· At our last meeting we all agreed that the November 30th strikes, the city centre demonstration and rally at the NIA had been very successful. Congratulations to all concerned! You can read our report from the day and see more photos here
· 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.
· We agreed to make a special free offer to Charles House parents for our upcoming social on December 15th. The updated flyer is attached. You will see that bar food will be available.
· Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 14th December, venue to be confirmed.
You can contact Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts by emailing
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).
Saturday 5th November 11am-1pm outside the library, Soho Road.
Help us gather signatures for our petition against library cutbacks.
We will also be leafleting for the BAtC Public Meeting on November 24th and in support of the planned strikes over pensions.
NB if you live in Handsworth Wood, Handsworth, Lozells or Winson Green please sign our petition and better still get others to do so. There is a copy here. Signed petitions need to be returned to the address shown by the weekend of December 3rd so they can be presented to the full council on December 6th.
For contact details and past posts from Handsworth Against the Cuts, see their page by clicking here
A packed emergency meeting of parents and supporters was held yesterday at Charles House. This is based in West Heath and provides respite care for disabled children, including such things as autism. It takes children from all parts of the city and provides expert, quality care.
The meeting was addressed by the Council official responsible for such provision, Eleanor Brazil (Director CYPF), who explained that “savings” (cuts) were behind the threat to this Council service. She said its occupancy rate was only 57% and that was similar to another home in the city. Foster care might be an alternative.
When it came to question time for parents, a host of heartfelt, angry and tearful comments were made. It was stressed time and time again that without the respite care being delivered by Charles House, parents would not be able to cope. It would lead to family breakdowns, which would then cost the state even more.
Most parents said that they had found it very difficult to get their children into the house for respite care; it was time consuming and bureaucratic. If it was made easier and more transparent, the take up rate would very quickly climb to 100%.
As regards to fostering care, one parent said that she had been turned down by eighteen potential foster parents because they didn’t have the skills needed to look after her child. At Charles House they do have those skills! Incidentally Birmngham City Council wants to cut at least 23 Fostering Social Workers currently based at Lifford House!
No, the whole proposal to close or merge Charles House is misconceived nonsense. It should be kept open in its own right with a full level of provision. In reply to the economic argument, the Council is spending £200 million this year in repayments to the banks, via the government. As it was the banks that caused the economic problems behind all of this in the first place, let them wait for their money! The Council has also spent £186 million on Capita. What is the Council getting for this, and is it more important than respite care for disabled children and parents?
There was huge support expressed for a campaign to save Charles House by the parents. Several Labour (current and potential) Councillors were there to offer support. And so were Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts, who pointed out the lessons of the Merrishaw closure and offered a few ideas on how to win this time.
The “consultation”period ends on 6th January 2012. There is now a large breathing space to build up such a campaign, that this vital resource will be left alone.
by Bob Whitehead and Chris Hughes
There will be a “Save Charles House” group meeting. Next Thursday at 10.30am, 10th November, At Charles House.
There are two petitions we would ask everyone to sign:
Those of you that use our local libraries will have noticed that we are are already suffering cuts in service here in Handsworth. We have already seen the loss of the library service that was based at Hawthorne House. Then earlier this year, we lost another day’s opening at Handsworth library on the Soho Road. Now users are experiencing further closures for example early closure or lunch-time closure. The reason given is staff shortages.
We know how hard our library staff work and that the cuts in library provision and job losses has made life even more difficult for them. We want to show support for our library service and ask the council to ensure that a full service can be maintained for local residents by stopping and reversing the cuts. Attached is a petition which we are launching on Saturday. We will be outside the library on the Soho Road from 11.00 – 1.00, Saturday 15th October. Please come and help us and pick up copies to take to friends and neighbours, or download and print the petition yourself, Our aim is to give the petition to local councilors.
We will discuss this at our next meeting on Thursday 27th October, 6.30pm Shaeed Udham Singh Centre (back room) 346 Soho Road. The main item will be a discussion of Birmingham’s youth unemployment led by Rick Hatcher who has recently written a pamphlet on this topic. We will also discuss how to build support for the November 30th pensions day of action
Sue Thomas, for Handsworth Against the Cuts