Tag Archives: 2011 Consultation Meetings

Open Letter about Council Consultation sham

Dear Sir/Madam

Can I severely object to the report on the Sutton Coldfield budget consultation meeting posted on the City Council website. The points made by several people at the meeting that the consultation was a fraud and the meeting would be recorded to avoid any serious criticism of the Council. These points have been confirmed by the report made of the meeting. I print below the report given on the website. The report is wrong on almost all respects. Two resolutions were put (listed below NOT “A resolution”). Since theofficials had copies of resolutions WHY weren’t resolutions listed on the website as part of the report? The report on voting on the resolutions is also inaccurate. Surely a school student could make a better effort in reporting the meeting!!

The first resolution was taken in parts the first part was passed with nearly all participants in the meeting voting with 3 against. The second part of the resolution was passed again with most of the meeting voting with 5 against.

Mostly obviously the second resolution is covered up in the report given it called for pay cuts for the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive Sephen Hughes who is on an obscene salary of £235,000 a year. Again WHY was the second resolution not published given it was passed unaminously? Were the Council officials worried that the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council would angry with them?

Report on the website:
A resolution was put against the cuts and in favour of reinstating cuts/staff salaries. Less than half of the meeting indicated, by a show of hands, that they were in favour.

Resolutions passed at the meeting.

Resolutions to the budget consultation meeting 3.11.11.

Resolution 1

This meeting opposes all the cuts Birmingham City Council is proposing in the 2012/13 Budget.
It further calls for the reinstatement of all the cuts in the 2011/12 budget in particular reversing the massive pay cuts (up to £5,000 a year) being imposed on many City Council workers.

Resolution 2

The official rhetoric on the cuts is that we are all in this together. In line with this establishment line it is agreed to support the following.
The percentage cut in the 2012/13 budget agreed by the Birmingham City Council will be the same percentage cut in Councillors allowances and pay of the Chief Executive and directors of the Council’s departments.
For example if the Council agrees a 10% cut in services for Birmingham people, the allowance of the Council leader and the pay of the Chief Executive will be cut by 10%.

I am also sending this complaint to the Birmingham Mail since they might not be so keen to COVER UP the details of this consultation meeting that you seemed to be committed to.

Stuart Richardson

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Scathing Attack on Library Cuts from Former Head of Libraries

John Dolan, the former head of Birmingham Libraries, attacked the council’s library cuts programme in a open letter published in the Birmingham Post.

The Birmingham Post sets out cuts planned for Birmingham Libraries.This comes out one day before the last Council public consultation meeting on its budget plans. There was no mention of libraries in list of cuts up for public consultation. In all the public papers the words ‘library’ or ‘libraries’ are not used anywhere.

This is actually about dismantling the service through the back door while pretending to fix the front door. Birmingham has already dismissed most of the senior and middle management.

You should read the whole letter – it was also published on Voices for the Library

It comprises a comprehensive analysis of the way in which Birmingham City Council is seeking to dismantle an important service for the community. Handsworth Library will not open on Fridays, and many other libraries are also restricting their opening hours – We have been told the Central Library will now close at 6pm each day, making it difficult for anyone who works to use the service.
Aside from lending books, audio books and often music and films, libraries also offer internet access, often in communities that have low access rates. For someone who is unemployed, having access to the internet is vital to help find work or training opportunities.

Handsworth Against the Cuts is already campaigning about library cuts in that area, so if you want to be involved with that, get in touch with them. If your local library is facing cuts and you want to fight that and the library cuts in general, let us know, or come to our next open planning meeting on Monday 12th December. (let us know you are coming so it gets on the agenda).

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Isle of White Cuts Ruled Unlawful due to Lack of Consultation

An attempt by the Isle of Wight to follow Birmingham’s lead in stripping disabled people of entitlement to social care has failed in the High Court. The Isle of Wight wanted to cut care and support for people assessed as having substantial care needs. In May this year Birmingham City Council’s attempt to withdraw support from thousands of people who had substantial care needs was ruled unlawful.

Birmingham City Council claims that they are currently consulting on next year’s budget which would involve further cuts of £62 million on top of the cuts already imposed in February this year. Birmingham Against the Cuts has been warning at meetings across the city that the council’s consultation is a sham and the Isle of Wight case should make sobering reading for the councillors and senior officers running Birmingham.

