Archives for category: West Midlands

West Midlands New Economics Group meeting:

Ulla Grant is going to talk about: “The Swedish Model”,  the historical background, its effect on social changes in Sweden, how the “Swedish Model” has declined since mid ‘70s due to economic and political pressure.  This has resulted in a widening social and economic divide.

5-7pm on Thursday 28th September at the John Lewis Community Hub, available to community groups.

It is located on the 4th floor of the John Lewis store over New Street station (lift and escalator). The hub is immediately off the area where television sets are being sold.






Time-pressed residents of Birmingham, Solihull, Cannock, Dudley, Coventry, Lichfield, Sandwell, South Staffs, Tamworth, Walsall and Wolverhampton who regularly scan their section of the Brummie site, appreciate the free service it gives, whatever their interests. Main news items covered, include a range of locally run websites, music and the arts, sport and business.

Links to them give those sites a wider readership than would otherwise have been possible. Until the final few months Mark was a helpful and courteous correspondent and this later lack of response was ascribed to pressure of other work, which involved travelling abroad. We now can see that there may have been health concerns claiming priority.

Three of many interests served: Our Birmingham, West Midlands Producers and Localise West Midlands thank him and hope that a way will be found to maintain the Brummie.





Young people in the West Midlands considering a manufacturing and engineering apprenticeship and their parents are invited to attend an open day at the EEF’s manufacturing and engineering at the Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham.

From aerospace to automotive to robotics, EEF will connect best in class employers with young people to discuss a range of apprenticeships in a wide range of sectors. As well as getting a tour of the multi-million pound facility, the open day will offer people the opportunity to talk to trainers and current apprentices to find out what the training offers.

EEF currently trains 300 apprentices at the centre and is aiming to increase this to 400. Christine Chapman, centre manager, said: “Engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships provide a highly-skilled career in a sector which is thriving right across the West Midlands and beyond. Employers have a strong demand for skills of this type and this day presents an ideal opportunity for young people and their parents to see the training centre in action and to discuss career options with a variety of employers.”

Check EEF’s apprenticeship vacancies database to keep an eye on available positions or ring 0121 331 3930

EEF was formed in 1896 as the Engineering Employers’ Federation and merged in 1918 with the National Employers’ Federation. In November 2003 the EEF rebranded itself from the ‘Engineering Employers’ Federation’ to ‘EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation’.




RailFuture West Midlands, assisted by Birmingham Friends of the Earth are holding a Metro Mayor forum event at the Council House. Jodie Etheridge, Communications, Birmingham Friends of the Earth sends news of the date, the time and the venue:

Thursday 6th April

6pm – 9pm

Banqueting Suite at the Council House, Victoria Square, B1 1BB

The forum will be exclusively focused on transport in the West Midlands. It will be an opportunity to hear the Metro Mayor candidates’ views and policies on rail, road, air, cycling and walking. You will also have the chance to ask them questions. It will aim to highlight the transport related challenges that the new mayor will face in keeping the West Midlands moving. If you would like to put a question to the candidates, send it by email to

The forum will be chaired by Lorna Slade, editor of Rail Professional.

Confirmed mayoral candidates (in alphabetical order) are:

The event is FREE but it is ticketed due to security at the Council House. Tickets must be obtained prior to the event. Get your FREE ticket quickly and easily at




West Midlands New Economics Group

Thursday 23rd February 5-7 pm

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


What are the economic policies of the mayoral candidates for the West Midlands Combined Authority? – presented by Ann Wackett.

The election takes place on 4 May. Are the candidates promising anything different from the parties that they represent?

All welcome.  

Contributions of £2 to cover the cost of room hire




A 2014 review paper in The Lancet Neurology identified a number of potential development neurotoxins in children. One of these — fluoride — has continued to fuel discussion in America since the article’s publication, as the water supplies of approximately 74 percent of the U.S. population have fluoridation.

Some U.S. municipalities are reassessing the amount of fluoride in their water sources — or whether to fluoridate at all. Below is news from America, for more detail see the Chemical Concern website.

portland-fluorideIn July, the commissioners of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, voted to stop adding fluoride. On the morning of August 4th, the city council of Port Angeles, Washington, stopped fluoridation of the municipal water supply following four ethics complaints against council members and repeated, intense City Council public comment sessions.

