This goes to show that a good campaign can succeed, even when it seems to have failed. We are also proud to have actively supported this campaign, and helped to save a great service for parents and children of West Heath
Tag Archives: B31
Wednesday 27th June. 7.30pm Cotteridge Church Centre.
Communities Against the Cuts meeting, with a speaker talking about Labour’s plans for Birmingham following the local elections where Labour took control of Birmingham City Council, and to look in detail at what the response should be.
There is the commitment to give wage rises for several thousand Council employees and the right to ask a question at full Council meetings. But there is also the decision to hold the District committees (renamed from Constituency Committees) in the Council House at 10am in the morning. So much for devolution!
Communities against the Cuts stood candidates in the recent local elections who promised to vote against public service cuts if elected.
They will also be discussing our work against academies and benefit cuts.
The rally, demonstrating against cuts in the wards concerned and to raise the profile of their candidates, meets at 5:30pm outside Kings Norton Leisure Centre, where speakers will talk about the effect of cuts on local services, before proceeding along the Pershore Road to the Cotteridge Neighbourhood Office, where Stirchley and Cotteridge Against The Cuts began their campaign, and then to the Stirchley Community School to hear about the privatisation of our education services.
The march will finish opposite Stirchley Library, at the group’s campaign offices.
After the rally, they will go across the road to the British Oak for a social event with music and comedy from No More Numbers, The Inebriati and Barbara Nice.
The social event begins at 7:30pm and you are welcome to come to that whether you can make the rally or not. Entrance to the event is £5 / £3 concessions.
The group has formed out of Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts, following their multiple successes in the area over the past year to prevent the closure of vital services.
Amongst Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts’ successful high profile campaigns have been:
- Reversing a decision to close Charles House and other respite care homes for disabled children and their families in Kings Norton.
- Preventing Bournville Secondary school moving to academy status linking in with ‘Hands off Bournville School’
- The re-opening of Merrishaw Nursery in West Heath.
Communities Against The Cuts are a local party that offer an alternative for those who feel that the ConDem government and opposition parties do not represent them.
As you can see from their home-made shopfront, they are not a party of millionnaires and don’t have kitchen suppers with wealthy donors.
What they do have is a passion for our communities, belief in a better alternative to austerity, and a willingness to take action and do something about it.
Chris Hughes, candidate for Kings Norton said:
Birmingham City Council has been all too eager to impose vicious cuts on the most vulnerable people in our communities, instead of going back to its pay masters and saying, the people who are hurting because of these cuts are not the ones who created this financial crisis and should not be the ones made to pay the price.
What the Council should be demanding from Government is that all austerity measures are reversed and a growth plan implemented with the introduction of an alternative budget, which includes a bankers tax, scraping of trident and withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan, and investing in green jobs, housing, schools and a future for our youth
If you want to get involved with the election campaign, and help to get committed grass roots candidates to fight for local services in the council chambers, then pop into their shop office and have a chat – whether you have 5 minutes or an hour to spare, there will be something you can do.
So, Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts turned up on Thursday evening to let the staff, library users and local people know that there are people around who do not think that nothing can be done to stop such “cultural vandalism” (to use Councillor Dawkin’s description of the decision to move the Bournville School of Art out of Bournville).
As usual, people were keen to sign the petition and passing motorists were keen to honk in support.
Then, lo and behold, who should turn up but Councillor Dawkins himself! He announced that the decision to close it for an extra day was his, and that he had done it to the library in order to save it! Now, there is not much you can say to chop-logic like that, but, put it this way, there was an exchange of views. He was then at pains to say that with coming investment it would re-open for five days several years into the future. Jam tomorrow, eh!
But he did not seem too keen to talk about other massive cuts imposed on the people of Birmingham by his ConDem coalition. That it seems, was nothing to do with him.
It is about time that there was an effective challenge to the Bournville Tory Councillors at the ballot box as well as on the streets. That is something that Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts has considered most attentively in recent months
1) Protest outside Kings Norton Library. (against cutting opening hours from 5 days to 4) Meet at 5pm, Thursday March 8th. Pershore Road South (near the Green).
We will go on to the ward committee at 7pm.
2) Protest at Ward Committee of Bartley Green about closure of Millmeads Childrens home. (details later)
3) Protest outside Northfield Sports and Leisure Centre over its proposed privatisation. Saturday 10th March. 11am outside the baths.
4) Protest outside Stirchley Library 15th March.
5) Weoley Castle Circle protest over Millmeads. Sat 17th March
We will update this post as full details of some of the activities are finalised, but please note the dates in your diaries now. You can get involved with this group by emailing them at StirchleyAntiCuts@Gmail.com, or by turning up to one of their events.
