Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bah Humbug…

West Midlands Fire Service has already been told it will lose at least 15 per cent of its Government grant – £11.5 million – over the next two years, this period being the final two years of the Comprehensive Spending Review – the efficiency regime launched by the Government in 2010.

The West Midlands fared badly in the first two years of the Comprehensive Spending Review, losing £10.7 million, twice as much as smaller shire brigades and because of these austerity measures it has braced itself for a further cuts announcement when it receives details of its grant for the two years from next April to March 2015 which is due on Christmas Eve!

Fire authority chairman Coun John Edwards has warned that further cuts may lead to discussions about compulsory redundancies.

“The worst case scenario is if the cut we get is more than 15 per cent,” he said. “We would then be in a position where we would have to think about compulsory redundancies of uniformed staff, which would mean closing fire stations.”

The brigade has weathered the storm through a recruitment freeze, voluntary redundancies among office staff and tweaking its fleet by buying more brigade response vehicles – 4×4 vehicles for smaller fires.

Around 60 firefighters leave every year through ill health or retirement and are not currently being replaced.

Numbers are falling dramatically and it is felt that if the  freeze is still in place by the end of 2015 then there will be just 1,250 firefighters remaining.

Cuts of 15 per cent could be managed through natural wastage and dipping into reserves, but for every one per cent over that, the equivalent of 18 jobs will be lost. Sixteen per cent would be bad; 17 per cent would be tough, 18 per cent tougher still and 19 or 20 per cent would be a total nightmare.

West Midlands Fire Service has launched a consultation on the West Midlands Fire Service plan. They are asking their communities and partners to help gather views and preferences. To have your say please complete ‘The Consultation Questionnaire’, which is available to complete online together with access to the following documents-

  • Community Safety Strategy 2013-2016
  • The Community Safety Strategy Summary

This consultation is still seeking responses underway and although it is limited in the questions asked, you are able to complete with additional comments to help protect the services in your area. Ensure your voice is heard.

http://www.wmfs.net/content/consultation

Consultation ends on Friday 4th January 2013.

Whilst this consultation will be predominantly web based there is also the opportunity to download a printable version of the consultation questionnaire by clicking on the above link.

Further information regarding the Consultation and the questionnaire can be obtained by contacting communications@wmfs.net  or 01213806116.

 

Feedback from Ward Meeting

All councillors were in attendance at last night’s Ward Meeting, chaired by Cllr Bowles. The meeting discussed a variety of issues ranging from planning applications to the lack of cycle routes in Hall Green but the issues that appeared to generate the highest level of debate are outlined below:

An overview of the cuts being implemented by the current ConDem government to the West Midlands Fire Service and the impact of these cuts to the provision of services across the District was noted. Residents were encouraged to participate in the consultation process regarding these cuts either online at or by requesting a copy of the document from the local fire station by the 4th January 2013. http://www.wmfs.net/content/consultation

The meeting welcomed Sgt Chris Rigby who has taken over from Sgt Tom O’Keefe and who gave a brief report back regarding crime statistics.

Concerns were raised regarding the often dangerous parking outside our schools across the Ward. Cllr Smith reported that despite both herself and Paul Smith spending the last six weeks attempting to attend to the parking problems outside of Hall Green Junior School, these were ongoing. The parking enforcement team had been on site this week and had issued a high number of tickets and it was hoped this would deter this type of behaviour. Cllr Burden and Cllr Bowles agreed that irresponsible parking at this particular school and others across the Ward were putting children’s safety into question, and the main issues seemed to being experienced at St Ambrose Barlow; Lakey Lane; Chilcote and Robin Hood Schools. Sgt Rigby was aware of of these problems and asked that the worst affected schools were identified so that the neighbourhood team could prioritise them for action.

The issue of wheelie bins was raised and a discussion was held about the forthcoming consultation. The full details of the consultation process were as yet unknown but it was thought that this would be launched in the New Year.

Cllr Bowles reported that Birmingham Council had been successful in its bid and had been awarded £29 million from the ConDem coalition government under the Weekly Collection Support Scheme for household refuse. He stated that it was important to note that if the decision was made not to go ahead with the wheelie bin introduction, then this money would be taken back as it could not be used for any other purpose.

Cllr Bowles stated that personally he was neither for or against the idea of the introduction of wheelie bins, he did feel that it was very important that all residents who had a view engaged with the process and input into the consultation.

Cllr Smith made it very clear that she was personally vehemently against the idea of wheelie bins and despite not having details of how any such system would be implemented made suggestions that there would be charges made for cleaning, replacement and perhaps installation. It seems that this is a bit of a theme with Lib Dem Cllrs across the City adopting similar tactics in opposition. http://birminghamlibdems.org.uk/en/article/2012/634630/wheelie-bins-your-verdict-they-re-rubbish

Cllr Burden gave an overview as to the reasons behind the bid and how the introduction of wheelie bins impacted on the retention of weekly collections and the replacement of the fleet due to the financial pressures being experienced. He also noted that it would not be a one hat fits all approach and felt it unhelpful to speculate about how such a system would work until full details were known. He reiterated the need for residents to fully engage with the consultation process.

As an add on to this item, it was noted that the collection timetable over the festive period had now been published and the details were read out to the meeting.

Representatives from WeAreB28 were in attendance and reported that the information regarding collections was on the Forum website www.weareb28.co.uk for those with online access and there was also an option of completing an online survey with regard to wheelie bins for those with a view.

Proposals for Newey Goodman Park

Cllr Bowles has been progressing discussions in relation to improving the green open space at Newey Goodman Park.

An outline plan which was presented to the ward committee meeting in October is available below as well as a copy of the letter being sent to local residents, community groups and schools.

It was agreed that further community consultation in the Hall Green area would be carried out before completing the design work and deciding whether to proceed with construction.

If you would like to see a larger scale version of the drawing there are plans to be putting a plan/poster on the notice board and some questionnaires in the local library for more detailed information.

Cllr Bowles and James O’Sullivan, Senior Landscape Architect, would welcome your comments and observations on the proposals.

City Council Budget 2013/14 Consultation

The City Council has started a process of public consultation about the budget cuts for 2013/14. There are four public meetings which are listed on the poster below.

The City Council will put forward its views on next year’s budget at these meetings. It is very important that we encourage members of the public to attend including party members.

We will all have local views to be considered but we must also get the message across loud and clear that the Tory-led government should give Birmingham a fair deal. Why should Birmingham be hit harder by cuts than other parts of the country?

World Aids Day

Today is World Aids Day; a day when we unite in the fight against HIV, show our support for those living with HIV, and remember those who have died. Watch Ed Miliband’s message and find out more at http://bit.ly/QSHNTP

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