john clancyBefore receiving ‘stop press’ news about a grant for hydrogen buses, we recalled the words of Birmingham City’s Council leader, “Transport links and the Buses Bill are key to making local economies across the UK more economically inclusive and prosperous. High quality public transport is fundamental to ensuring more inclusive growth. Poor air quality is responsible for around the same number of deaths across core cities as it is in London and must be tackled if our cities are to thrive.”

This was a paragraph written by Cllr John Clancy to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, urging him to put improved transport links between the UK’s major cities at the top of his ‘to-do’ list.

We then asked, ‘why not consider a gradual transition to cleaner forms of road and waterway passenger transport’?


It is reported that the Icknield Port Loop development will open up a little-used and inaccessible corner of the city’s canal network, creating 1.5km of new towpath, new moorings, waterbus stops and space for historic boats.

Thames river buses are well used and people arriving in Leeds by train can take a water taxi from Granary Wharf every day, travelling along a scenic canal route – free of charge. The service is funded by the docks’ management.


Such services could be introduced on Birmingham canals, which are lined with many handsome, well-designed industrial buildings, some in need of restoration for reuse, and could become a pleasing feature of the city, with commuters and visitors travelling by water.

Diesel emissions would become a distant memory as cleaner vehicles are used on road and waterways.

Microcab, Coventry University’s spin-off company, has for several years operated hydrogen-fuelled minicabs powered by motors so green their only “emission” is water pure enough to drink and the UK’s first hydrogen fuelling station was opened at the University of Birmingham before a fleet of five Microcabs was delivered to the University of Birmingham in 2008.

And as Professor Harris (Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham) pointed out during a recent BMI address, ‘Hydrogen and Rare Earth Magnets: Towards a Pollution Free Environment’ the Ross Barlow canal boat, operating between the University and the City Centre, is powered by hydrogen.

ross barlow city background

Instead of being mired every day in city centre congestion, many travellers could escape to the outskirts by water and – as the use of clean fuel rose – the burden on the NHS would be lessened.

Is this revolution on its way? The Tyburn Mail reports that Birmingham City Council and Transport for London has jointly been given £2.8 million by the Government’s  Department for Transport for 42 state-of-the-art hydrogen fuel cell buses.













Readers listed in order of viewing numbers





In June, after 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.

Described briefly in a 2014 English Heritage ‘at risk’ list as circular stables, the Roundhouse was built in 1874 as a mineral and coal wharf by the Birmingham Corporation, with the London and North Western Railway to the north and Birmingham Canal to the south.


An architectural competition was held in the early 1870s and the winning design was by William Henry Ward, a local architect based in Paradise Street, who designed the Great Western Arcade and Louisa Ryland House.

The stables housed around 40 horses and, combined with the external outbuildings, would have provided overnight accommodation for a total of 200 horses. Interesting features include:

  • two-storey gatehouses, used as living quarters for a storekeeper and as office space,
  • large brick barrel-vaulted chambers, for storing coal and minerals,
  • a tunnel, down which horse-drawn carts passed from the lower canal-side level yard through to the secure internal yard and
  • external hoists projecting at eaves level, to serve haylofts at the first floor.


The Roundhouse will become a base from which to explore Birmingham’s canal network on foot or by bike. There will be a cycle hire and repair workshop, a café, a kiosk selling tickets for boat tours, volunteering opportunities, shared working space for conservation organisations and an enterprise hub with office spaces aimed at start-ups and small companies.

More information is given on the following sites:




empty 2 homes highgateWill these Highgate properties be restored after many years of neglect?

At the end of June, 24 Dash and other media outlets reported that Birmingham City Council were to vote on a proposal to purchase more empty houses and bring them back into community use.

