Two Birmingham Race Summits You Should Be At This Month

How good are our schools in ensuring equality and equity are centre stage?BRIG Schools Race Summit – Thursday 13th October

This is the central question of BRIG’s ‘Birmingham Schools Race Summit’ as we seek to determine where we are at as a City, what needs improving and how we go about it.Join us to drive the change required to shift the dial in making Birmingham’s schools front and centre to realising an anti-racist city.

The Full Picture! – Employment Race SummitWednesday 12th October

 The latest national figures show that since the COVID-19 pandemic, Black youth unemployment is running at a low of 40%. BRIG have invited Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Combined Authority, Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to piece together the City’s employment / unemployment full picture.

Come along and hear from Birmingham’s key agencies and contribute your ideas to help shift the dial.

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Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group online event on Sat 8 Oct

Urgent action, long term solutions: climate, cost of living and industrial action

10.00-11.10: Welcome and opening session: Multiple crises, one fight: joining the dots

In this session we’ll look at the crises facing the UK in their global context. Who pays the price for climate breakdown and financial crisis? Following catastrophic floods in Pakistan, the UK government plans North Sea oil expansion. Energy companies profit from households facing unaffordable heating bills, while at COP27 in Egypt in November, rich nations face off Global South demands for financial recompense for loss and damage. Our struggles are connected – let’s join the dots.

Speakers include Asad Rehman, War on Want, Dr Mahvish Ahmad;  Ruth London, Fuel Poverty Action; Jay Read, Stop Cambo

11.15-12.45: Workshops (parallel)

1: Cost of living, energy, public ownership: making the links. 

Decisions about energy – what, where from, who owns it, and how much we need – once seemed abstract and remote. It’s now clear that the government opting for more fossil fuels, instead of renewable energy and home insulation, is hitting households hard. Disabled people and those on low incomes face a winter of extreme hardship. We’ll discuss what is needed: urgent action and long-term solutions.

With Emma Hewitt, Disabled People Against Cuts; Francis Stuart, Scottish Trades Union Congress; Chris Herring, AECB & Insulate Britain; Ellen Robottom, CACCTU

2: From high carbon sectors to climate jobs: making it real

Around the country, there are urgent campaigns against fossil fuel extraction, burning trees for fuel, and expansion of high carbon infrastructure like aviation. But for workers in high carbon industries, the promise of ‘climate jobs’ or ‘just transition’ can seem only slogans. How can activists turn these promises into a real alternative, make links with workers and find unified demands across campaigns?

With Pete Cannell, Scot E3; Dr Jo Cutter; Stuart Boothman, Just Transition Wakefield; Katy Brown, Stop Burning Trees Coalition

12.45-13.30: Lunch break

13.30-15.00: Workshops (parallel)

3: Winning urgent climate arguments in trade unions

In many unions, support in principle for climate action is often contradicted by a push for high-carbon developments. And across the trade union movement, there are debates about which energy technologies are really ‘false solutions’. How can ordinary trade union members work to resolve these contradictions, so unions make choices for our future and for climate and social justice today?

With Sam Mason, PCS; Mel Mullings, RMT; Pablo John, GMB for a GND; Suzanne Jeffery, CACCTU/NEU

4: Building local alliances and getting local councils to act

Whether it’s campaigning for better public transport and well insulated housing or against new roads, waste incineration or fracking, vital battles can be won and lost on a local level, as well as building strength for national campaigns. What works, and how do we bring communities together, learning from people’s lived experiences?

With Simon Pirani, Stop the Silvertown Tunnel; Tina Rothery, fracking campaigner, and speakers from Bristol Acorn and Sheffield Better Buses

15.05-16.00: Planning for action

Bringing the day together – what have we learnt and what next?

Speakers include  Mel Mullings, RMT; Phoebe Hayman, Just Stop Oil; Suzanne Jeffery, CACCTU; Tina Rothery; fracking campaigner and more.

Details and sign-up button here http://www.cacctu.org.uk/events_autumn_2022 
Or HERERecordings of the September events by CACCTU can be watched HERE and HERE

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Andy Street backs Truss

“Do I stand by her, and what she is trying to do? Yes, absolutely,” he said in yesterday’s Birmingham Mail. “We needed to be more ambitious in pursuing growth… we needed to address that.” Street said he is speaking at the Tory Party conference “to demonstrate to all of the Government that investing in the West Midlands will get the sort of return the country needs.”

