Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hall Green constituency Labour Councillors move decision making further away from local people

Hall Green constituency Labour Councillors move decision making further away from local people           

The nine Labour Councillors of Hall Green constituency – this includes the two Labour Councillors on Moseley and Kings Heath Ward – voted on Tuesday that in future all Hall Green constituency Committees will be:
  • a)      Held in the Council House in the city centre and no longer in community centres in Hall Green constituency
  • b)      Held in the afternoon and no longer in the evening when the public can attend
  • c)       The public can no longer speak at the Constituency meeting as they have done so previously.

All three Liberal Democrat Councillors, including Councillor Ernie Hendricks voted again this.

This is in complete contrast to the Conservative-run Sutton Coldfield Constituency and the Liberal Democrat-run Yardley Constituency committees, which will be held locally and in the evening. Both Committees have still to decide whether to continue to allow the public to speak, after the latest edict from the Labour Leadership insisting they shouldn’t be allowed.

It is shameful that Labour are trying to move decision further away from the public.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Moseley and Kings Heath Labour Councillors stay quiet on Billesley Lane fish and chip shop, Moseley

Moseley and Kings Heath Labour Councillors stay quiet on Billesley Lane fish and chip shop, Moseley

The planning report on the proposed fish and chip shop at 124 Billesley Lane has now been published and is it recommending ‘refusal’. The planning application will be considered at next Thursday’s Planning Committee and I am down to speak as an objector.

Back ground to this application can be seen at:

What is disgraceful about this application is that both local Labour Councillors have not even bothered to comment on this contentious application, despite two of my neighbours contacting and speaking to Councillor Lisa Trickett about it. They both asked if she would support the residents in objecting to the fish and chip shop.

Thankfully, local Liberal Democrat Councillor, Ernie Hendricks, has objected to the application.

It just goes to show how Labour Councillors are again returning to past form and poorly representing the residents of Moseley and Kings Heath.

Unveiling of Birmingham's first Music Heritage plaque in York Road, Kings Heath

Unveiling of Birmingham's first Music Heritage plaque in York Road, Kings Heath








Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bham Mail article over 'faked' letters of support for Billesley Lane fish and chip shop

Bham Mail article over 'faked' letters of support for Billesley Lane fish and chip shop


Friday, June 22, 2012

Section 222 Injunction Granted for Moseley Village to stop aggressive begging and street drinking

Section 222 Injunction Granted for Moseley Village to stop aggressive begging and street drinking

I’ve just been sent the below e-mail from the local police about the introduction of a Section 222 injunction. I would like to thank Jonathan Antill and Oliver Humpidge for their work on this, which they have been working on since late last year.

We the sudden increase in street drinking and aggressive begging in the last six weeks in the centre of Moseley, hopefully this will be useful addition in the numerous tools in combating this anti-social activity.

In the meantime Councillor Ernie Hendricks has been working in the background with council officers and the CDT and has been successful in raining in £90,000 to fund a multi agency response to tackle the street drinkers and aggressive beggars. It is hoped the funding will be used to guide and encourage them towards anti-addiction clinics and mental health support if necessary.

Text of e-mail as follows

Subject: s.222 Injunction Granted for Moseley Village!

It brings me great pleasure to announce that the High Court today granted a
12 month s.222 Injunction against "Persons Unknown" for Moseley Village. I
would have attached a copy of the order for your perusal however the Court
cannot release the order until Monday. I will cascade the order as soon as
I receive it, which will include a map of the applicable area, however here
are the conditions:

Conditions of the s.222 Injunction

1. All persons are forbidden, in any public place within Moseley Village,
the boundaries of which are delineated in red on a map attached to this
order at Schedule 1 to this Order, from:
(a) being in possession of an opened container of alcohol, save that the
possession of such a container is permitted where the alcohol within the
container is being or was consumed, with permission of the licensee, within
the curtilage of licensed premises with an on-licence;
(b) begging;
(c) urinating or defecating or exposing their genitalia, other than when
using a toilet which is available for use by members of the public;
(d) having sexual intercourse

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this case, especially
the residents who provided the majority of the 28 witness statements.

This is the first time that Birmingham City Council have obtained a s.222
Injunction in relation to this type of activity for a specified area rather
than against an individual. The legislation has been used previously
against Car Cruisers in another part of the City.