An online search found all the forecasts, but only the Sheffield Forum confirmed that the vote had been carried, adding a link to the relevant section of the Birmingham Post, and a quotation from that paper:

  • There are more than 5,000 privately owned homes in Birmingham which have been empty for more than six months.
  • Of those, 1,900 have been empty for three years and many are being left to rot and blight neighbourhoods. Getting them up to scratch and leased would go a long way to solving housing shortages.
  • The city council talks to owners to get properties back into use, but those who refuse face compulsory purchase orders.
  • The cabinet today agreed to a £4.6 million fund to buy empty homes – which can be done up and sold to people who want to live in them

It was good to read that Bromley Council has already been doing this. The Financial Times reported news from Cllr Peter Griffiths, cabinet member for housing and homes, who said that in the last three years they have brought around 1,000 empty properties back into use.

They offer homeowners advice, guidance and support in bringing their empty properties back into use, but ultimately can and will compulsorily purchase empty properties where homeowners leave properties empty for a considerable time. This will help to provide much needed housing for our citizens and remove empty properties which have a detrimental effect on the surrounding neighbourhoods as they are a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

A second admirable step

Readers who missed the first may go to an earlier news item about family-owned Wates Living Space Maintenance, appointed in December to undertake repairs and maintenance services for Birmingham council tenants over the next four years alongside Keepmoat and Willmott Dixon.

wates vans

A specialist fleet of 193 vans has been commissioned, in all, carrying over 11,000 trade tools, to carry out over 90,000 repairs each year.  

From April onwards they will have repairs, maintenance, gas servicing, home improvements and training for a local workforce, provided by only one contractor, leading to an improved service and savings which will be ploughed back in to housing services.

Later, Housing 3: New-build co-operative housing schemes for Birmingham?




Regional economic development in question

Aston BS Pic

Professor David Bailey sends notice of the Aston Centre for Europe workshop on Brexit and its regional and industrial impact: Thursday 21 July 2016: 1.30 – 5.15pm. Venue: Aston Business School, Aston University, Conference Room 1. Speakers include academics, MEPs, trade unionists, business groups.

Panel 1: The  and Britain’s economic development: what can we expect for the regions?

Panel 2 The referendum outcome and workers’ rights in the UK: regional implications in the West Midlands and beyond.

Details and booking here:

David Bailey,  Professor of Industrial Strategy

Economics & Strategy Group Aston Business School

The Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK.

Our projects:


David’s Blog:





b'ham 2 eastside news

Diana Gangan is a journalism student and Investigations editor of Birmingham Eastside, a student-run news website, named runner up at the Guardian Student Media Awards 2015 in the category Best Student Website.

Lightly edited extracts from her article follow. Full text:

Jez is still very much riding the wave of the ‘Corbynista’ movement as thousands of them showed their support at a rally in central London.

He stood up for his leadership position and has declared that pushing him out won’t be as easy as some right-wingers inside his party wish.

It feels like we’re back to square one, trying to open Blairites’ eyes not only to the insurmountable reality of Corbyn winning the leadership election with flying colours, but also to their infuriating refusal to understand that they are the very reason why their side lost.

Their lack of a radical, alternative vision for austerity Britain is to blame for Brexit.

But this is no time to pull the knives and Labour should know better than to throw tantrums. History won’t remember this as a Labour Party coup, but as an act of national betrayal, if the opposition doesn’t get a grip soon enough to help Britain ease in into its post-Brexit fate . . .

Except if the Blairites ‘fleeing the scenes’ are looking for a swift departure not in lights of their distrust in Corbyn’s campaign.

Maybe the answer is as simple as three words: the Chilcot report.

Unlike a Prime Minister stepping down because of ‘political incompatibilities’, Jeremy Corbyn is probably one of the fittest men to be part of the EU renegotiation process, if not even lead it.

By genuinely opposing the idea of the EU throughout his entire political career, Corbyn has a better vision of a post-Brexit Britain than Johnson or Gove.




ruth cadburyA hundred years after conscientious objection to military service was legalised, Ruth Cadbury MP (right), a descendent of WW1 Quaker conscientious objectors affected by the 1916 clause, is introducing a Bill to extend this right into the tax system.

