priory2 conf header

“We have come together as activists and campaigners to build a Europe of democracy, human rights, and social justice. We don’t believe a British exit from the EU offers a path towards the social, citizen-led Europe we so urgently need. That’s why we are saying ‘stay in Europe to change Europe’ “.

This growing movement, which says ‘stay in Europe to change Europe’, has organised a Birmingham event as part of its nation-wide speaker tour.

Wednesday June 1st at 7:00pm (19:00 to 21:00) in the Priory Rooms: Vote In – Another Europe is Possible, with:

  • Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton
  • Owen Jones, author, activist and Guardian columnist
  • Salma Yaqoob, community activist and former Respect Party leader
  • Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary
  • Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass

And others TBC

Join us for a night of debate and discussion – and a party – with great speakers and lots of time for audience participation. 

The Priory Rooms Meeting & Conference Centre – 40 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6AF

Book your place online now: tickets are free.




Granton Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group is to hold its first Open Day on the Kings Norton/Cotteridge border.

There aren’t the funds to post the message out to all 8,000 patients, so every available alternative means are being used to get it out.

Readers who do not belong to this practice are welcome and if they know others who would appreciate the information, please pass it on.

granton open day 1granton open day 2






On 25th-26th May 2016, Millennium Point, Birmingham, UK, the University of Birmingham will be hosting a technical conference on the progress of fuel cell & hydrogen. The conference will showcase the latest fuel cell & hydrogen research and new developments, trends and deployment issues. It is the only UK technical platform and showcase for academia and industry to interact and present new trends and results to each other.

2016 will be the 3rd annual FCH2 Technical Conference hosted by the National EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their Fuels (CDT) – a collaboration between University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, Loughborough University, University College London and Imperial College London. The conference will host themes covered by industry and academia, such as:

  • fuel cells – materials and processes
  • hydrogen production, storage and infrastructure
  • socio-economics, marketing and strategy
  • current fuel cell related projects
  • public outreach and engagement

It is also a collaboration between the CDT and H2FC Supergen Hub, a national research council funded hub that evaluates and demonstrates the role of hydrogen and fuel cell research in the UK energy landscape and links this to the wider landscape internationally in addition to studying and exploiting the impact of hydrogen and fuel cells in low carbon energy systems.

There will be opportunities for brokerage, partnering and networking with others in the industry, researchers and academia, concerning new developments, trends and issues of technological deployment.

Registered delegates are welcome to attend the industry brokerage and partnering event and the conference dinner on the afternoon and evening 25th May 2016, respectively.

Register here.




Around 29,000 people die prematurely each year in the UK because of air pollution, according to Public Health England in 2014. The worst affected cities in Britain are Birmingham, Leeds and London.

air pollution brum

Last week the FT reported on the findings of the World Health Organisation’s latest assessment of polluted air, a problem the body says is causing more than 3m premature deaths worldwide each year. It can cause breathing difficulties in vulnerable people, such as asthmatics and older adults and stunt the proper growth of lung function in children, according to Dr Annette Pruss-Ustun, a co-author of the WHO study. People get sore throats, headaches and breathing difficulties, “and that is just what you feel”, she said, adding air pollution had been linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes:

“This really calls for a strong political will to recognise this as a major public health issue and do something about it.”

prof mackenzie air poll

A year ago, ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reported from Birmingham. Professor Rob Mackenzie (above, Birmingham University) said that there is increasingly strong evidence of the effect of air pollution on hearts and lungs. ITV’s short video may be seen here.

ClientEarth: “We have the right to breathe clean air. It is a shame that our government doesn’t seem to agree.”

Another ITV News article quoted a spokesman for ClientEarth, an environmental law organisation which has been fighting a legal battle to improve air quality: “We think the government will need to get rid of the dirtiest diesel vehicles – perhaps with a network of ultra-low emission areas across the UK.” It was alleged that the main culprits are not private cars but older buses and diesel-powered trucks – a charge disputed by The Times.

After five years of litigation, the Government was ordered by the UK’s highest court to take immediate action over its obligations under European law on air pollution limits. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that government must submit new air quality plans to the EU no later than 31 December 2015.

However, ClientEarth believed the government was still in breach of its legal duty  to produce new air quality plans to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the “shortest possible time” and asked judges to strike down the plans released on 17 December, which, they contended, wouldn’t bring the UK within legal air pollution limits until 2025. They sought a court order requiring new plans and an undertaking that government will act on them. On April 28th this year, a judge at the High Court granted their request to pursue a Judicial Review against DEFRA.

ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews said: “The government’s new plans to tackle air pollution are woefully inadequate and won’t achieve legal limits for years to come. The longer they are allowed to dither and delay, the more people will suffer from serious illness or an early death.”




If you have ever lost one earring and kept the other – or received some as an unappreciated gift? If so, please consider putting it/them in an envelope and post them to Jeanette Burrows, 31 Prince of Wales Lane, B14 4LB, to help to raise funds for Chrysalis.

