Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Date set for work to start installing the new roof on Kings Heath Library

The date has now been set for contractors to start work on installing a new roof on Kings Heath Library. The date is Monday 14th May.

This is part of a £300,000 investment in Kings Heath Library and the work will involve the following:

The contractors intend to initially focus on the replacing the skylight in the presently closed ‘learning centre’. This will enable them to understand the structure of the Edwardian skylight, which can then be replicated across the other skylights.

The work will take 16 weeks to complete and the intention is to keep the closure of the library to a minimum by partially closing sections of the library wherever a skylight is being replaced.

Once the new skylights are installed, the permanent scaffolding will be removed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Update on the restoration of the South Africa War memorial in Cannon Hill Park

I visited the South African War memorial in Cannon Hill Park this week to see progress on its restoration. I produced a previous blog entry detailing the history of the memorial at

I attach photos of the cleaning of the bronze statue. As you will see from the photos, we have started this restoration just in the nick of time – the statue is covered in corrosive pits or holes, which through time would completely destroy the statue.

The team doing the restoration will be filling in any pits or holes to prevent any further decay and will cover the statue with a protective wax to protect the statue from any water ingress.

The restored statue, complete with previously missing items, such as the guns, olive branch and corner wreaths, will be finished towards the end of May.

Instead of the previous green colour, the restored statue will have a dark brown finish as was the case when it was first unveiled in 1906.













Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moseley Road baths on target to re-open 12noon Monday 16th April

I visited Moseley Road baths this morning and can confirm that the staff are working towards re-opening the baths at 12noon on Monday 16th April.

I attach two photos that I took this morning. As you will see the pool is now fully re-filled and this morning the staff started the process of heating up the pool.

Having dipped my hand in the pool, I can assure you the water is cold. Re-heating should take a few days. We should have a definite confirmation of the 12noon opening tomorrow afternoon. The staff want to see how much they can manage to raise the temperature of the pool in 24 hours and then they will be confident of the exact time of opening.



Hypocrisy of Labour over my Council Tax survey

If you’re reading this, then the chances are you’ve already seen the tweets about me being asked by the Standards Board to amend one of my leaflets, following a complaint by Councillor Sir Albert Bore. The Standards Board found that “the questions [of my Council tax survey] do not properly reflect the views expressed by the Leader of the Birmingham Labour Party (Councillor Sir Albert Bore)”. Indeed, you may have seen the comments by Labour party activists taking the high moral ground on this issue. This is sheer hypocrisy on their part, which I explain later

First of all, I regret that my leaflet has been found by the Standards Board not to have reflected accurately what Councillor Sir Albert Bore said in the Council chamber. I have always prided myself on publishing leaflets that are both as accurate as possible and written in plain English.

If I am guilty of anything then I believe I am only guilty of putting Councillor Sir Albert Bore’s words into plain English and giving them the interpretation that everyone in the Council chamber understood them to mean. One of Labour’s own Councillors even tweeted from the Council chamber during Cllr Sir Bore’s speech “our beloved leader appeared to say that we would raise Council Tax! Bad move!”

You can see what Councillor Sir Albert Bore said at

So what did I put in my leaflet that is incorrect? Well, the wording of one of my questions was slightly wrong:

Question 2: How strongly do you agree with the leader of the Birmingham Labour Party that the present Council tax is too low?

What I should have said, which would have been acceptable to the Standards Board, is:

Question 2: How strongly do you agree with the leader of the Birmingham Labour Party that the present Council tax is “artificially low”?

From my perspective, any reasonable person would consider these two questions to mean exactly the same but from a legal viewpoint they are not.

Now that I have agreed the new wording of the question, I am starting to distribute the amended version of this survey. You can see an internet version of the survey, which is acceptable to the Standards Board, at

So why are all these Labour Party activists who are taking the high moral ground on this issue, being hypocrites? Well here’s a there facts there won’t tell you:

1) Labour Councillors have been found guilty by the Standards Board of far worse deeds in the last 12 months and none of these have been reported. Throughout the year complaints are made against Councillors and, rightly or wrongly, there is an agreement that these complaints are not made public even when the Councillors are found guilty. For example within the past twelve months, I know of two Birmingham Labour Councillors were found guilty by the Standards Board of far worse behaviour than anything I done – indeed I am sure their residents would be horrified if they knew what they did. Has this appeared in the press? No. Am I allowed to tell you who these Councillors are? No. But in my case the Labour Party have breached the agreement and leaked the Standards Board decision on my case. Is any action going to be taken against the Labour Party? No! I hope you can understand why I feel there’s double standards at play here.

2) When is Councillor Sir Albert Bore going to come clean on what exactly he meant in the Council Chamber? It’s all very well the Leader of Birmingham Labour Party using the Standards Board to stop leaflets that are not exactly precise with their wording. BUT wouldn’t it be easier all round if Councillor Bore explained how he believes Council Tax is “artificially low” without it also being “too low”? Why did he say it “could” be raising £70million more per year if he doesn’t think it should be? Remember a Labour Councillor tweeted “our beloved leader appeared to say that we would raise Council Tax! Bad move!” He has so far refused to explain his views on Council tax – would a Labour administration raise Council tax above the rate of inflation? All the Labour Party have said is that they will abide with the present administration’s decision to have a 0% increase in Council in 2012/13. But what about 2013/14? – will Labour then increase Council tax above inflation, as they did year after year from 1999 to 2004?

