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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.

Other recent articles:

The One Show: It May Never Get Cringier Than This

Labour Party Broadcast: A New Peake?

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Take the train to Warwick Parkway from Birmingham Moor St and visit Saltisford Canal Basin with tranquil moorings set in gardens and orchards. The Saltisford Canal Centre is home to a number of permanent residential narrowboats and offers winter and visitor moorings within 10 minutes walk to the heart of Warwick.

There is a visitor centre/shop and the elegant Cedar Room (for hire), a sensory garden and a contemplation area where visitors can sit, relax and enjoy the views and wildlife.

A day-hire boat, Saltie,gives good views of the passing countryside and a generous deck area which allows steering to be a social activity with plenty of space for the crew to stand and chat. The boat has a small kitchen area, with fridge, sink and two-burner gas hob; crockery and cutlery is provided. Pack a picnic to enjoy with family and friends aboard. The main saloon has roll-up canvas sides and padded benches and a large front windscreen for forward views. Saltie II’s toilet is wheelchair accessible. To enable wheelchair access to the main saloon an hydraulic lift is located in the galley area and gives access to rear deck. Two benches fold to create space for up to 5 wheelchairs. Read more here: http://www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk/hire-saltie/

A warm welcome is given by staff and residents at the Saltisford Canal Centre, to all – whether just mooring overnight, visiting on foot or staying longer.

People travelling by train will value information about this interesting short cut:

Warwick CV34 5RJ, UK

Warwick Parkway Station

1. Walk west towards Old Budbrooke Rd

2. Turn right onto Old Budbrooke Rd

3. Turn right to stay on Old Budbrooke Rd

4. Slight left towards Budbrooke Rd

5. Turn left onto Budbrooke Rd

A clearer map without the marked shortcut may be seen here: http://www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk/98-2/

 

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Tom Young says he is unimpressed by Jeremy Corbyn’s housing plans but the 2016 report (left) is eminently sensible and down-to-earth. It may be read here.

Mr. Young does not add that the people actually in power are failing to inspire developers to build affordable and social housing, and under their watch rents are rising.

No doubt Corbyn is approving the approach of Birmingham City Council (especially the new bonds development) and will extend the model if elected. See posts on this site for further information about investment in house-building and maintenance in the city:

https://ourbirmingham.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/housing-3-council-leader-welcomes-the-building-of-homes-with-affordable-rents/

https://ourbirmingham.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/housing-4-the-ft-reports-on-john-clancys-proposals-for-investment-in-housing-and-infrastructure/

https://ourbirmingham.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/birminghams-housing-partnership-a-new-approach/

https://ourbirmingham.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/bringing-2300-vacant-city-properties-back-into-use-training-local-people-and-using-local-supply-chains/

Young also remarks that ‘the Conservative government is one that consistently delivers on security’ –  yes, for the already wealthy.

The most vulnerable: those on low income, in ill-health or disabled, are fearful, wondering when the next cut in income and services will come.

 

 

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Invitation to an open meeting on March 27th 5.30pm in Colmore Row: Birmingham Pound – the way forward! (see information about the Attwood award here.)

Some will then have booked to move on to Britain after Brexit as David Dimbleby presents a special edition of Question Time from Birmingham.

On the panel are secretary of state for exiting the EU David Davis, shadow secretary of state for exiting the EU Sir Keir Starmer, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, deputy chair of UKIP Suzanne Evans and Times columnist Melanie Phillips.

 

 

 

The government is to provide £14m to ten cities, including London, Birmingham and Coventry, to help with the installation of electric charge points.

A £300m plant by The London Taxi Company opened today in Coventry to produce electric black cabs for the UK and international markets. The taxpayer has given £16.1m towards the development of the site in Ansty, Coventry.

Peter Campbell (FT) reports that the government has spent £80m towards research and development at the site, help fund the installation of electric charging stations, and incentivise taxi drivers to buy the new, cleaner vehicles.

The 38,000 taxis currently in operation in the UK require replacing after around 15 years of service and some 23,000 black cabs, which run on diesel, are in use in London. The government is offering taxi drivers a grant of £7,500 towards every new electric car – at a total cost of £50m

From January 2018 the FT article alleges, all black cabs sold in the UK must be able to drive using electric technology, in an effort to improve the air quality of major cities, particularly the capital. A search does not reveal evidence for this, though Transport for London has passed such an order relating to the capital. 

 

 

 

Political Concern reports that Mace, a large consultancy and construction company. which worked on the London 2012 Olympics and won an award for its work on New Street Station, has written to HS2 Ltd.

It announced that it intends to challenge the decision to award CH2M, the US engineer, a contract to design the second phase of the London to Manchester line. “As a British-owned company, we were naturally disappointed with HS2’s decision and are looking closely at our options,” Mace said.

The blog ends:

Tony Berkeley, the Labour peer and a former engineer who worked on the Channel tunnel, said the situation “smells”. “There must be other companies in the UK who are capable of doing it. Is HS2 actually competent to do the procurement or are they just relying on CH2M to do the whole thing and procure themselves?”

Read the blog here: https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/is-the-hs2-project-the-most-blatant-example-of-ukusas-revolving-doorvested-interest-ridden-politics/

 

 

 

 

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Visit and find out why it’s so named . . .

drayton-road-gorilla-cafe

In December, Business Desk reported the opening of friendly independent Gorilla Coffee in Drayton Road, a fully-licensed cycle cafe based in Kings Heath. Cyclists, who feel some venues look askance at them if dishevelled and sticky, will feel welcome there.

Everyone with an interest in pedal-powered transport is catered for – watching cycling events on the big screen or having their bike repaired or serviced in the fully-equipped bike workshop.

gorilla-coffee

Gorilla Coffee’s co-owners James Connolly and Stacey Jarvis have been working on the project for two years. They support local suppliers and serve coffee created by Worcestershire-based Coffee Masters, while the craft beers on offer celebrate the best the area has to offer.

