un 3 70

Birmingham Branch UNA:

Speaker: Rod Fielding, lecturer in the Dept of Politics at the University of Warwick and former board member of UNA-UK.

 7.30 p m. at the Moseley Exchange,

149-153 Alcester Road, Moseley, B13 8JP,

 27th November.

The title: ‘The UN at 70: an assessment of the UN’s machinery, and where do we go from here’.

Refreshments available; a retiring collection to cover the cost of the room.


john clancySteve Beauchampé informed readers yesterday that Cllr John Clancy has been elected to succeed Sir Albert Bore as the new leader of Birmingham City Council, by a meeting of the 78-strong Labour group of councillors.

The first round saw Clancy poll 31 votes, Holbrook 23, Ian Ward 22 and Barry Henley 1. Clancy was finally successful in his fifth leadership attempt, elected by a single vote over Penny Holbrook, securing 38 votes to Holbrook’s 37.

There are now grounds for real hope as new Labour leaders are elected at city and national level.

Steve summarises some of John Clancy’s most promising policies:

  • he has pledged to focus less on grand city centre projects
  • and focus more on the rejuvenation of the city’s 40 wards through a package of devolution measures transferring decision making to the most local level possible.
  • He plans to consider replacing the current Leader and Cabinet system by returning to the Committee system and
  • intends to renegotiate the Council’s controversial outsourcing contracts with Capita and Amey.
  • He has promised an ‘open data’ council where such contracts are open to public scrutiny.

An overlap with Corbynomics, casual dress and negative colleagues

john clancy 3More likely to please those who like their politicians snappily dressed, he can also unwind; there is no fear of him losing votes because he does not habitually wear a tie – as did Corbyn. Clancy’s pledge to launch a Birmingham Bond to raise finance for housebuilding and other infrastructure projects calls to mind Colin Hines’ presentation of Brummie Bonds – a project undertaken with Richard Murphy – one of Corbyn’s advisers.

Steve Beauchampé ends: “However, given that he commands less the support of less than half of the city’s Labour councillors, compromise will need to be high on his agenda in the months ahead, not just as far as the Improvement Panel are concerned, but with regard to his party colleagues too”.

Read Steve’s article here: http://thebirminghampress.com/2015/11/clancy-wins-city-labour-leadership/


Preview Wednesday evening, 25th November, 6.30 onwards. See poster here.

ST date and detail above entrance

Stirchley Baths, saved and restored as a new community hub in Selly Oak District, is a Grade II listed building. Built in 1910, closed to the public since 1988, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet approved plans to transform the building into a community hub in 2012. It ‘re-emerges’ with a community hall, meeting rooms, cinema space, café and training rooms.

ST brickwork

The money for the renovation and refurbishment came primarily from the sale of the former Stirchley Community Centre site and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Local people have been involved throughout the process, in fundraising and applying for the successful Heritage Lottery grant, in the design of the new centre and in outreach via social media, including a Stirchley Baths blog.

stirchley baths 3

The history of Stirchley Baths will be celebrated and interpreted through an exciting three year programme of community activity. There will be a heritage volunteer programme, events, exhibitions, talks, tours and educational programmes at the community hub.

‘Our history’ information boards are placed at various points in the area. This one can be seen on one of the walls of the Hub:

ST baths poster 2 our history

During this first year activities will include the development of a new Stirchley History Group, hard hat tours and artist commissions. There will be a live music and arts event as part of Birmingham’s Heritage Week in September, a wartime Christmas Dance and a competition to design a new key to open the building, which will go alongside the original key donated by Cadburys in 1911.

ST window former baths 2cupola at side

Stirchley groups who will use the hub include established leisure, arts and crafts groups, heritage initiatives, film nights and the monthly Stirchley community market.

More about Stirchley:




The arrival of this independent coffee shop in Colmore Row has brought the Hudson building to life again.

hudsons 2

The writer looks back to the first incarnation of the Java Lounge years ago – as a cybercafe in King Edwards Road, Moseley.

Marked from the outset by friendly and courteous service and very good coffee, it was good to see it move to larger premises in good position on Moseley high street – 115 Alcester Road.

java lounge moseley high street

On the Stirrer website in 2013 we read about its good coffee and finely flavoured homemade soup with unusually good bread, welcoming atmosphere, a good range of finger-food, fine paintings by Sue McClure . . . “Take your laptop – the Java is WIFI equipped – or cut down expenses by using a cyber café instead of buying a new computer or shelling out for expensive repairs. At ‘off-peak’ times novices are given help if needed”. It is still wifi equipped but the row of in-house computers is no longer to be seen.

java lounge1

Akram Almulad, the founder of the Java Lounge, was born in Birmingham to parents of Yemeni origin. His interesting account opens with a quest in 2004, to discover how to deliver high quality coffee:

“My journey took me back to my roots; Yemen. Apart from being the birthplace to my parents, Yemen is where the earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree appears in the middle of the 15th Century. In Yemen I discovered how coffee was grown and the different processes involved in producing the green coffee bean. I also observed how coffee was consumed in traditional coffee houses. On my return from that experience I felt enriched in coffee tradition. I continued my education in coffee, learning all about the different types of coffee and roast processes. I also teamed up with top baristas who helped me develop my barista skill set. All that was left now was to find a location suitable for the coffee house. In 2005, with a small budget I had raised through part-time work, I finally found that location: Alcester road, Moseley Village, Birmingham, UK. This is where Java Lounge was born.” Read the full account here.

hudsons domeAkram now presides over Java’s new premises in the Hudson’s Coffee House building, 124 Colmore Row, described in Pevsner’s The Buildings of England as “one of the most important monuments of the Arts and Crafts Free Style in the country”.

