Sunday, September 23, 2012

Artist admits that Labour instructed him to include Labour Councillor in JFK memorial

Artist admits that Labour instructed him to include Labour Councillor in JFK memorial

Followers of my blog will know that I am incensed to discover that the new Labour administration have decided, without any consultation, to include a former Labour Councillor’s head in the soon to be unveiled John F Kennedy memorial in Digbeth.

You can see my previous blog on this issue at

Since that blog posting, the Adrian Goldberg Show on Radio WM have taken up this issue and interviewed Oliver Budd, the artist who is recreating the memorial. Oliver appeared on the show on Wednesday 19th September at 11.12am. You can hear the interview on iplayer at The interview starts at 2hours 12minutes.

In the interview, Oliver admits that the new Labour administration have instructed him to include former Councillor Mike Nangle’s head on the memorial.

I would suggest that the local media should now ask Councillor Mike Sharpe, Chair of Planning, what he knows about this. It was him who originally wanted Cllr Nangle’s head included in the mosaic.

Are there any other friends of present Labour Councillors that we will suddenly see appearing in paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Birmingham’s need for a ‘modern mythology’

Birmingham’s need for a ‘modern mythology’

One of Birmingham’s City Council Scrutiny Committees is in the process of doing a scrutiny review on what it means to be a “Brummie”. Paul Dale on the Chamberlain files has done an excellent write up on yesterday’s first hearing at

I don’t intend to get dragged into a debate on what it means to be a “Brummie”, since this question is really worthy of a PhD thesis in itself. What I do want to discuss on this blog entry is Birmingham's lack of a ‘modern mythology’ and its complete inability to celebrate its own famous residents – in this case Ozzy Osborne.

First of all the issue of ‘modern mythology’. I’ll illustrate this point by using the examples of Liverpool and Manchester. Ask any Liverpudian about the history of their city and they will talk about the importance of the docks, the Beatles and other groups like Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Ask someone from Manchester about the history of their city and they will mention the textile industry, New Order, The Smiths, Factory Records and so on. Ask a Birmingham resident and they will simply mention metal bashing and cars manufacturing.

It’s as if in Birmingham, the whole cultural history since 1945 has been collectively erased from its resident’s minds.

When I was Cabinet member for Leisure, Sport and culture (2009 to 2012), one of my pet projects was to try and dust down Birmingham’s recent culture history and create a ‘modern mythology’ for Birmingham. And what a modern mythology Birmingham could have. Here are some examples:

Sir Edward Elgar, one of Britain’s most famous classical music composers – composer of Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches – performed most of his work here in Birmingham. I am informed that Elgar claimed if there was one place on Earth he would always be remembered, it would be Birmingham! Yet there is no mention of him anywhere in Birmingham. Indeed, I did urge Argent, developers for the new Paradise Forum if they could name their two new squares: Elgar Square and Bantock Square.

The Birmingham Surrealist Movement – an important British post-War movement, yet few Birmingham residents have ever heard of it. See

Heavy Metal music – Birmingham and the Black Country is the birthplace of Heavy Metal music. A genre of music that is popular across the world. Indeed, the most famous Birmingham born person in the entire world is Ozzy Osborne. A part from an easily missed ‘pavement star’ on Broad Street pavement there is nothing celebrate Ozzy’s connection to Aston and Birmingham. I will explain how I tried to change that in a bit

British Reggae – Birmingham was important in bringing Jamaican Reggae to the shores of Britain. Aswad, Steel Pulse, UB40 and Musical Youth all played there parts in bringing this genre of music to the British and American mainstream.

Female Black Gospel singers – again Birmingham through its vibrant black gospel singing community has contributed enormously to wider British and World music scene through the likes of Jamilia, Ruby Turner, Jaki Graham, Joan Armatrading, etc

New Romatic Movement – Birmingham was important in the early 1980s New Romantic Movement....and who are recognised across the globe to be the greatest New Romantic band? Duran Duran! Duran Duran are on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for goodness sake, but there is zip all in Birmingham to remember them

Bhangra music – Birmingham is recognised to be the creator and home of Bhangra music. A multi-million pound industry that has gone global, especially in India. Yes, Birmingham is selling Indian music to India!!!!!