Early in 2016, residents of Healdsburg, California opposing fluoridation mounted a campaign for a moratorium on the additive until the city and fluoride suppliers provide detailed chemical reports and a written statement verifying its safety for ingestion.

In Collier County, Florida a debate over fluoridation has started. Camden Smith, the commissioner’s assistant, is to petition commissioners to stop fluoridation of the county’s drinking water. She said she will raise issues about the health and safety of using cavity-preventing fluoride in drinking water and ask commissioners to “stop putting a medical treatment into a public utility.”

Patton Borough, Pennsylvania is another town which has ended fluoridation due to the corrosion and metal leaching caused by the chemical additive.  According to Borough water engineer David Cunningham, of Keller Engineers, “because Patton has older water lines, the added fluorosilicic acid seemed to be loosening sediment and causing corrosion. ‘The fear is that you’re going to raise lead and copper levels.’

We read that voters in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells, Ogunquit, Arundel, and portions of Biddeford and York, Maine will have the opportunity to end fluoridation (‘an outdated practice;) on election day in November.


As University of Kent research published in the BMJ, found higher levels of hyperthyroidism in the fluoridated West Midlands, compared with the unfluoridated area in Greater Manchester, more of its residents might agree with Florida’s Camden Smith who says:

“I respect anyone’s choice to put medical treatment in their water and I ask to be given the same choice. Nobody should be forced to ingest fluoride”.

city-gavin-warrinsPhotograph: Gavin Warrins

A week after publishing Second city first: Birmingham trounces its rivals, Henry Mance and Andrew Bounds of the FT back this claim by citing the city’s hosting of the Conservative party conference starting on Sunday.

Other glories:

  • Theresa May launched her leadership campaign in Birmingham in July.
  • Her key adviser, Nick Timothy, has called for a focus on ordinary people, which he calls “Erdington modernisation” after the area of Birmingham where he grew up.
  • Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, ‘a Birmingham satellite town’, extols the Midlands as the home of William Shakespeare, of Charles Darwin, of Isaac Newton [and] Margaret Thatcher.”
  • It may also become the only new metropolitan region to elect a Conservative mayor, Andy Street, currently managing director of John Lewis.
  • It ‘claims’ to be the only part of the UK to run a trade surplus with China, thanks largely to Jaguar Land Rover.
  • On Friday it will ‘indicate its ambition’ by announcing plans to bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026.

Will the city’s popularity survive the demonstrations at the Conservative Party conference, planned by a range of less satisfied citizens?


 Tomorrow: Thursday 29th September. 5-7 pm WM New Economics Group

wmneg 2

BFOE warehouse

Open meeting: 5 – 7 pm. 

FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

With the UK political landscape becoming clearer after a tumultuous summer the WM New Economics Group is meeting to exchange views on the way forward for some of the economic policies and ideas members have discussed over time.

All welcome





As the potential dangers of nuclear road convoys were highlighted in a report launched yesterday in the BMI’s John Peak room, international negotiations are moving forward which – if successful – would eventually make the nuclear weapons industry obsolete.

Following a landmark recommendation last month by a UN General Assembly working group Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, has announced that his country is to join other UN member states in tabling a resolution next month to convene negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.

nuclear-hazard-signConcerns were expressed on this site in March about the failure to label vehicles carrying nuclear materials with hazard warnings (see left) and the decision not to alert councils, police, fire and ambulance services when such loads are being carried in their area.

ICANW, which was set up by concerned medics sets out the hazards clearly in the report – the lead author being Rob Edwards (above, centre), a name familiar to long-term readers of the New Scientist. It listed serious failings revealed in the MoD’s emergency simulation exercises and described in some detail the implications of actual nuclear convoy accidents (2002-2016). We list the more alarming items below, but many other incidents listed which would not have led to fires or contamination, were failures of communication or key equipment which would have made the convoys far more vulnerable to a successful terrorist attack. 

May 2003 fuel leak from rear of bomb carrier engine.

