How can the elderly frail get non-emergency medical treatment out of surgery hours?

elderly 2stickToday (Saturday) a Moseley resident over 80 years old, who had been suffering overnight and during the morning with a painful infection, tried to get some treatment for the condition, which the NHS adviser later said must be treated within 24 hours.

She discovered that her GPs had withdrawn the out-of-hours service for their patients and had transferred responsibility to the relevant NHS non-emergency number – 111. No longer will a doctor readily attend a person with restricted mobility.

The 111 adviser said she should ring a pharmacist, who replied that he could not treat this condition, and once again she was advised to ring 111. This time she was offered a timed appointment but “Ring and Ride is unable to take people to hospital appointments because the National Health Service Act states that people are entitled to access NHS Patient Transport Services in accordance with their eligibility criteria”. No such service was said to be available.

ring and ride header

She was then told to go to a walk-in centre several miles away. How? The Ring and Ride service would not take her and travelling on two buses to get there was not possible.

The Ring and Ride service appears NOT to be “a door to door, highly accessible minibus service for people of any age living in one of the seven metropolitan districts for the West Midlands, who have a permanent or temporary mobility impairment, which makes it very difficult or impossible to use conventional bus services”.

She had to decide to wait, untreated, and hope for the best.


Having doffed his green, safe and smart cap, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for community safety, James McKay, has now written to welcome the Government’s latest approach to extremism – “tackling the threat from terrorism in all its forms. We can’t pick and choose which extremism we want to tackle. We need to fight it all”.

bham air pollution

As an estimated 1460 Birmingham people die from air pollution each year, the government prefers to focus on terrorism, which has killed very few.

Public Health England reports show that air pollution is estimated to cause 1,460 excess deaths a year in Birmingham and the Government has been ordered by the UK’s highest court to take immediate action over its obligations under European law on air pollution limits.

In April, ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reported from Birmingham, one of the worst affected cities. Watch the video:

George Monbiot correctly points out that factors likely to kill far more people in this country than terrorists will manage, include:

  • diet, smoking, alcohol,
  • the slow collapse of the NHS,
  • child poverty,
  • air pollution,
  • traffic accidents,
  • lack of exercise,
  • even accidents due to the wrong kind of bedroom slippers,
  • and the writer adds, domestic violence,

and longer term:

  • climate change,
  • antibiotic resistance,
  • soil loss
  • and nuclear proliferation by states (including our own)

Monbiot insists that all the hazards he named – except nuclear proliferation – should be given more resources and political effort than are deployed to confront Islamic extremism.

The Brummie aggregator site selected a thoughtful article by Matt Capaldi in Redbrick, ‘the student publication of the University of Birmingham’:


“As the Labour leadership battle comes to a head, Matt Capaldi assesses its favourite candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, and his chances to reinstate a Labour leadership in 2020 as the head of the party”.

He points out that the Scandinavian countries prove that left-wing policies can be very effective if done properly – the real problems perceived lie with gaining public trust. The writer argues that indications are that he has done this – even his most ardent opponents across the political spectrum agree that he is a kindly, honest and principled man.

More difficult will be winning over fearful colleagues in the Labour Party who place getting elected above all else and – to that end – trim their sails to the prevailing wind, convincing no-one. As Capaldi says:

“If Corbyn wins the election, there will be attempts to oust him from the inside. But, despite these difficulties, isn’t it worth a shot?”

“Corbyn could really rally up some passionate support with a more left leaning policy set, and it could be just what the Labour Party needs.

Could? He has already done this

Even if he does not win the leadership, it seems most likely that the social movement he seeks will develop . For the first time voters across the board see a hope of a change for the better – a change which is not possible with either of the mainstream parties in their present condition – and they will not lightly abandon this quest. As Capaldi ends:

“ . . . he is the only one who, in my opinion, could really do something spectacular and be the nation’s first choice, not just the least bad option. Yes, it is a risk, but I think it is one the Labour Party should take. If he can pull it off, Corbyn could win a landslide in 2020”.

accord2 logoThe Accord Group, a large housing and social care organisations in the Midlands, has been working with the University of Wolverhampton’s Built Environment Climate Change Innovations (BECCI) project team to find the leading ‘smart grid’ businesses in the West Midlands.

Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, local firms have been challenged to present their ideas and designs for smart grids, with £250,000 funding offered to fit out 50 existing properties with smart grid products over the coming year.

Accord Housing is completing a three-year retrofit project to stimulate demand for energy efficiency products by ‘trialling’ new to the market smart grid technologies and products on some of its hard to treat stock. The trial will also assess the effectiveness of renewable energy generation, batteries to store PV generated energy, hybrid heating systems and other innovative technologies.

rosemary coyneAs well as reducing carbon emissions, the project is expected to lead to an expansion of the environmental business base in the West Midlands and provide knowledge on new ways to deal with hard to treat housing. Initial findings will be reported on in October and contact details for Rosemary Coyne (right), ERDF’s Retrofit and Smart Grid Project Manager, are given below.


In Solihull suburb, Chelmsley Wood, which has elected four Green Party councillors, thousands of people now have warmer and more energy efficient homes. A £25 million project delivered by Solihull Community Housing and British Gas through their Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) has fitted solid wall insulation to thirty high rise buildings and installed thousands of double glazed windows in the area.

accord2 people in housing

It said to be one of the largest energy conservation projects in Britain, and involved ‘overcladding’ more than 1,100 homes across 30 high-rise buildings. Many residents are already benefiting from reduced energy bills and we estimate the scheme will deliver lifetime carbon savings of around 184,000 tonnes. Twelve state-of-the-art eco-friendly biomass energy units that can heat over a thousand homes have been built. The project is also developing an external cladding programme for bungalows originally built with single skin walls.

In 2009, Jon Morris, Localise West Midlands, referred to the work of the Accord Housing training centre in Darleston: “It gives the West Midlands a start on other regions but one we need to build on and expand to develop and ensure that the right skills will be there and developed. Increasingly we will be looking at higher levels of skills, and not just of the construction workers but also surveyors, architects, planners and public sector procurers”.

amber ruddIn July this year, announcing an end to funding for the Green Deal Finance Company, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said: “It’s now time for the building industry and consumer groups to work with us to make new policy and build a system that works”.

The projects described above give rise to hopes that, despite withdrawal of government support, this valuable work can proceed.

For more information about the Chelmsley Wood project, contact: Robin Dunlevy on

For more information about the Accord project, contact Rosemary Coyne at

Jonathan Walker wonders whether the British public really is crying out for socialism. Yes: all over the country thousands are currently flocking to meetings looking for a truer form of socialism, offering equality of security and opportunity to all.

John Gray (LSE, emeritus professor) describes our world ruled by and for “financial and geopolitical forces that care nothing for the human individual” . . .

Corbyn’s supporters at last see some hope of a society in which people elected to serve actually do just that – serve the public interest and create a system in which all can flourish – not just those already well placed.

At present, commitments to reducing greenhouse gases are set aside as government, encouraged by oil corporates, reneges on commitments to develop clean energy and lobbyists such as the chancellor’s father-in-law advises it to avoid the affluent (and therefore unbribable) south and concentrate fracking in the north.


The 99% pay the heaviest price in most respects, for instance:

  • privately run services grow ever more expensive and often inefficient
  • for years, health-damaging air pollution in cities has risen above legal limits.

If not for ethical reasons, would enlightened self-interest encourage people to support action for the common good?

In a society where all can flourish would we find that contented people, respected for their contribution to society, do not attack their fellows in the street, cheat them or rob their homes?

A Yardley Wood reader suggests that Solihull council could produce a “how not to guide” for other authorities with similar projects still at the planning stage. This after being in Shirley at the weekend: “I walked through Parkgate and was disappointed to see that number of the shops are still empty. Unfortunately this is not the case with park as it’s now full of flats – sorry apartments, it is Solihull after all!”


According to the Parkgate map, in addition to the two shops which moved in from the High street, six units are not let and the writer of the Parkgate Diary adds, “As far as I know both Starbucks and Burger King, who were going to open units in Parkgate, have now changed their mind and will no longer be opening stores”.

Birmingham library woes have been well documented, but Rosie Millard’s analysis struck a chord:

library i snapshotWas the library built for ‘reasons other than the civic duty of encouraging people to read’? Had the city council overlooked fiscal planning because it had eyes on ‘- misplaced civic pride’? Was it built, as Ms Millard speculates, due to “an urge to create so-called legacy buildings and (probably) a scramble for gongs, knighthoods and the rest?”

