Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just an update on where the Council is with household recycling:

At the moment 240,000 households are having doorstep green compostcollections.

As of the fortnight starting 18th October, 100,000 households will haveplastics, metals and glass (multi-material) collected from the doorstep.

In April 2007, the multi-material collection will be expanded to cover atotal of 200,000 households

In April 2008, both the green compost and plastics/metal and glasscollections will be expanded to cover 360,000 households - this will meanthat all non-multi occupancy accomadation in Birmingham will have a doorsteprecycling collection.

In the municipal year 2003/4 - the final year of the Labour administrationthe amount of waste recycled was 12.83% (excluding incinerated material).

At the moment 17% of waste is recycled.By 2010, the Council plans to recycled 30% of household waste - excludingincinerated waste.

At the moment all plastics, metals and glass are sent to Blackburn to besorted - this is the nearest multi-material sorting centre. I'm informedthat the same company is now building a Midlands based centre in Aldridge.

The collected green compost is being sent to one of five companies:
i) Simpro - most compost from south Birmingham goes here. They arebased near Droitwich where they have long lines of compost heaps which theykeep regularly turning. The compost takes about six weeks to rot and is soldonto the farm industry
ii) Moodys - most compost from north Birmingham goes here. The rottedcomposted is bagged and sold at two outlets in Birmingham - Dennings DIYstore in Northfield and Gravelly Hill Garden Centre in Gravelly Hill
iii) Rymans - rotted compost goes the farm industry
iv) Neutramulch - I don't have any information on this company
v) The Council's own Cofton Park compost heaps. These will take some compostas an experiment to see how they do. This facility has bagging facilities,so could easily sell the compost back to the public.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Work for Community Service offenders in Moseley and Kings Heath

I've arranged a meeting with West Midlands Probation Service next Wednesday to discuss getting community service offenders to do work in Moseley and kings Heath.

What we are looking for are jobs that the offenders can do in the area - do you have any suggestions?

The types of jobs that they can do include bringing derelict areas and buildings back into public use, clearing church yards, repairing park benches, and removing graffiti.

From the probation service point-of-view they want jobs that will help the offenders learn new skills, give them confidence and enable them to take pride in their area.

The probation service will supervise the work, provide the tools and sandwiches. All they ask in return is access to a toilet.

The offenders live local and will have low to medium type offences eg driving offences, ended up in a scuffle at the weekend, first offences, etc.

What would be good in the medium term is to have a small committee who could provide a regular list of jobs for the offenders - the committee could consist of the Street Wardens, Environmental Wardens, Moseley in Bloom, Friends of various local parks, etc

Any thoughts?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) in Leeds

I’ve uploaded a recently released document from the Department for Transport (dft) at which is a consultants report on a proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Leeds.

I’ve also uploaded images of Bus Rapid Transit vehicles at

The report is 122 pages long. It is well written and gives lots of statistics on bus showcases, trams and generally how to get people back onto public transport.

It’s importance to Birmingham is as follows:
1) we are in the middle of a Scrutiny Review on how to increase the number of people on buses.
2) The report shows how some cities, eg Brighton, have managed to increase bus use.
3) The report talks about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or, as it is described in the West Midlands, Super Showcase. BRT is the intermediate stage between Bus Showcase and Trams – in the West Midlands we haven’t really discussed this possible form of transport. BRT is an express bus route, which has all the advantages of a tram eg buses shaped like trams, running on a separated road surface between limited stops. However, a BRT differs from a tram in that it has rubber wheels and using diesel, instead of electricity, as it fuel.
4) The report clearly discussing the advantages and disadvantages on Light Rail systems or Trams, or as it is described in the West Midlands, Metro.

Pages of interest:
Page 15 – paragraph 2.23 – this explains why trams can safely run along pedestrianised areas, whilst buses cannot

Page 15 – paragraph 2.24 – this explains why trams do not get held up with parked cars or unloading vehicles, whereas buses will

Page 15 – paragraph 2.25 – this gives an initially indication of the problems of having too many buses or trams with traffic light priority – ie it causes traffic jams on the non-priority routes. In Birmingham, we know that there may be similar problems where the forthcoming Metro extension crosses Paradise Circus by the Town Hall.

Page 17 – paragraph 2.31 – this shows that in calculating the journey time in public transport you need to also consider the time it takes to walk to and from the bus stop AND the time waiting at the bus stop.

Page 22 – paragraph 3.9 – this shows a table indicating the advantages of high quality buses against tram.

Page 23 – paragraph 3.13 – this shows the necessary ingredients to a successful BRT.

