Category Archives: Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts

Reports and Photos from Saturday’s Leisure Service Privatisation Activities

Saturday saw many places around Birmingham hold stalls and petition sessions against the planed privatisation of Birmingham’s Leisure Services.

Moseley Road Baths

Stall held by Friends of Moseley Road Baths


Sparkhill and Springfield Against the Cuts was Joined by Campaign to Save Sparkhill Baths. Some Local people took away petition sheets. Thanks to Friends of Moseley Road Baths for supplying the leaflets. We left Slogan posters on the baths & on an Olympics Poster for passersby to see.


There was overwhelming support for the protest and petitioning session outside Northfield Baths on Saturday morning, organised by Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts. Passers-by and pool users were queueing up to sign and take our leaflet. They were made aware of the no-consultation plans to privatise all of Birmingham’s leisure services and how this could lead to higher prices, cuts in its personnel and a reduction of access. As an example of what is in store, Harbourne’s New Baths and Leisure Centre is run by D C Leisure Management (annual turnover of £95 million). Are they doing this out of sheer altruism, or is there something in it for them? And if the latter answer is yes, what right do they have to syphon off public money for their own profits? And will there not be pressure to increase profits and prices as time passes? And what about democratic control of such resources by the people who pay their taxes and pay to use the facility? What is the point of electing Councillors if they have no say over local resources?

It is clear from the response to our petitioning session that the Council will have a fight on its hand if it intends keeping on with this retrograde step. We will do everything in our power to stop it.

It would be good to hear that the Labour Party will immediately reverse such measures if and when it takes power in the Council in May. It would also be good to see the local Labour Party at our next protest.

As well as campaigning against this privatisation in Northfield, our leaflet also highlighted the funding crisis of the local CAB and the intention to close Millmead Children’s home in Bartley Green. The field of operations of Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts seems to be widening ever further. It is looking like Northfield and Longbridge will soon need an anti-cuts group of its own.


Handsworth against the Cuts activists were busy petitioning at the Handsworth leisure centre on saturday 10th march and sunday 11th march.People -especially young people- were encouraged to write their own message to Birmingham city council, and we had a great response( the sunny weather helped).
Handsworth Against the Cuts also held a stall on Friday, you can read about it in this post.

More photos from the weekends activities are on our Facebook Page, and future events about leisure service privatisation or other anti-cuts and anti-austerity issues can be found on our upcoming events page.
If you want to get involved with this campaign, please contact your local group or email



Filed under Birmingham City Council, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Day of Action Over Leisure Services Privatisation

As we reported on Monday, Birmingham City Council have begun a process that could see a £200m outsourcing of leisure services to private, profit seeking, companies.

This affects people all over the city, and Handsworth Against the Cuts were out on Saturday, raising awareness and gathering signatures on a petition to keep these services in house.

Outsourcing and privatisation are all too often used as a way to cut costs at the expense of services or through changes to staff pay and conditions, rather than as a way to improve the services provided.
As the council seek to make £100m of additional cuts over the following year, we can be sure that this is being used as a way to cover some of that, or at least it will be if we let it.

On Saturday 10th March, Birmingham Against the Cuts will be co-ordinating local groups and individuals around the city to petition at leisure centres that are under threat.
As we receive confirmation of times, this list will be updated. If you live near one of these centres, or use it regularly, go and join them, or tell us that you will be there between certain times, and we will put that on this list and try to get people to join you.
A city-wide petition is being finalised, and will be available to download and print closer to the day, along with leaflets and posters.