Will there be a similar verdict on Solihull’s Gateway Project – costing up to £3 million and seven months of partial road closures.

sol gateway

Enhancements are causing disruption to traffic and bus routes and – after objections were made to the plans to remove pedestrian crossings from the town centre and replace them with ‘courtesy’ crossings – the council agreed to install three safer zebra crossings.The project appears to have only a limited cosmetic value: embellishing the image of the borough and its leading politicians with new paving and bus shelters.

Neither authority is meeting the needs of many for housing. No wonder that support is growing all over Britain for political change which will prioritise basic needs.

A Moseley correspondent wrote that he hoped Jeremy Corbyn would ‘win’ (politics would become far more interesting) but that he would not vote for the Labour Party, presumably even one led by JC. Yet he has a young daughter . . . Surely a Corbyn-developed society would offer her a far better future?

corbyn young 2

Julia: “Let’s carry the spirit of Greenham all the way home to Number 10 and work to give our children and our children’s children a future”.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to stop spending an estimated 100 billion pounds on the replacement of Trident Nuclear submarines, a system which many military figures themselves have admitted is outdated and ineffectual as a so-called ‘deterrent’.

Instead, Corbyn would introduce a positive programme of rebuilding the UK’s battered infrastructure, which is presently suffering badly under cuts.

corbyn cndIt has been hit hard by these cuts. It is difficult to get a GP appointment. There is a shortage of hospital beds and the new QE is too small. How many people queue outside early in the morning to get one, or sit with someone who is desperately ill in a hospital waiting area, hoping that they will be admitted?

At present we face a new threat of reduced councillor services: local councillors to be cut from 120 to 100 at a time when other help agencies are also losing funding.

  • The new Birmingham Library has severely restricted hours and the important and rich collection of historic documents in Birmingham Archives is set to become all but inaccessible.
  • Birmingham’s heritage is being hit hard in another way too: with only two conservation officers where there used to be eight more important historic buildings, and buildings of period style are likely to be lost.
  • All three of the other candidates support the renewal of the four nuclear submarines, regardless of the nationally crippling cost of this outdated and dangerous system.

Corbyn has made it clear that a priority would be the redeployment of those currently working on the nuclear weapons industry into more socially productive industries.

In this not very radical part of the UK, Hall Green CND is proud to report that we played our own small part in gaining Birmingham’s only Constituency Labour Party nomination for Jeremy Corbyn in Birmingham, Yardley.

corbyn young 1Attending a rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn’s Policies for young people, at All Star Lanes on August 10 in London

A mixture of young and older people spoke up for Corbyn in the debate. We also met friends who we did not even know were supporting Corbyn. It was very exciting.

It has become very clear since then how fast the tide is turning. People want a new kind of Labour leader: a new kind of Labour Party.

Julia, a member of CND, says that the organisation does not exist to endorse any political party, but rather, primarily to achieve the end of nuclear weapons in this country. To this end, it endorses the Corbyn leadership campaign for the Labour Party because Corbyn, who also leads Parliamentary CND, has consistently supported CND throughout his entire political career.

We cannot, and should not, support any party or any candidate who is not firmly and unequivocally backing the removal of nuclear weapons from British soil and British waters. This time we have a Labour leadership candidate who understands that: someone we can be proud to endorse: truly one of our own: a member of the campaign since the age of 15, someone who was a positive presence at all those long ago, and recent, anti-nuclear and anti-war rallies, someone who, elected in that terrible year which nearly destroyed both CND and the Labour Party, never compromised but has supported us in every single nuclear vote since 1983. And we believe that Corbyn never will compromise.

To read the whole article and use the contact links, go to





tw picA message in support of ‘unifier’ Tom Watson has been received from a Labour Party registered supporter who had been ‘terribly downhearted and disillusioned by the election result but didn’t necessarily believe that anything would change’.

This correspondent signed up to vote in the leadership election because she now thinks it might and is convinced that, whoever we elect as leader, (and she is backing Jeremy Corbyn) choosing Tom Watson as deputy is a crucial part of the change the country needs. Many potential CLP electors agree as the snapshot from his website on the left shows. She points out:

tw 2 supportHe’s also a conviction politician who stood up against Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation when nobody else would.

He had his garage broken into, people went through his bins and he was put under covert surveillance. At times he feared for his own and his family’s safety, but he kept going because that’s what he’s like, and he won.

