the green recycling wheelie bin will be collected from the property belonging to the resident that has made the request.

Customers can have up to a maximum of 10 wheelie bins, providing there is enough space to store them on their property but they will have to pay the annual fee (or half year fee if after 31.7.14) for each additional wheelie bin/sacks.

Delivery of Green Recycling Wheelie Bins/Sacks
Customers who subscribe to the new service before the end of January 2014 will have their wheelie bin/sacks delivered prior to collections commencing in late February 2014.

Customers who subscribe to the service after that period will have their wheelie bin/sacks delivered within 2 weeks of placing their order wherever possible (and subject to levels of demand).

When the wheelie bin is delivered there will be an instruction pack taped to the lid of the bin which includes:

Full Terms and Conditions of the Service
An Instruction Leaflet (Do’s and Don’ts, useful tips etc.)
A collection calendar

If the wheelie bin is delivered before the service commences it will be sealed with printed tape that advises the customer “not to put out for collection until the service commences – see calendar”.

Similar arrangements will be made for sack customers.  In addition, a card will be left advising the customer that the sacks have been delivered to their property and the delivery recorded on the Council’s IT system.

Types of material that can be recycled and types of material that can’t be recycled

The following can be collected in a green recycling bin/sacks:
Grass cuttings
Hedge and shrub cuttings
Plants and weeds
Tee/shrub branch cutting of less than 5 cm (2 inches) diameter
Dead Flowers

The following cannot be collected in a green recycling wheelie bin/sacks:
Stones, soil, bricks and rubble
Japanese Knotweed
Garden chemicals
Treated wood
Garden tools and implements
Garden furniture/ornaments
Plant pots, plastic trays
Kitchen/food waste
Tree/shrub branches greater than 5 cm (2 inches) diameter
Animal bedding/faeces
Green waste produced by, or through a trade, business or otherwise on a commercial basis

Any side waste will not be collected and the wheelie bin/sack will be tagged advising the customer of the reason why it was not collected.

Other Information
Leaflets providing a brief explanation of the service are being distributed to BCC public offices, e.g. Leisure Centres, Libraries and Neighbourhood Offices.

There is also very useful information on the website at

Friday, October 18, 2013

Save Beeches Pool!

Earlier this year the council's Labour leadership announced that some swimming pools might close. We consulted residents about Beeches pool and nobody wanted it to close. 

Indeed there was all-party agreement between councillors in this area that it should stay open and be rebuilt if possible.

Now it has emerged that somebody centrally in the council has ear-marked Beeches for closure. At the moment, we are pleased to say, we believe the all-party agreement locally to oppose this remains.

We will be campaigning to save it. to save it there will need to be changes - read on - but we think it would be utterly appalling to strip this facility from our local community. The campaign will be led by Cllrs Karen Hamilton and Jon Hunt and will draw on the massive expertise of Cllr Ray Hassall, who once oversaw leisure facilities in the city. Details of a petition will be circulated shortly.

What's shocking about this is the following:

  • it was agreed on all sides that we could save pools by bringing in private management or doing other deals with the private sector. This has been done successfully in other places - but somebody in the council leadership has decided not to bother trying for Beeches Pool.
  • the council states its policy is to target resources at areas of deprivation. Yet we understand Newtown Pool, the next one down the A34 is also unlikely to be retained. It would be moved into Icknield Port, close to an affluent area of Ladywood.
  • when we debated this in council Jon Hunt specifically pushed the point that the inner city pools, such as Handsworth Leisure Centre, should also be subject to private management to improve efficiency and public use. We understand now this is not going to happen. Instead inefficient pools will be propped up with public health money, which will only be avaiable in designated areas.
  • Yet again the Labour council tries to designate Great Barr as "affluent". We are a  mixed community and our own advice bureaux show us there are many desperate and poor people struggling to live in our community.
  • These decisions were meant to be taken by the local Perry Barr district committee. The views of the committee appear to being overridden by central planners.

It appears we are being sold out in favour of a rebuild in Kingstanding.

We have seen the proposed closure date. We can probably not publish it as it is confidential. However it is quite soon.

Photo: Councillor Karen Hamilton at the pool. 
To obtain petition: click the image to the right, drag the full-sized image to a folder on your computer and  then print out. It should fit standard A4 paper.

Alternatively contact one of us for copies of the petition by emailing

You can also join a Facebook page but remember "liking" a Facebook page is not the same as signing a petition or writing a letter.

* Update about the timetable:

This is how we understand it is due to work. Sir Albert Bore meets next Monday privately with his cabinet and his officers and may decide to agree the closure recommendation. He will hear the alternative proposals from the Perry Barr district committee.

Next event: City council meeting Tuesday November 5th - first petition signatures presented.

If Councillor Bore agrees the closure plan, it will go in the city budget proposals which will be subject to public consultation in November and December.

