The economic impact of the Coronavirus crisis – Birmingham TUC Zoom meeting Thur 4 June 7pm

with Michael Roberts, Marxist economist

and a Birmingham NEU rep on the NEU trade union response to the 1st June opening of Birmingham schools Continue reading

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Learning the lessons of the corona crisis to create a stronger, fairer economy

In the Midlands TUC online newsletter is A Better Recovery, A plan to get Britain growing out of the crisis – and stop mass unemployment.  Continue reading

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No back to school until it’s safe – Zoom meeting Tue 26 May 7.30pm

Meeting for parents and staff of Birmingham schools to discuss how we make sure our schools don’t go back until it’s safe.
Councillors, teachers, parents and campaigners will be speaking.
Supported by Save Our Schools West Midlands, West Midlands Coronavirus Action Group, Birmingham NEU, Birmingham TUC, Birmingham SEA.

Click here to join

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Birmingham Youth Strike for Climate ‘Get Serious about the Climate’

Our demands to Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council declared a climate emergency on June 11th 2019. This is a very serious declaration. Birmingham Youth Strike for Climate believe the council is not taking the declaration seriously and thus we put forward these demands. We want the council to respond formally and publicly to our demands, it is in the best interests of all residents of Birmingham and of the world that they do so. To highlight the council’s failings, we will be targeting them in 6 areas where we feel they have contradicted the declaration of climate emergency. We want the council to Get Serious about the Climate.

  1. Communicate.

We want the council to communicate to the public in a way that is clear and accessible for all residents of Birmingham, especially on climate-related issues. The council should prioritise climate-related issues in their communications and ensure they are telling the public what they are doing to tackle the climate crisis. The council should make their website more accessible, provide more frequent updates on Social Media and inquire into ways to best inform the public of their projects.

  1. Change their Attitude

We want the council to recognise the severity of the issue at hand and change their attitude, now. We want the council to radically change their ways in order to adhere to the climate emergency they declared. We want the government to apply a ‘green lens’ to every potential venture, and allow nothing to disrupt the net-zero carbon target.

Projects like Tyseley Incinerator and Dudley road widening run counter to climate justice, and mean they will likely not meet the targets set in the declaration, this has to stop. A radical attitude shift is needed.

  1. Be transparent

Projects such as Tyseley incinerator and the Dudley road widening have been discussed behind closed doors, we think this is morally wrong for a city that claims to be green. We need the council to engage with BhamYS4C and with experts on how best to proceed given the climate emergency declaration, and we want them to do this with urgency.

  1. Take serious action

Birmingham city council declared a climate emergency on June 11th, yet their actions don’t reflect the severity of the declaration. The climate is in danger right now. We want the council to invest in green projects to create a foundation for a net-zero carbon future. The council should listen to the science and act accordingly as this is in the interests of each and every human. Decisions made should be in accordance with the principles of the Green New Deal to create a safer climate and fairer society.

Birmingham Youth Strike for Climate is targeting Birmingham City Council in 6 areas where we feel the council have contradicted their declaration.

  • 1. Declaration of Climate Emergency

The council declared a climate emergency on June 11th, yet miraculously few publications on the matter exist. We demand that the council be proud of their declaration and thus act according to the magnitude of the declaration. We demand the council makes this declaration central to their ways of working, we demand a climate lens on every venture the council takes which should reflect the scale of the emergency.

  • 2. The Net-Zero Carbon Target

We demand the council be clear and consistent with their targets for reaching carbon-neutrality. Whilst Birmingham city council says the target is 2030, the council have not acted as though this is the case. We demand the council do not allow their target to slip due to the dire effects this would have on each individual.

  • 3. Tyseley Incinerator

We demand that the council issued a statement explaining their plans for the incinerator. We demand this statement include all of the climate impacts if the proposal goes ahead. We demand an impartial survey of local residents explaining, and gauging their views on the plan to renew the incinerator before any formal action is made.

  • 4. Dudley road widening (and other non-green infrastructure)

We demand the council make clear what their initial plans for the widening of Dudley Road were. We demand the council explain why they planned to go ahead with a project that would allow more cars on the streets of Birmingham. We demand the council consult us before they engage in any project that will affect the carbon target of the council.

  • 5. Green Projects

We demand the council investment only in green projects, we cannot continue with business as usual. The council has not been transparent with the public and it is time to be very clear about projects they are undertaking. The only way to meet environmental targets is to end all ventures that do not meet the carbon neutrality target.

  • 6. Listen to the Future

We demand the council listen to the future. We demand the council listen to the youth, the overwhelming evidence in science and the best interests of all future residents of Birmingham. Greenwashing is not the way to go and we will not tolerate being used as a political prop or photo opportunity any longer. We demand change, now.

Birmingham awaits your response.

 Launched May 2020

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Birmingham academy chain CEOs say Open the schools now – teachers and the BMA say no

Some of the ‘chief executives’ who run academy chains in Birmingham as semi-privatised businesses, not accountable to the local authority or to parents, want their schools fully open, contrary to what teachers say is safe Continue reading

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No return to unsafe schools – Open Letter to Birmingham Council

As parents, staff and members of the public in Birmingham we are very concerned by the Government’s announcement that schools should begin reopening from June 1st. Like the hundreds of thousands of parents who have signed the national petition against having to send their children back, we do not believe it is safe yet.