Other points:

  • Historic child abuse survivors began to contact him about organised cover-ups at the heart of the Establishment. The world told him to leave it alone. Again, he refused, and now several police inquiries are underway.
  • He set up the All Party Drones Group to campaign against CIA extra-judicial killings. Some Labour politicians said it was bad politics. Tom said it was the right thing to do.
  • He became the first MP to Judicially Review government primary legislation, successfully, over the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act – in a joint action with Liberty and the Open Rights Group.
  • In the last Parliament he opposed the military actions in Libya and Syria.
  • Wide experience: MP since 2001, former full-time trade union official, Government Minister, Government Whip, Deputy Chair of the Party.

She ended: “I think it’s vital that we put Tom Watson beside our new leader as deputy”.

And sent a link so that readers can have more information about MP Tom Watson and his campaigns.



smbc2 logo

Under the new procedures delegating decisions to officers, the 15th July Planning Committee was cancelled for lack of business and the 12th August Planning Meeting had just two items on the agenda.

sra logoSolihull Ratepayers Association regards this cancellation, followed by the truncated agenda on 12th August, as a symptom of a dangerous transfer of powers away from elected members and seriously damaging to the open, transparent and democratic accountability of the planning process in Solihull.

No other planning authority in the region is taking such an undemocratic approach to its planning procedures and the search for efficiency should not overrule the need for accountability.

Following the change in procedures introduced last year, only two planning applications will have been referred to elected councillors’ scrutiny between 17th June and 9th September. Committee meetings have been reduced from a 3 weekly to a 4 weekly cycle

SRA’s secretary sent a statement detailing these concerns to Cllr David Bell the Chairman of Solihull Planning Committee. Some points raised:

  • The system of delegating almost the entirety of planning applications effectively removes the important transparency and public accountability from the planning process in Solihull – planning decisions are effectively being taken behind closed doors and it is surprising that members have not challenged this new approach.
  • There are no reports or any analysis of public representations now available and members have lost the opportunity to oversee the process in which officers recommend but members decide; this frequently resulted in changes to conditions and improvements that are now opportunities lost.
  • This follows the review of procedures last year. At the time members concerns were that this would lead to very lengthy meetings but were assured that wouldn’t be the case.
  • Given that the local plan and major decisions on planning policy have been overturned by the courts, we see the case for closer public scrutiny at local level as increasing and certainly not diminishing on anything like this scale.
  • Professional representatives also indicate concern they no longer have access to members and I am being advised privately that councillor requests for items to be referred to committee under standing orders are being over-ruled.

SRA does not believe it was the intention of the elected members, when they reviewed the procedures, to transfer the decision making almost entirely to officers. Proper public accountability to the planning process should be reinstated.


paul daleYesterday, Paul Dale (left) parodied Corbyn’s policies, labelled ’hard left’, and produced an extremely limited explanation for his popularity:

“Anyone with experience of Labour conferences over the years, where the real membership emerge annually to demand a left wing agenda only to have their wishes denied by the party hierarchy, ought to have guessed that the one-member-one vote system (OMOV) would unleash decades of pent up anger . . .”

Boris Johnson did far better in the Sun.. Dale ends by predicting Labour will produce a moderate centre-left manifesto behind an electable leader by 2025.

A Guardian comment explains Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal to masses of people alienated by phoney, shifty, greedy politicians – Mr Dale please note:

jeremy corbyn“Corbyn has for many years been pursuing clear and coherent social, economic and political goals – read his Wikipedia page to see for how long and how consistently. He’s been doing this with courage and integrity and with very little publicity.

“This already distinguishes him from at least half the people in Westminster, whose strongest motivation seems to have been to get elected, whatever it takes.

“If (electability is) the main thing you’re thinking about, you’ll tailor your political ideals to fit, editing out the awkward bits”.

JC large rally

The writer’s 25-year-old daughter heard Corbyn speaking in Birmingham. Like thousands who attended similar meetings in several cities, she was electrified both by him and by the atmosphere in the hall.

He adds that younger voters didn’t show up at the ballot boxes in May and this is probably the first time that many of them have seen a British politician speaking without a carefully pored over PR briefing sheet, speaking with passion and confidence and courage from a set of deeply rooted beliefs and a great deal of personal experience.


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