3) When are the Moseley and Kings Heath Labour going to apologise to local residents about all the fantasy facts they regularly put in their leaflets? Remember, in the past few months alone, they have claimed that the present administration has announced the closure of local libraries, when no such announcement had ever been made. They also claimed it had been announced that Kings Heath Police Station would close completely in the evenings and yet no such announcement has ever been made. The Moseley and Kings Heath Labour are carping at my misfortune, when their own performance on accuracy in leaflets is abysmal.

As I said above, I am not happy that my leaflet has been found not to be as precise in accuracy as I would like – I pride myself in accuracy in my leaflets. But equally I think the Labour Party need to be reminded of the words “pot”, “kettle” and “black” if they think they can make political capital out of this.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Croquet comes to Cannon Hill Park on Sunday 15th April

I know this is going to sound like a mad idea. I’ve invited Edgbaston Croquet Club to do a couple of taster sessions for Croquet in the Bowling Green in Cannon Hill Park on Sunday 15th April and Saturday 21st April. They agreed “like a shot”.

Its all free – free equipment hire, free sessions. All we ask is that you wear flat shoes –trainers or similar – to protect the grass. We are planning “Open House” from 14.00h to about 17.00h on each of these dates. You can watch, play and learn a thing or two from a current England International and other Croquet Club members.

The bowling green is between the MAC and the tennis courts.....or even more precise immediately next to the former ticket office for the rowing boats in the big lake.

Edgbaston Croquet Club has existed since 1900 and is the leading West Midlands Croquet Club. Their base in Richmond Hill Road is a tranquil haven, where possible new starters are welcome to drop by – especially on Wednesday & Saturday afternoons. Beginners get plenty of help and guidance, whether the interest is in convivial, gentle exercise or serious sporting ambition.

Croquet is enjoying a strong upsurge. Edgbaston was host to the qualifiers for the last World Championships. The age profile is altering dramatically, with half of the England Squad for the latest World Champs being aged between 16 & 25.

This is an experiment to see what the appetite is for Croquet sessions in Cannon Hill Park. I think Croquet is a great relaxing sport for all the family and groups of is very sociable and notorious for wicked cheating. Ladies in long dresses have been known to conceal Croquet balls under their dresses and kick them along.

You may have read about Croquet in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where the Queen of Hearts uses live flamingos as mallets. Well I can’t promise live flamingos or even an appearance by the Queen of Hearts, but hopefully this will prove popular and the start of another great activity in Cannon Hill Park.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Work begins on restoration of the historic Bells Farm, Druids Heath, Birmingham

Work has now begun on the restoration of the grade II* Bells Farm in Druid Heath, Birmingham. Completion is expected in October 2012.

Bells Farm is on the southern edge of Birmingham, in the middle of a 1960s Council estate. The building dates from 1600 and was nearly demolished in 1978. In 1980, the Council partially restored the building, which included removing all the render that hid the timber framing. The render was put on the building in about 1700, so as to make the building look modern – timber framed buildings did not become fashionable again until the 1850s.

The building has been used by numerous community groups over the last 30 years. Sadly, over the last ten years, the building has suffered from several arson attacks. An arson attack in 2006, completely destroyed the rear wing of the building.

In an effect to fully restore the building, the following money has been identified:

£14,000 from English Heritage to full a Conservation Plan – this was completed by the Birmingham Conservation Trust in 2010

£308,979 from English Heritage towards the restoration
£317,626 from Birmingham City Council

The restoration will involve the complete reconstruction of the rear wing.
The repair of the roof of the building to make sure it is wind and water tight.

Work has already begun on the rear wing and I attach photos of the work so far. As you will see, the foundations are in place. As much of the original timbers as possible has been salvaged. New timbers from English oak have been cut, using the same technique of selecting the timber as would have been done in Tudor times.

In the photos I show a close up of the ends of the new timbers – these all include the central core of the tree, with the core running down one side of the timber. The reasoning for this was to improve the water resistance of the timbers. Any water penetration would follow the rings of the tree and the aim was to position the rings so to offer the greatest resistance to water.

The wing will be rendered, similar to how the building was pre-1980. This is because the original timbers are so badly damaged, that they will not be able to stop water penetration. Rendering will protect the building from any water penetration.

The timber frame of the rear water will go up within the next three weeks.












Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Moseley Road baths on target to re-open week beginning 16th April

I attended a contractors meeting today to get an update on work to get Moseley Road baths re-opened. We are on target to re-open the pool to the public in the week beginning 16th April.

I attach two photos showing the interior of the Pool 2 this morning. As you can see from the photos, the scaffolding is almost completely down. It will be completely removed by tomorrow.

The process of refilling pool 2 will begin over the weekend – can I thank the staff of Moseley Road baths who will be doing this, especially during Easter weekend.

By next Wednesday we will have a firm date for when pool 2 will open. It will be sometime between 16th and 20th April.