Since 2010, Chrysalis has been working with village-based young people from remote Kitgum and Lamwo districts in Northern Uganda as well as in the slums of Kampala. These are regions severely impacted by war and which need significant regeneration.

The Butterfly Project is a network of committed young people, who are determined to be catalysts for change in their communities. Young people who have been recruited from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, because we believe that those who have survived hardship are the best people to tackle its causes.

butterfly project header

Initially, each Butterfly member lives in residential accommodation, known as Chrysalis Centres, where they receive specialist training and support to start and develop their own social projects or enterprises but the centre is badly in need of equipment and resources.

Chrysalis have been fortunate in obtaining a shipping container and filled it with ICT equipment, computers, musical instruments, athletics and gym equipment, art materials, all the resources needed to run a residential centre. However, they now need to transport it from Birmingham to Kampala in Uganda.

Your discarded and odd earrings could raise the funds.


If you would like to know more, go to:

Youth blog:

g osborne re elected mayor

A directly-elected mayor: a presidential form of local government, accountable only in direct elections every four years with no right of removal; this summary is given in an article by BATC, accessed via the Brummie.

The Sainsbury founded Institute for Government views directly-elected mayors and police and crime commissioners more benignly, as part of the coalition government’s ‘decentralisation efforts’

The BATC analysis:

  • It means the government can deal with a single leader and one not tied to local political parties as a council leader is – an arrangement that suits the private sector too.
  • Directly-elected mayors offer the possibility of a Tory mayor, or at least an independent, being elected in Labour-dominated urban areas.
  • And they are ideally suited to the media’s fondness for reducing politics to personalities.

The Chamberlain Files gives useful lists:

Under the draft devolution agreement the mayor will chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and will exercise powers and functions devolved from central government, listed here. It notes that “While WMCA will be up and running as a legal entity next month, its constitution will have to be amended when the metro mayor is elected in May 2017” and “Broadly speaking, it has already been agreed that anything of any importance will require a two-thirds majority vote of support from the council leaders”.

BATC calls for accountability: “London has an elected Assembly – why not the West Midlands?”

“There is a precedent: the scrutiny arrangements in London. There, ongoing public accountability of the directly elected mayor and the Greater London Authority is ensured by a directly elected London Assembly.  The London Assembly has 25 elected members. They are not just existing councillors drafted onto a Scrutiny Committee, they are elected by citizens who vote for them specifically because they are going to fight for their interests. And they aren’t just reactive to policy, they act as champions for Londoners proactively investigating concerns through not just one but 15 issue-based committees and raising their findings and their policy demands with the Mayor and with the government itself”.

It adds that Centre for Cities is holding a policy discussion about the top priorities for the new West Midlands mayor on Thursday 21 July at 5.30pm in the Library of Birmingham. On the panel are:

  • Gisela Stuart MP Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston
  • Paul Faulkner Chief Executive, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Chamber of Commerce
  • Marc Reeves Editor, Birmingham Mail

BATC ends: “This is an opportunity to publicly challenge the completely undemocratic power structure of the WM Combined Authority, with no WM elected Assembly to hold the Mayor and Council leaders to account”.

You will need to book now to be sure of a place. Go to register on Eventbrite.




Is the West Midlands area tied into a mass fluoridation contract with Severn Trent which would make authorities liable for punitive damages if they withdrew?

Many will salute Bedford Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which – in April – unanimously recommended that fluoride should NOT be added to Bedford’s water.

bedford cllrs fluoridation

Mass medication brings large profits for manufacturers and those on whom they can confer benefits, but as yet most proposals have not been accepted.

fluoride UK mapThe map on the left shows the relatively low uptake of the fluoridation offer – and proposals to dose the population with substances such as statins or folic acid are yet to be accepted.

These practices – like drone warfare – rely on the pernicious principle of ‘acceptable risk’ as studies have suggested that up to one in five patients taking statins suffers some kind of ill-effect, including muscle aches, memory disturbance, cataracts and diabetes.

Would the 0-20% affected agree that this risk is acceptable?

Another proposal for adding folic acid to bread has also been studied; the noted rise in colorectal cancer is described as a ‘slight increase’ in statistical terms – again, not negligible to the people afflicted.

Mass medication through the food chain is affecting those who eat conventionally reared meat, poultry and dairy products.

Farm animals account for almost two thirds of all antibiotics used in 26 European countries.

Last year 20 senior representatives from health and medical organisations co-signed a letter published in the Times, calling on the UK Government and European Commission to put an end to routine, preventative antibiotic use in groups of healthy animals. A Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s report has revealed that the total UK veterinary sales in 2014 of antibiotics classified as “critically important in human medicine” increased by 3% to a new record high.

Bedford Councillor Anthony Forth (below) issued the following statement:

bedford cllr quoted“I would like to propose that following the review process, this committee recommends a termination of the existing water fluoridation scheme, subject to the necessary consultations that are outlined on pages 26 to 28. “I think that the evidence in favour of water fluoridation does seem extremely dated… On the other hand, a number of the pieces of evidence of dis-benefits are not as scientifically rigorous as we might like.

