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Michael Overduin, director of Science Capital and Professor of Structural Biology (University of Birmingham) announces that the physical meeting on April 28 will be replaced by a free webconference on COVID-19 treatments, diagnostics, medical and digital devices, and global manufacturing and distribution systems on April 1, 2020 from 3-6pm.

He invites any teams who are developing solutions for COVID-19 to register for this event and pitch a plan to a panel of experts in 15 minutes. The panel will include experts in technology transfer, intellectual property law, contracts, finance, business management, industry, small company development, funding and investment. They will be on hand to offer constructive suggestions and discuss your plans with you in a supportive way, giving guidance and connections to progress valuable technologies and ideas to benefit society.

Input for rapid funding and scaling production of ventilators, clinical trials, drug formulations, diagnostic assays and distribution channels is particularly needed.

Teams should send a non-confidential summary of their plan beforehand to prepare the panel of advisors. To qualify for a slot to pitch please send a non-confidential 1-2 page summary to michael@discoverylab.ca. This will be shared with the advisors, donors and investors.

An evaluation of the pitch and comments will be given to participants and the advisors and investors following their pitch.

Register here. The code to join this private Zoom conference will be circulated to registrants beforehand.

 

 

 

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The Victorian Society is a charity championing Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales. Its Conservation Advisers help local planning authorities and churches to make better decisions about adapting these historic buildings to the way we live now, while keeping what is special about them. The society’s regional groups host many events to which members and non-members are welcome. Follow the link to find out more about the Birmingham and West Midlands Group 

A photograph and message from the Victorian Society’s latest newsletter

The main pool had been concealed by scaffolding while roof repairs costing more than £800,000 took place.

Moseley Road Baths, which first opened in 1907, is the oldest of Britain’s five Grade II* listed swimming baths.

The repairs above the Gala Pool in Balsall Heath were completed following work by a partnership involving community groups and other organisations. Historic England approved a grant of more than £700,000 and the building’s owner, Birmingham City Council, has provided £100,000.

The Gala Pool area will now serve as an arts venue while its long-term future is considered.

Read more here: https://moseleyroadbaths.org.uk/

 

 

 

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There are few views in Birmingham like those in Druids Heath – an eye-catching estate with undulating grassy slopes and a wide open landscape – often quite breath-taking – not least when seen from the top deck of the 50 bus. The following photo gives some idea of the green spaces – but is far from doing justice to its subject. The writer often visited friends in a house there in the 80s and was impressed by the standard of building and level of   accommodation – higher than private developments in the area at that time.

Gentrification afoot?

Residents rightly fear that as ‘the location is excellent’ (council website) on the edge of the city, close to the M42 motorway and Kings Heath nearby, they will be priced out and the area ‘gentrified’. The area will be commandeered for “beautiful little starter homes” which none of them could afford to buy – and current residents will be sent to far-flung parts of the city.

In 2018-19 these fears were confirmed by an announcement that the estate was due to be redeveloped in a £43 million scheme, with 100 homes made available for sale on the open market and more to follow at a later stage.

The council estate was built in the 1960s and does need repair and renovation. It has suffered, in the words of one of its residents, ​“deliberate decline” due to decades of underinvestment regionally and nationally. In 2017 Druid’s Heath’s only secondary school, was closed and some of the children were never reschooled.

The excellent concierge system which did much for the buildings’ maintenance and the neighbourhoods well-being was taken away with the most well-known consequence being the eventual deaths of newborn twin girls after ambulance crews spent half an hour trying to get into her locked tower block after she dialled 999. The trades entrance had been deactivated and the police who arrived later took around 20 minutes to get through the front door.

Play the video and listen to the words of a resident, Alice Hicks

Druid’s Heath is home to a strong and diverse community which provides essential support networks, friendships and stability to any resident who needs it.

Residents say hundreds of units of social housing will be lost, as well as their community, their friendships, and the place they and their children call home. Some have been there since it was built. Tamika Gill questions the wisdom of demolishing 500 flats only to replace them with 250 homes. Like many, she would like to see some low-rise blocks to increase the numbers of properties available. She said: “We want to be here, we want to stay in the community. They should put us somewhere temporary and then, when there are new buildings, bring us back.”

Tenants have organised to oppose the council’s regeneration, with support from organisers at the New Economics Foundation.

They want their own community-led regeneration which allows them to stay in the area, provides sustainable housing built for their needs, avoids gentrification, and builds on the current number of social homes rather than scaling back. They have so far won the right to return to equal or better properties after the regeneration is complete, and are continuing to fight for their other demands.