A significant number of comments, representations and consultation responses were received with regard to the provision of respite services to those young people, such as attending Charles House, indicating the value and importance of the service to their well-being, personal development and families.
The commitment shown by parents, staff and young people as expressed at the Northfield Ward Committee Meeting and at the meeting, as you detail in your question, was an important factor in the consideration of the future for Charles House.
I can therefore confirm that Charles House will continue to be a vital component in the overall provision of respite services. Already changes to the process by which places are provided have occurred, staffing profiles assessed, to enable improvements in the access to and provision of placements.
Therefore Charles House, which has on three separate occasions been judged by OfSTED as outstanding, will continue to provide high quality respite care for young people together with supporting their families underpinned by staff who are highly respected.
There is not much wriggle room in that. So, congratulations to the staff and children of Charles House, their parents who campaigned so effectively and to everyone else who lent their active support. The latter includes a few Labour Councillors in the South West of the City and our own Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts group. (SACAC)
This victory was achieved by high-profile, effective and militant campaigning, led by the parents themselves. It was all organised at regular mass parent meetings; they planned the press campaigning, the lobbying, the letters to be written and the relevant meetings to be attended. These meetings also invited in Council officials such as Eleanor Brazil, legal experts and Les Lawrence himself. Some Labour Councillors turned up at times of their own volition, others had to be dragged. SACAC members were proud to have been invited in for every meeting, to give support and advice on campaigning strategy.
But it was SACAC that pioneered the two most public demonstrations, a street corner Saturday morning stall in Cotteridge on Saturday 5th November and on the Kings Norton Green on Saturday 10th December. This latter event was preceded by parents, children and SACAC members filling up Councillor Steve Bedser’s surgery to bursting point and winning Steve’s active support for Charles House. At both stalls the public support received was overwhelming.
It was also SACAC that accompanied the parents to a memorable Northfield Ward Committee meeting on Monday 21st November. To say that the campaign made its point forcibly would be an understatement. It was probably the turning point – as acknowledged in the letter above. Councillor Lawrence was reminded in no uncertain terms of the promise he had made to keep Merrishaw Community Day Nursery open, only for the shutters to go up soon after. When we all trooped out having made our point, Cllr Lawrence followed, and spoke to us in a very different tone of voice. It was probably at this point that it was realised a big mistake had been made.
So, the articles in the press, the coverage in the B31 blog, the lobbying of Councillors, the street demonstrations, the letters written and the solidarity achieved by keeping all parents together, plus the support of the local anti-cuts group, made a victory possible.
We, of course, hope that the survival of Charles House is not at the expense of any other such house or Council services. But if anywhere else does feel threatened, the service users concerned can take a leaf out of the Charles House parents’ campaign to see how to defend themselves.
If and when the Council cutters come for any other vital services in this part of the city, be rest assured that SACAC will be there once more. And while we think about it, is it not time to consider re-opening Merrishaw Community Day nursery?
Report from Bob Whitehead of Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts
Councillor Andy Cartwright will submit the petition to the council meeting on behalf of the campaign and it would be great for people to be there when it happens.
The meeting runs from 2pm-8pm tomoroow (Tues 6th December). The parents campaign have a facebook group and if you want to get involved with the campaign either ask to join the group, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
B31 Voices has been following the campaign closely and has organised the petition. You can read more about Charles House and find parents’ testimonies of the service there.
In addition to Charles House, 4 other homes face closure. Cambourne House in Aston has a parents campaign, if you use the service or want to help them, email us at BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com and we’ll put you in contact. If you are a parent or staff member at one of the other homes, we would encourage you to put together a campaign. With enough pressure we can make the council reconsider their plans entirely. We can help you to advertise the campaign and support you with ideas and experience.
· We were very pleased to have two parents from Charles House at our last meeting. They have a pledge from Councillor Les Lawrence that he will attend to meet parents next Friday at 12.30pm. The press will most likely be there. The next day, 10th December, there will be a street stall on Kings Norton Green, meet at 10.30am, where they also plan to visit the local Councillor’s surgery.
· We had a first discussion about the problem of having three pro-cuts council candidates in Bournville and other local wards at the May elections. A representative from the Green Party attended and confirmed the offer of a no-cuts collaborative approach. Various views were put forward on this and it was agreed to re-discuss the issue at our next meeting and come to a decision. Despite being invited, a representative from the Labour Party did not attend.
· Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 14th December, venue to be confirmed.
You can contact Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts by emailing
We will continue trying to unite workplace/union struggles with local public service and community issues; unity of service providers and consumers in struggle is the best way to end divisions fostered by the government, and is also the best way to win. Our current focus is ensuring that Charles House stays open, but when any further union action comes up in future, we will be there as well.