The Full Business Case for the £29 million scheme to convert Spring Hill and a stretch of the Dudley Road (A457) to a dual carriageway was to be heard on Tuesday 21st April at a Birmingham City Council cabinet meeting.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth (BFoE) is calling on Birmingham City Council to scrap plans to convert Spring Hill and a stretch of the Dudley Road (A457) to a dual carriageway.

Martin Stride of BFoE summarised their objections:

These costly and damaging plans will require the removal of many trees, the demolition of some shops and narrowing of footways and will create even more car traffic which will just fill up the extra lanes created. This will exacerbate air pollution and increase carbon dioxide emissions. Even the government’s own research shows that road widening leads to more traffic”

The city council passed a Climate Emergency Declaration in June 2019 and has committed to cut carbon emissions in order to become carbon neutral by 2030. The Dudley Road proposals completely undermine this aim as they will actually increase carbon emissions. Given all these contradictions, we are surprised that the Dudley Road proposals have been allowed to get this far.

Local resident David Gaussen, who lives near the Dudley Road and first drew our attention to this issue, said:

The Dudley Road proposals will repeat many of the appalling mistakes made on road schemes from the 1960s and 70s. The heavier through traffic and worse air pollution caused by these plans will adversely affect peoples’ health and quality of life and undermine a bustling shopping centre. Through traffic is being prioritised over the needs of the local community.”

The council’s Full Business Case report claims that the plans comply with council policies and objectives on air pollution, transport and carbon dioxide emissions. However, in many respects it is clear that they do not comply. The report also claims that the proposals will improve public transport by introducing bus priority measures but these are lacking. There will not be any measurable benefits for bus passengers.

Most of the traders we spoke to on the Dudley Road were not happy with the plans and signed the BFOE petition calling for the scheme to be scrapped. This was submitted to Councillor Carl Rice in May 2019. The feedback report from the city council’s public consultation notes that only 34% supported the scheme.

It is hard to see how spending millions of pounds on such a damaging project can be justified when it contradicts so many council policies and does not have strong support.

He now updates us: At Birmingham City Council cabinet meeting on 21st April, the item to consider agreeing the Dudley Road plans was deferred to our immense relief! There has been no official statement about why, though there was last minute intervention by some key councillors that may have caused this to happen, but no one really knows! Certainly the scheme does not fit in with BCC policies”.

More details in the Mail https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/dual-carriageway-plans-busy-a457-18100895 – but their maps will disappoint.

Pushbikes’ contribution to the 2018 consultation: https://www.pushbikes.org.uk/blog/consultation-a457-dudley-road-improvements

Birmingham Friends of the Earth responded to the consultation in November 2018. The full response can be read here:
http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/consultation-responses/

 

 

 

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Still a few places available

Footsteps invites you to join its online Earth Day programme: strengthening our spirit and cities taking the lead in relation to both climate action and the current pandemic.

The two-hour programme will be repeated at 10:00, 14:00 and 19:00 BST on Wednesday 22 April to allow you to choose the most convenient time to participate.

Contributors include the Mayor of Geneva, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi, Sustrans and Tiffany Lam, New Economics Foundation.  We are hoping to attract participants from cities around the world, as well as a good number from the West Midlands.

We’ll be sharing prepared contributions on caring for the Earth and for each other: through faith reflections, creative responses and practical actions cities are taking.  The programme will also explore what is being learned from Covid-19 pandemic responses.

This is a free event, please visit the Footsteps website: https://footstepsbcf.org.uk/events/earth-day-2020/ for more information and to register so that you can be sent send you details of how to join (and how to use Zoom if you are not familiar with it).

Contact: Chris Martin

Email: chrismartin2@btinternet.com

 

 

 

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Steve died early in March. 

Here is one of many contributions he made to The Stirrer (2010):

Who’s afraid of a hung parliament? – not Steve Beauchampé…bring it on he says! 

sB (2)

In its usual arrogant, high-handed manner, the British political establishment, and the mainstream media which serves and feeds off it, likes to portray Britain as the mother of democracy; stable, steadfast, dependable – the Ancient Greece of modern times.

So there is collective horror at the thought of a hung parliament.