Resident and community worker the local Spearhead Trust voluntary group, Anne-Marie Alder told Birmingham Mail: ​“They are going to destroy this community. They are demolishing far more properties than they are building. I don’t think they realise the impact and the community connections there are.”

For seven years, local volunteers in Eastington, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, opposed five planning applications and formed a Community Land Trust. Stroud District Council secured £443,000 in infrastructure funding for the site through Homes England, allowing them to buy the land and put in their own planning application.

Would Druids Heath campaigners and the New Economics Foundation consider this way forward and upscale Eastington’s achievement?

 

 

 

 

For news of other meetings by email, please contact johnbnightingale@hushmail.com

 

 

 

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News from the Birmingham chapter of Green Drinks, active in over 500 cities worldwide.

Green Drinks started in 1990 and is fundamentally about face to face interaction. Tomorrow’s session will feature Stuart Bowles’ introduction to CREDEX, an alternative/community currency now being launched in the Jewellery Quarter at the LOCANTA RESTAURANT, 31 LUDGATE HILL, ST PAUL’S SQUARE. B3 1EH. Food and drinks from 6.00p.m. – guests and/or main topic introduced at 7.00/7.15p.m. See http://www.greendrinks.org for further information, looking up “Birmingham”.

The origin of this credit based system is the SARDEX currency of Sardinia. Turnover of this B2B system, amongst Sardinian SMEs, was €81million in 2017. The system has been adopted by eleven of mainland Italy’s regions, each region establishing its own local variant. This is a genuine “bootstrap” currency, which promotes the local, encourages innovation, supports moves toward sustainability. See the CBS article here.

It is a wholly credit based system; requires no capital or national currency loans to start trading; bears no interest; has no dependency on external funding. Come along on Tuesday to find out how this will operate in the Jewellery Quarter and how we can get involved in developing this further.

CONTACT: Malcolm Currie, Globally Local, info@globallylocal.net

 

 

 

 

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A flagship for devolved government?

In August William Wallis reports that Birmingham’s regeneration plans are starting to pay dividends: “The city and the wider West Midlands region has become one of the brighter spots in the UK economy. It is now growing faster than any other city region outside London, with output up by 35% over the past five years. The region is also becoming a flagship for devolved government.”

He focussed on the figures for foreign direct investment and claims that Birmingham has found a formula to correct the concentration of growth and wealth in the south east that has coloured both politics and economics of the UK for 40 years: “I look at the city centre and it is unrecognisable from 30 years ago,” said Matt Hammond, regional chair of PwC. But does he ever travel through the less favoured areas nearby?

Andy Street, who was elected as the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) mayor in 2017, does at least see the need for more devolution: “Better decisions are made if they are taken locally. It empowers people and makes them feel that they have influence over people governing them,” he said.

Unaccountable and undemocratic?

Birmingham resident David Gaussen focusses on “the lack of accountability and democracy in the way that the council is run by a small clique of highly paid Cabinet members making huge decisions for the council often with very long and complex agenda papers in front of them and with most of them lacking any detailed knowledge of the matters before them”. He cites:

He spoke to Council leader Ian Ward about the Dudley Road widening plans once after a public meeting. Ward was unaware of these at the time and seemed horrified to hear that this was being proposed, saying that he would get back on this. As he didn’t, Gaussen sent an email, eventually getting a poor reply “basically written by council officers, parroting old arguments about catering for growth of population and promoting business”.

He comments: “These arguments would justify widening most of the roads in Birmingham, but they only dare do this in a poor and deprived area where there is little opposition. They show no concern about the effects of polluted air on the people living there or the need to encourage people to walk more in order to improve their health”.

Gaussen can’t understand why more Labour party members aren’t fighting for a democratic and open system that encourages citizens to get involved in decision making. As Richard Hatcher says in his review of The Labour Party (2019) Democratising Local Public Services: A Plan for Twenty-First Century Insourcing: “Councils require a culture of public participation and the structures and processes to ensure it at every level by service users, service workers and citizens generally”.

 

 

 

 

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Dr Alex Ashman, of National Health Action, draws attention to a Health Service Journal article. It reports that University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust, which provides medical services across South Birmingham, East Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth and South Staffordshire, has entered into talks with Babylon Health, owner of the GP at Hand app, currently used in Rwanda and London.

The app’s artificial intelligence is intended to reduce footfall within the Trust’s A&E Department by performing triage – the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.

