Archives for category: Events

Theresa May has announced that the Conservatives will renew a pledge to hold a free vote on overturning 2004 ban on the blood sport. During a visit to a factory in Leeds, the Prime Minister said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against. As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting, and we maintain our commitment, we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party, to allow a free vote”.

Is anyone surprised? What are the lives of a few foxes and the welfare of our least fortunate citizens to a person prepared to press the nuclear button?

Nicola Stavrinou writes about this repeal in Redbrick* (accessed via the Brummie aggregator):

She asks why: as 84% of British people are opposed to fox-hunting, would the Conservative Party back such an unpopular repeal?

Her answer: “Theresa May is using this repeal to gain back the hardliner Tories who wish to see the ban lifted once and for all. She is going for an electoral majority which could potentially remove Labour and SNP from the equation. The anti-hunting Labour and SNP MPs who voted to ban fox-hunting could potentially be replaced with Conservative MPs who are pro-hunting. May knows that she has the power to pass unfavourable laws because of the Conservative’s recent surge in popularity, most recently seen in the Mayoral elections from the beginning of the month”.

Wryly she concludes: “I have no doubt that if there is a potentially high Conservative majority win in the snap election, this ban will be lifted. Not that it has actually stopped anyone from hunting since then anyway”.

*Redbrick is the student publication of the University of Birmingham, established in 1936 under the original title Guild News

It has evolved to include eleven sections covering wide areas of student life, and expanded into the world of digital journalism. All content is produced by student journalists, including reporters, commentators, photographers and editors. As a student society, any student of the University of Birmingham can join and contribute to the publication.

The hard copy is published fortnightly and its website is updated continuously with regular content, videos, audio clips and photography. Events are covered through live blogging, providing a platform for readers to get directly involved with the debates. The website currently receives approximately 40,000 unique views per month.

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The status quo in Birmingham and Leicester

Leicester West MP Liz Kendall writes:

liz kendall mp leicester“While there’s been real progress over the past decade, a third of children in Leicester are still growing up in poverty. It’s hard to do well at school if your parents can’t afford to buy decent food, let alone books, or if you struggle to do your homework because you live in a cold or overcrowded home . . .

We must open children’s eyes to opportunities that lie ahead

“What we end up doing as adults can often be traced back to the influences we experienced when we were young. The early years of life are particularly important in shaping later life chances.

“While there’s been real progress over the past decade, a third of children in Leicester are still growing up in poverty. It’s hard to do well at school if your parents can’t afford to buy decent food, let alone books, or if you struggle to do your homework because you live in a cold or overcrowded home”.

parks primary entranceLiz Kendall recently went to Parks Primary School, in New Parks, to see the work they do as part of their “Aspirations Week”. There was a range of activities for children of all ages including a vets’ clinic for the youngest pupils, which used toy animals to teach them about a vet’s work.

Older pupils had “what’s my job?” sessions, where they met professionals including a police officer, a palaeontologist and a woman engineer who explained that the things they enjoy doing can end up becoming their job – given hard work and determination.

Students from all year groups went to New College Learning and Sports Village and took part in trampolining, freestyle gymnastics, boxing, basketball, design and technology, art, music, humanities, French, English, science, hairdressing, maths and ICT.

The teachers also took pupils to Loughborough University. Meeting students from ordinary backgrounds and joining in with exciting experiments in science labs showed the children what was on offer.

The teachers at Parks Primary say that their Aspiration Week activities inspire and motivate children and this has led to higher attainment in the core subjects of English, maths and science – and ‘across the board’.

liam byrneLiz Kendall could inspire Liam Byrne to press for such action in Hodge Hill which is still reported to have the highest level of youth unemployment and the second highest overall unemployment in the country.


brum reimagining cityln ‘reimagining Birmingham’ today on Radio 4, award-winning jazz musician and hip hop star Soweto Kinch offered a different vision of a city he loves – a place he experiences as a place of artistic endeavour and cultural significance on a par with any other major city.

soweto kinchSoweto began playing saxophone at the age of nine after learning clarinet in Wandsworth. He moved to Birmingham, where he attended an Edgbaston school, meeting maestro Wynton Marsalis four years later and becoming ‘passionate about jazz’, first concentrating on piano and later focusing on alto saxophone. After taking A levels at Bromsgrove School, he studied Modern History at Oxford. The popular 606 Club, which for many years has a policy of only booking British based musicians in order to support the local scene, records that Kinch has received multiple accolades for his music, including a Mercury Music Prize nomination for his first album “Conversations With The Unseen”, two UMA Awards and MOBO’s for best Jazz Act in 2003 and 2007. His 2012 album “The Legend of Mike Smith” was a ‘critical success’.

With all the options open to him, he has chosen to live in Birmingham. From his window in a tower block in Hockley he can see the Hockley Flyover, a space which was the scene of gang fights and crime and decided, some years ago,  to turn it into a festival venue. “. . . we’ve redefined peoples’ relationships to this space. It’s a neglected area. I felt that more than any other area this expressed a lot of the innate contradictions we face in the black community in Britain. I wanted to reclaim the space and reclaim the stories.”

Hockley flyover show 2012

Working together with others generously giving their time and talents, several free admission Hockley Flyover Festivals have been held underneath the flyover. As attenders have blogged, these family-friendly events have a great ‘community feel’, with graffiti displays, breakdancing, great food and an excellent musical line up.

handsworth soho road

Soweto Kinch also values Handsworth’s Soho Road houses ‘uncluttered’ by the ‘gentrification’ which would have been their fate in London – inhabited by both ‘untoward and regular’ people.

Will there be another Flyover Festival?


On Human Rights day, Roger Godsiff, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Syria, will give an update on the situation in Syria. Note his words in the Hansard debate at the end of August.

UNA Syria

On Bank Holiday,  Jacqui Fuller of Channel 5 News circulated a message.

channel 5 news 2 logo“Channel 5 News are looking to give national coverage to the HS2 situation tomorrow and urgently need your help. The reason for our coverage is that tomorrow, the Institute of Directors are publishing a survey which will say that 70% of respondents felt that the scheme will have NO impact on the productivity of their business.

So I am looking to find a business, ideally in the Birmingham area, that we could go to and get this view on camera. Do you know anyone that might fit the bill? Please do call me or drop me an email this afternoon if you think you could help”.

See wide news coverage today inc:

It might not be too late – or there might be a follow-up programme.

Contact: T +44 207 098 2866
Email:  Jacqui.Fuller@ITN.CO.UK