Following the recent news of CRT plans to facilitate a water taxi service from Icknield Port, the Canal & River Trust is working with Transport for the North on the potential of waterway freight. 

 As a West Yorkshire local government pdf explains:

In the Yorkshire Post, Rob Parsons commented: “Given the pressures that Leeds City Region is currently facing around traffic congestion and air quality, the use of waterborne freight could bring both commercial, environmental and health benefits.”

Following a recommendation from its Investment Committee, Leeds City Council has approved the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s planning application for a new, £3.37 million wharf facility at Stourton in Leeds.


The Canal & River Trust, in partnership with the Freight Transport Association and the NSR Interreg Project IWTS2.00, will be hosting this conference, which will bring together port operators, freight carriers, logistics specialists and public bodies, and will provide a unique opportunity to look closely at the potential of Inland Waterway Freight Transport in the UK and Europe. The conference will provide the opportunity to also learn about current policy and infrastructure developments that are making inland waterway freight transportation a realistic option for today and the future.

The event will include an optional site visit to see a site in Canal & River Trust ownership that has been earmarked for development as an Inland Port at Stourton (Leeds). See Waterway Freight article. If you would like to attend this free event, please register through the weblink: Freight by water conference 2018






A couple could face being separated after 67 years of marriage over a struggle to pay fees at their residential care home.

It is reported that Frank Springett, 91, and his wife Mary, 86, both have serious health problems. They lived independently in their own home until March when their family took the decision to move them into a care home due to their failing health. Mrs Springett has severe Alzheimer’s while her husband has arthritis and the muscle stiffness condition polymyalgia rheumatica and is almost totally deaf.

Their family says that Solihull council has offered to pay £500 a week towards Mrs Springett’s care but said her husband, a retired factory worker, was able to look after himself.

Their house in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, was sold for £156,000 to help meet care costs running at £8,000 a month.

Their funds are running low.

The couple’s daughter Joanne Downes, 57, said social services have told her and her brother Roderick that their parents would be moved to different homes. “We fear if they are torn apart the strain will kill them,” she told the Sunday People. “It would devastate my mother if my father was not with her, and vice versa.”

The family is taking the case to an ombudsman after three appeals to social services all said their parents should be separated.

Readers write:

  • I cannot believe that a responsible social services department would seriously contemplate separating a couple who have been married for 67 years without giving due weight to the likely consequences.
  • What happened to the right to family life?
  • That’s only allowed if you are an Islamic terrorist threatened with deportation.

The council will doubtless end-up spending tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees, ‘defending’ their decision to tear this couple apart.


 West Midlands New Economics Group

Thursday 27th September 5-7 pm

Open meeting: FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

Cllr Claire Spencer, Senior Policy Advisor – Public Services and Inclusive Growth, writes: We are using some of the models from Doughnut Economics to try and come up with a new way of judging the health of an economy. Currently, we take jobs, trade and GVA to be the measures, but that is giving us low pay, poor health and a highly problematic attitude to our human and environmental resources.

She recommends the Inclusive Growth Framework (iteration one) that went through WMCA Board on September 14th: “It’s early days, but the Board passed it, so it is a good indicator of trajectory, I hope”.

A round table discussion

All welcome. 

Contributions of £2 to cover the cost of room hire.















Birmingham recently hosted world’s first zero emission vehicle summit where Chris Grayling, the transport secretary unveiled plans which related only to road traffic – despite a Birmingham university team pioneering the use of the hydrogen-fuelled barge, in a city blessed with a network of waterways.

The developers of Birmingham’s Icknield Port Loop – a joint venture involving Urban Splash, Places for People, the Canal & River Trust and Birmingham City Council – have today presented a site-wide masterplan showing family houses, apartments, business premises and leisure facilities. Birmingham Live reports that, following work on remediation and rebuilding of the canal walls started earlier this year, construction has started on the Icknield Port Loop scheme and the first homes are scheduled to be ready for occupation in Spring 2019 (artist’s impression above).

James Lazarus, Head of Property Development and of the joint venture at the Canal & River Trust, comments that more people will be encouraged to use the city’s canals and tow-paths to commute to and from work and travel to the city centre; he earlier wrote that C&RT is “aware of the potential to run a taxi service and provision is being made in the plans to facilitate this” (Email to CBOA chair, September 25, 2017).