One of the most popular beers – No Brakes IPA – comes from Blackheath’s Fixed Wheel Brewery. Above the café, operated by experienced cycle mechanic Damian Towers, is Gorilla Coffee’s workshop, fully equipped to undertake everything from minor adjustments through to full servicing. There are two service packages available: the Domestique service, which is an interim service to keep your bike running true, and the King of the Mountain service that sees the bike fully stripped down and rebuilt.

The café is aiming to expand its cycling services in 2017 with a collection and delivery service within five miles of the shop.
 

 

gavin-2-stamp“To give so much to a grand country house (Wentworth Woodhouse) and nothing to Moseley Road Baths (or other neglected listed buildings) suggests a snobbery about “heritage”. Municipal baths are as important a part of our history – social and architectural – as aristocratic seats”.

So wrote architectural historian.Gavin Stamp (right) this week.

He asks if Birmingham City Council is happy to contemplate the loss of the fine and well-used swimming pool at Moseley Road Baths (below) – one of only three swimming pool structures still in operation listed at Grade II* and well-supported by an active and enterprising ‘Friends’ association.

Country: United Kingdom Site: Moseley Road Baths Caption: Second Class Pool Image Date: April 20, 2007 Photographer: Vivienne Harrison/World Monuments Fund Provenance: 2016 Watch Nomination Original: from Watch team

Professor Stamp points out that Birmingham city council had for years ’run, neglected and threatened to shul the complex’. Moreover, in 2012 the Heritage Lottery Fund offered £5m towards its restoration, but the council to refused to contribute the matching £3m – which Stamp finds ‘particularly reprehensible’’.

Our readers from further afield (yesterday coming from UK, USA, Mexico, Germany, Azerbaijan, India and Ireland) may read more about this in the Birmingham Post.

Stamp describes the Baths as one of the finest Edwardian bath buildings anywhere, with two fine swimming pools covered by arched iron and glass ceilings and two ‘unique survivals’, an intact set of private washing baths and a set of steam-heated drying racks.

moseley-road-baths-2-larger

The first class men’s pool above – considered by Simon Inglis, historian of swimming pools, as “the mosl dramatic Edwardian pool hall in Britain” – closed in 2003 but survives intact.

Stamp concedes that historic baths are expensive to run and maintain, but can be restored to stay in use, as the pools in Camberwell and Kentish Town demonstrate.

In the words of the World Monuments Fund, if Moseley Road Baths were restored, it “would continue to serve a diverse urban community in the 21st century and would join other destinations in Birmingham that proudly recount the social history of the city.”

Main source: Gavin Stamp as ‘Piloti’ in Issue 1436, Private Eye.

 

 

 

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Bloomberg reports that thirteen energy, transport and industrial companies are forming a hydrogen council to consult policy makers and highlight its benefits to the public as the world seeks to switch from dirtier energy sources, according to a joint statement issued on January 17th from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Council members Toyota Motor Corporation, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., gas companies Air Liquide SA and Linde AG, miner Anglo American Plc, electric utility Engie SA, rail company Alstom SA and motorcycle and heavy equipment manufacturer Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd plan to invest a combined 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) in hydrogen-related products within five years.

John Lippert, the author of the report, quotes Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden: “The world of energy is transforming very, very fast. Hydrogen has massive potential.”

Rather than using batteries to reduce pollution from cars, homes and utilities that are contributing to climate change, fuel cell vehicles are a cornerstone of Toyota’s plan to rid 90% of carbon dioxide emissions from its vehicles by 2050. It believes that it’s easier to convince consumers to use gasoline-electric hybrids and fuel cell vehicles rather than battery-electric autos, which tend to have less driving range and take longer to recharge than filling up with gasoline or hydrogen.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s chairman and a council co-chair, said “In addition to transportation, hydrogen has the potential to support our transition to a low-carbon society across multiple industries and the entire value chain”.

There are also pilot projects in hydrail and hydrogen-fuelled boats and barges – see in March 2016: Birmingham planners and engineers focus on clean transport.

 

 

 

Under the guise of building ecologically friendly “garden villages” and “eco towns” government has given approval to the development of many sites in or near areas that developers covet*.

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Housing minister Gavin Barwell makes the announcement

Though people on council housing registers everywhere are the ones in real need, they will not be able to live in these homes. Our plutocracy legislates for corporate builders and political beneficiaries.

At least Long Marston in the West Midlands, with its closed railway line, MoD site and airfield is a brownfield site. It remains to be seen which of the former applicants: St. Modwen Properties and/or The Bird Group of Companies Ltd, or CALA Management Ltd will be given the development brief.

One commentator estimates that the proposed funding going towards developing the new villages is at best £600 per property – after admin costs, £200 per property. Another puts the figure as low as £125 per property – just about enough to cover the cost of the brochures and nowhere near enough for the planning fees.

Jeremy Corbyn’s housing report recognises the housing crisis in Britain as a humanitarian crisis: homelessness, overcrowding, poor quality housing affecting people’s health, young people not being able to afford to leave home and live independently. Its welcome proposals are comprehensive and egalitarian.

*Long Marston, Warwickshire; Oxfordshire Cotswold, West Oxfordshire; Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire; Culm, Devon; Welborne, Hampshire; West Carclaze, Cornwall; Dunton Hills, Essex; Spitalgate Heath, Lincolnshire; Halsnead, Knowsley; Longcross, Runnymede and Surrey Heath; Bailrigg, Lancaster; Infinity Garden Village, Derbyshire; St Cuthberts, Cumbria; and North Cheshire.