So what is the Government investing in retrofitting homes in the West Midlands to save money on rocketing fuel bills? According to the BBC yesterday, “Low-income homes in England are to have their energy efficiency improved under a £1.5billion government plan that will also address poor insulation. Wall and loft insulation, double glazing, heat pumps and solar panels are all measures that could be funded.”

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said “By making homes warmer and cheaper to live in, we are not only transforming the lives of households across England, we are creating huge growth in the economy, backing the green energy sector and supporting thousands of high-skilled jobs.”

How much money is needed? There are 4.4million social homes in England, but this new Government grant is also for private home owners.

And how much funding is being made available to local authorities and social housing providers? Enough to upgrade 130,000 homes.

It would be a joke if it were not so deadly serious. To put the £1.5bn in proportion, even if the West Midlands got it all, there are 320,320 social housing dwellings in the West Midlands. The total Government funding for England will cover only 130,000 homes, which is not even half of social housing in the WM. In reality of course the WMCA will just get at most a few million pounds of this new grant, enough for a few hundred homes – a drop in the ocean.

So, Andy Street, is this what you mean when you praise Truss for being “more ambitious in pursuing growth”? Is this what you mean by “investing in the West Midlands”? Or will you admit that this funding is totally inadequate, that it does very little to tackle the cost-of living crisis that millions face in the West Midlands? Will you denounce the Government’s failure, demand the full funding that retrofit urgently needs, and lead a public campaign for it in the West Midlands?

Or will it be a case of Dead-End Street?

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#GrowingUpGreen is a Children and Family Arts Festival that celebrates action on climate change in Birmingham and the Black Country from 24th Sept – 2nd October 2022 as part of #TheGreatBigGreenWeek


#GrowingUpGreen explores all types of activism – gentle and more direct and has been co-produced with communities, parents and local organisers. Growing Up Green includes over 50 high quality workshops, performances and events, using arts and culture as a powerful tool to inspire young audiences to imagine themselves and their families as important protagonists to take action on the climate and ecological crisis. This year we have a specially curated performance programme by The Other Way Works that helps to tell stories of the climate crisis and encourages children to use their imaginations and agency to come up with solutions and take part in climate action. You can see the full programme at www.growingup.green 

Alternatively you can see what’s on by area by clicking through the following links…

Stourbridge 

Bearwood 

Sparkhill 

Northfield 

Bournville 

Kings Heath

We are also joined by Youth Climate Activist Elania Hunt who will be running a training programme for young people and the adults who work with them, called ‘Climate Champions’ that builds upon work already developed by Elania and the Climate Action Network. The programme aims to develop young people’s skills, and fully support them in becoming future change makers. The sessions offer participants (aged 16 yrs+) the space to explore and develop their ideas, make vital connections in their communities, understand the process of project development, and most importantly protect their wellbeing within work that often presents various barriers.

This session runs via Zoom on Wednesday 28th September from 4pm-6m– Register your free place here. Please spread the word! This session would be great for youth workers, teachers, parents and young people themselves. 

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Protest the Tory Party Conference – 1pm Sun 2 Oct Victoria Sq

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It has been a long time since you have heard from Peoples Assembly Birmingham! But we are back with a new convener, Kate Taylor, and a renewed drive to bring the community together with a common message – We wont pay for this crisis! This government has no popular mandate for its policies that punish workers and their families. But unless we mobilise a determined opposition to government policies, viscous attacks on working class people will continue. 
 
We have some really important information and updates for you so please read on. 
 