May 2003: bomb carrier engine overheating

October 2003: smoke after excessive use of brakes during descent

May 2004: bomb carrier brake not working

December 2004: oil leak from engine on bomb carrier

January 2005 smoke issued from bomb carrier fuse box

September 2008: escort vehicle brakes overheating

December 2009: convoy off route due to commander error

January 2009: bomb carrier fuse box failure

December 2009: escort vehicle transmission failure

July 2011: command vehicle fuel system failure

January 2012: fire tender brake fault

January 2012: escort vehicle gun port flap opened inadvertently

March 2012: load-securing system damaged during offload

June 2012: manhole cover collapsed under escort vehicle

September 2012: escort vehicle reported smoke and fumes in cab

May 2013 road traffic collision involving two convoy vehicles

May 2013 collision with a parked civilian vehicle

January 2014: collision with a car at an MoD base

November 2014: bomb carrier breakdown

May 2016: electrical equipment failure on support vehicle

MPs and MEPs are being asked to take these issues as seriously as MP Paul Flynn, who raised the issue in parliament in January and call for the reinstatement of all labelling of vehicles carrying hazardous substances and alert councils, police, fire and ambulance services when such loads are being driven through their area.

Download the report here:




jess phillipsWhat a crew! Steve McCabe writes dismal letters about his leader, Tom Watson gripes about Shami Chakrabarti‘s recognition and today we hear from Yardley MP Jess Phillips. 

Left, ready for lunch with a Spectator journalist: “I swoon as she sashays away to serve it to both sides. That’s Jess Phillips, MP. She’s going to be leader of the Labour party one day!”

We read that Jess Phillips threatens to scream if she hears another Labour member lambasting  leadership contender Owen Smith for having worked in the private sector – “one that lots of people would seize, given the chance”.

But – on the other hand – lots of people would firmly rule out applying to the two companies he worked for.

Smith’s past employers: fraudulent marketing and kickbacks

First, Pfizer which reached a $2.3 billion settlement with the US government in 2009 for fraudulent marketing and kickbacks paid to doctors who prescribed Lyrica and other Pfizer products and $400 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit over this case.

Privatisation (though Ms Phillips says Smith “wants to protect the NHS”)

As head of government affairs for Pfizer, which involved lobbying and public relations for the US drug company, Owen Smith

  • endorsed a Pfizer-backed report offering patients a choice between NHS services and private-sector healthcare providers and
  • helped the drugs company to strike the sort of exclusive distribution agreement which the OFT’s chief executive warned “could cost the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds while reducing standards of service”.

Then to Amgen who had to pay out for its products’ side effects

Mr Smith then decided to move on to work as head of corporate affairs at the biotech company Amgen until 2015, company recovering ground after its anti-anemia blockbusters, Aranesp and Epogen, had been hampered by losses due to concerns about side effects, regulatory issues and insurance trouble.

Jess: how many London-based vegetarians were in this Liverpool crowd?

corbyn2 liverpool 8.16

After a few snide references to vegetarians and ‘purist ideals’ Ms Phillips plays the well-worn ‘out of touch, London-based’ card, disregarding approaching a million demonstrably ‘ordinary’ people who have flocked to hear Corbyn during the last seven days.

She continues: “People do not want to feel guilty for wanting comfort for their families” – but precious little comfort is offered by Conservative and Labour austerity addicts cutting benefits to those who need them most.

Showing little faith in her constituents – or realistically assessing her deserts – she fears:

“If Mr Corbyn wins we will be a party where people like me are hunted out and no longer welcome”. And ends:

“There is no value in basking in the glow of principled opinion. When the Labour leadership and wider party stop believing their own hype . . . we can get this show back on the road”.


Lesley Docksey, on the other hand, speaks as one who recently joined the Labour Party; she is mystified by the fact that none of the mainstream Labour MPs seemed to take on board the fact that Corbyn has never sought power; he seeks power for the people, the poor and helpless, the disenfranchised . . .

What is important are the values and vision that he has connected people to. If it is not too over-the-top, she writes, he has become the hillside down which we are all tumbling towards some kind of unity and people-power.

She has also been puzzled by the inability of so many Labour MPs to understand that the party, which they think they run, is actually made up of members who all have the right to speak and many of whom are following the vision that Corbyn has offered.

She – and others – believe that whatever the outcome of this turmoil, Corbyn’s election has been a beneficial ‘watershed’ moment in British political history.