Cllr Ian Cruise dispels Tory myths on “closures”

On Tuesday 4th March Birmingham City Council held its annual budget meeting.  This years budget, like the 3 previous held since a Tory-led Government came to power, was delivered in the face of more savage cuts to Local Government funding.

Below I have clarified the financial situation of Birmingham since May 2010;

1: Birmingham only receives 9% of its annual income from Council Tax.

2: Birmingham receives its other funding through various grants from Central Government.  The total budget for Birmingham in 2013/14 is £2.9bn

3: Two-thirds of the Government grants are ringfenced meaning the Council can’t touch them and they must go to the spending area they’re designated for.

4: The one-third left is what is known as the controllable budget.  Since May 2010, following severe Government cuts, Birmingham City Council has had to shave £500+ million of its controllabe budget.  If the Tories remain in Government after 2015, this will rise to £800m.

So there is the real context of the financial challenge Birmingham City Council faces.  Unfortunately, reality hasn’t bitten the Birmingham Tories who proposed a budget amendment that was dragged from the land of make believe and drafted a pretty dire leaflet to accompany it.  The Tories in Northfield constituency have been spreading a lot of myths, rumours and untruths in the last few days.  Below are a number of facts that refute them; 

Fact 1:  Frankley Library will not close. We are looking at ways of retaining the current levels of service following a public meeting attended by 96 residents.  And there will still be library services in all 4 Wards in Northfield District.

Fact 2:  There will continue to be a swimming pool in Northfield.  Labour is investing £6m in a brand new facility.

 Fact 3:  The new LED street lights are still brighter when dimmed than the old street lights.  There has been no impact on crime figures in Longbridge when the lights have been dimmed.  NB. The Tories dimmed the lights when they ran Birmingham.

Fact 4:  The new play area in Cofton Park is not closing.  The play area was opened last summer and will stay open.

Fact 5:  The Park Ranger service is remaining in place.  They will continue to provide and excellent service and work with all of our green spaces voluntary groups.

Fact 6:  The resources for repairing potholes are already included in the council’s PFI contract with Amey.

Fact 7: Council tax is increasing below inflation by just 1.99%, and only after a comprehensive public consultation exercise.  The residents of Longbridge undersatnd Birmingham City Council is the victim of savage Government cuts and want to contribute to services.

Fact 8:  The Tories would have you believe free green waste collections had been around forever.  Actually they were introduced in 2007.  This is when the previous Labour Government gave a very generous grant to Birmingham.  When the Tory Government cuts started in 2010 the service became financially unviable.  The Tory Administration propped up the service by using money designed to bring areas of deprivation out of poverty and to help people gain the skills for work.

So there you have it.  Facts.  Not rumours.  Not untruths.  Not myths. Just Facts.    

 

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Fair Deal for Brum

From the Birmingham Labour site:

Birmingham has been short-changed by this government – which has slashed the cash used to fund our local council services.

This government has starved Birmingham of cash, whilst looking after the leafy Tory voting areas in the south. There is one rule for Birmingham and a different rule for the affluent south. We are not ‘all in it together’.

Every man, woman, and child in Birmingham has had £168 each taken from the money given by the government in grants to provide our services. In prosperous Wokingham in Berkshire they lost just £19. That can’t be fair.

To sign up and join the fight for a Fair Deal for Brum, visit the Birmingham Labour web site

Nothing Changes with the Tories

For months we have neither seen nor heard from a Tory in Longbridge – though this is not a bad thing.  But it seems they have come out of the woodwork to join in the City wide Tory protest about the phased introduction of wheeled bins.  Interestingly at ward committee this week, members of Frankley Parish Council & Street Champions were in attendance and welcomed the wheeled bins roll out.  So there’s the representatives of 3500 households in Frankley on side.   The Tories have a fixation with black bags strewn all over the street, attracting rats and foxes.   Birmingham has been behind the curve for too long on refuse and thanks to a bid put in to Government by the City’s Labour Administration, the wheeled bins won’t cost the council tax payers of Birmingham any extra.

North Worcestershire Golf Course

Yet again the Longbridge Tories are putting out their usual drivel and untruths about houses being built on North Worcestershire Golf Course.  This all stems from the Birmingham Development Plan.  The Tories have said that it is the Labour Administration that wishes to build homes on the Golf Course.  This is of course far from true for the following reasons:

1: The Birmingham Development Plan is a statutory document the Tory (The same Tories who have said Labour wants to build homes on the Golf Course) Government have told Birmingham City Council it must have in place by April 2013 and is drawn up by officers under the guidance of the planning inspectorate.

2: The Tory Government have told Birmingham City Council where possible, all green open space and green belt in Birmingham must be identified in the document as potential housing land.

