West Midlands New Economics Group

Thursday 25th May 5-7 pm

Open meeting: FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

25 May – BREXIT – looking forward

What do we want as the outcome to the negotiations?

What worked for us in the EU?

Are there opportunities to introduce new things we think desirable?

A round table discussion

All welcome. 

Contributions of £2 to cover the cost of room hire 

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BFOE’s community share offer closes on June 2nd

Birmingham Friends of the Earth own The Warehouse in Digbeth, operating it as a not-for-profit business whilst campaigning for the improvement of the local environment. They want to raise investment capital to refurbish their building, which will lead to an increase in the financial, social and environmental value of that space:

  • there will be more space to let that is of a higher quality; this will allow them to increase the amount of space they provide and to maintain or increase the amount they charge per square foot for that space;
  • they will be looking to exceed the legal requirements (Building Regulations Part L) for conserving energy in their building by installing more insulation and more efficient glazing;
  • and they will be more accessible to wheelchair users and people with limited mobility and offer more community meeting facilities. The work will also allow them to reduce administration costs and focus more on meeting their social goals.

See the video and read the well-produced share offer summary complete with plans. Then:

  1. Invest! If you are able to please invest whatever you can between £250 and £10,000. If you have some money in an ISA earning 0.5% interest it could be doing a lot of good. If you know you are going to invest, please do so as soon as possible as this helps them to demonstrate it’s a viable prospect with gathering momentum
  2. Tell everybody you can about it – when you’re campaigning and in your everyday life. Friends, relatives, colleagues, rich uncles – there are a lot of people that would like the chance to make an ethical investment, the challenge they have is getting the word out to enough people. It’s not a donation so they’re not asking people to give them their money, it’s an investment
  3. Support the social media campaignshare, like, retweet anything you see about the share offer – this will help them to reach as many people as possible.

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 In February Pat Thomas wrote an articleLet’s get UK chefs talking about GMOs’.

San Carlo is ahead of the game. 

Outside its restaurant in Temple Street, Birmingham San Carlo’s menu sheets open with the declaration (photographed in driving rain): “We are advised by all our suppliers that all their products are GM free”

 San Carlo is one of the restaurants founded by Carlo di Stefano which have won more than thirty regional national awards – to read more go to: https://sancarlo.co.uk/our-story/. There are sixteen in Britain and a growing number overseas. Not only is it ‘GM wise’ but – as visitors from Mumbai last Wednesday all agreed – lunch there was delicious.

This year ‘Beyond GM’ is introducing ‘GMO conversation’ to chefs, caterers, restaurateurs, hoteliers and others in the British food service industry.

Pat Thomas (below left) noted in March that in the US, chefs like Alice Waters and Tom Colicchio are leading the public discussion on GMOs. But in the UK our chefs, caterers, hoteliers and restaurateurs are largely silent – and possibly not well-informed. She adds that concern in Europe is already growing. In France, an open letter about GMOs and the corporate takeover of the food has been signed (so far) by 330 chefs, hoteliers, restaurateurs and others in the food industry. The letter was launched on gastronomy news website Atabula and initiated by its founder and editor, Franck Pinay-Rabaroust, a former editor of the Michelin Guide.

A survey (now closed) was organized which focussed on preferences and informed choice when eating out and its early results will be brought to a roundtable on provenance hosted by Chef Cyrus Todiwala. It will also inform a report being produced on GMOs in the restaurant and catering food chain and this, in turn, will form the basis of talks planned for later in the year.

 

 

 

 

Hippo says: “We can forget the divide between left and right or whatever other divide the ambitious politician might try to invent. The divide is between the old who enjoyed student grants, decent healthcare, access to the housing market, social mobility and a pension and the young who are offered none of the above”.