The notion that either the Tories or Labour will, come May 7th, have no overall control of the House of Commons fills many amongst this establishment with dread…the worst possible outcome we are told, a weak, indecisive, shilly-shallying government is the inevitable consequence…and just as we are emerging from the worst economic crisis in decades, with an enormous budget deficit to tackle! No, no, no, no, no!

Stuff and nonsense! It is a damning indictment on the immaturity of our political system – and the two parties that continually benefit from it – that a result which actually forces consensus, rather than adversarial, politics, is viewed as negative rather than positive.

For five years Labour has governed on a mandate of around 25% of the electorate – and done so comfortably owing to a parliamentary majority of around 60.

If, as opinion polls currently indicate, the Conservatives are the largest party after May 6th and secure a small overall majority, they are likely to do so with backing from around just 33-34% of the total electorate.

Indeed, they could accrue several percentage points more votes than Labour and still garner fewer seats (but don’t shed any tears for them as they’ve persistently opposed the introduction of any form of proportional representation!).

The fundamental, defining factor of the parliament in a democratic society is that the makeup of its government accurately reflects the will of the people.

And in Britain, that pretty much should always means a coalition government. It is absolutely NOT a frightening prospect per se. Coalitions are the norm on mainland Europe and in most other ‘First World’ democracies.

These countries are not intrinsically weak and indecisive – inevitably decision-making can at times be slow and messy, but these are characteristics of genuine democracy and the debate, discussion and negotiation that comes with it.

Such a winner-takes-all system of government is fast becoming an anomaly even in Britain.

Many local authorities (including in the West Midlands) are run as ‘No Overall Control’ coalitions, the results forcing cross-party dialogue, and a subsequent consensual and pragmatic approach to government.

Likewise, the eschewing of first-past-the-post voting systems mean that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, along with much of the political system of Northern Ireland, is based around coalition and power sharing.

Ditto the European Parliament, where parties such as the Greens and UKIP, forever destined to be marginalised by the Westminster voting model, are able to claim their fair share of seats.

Democracy is multi-dimensional; it is not about one group always getting its own way, having total control over policy to the exclusion of all other views and opinions for four or five years at a stretch.

It must also include other groups dictating policy on occasions. And it will only be occasionally; the evidence from our local Council chambers proves overwhelmingly that the largest party in a collation gets it’s way most of the time, it just does so through agreement and by ameliorating the more contentious aspects of its policies.

Britain’s broken model of outdated parliamentary democracy leans too heavily on macho posturing, on the catcalls of the set piece House of Commons debates. Hell, we can’t even provide enough seats in the Chamber for every MP to be able to sit down, let alone a table for them to work from!

Our mainstream political media deal in one-dimensional clichés, the rough and tumble of personality-led sound bite politics makes good copy; give them an elected Mayor, give them a PM-cum-President, that’s easy enough to caricature. The subtleties and nuances of a mature political system bore them, they want simple, straightforward Aunt Sallies to be set up and knocked down.

But politics is more important than that. I welcome a hung parliament (though at this point I’m anticipating an overall Conservative majority of up to 20) and I hope it sustains for several years.

We might get voting reform (though not if via a Conservative/Ulster Unionist coalition) and even though a consensus parliament’s every deliberation will be depicted by some as a weakness, we might come to appreciate the advantages of reining in Britain’s two dominant – and arrogant – political elites and replacing them with a system that is fundamentally altogether more mature and representative.

Source: http://thestirrer.thebirminghampress.com/April_10/well-hung-070410.html

Many later articles by Steve may be seen on the Birmingham Press’s website and in Political Barbs: to see the list the mouse (or whatever) has to hover over the title and the list of 16 will appear.

 

 

Michael Overduin, director of Science Capital and Professor of Structural Biology (University of Birmingham) announces that the physical meeting on April 28 will be replaced by a free webconference on COVID-19 treatments, diagnostics, medical and digital devices, and global manufacturing and distribution systems on April 1, 2020 from 3-6pm.

He invites any teams who are developing solutions for COVID-19 to register for this event and pitch a plan to a panel of experts in 15 minutes. The panel will include experts in technology transfer, intellectual property law, contracts, finance, business management, industry, small company development, funding and investment. They will be on hand to offer constructive suggestions and discuss your plans with you in a supportive way, giving guidance and connections to progress valuable technologies and ideas to benefit society.