It would increase funding for peacebuilding, development and diplomacy work, more economical, ethical and efficient forms of security.

The 10-minute rule Bill will be read on 19 July 19 2016 by the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, who has been working closely with a campaigning organisation, Conscience: Taxes for Peace Not War, to secure the right to pay for peace, not war.

Birmingham Peace Tax stalwarts, Else and Joseph Pickvance, repeatedly had possessions seized and auctioned in lieu of taxes and Gloucester’s Arthur Windsor was imprisoned for 28 days in his seventies, only to receive a parliamentary welcome on his release, conveyed to the House by MP Dennis Canavan. Many people on PAYE made sure of withdrawing their war tax equivalent by making gift-aided charitable donations.

It is taken for granted that we contribute taxes for military preparations; this is conscription by proxy because we live in a country where civilian men are no longer required for military service. Military tax is an issue of conscience, not a political preference – this type of hypothecation could not therefore set a precedent for selective taxation.

At its Parliamentary launch, Ruth Cadbury endorsed the 10 minute rule bill by stating “I want to pay for our national security, in fact I want to strengthen it. The Taxes for Peace Bill does this by investing in the most effective form of defence – conflict prevention.” She continued: “In an age where more and more people are concerned about spending their money ethically, this is an idea whose time has come.”


An interesting list of 10 minute rule bills passed since 1945 may be seen here:







The track record is not consistent with the oratory

A link in the Brummie led the reader to an article by Parveen Hassan, the founder of Conservative Women’s Hub, and former Chairman of Birmingham Heartlands West Midlands Conservatives Women’s Organisation 2010- 2014.

 theresa may

We read in Parveen Hassan’s article that Ms May wants to tackle the injustices that British people face, in the interests of truth her earlier actions are recorded below.

Having been favourably impressed by her recent speech as a leadership contender, I searched online to learn more about her work. Sadly the favourable impression was completely dispelled by three of many unwelcome items found:

  • In 2010 she suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people.
  • On 4 August 2010 it was reported that May was scrapping the former Labour Government’s proposed “go orders” scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim’s home.
  • This was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the previous Government’sContactPointdatabase of 11 million under-18-year olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbié child abuse scandal.

Can a person who has taken and implemented these decisions when in office expect us to believe that she will ‘tackle injustices’ or in any way care for the less fortunate in our country?





A summary provided by Richard Tetlow, convenor of Moseley Faiths Forum

‘Love Your Neighbour’(LYN)

LYN 3 crowd

                 On Saturday July 9th about 100 local people gathered on Moseley Green to take up the challenge to ‘Love Your Neighbour’, a new Birmingham-wide movement. It aims to encourage people to challenge the racism and divisiveness unleashed by Brexit.

Participants were members of the Moseley Society, Forum, CDT, Festival and Buddhist, Humanist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Christian and of ‘no faith’.

Revd Richard Tetlow, convenor of Moseley Faiths Forum asked, ‘What kind of city and country do we want to live in?’ He had met people, even in Moseley, who now feel threatened because of their national origins or their faith.  All present affirmed that such behaviour was totally unacceptable and to be contested. Revd Richard raised 3 questions:

What personally matters most?   What is life about? and Where are vision and responsibility?

The gathering ended with reflective silence. Then everyone was invited to talk and really listen to someone not known to them and put their convictions into action with a simple daily act of kindness. The idea urgently needs spreading!


Richard’s address may be read in full on the Civilisation 3000 site:                                                  


On Moseley Village Green people of different ages and ethnicities gathered to affirm care for their neighbour, following the surge in reported hate crimes in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

LTN1.jpgCredit: William Baldwin. Picture reduced from the excellent high-definition original.

Extracts from the moving address given by Richard Tetlow will be published as soon as possible.

There will be a UNITY RALLY AGAINST HATE on Sunday 17th July, 1-2pm, in Victoria Square, Birmingham.



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