Plastic Hippo writes that the government, currently deciding to deny voting rights to millions of young citizens, “might appear a little harsh if not actually undemocratic”. He offers ‘overwhelming evidence of reckless irresponsibility’, describing its generation (‘millions of people in the UK aged between 50 and 65’), as:

 “a group of wanton hedonists who deserve to be disenfranchised on the grounds of poor taste alone without even considering the total lack of respect, gratitude or accountability that they exhibit. Embracing a lifestyle of binge drinking, drug-taking and promiscuity, it is obvious that for the good of the nation, anyone aged between 50 and 70 should not be allowed to vote or to stand in an election to public office . . .

“Born after the Second World War . . . these self-proclaimed baby-boomers are now in positions of power and influence and have managed to turn a post-war economic miracle into a decade of unnecessary austerity that benefits the rich at the expense of the poor . . .

“(and) have brought us to the brink of a third global conflict, encouraging hatred and division within and beyond nations”.

A generation flocking to hear Jeremy Corbyn who offers them hope of a better future

“In 2014 there were about one and a half million 16 to 17-year-olds in the UK and in the last three years that number has almost certainly increased . . . Denied Surestart Centres, sensible class sizes in primary schools, adequate learning resources in secondary school and barriers to tertiary education, it is little wonder that the current government refuses to allow a democratic voice to the young people who will inherit the mess (remember that golden excuse of the last seven years) left by a government that cut ESA and tripled university tuition fees. People under the age of 25 do not qualify for housing benefit and have no right to the national living wage”.

Their fate is in the hands of this ungrateful post-war generation – regardless of ‘overwhelming evidence of reckless irresponsibility’ – charged by Hippo with “blatant indolence, a woeful lack of awareness and an apathetic indifference worthy of sheep being driven to an abattoir . . .”.

Caveat: the writer reminds Hippo that thousands of that fortunate generation have regularly and vehemently condemned the political measures depriving the young of chances in life enjoyed by the post-war generation.

But they have been denied an effective voice by an electoral system, applauded as offering  ‘strong government’ which is willing and able to steamroller the hopes of the young and all on lower incomes or in bad health.

 

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On 12th May, the Chairman of the Dickens Heath Residents Association reports that the Planning Inspectorate has refused the landowner’s appeal against for permission to build a detached house in Rumbush Lane Coppice (B90).

Their decision follows the refusal, on 18th April, of an application to fell 31 trees in Rumbush Lane Coppice several protected by Tree Preservation Orders to make way for this building. The inspectorate noted that the local area has been subject to an extensive amount of built development including a large new residential area, some of which is still under construction, immediately to the west of the site. The site and the wooded area immediately to the north east therefore provides a pleasant verdant feature within an increasingly built-up area and a notable area of mature woodland in local views including along Rumbush Lane and the other nearby residential streets.

The local community campaigned hard for this outcome, backed by local residents’ groups, the Solihull Tree Wardens, Solihull MBC Tree Officer and Dickens Heath Parish Council. 

The Residents’ Association welcomes these decisions, which they expect will finally close down options for future development and fully reinforce the protected status of this important local coppice.

 

 

 

 

Theresa May has announced that the Conservatives will renew a pledge to hold a free vote on overturning 2004 ban on the blood sport. During a visit to a factory in Leeds, the Prime Minister said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against. As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting, and we maintain our commitment, we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party, to allow a free vote”.

Is anyone surprised? What are the lives of a few foxes and the welfare of our least fortunate citizens to a person prepared to press the nuclear button?

Nicola Stavrinou writes about this repeal in Redbrick* (accessed via the Brummie aggregator):

She asks why: as 84% of British people are opposed to fox-hunting, would the Conservative Party back such an unpopular repeal?

Her answer: “Theresa May is using this repeal to gain back the hardliner Tories who wish to see the ban lifted once and for all. She is going for an electoral majority which could potentially remove Labour and SNP from the equation. The anti-hunting Labour and SNP MPs who voted to ban fox-hunting could potentially be replaced with Conservative MPs who are pro-hunting. May knows that she has the power to pass unfavourable laws because of the Conservative’s recent surge in popularity, most recently seen in the Mayoral elections from the beginning of the month”.