Those attending the Recycling and Waste Management Exhibition at the NEC this week were given a CBOA presentation illustrated by series of slides showing the advantages of carrying materials and waste by water instead of road.

Will there be cleaner greener transport for Icknield Port materials, waste removal – and later for commuters?






As Birmingham City council managers spend £12million on consultants to tell them how to merge the service with NHS services in 2019/20, they propose to save a mere £2million at the expense of care workers’ working conditions.

Social care, home care, community care, is needed by the young disabled, post-operative patients, and frail elders. Dave Prentis (Unison) reported earlier this year that after seven years of austerity the social care workforce in Birmingham has fallen from 7,000 to just 2,000.

Birmingham City Council has 280 staff working for the ‘enablement service’ which helps vulnerable and elderly people regain their independence at home after a spell in hospital.

They are in dispute with council over new working patterns and are threatened with redundancy unless they conform.

They wanted undertakings that there would be:

  • no compulsory redundancies,
  • a joint management and union working party to develop the service
  • and the withdrawal of a rota proposal that involves triple split shifts, leaving workers effectively on duty from 7am – 10pm, because the two hourly gaps between shift – after travelling – would rarely allow them any useful time at home

Full timers will given a choice of taking reduced hours, taking redundancy or moving to another job within the city council.

Labour council cabinet member for health and social care, Paulette Hamilton, said the service is currently very inefficient – a management responsibility – but the proposed reforms will make it inhumane and unworkable.  She said:

  • staff spend 40% of their time away from patients,
  • and only 20% of clients are independent after receiving the service.

Though the government is responsible for these and so many other cuts to the lowest paid, Birmingham City Council managers appear to be squandering £12 on ‘advice’ from highly paid consultants, whilst saving a mere £2m by imposing poorer conditions on those who do the actual work.

The latest march and strike rally to defend the Homecare service will be held next Saturday 15th September 12 noon in Victoria Square, Birmingham.






A day of celebration, commemoration and commitment, 10.30am – 5.30pm Saturday 29th September, around Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret St, Birmingham B3 3BS (below, left).

There will be: workshops on Household Debt, Climate Debt and The New Debt Crisis in Africa; discussions and a stunt exploring the major debt issues of 2018 and the legacy of the Jubilee movement, including the 1998 human chain around Birmingham. Lunch and refreshments are included.

It will feature the well-known economist Ann Pettifor – who was the leading spirit of 1998, and Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now, with Tim Jones and Sarah-Jayne Clifton from Jubilee Debt Campaign.

Our informant writes: “We are asking for a voluntary contribution towards the costs of between £2-7 per person, depending on what you can afford. This will help us cover some of the costs of the day, such as room booking and providing a lunch.

“We don’t want cost to put anyone off, so only give what you can afford. Please book your ticket and make your donation by clicking here.

“It would also help us in Birmingham to know you are coming to this day of celebration, so please email me at I can also make an electronic booking for anyone who does not do email”.






Near a Birmingham university team pioneering the use of hydrogen-fuelled barges and trains, in a city blessed with a network of waterways, Graeme Paton, the Times’ Transport Correspondent, reports that the government is hosting a meeting tomorrow to discuss ways of reducing traffic-related carbon emissions – ‘a world first summit’ (Business Birmingham).

Despite the existence of an All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways and the use of water buses, taxis and ferries in so many towns and cities (details here) with London leading the way, Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has unveiled plans which relate only to road traffic.

     Use barges for freight (CBOA graphic)

Birmingham’s only water bus

The Department for Transport suggestions:

  • a local authority ban on petrol and diesel cars from certain road lanes to promote the use of environmentally friendly vehicles
  • green cars with zero emissions could be allowed to drive in bus lanes.
  • introduce green number plates for electric and hydrogen cars, copying a system in place in Norway, Canada and China
  • spend £2 million to promote electric-powered “cargo bikes” for inner-city deliveries which have increased in recent years because of the surge in online shopping.