Continue reading

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For community and stakeholder participation in the Council’s Climate Emergency Task Force

One of the key themes of the Task Force is community engagement: as the Notes from the first Task Force meeting on 17 October 2019 say, working with citizens to enable them to shape what they think a sustainable future should look like’ and build collective agency for change’. The Notes include as one of its ‘Key discussion points and actions’:

Community and stakeholder engagement

  • Importance of genuine community engagement: ensuring we see the city as a community of communities; understanding the needs and drivers of communities of place, practice, and interest (including ‘at risk’ groups); working with citizens to enable them to shape what they think a sustainable future should look like.

This should comprise three processes:

  • Drawing on and sharing the knowledge and concerns of community members (including partners etc)
  • Enabling citizens to shape future policy
  • Working with communities to change practice

The sandpits are one site where these can take place, eg:

Transport – to bring forward ideas about how stakeholders across the city can work together and align our efforts to reduce emissions from transport in Birmingham and achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. (Climate Emergency – Report to Sustainability and Transport Scrutiny Committee 18 March 2020)

According to the Report ‘The outcomes of these [sandpit] sessions will help to shape the June report’. It is planned to hold a citizens’ assembly ‘in June/July, once the action plan has been developed’.

There is no mention in the Report of any further stakeholder engagement after the plan is published. But that opportunity is presumably necessary if the citizens’ assembly generates amendments and additions to the plan.

That absence indicates a more fundamental issue about the process of the development of the Council’s Climate Emergency response. It would be wrong to conceive of it as a two-stage process of an initial developmental stage culminating in the plan, followed by an implementation stage for the next 10 years until we achieve net zero carbon by 2030. On the contrary, it will inevitably be a continuing iterative process combining implementation, feedback from actions taken, continuing stakeholder engagement and consequent further development of policy and actions.

In the case of Transport, we need to see how the plan works in practice, drawing on the analyses of professionals and the feedback from citizens and communities of their experiences and their suggestions. Over the coming years we need to bring all those together on a regular basis, share them, and develop revisions and extensions of the plan in their light.

How will the Council and the Task Force manage this ongoing process? There are some existing Council policies to draw on. ‘Working Together in Birmingham’s Neighbourhoods’ is the city council’s policy for devolving more power to communities. It was launched in a White Paper in 2019, and in her foreword Cllr Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, says:

It is about how we can all work together to liberate the energy, creativity and innovation within our neighbourhoods and empower our communities to achieve their ambitions. (p4)

The White Paper says that it is a key principle that ‘The democracy of the city needs strong participation as well as elected representation’ (p7). The White Paper builds on an earlier document, ‘Citizen Engagement’ (2014), a Report of the Districts and Public Engagement Overview and Scrutiny Committee. In her introduction Cllr Lisa Trickett, the chair, wrote ‘We need to secure fundamental change in the way we behave and interact with communities and citizens in the city.’

These aims should be put into practice in relation to the Climate Emergency and the Task Force. The principle should be that the participatory activities of the Task Force are structurally linked to the governance bodies of the Council (and not solely through reports to full Council). On that basis there are five measures which Birmingham City Council should put into practice:

  1. The Sandpits, including of course the one on Transport, should continue to meet regularly, perhaps every two months.
  2. The Cabinet member for Transport and Environment should establish an Advisory Committee on Climate Change, meeting regularly, with representatives of the various stakeholders. Other councillors could also be involved. The Advisory Committee should work closely with the relevant sandpit. Similar Advisory Committees should be considered for other Cabinet portfolio areas, such as Housing.
  3. The Sustainability and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee should have a Climate Emergency item on each meeting agenda. It should invite citizens, including from the Sandpit and the Advisory Committee, to contribute to that item where appropriate.
  4. Regular Climate Emergency Forums should be held in each constitutency, with presentations of progress from the Council and the opportunity for citizens to speak and present suggestions and proposals.
  5. Ward Councillors and Ward Forums should be encouraged and supported to ensure that the Climate Emergency is a prominent issue on their agendas, with regular reports to the relevant Cabinet Member(s) and Scrutiny Committee(s).

While the lockdown is in place these five proposals should be put into practice as far as possible using online meetings.

RH 18 May 2020


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Public Meeting 6pm today – No Going Back Until It’s Safe

Image may contain: ‎possible text that says '‎NO GOING BACK UNTIL IT'S West Mids Coronavirus Action Group People Before Profit SAFE Speakers Include: Amanda Martin, NEU national president lan McKendrick, People Before Profit: Health Worker Covid Activists Obaida Ahmed, Labour Councillor, Wolverhampton Rizwana Sarwar, Parent Wednesday 13 May 6pm Zoom ID 850 9579 8343 Cna םo‎'‎

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by | May 13, 2020 · 2:38 pm

Ian Ward calls on Government to cancel Council debt to Loans Board

Cancel local authority debt to the Public Works Loans Board
An unprecedented crisis requires emergency measures. To stave off a collapse of council services the debt held by the Public Works Loans Board should be cancelled. This would give local authorities around £4.5 billion extra income a year. Continue reading

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Sunday Seminar Zoom Call: Defending Social Care – 10 May 2-3.30

Public · Hosted by West Midlands Labour Continue reading

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