The Isle of Wight’s Tory Council plan clearly shows what lies in store for vulnerable people across the country. The intention was to restrict care to those who had critical needs and only support substantial needs where it would enable someone to “remain in their own home” or “remain safe”. What would not be supported would be “involvement in work, education and learning, social support systems and relationships and other social roles and responsibilities.”

Across the country vulnerable people face the prospect of being left with the most basic level of support. Keeping someone in their own home without any access to work, education or social activity will create prisoners in their own home. Birmingham Against the Cuts believes that all people are entitled to a decent, fulfilling life – not just an existence.

The High Court rejected the Isle of Wight’s attempt to ‘downgrade’ certain needs to being less important that being housed and kept safe. Government guidance issued in February 2010 was upheld requiring the Council to treat all such needs as being important. However local and national government will keep trying to find ways of reducing the support and reducing the life chances of those in need.

In Birmingham it is reported that plans are being made by the Tory/Lib Dem Council to close Shelforce, a longstanding manufacturer of PVC doors and windows employing people with a range of disabilities. The Council admits that the workforce of about 90, who make 25,000 doors and windows every year, face the greatest possible barriers to mainstream employment. Closing Shelforce will deny the staff the opportunity of employment and social engagement.

In the Isle of Wight case the Council was criticised at some length by the Court for failing to properly consult on the impact their cuts would have on disabled people. In particular the Court said there was not enough information for the public to make an intelligent judgment of the cuts. There was a failure to provide information about how many people would be affected and how much money would be saved. There was no evidence based information in the consultation and no detail of how people who lost their care and support would be affected.

This is likely to sound familiar to anyone who has been a part of the current consultation on cuts by Birmingham City Council. Sadly we cannot assume that the High Court will be there to throw out every half-baked and half-hearted consultation. Sham consultations waste money – the money wasted on a meaningless consultation which is more about hiding the truth that being honest. In addition if the Council lose in Court yet more money is thrown away in legal fees. We call upon Birmingham City Council to start telling the public the truth about its cuts agenda and listen to the majority of people who oppose their cuts.

Bryan Nott

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Report from Kings Heath council consultation budget meeting

Birmingham City Council held a consultation meeting last night in Kings Heath, which was attended by many members of the public, who expressed opposition to the council cuts. Two of our supporters were in attendance and have said this about the meeting:

Dave Stamp:

Just a brief report from a very angry Budget Consultation meeting in Kings Heath, where a packed community centre overwhelmingly passed resolutions opposing all cuts to services , and calling for cuts to executives’ pay equivalent to the “savings” rates proposed in the document.
Astonishingly, the entirely partial presenting officer (Burrows?) took a transparently partisan Tory stance on deficit reduction, and insultingly responded to the call for executives’ pay to be cut by observing that the Counciil’s work was so important, and so beyond the comprehension of mere mortals that it’s essential to pay the highest rates possible to ensure that the most special and wise individuals imaginable will apply for vacancies.
I’m still left with the mental image of the pigs gorging themselves on apples and milk while the rest of the creatures on Orwell’s farm starve.

Aidan Harris:

Along with demands to know the audience’s political affiliations, misinformation about cuts to children’s centres and a disingenuous statement about not raising eligibility criteria for adult social services (not acknowledging that they had been forced to backtrack by a judicial review). A complete whitewash.

Council budget meetings continue, make sure you attend one near you and get resolutions passed against the cuts. You can look at reports from Sutton Coldfield and Longbridge meetings, or the Kings Heath meeting callout for examples of resolutions.
A list of meetings is in this post.

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Cuts “Consultation” Meeting in Longbridge

Another so-called consultation meeting was held today in Longbridge, for local people to consult on the council’s proposed budget.

The council officer told those in attendance that Birmingham City Council had already decided they need to make £65 million worth of cuts but wanted local people to help them decide which bits they should cut and which bits they should save.

No one from the public supported the platform and many of those in attendance were service users and carers. There was also a sizeable turnout from the Labour Party and Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts and some UNISON members.