The talks are said to be exploring the possibility of using the apps’ video software to provide virtual outpatient appointments. Dr Ashman and many of his colleagues believe that use of the GP at Hand app poses a risk to patient safety and the integrity of general practice.

 According to some of Babylon’s own doctors, the chatbot’s advice is often wrong

In December last year, Forbes magazine – though describing the NHS’s motivations to save money and produce better health outcomes for patients as clear and noble – reported a problem. According to some of Babylon’s own doctors, the bot’s advice was often wrong. To prove their point, the doctors carried out an audit on their own initiative, according to two insiders who asked not to be named for fear of legal repercussions.

Forbes cartoon

They found that around 10% to 15% of the chatbot’s 100 most frequently suggested outcomes, such as a chest infection, either missed warning signs of a more serious condition like cancer or sepsis or were just flat-out wrong.

Hamish Fraser, a Brown University biomedical informatics professor also disputed Babylon’s assertions in a recent article in The Lancet. He points out that Babylon’s software had answered only 15 of the 50 exam problems and was allowed to give three answers to each question. “When doctors do this test, you get one right answer,” he says.

Users can choose to subscribe to a monthly fee and gain unlimited virtual access to GPs or opt for a pay-as-you-go model. Read more here.

Patients who use GP at Hand leave their current practices in order to register with the app and 85% of the current apps users are aged between 20 and 39 years of age Practices across London using this service have less funding for the care of more costly patients as the money brought by younger healthier people is used to provide care to the elderly, those who are disabled and those who have complex needs.  As younger patients who use GP at Hand leave their current practices in order to register with the app.

Pulse Today reports that this CCG has had to be bailed out by neighbouring London CCGs

This was done in order to avoid the closure of local services, according to the Health Service Journal, as people transferred registration from other north west London CCGs to Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which has seen the number of patients registered with the app soar to 51,000.

Dr Seth Dassanayake – who chairs the Local Medical Committee in Hammersmith and Fulham – has described delays to Ipsos Mori’s impact assessment and the long wait for an up-to-date Care Quality Commission rating for the service as ‘irresponsible’ adding that he was ‘uncomfortable’ about the level of information to support the video consultation service. The local MP Andy Slaughter has called for a Select Committee investigation into the app – a call which has now been echoed by the local council in a letter to the Guardian.

NHS England reversed its earlier decision to block Babylon Health

In February the Health Service Journal reported that Babylon’s remote video consultation service in Birmingham will be expanded to Birmingham after NHS England reversed its decision to block it, though – as GP online reports – an independent report into the safety of the app and its effects upon general practice still has not been released  – and Its artificial intelligence has been criticised by clinicians and in peer reviewed research published in the Lancet.

Dr Ashman adds that Birmingham and Solihull CCG and GPs across Birmingham have made it clear that they do not want GP at Hand to be rolled out to the city. BMA GP committee chair Richard Vautrey called the announcement “incredibly disappointing” and “premature.”

 

 

 

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A Bournville reader has drawn attention to the research findings revealed in a BBC programme.

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit, used freedom of information requests and Land Registry data to obtain information on 92,000 Right to Buy sales across England, Scotland and Wales recording an average of £69,000 each from the scheme since 2000, according to the Times. The biggest profits were in London, with buyers in Islington making almost £100,000 each on average.

From the data gathered, it was calculated that 140 tenants bought and resold their council homes within a month, generating a collective profit of £3 million or £21,000 each.

In one case, a former council tenant in Solihull purchased his/her council home for £8,000 and sold it for £285,000 nine days later. Did s/he and others pay back some or all of the discount they received – as those who sell within five years of purchasing are required to?

State of play until 2013: source, Ampp3d, a data-journalism website for Trinity Mirror 

In January 2017, Right to Buy was halted in Wales, as it was in Scotland in 2016 after 37 years.

The devolved administrations argued that its cost to the social housing supply has been too great. Despite central government pledges to replace homes sold through Right to Buy, most receipts have been returned to the Treasury rather than reinvested in affordable housing.

The Financial Times noted that some 40% of right-to-buy homes pass into the private rented sector, where they may continue to absorb government funds through housing benefit.

The Chartered Institute of Housing once again repeated its call for Right to Buy to be suspended in England.

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Our reader commented that George Cadbury encountered similar profiteering in the early days of Bournville and set up the Bournville Village Trust to administer the project. See Bournville, Model Village to Garden Suburb, Harrison pp 44 Publisher Phillimore, ISBN 1 86077 117 3.