“I think that as a group we’re happy to accept the Precautionary Principle that there isn’t strong evidence for re-introducing fluoride, so therefore we should not go ahead.”

A video made by Fluoride Free Bedford includes footage of the council reflecting on this important decision.

One correspondent commented on a recent article about this decision that there was no need to take a precautionary approach: “as the concentration in the human body increases, so does the risk of damage But at the level used by most of the world in CFW being .7-1PPM there is little or no risk.”

Is he including the cumulative effect of the addition of fluoride, not only to the water supply, but to various foods and dental products?

Authorities in the American environmental and occupational health sector list the ‘exposure pathways’ in a study republished on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information:

  • ingestion of fluoridated public drinking water;
  • ingestion of soft drinks and fruit juices (beverages);
  • consumption of infant formula;
  • ingestion of cow’s milk;
  • consumption of foods; incidental ingestion of soil; ingestion of fluoride supplement tablets; and incidental ingestion of fluoride toothpaste.

Another well-qualified source, Professor K.K. Cheng (University of Birmingham) who co-authored Adding fluoride to water supplies, advises public and professional bodies to balance benefits and risks, individual rights and social values in an even-handed manner.

That study points out that those opposing fluoridation sometimes overstate the evidence on harm and also that the Department of Health’s objectivity is questionable: it funded the British Fluoridation Society and used the York review’s findings selectively to give an overoptimistic assessment of the evidence in favour of fluoridation.

In response to the Medical Research Council recommendations, Britain’s Department of Health, often said to be helping people to live better for longer, has commissioned research on the bioavailability (degree of absorption) of fluoride from naturally and artificially fluoridated drinking water.

Cheng points out that the study had only 20 participants and was too small to give reliable results – but despite this it has formed the basis of a series of claims by government for the safety of fluoridation.

Time for change – but change will come too late for those affected by the ‘acceptable’ risks.




chris fox 2Just received from Science Capital: on May 16 @ 6:00 pm  8:30 pm at iCentrum, an Invitation to join an Intogether Referendum  discussion. Lord Chris Fox of Leominster, Herefordshire will put the case for Britain to Stay In:

“The results of this seminal vote will have an impact on our country for generations, especially in the Midlands as the UK’s productive manufacturing heartland. Many are still asking for greater clarity and information. As Lib Dems we are keen to Stay In the EU, whilst also keen to promote real opportunities for debate and discussion around this vital topic – open to all interested parties”.

chris foxlibdem2 in logo

Amongst Lib Dems Chris is known as former Chairman of Communications, West Midlands Liberal Democrats, founder Chair of the North Herefordshire Young Liberals, Lib Dem Director of Policy and Communications, interim Chief Executive and Lib Dem Chief Executive.

He was an Associate of the Royal College of Science, President of Imperial College Students’ Union and has held many business appointments.



Please email or call 0779 130 1325 to RSVP your attendance at:

Faraday Wharf, Innovation Birmingham Campus, Holt Street, Birmingham Science Park Aston, Birmingham, B7 4BB, phone: 0121 260 6000



co-op event 1

Co-operatives West Midlands are pleased to announce are pleased to announce that bookings are now open for their Spring networking event, 5pm-7pm on 18 May 2016, at Anthony Collins Solicitors in Central Birmingham: 134 Edmund Street, Birmingham, B3 2ES.

Ridhi Kalaria of Birmingham Pound campaign confirmed as speaker at the Cooperatives Spring networking event – 18 May

co-op event ridhi

Ridhi Kalaria, from the Birmingham Pound campaign, will be joining us as guest speaker at our Spring networking event. Ridhi is a community researcher whose mission is to build positive social movements and create a sustainable impact.

As a member of the Birmingham Pound steering group, she is central to efforts to establish a local currency that will strengthen the local economy. Karen Leach of Localise West Midlands said that Ridhi is “a huge asset to the group. She thinks strategically and with clarity and insight, is creative and fun to work with, communicates well with very different audiences, and has got a lot done in a short space of time.”

This is your chance to find out more about local currencies and to discuss how they might work to strengthen the cooperative economy.

There will be facilitated and informal networking, a light buffet, a short talk by Peter Couchman of the Plunkett Foundation on why some co-operatives fail, a workshop on Co-operatives and Local Currencies, 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 those on low incomes who are looking at setting up a co-operative.

You can now book a stall at the Networking event. Please click here for the exhibitors’ brochure and click here to book:



2-5 pm Sunday 8 May at Bull Street Quaker meeting house


There will be speakers from three faith groups:

Dr Fazlun Khalid – Founder-Director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science (Eco Islam).

Mark Letcher Operation Noah – an ecumenical Christian charity providing leadership, focus and inspiration in response to the growing threat of catastrophic climate change.

Speaker from Eco Sikh – a response from the Sikh community to the threats of climate change and the deterioration of the natural environment.

The speakers will be followed by conversations and refreshments, providing opportunities to share thoughts, hear from others, and explore how we can work together.



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