So as you can clearly see, I am passionate about rediscovering and celebrating Birmingham modern culture. Yes, I know there are the Broad Street stars – but let’s be honest, these are a bit of a flop. Can anyone honestly name me 5 people on this list of stars? Indeed, has anyone ever actually specifically been to Broad Street to look at the stars? They are not really a tourist attraction.

When I was Cabinet member, I wanted to start to get many of these cultural Birmingham ‘stars’ recognised by the Council – giving them a Freedom of the City or another Award – and have events to link to the presenting of this Award.

The first one proposed was Ozzy Osbourne – the intention was to have a Ozzy Osborne themed Saturday or weekend in Birmingham City Centre. The various Business Improvement Districts could dress up the city centre with banners celebrating Ozzy, after all the hotels would do a great trade from this event. Ozzy Osbourne would receive his medal or whatever on the balcony of the Council House. His management were happy to support this. Victoria Square would have been packed for this and just think of all those visitors shopping in Birmingham. We would have a ‘heavy metal or rock’ concert in Centenary Square, sponsored by a local rock radio station, with Birmingham’s new up and coming heavy metal and rock bands performing. The concert would show that this event is not just about celebrating the past, but promoting new future talent.

This simple layout could be replicated for other presentations: a Duran Duran weekend; a UB40 weekend; a John Joubert weekend (John Joubert is a globally famous composer still living in Moseley – see ); a Brian Griffin weekend (Brian Griffin is a globally famous photographer born in Ladywood – see

The scope to celebrate our upteen famous modern citizens is enormous....and it would put Birmingham on the cultural map.

So with this fantastic idea in hand, in March 2012, I made soundings both to the Lord Mayors Parlour in the Council House and to numerous political colleagues. The response was disappointing, since the feedback was that it felt that only people who had contributed to Birmingham and had lived an exemplary life were recognised and Ozzy Osborne (and other artists) simply did not fit that criteria.

With me losing my Council seat in May 2012, this proposal vanished with me.

Birmingham needs a modern mythology that its residents can be proud of and something that will give the city a new identity to outsiders other than its current image drab concrete buildings and pedestrian subways. Will someone else take the banton and create a modern mythology for Birmingham?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Labour Councillor’s head secretly installed on John F Kennedy memorial

I hope readers will please excuse how incensed I feel on discovering that the Birmingham Labour Party have insisted, without discussion, that the head of former Councillor Mike Nangle is installed on the soon to be re-erected John F Kennedy memorial. Indeed, so incensed, I am tapping heavily on my keyboard as I type.

Readers of my blog will know that I led on the re-erection of this memorial – see past blogs at:

The original memorial was created in 1968, but demolished in 2007 for a major road junction. Using the original full scale drawings, Oliver Budd has been carefully recreating an exact copy of the 1968 mural.

Before I got involved, the proposal was to have bits of the mural either above a shop front or on the end of Dubliner pub in Digbeth. There were also proposals to include modern day figures such as Bob Geldof, Mother Theresa and recently deceased Labour Councillor Mike Nangle.

A small group of us (representatives from the Irish Welfare and myself) got together to stop this stupidity and find a respectful location for the memorial and to keep the mural as per its 1968 design – NO MIKE NANGLE, NOBODY MODERN. Indeed, this decision not to include modern figures was agreed at a public meeting in the Irish Centre.

Even as Oliver Budd was creating the mural in recent months, I did suggest the idea of including Bobby Kennedy, since the Birmingham Irish Catholic Committee that funded the 1968 mural had asked Kenneth Budd at the last minute if Bobby could be included. He couldn’t in 1968, since the mural was finished. Both Oliver Budd and myself agreed that we would not include Bobby Kennedy since we wanted to keep the mural as per 1968.