Firstly, as you may know, the Tories are coming to Birmingham on Sunday the 2nd of October for their annual conference. We are bringing together a number of organisations and holding a huge demo from 1-4 at Victoria Square. We will have music from Captain SKA and a drumming band. We will have speeches from Mick Lynch, Laura Pidcock and Kevin Courtney and we will have a march from Victoria square to the ICC where the conference is being held. The aim – to make as much noise as we possibly can! So bring your pots and pans, whistles and sirens and together we can silence the Tories! 
Facebook link is here – https://fb.me/e/2rsPVLNsw
 
Secondly, to help make this essential protest a real success we need help with building and organising it. If you are interested in getting involved and finding out more about what we are doing in Birmingham then please come along to our public meeting on Wednesday 21st September, 7pm at the Priory Rooms, 40 Bull St. Laura Pidcock, our National Secretary, will be speaking along with Lee Barron of the TUC and Siyanda Mngaza from the BLM Midlands campaign. You will be able to collect leaflets and posters to distribute and find out how you can help us. 
Facebook link is here – https://fb.me/e/aKIXa4agS
 
Lastly, the Peoples Assembly is now a membership organisation and we hope you will join us and become a member. If you do, you can be part of our local People’s Assembly group, meeting like minded people and being part of making change in your own community. There are a range of payment levels, including a £0 membership. This is about you having a voice with us on how we build the movement. 
There are more details about the demo and membership on our website – https://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/
 
We really hope to see you at the public meeting on the 21st September and the demo on the 2nd October, 
Kate Taylor – Peoples Assembly Birmingham

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Disabled People’s Alliance – Die-in to meet the Tories – WED OCT 5, 11 AM – 1:30 PM Chamberlain Square, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery

Tory policies are killing the planet, killing our people, killing our right to self-determination – Say no more!

Disabled People’s Alliance (DPA), a small group of disabled activists, have come together to organise a protest on the 5th October between 11am – 1pm.

Meeting place will be Chamberlain Square opposite the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery B3 3AX.

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How Kit Malthouse voted – the values of the new Education Secretary

What sort of education do we want for our children and young people? What values should it be based on? Now see how they compare with those of the new Education Secretary
Here’s a selection of his voting record in Parliament from TheyWorkFor You.com

Education
Consistently voted for academy schools

Welfare and Benefits
Consistently voted for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
Almost always voted against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disability

Home Affairs
Almost always voted for stronger enforcement of immigration rules
Consistently voted for a stricter asylum system

Business and the Economy
Almost always voted for reducing the rate of corporation tax

Taxation and Employment
Consistently voted for reducing capital gains tax
Consistently voted for more restrictive regulation of trade union activity
Consistently voted against higher taxes on banks

Transport
Generally voted against greater public control of bus services
Consistently voted against a publicly owned railway system

Social Issues
Generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights

Environmental Issues
Consistently voted for new high speed rail infrastructure
Consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change

Constitutional Reform
Generally voted against more powers for local councils
Generally voted for reducing central government funding of local government
Generally voted against a more proportional system for electing MPs
Almost always voted against transferring more powers to the Senedd/Welsh Parliament
Almost always voted against transferring more powers to the Scottish Parliament

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West Midlands Greener Together Forum and West Midlands Climate Coalition meetings next week

The next West Midlands Greener Together forum is on Monday 12th September in Coventry and online. This forum, set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority, will be centred on “Re-imagining Transport”.

Here is what CANWM – Climate Action Network West Midlands – will be saying at the meeting:

  • Imagine that the regional transport system is a proper public service, like schooling, health, libraries, and museums; it is not run as source of profit for the private operators.
  • Imagine that, as in the above examples, it is free at the point of use.
  • Imagine that the service is democratically owned and controlled, by local and regional authorities, its employees, and its users. Democratic planning would replace the failed de-regulation and privatisation of the neo-liberal decades.
  • Imagine that investment is shifted from such hugely expensive schemes as HS2 towards providing a public service that is extended in scope, accessible to all, frequent and reliable.
  • Imagine that the transport system is based on sharing – sharing cars and safe shared spaces for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Imagine that frequent flying and private jets are replaced with a general commitment not to take more than one return flight every two or three years, pending the development of zero carbon planes.

Such changes would go alongside technical transformations such as all-electric road vehicles and trains.

Such changes would be necessary to remove one of the biggest CO2 emitters in the region, its fossil fuel-based transport system.

Such changes would also reduce dirty air pollution, congestion, delays, and accidents.

Such changes would benefit the huge number of people living in poverty who cannot afford, or who can barely afford, a private car and who would then be able to travel for free.

About 100 cities around the world have Fare Free Public Transport, and it has even been piloted in the UK (Herefordshire, Swansea, and Newport). While these schemes vary in terms of operation and outcomes, they do offer a large carrot instead of just sticks to get most private cars off the road.