Page 25 – paragraph 3.17 – table showing the success and failures of tram systems installed in Britain over the last 16 years. It shows that few have ever managed to meet their forecast passenger figures.
Page 25 – paragraph 3.19 – tries to explain why so many tram systems never met their predicted passenger figures.

Page 27 – paragraph 3.25 – this shows that trams are able to carry a higher volume of passengers than a bus equivalent.

Page 29 – paragraph 3.42 – this shows how Brighton have managed to increase bus patronage by 50% over 10years, whilst in the rest of Britain bus patronage has gone down.

Page 30 – paragraph 3.44 – this shows how Perth managed a 56% increase in bus patronage over 2 years on a poorly performing route, with a high percentage of car owners.

Page 37 – paragraph 3.81 – this shows the different types of BRT buses on the market at the moment – these buses look like trams!

Page 43 – paragraph 4.14 – this shows the quality features of a BRT bus eg air conditioning

Page 47 – tables 5.2 and 5.3 – statistical data on the various trams in Britain, showing their effectiveness.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Cabinet report has been signed off, which clarifies the restriction on installing dropped kerbs in front of houses where the front gardens are not deep enough to allow parking at right angles to the house. This mainly affects the inner city parts of Birmingham. See

Where residents intend to park at right angles to the property - footway crossings will only be installed if the front garden is 4.75metres deep.

Where residents intend to park parallel to the frontage of the property - footway crossings will only be installed if they can demonstrate that they can do this by using a crossing directly in front of their house (it is calculated that the house will need to be 12metres wide to achieve this). If they can do this, then the minimum depth of garden required may be reduced to 2.5metres deep.

The report shows that there have been problems in the past where dropped kerbs have been installed for the provision of parallel parking, namely:
1) the resident does not park exactly parallel to the property resulting in a vehicle overhang obstructing the pavement.
2) the resident says they will use a neighbours paved front garden to assist in parking parallel, but instead drives along the pavement when the neighbour has a car parked in the space.

Monday, August 14, 2006

As mentioned previously, the Council will soon be introducing a new method of installing dropped kerbs. This is an update are were we are with this.

Previously, the Council provided the quote and installed the dropped kerb.

With the new method, the Council will provide residents with a Council quote, plus a list of 10 accredited contractors. Residents will be allowed to get quotes from these contractors.

Residents will still have to pay an upfront charge for £140 (£30 for an Officer to inspect the site and provide measrements for any contractor - £110 for the council to supervise the work and make sure it is done to Council standards).

The report seeking approval for this new method is presently on the desk of the Cabinet member for Transportation awaiting his signature.

As soon as it is signed, there will be a two week delay the printing of leaflets for residents.

I will chased this issue up again in a week

The roll-out of doorstep pick-up of recyclables (plastics, metals and bottles) will start in the fortnight beginning 18th October. Although the areas to receive this service is not finalised, they will most likely be the same areas that are receiving the compost collections.

Moseley and Kings Heath Ward will definately be included in the doorstep collection

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Whatever happened to our Cast Iron Street nameplates?

Using my position as Chair of Scrutiny for Transportation and Street Services, I’ve been trying to locate where removed cast iron street nameplates have gone. My endeavors to revealed a stock of cast iron nameplates at two Council depots. Photographs of them can be seen at:

The Officers have catalogued the ones they have and they are as follows:

Phillip Street store room
Belmont Passage B4
Bennetts Hill B2
Bennetts Hill B2
Brunel Street B2
Cannon Street B2
Cherry Street B2
Cherry Street B2
Congreve Passage B3
Congreve Passage B3
Corporation Street B4
Corporation Street B4
Corporation Street B4
Digbeth B5
Eden Place B3
Edgbaston Street B5
Floodgate Street
Gooch Street NorthB5
Mainstream Way B7
Navigation Street B5
Needless Alley B2
Northwood Street B3
Severn Street B1
Temple Row West B2
Temple Street B2
Union Street B2
Upper Dean Street B5
Upper Gough Street B1
Upper Gough Street B1

Warwick Passae B2

Thimble Mill Depot
Staplehurst Road
Cotteridge Road
Rectory Road
Jarvis Road
Warwick Passage B2

The above list does not account for all the cast iron signs lost in the city over recent years. These have either been stolen for scrap metal or broken – one of the problems with cast iron plates is that they break easily to sledgehammer blows.

To have a new cast iron nameplate made costs between £300 to £400 to produce. A modern flat aluminum nameplates cost £80.

Prototypes of plastic replicas of the cast iron nameplates have been made and are being assessed. Two are presently in situ in Needless Alley at the New Street corner and Grosvenor St West off Broad Street.