Input for rapid funding and scaling production of ventilators, clinical trials, drug formulations, diagnostic assays and distribution channels is particularly needed.

Teams should send a non-confidential summary of their plan beforehand to prepare the panel of advisors. To qualify for a slot to pitch please send a non-confidential 1-2 page summary to michael@discoverylab.ca. This will be shared with the advisors, donors and investors.

An evaluation of the pitch and comments will be given to participants and the advisors and investors following their pitch.

Register here. The code to join this private Zoom conference will be circulated to registrants beforehand.

 

 

 

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Due to WordPress malfunction I cannot upload the photo of Bournville Village Green crocuses to this site. It has been included in the email alert 

Friends of Bournville Carillon’s AGM is to be held on Thursday 26th March at 7pm at St Francis Church Centre in Bournville.

 Routine activities

  • Weekly carillon recitals (Saturdays at 12 noon and 3:00pm).
  • Recitals open to visitors: Ongoing great enthusiasm and interest.

Annual Events recurring:

  • New Year,
  • Good Friday,
  • MacMillan Cancer support weekend,
  • Heritage Day,
  • Bournville Christmas Festival, Intergenerational Christmas Concert at St. Francis Church,
  • Carols on the Green on Christmas Eve.

Special events 2018

A very successful Celebrity Concert on 16th June 2018 featuring Tom Van Peer from Mechelen, Belgium, Sue Mountford, Soprano, plus Charlotte and Trevor Workman

Armistice Commemoration: Carillon with vocalist.

Heritage Open Day – a whole community event.

Bournville Christmas Festival – whole community event

Intergenerational Christmas Concert – with local school children.

It was the most successful year ever with a wonderful community spirit and enthusiastic co-operation. This was the result of much hard work and effort by many people and the very pro-active, dynamic and effective Board

We will contact those intending to attend the AGM if Coronavirus makes it necessary to cancel the meeting.

 

 

 

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The Victorian Society is a charity championing Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales. Its Conservation Advisers help local planning authorities and churches to make better decisions about adapting these historic buildings to the way we live now, while keeping what is special about them. The society’s regional groups host many events to which members and non-members are welcome. Follow the link to find out more about the Birmingham and West Midlands Group 

A photograph and message from the Victorian Society’s latest newsletter

The main pool had been concealed by scaffolding while roof repairs costing more than £800,000 took place.

Moseley Road Baths, which first opened in 1907, is the oldest of Britain’s five Grade II* listed swimming baths.

The repairs above the Gala Pool in Balsall Heath were completed following work by a partnership involving community groups and other organisations. Historic England approved a grant of more than £700,000 and the building’s owner, Birmingham City Council, has provided £100,000.

The Gala Pool area will now serve as an arts venue while its long-term future is considered.

Read more here: https://moseleyroadbaths.org.uk/

 

 

 

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Will Digbeth be developed for the benefit of Oval Estates ‘ambitious occupiers’ and the interested parties, including representatives of High Street Residential, Arena Central Developments, Oval Real Estate, Court Collaboration, Willmott Dixon, UK Power Networks, Edmond Shipway and many others who attended the VIP dinner in January?

Or will the wishes of current traders, residents and those in need of affordable housing be taken to heart?

The Digbeth/Deritend Conservation Areas, designated in May 2000, due to be combined, contain the most significant remnants of mediaeval settlement in Birmingham including the fifteenth century Guildhall of St John (now the Old Crown public house). Once a hive of trade, industry and craft Digbeth is now home to many small businesses and activities.

In October last year, David Thame wrote: “Coolness is something famously hard to measure. Digbeth, the tech-meets-creatives-meets-city living district of central Birmingham, has it nonetheless. It was listed by the Times as the coolest address in Britain (beating districts in London, Manchester, Bristol and Leeds).

At the Victorian Society’s AGM, Joe Holyoak (below) spoke about plans for new buildings in Digbeth and particularly of his concerns relating to some of these proposed buildings. A planning application for a 30-storey skyscraper on Digbeth High Street was submitted to Birmingham City Council in September 2019. 928 flats are planned but ZERO affordable housing though Birmingham has a 35% affordable housing policy.

Those who share concerns about developments in the city might like to look at this website, which asks: “Do you want this skyscraper towering over Digbeth? Have your say before it’s too late!”

In December, Carl Jackson reported that hundreds of people have backed the ‘Digbeth Deserves Better’ petition and campaign launched after the plans were lodged in September, claiming that there had been little to no consultation with those based in the area.

In his article, Carl explains campaigners argue that the sheer scale of Stone Yard, particularly its tallest tower, will dwarf iconic buildings such as Devonshire House, the 651-year-old Old Crown pub as well as the entire Digbeth conservation area (above). They also claimed the plans lack affordable housing and will increase pressure on public services.

Traders and residents based in and around the Custard Factory welcome the idea of appropriately designed residential development on the site to drive footfall and help sustain Digbeth, providing it is of appropriate design and scale.

But before a block of flats goes up, councils are obliged to take into account the needs of existing businesses when judging planning applications and to test noise levels. Bennie Gray, current owner of Devonshire House and the owners of well-known venues such as Digbeth Dining Club, The Spotted Dog, O2 Institute and Ghetto Golf fear this may not be done, leading to a repetition of earlier problems in the area.

Will the gentrification/social cleansing practised in London arrive in Birmingham, as plans for a 30-storey tower development in Digbeth ‘cast a dark cloud’ over the area, driving out creative talent and people on lower incomes?

 

 

 

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 Shirley Institute, 1901-2019

Many people are aware of Shirley Community Centre on the High Street, but just around the corner of St James’ Church is Shirley Institute, greatly valued by 1500-1800 people who hold parties or attend the thirty clubs and groups each week.

                     Book signing: 10.30.A.M. – 2.00.P.M.

A carefully detailed account of the history of the Institute, researched and written by Ann Turner (left) will be on sale for £6. It opens with a foreword by Mavis Lewis and a contribution by the manager of the Institute, Georgina Peake. In addition to the book signing there will be good fellowship, craft & book stalls, home-made chutneys and refreshments.

All will be welcome to this social morning on Saturday February 22nd at the Institute

24 Church Road, Shirley, West Midlands, B90 2AX

 

 

 

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Birmingham is to join cities across the UK in hosting a ‘community fridge’ – preserving food that would otherwise be wasted. 

The Peace Hub in Bull St will be housing the fridge, provided by students taking part in the UpRising environmental leadership programme.

Individuals and businesses will be able to drop off food that would otherwise be binned, and anyone can drop into the Hub on Bull Street to make use of what’s been left.

The Peace Hub Community Fridge was awarded a Food Hygiene Rating of Awaiting inspection by Birmingham City Council on 28th December 2018. For more details see http://peacehub.org.uk/ or @QuakerPeaceHub

This news came from the occasional enewsletter issued by the Priory Rooms,An Oasis of Calm Situated in the Heart of Birmingham City Centre” 

 The Priory Rooms garden: peaceful reflection

The Peace Hub is next door to the Priory Rooms, Quaker Meeting House, 40 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6AF

 

 

 

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After reading about floods further afield (Will politicians ever put their constituents’ interests first?) the writer enquired about one of Birmingham’s flood-prone areas.

Flood-affected urban areas often face a different set of problems, from those facing towns like Hebden Bridge, related to housebuilding in floodplains and damaged sewage systems. Whilst the housebuilding problem persists it is good to read about progress made in places like Stirchley.

The following photograph is a still from a Stirchley video which may be seen here. It shows the conditions faced in that area, most notably in 2008.

 In 2016, Councillor Timothy Huxtable (right, Bournville Ward) gave news of investment in flood defences

After the Stirchley floods of 2008 the Government and Severn Trent Invested £3 million in 2015:

  • a kilometre of new, larger sewer pipes was installed in Newlands Road, Ripple Road and Cartland Road
  • two large underground storage tanks were built in Cartland Road, Pershore Road and Ripple Road
  • floodgates were fitted to properties along Ripple Road and Cartland Road and
  • Dogpool Lane bridge was redesigned

Cllr Huxtable said that both these investments and the money put aside to develop a River Rea strategy –  mentioned at the December Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum meeting – have played their part in protecting properties from flooding.

Perhaps henceforth this problem will be taken more seriously by decision-makers and that all affected in Birmingham and Solihull (notably Nethercote Gardens) will be able to echo the cautious 2020 accolade of Peter Walker of Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum: 

“I think that the defence work that has been done so far is having some success”.

 

 

 

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