It was commissioned by Eagle Insurance and completed in 1900. W.R. Lethaby, its architect, co-founded the Design Industries Association and the Art Workers Guild.

The place to be!

David Skuzbee recalls:

“I first met (Rachael Harris, the founder of Birmingham Momentum) over the summer; she was one of the hardest workers in my phone banking team for the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign, often working from home due to the limited hours we had at the Unite Union offices.

rachael harris“In launching the Birmingham Momentum group, Harris (right) has taken on a leadership role, as well as a great deal of responsibility. She doesn’t see herself as a natural leader, stressing, “I put myself forward because nobody else seemed to.”

“I point out that people often say the same of Corbyn: that he accepted he had to run for leadership in order for his values to be represented, rather than out of a desire for power and prestige. While she is the leader, she says she wants, “everybody to take an important and active role and for everybody to feel equally valued”, echoing the ethos of Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party.

“Harris reflects, “Birmingham is not known as a politically active city” in the way others are, but over the summer she has seen a significant number of people engaging enthusiastically, thanks to Corbyn, and wants to, “harness that energy to give the people of Birmingham a voice and a chance to campaign on issues which matter to them”.

momentum logo and pictures

Skuzbee described Momentum as the grassroots network stemming from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign: “In the summer of 2015, the campaign to elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party rapidly became far larger than the future Labour leader would ever have expected. Corbyn had made it clear early on that he wanted the campaign to become a bigger movement at a grassroots level: transforming the Labour Party from a top-down organisation to a bottom-up political party”.


Read the article here: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/elections/2015/11/momentum-what-it-who-can-join-how-does-it-work-and-what-s-labour-got-do

Jonathan Dale and many in the advertisement dependent mainstream media (MSM), readily promote the views of disgruntled MPs. In the West Midlands these include Ian Austin, Emma Reynolds, Pat McFadden, Shabana Mahmood, Chris Leslie and Liam Byrne.

gravy train

Like a minority of Labour MPs elsewhere – the appalling Simon Danczuk, Ben Bradshaw, Jess Philips, John Mann, Mary Creagh and Mike Gapes – they are beset by a feverish anxiety as they see the gravy train receding into the distance. Others, like Steve McCabe, just fail to give open support to their democratically elected leader.

Honesty, principle, consistency and truth pay social dividends but not out of office MPs’ mortgages

Dale describes the West Midlands as a region “which seems to have become the unofficial headquarters of the anti-Corbyn resistance within the Labour Party” – preferring to disregard the welcome given to Corbyn in the city (below) – and last week’s Momentum turnout.

end jc brum2

Media fails to influence voters, suppressing five by-elections wins under Labour led by Corbyn

  • In Euxton North the party recorded a 12.7% wing – taking the seat with 57.3% share of the vote;
  • In South Camberwell, Southwark, Labour recorded a 9% swing, taking a 57.9% share of the vote;
  • In Banbury, Oxfordshire, Labour took a seat from the Conservatives on a 5.9 % swing –taking 45% of the vote in the Grimsby and Castle ward in the town;
  • Labour gain in Bridgend;
  • Labour hold Belle Vue, a Shropshire seat.


 Will the 99%, many of whom use the social media which gave Corbyn such a boost, continue to disregard MSM propaganda?



momentum first meeting city

Quiet, courteous and all-embracing – the Corbyn ethos prevailed at this civilised cross-party meeting, chaired by Rachael Harris, assisted by Richard Hatcher.

The writer estimates that about a hundred people attended the Priory Rooms in Bull St, with younger folk having to stand along the sides and at the back in the George Fox room designed for seventy.

A meeting with a difference:

  • no top-down agenda set by the organisers;
  • no invited speakers pinning folk to their seats for hours and
  • all who wanted to speak were heard.

momentum logo and pictures

Misgivings were voiced about the imposition of an elected mayor at this meeting – and at a meeting on electoral reform taking place at the same time in the Impact Hub, Digbeth.

Setting up local groups

Volunteers prepared to set up groups in five wards were found. One, from Birmingham University, fifth from the left at the back on the picture of a section of the audience, hoped to set up a group there and we may hear more from this group through the columns of ‘Redbrick’.

An accessible, affordable city venue

A group of disabled people attended, with speakers noting the effect of cuts on their lives, but primarily focussing on their inability to take part in many political events in the city. They stressed that an accessible, affordable city centre venue is needed.