— Alexander Stadium,
— Beeches Pool,
— Billesley Indoor Tennis Centre,
— Castle Vale Pool,
— Cocks Moor Wood Leisure Centre,
— Erdington Pool,
— Fox Hollies Leisure Centre,
— Handsworth Leisure Centre, 11am on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th Handsworth Against the Cuts
— Harborne Pool and Fitness Centre,
— Kingstanding Leisure Centre,
— Linden Road Leisure Centre,
— Moseley Road Pool: 11am onwards, Friends of Moseley Road Baths
— Nechells Sports Centre,
— Newtown Pool,
— Northfield Leisure Centre 11am onwards, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts
— Saltley Leisure Centre,
— Shard End Leisure Centre,
— Small Heath Leisure Centre,
— Shenley Court,
— Sparkhill Pool and Leisure Centre, 11am-1pm Sparkhill & Springfield Against the Cuts
— Stechford Cascades,
— Stockland Green Leisure Centre,
— Tiverton Road,
— Wyndley Leisure Centre.

Please note that this is not a complete list – the tender document says that these are included, but does not limit privatisation to just these facilities – so if your local centre is not listed here, do not think you are safe.

Email us at or just turn up if your centre already has times listed.


Filed under Birmingham City Council, Erdington Against the Cuts, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, Stockland Green Against the Cuts

Photo Review of the Year 2011

Birmingham Against The Cuts was formed at the end of 2010 to fight the council and central government cuts. 2011 has been a busy year for all of us, with some truly memorable events. You can click on a picture to go to an article about it.
Tell us your outstanding memory of 2011, a year which has seen huge demonstrations around the UK, direct action, two huge strikes and of course the legwork of stalls, leafletting and petitions.
Our first organising meeting for 2012 will be on January 9th, 6:30pm, Unison Offices, 19th Floor, McClaren Building, 47 Priory Queensway, B4 7NN. Please come along to help plan campaigning for next year.


Save Our Neighbourhood Offices

Save EMA

(c) Geoff Dexter-Sherborne Publications

Council Cuts

Save The NHS

Hands Off Bournville School

Save Merrishaw Day Nursery

ATOS / Disability Benefits

Save Charles House


Mayday Demonstration

February Council Cuts

March 26th

30th June

Sep, Lib Dem Conference

June, Justice For All

Nov 30th

Oct, West Midlands Pensioners Convention

Public Meetings

Held by Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Feb, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts meeting

September, Build the Alternative, Broaden the Struggle

Oct, Youth Fight for Jobs Jarrow March Recreation

Nov, Support the Strikers, They Strike For All of Us

Credit: Geoff Dexter

Feb Council Cuts Meeting

July, Hands Off Brum Services

People and Placards

March, International Women's Day


July, Lobby of Council

J30 Strike

Sep, Lib Dem Conference

Nov 30th


Save Youth Services


UK Uncut

Aston Uni Students

NCAFC Birmingham

UCU City College


Dec 2010, Refuse Worker Strike

April, Connexions


30th June

Sept, Unison at Lifford House

30th Nov

Nov 30th

Dec, Montgomery Primary School


Nov, University of Birmingham Students occupation

Occupy Birmingham (now in the gardens behind Centenary Square)

Stalls, Leafletting and Petitions

Kings Heath

Feb, Kings Heath

April, Sparkhill

April, Cotteridge

Dec, Handsworth Library Petition

Ministerial Visits

February, Ian Duncan Smith

(c) Geoff Dexter Sherborne Productions

April, Francis Maude

June, David Cameron

With thanks to everyone who has contributed photos over the year.
For more photos of Birmingham protests this year, see Geoff Dexter’s Flickr Page

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Erdington Against the Cuts, Events, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Meeting, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, Stockland Green Against the Cuts, strike

Tomorrow: All Out! Strike for Pensions Justice!

Tomorrow is set to be a historic day, with one of the largest strikes in the history of the UK, as millions of public sector workers strike to defend their pensions, rejecting an offer by the government which would see them pay more, work longer and get less in order to pay off the deficit.

Almost every public sector union is taking part in this co-ordinated action, and there are plenty of things happening in Birmingham. This strike is not just about pensions, it is also about cuts, and defending the whole idea of a public sector providing services on the basis of need.

From 4am there will be pickets at refuse collection depots around the city, with other workplace pickets running from 7am. Some confirmations of pickets have been received, and are listed here, but you should expect them at almost every council and government workplace.
Parents should have heard from schools as to whether they will close, but with almost every teaching union, including the NAHT head teachers union, on strike we expect to see all schools closed.