Inrix, the traffic data company, said this year that Britain had the worst congestion in western Europe: “Motorists are spending an average of 31 hours a year stuck in peak-time jams. Average vehicle speeds in central London are as low as 7.6 mph”.

Hydrogen fuelled barge: see University note and Guardian article

”One of the most energy efficient means of moving goods is by canal and the threat of global warming is resulting in a resurgence of interest in this means of transportation”: Professor Rex Harris, University of Birmingham.





A Shirley reader writes that the Flood Expo event is “particularly relevant to our needs at present because Nethercote Gardens was flooded during the summer”.

 Flooding in Peterbrook Road Solihull Lodge

The Mail reported that storms over the Bank Holiday weekend left a trail of destruction around Solihull, with calls for a thorough investigation into the flooding problems experienced across the borough. Rising water turned roads to rivers and swept into people’s homes after a month’s worth of rain fell during the course of an hour on Sunday afternoon. Residents in over 80 affected households across Shirley, Solihull Lodge, Dickens Heath, Cheswick Green and Earlswood in Dickens Heath, bore the brunt of the deluge, with some homeowners left facing weeks of disruption ahead.

The Solihull Ratepayers News Bulletin (August 2018) brings news that Tidbury Green Parish Council is applying to protect an important ancient coppice on Dickens Heath Road with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Protecting this coppice, with its ponds and large ditches, would greatly help mitigate flooding across the highway from overflowing into residents’ homes on the new Bellway Dickens Manor Estate.

The Woodland Coppice fronting Dickens Heath Road on the further side of Birchy Leasowes Lane in Dickens Heath Parish is already protected by a Tree Preservation Order ref TPO 300 dating right back to August 1993.

Woodland Coppice at Dickens Heath Road to Junction of Birchy Leasowes Lane & Dickens Heath Road. In May’s severe storms floodwater overflowed the highway causing severe damage to people’s homes – the photo (above right) is typical of an earlier contained flooding.  

The TPO application is supported by Solihull Ratepayers Group and the Solihull Tree Wardens Group, which monitors tree protection measures across the Solihull Borough. Other supporters include Dickens Heath Parish Council, whose residents’ homes are directly affected and the Warwickshire Branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

The Mail reported that more than 322 property owners reported flooding to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. During a meeting of the council on Thursday, July 12, Tony Diciccio, cabinet member for environment and housing, said an investigation was underway into the May bank holiday floods. A report is expected to be finished in October. He added that, although an investigation is being carried out, it may still be some time before the people of Solihull get any answers.

(Ed) Indeed, for years affected residents and parish councils have urged SMBC, Severn Trent and the Environment Agency to investigate and address these problems – but the response has been unsatisfactory. Meanwhile, a council rate rebate would be the least SMBC should offer.

Residents who want to support the Tree Preservation Application may email Solihull Planning at or write to the Solihull Planning Dept. Council House Manor Square Solihull B91 3QB Quoting Ref TPO/01170 Woodland at Dickens Heath Road.





Peter Walker, genial chairman of the thriving Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum, alerts people in flood-affected areas to a forthcoming event for business owners or residents affected by the floods in May.

They are invited to attend the world’s largest flood expo on the 12th and 13th of September at the NEC. Tickets are free; more information here

The flood coordinator for Selly Park South (John Clayton) is alerting people in neighbouring flood-affected areas and we extend this invitation to people in Solihull, from Nethercote Gardens, Dickens Heath and other flood-prone areas near the rivers Cole and Blythe.

The Flood Expo is the world’s largest exhibition and conference designed to help flood professionals and property owners to discover the latest innovative products, services and strategies that transform the way flooding is predicted, prevented, and managed.

A copy of the digital show-guide will be emailed to you before the show with full details of the seminar timetable and show features.

Please note that the show is not open to the general public; no under 18s or students will be allowed into the event. Any visitors found selling to exhibitors or to other visitors will be required to leave.

This is just one example of the wealth of information circulated by Mr Walker, whose work is ably supported by his Vice Chair & planning officer – Sandra Cooper, Secretary – Rowena Evans, IT officer, Mick Jones and treasurer – Paula Aubrey.

Such volunteers set a standard that members of our local and national government should emulate.