There will now be a period of publicity to ensure the wider community are
sufficiently aware of the conditions. Leaflets and posters will be produced
for local residents and shops, which will be hand-delivered by the Safer
Communities Team and members of the Moseley & Kings Heath Neighbourhood
Team. There will also be an application for a press release and notices
placed inside the s.222 zone.

An exercise of informing the local hostels will be undertaken immediately.
West Midlands Police will also identify any individuals in the local area
who may have caused similar problems in the past. They will then receive
details of the s.222 to persuade them against breaching the order.

The Safer Communities Team and West Midlands Police will then begin
enforcing this order. I will update you concerning the progress of the
publicity and give a clear date of when we will commence enforcing the

Anyone who subsequently breaches the order will be served with a copy and
named within these proceedings. This means that any breach of the order
needs to be reported to West Midlands Police on 101. Birmingham City
Council will then use the evidence, along with the name, D.O.B and address
of the individual to record their details with the High Court. If the
individual then breaches the Injunction, it would be considered contempt of
court and they would be back before a Judge for a Committal hearing, which
could result in a fine, imprisonment or both.

I do hope this e-mail clearly outlines our intention for dealing with the
enforcement side of the s.222, I do wholly appreciate there is a support
side that is just as important. If you do have any concerns or queries,
then please feel free to contact me directly and I will be more than happy
to discuss this in greater detail.

Kind regards

Jonathan Antill
Safer Communities Officer - East LPU
Birmingham Community Safety Partnership

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Update on the Meteor Ford chestnut tree

Update on the Meteor Ford chestnut tree

Councillor Ernie Hendricks has asked me to circulate the his message and the attached document. Both Ernie and Moseley Community Development Trust (CDT) organised a meeting between Tesco representatives and numerous Moseley organisations. The notes from the meeting sound positive and can be downloaded at

The background to the meeting can be read at

Councillor Ernie Hendricks message is as follows:

Dear resident

Many of you will be aware of our efforts to save the Chestnut Tree at the Meteor Ford site. A group of us had a meeting yesterday with representatives from Tesco. As was expected, they gave a number of logical reasons as to why the tree had to go. However, they have gone away to review our suggestions which were;

· Is the tree’s ability to withstand change being understated?

· Can the boreholes that will affect the tree roots be dug at an angle?

· Can the tanks be filled with concrete rather than removed?

· Is it possible to retain the tree with the store footprint/position as it is now?

The good news is they have agreed to come back and have ongoing conversations with us. For further detail of the meeting, please see the attached note prepared by members of the group on behalf of the CDT.

Best wishes

Ernie Hendricks

My response to Deputy Leaders claims over future funding for events

My response to Deputy Leaders claims over future funding for events

Both Councillors Ian Ward and Sir Albert Bore’s obsessive search for what they term a “financial black hole” has hit the headlines today : Budget cuts could put Birmingham public events at risk says council deputy leader -

Before I deal with the meaty issue of these claimed budget cuts, can we just sort out the use of the phrase “financial black hole”. Councillors Ian Ward and Sir Albert Bore keep using this phrase, but in completely the wrong context. A quick google of the term, explains that a “financial black hole” is defined as “something that consumes alot of money, but with very little return”. This is completely different to what our Leader and Deputy Leader means.

Councillors Ian Ward and Sir Albert Bore have been repeatedly claiming that the financial figures for both last years and this year’s budget do not add up and that somewhere there is a financial short fall. Despite being in power for four weeks, they have so far failed to show where the financial figures don’t stack up.

Coming to the issue of the funding of these events. Both Councillors are correct that there is a reduction in funding for community events, but they are wrong that this funding cannot be bridged by private sponsorship during this financial year.

To help provide some background as to the events the City Council provided grants for, I create the below table for the financial year 2011/12.

Grant given to event in 2011/12
Total cost to organisers using Council’s event team. The event organiser would have to pay the Council the difference between this figure and the grant provided. Most organisers raise this money through sponsorship
St George's Day
Lord Mayor's Show
Armed Forces Day
Birmingham Carnival
Eid Mela
ArtsFest – this included the FlowerFest
Trafalgar Day
Pype Hayes fire works
Christmas Parade
Holocaust Memorial Day
Chinese New Year
St. Patrick’s Day Parade

All the events above cost alot more to organise than the above figures show. All the figures above show are just the cost of hiring the Councils event team and facilities.