Your Labour team in Longbridge met with Planning and Regeneration Officers to put the case forward for the removal of the Golf Course from the Birmingham Development Plan.  Andy Cartwright put over the concerns of the residents.  Ian Cruise followed up by informing Planning and Regeneration that any further house building in that part of Longbridge would have huge impact on local transport routes and schools.

The issue was discussed at Northfield District Committee on January 25.  Ian Cruise reminded the committee of the meeting with planning and regeneration and the reasons for omitting the Golf Course.  So there you have it.  A proactive Longbridge Labour team working for their residents, compared to the Tories who haven’t been seen or heard of for 9 months.  If you want the facts, ask your Labour MP Richard Burden or your Labour Councillors, Ian Cruise, Andy Cartwright & Jess Phillips

Longbridge Labour councillor becomes Victim’s Champion

We’re proud of our Longbridge Labour Councillor Jess Phillips, taking on this new role to champion victims of crime and anti-social behaviour in Birmingham.

From B31 Voices: 

Longbridge Councillor Jess Phillips has today been announced as the city’s first Victim’s Champion.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore announced the new role aimed at ensuring that citizens affected by crime and anti-social behaviour have their interests represented.

Working on a cross-agency basis, Cllr Phillips is being tasked with ensuring that the police, courts and probation services meet the needs of victims. Her role will also see her seek to hold the new Police and Crime Commissioner, to account once elected in November.

Before then, she will serve on the shadow crime panel for the region, ahead of the election.

Cllr Phillips has a wealth of experience of working with victims through her position as a manager of Sandwell Women’s Aid – a charity working with child and adult victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking.

Before being elected as Longbridge ward councillor back in May, Jess became a community activist after the residents on her street in Kings Heath became the targets of a series of frightening arson attacks.

Over a month in 2010, several cars were torched outside their homes and people were fearful for their properties and their families.

Cllr Phillips said: “I thought at the time people needed to be informed so I organised a series of meetings with the local police and councillors and made sure that if people had questions they knew where to come for support and answers.

“I saw first hand how important it is for scared victims to have a strong voice and how difficult it is for people to understand the criminal justice process, especially when it takes time and can be disappointing.”

As Victims’ Champion, her overarching aim is to work with all organisations supporting victims of crime, helping to ensure better co-ordination of services and improved publicity and access, so victims find it easier to get the help they need, when they need it.

Cllr Phillips added: “There are some very specialist and valuable organisations supporting victims in Birmingham – they play a critical role in providing help and support to victims of crime and also advocating for their needs.

“Their work is complemented by many smaller, grass roots organisations operating a local level. As Victims’ Champion, my overarching aim is to work with all organisations supporting victims of crime, helping to ensure better co-ordination of services and improved publicity and access, so victims find it easier to get the help they need, when they need it.

“No-one should have to suffer from crime and anti-social behaviour but if they unfortunately do, that pain should not be compounded by poor services from key agencies. I will do my best to ensure victims’ interests come first here in Birmingham.”

A pledge has also been made that the Victims’ Champion will host a round table event involving all agencies with an interest in services for victims and that a Victims’ Rights Charter will be established.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The rights and needs of victims of crime are at the forefront of our approach to tackling crime.

“As our first-ever Victims’ Champion, I am sure Jess will provide an extremely strong voice on this issue and represent Birmingham in a way that will benefit all in the city.”

Mullaney talks rubbish (as usual)

I’ve just finished reading this weeks Birmingham Post.  In the paper, there is an article from ex Cllr Martin Mullaney (why an earth the Post wants him to write a column is beyond me).  He attacks the new Labour Administration for cutting the number of cabinet posts – including his old post of Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport & Culture.  I spent a short period of the last municipal year as Labour’s Lead on the portfolio’s Scrutiny Committee.  During that time I honestly wondered what Mullaney was doing to earn his Special Responsibility Allowance.  Most of the Leisure element of his portfolio had been devolved.  He now states that Sir Albert Bore is wrong to scrap his old post and it will impact on Sport & Culture in the City.  How wrong can a man be?  Labour has broken down the silo mentality that existed between departments which will allow Cabinet Members and Officers to work across the old boundaries to deliver efficient services, advertise Birmingham’s strengths and for the first time in 8 years, sell Birmingham as the highly cultural and diverse city it is.

If Martin is still unsure of how we are delivering his old portfolio, he should read the press release below:

 

Contact: Labour Group Office

Labour_Secretariat@birmingham.gov.uk Tel: 0121 303 2039 Fax: 0121 303 2787

 

For immediate use

18 May 2012

Arts, Culture and Sports Summit called by new Labour leadership

Arts, Culture and Sports will take centre stage in Birmingham Labour’s City Council agenda with the calling of an Arts, Culture and Sports Summit.