The plastic replicas are strengthened using a mild steel back support. Having seen them at first hand it is very hard to tell the difference between the cast iron and the plastic replica’s. Also the plastic nameplates weigh a fraction of the cast iron nameplates – the cast iron nameplates are incredibly heavy.

At the moment the Council only replaces 6 cast iron nameplates a year. The cost of producing plastic replica nameplates in such low volumes is between £200 to £300 each. If the Council buy 20 a year, the individual cost plummets to £100 per sign.

I personally would be happy to see all the modern aluminum nameplates in the Moseley Conservation Areas replaced with these plastic replicas – 20 nameplates for £2000 would do it!

I’ve also added on the webpage of the newly erected wooden salt dome at Thimble Mill Lane depot – it is an amazing structure looking like something out of a Martian landscape.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Councillor update on Planning Applications of importance in Moseley & Kings Heath Ward – Sunday 6th August 2006

S/07195/05/FUL, 9 Boundary Drive, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8NY - Proposal
Retention of single storey side extension with alterations to roof - Awaiting Report

S/01945/06/ FUL, 141 Sandford Road, Moseley - Erection of single storey forward extension, front porch, construction of new bay and bow windows to front with canopy over.- Awaiting Report

S/01332/06/FUL, 7 Park Hill, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8DU - Retention of boundary walls to front and side. - Awaiting Report

S/01333/06/FUL, 7a Park Hill, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8DU - Retention of boundary walls to front and side - Awaiting Report

S/01697/06/FUL, St Mary's Row, Moseley Village Green, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 - Erection of Tolkien landmark sculpture to include 6.5m high metal "Ent" sculpture, life size statues of children, laying of resin bonded crushed glass tiles, removal of three trees and planting of four new trees - Awaiting PP/Cons Exp

S/01723/06/FUL, 18 Belle Walk, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9DE - Erection of 1.8 metres high front boundary wall and 2 no. 2 metres high front gates - Report In Draft

S/02108/06/FUL, 25-29 Alcester Road South, The Pear Tree Public House, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 7JQ - Variation of condition C2 of permission S/02762/01/FUL to extend opening hours to 0900-2300hrs Sundays, 0900-2330hrs Mondays to Thursdays and 0900-0000hrs Fridays and Saturdays. In addition extended opening hours of 0900-0100 hours on the following days every year: Christmas Eve; Boxing Day; and New Years Eve. – Refused - Decision date - 02/08/2006

S/02118/06/FUL -12a St. Marys Row, Elizabeth of York PH, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8JG - Variation of Condition C4 on application S/02037/97/FUL to extend opening hours to 0700-2330 hrs Mon-Thurs, 07:00-00:00 hrs Fri-Sat and 12:00-23:30 hrs on Sunday - Approved Temporary - Decision date - 13/07/2006

S/02255/06/FUL - 582 Moseley Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B12 9AA - Use for assembly and leisure (D2) including skate boarding, BMX, climbing - internal alterations, external refurbishment, provision of parking spaces - Awaiting PP/Cons Exp

S/03058/06/FUL - 2 & 2a Addison Road, Kings Heath, B14 7EW - Demolition and proposed replacement of existing retail/warehouse premises - Report In Draft

S/03464/06/FUL - 145 - 147 Alcester Road, The Cross, Moseley - Continued use of the first floor as a cafe-bar in conjunction with ground floor and continuation of opening hours to 00:30 hours – Withdrawn - Decision date - 26/07/2006

S/03557/06/FUL - 44 Amesbury Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8LE - Retention of 4no. front pillars and boundary wall – Refused - Decision date

S/03513/06/FUL - 10 Amesbury Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8LD - Alterations to party fence and garage façade – Approve – Conditions - Decision date - 01/08/2006

S/03870/06/FUL - 26 Goodby Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8NJ - Installation of external access ramps for disabled access, dormer window to front and erection of car port - Under consideration

S/04017/06/FUL - 123 Moor Green Lane, Pitmaston, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8NG - Conversion of existing buildings and erection of new buildings to provide 64 one, two and three bedroom dwelling - Under consideration

S/04127/06/FUL - 121 School Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9TX - Development of three one- bedroom flats. - Under consideration

S/04169/06/CAC - 08-118 Church Road, Land rear of, Moseley, B13 9AA - Demolition of garages and erection of two 3 bedroom houses with off street parking - Under consideration

S/04236/06/LDE - 7A Park Hill, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8DU - Certificate of lawfulness for a lorry repair workshop and park (to rear of site) and ancillary store to coach house - Under consideration

S/04507/06/FUL - 108-118 Church Road, Land rear of, Moseley, Birmingham, - Demolition of garages to form secure off street car parking - Under consideration