READ THE CANWM NEWSLETTER AT https://mailchi.mp/574…/climate-emergency-actions-11822201

The WMCA or Transport for West Midlands (T4WM) could easily afford to work alongside its seven local authorities by setting up a feasibility study for introducing FFPT across the region, for buses, local trains, and trams.

The WMCA and theT4WM have their own transport policies –

https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/environment-and-energy/transport/

https://www.tfwm.org.uk/who-we-are/our-strategy/local-transport-plan/

While these plans do contain interesting ideas, the world-wide heatwaves, droughts, and floods are telling us that our time is very limited, and that more radical action is required.

And sorry, but “Movement for Growth” suggests the old framework of productivism is part of their plans; but we cannot produce ever more goods on a finite planet.

The WMGT forum will be from 6 to 8 – 30pm in Room 1, the Hub, Coventry University, Priory Street, CV1 5FB. You can register to attend in person (maximum attendance has been set at 35) or go online.You can register here.

West Midlands Climate Coalition

The next meeting of the West Midlands Climate Coalition will be on Tuesday 13th September 7pm to 8.30pm.

We will be able to review the preceding evening’s event, review progress on the retrofit campaign, and think about the topic for the next WMGT forum in November (suggestion, another big source of CO2 in the region is from industry and commerce). Other agenda topics could be COP27 and the Tory Party conference.

The meeting Zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82950405511?pwd=c05NYnNTZUFEQ3hFYmphb1RDN

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Meeting ID: 829 5040 5511. Passcode: 467106

The minutes from WMCC meetings can be viewed here on google drive.

Nine Action Points
These actions were created by WMCC to lobby the West Midlands Combined Authority in support of a zero-carbon region by 2030.

Nine Action Points

RETROFIT BUILDINGS. Domestic insulation and heating programs need to be massively accelerated. This is a rapid way to reduce carbon emissions and save households money on their heating and energy bills. The WMCA should immediately publish and implement a comprehensive plan for the retrofitting of housing in the WMCA constituencies with the highest levels of fuel poverty revealed in a new league table from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, based on government figures.
FARE FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Transport for West Midlands should follow the lead being given by Swansea, Newport, and Herefordshire by setting up free public transport schemes. A feasibility study into the economic, social, and environmental benefits of FFPT for the West Midlands should start work now. The WMCA should bring the region’s buses back into public control, following the example of Greater Manchester, as a step towards FFPT.
END SUPPORT FOR HS2. Apart from the environmental devastation it is causing, HS2 is vastly expensive. The money should be used instead for big investments in local and regional public transport. The current business model of the HS2 project is to increase economic growth and consumerism, however this will contribute to planetary destruction, and is not something we need more of.
DIVEST THE WEST MIDLANDS PENSION FUND FROM FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENT. Pension funds investing in fossil fuels are contributing directly to uncontrolled global warming and in support of a sustainable future for all should invest instead in green renewables.
END THE INCINERATION OF WASTE. The continuation of waste incineration is an environmental crime. Plans should be made immediately to increase recycling (including food waste) and to transition to ecologically sustainable degradation.
CURB AVIATION. The WMCA should encourage its residents to limit the excessive use of environmentally damaging national and international flights (pending the development of zero carbon planes) to one return flight every two or three years.
TEACH THE CHILDREN. Local authorities within the WMCA area should actively promote proper climate and environmental studies in all schools for all children and young people, appropriate to their age.
PAUSE TRAM DEVELOPMENT. Trams are more accessible than buses and trains for disabled people and prams, but they are also hugely expensive to build and emit a large amount of carbon dioxide from cement and steel in their construction. New growth of this network should be paused, and the money diverted into upgrading the current regional public transport system, including the opening of new routes.
BUILDING A WORKFORCE FOR THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY. The WMCA should use its resources to collaborate with the region’s trade unions, FE colleges, universities, and employers to create and implement a long-term strategy for the creation of green jobs and a just transition for workers in high carbon workplaces as they decline.

You can support these action points in the following ways:
Share the leaflet with your family, friends, and networks. Post the leaflet in suitable public locations. Scan or photograph the leaflet and share it on your social media. WMCC Facebook group & WMCC Facebook page.
Send the leaflet to your local councillor and ask for their comments, letting us know of the response. Send your support for these action points to the West Midlands Combined Authority via their website https://www.wm Hard copies of the leaflet are also available on request.