So what do I discover now looking at Oliver Budd’s blog – MIKE NANGLE’S head included on the mural.

Why is Mike Nangle included? Yes, Mike was a lovely person (and may I add, many a pleasant pint of beer I shared with him in the Prince of Wales pub, Moseley), but he had absolutely nothing to do with the creation or restoration of the Kennedy memorial. There are far more relevant people who could have been included in the memorial - Bobby Kennedy? Father Maguire of St Catherine’s Church, Bristol Street who raised the money in 1968 to fund the mural? members of the Irish Welfare, who with me, worked to find a new respectful site?

This is a purely party political decision. A decision, done in secret, showing how THICK, PHILISTINE and UNETHICAL Birmingham’s Labour administration is!!!!!



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Time to give Shared Space serious consideration in Kings Heath High Street

Time to give Shared Space serious consideration in Kings Heath High Street

Those who have followed my political career will know that I am a great supporter of the Shared Space concept. Shared Space is a continental idea where streets are first of all de-cluttered of all excess signage and pedestrian railings that plague our High Streets. Finally the demarcation between pavement and road surface is blurred, so that it is clear to all that the pedestrian is king – vehicle traffic by default slows down. A good example of a ‘Shared Space’ already exists in Kings Heath, along Popular Road and the adjoining roundabout. Would this work along the High Street?

Of all the places I thought Shared Space could would work in Birmingham is Kings Heath High Street, especially in the section between Vicarage Road and Station Road. It would require a leap of faith by everyone and maybe a smaller section between Vicarage Road and Popular Road should be tried first. Issues like removing pedestrian crossings and replacing them with raised platforms would require a leap of faith for pedestrians. Removing parking spaces for cars along the High Street, between Silver Street and Poplar Road, would require another leap of faith by the traders. Replacing the smooth tarmac road surface with a paved surface would require a leap of faith by the emergency services who prefer smooth and flat roads. What I believe we would end up with is a more attractive street environment for shoppers, a smoother flowing road for vehicles AND reduced accidents.

In the last 4 years there have been 2 deaths along the High Street/Alcester Road South in Kings Heath High Street.

Those deaths were:

14th October 2008 – 70 year old man crushed under Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) on the Alcester Road South across the road from the Pear Tree pub. The victim was crossing the road when the traffic was stationary. He crossed in front of a lorry that was in the queue. Unfortunately he also crossed in front of this lorry, just as the traffic was began to move. The lorry driver, high up in his vehicle, didn’t see the victim and accidently drove over him. A news item can be seen here:

7th November 2011 – 13 year old girl, Hope Fennell, crushed Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) on the High Street in front of Kings Heath Baptist. The victim was crossing the road when the traffic was stationary – the pedestrian crossing further down the road was on ‘red’. She crossed in front of a lorry in the queue just as the lights turned ‘green’ and the traffic began to move. The lorry driver, high up in his vehicle, didn’t see the victim and accidently drove over her. A news item can be seen here:

I know that the Hope Fennell campaign claim “4 deaths in 4 years” along this road. I have no knowledge of a further two similar deaths along this stretch of road and have been unable to find news items relating to any such deaths. If anyone can provide evidence of these two further deaths, I’ll correct this blog entry.

As you can see, these accidents have the common denominator of stationary traffic and a pedestrian crossing immediately in front of a stationary lorry. The lorry does not see the pedestrian crossing due to the driver being so high up. The traffic begins to move and the pedestrian is run-over.