At 9am the first local demo, organised by Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, gathers in Cotteridge. It will proceed to join the Selly Oak rally, and then the main TUC demo.

10am sees 4 local rallies around Birmingham:
Selly Oak – at the University South Gates, by the New Bristol Road (the newly opened bypass)
Handsworth – By Handsworth Library, Soho Road
Erdington – Six Ways
East Birmingham Heartlands Hospital

These rallies will feed to the main TUC march which assembles from 11:30am at Lionel Street Car Park, and should proceed through the city centre. We have had uncomfirmed reports that Birmingham City Council want to charge us £10,000 to walk through our city! We hope that the TUC do not bow to pressure and pay up, and that we march through the city in defiance of this blatant attempt to prevent us expressing our democratic rights.
The march proceeds to a rally at the NIA which beings at 1:30pm – doors to the NIA open at 12:30pm. The rally has many speakers from the union movement:
CHAIR: Lee Barron, CWU Midlands Regional Secretary & Midlands TUC Chair
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary
Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary
Janice Godrich, PCS President
Karen Jennings, Unison Assistant General Secretary
Martin Johnson, ATL Deputy General Secretary
Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary
Barry Lovejoy, UCU Head of Further Education
Joe Morgan, GMB West Midlands Regional Secretary
Tony Woodley, UNITE Executive Officer

Tomorrow is set up to be a great day – all it needs now is you!
Remember that you can sign up to a union on the day and still strike, so at work today, or on the picket lines tomorrow, make sure anyone who isn’t unionised knows this, joins up and comes out tomorrow.

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Filed under Erdington Against the Cuts, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, Stockland Green Against the Cuts, strike

Update on Merrishaw Nursery and new campaign for Park Road Sure Start

Walk to Save Merrishaw, 30th July

Following the walk to save Merrishaw Day Nursery, and a lively meeting with Cllr Randal Brew, on Saturday 30th July, the parents campaigning to keep their nursery open have had a reply from Cllr Brew:

I repeat what I said some 15 months ago when we first met on the subject that I felt the nursery provided an excellent service (backed up by an outstanding Ofstead report), and that the children were playing in a happy environment and that it provided an excellent service for working mothers.

As promised, although I did share with you on Saturday some of the restrictions & pressures we are facing, I have passed on your substantial petition together with the pages of comments to Chrissie Garrett, Director of Integrated Services for the City

In an email to Chrissie Garrett, forwarded to the campaign along with his reply, Cllr Brew said that:

I am extremely concerned about the affect that this will have on the neighbourhood and hopes and aspirations of young mothers trying to improve themselves, and children having meaningful play.

And detailed cases where the parents alternative provision is not suitable, and specific examples of how the closure of Merrishaw will negaitvely affect their lives.  Cllr Brew has said that he hopes that the closure will be suspended pending further consultation.  We hope that he is able to work within the council to ensure that does happen, and that his worse are not empty platitudes.

Merrishaw is widely acknowledged as a succesful nursery, rated Outstanding by Ofsted, it makes little sense to close such a good provider of services, forcing parents to take their children to (often it seems private) nurseries, some up to 2 miles from home, which will not neccessarily provide such a good service (I do not want to disparage any other nursersies, I am sure that some children will go to nurseries also rated Outstanding, but I’d also be willing to bet that some won’t – and in any case, all the children currently do go to one rated Outstanding – that is close to home, with friends, social networks and support networks all nearby – networks that will be weakened by having children scattered across nurseries in south east Birmingham).

Park Road Childrens Centre, Sparkhill

Meanwhile, in Sparkhill, Park Road Day Nursery (rated Good by Ofsted) is facing 5.9% cuts due to cuts to sure start centre funding.  Parents of children at Park Road have started a campaign to protect their nursery, supported by Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, and have started a petition opposing all cuts to nurseries across Birmingham.  If you want to help this campaign, especially if you have children who used to attend the nursery, please get in contact with them at

You can download the petition here. Download and print it, and get your neighbours or colleagues to sign, then send it back to us.  If you are a parent with a child at a nursery, take it to the nursery and get other parents and nursery workers to sign it – perhaps make a special sheet for the children to sign as well.