Parents from Charles House, a service which offers respite care for disabled children, told the meeting that getting respite care meant the difference between families staying together or their children having to go into care. Most of the parents had to fight an average of 5 years to get a place yet the council have accused the capacity service of being under-used. One of the parents had 18 rejections from foster carers who didn’t have the skills to support their child safely yet the council wants to close Charles House and provide parents with respite from foster carers instead.

A number of local people involved in or supported by services funded by “supporting people” pointed out that the savings made by providing preventative services far outway the short term gain of cutting those services.

Questions were raised by Richard Burden MP as to why councillors were not prepared to be politically accountable and why they wouldn’t question the budgets handed to them by central government, as well as on academies, connexions and putting finance before the rights of children. Councillor Ian Cruise raised the issue of some children’s centres having 20% cuts locked into their budgets for next year.

People also raised the question of how much has been spent on consultants. None of the questions raised were answered, but many individuals were offered private one to ones after the meeting and vague promises of how concerns would be followed up.

Despite resistance from the supposedly independent chair Chris Khamis, who wanted feedback to be taken in focus groups and selectively recorded by scribes, the meeting was able to pass two motions which were both carried with a few abstentions and none against.

Motion 1
This meeting rejects these £65 million of cuts as politically motivated and non-acceptable.

Motion 2
This meeting opposes all the cuts Birmingham City Council is proposing for the 2012/13 budget as politically motivated. We further call for the reinstatement of all jobs and services cut as part of the 2011/12 budget in particular the allowances removed as part of the new contract, which savagely cut the pay of some of the lowest payed council staff.

Report from Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts. Kings Heath and Moseley against the Cuts will be attending the consultation meeting on Wednesday in Kings Heath, and would love you to join them. There are also further meetings around the city – do get along to one to oppose these cuts.

See also a report from B31 Blog with more quotes and information from the meeting

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Report from Sutton Coldfield Budget Consultation Meeting

A report on the City Council budget consultation meeting last night
at the United Reform Church Sutton Coldfield. There are more meetings coming up around Birmingham which we would encourage people to attend

The meeting started with a presentation by a council official on the programme of cuts the Council is proposing over the next four years. There was a number of responses from the audience.

1. Since these proposals were political why was there no presence of local Councillors from Sutton Coldfield and Erdington. One local resident said it was a disgrace the local Tory MP and government minister was not present to justify these massive attacks on vulnerable people.
2. Others disputed statements in the Council budget document which says in part “our top services priorities are as follows: …helping people into work” A Unison member stated this was a desperate misrepresentation given that Connexion workers (whose job is to help young people into jobs) were being cut from 350 to 70 employees. Cutbacks for people with disabilities were also condemned.
3. Others stated that the whole procedure of taking down peoples comments was a fraud and the meeting should consider collective statements in the form of motions to the meeting. This was agreed after much resistance from the supposed “independent” chair.

The meeting voted to reject all the Council Cuts and proposed that if the Councillors and the Chief Executive approve 10% cuts then the Chief Executive’s pay and the Councillors allowances would be cut by the same amount. Out of a meeting of 40 only 3 people voted against the first part of resolution one and 5/6 against the second part with a small number of abstentions in each case. The second resolution was passed unanimously

The resolutions are listed below

Resolutions to the budget consultation meeting 2.11.11.

Resolution 1

This meeting opposes all the cuts Birmingham City Council is proposing in the 2012/13 Budget.

It further calls for the reinstatement of all the cuts in the 2011/12 budget in particular reversing the massive pay cuts (up to £5,000 a year) being imposed on many City Council workers.

Resolution 2

The official rhetoric on the cuts is that we are all in this together. In line with this establishment line it is agreed to support the following.

The percentage cut in the 2012/13 budget agreed by the Birmingham City Council will be the same percentage cut in Councillors allowances and pay of the Chief Executive and directors of the Council’s departments.

For example if the Council agrees a 10% cut in services for Birmingham people, the allowance of the Council leader and the pay of the Chief Executive will be cut by 10%.

An announcement was also made about a Birmingham Against the Cuts public meeting at 7 pm Thursday 24th November Council House with Christine Blower General Secretary of NUT and Joe Morgan Regional Secretary of GMB as well as other speakers.

Report from Stuart Richardson

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