To explain the figures further, let’s look at St Patricks Day Parade. The cost of all the road closures, the hire of Council fencing along the route, cost of Council security, etc, was £42,180.

The Council gave the St Patricks Day Parade community a £20,000 grant. So the committee had to find the difference of £22,180. They found this money through fund raising and sponsorship.

So as you can see for the majority of these events, the Council grant is only a part of their overall funding.

Coming to the claim by Councillors Ian Ward and Sir Albert Bore that the cost of the events for the year 2012/13 does not add up. They are correct that there is a reduction in funding for community events. They are wrong that this funding cannot be bridged by private sponsorship during this financial year.

The previous administration had to make some difficult decisions for the 2011/12 budget. Our priority was protecting the more vulnerable members of our society and as a result budgets such as events had to take a greater amount of financial savings. No one takes any pleasure in reducing budgets, lest of all me.

As the Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and Culture I argued to be given time to find private sponsorship for these community events. In the short term, the grants would be maintained by finding the money within the portfolio budget. Within a short timescale of less than 6 months, an agency would be identified who would match private sponsors to each of these events. The amount of sponsorship we are looking for is relatively small compared to the sponsorship levels events up and down Britain get.

If you google “sponsorship agency uk” you will finds scores of agencies that find sponsorship deals.

I tasked my officers with kick starting a procurement exercise to identify the agency who would be able to find sponsors for our numerous community events. There are numerous agencies in the private sector who match up sponsors to events.

Before the start of the election campaign in April, my officers were indicating that they were getting close to kicking off this procurement exercise. If Councillor Ian Ward is now saying the officers can’t do this procurement, then maybe he should look at his own abilities to manage and motivate officers, before taking aim at others.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Below is the written (and answer) question that Councillor Robert Alden (Conservative, ErdingtonWard) submitted to last weeks full Council. This answer is relevant to my my blog at

To go green or brown?


The Council’s new policy includes plans for over 70,000 homes to be built in Birmingham the equivalent of 4 new Council wards. This obviously leaves the Council with a dilemma of whether to build on Brown field or Green field sites.

Therefore can the Deputy Leader now explain to the Council some details of the policy considered when working out that 70,000 homes was achievable and not just an empty election promise, where will the houses be built, what type of housing will they be and what percentage are you asking to be social housing?


The estimate of a 70,000 dwelling requirement is based on work carried out within the Development Directorate during the previous Conservative/Lib Dem led administration in looking at the implications of Government population projections and household forecasts.  The background material to the housing requirement figure was made available to Members at the February 2012 meeting of the Co-ordinating Overview and Scrutiny Committee, of which you were a member.  Since this figure was produced, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published new population projections which suggest the growth pressures may be even higher.

Two key pieces of technical work are nearing completion – a Strategic Housing Market Assessment and a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment. These will be used to determine the level of housing growth. However, since the indications of long term capacity to build new homes within the built-up area of Birmingham are likely to be around 43,000 dwellings, there will be pressure to find additional capacity.

Within Birmingham, the Core Strategy will determine the scale of housebuilding.  Through the new ‘Duty to Co-operate’ embodied in the Localism Act, collaborative working through the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, the West Midlands Joint Committee and bi-lateral discussions with neighbouring authorities, will help determine how much of the growth pressures might be accommodated outside Birmingham.  The Strategic Housing Market Assessment will provide us with a robust analysis to help determine what types and sizes of dwellings need to be provided.

In relation to the title of the question, I would hope that all Members will agree that meeting future housing needs is crucial if we are to avoid severe social problems through over-crowding and deteriorating health and the development of brownfield sites will always remain a priority. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Albert Bore’s 70,000 new houses: a mad and bad decision

Albert Bore’s 70,000 new houses: a mad and bad decision

At last week’s full Council meeting, Birmingham City Council Leader, Councillor Sir Albert Bore, announced that it was his intention to “accelerate the city’s house building target of 70,000 by 2026.”