They are also calling for a lobby at the council meeting in October – of course that is likely to be too late for the nurseries facing closure, but we can work to ensure that cuts are reversed, and that if Labour win control of the council in 2012 (as is likely to happen), that they do so with a platform to re-open the nurseries and to restore funding – and know that the communities around Birmingham will keep them to their promise.

If you are a parent at a nursery facing cuts or closure, please get in contact with us.  As you can see, pressure can be brought to bear, and we hope that the council will recognise that these cuts and closures should not happen.  We will keep you informed of the campaign to save Merrishaw and other nurseries around the city.

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Mayday Demonstration in Photos

The Banners

The March

The People

The Speakers

David Hughes - President Birmingham TUC

Graeme Horn - Unison Council Branch

Cllr Albert Bore - Leader Labour Group

Vez Kirkpatrick - Save the NHS West Midlands

Sian Ruddick - PCS

The Clarion Singers

Doug Morgan - NUT

Eleanor - Disabled People Against Cuts

Charlie Friel - UNISON Connexions

UKUncut Topshop Demo

Birmingham UKUncut activists outside the Bullring Topshop protesting about tax avoidance - Philip Green who runs Topshop has avoided paying hundreds of millions of pounds of tax since 2005

The Photographers

With thanks for the photos from:
Geoff Dexter Sherborne
Amy-Rose Deffley
Indymedia Birmingham
Pete Jackson/Right to Work
Mary Pearson
Bob Whitehead

You can read a full report of the event here. Apologies to any group whose banner I’ve not got a photo of, and the speakers I’ve missed.. and of course anyone else who would have liked to have seen their face here.  Thanks to everyone who turned out to make this such a great day, and to the sun for shining on us all.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Erdington Against the Cuts, Events, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

Hundreds come out for Mayday Demonstration

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Birmingham today to celebrate the trade union movement and demonstrate against the cuts.

Mayday is the traditional workers holiday and every year Birmingham Trades Union Council (BTUC) organise a celebration.  For the last 10 years, this has taken place inside, but this year working with Birmingham Against the Cuts, BTUC decided that it was time to get back onto the streets because of the savage cuts that are being implemented by the ConDem coalitions both nationally and locally.

Fortnum 145 solidarity bloc

The march gathered at Birmingham Cathedral, with banners on display from the Trades Council, Birmingham Against the Cuts, CROSSBrum, Save the Blood Service, Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Resistance, Respect and others.  There was also a group of protestors dressed in white in solidarity with the 145 people arrested for peacefully protesting in Fortnum and Mason on March 26th.

The march left the cathedral and went around the city centre to regather in Chamberlain Square for stalls, speakers and music – and this time we had a soundsystem so everyone could hear what was said!

David Hughes, the President of BTUC, introduced the day saying

We are returning to an era of massive cuts, massive unemployment and massive social deprivation

and giving a short background to some of the cuts and the trade union movement in Birmingham.

The Clarion Singers followed this, with stirring performances of “power in the union” and “Are we going to take it lying down?”

UNISON on the march

Graeme Horn, UNISON council wokers branch secretary spoke about the labour movement in Birmingham and reflected on past struggles against Apartheid, deportion and other wider issues that the trade union movement in Birmingham had been involved in

Mayday is a day to celebrate the fights of trade unions for workers rights and to express solidarity with workers struggles around the world

before moving on to the upcoming struggle that UNISON will be waging against the council, who are seeking to make changes to terms and conditions that will see already low paid workers, such as home carers, losing as much as 1/3rd of their pay.  UNISON will be balloting through May for strike action, which if the ballot is succesful we are told will be planned to co-ordinate with other unions for a huge strike on the 30th June – we will keep you up to date on any developments there.