Wryly she concludes: “I have no doubt that if there is a potentially high Conservative majority win in the snap election, this ban will be lifted. Not that it has actually stopped anyone from hunting since then anyway”.

*Redbrick is the student publication of the University of Birmingham, established in 1936 under the original title Guild News

It has evolved to include eleven sections covering wide areas of student life, and expanded into the world of digital journalism. All content is produced by student journalists, including reporters, commentators, photographers and editors. As a student society, any student of the University of Birmingham can join and contribute to the publication.

The hard copy is published fortnightly and its website is updated continuously with regular content, videos, audio clips and photography. Events are covered through live blogging, providing a platform for readers to get directly involved with the debates. The website currently receives approximately 40,000 unique views per month.

Other recent articles:

The One Show: It May Never Get Cringier Than This

Labour Party Broadcast: A New Peake?

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An emboldened Conservative government would indeed be good news for ‘Strong and Stable’ funeral directors, as:

  • air pollution continues unabated,
  • the health service deteriorates,
  • the incidence of adult depression and mental illness in children grows apace
  • ‘moral fibre’ rots: latest indication:10,000 Britons signed up to one of the world’s largest paedophile internet networks
  • and others are debt-ridden due to the daily onslaught of consumerist advertising,
  • sedated by inane, often BBC-provided TV quiz shows
  • or led astray by a violent TV/online diet.

Tom Young says May’s ‘Strong and Stable Government’: (is) More Than a Tagline – indeed it is and a Conservative stabilisation unit would, in future, see an increasingly  heavy workload.

New claimants with a disability have just been hit by a £30 a week cut in benefits to save the government £1bn over four years even though their living costs are higher because of the need for assisted travel, hospital appointments, extra heating, etc., and they are likely to take far longer to find a job.

A Hall Green friend who intends to vote Labour writes of his issue with the Labour message: “it remains too rooted in struggle and injustice, and not enough in giving people a reason to vote if they don’t suffer or struggle”.

But many well-placed voters are deeply concerned when seeing others in difficulties. And a far larger swathe of the population is struggling than he seems to think:

  • graduates in formerly secure jobs are being made redundant,
  • people in their twenties and twenties now see no option but to live with their parents,
  • many people are suffering from urban air pollution and miserable traffic congestion,
  • education cuts will affect their children as the Public Accounts Committee has warned,
  • in some areas people in need of healthcare are affected by a declining NHS service.
  • mental illness, no doubt in part due to one of more of these factors, is rising rapidly in both children and adults.

Professor Prem Sikka sees the positive, constructive Labour message; U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn plans:

  • to raise corporation tax by more than a third over the next three years and plough the £6bn proceeds into schools and universities,
  • restore maintenance grants for the poorest students,
  • abolish university tuition fees
  • guarantee that five, six and seven-year olds will not be taught in classes of more than 30.
  • creating a National Education Service to equip Britain’s workers for the post-Brexit economy,
  • extend free adult education to allow workers to upgrade their skills,
  • raise the cap on NHS wages, and
  • to build up to a million new homes, many of them council houses.

If ‘the sums don’t add up’, a standard Conservative knee-jerk reaction:

Withdraw subsidies from fossil fuel & nuclear companies and arms exporters, jettison HS2 and redirect investment to improving rail and waterway transport links.

Sikka rightly ends: People are our biggest asset and only they can build a nation. We have a choice: Tax cuts for the rich or investment in our future to enable people to realise their potential.

 

 

 

 

 

Take the train to Warwick Parkway from Birmingham Moor St and visit Saltisford Canal Basin with tranquil moorings set in gardens and orchards. The Saltisford Canal Centre is home to a number of permanent residential narrowboats and offers winter and visitor moorings within 10 minutes walk to the heart of Warwick.

There is a visitor centre/shop and the elegant Cedar Room (for hire), a sensory garden and a contemplation area where visitors can sit, relax and enjoy the views and wildlife.