The Summit will bring together arts and sporting organisations across the city. Its remit will be to see how the City Council and its partners can encourage the development of arts, culture and sport in Birmingham. The Summit will also be asked to examine how the leisure sector can be an attraction for inward investment and the creation of jobs and career opportunities.

Labour in Birmingham believe arts, culture and sport are critical factors for the city’s future economic and social success. Sir Albert Bore, Leader elect of the City Council will take personal responsibility for the strategic direction. Deputy Leader elect Ian Ward will oversee the city’s arts, culture and sport budget, with the Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Contracting & Improvement Stewart Stacey ensuring that the city’s arts and sport budget is effectively used by organisations receiving grants for the City Council.

The City Council’s radical devolution plan will also ensure that many decisions about arts and sports funding are made at a local level, in District Committees.

Sir Albert Bore commented, “Over the last few years the steam has run out of the City Council’s commitment to arts, culture and sports. We are not making the best of the many opportunities inherited from the past. For example we have not one major international sporting event planned for the City in the years beyond 2012. We need to start working now to attract visitors and create jobs.

“We know there has been growing frustration amongst those who value arts and sports across the City. Our Summit will give them an opportunity to advise the City Council on how we can reinvigorate the cultural and sporting life of the city.

“Labour has created a unique structure where three members of the Cabinet have arts and sports promotion as part of their portfolios, and with District Committees given the opportunity to develop arts and sports as they see fit for their local communities. This is a new era and we want to work in partnership with those who have knowledge and expertise in these fields”, he added.

Gove’s forced academies will ruin education

Earlier this week I was approached by my new Labour colleague from Kings Norton Ward Valerie Seabright after she attended a meeting at Colmers Junior School.  Val attended the meeting in her capacity as the Vice Chair of Governors at Colmers Infant School.  The meeting was called as the Junior School has been contacted by the Department of Education recently informing the School of the Department’s intention to force them to Academy status.  This is not the first instance of this happening.

The bullying tactics used by the DofE is nothing short of shameful.  The DofE representatives have threatened the Board of Governors with their removal if they do not agree to proceed to Academy status.  The Local Authority under the previous Tory administration stated they were against forced Academies but did NOTHING.  Michael Gove has said Schools are not being forced and they will be judged on a School by School basis.  If that’s the case, why have Schools already been forced into academy status?

In June of 2011 Gove altered what is known as the floor standards.  This is the level Schools had to achieve to not be deemed as failing.  By moving the floor standards, Gove has put more Schools into the failing school category.  He has moved the goalposts for ideological purposes.  Gove has made it clear he wants all Schools to be Academies or Free Schools.

It is my role as a Local Councillor, with Cllr Jess Phillips & Cllr Andy Cartwright, to support Colmers Junior School and deflect the bullying mentality of the DofE representitives, who insist on forcing through Academy status at the earliest opportunity.

Jess Phillips – Future Candidates Programme

Our very own candidate Jess Phillips is the face of the Labour Party’s Future Candidates Programme 2012!

Visit www.labour.org.uk/nextgeneration for more information on the programme.

“Jess Phillips – the Movie”

Longbridge candidate Jess Phillips visited the MG plant on Monday, along with Northfield MP Richard Burden, Liam Byrne MP, Cllr Andy Cartwright and local party activists. Here, Jess chats to Richard about what MG means to her and (nervously) takes a spin in the new MG6! Don’t think Jason Plato has much to worry about from you, Jess…..! 🙂

An Elected Mayor for Birmingham?

On Sunday, the Yes to a Birmingham Mayor Campaign hosted the Big Brum Debate at Birmingham Town Hall.

If you missed it, the first part of the debate is viewable here, with Longbridge Labour councillor Ian Cruise taking part.

A second panel of prospective mayoral candidates included leader of the Labour Group in Birmingham Albert Bore, Labour MP for Hodge Hill Liam Byrne and former Labour MP Sion Simon. You can watch that part of the debate here: http://vimeo.com/40469631

Have you decided yet?!

Longbridge Labour Fundraising Social

Join us for our next fundraising social for the 2012 local election campaign from 7.30pm on Friday 30th March.

We’ll be having a fish and chip buffet supper at the Great Park pub, Ashbrook Drive, Great Park, Rubery Rednal B45 9FP

Price: Adults £11 per head Children £6 per head (Payable by cash on the night)

There will also be a fundraising raffle and donation of raffle prizes would be greatly appreciated.

To confirm your place, please email Justina Rambini-Cruise on justina7@sky.com by 22nd March 2012 

See you there!