Such an announcement seems at first glance very laudable and the local media have simply reported it verbatim. But a little bit digging by my colleague, Councillor Jerry Evans (Lib Dem, Springfield Ward) has revealed that this new target could have disastrous consequences for our city. It will potentially mean the following happens:
  • the removal of Mature Suburbs planning policy that stops developers building housing estates in large back gardens. This planning policy is particularly important in areas like Moseley, Harborne, Sutton Coldfield, Hall Green and parts of Acocks Green.
  • the loss of parts of our parks and some public open spaces
  • the lost of part of the Green Belt that surrounds Birmingham

Building more than 43,000 dwellings in Birmingham will lead to the above happening.

How do I know this, you may ask? Simple. The Council has already calculated the impact of different levels of future housing as part the new Birmingham Core Strategy. This document sets the framework around which future planning decisions will be made. If you want to protect the city’s green belt and mature suburbs, then this is the document you need to get that protection into – all developers and planning officers will work to this document up until 2026.

The final draft of the Birmingham Core Strategy prior to public consultation went to Cabinet on 8th November 2010. You can download it from Download the document called “The Birmingham Plan Emerging Strategy _.pdf”. Go to page 21 of 237, paragraph 1.85.

As you will see from paragraph 1.85, the public were consulted on three options for the increase in home building in Birmingham by 2026. The three options were:
  • Option 1 – 50,000 dwellings. Involving continuation of existing policy approaches.
  • Option 2 – 55 to 60,000 dwellings. This involved more radical change in areas including the ‘Eastern Corridor’ and more relaxed approach towards the loss of employment land, open space and development in the mature suburbs. It would also involve development of three new suburban centres as the focus for shops, employment and local services
  • Option 3 – up to 65,000 dwellings. This would have involved extensions of urban areas (designed Green Belt areas) and expanded urban areas in either the North/North East and/or South of the city.

Following consultation, it was agreed at Cabinet that “Option 3 has, therefore, been dismissed and the Strategy is based on a combination of Options 1 and 2.” – paragraph 4.4 in the covering Cabinet report.

The combination of option 1 and 2 would involve trying to build up to 60,000 dwellings whilst, somehow, protecting our mature suburbs and green belt.

More recent work by Council officers preparing the final version, post public consultation, of the Birmingham Core Strategy shows that once we build above 43,000 dwellings, then the Council would need to abandon its Mature Suburbs policy, plus look at building housing on surround green belt.

Now that Councillor Sir Albert Bore has unilaterally decided that the Birmingham Core Strategy will now in involve building 70,000 houses up to 2026, then Sir Albert needs to answer some simple questions, quickly: where are these houses going to be built? Is he now abandoning the Mature Suburbs policy that protects so many rear gardens? Is he going to build on the Green Belt?

We need to know, before this 70,000 figure is formally adopted in the Birmingham Core Strategy. His announcement was certainly a mad and bad decision.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Man dead for three years manages to write letter of support for a Moseley fish and chip shop

Man dead for three years manages to write letter of support for a Moseley fish and chip shop

Last night I asked Birmingham City Council Planning department to investigate ten letters of support for a Moseley fish and chip shop which I believe could be fraudulent. The ten letters included:
  • One from a resident who has been dead for three years (he died in April 2009), yet has managed to sign and date a letter 30th May 2012
  • One from a resident who makes reference to the dead man already mentioned supporting the planning application.
  • Four letters from residents who are not on the electoral register (my electoral register dates from 2nd April 2012)
  • One letter that isn’t even signed
  • Four letters that have completely different signatures to this in similar letters of support that they provided in 2010. The developer provided a package of letters of support in the 2010 application.

The planning application is 2012/03514/PA - 124 Billesley Lane Moseley Birmingham B13 9RD - Extension to existing A1 retail unit, erection of A5 unit, fish and chip shop, (with roller shutters) & 1 self contained flat on first floor.

The location is a former off-license at the corner of Billesley Lane and Southlands Road. Residents of Moseley will know that up until 3 years ago is was a Victoria Wine shop for almost 30 years and became a Threshers in its final year of existence.

Also, I live 3 doors away from this location at 12 Southlands Road, hence my interest.