It is therefore completely understandable that the Hope Fennell campaign want to see HGVs banned from Kings Heath High Street either all day or during the busiest parts of the day. I understand and sympathise with this argument, BUT I can’t support it. My fear is that banning HGVs either fully or partially from Kings Heath High Street will simply divert them down neighbouring residential streets. Residential roads such as Valentine Road, Springfield Road, Barn Lane, School Road, Billesley Lane, Moor Green Lane and Avenue Road are already de facto Kings Heath by-passes. Isn’t it more sensible to keep HGVs away from residential roads and deal with the issue itself on Kings Heath High Street?

An argument has been put forward that all the HGV traffic on Kings Heath High Street could be diverted onto the A38. This is a non-starter since most traffic from the M40 and M42 is already directed away from the A435 by motorway signage. The vast majority of the HGVs using Kings Heath High Street are doing so, since they are accessing businesses and residents along the A435 corridor. Remember that the HGV that tragically killed Hope Fennell is exactly the same type of vehicle that is used by couriers to deliver parcels to residents or to deliver goods to small shops. The impact of banning these vehicles either from the High Street or even the entire area would have enormously detrimental implications for local residents and businesses.

In the short term, I honestly believe we need to look at installing short stretches of pedestrian railings at all pedestrian crossings along the High Street. And I say this as someone who wants to keep the pedestrian railings to a minimum. Can I also add that those who campaigned against the installation of railings earlier this year at the spot when Hope Fennell died were completely wrong in their argument – see article at The case put forward in the article that the railings “could lead to pedestrians being trapped in the path of heavy lorries” is total nonsense. Yes, there have been cases in London where cyclists have been crushed by lorries on railings where roads bend sharply. In this case, the proposed railings were short in length and on a straight bit of Kings Heath High Street. I have seen no evidence of cyclists or pedestrians ever been crushed on short lengths of straight pedestrian railings.

So yes, I accept as a short term measure the installation of some pedestrian railings at all the pedestrian crossings in Kings Heath shopping centre. This will reduce the chances of pedestrians walking in front of stationary HGVs, plus keep HGVs on the A435 and away from residential roads.

But long term, I honestly believe a shared space concept for Kings Heath High Street needs to be considered.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Labour really thinks of the residents of Kings Heath

What Labour really thinks of the residents of Kings Heath

“you don't want all those legions of plug-ugly, baseball-capped and ski-panted mingers from Kings Heath coming to Moseley to shop” – Moseley and Kings Heath Labour Party election agent for 2012

Followers of my blog and twitters will know that I was an avid contributor to both the Stirred messageboard and it’s follow-up Re-Stirred messageboard. On the most flimsiest of excuses the two moderators of the Re-Stirred messageboard: Kevin Chapman and Barnard Hobbit, banned me from contributing to the messageboard.

I am clearly digressing here, since the title of this contribution is “what Labour really thinks of the residents of Kings Heath”

Well, even though I am banned from contributing to the Re-Stirred messageboard, I do still read it and lo and behold what pops up this morning: a contribution from a certain gentleman called Gaston St Claude. His thread can be seen at

Gaston St Claude is a pseudonym and has an uncanny use of words and references to issues that are remarkably similar to another previous contributor to internet message: Bill (William) Lees, election agent and organiser for the Moseley and Kings Heath Ward Labour Party since the year dot. Look at any election leaflet by the Labour Party in Moseley and Kings Heath and his name and address appears at the bottom. Indeed, he was the Labour candidate in this Ward in 2007.

Mr Bill Lees was a regular contributor to the old Stirrer message until I revealed comments he had made about residents of Kings Heath on another message. After this Mr Lees stopped contributing to the messageboard, but a whole series of pseudonyms have appeared since who remind me exactly of him.

As Mr Lees is still a major influence within the Moseley and Kings Heath Ward, this gives me an opportunity to dust down my files and remind residents of what the Labour Party election agent thinks of them.

Below are quotes by Mr Bill Lees, Election Agent for the Moseley and kings Heath Labour Party, on Kings Heath. Just in case Mr Lee’s decides to erase these comment, I do still have screen dumps of these and many other of his comments on local life and people.