Extract from Management and Organisational Behaviour by Laurie J. Mullins 

 

 

 

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In February, the Mayor of London issued high pollution alerts across social media, bus stop signs, road-side displays and at Tube stations. It’s the tenth time Sadiq Khan has used the system since becoming Mayor and shows why he’s working hard to tackle London’s toxic air.   

We’re now just one month away from the launch of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in central London. The 24/7 ULEZ begins on 8 April to help clean up London’s dangerously toxic air. It will replace the current T-Charge and operate within the Congestion Charge Zone.

In central London. The 24/7 ULEZ begins on 8 April to help clean up London’s dangerously toxic air. It will replace the current T-Charge and operate within the Congestion Charge Zone. ULEZ is a world first, it’s expected to cut harmful emissions in the zone by up to 45% in just two years. The Mayor is calling on London’s drivers to check if their vehicles will meet the new tighter emission standards.

SCRAPPAGE SCHEME OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Applications are now open for £23m van scrappage scheme to help London’s microbusinesses and charities get ready for ULEZ. Funding will help them scrap older, polluting vans and minibuses and switch to cleaner vehicles. The Mayor will later launch a £25m scheme to help low income Londoners scrap non-compliant vehicles

E-FLEX – FLEXIBLE SMARTER EV CHARGING

The Mayor wants to help more people switch to electric vehicles (EVs). That’s why we’re now working with partners on a vehicle-to-grid charging project that rethinks EV batteries as a two-way energy source. It uses bidirectional chargers that both charge the EV and make smart use of unused electricity in the battery when it’s stationary. We’re now looking for commercial fleet operators with EVs to join the trial.

SOLAR TOGETHER HITS 500

Solar Together London uses group-buying to help Londoners get high quality, affordable solar panels on their homes. The scheme’s now reached 500 installations, helping to supply London with more low cost, renewable energy. To find out more about the Mayor’s ambitions for solar in London, see his Solar Action Plan..

MAYOR’S ENTREPRENEUR WOMEN4CLIMATE MENTEES

Ten talented Mayor’s Entrepreneur applicants have received mentoring through C40’s Women4Climate programme over the last year. The mentoring has helped them develop their business ideas and get their careers off the ground. Seven of the group also went to the recent Women4Climate conference in Paris to represent City Hall. Mayor’s Entrepreneur awards take place on 25 March. We’ll be revealing details of the winners soon.

Read the eight sections about Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme, which will come into operation on 1 January 2020, here.

 

 

 

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A Bournville resident sent a link to an article summarising new research commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) Cambridge Economics.

Its conclusion: building 100,000 government-funded social rent homes a year over the past two decades would have cut ‘billions’ from the housing benefit bill.

In 1997, over a third of households lived in council housing, compared with just one in 10 today. The number of homes built for social rent each year has fallen from over 40,000 in 1997 to 6,000 in 2017. Successive governments imposed rules and restrictions hampering the ability of councils to replace homes sold through Right to Buy.

If 100,000 government-funded social rent homes had been built each year over the past two decades, tenants would have had a higher disposable income and ‘significant economic returns’ would have been generated for councils.

The LGA add that this loss of social housing has led to more and more individuals and families finding themselves ‘pushed’ into the private rented sector. As a result, the housing benefit bill paid to private landlords has more than doubled since the early 2000s.

Conclusions

  • Building 100,000 social rent homes each year for the past 20 years would have enabled all housing benefit claimants living in the private rented sector to move to social rent homes by 2016
    • The housing benefit claimants that would have moved from the private rented sector to social rent homes would have benefited of £1.8bn in extra disposable income over the period
    • Overall, the government would have had to borrow an additional £152bn in 2017 prices to build the homes over the 20-year period.
    • The rising proportion of housing benefit caseloads in the private rented sector has cost an extra £7bn in real terms over the last decade

On the report, Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Housing spokesman, added: “By scrapping the housing borrowing cap, the government showed it had heard our argument that councils must be part of the solution to our chronic housing shortage”. The LGA states that if councils are to truly fulfil their ‘historic role’ as major housebuilders then the government needs to allow councils to keep 100% of Right to Buy receipts and set discounts locally to replace every home sold, as well as setting out sustainable long-term funding and a commitment to social housing in the Spending Review.

The Local Government Association said its new research provides evidence for why the government should use the Spending Review to work with councils to ensure the success of the renaissance in council housebuilding needed to increase housing supply and reduce homelessness.

Further reading:

Jeremy Corbyn’s housing policy document

John Healey, shadow secretary of state for housing and planning

 

 

 

 

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