Labour’s democratic deficit: a 20 year mystery to constituents and MPs alike

On her feet in the picture (taken and posted by Mohammed Jamil), Julia Larden, one of Birmingham’s most active citizens, focussed on the plight of Labour Party members in Hall Green, Hodge Hill, Ladywood and Perry Barr who are unable to function locally, to meet ‘officially’, to vote for councillors or to select MPs, due to being placed in ‘special measures’ in 1995. This situation has been described by Sandwell Councillor Bob Piper as a Kafkaesque farce; we read: “The first branches knew about it was when applicants to join Labour’s campaign against an uncaring coalition received a letter from said centralist bureaucracy explaining that they couldn’t join the Party because the CLP was in ‘special measures’ – although they weren’t offered an explanation either”.

The most imminent campaigning concern is agreed

As David Cameron returns to the issue of bombing Syria – execution by drone not only of ISIS fighters but also of civilians in the vicinity – it was agreed to focus on this issue before a formal proposal was made. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said “At the present time, the issue of the bombing of Syria does not seem to me to be the right way forward on this and so I don’t support it at this stage.” He insists that any military response should have the support of the international community and be legally sanctioned by the United Nations.

The meeting was united in enthusiastic support for Jeremy Corbyn and the aims of Momentum: to build a social movement for real progressive change, to make Labour a more democratic party and to work for a more democratic, equal and decent society.

Comment by email: Great counter-narrative to what we’re getting from the mainstream media,

Snapshot of this morning’s shock, first seen on the site of The Brummie aggregator:

brummie2 elected mayor

FT: “The West Midlands has clinched the most valuable devolution deal to date . . . “ and illustrates this with a photograph of Kimber Drop Forgings in Cradley Heath, perhaps referring to George Osborne’s spiel that this deal will give the region ‘levers for growth’.

The Post: implies Treasury coercion and the over-riding of the democratic decision by Birmingham residents: ““Mr Osborne had been pushing local councillors to agree that the region should be led by a mayor and made it clear there would be no major devolution deal if they refused”.

British democracy

The FT notes “some have questioned the ad hoc nature of decision making as councils to exchange money for ceding some power to an elected mayor” – but fails to mention that the people of Birmingham rejected the proposal for an elected mayor in 2012 when 57.8% – 120,611 people – voted against it.

People in some towns in Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire have not even been given the chance to have their vote ignored.

Post: “A mayor will chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and a statement issued by the Treasury made it clear the mayor would also have some influence over towns in Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire which are not full members of the new authority”.

An apparently buoyant Councillor Bob Sleigh, chair of the WMCA’s shadow board:

bob sleigh“This is an historic moment for the West Midlands. We have moved incredibly quickly to create the partnership between the seven metropolitan councils and our three LEPs and we are delighted the government has recognised this and has rewarded our ambition with the biggest investment package in the country.”

George Osborne, chancellor, and local council leaders are to meet in Coventry on Tuesday to sign the deal, details of which are given in both newspapers mentioned above.

Will it all end in tears?


stirchley banner2

                             Stirchley Baths Preview

              Wednesday evening, 25th November

stirchley baths flyer

Visit Stirchley’s Edwardian building, saved and

restored as a new community hub

A later post will relay some information from http://stirchleybaths.org

midland metro

The Midland Metro extension will start taking passengers into Birmingham city centre on Monday 6th December. Bull Street will be the first stop opened, taking passengers to and from Snow Hill Station. Passenger services to New Street Station will start once all infrastructure work and test running has been successfully completed, early in 2016.

The opening of the Midland Metro Bull Street stop, part of Centro’s £128 million city centre extension, will be welcomed by businesses on the route, such as the Priory Rooms, which welcomes the prospect of a quick and easy way to travel from Snow Hill and New Street station to the conference centre.

On Thursday 19th November the Queen will include the Midland Metro Bull Street stop directly opposite the Priory Rooms in her visit to Birmingham. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she will name and board one of the new trams ahead of its launch in December.

Birmingham Updates report that Centro has announced that passengers will be taken directly to a new stop in Bull Street as the first step in the opening of the £128 million city centre tram extension.

Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “There has been a tremendous effort from everyone involved in this project with people working around the clock in recent weeks. I would particularly like to thank Retail Birmingham for all its support and co-operation. It is because of that hard work that we will be able to start running trams into the city centre at Bull Street before Christmas”.

Centro’s decision to reduce construction work over the Christmas period has been warmly welcomed by Retail Birmingham, which is hoping for bumper Christmas crowds again this year.

Birmingham Updates adds that work has begun on extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square with services expected to start running in 2019. Outline funding approval has been earmarked to extend the route still further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.

tram-mapFor key and larger map, see http://www.paradisebirmingham.co.uk/situation/

The route of a further extension through Digbeth has also been chosen, running between the Bull Street/Corporation Street, via Albert Street and on to the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail station at Curzon Street. From there it would go along New Canal Street and Meriden Street into High Street Deritend, stopping at Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. It is anticipated the line could be open by 2023.


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