Next council meeting: Tuesday December  3rd. Karen would need to present thousands of signatures to have an impact. 10,000 signatures would trigger an inquiry by a scrutiny committee.

The final version of the budget would be agreed by the city cabinet in early February and  voted on by the full city council at the end of February. Based on last year's experience there could be significant changes to the budget by the time the cabinet meets.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Clifton Cinema plans revealed

A new planning application for the Clifton Cinema has at last arrived and it looks promising.
Cllrs Ray Hassall and Karen Hamilton at the cinema

The proposal is to turn it into a banqueting suite, conference centre and restaurant. This would mean a lot of weddings taking place there.

The restaurant would be located on an upper floor and so would stand alone from the banqueting suite, which would fill the bulk of the old hall.

We've studied the plans and the developers seem keen to enhance the features of this historic 1930s building. For instance there is a proposal to reveal the original balustrading on the internal balcony,

Frameless double glazing will be used to enclose and protect the front of the building and its leaded windows.

Last time there was an application we had a problem as the developers wanted dancing into the early hours of the morning. No suggestion of that this time.

 The dereliction of the cinema has dismayed the community. We have had a constant battle to keep the site clear of dumping and a fire last year made the building look even more abandoned. So it's really good news that someone has come up with plans - and that these plans involve continued public use.

Please take the time to check the plans for yourself. Are there improvements that can be made?

Click here to find out more

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tower Hill Safety Campaign Update

We've been working with neighbourhood watch representatives and the local police on a project to prove the growing hazards at the Tower Hill/Walsall Road junction following last year's fatal accident.

On Thursday Jon Hunt went with Avril Child, whose daughter Sarah was killed last year, to present the findings to a meeting with senior traffic engineers.

We've been counting pedestrians and cars, checking speeds with police help and counting driver behaviour. All this followed the petition we collected of about 1,000 signatures calling for traffic speeds to be controlled at this junction - and other measures.

Our monitoring shows that in spite of there being two pelican crossings in this neighbourhood, most people cross on the unprotected crossing facing the Co-op. At the busiest time there can be 100 people crossing here an hour and 500 vehicles going through the traffic lights.

It shows that while there is a problem of speeding and illegal u-turns the biggest problem drivers pose is through jumping red lights. Dozens are doing this, especially during rush hour. But there's also quite a lot of evidence of speeding.

There weren't as many u-turns as we expected. That was a good thing because it turned out that every u-turn at this junction is highly dangerous - vehicles invariable are turning into pedestrians crossing the road. Several times our monitors saw elderly people using the pelican south of the junction have to be pulled back as cars u-turned through the green, pedestrian light.

We presented all this to senior engineers and they've agreed to investigate a number of steps to improve safety.

This includes testing a so-called "red" phase. This means that all vehicles would be stopped for a period of about 20 seconds to allow pedestrians to cross the unprotected crossings (and the south-bound crossing) more safely.

They'll also look at measures to deter drivers from attempting u-turns.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How we voted on the slash and burn budget

Letter to local papers:
Birmingham City Council is to introduce a range of measures that will harm recycling and waste disposal as part of its move to wheelie bins.

This includes the proposed £35 annual charge on garden waste collection planned to start next year (It's only expecting 25% of households to sign up for this). There will also be major cuts in street cleaning and in services to pick up bulky items, to do street clearance or to pick up dumped piles of rubbish. There will be no bin-bags this year and when wheelie bins come in, households will probably have to pay substantial charges to replace damaged or lost receptacles.

I'd like to assure your readers that all three Perry Barr ward councillors, myself, Karen Hamilton and Ray Hassall voted against these measures this week and put forward a constructive alternative. No other local councillors did. I'm afraid the price of wheelie bins in Birmingham is  going to prove to be very high in terms of the damage to our environment.

Cllr Jon Hunt
52 Perry Avenue

Note: during the budget debate Jon Hunt spoke about the impact of these cuts, warning about piles of   waste piling up, dumped and uncollected. Karen Hamilton spoke against major cuts to the youth services.Ray Hassall had hoped to speak but wasn't called.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Karen champions Park

Question tabled at January City Council meeting from Cllr Karen Hamilton to the chair of the Perry Barr district committee, Cllr Mahmood Hussain:

Will the chair confirm he will maintain the existing informal boundary on the River Tame in Perry Hall Park allowing cricketers to make full use of the west side of the park to ensure there is no repeat of the community tension that existed three years ago when cricket pitches were extended into recreational areas on the east side of the park?

The Parks Cricket League is a very successfully run league and Perry Hall Playing Fields is considered to be the most popular venue for parks cricket.

Denand for more cricket provision continues and we are considering options at Perry Hall Playing Fields.

I recognise the history of opposition to adding to the site's formal sports provision on the east side of the River Tame and appreciate the need to strike the right balance of parks provision, both formal and informal for all our users.

Any decision will take into account the views of the local ward councillors and the wider community, including the Park's Friends Group and the Birmingham Parks Cricket League.