Kings Heath – “Minger City” – see

Kings Heath High Street. “Leggings and dandruff.” – see

Kings Heath – “KH is, after all, the home of a thousand mingers” – see

Kings Heath – “you don't want all those legions of plug-ugly, baseball-capped and ski-panted mingers from Kings Heath coming to Moseley to shop” – see

Below are clippings from Labour Party leaflets that Mr Lees has appeared in:

Photobucket Photobucket


Monday, September 10, 2012

Labour promised a Garden Show in Kings Heath Park....


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Has Birmingham’s Labour Leaders office misinformed the press?

Has Birmingham’s Labour Leaders office misinformed the press?

The Birmingham Post has published an article today about Albert Bore’s ‘Team Birmingham’ meeting at Downing Street yesterday. As readers of my blog will be aware, John Hemming MP was banned from this meeting, even though 6 Birmingham Labour MPs attended.

The Birmingham Post claims that the reason John Hemming was not allowed to attend was “apparently because there was no room”. The article has a photo of the meeting, showing a table fully occupied. See image below.


But hand on a minute. The ITN website contains another photograph taken at the same location and guess what – there’s an empty seat two seats from the Prime Minster.


If anyone at the Council has told the local media that there was no room in Downing Street Cabinet Room for John Hemming MP this is a downright lie.

Both John Hemming and Paul Tilsley, Leader of Birmingham Liberal Democrat’s, have e-mailed Councillor Sir Albert Bore requesting an explanation as to why John Hemming was banned from the meeting. At time of writing, there has been no response.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Updated photo from the Birmingham Labour Party's shindig at Downing Street this morning

Updated photo from the Birmingham Labour Party's shindig at Downing Street this morning


Why did Birmingham's Labour Council ban a Lib Dem Birmingham MP from today’s Downing Street meeting?

Why did Birmingham's Labour Council ban a Lib Dem Birmingham MP from today’s Downing Street meeting?

This morning Councillor Sir Albert Bore, Labour Leader of Birmingham City Council led a delegation of “political leaders and representatives of the business community” to meet the Prime Minister to discuss numerous issues relating to Birmingham.

So far so good.

But why did the Labour Leader's office ban John Hemming MP, Liberal Democrat MP for Yardley from attending the meeting?

Below is the text of an e-mail to John Hemming to the Leaders office, saying that he couldn’t attend the briefing meeting on Wednesday 29th August, but would be able to attend the meeting in Downing Street on 5th September. Thus:

"John Hemming"

24/08/2012 18:17

To "[name of contact within Leaders Office removed]

Subject Re: Invitation to Briefing - Birmingham takes its case to Westminster

I won't be able to attend this meeting I am happy to join the delegation, however.

Below is the text of the response from the Councillor sir Albert Bore’s office:

To: John Hemming

Sent: Friday, August 24, 2012 6:43 PM

Subject: Re: Invitation to Briefing - Birmingham takes its case to Westminster

Dear John

I am sorry to hear you are not able to attend the MPs' briefing next week.

Unfortunately the make up of the delegation has already been settled, and Paul Tilsley was invited on behalf of the LibDems. As we only have half an hour, we are having to be extremely firm with numbers, but the delegation would be happy to invite you to the post meeting de-brief in Portcullis House, if that were helpful?

I do hope you understand.

yours sincerely

[name removed]

Cabinet Support to the Leader

I could accept the above, if, say, there was only one MP to represent all the 10 Birmingham MPs. But let's have a look at this photo taken inside 10 Downing Street.


As you can see there were 4 Labour MP’s there.

Further photos outside Parliament have 2 more Labour MP’s in them: Richard Burden and Khalid Mahmood.

It is an absolute disgrace that the Birmingham Labour Leadership have used this meeting for party political purposes and banned a Lib Dem MP who had every right to be there as well. How can Cllr Sir Albert Bore honestly try to work with Birmingham’s business community when he is going to dupe them into attending party political meetings.