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Birmingham, Climate Change, Fuel Poverty and Open Data, Wed 7 Sept 10am – 5pm

On Wednesday 7th September, University of Birmingham is  hosting an event for researchers, activists, policy makers, citizens and community champions to talk, learn about and share knowledge on Birmingham, Climate Change, Fuel Poverty and Open Data.

This workshop is for the East Birmingham Community Heat Test and Learn Project funded by the Cadent Foundation, led by University of Birmingham with Places in Common and the Active Wellbeing Society.

The event will take place in the Old Gym building on the UoB Edgbaston Campus (Room LG10 with breakout sessions and lunch in LG06) between 10.00 and 17.00 with presentations and activities from University of Birmingham (Dr Grant Wilson and Dr Joe Day), open data experts and community activist and engagement organisations. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

The session is very much about setting the scene and framing the narrative on how the citizen and wider civic community is integral to the value of data and therefore has rights of ownership and application in a net zero pathway very much as part of the system change not climate change argument. We will then be taking the findings from this workshop into a wider challenge session with key public and private agencies.

More details and registration can be found at the Eventbrite page.

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The WMCA, BCC and the local government climate policy process: the case of home retrofit

This is a brief summary. Here is the link to the full article: https://birminghamagainstthecuts.files.wordpress.com/2022/08/wmca-and-bcc-climate-policy.docx

On 19 March 2021 the WMCA Board approved an 88 page Five Year Plan Executive Summary for 2021 to 2026 “to deliver energy efficient homes for up to 294,000 dwellings, with low carbon heating in 292,000,… reducing energy bills, fuel poverty and creating jobs” – “up to 21,000 by 2026”. According to the WMCA’s Environment and Energy Board in March 2022, “to meet the 2041 target and interim targets set out in the Five Year Plan, one home every two minutes will need to become net zero” on the basis of a 40 hour working week.

On 11 January 2022 the meeting of Birmingham City Council approved its 50 page Route to Zero Action Plan – Progress Report. It included the following:

4.2 Implementation of city-wide retrofit plan

December 2020 status 

We need to give due consideration to the size of the undertaking in retrofitting all of Birmingham City Council’s properties, it will need a large strategic commitment. The retrofit of 60,000 homes over 30 years equates to 2,000 properties per year every year (40 homes every week). Our key next step will be to create a plan for citywide retrofit to include a trial in 2021, with a view to scale up towards 2030.

October 2021 update

This project has not yet started as is dependent on the Thermal Impact / Energy Efficient Survey project above which has not been completed. (p17)

BCC’s aim of 60,000 homes by 2030 is completely different from the target of the WMCA’s Five Year Plan of 292,000 homes in the West Midlands by 2026. The population of Birmingham is approximately 40% of the WMCA’s, which would mean retrofitting about 117,000 homes in five years. The WMCA’s plan therefore aims to retrofit about twice as many homes as Birmingham Council’s plan in half the time.

How can the CA and BCC produce such different plans when they claim to be working in collaboration? This article uses retrofit as a case study to examine how the policies of the CA and BCC on climate change are interlocked with the politics of their decision-making processes. (It would be interesting to see how this works in the other 6 constituent local authorities of the WMCA.)

Key Points

  • In 2020 the WMCA and BCC produced two separate reports on climate policy with no connection between them.
  • BCC’s climate committee functions very differently from the WMCA’s. They largely ignore each other’s plans.
  • In 2021 the CA produced its Five Year Plan, much more ambitious than BCC’s plans, and ignored by BCC.
  • In 2022 BCC produced its Route to Zero Action Progress Report, its most comprehensive so far.
  • Questions about the knowledge and the priorities of BCC councillors in leading climate roles.
  • The crisis of funding for domestic retrofit, both for local authorities and for private home-owners.
  • No public challenge by the WMCA to Government on funding, and no challenge to the WMCA’s silence by Labour councillors in the WMCA, or public campaign by them.
  • The absence of effective democratic accountability of the WMCA to citizens, with no direct election of Board members apart from the Mayor and the Police and Crime Commissioner and no public participation with power in policy-making.

Richard Hatcher 

24 August 2022

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