This is the fourth attempt by the developer to get planning permission to build a massive two storey side extension for a fish and chip shop. In the previous three attempts the developer has withdrawn the planning application at the last minute. Usually a developer will withdraw a planning application, because the planning officers are recommending refusal and the developer does not want a future application to be blotted by a previous refusal.

The residents who live immediately around this property are not happy with this proposal – this includes me. I’ve objected already and made my neighbours are aware of this application. My objection can be seen at:

I have checked with the Planning department and the application has so far received 19 letters of support and 13 letters of objection. None of the letters of support are from residents who live immediately next to the property. I asked the Planning Department if I could see these letters of support and the first one I saw was from a gentleman who died alone, at 3 Southlands Road in April 2009 – Mr Avtar Singh. The family that have lived there since are of Irish ancestry. This gentleman has managed to sign and date a letter on 30th May 2012, even though he died in 2009!

I have asked Planning Department if 10 out of the 18 letters of support can be investigated and if possible removed.



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Update on Meteor Ford tree protest

Just an update on the protest against the cutting down of the mature chestnut tree on the Meteor Ford site, corner of Oxford Road and St Marys Row, Moseley.

After a 4 hour stand-off between protestors (including myself and Councillor Ernie Hendricks) and the contractor, the police mediated between us. The contractor agree to suspend any more operations for today, so that the local Ward Councillors could talk to planning to see if anything could be done to protect the tree or stop it being cut down.

Just for some background: the contractor tried to cut the tree down two Sundays ago. A local resident contacted Councillor Ernie Hendricks, who then went straight out to the contractor who was setting up to chop down the tree. Ernie them told that that as far as he was aware, they did not having planning permission to cut down the tree, since it was a condition of the planning permission for the Tesco’s supermarket that it was retained. The contractor then agreed to stop work.

Further investigation by Ernie, has shown that the developer wants the tree removed, since its roots would be in the way. Ernie asked for evidence to support this and why the development could not be altered, so as to retain the tree. So far no evidence has been provided.

Then this morning at 8.20am, Ernie is telephoned by the same resident, to say the contractors have started removing some of the branches. Ernie went straight out and stood under the tree to stop the work and then contacted me..........and I e-mailed, twitter and telephone everyone to help join the protest.

I attach photos, showing the tree in question, plus photos from the protest.






Friday, June 08, 2012

Labour’s hypocrisy over Football on Birmingham’s Big Screen

Labour’s hypocrisy over Football on Birmingham’s Big Screen

The Labour administration that is now in charge of Birmingham City Council have today announced that none of the European Football matches will be shown on the Big Screen in Victoria Square. The article in today’s Birmingham Mail can be seen at

Now I agree with this decision, since it is similar to the one I had to make two years ago, as Cabinet member for Leisure, sport and Culture. We decided then, on safety grounds, not to show the 2010 World Cup matches on the Big Screen.

But hang on a moment, what did Labour, and Councillor Ian Ward – now Deputy Leader of Birmingham’s Labour administration– think of my decision in 2010? Well let’s have a look at the minutes of the full Council on 15th June 2010, where Councillor Ian Ward’s comments were recorded verbatim:

Councillor Ward Supplementary Question
“Lord Mayor, England have not made the best of starts in the FIFA
World Cup, unfortunately. I could quite agree, Lord Mayor that the
Government have not made the best starts either, however, I cannot
help but feel that Birmingham have scored something of an own goal in
not ensuring that football fans can watch World Cup matches on the
big screen in Victoria Square. The screen of course has laid dormant
for several years at a cost in excess of £1m to the Birmingham tax
payers. When Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and Swansea have
embraced the World Cup and encouraged fans to watch the games on
big screens in their cities, why is it that Birmingham has failed to get in
the game?”

So as you can see above, Councillor Ian Ward then thought that not showing the World Cup football on the Victoria Square Big Screen was “something of an own goal”.

Move forward two years and in the new Labour administration, where the post of Leisure, Sport and Culture has been abolished and its responsibilities distributed amongst 14 senior politicians. Councillor Ian Ward will now be one of four Cabinet members who had to be jointly consulted on whether or not to show European Football on the Big Screen in Victoria Square.

Does our Deputy Leader now think that not showing football on the Victoria Square’s Big Screen is “something of an own goal?” and what made him change his mind?