A day-hire boat, Saltie,gives good views of the passing countryside and a generous deck area which allows steering to be a social activity with plenty of space for the crew to stand and chat. The boat has a small kitchen area, with fridge, sink and two-burner gas hob; crockery and cutlery is provided. Pack a picnic to enjoy with family and friends aboard. The main saloon has roll-up canvas sides and padded benches and a large front windscreen for forward views. Saltie II’s toilet is wheelchair accessible. To enable wheelchair access to the main saloon an hydraulic lift is located in the galley area and gives access to rear deck. Two benches fold to create space for up to 5 wheelchairs. Read more here: http://www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk/hire-saltie/

A warm welcome is given by staff and residents at the Saltisford Canal Centre, to all – whether just mooring overnight, visiting on foot or staying longer.

People travelling by train will value information about this interesting short cut:

Warwick CV34 5RJ, UK

Warwick Parkway Station

1. Walk west towards Old Budbrooke Rd

2. Turn right onto Old Budbrooke Rd

3. Turn right to stay on Old Budbrooke Rd

4. Slight left towards Budbrooke Rd

5. Turn left onto Budbrooke Rd

A clearer map without the marked shortcut may be seen here: http://www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk/98-2/

 

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On Saturday 13th May (12pm – 6pm), the inaugural Independent Birmingham Festival will be taking place at The Bond, Digbeth, showcasing the very best of Birmingham’s independent restaurants, bars, pubs, street food traders, local retailers and artists, designers, producers, in a day-long celebration. There will be an ‘ace programme’ of music and other entertainment.

Independent Birmingham has created the Independent Birmingham Membership Card. The IBcard is now owned by over 15,000 people, acting as a key to the city and entitling cardholders to fantastic discounts and deals at over 95 of the very best independents in Birmingham. The website and the Independent Birmingham Membership Card both act to encourage the people of Birmingham to support local, celebrate the unique and to Believe In Birmingham. Only those independents included on the Independent Birmingham Membership Card will be trading at the event.

Around 70,000-80,000 different people visit the Independent Birmingham website a month, along with a large social media following so we decided that the time has come to celebrate Brum’s marvellous independent culture in a way we’ve never done before.

More news as it comes on our events page.

Tickets cost just £8 (children under 12 go free – no ticket required) and can be purchased here.

 

 

 

 

 

A community conference on education will be held at 6.45 pm on Thursday 11 May at Moseley School & Sixth Form Centre.

Cabinet Member, Cllr Brigid Jones will be a key speaker, joined by Rachel Gillies of Love Brum Schools and Sarah Barton of Ask Parents First. She will talk about what Birmingham has done and will continue do for Birmingham children, families and schools.

Brigid has oversight of school improvement, children’s safeguarding, special educational needs and school placement. She set up the Birmingham Inclusion Commission in September 2016 to boost confidence in the delivery of provision for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND).

The city has almost 35,000 children with special educational needs and disability, roughly 25% of the pupil population. Birmingham has 2.5 % more SEND children than the national average.

Birmingham schools have already borne the brunt of the harshest government cuts, although a great deal of the support for SEND children comes from school budgets, Schools have lost £400 per pupil on average in income since 2013. Schools are set to lose over £450 more by 2020. Birmingham City Council is suffering the biggest cuts in local government history.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that disabled children are bearing the brunt of such big cuts and poor services. Brigid is keen to encourage the schooling of children as far as practically possible within Birmingham and as close to their home as possible so that valuable education time is not eaten up in travel. She is also committed to encouraging empowerment and independence for all children.

The conference has two purposes:

  1. To contribute to a local and national educational policy that favours education over segregation and promotes cooperation between schools, rather than competition.
  2. To provide a platform for parents’ action groups, calling as they do for a genuine dialogue about the future of their community schools, in the face of current proposals for a multi-academy trust involving several schools in Kings Heath.

To book your tickets visit: www.educonfmkh.eventbrite.com