PCS are one of the other unions balloting for strike action on June 30th – and indeed their workers in the EHRC will be on strike on the 4th and 11th May.  Sian Ruddick was there to talk about the attacks on the civil service:

We are facing attacks on our jobs, pay, pensions and services … it was the fault of the greedy bankers but we are paying for it … the sick, disabled and poorly paid”

She was followed by Albert Bore, the leader of the Labour party group in Birmingham City Council, who attacked the cuts being made by the ConDem coalition, saying that the loss of thousands of full time jobs from the council would be a disaster.  He said the coalition were treating the people of Birmingham very badly and that the loss of 2 judicial reviews showed this.  Thanking everyone for coming out he said:

We need more demonstrations like this to stop the Lib Dems and Tories

Disabled People Against Cuts on the Mayday march

Eleanor from Disabled People Against the Cuts also talked about the judicial reviews, which mean that 11,000 adults in Birmingham should not have vital care withdrawn from them, and informed us that another case is forthcoming to do with housing benefit.  She argued passionately that everyone needs to stand and fight together and that all workers needed to help defend disabled people from cuts which are affecting disabled people severely:

At a local level disabled people are already losing funding for care and support and together with the closure of day centres many are becoming isolated in their own homes. Social care is not free for the majority of disabled people either

With the recent attacks on disabled claimants in the press, she went on to explain what DPAC and other groups are doing – there will be a national week of action against benefit cuts and against ATOS from the 9th may (with two events in Birmingham on the 12th and 13th).

Of those tested by ATOS and found fit for work 70% who have representation and 40 % without any representation have the decision overturned on appeal, although it can take up to 12 months to reach a tribunal hearing because there are so many cases wrongly assessed.

So when you hear the papers saying how many disabled people are found fit work work, remember that the vast majority of them are in fact found to be unable to work.

NHS workers carry their banner

Vez Kirkpatrick, a health care assistant and UNISON member spoke about the NHS, saying that the budget is increasing very slightly, but not in line with the rising costs of drugs and the additional costs produced by a population that is living for longer.  She talked about how the government released news on Friday, no doubt designed to coincide with the royal wedding, that the NHS will have to find an additional 50% in efficiency savings, and how this actually means the loss of 50,000 jobs.

There will be 1,600 job cuts – 20% of staff – at the Heart of England trust, and 17% of jobs will be lost at University Hospital Birmingham – causing delays and cancellations in routine procedures, which can include things vital to quality of life such as hip replacements.

In summing up, Vez said that people need to work against the health bill currently passing through parliament and that Save the NHS West Midlands – a regional campaign group – has been set up and will launch shortly.

This bill is opposed by anyone who knows anything about health – the BMA, Doctors,  Nurses, other unions in the health service, as well as user groups.  Even the Lib Dems oppose the health bill

And warned that

If we make these reforms then the NHS will no longer be available to everyone in the way it is now

Mary Pearson from the Troops Out Movement

Speakers from the Troops Out Movement, Stop the War Coalition and Unite Against Fascism spoke about issues which the trade union movement has been involved in, with Stuart Richardson from Stop the War pointing out the extreme costs of war – each cruise missile costs £700,000 – and how even though there’s no money for services for vulnerable people, there is always money for a war somewhere.

The final two speakers were Charlie Friel, who spoke about the Connexions Strike coming up next week, and Doug Morgan from NUT who spoke about their forthcoming ballot for industrial action, which we hope will result in a strike on June 30th, co-ordinated nationally with ATL, PCS and Unite (health) and locally with Unison (council branch).

All in all a good day.  With thanks to Pete Jackson from Right to Work for getting these pictures up quickly, more photos to come I’m sure, keep an eye on our facebook page, and I’ll also add links to this post, and probably more photos – or I might just make a new post on Monday or Tuesday just with photos from the event.

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Erdington Against the Cuts, Handsworth Anti-Cuts Group, Kings Heath & Moseley Against the Cuts, Sparkhill & Sparkbrook Against the Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts