A reader has recommended the video: “Who’s spending Britain’s billions?


Jacques Peretti opened this video by reminding us that for some years the 99% have been required to tighten their belts – as the International Tax Review confirms rumours of plans to cut Britain’s corporation tax rate (‘a race to the bottom’). On this film, Peretti uncovered what is happening behind closed doors in Britain. He found that local councils across the UK have signed contracts with management consultancy firms who can take a percentage of any savings they find – luminaries such as McKinsey, Serco, G4S and Capita.

Capita: Service Birmingham

Peretti discussed the outsourcing of council services to Capita, of particular interest to Birmingham residents, with Professor David Bailey (Aston Business School) who has long campaigned against this expensive appointment. In previous posts here and in many Post articles, having analysed cost and performance, he has advised the city to end the contract, as many councils up and down the country are now doing.

Many will welcome the council’s current scrutiny of Capita’s Service Birmingham and hope that – like others cited in the Peretti programme – an in-house workforce will be installed at lower cost to the taxpayer which might well give better service.

Taking self-regulation to a new low

Last year the outspoken Audit Commission – the ‘watchdog’ scrutinising council spending was disbanded. David Cameron hoped a critical mass of citizen watchdogs would become a new force for accountability. He said a ‘whole army of effective armchair auditors looking over the books’ would act as a check on ‘waste’, but the army has not appeared, as the BBC pointed out.

There are 36 articles with Capita in the title on our database

The earliest: in 2004 Schools were forced to close because of delays to a database to vet teachers, run by Capita. In 2005 Capita’s software was said to be responsible for the failure of a government scheme for allocating school places. In 2006: Computer Business Review reported that its chairman had been resigned after the discovery of secret loans to the ruling Labour Party form whom the company had received a number of contracts.

The latest, in August this year a Solihull reader alerted us to a Pulse magazine report on serious shortfalls in Capita’s primary care support services. Medical practices are facing delays as patient records and supplies are missing and payments made late. Alex Matthews-King, who wrote the article, reports on the situation using data published in April 2016 – two years after Capita won the £330m contract to provide primary care support services, with a budget cut of 40%.

Commercial confidentiality hides information about the use of taxpayers’ money

Peretti also reveals that hundreds of the millions of taxpayers’ pounds spent on these contracts are covered by confidential deals meaning very little detail is known about them.

Many readers will not be surprised to hear allegations about consultants who – the blurb says – ’leech off local councils and bleed them dry’. For years they have watched the outsourcing of public services which don’t produce the promised savings –  after management fees have been deducted – and ‘evasive councillors’ trying to justify use of these expensive assistants.


His final question? Does the public deserve to know more about how those charged with managing Britain’s billions are spending them?





Co-operatives UK, the network for Britain’s thousands of co-operative businesses,  works to promote, develop and unite member-owned business worth more than £34 billion to the British economy.

The guest speaker at our Networking Event and AGM will be Cheryl Barrott, Community Worker, Co-founder of Change AGEnts, co-oppy champion of Fair Care and full on rock goddess.


Cheryl will be speaking on “Social Care – is there a cooperative solution?”

Book now for our Networking Event and AGM – Click here 

3 November 2016, 5pm-7pm, Birmingham city centre

What connections will you make at our AGM and networking event?

There will be facilitated and informal networking, a light buffet, … stalls, and more networking. There is a small charge of £5 to cover catering and to deter no-shows.  Bursary places are available for members of start-up cooperatives, or people on low incomes who are looking at setting up a cooperativeClick here to reserve your places.



Anthony Collins Solicitors, 134 Edmund St, Birmingham, B3 2ES



How many members do they have? 

What they are worth?

 Infographics on the co-operative economy in the West Midlands have been published:



Raw data was aken from the Cooperatives UK site – http://www.uk.coop/co-operative-economy-explorer – infographics collated and designed by Phil Beardmore.





In response to a query an online search revealed that in December last year, a government press release was issued, describing the Midlands Engine as a proposal to boost economic growth in the West and East Midlands regions – though it is said to stretch from Wales to the North Sea and the northern Home Counties to the Peak District. Business Secretary Sajid Javid has ministerial responsibility for the proposal.


11 Local Enterprise Partnerships with their local authorities, businesses and the wider partners came together to respond to the Government economic and productivity challenges – supported by a grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government for trade and investment.

midlands-engine-2-coverA 24 page plan – the Midlands Engine prospectus – was ‘unveiled’ on 4th December 2015 at a special event at Birmingham University. It notes that “advanced manufacturing expertise is the bedrock of the Midlands economy and supports a host of other associated industries and sectors” and intends to develop a Midlands Engine Productivity Improvement Plan and “position the Midlands as a major UK and European gateway to unlock the region’s potential and support growth across every sector”.

Universities and research translation centres will work closely with businesses to bring forward initiatives to turn their science into new technologies, materials and products and create new business opportunities under the title: High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Midlands Connect is a transport partnership of twenty-eight local authorities, Network Rail, Highways England, Government and the business community, operating across the eleven LEPs. It is mandated to set out a long term transport strategy, to ‘power the Midlands Engine’ and enhance connectivity within, to and from the Midlands

The Midlands Engine organised its first trade mission earlier this year and set out plans for the Midlands, including:

  • a £250 million Midlands Engine Investment Fund to provide investment through Access to Finance for small and medium-sized enterprises
  • the development of a £60 million Energy Research Accelerator at the University of Nottingham, as well as £2.6 million investment in the Technology Entrepreneurship Centre
  • £300 million investment in a High Value Manufacturing Catapult and £45 million for a new Energy Systems Catapult in Birmingham, to attract the most innovative businesses to the region
  • £14 million for a new creative innovation centre at Digbeth, the Birmingham STEAMhouse
  • multi-million pound investment to ensure the Midlands makes the most of the new High Speed 2 rail links, at Birmingham and at Toton in the East Midlands. 

More information on this event: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sajid-javid-leads-first-ever-midlands-engine-trade-mission




Friends of Moseley Road Baths Newsletter, October 2016


Watch Day, Sunday, October 30th 2016 10am-6pm 

Our final – and biggest – open day of 2016 will be the Watch Day, held to mark the Baths’ inclusion on the World Monuments Fund Watch List. It’s on Sunday, October 30th (the 109th anniversary of the Baths opening) from 10am-6pm.

There’ll be tours, a talk on historic baths, free swimming, water polo, live music and much more besides, including lots of birthday cake. Tours, lasting approximately one hour, take place throughout the day, but if you want to hear the talk (details below), book a one-hour free swimming session or if you fancy playing water polo, then advance booking is advised (although essential for water polo) and can be done as follows:  

Talk: Great Lengths – A Quick Dip into Britains Magnificent Pools by Simon Inglis, Played in Britain series editor, e-mail contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk 

Free Swimming Sessions – Please choose from 2:45pm-3:45pm, or 4pm-5pm then e-mail contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk 


Water Polo – Friends of MRB v Moseley Shoals 1:30pm-2:30pm, were still recruiting players so if you fancy a game, then e-mail us in advance on contact@friendsofmrb.co.uk

Tours of the Baths: As usual, many parts of the building normally closed to the public will be accessible including the Slipper Baths, Laundry Room and Cold Water Storage Tank, the Boiler House (for the boilers, well/bore-hole and filtration tanks) and the fabulous Gala Pool. If you’ve never visited these parts of Moseley Road Baths then come along (and bring friends and family), it’s free and we’ll have visitors guides, information boards and a host of knowledgeable Friends volunteers on hand to help you understand the building’s history. In addition we’ll have a range of MRB memorabilia available for sale.

Simon Inglis talk begins at 4pm. Simon not only helped found the Friends, he is also is the editor of the Played in Britain series of books, co-author of Great Lengths, the Historic Indoor Pools of Britain and a world expert on the subject. Simon’s talk is illustrated and lasts around an hour.

There’ll also be lots of live music in the Gala Pool whilst Balsall Heath Local History Society, Balsall Heath WI, Balsall Heath is Our Planet, B13 Magazine, Kings Heath Local History Society, Moorpool Trust and the Victorian Society will have stalls allowing you to find out about the valuable work that they undertake in the community.

The results of an MRB poster competition held in conjunction with local schools will be announced, there’ll be some Edwardian-era games for children to play and we are hoping to find the earliest living user of the Baths. So if you know of anyone who used the Baths in the early 1930s (or even before that), let us know (e-mail: contact@fofrmb.co.uk) with the details and we’ll be in touch. In addition former Baths Department employee John Berill will be on hand once again o share his knowledge of how Moseley Road Baths’ plant and machinery works. Refreshments will be available throughout the day; we’ll have a temperance bar, allowing you to enjoy the kind of drinks that might have been available to Edwardian Brummies and of course there’ll be lots of birthday cake, as we celebrate Moseley Road Baths’ 109th birthday.

And to conclude proceedings, at 5:30pm local radio and television presenter, Adrian Goldberg, will attempt to set a new personal distance record for swimming in the pool.




In April next year, all businesses and charities in England will be able to choose their water provider. Though the quality of the water would not improve, changing suppliers would be a gesture of support for companies that do not practice enforced medication with a neurotoxin.

It is said that this choice is likely to be extended to the residential sector after water regulator OFWAT has backed plans to bring competition to the residential retail water market and made these recommendations to the government. According to a report, the move, which would end the final retail monopoly, could be worth almost £3bn to the consumer with smaller bills and improved customer service.

welsh-waterThe writer would choose the only British-owned utility, Welsh Water – Dwr Cymru – a semi-mutual water company run on a not-for-profit basis, owned by the co-operative Glas Cymru, a single purpose company with no shareholders run solely for the benefit of customers.

Fleur Jones of Dwr Cymru’s Legal Department,  confirms that Welsh Water does not fluoridate its water supplies.

She explains: “The Water Act 2003 amends the Water Industry Act 1991 which now states that water companies must follow the instruction of the Health Authority or in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government. It does not now give the green light to water companies to fluoridate but means that, as stated above, the decision making process sits with those directly accountable to their local population. In practice in Wales this is likely to mean that decisions will rest with the National Assembly for Wales. Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water do not fluoridate any of our water supplies and we have not received any indication that the National Assembly for Wales intend to ask us to fluoridate any water supplies”. 

Hats off to Welsh Water – who are avoiding the range of suspected health risks from fluoride – see research published in the BMJ which found higher levels of hypothyroidism in the fluoridated West Midlands.





A study by Public Health England has warned that outdoor air pollution is responsible for an estimated 520 deaths a year in Birmingham alone (Birmingham Mail).

Nationwide it is contributing to about 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, according to the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The Financial Times reports findings that air pollution is bad for the lungs and that new research suggests it is also causing more car accidents.

In one area covering west London, as many as four extra traffic accidents a day could be triggered by a spike in dirty air levels, according to a working paper which may be read here. Research by the author, Lutz Sager, an environmental economist who works in the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, suggests that even a small rise in the average concentration of nitrogen dioxide — just 1 microgramme per cubic metre — is enough to increase the average number of accidents each day by 2%, with cities suffering the biggest effects.

One area with some of the highest levels of pollution, covering west London, has an average of 86 car accidents a day. Mr Sager said his research showed that a 30% rise in nitrogen dioxide from average levels led to another four accidents a day. He cites research showing that students do worse on tests when there are higher amounts of air pollution in the room. He suspects that such students and also drivers in highly polluted areas “feel more tired or are less focused, or have a slower reaction time.”

A 1999 European Union directive set legal limits for nitrogen dioxide levels, which came into force in 2010. Six years later, these limits are still being exceeded in many places across Europe. Europe’s cities have some of the highest NO2 levels in the world, because a much higher proportion of cars run on diesel than in most other countries.

The British government has not acted on rulings by the UK Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice

In the UK, 37 out of 43 zones breach the limits. The European Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that national courts can and should ensure that governments act to get air pollution below legal limits “as soon as possible”. The case then went back to the UK’s Supreme Court, which in April 2015 ordered the UK’s environment minister to take “immediate action” by preparing and consulting the public on an air quality action plan in the shortest possible time. Despite this ruling, the New Scientist reports that the British government proposals published in December did not envisage compliance in the worst affected areas until 2025.

In a case which began this week, a group of lawyers from ClientEarth is asking the High Court to order ministers to produce a better plan for improving air quality.

The case concerns levels of nitrogen dioxide, an invisible gas produced mainly by road traffic; high levels of nitrogen dioxide shorten lives, by increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and respiratory disorders.


 How many will die before government enforces the law?



CHURCH AND PEACE Day Conference, Quaker Meeting House, Bull Street, Birmingham B4 6AF, Saturday 29 October 10am – 4.30pm. 


The church as an agent of peace in an increasingly insecure world. Keynote speaker: Simon Barrow, director of Ekklesia: www.ekklesia.co.uk.

Church and Peace is a European ecumenical peace church network made up of communities, training centres, peace organisations and peace service agencies. It participates in the ecumenical dialogue of the conciliar process for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation and is a catalyst for common initiatives and projects.

This Church and Peace Britain and Ireland day of reflection and discussion will look at what makes us secure, and what makes us insecure, and how the churches can play a prophetic role in building true security in the region today.

Workshop sessions and an afternoon panel discussion will give opportunities to reimagine the face of Church and Peace in Britain and Ireland, to see what the network’s unique contribution can be in the future and how we can strengthen the work already being done.

The event is free of charge. A soup and sandwich lunch can be booked at a cost of £6.00.

Contact: Barbara Forbes forbesbarbarae@yahoo.co.uk







In July this site reported that Birmingham’s Grade II* listed Roundhouse in Sheepcote Street was given an award of £2.2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Canal & River Trust and National Trust formed a partnership and lodged plans with Birmingham City Council to transform the building.

The plans put forward by the Canal & River Trust and the National Trust included several schemes including an urban discovery and enterprise hub, exhibition hall, an indoor or outdoor sports or recreation use, a museum or some kind of education and training facility, cycle hire, the erection of link building and works to the courtyard.
The Business Desk now informs us that the city’s planning committee has given permission for a change of use for this Grade II listed canalside building.