Monthly Archives: July 2013

Roger’s Postcard from Parliament – May/June 2013

Our MP, Roger Godsiff, produces a monthly update on his activities in Parliament. You can read his latest Postcard from Parliament below.

Your services under threat thanks to the coalition government

eric pickles

We all take many things for granted and some of those things are often the services provided by our council. So when our bins aren’t emptied because of the bad weather – we notice. When our roads need repairing – we notice.

But there are lots of other services that we pay little attention to, things that just happen. Our streets are cleaned, services are provided for children and young people, we have libraries, community centres, schools and advice services. Pavements are repaired, parks are maintained, trees are pruned…the list is endless.

But all these services are now under threat as a result of the huge cuts to the grant that Birmingham gets from central government.

Media reports quoting Sir Albert Bore with his ‘jaws of doom’ and his prediction that ‘this will be an end to local government as we know it’  did so mockingly. But these words reflected the perilous position we are currently in.

The Labour Administration took over the running of the council just over a year ago following  9 years of disastrous management by the Tory and Lib Dem council leadership. Despite the very good work undertaken by the Labour administration to balance the books against huge funding reductions and the need for efficiency savings, they are still facing an uphill battle. This difficulty compounded further with Birmingham being short changed by £79m from central government. This reduction in funding brings with it huge problems to those with responsibility to oversee services in a city of Birmingham’s size.

Parliament’s Public Affairs Select Committee have recognised this very real and serious situation and have recently undertaken a review of the financial sustainability of local authorities. The results have sent alarm bells ringing.

Margaret Hodge MP — Chair of the Committee says:

“Central government is cutting funding to local authorities by more than a quarter over four years but does not properly understand what the overall impact will be on local services…Local authorities are tending to cope with funding reductions. But in the long term there might well be little room for further efficiency gains and services would have to be cut. There needs to be frank and open dialogue between central and local government and the public on just what services councils will be expected to provide in a prolonged period of declining funding.”

But it is likely that Pickles, Cameron and Osborne will take no heed of these warnings…

We need to stand together and demand that Birmingham gets a fair deal from the ConDem government. Together we are stronger and our voice is louder. Please support the Labour Party in Hall Green and in Birmingham and remember who are the real villains in this.

Climate change – 30 mths until the critical Paris summit

Climate Change is the most important issue affecting our world and our time to do something about it is rapidly running out.  That’s the message that we must all take on board.
Nations across the world are seeing the impact of climate change in vastly different ways. In the UK that has meant uncertain weather patterns, too much rain and not enough sunshine. In Bangladesh its far more serious where rising sea levels are resulting in large areas of  land being flooded by the sea. Saltwater makes the land useless for agriculture and creates impossible living conditions in an already crowded and poor country.
The UK under Labour lead the world on climate change in Government.  We must continue to to put climate change at the top of the political agenda.
I have copied an e-mail I received from Avaaz below because it sets out the position so clearly.
Cllr Sam Burden
 
Scientist Julienne Stroeve has studied Arctic ice for decades. Every summer she travels to north to measure how much ice has melted. She knows that climate change is melting the ice fast, but on her last trip, she couldn’t believe what she saw. Vast areas of Arctic ice have disappeared, beyond our worst expectations.
This is what the experts warned us about. As the earth warms, it creates many “tipping points” that accelerate the warming out of control. Warming thaws the Arctic sea ice, destroying the giant white ‘mirror’ that reflects heat back into space, which massively heats up the ocean, and melts more ice, and so on. We spin out of control. Already this year — storms, temperatures — everything is off the charts.

We CAN stop this, if we act very fast, and all together. And out of this extinction nightmare, we can pull one of the most inspiring futures for our children and grandchildren. A clean, green future in balance with the earth that gave birth to us.

We have 30 months until the Paris Summit, the meeting that world leaders have decided will determine the fate of our efforts to fight climate change. It might seem like a long time – it’s not. We have 30 months to get the right leaders in power, get them to that meeting, give them a plan, and hold them accountable. And it’s us vs. the oil companies, and fatalism. We can win, we must, but we need to blast out of the starting gate with 40,000 pledges of support — we’ll only process the donations if we hit our goal. For the world we dream of, let’s make it happen:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/30_months_mo/?bTMcccb&v=26082

Fatalism on climate change is not just futile, it’s also incompetent. The hour is late, but it is still absolutely within our power to stop this catastrophe, simply by shifting our economies from oil and coal to other sources of power. And doing so will bring the world together like never before, in a deep commitment and cooperation to protect our planetary home. It’s a beautiful possibility, and the kind of future Avaaz was born to create.

Facing this challenge will take heart, and hope, and also all the smarts we have. Here’s the plan:

1. Go Political: Elect Climate Leaders

        — 5 crucial countries have elections in the next 30 months. Let’s make sure the right people win, and with the right mandate. Avaaz is one of the only major global advocacy organizations that can be political. And since this fight will be won or lost politically, it could be at some points just us vs. the oil companies to decide who our politicians listen to.

2. Make Hollande a Hero

       — French President Francois Hollande will chair the Paris summit – a powerful position. We have to try every tactic and channel — his personal friends and family, his political constituency, his policy advisors — to make him the hero we need him to be to make the summit a success.

3. Take it to the Next Level

       — The scale of this crisis demands action that goes beyond regular campaigning. It’s time for powerful, direct, non-violent action, to capture imagination, convey moral urgency, and inspire people to act. Think Occupy.

4. Out the Spoilers

       — Billionaires like the Koch brothers and their oil companies are the major spoilers in climate change – funding junk science to confuse us and spending millions on misleading PR, while buying politicians wholesale. With investigative journalism and more, we need to expose and counter their horrifically irresponsible actions.

5. Define the Deal

       — Even in the face of planetary catastrophe, 195 governments in a room can be just incompetent. We need to invest in top quality policy advice to develop ingenious strategies, mechanisms, and careful compromises so that when the summit arrives, a critical mass of leaders are already bought in to a large part of the deal, and no one can claim that good solutions don’t exist.

We need 40,000 of us to pledge small donations to blast out of the starting gate on this plan. The amount doesn’t matter as much as much as the choice – to hope, and to act:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/30_months_mo/?bTMcccb&v=26082

At the last major climate summit in Copenhagen 2009, we played a pivotal role in German and Japanese ‘climate’ elections, in shifting Brazilian policy, and in helping win a major global deal on financing, with rich countries promising $100 billion per year to poor countries to help them address climate change. Back then, Avaaz was 3 million people. After Copenhagen, we reflected that we needed to be a lot bigger to meet the challenge posed by climate change. Now, we’re 22 million, and growing by 1 million per month.

Climate change is the ultimate global collective action problem, requiring cooperation from every government in the world. And Avaaz is the ultimate collective action solution, with millions of us united in common vision across every nation. This is our time, to build a world for our children that’s beauty matches our dreams. Let’s get started.

With hope and appreciation for this amazing community,

Ricken and the entire Avaaz team

MORE INFORMATION:

Scientists Close in on the Cause of Arctic Methane Leaks (Climate Central)
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/scientists-close-in-on-the-cause-of-arctic-methane-leaks-15090

NASA warns Arctic thaw could have huge impact on global warming (The Verge)
http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/12/4422078/nasa-arctic-permafrosts-carbon-emissions

Five Reasons We Need a New Global Agreement on Climate Change by 2015 (Switchboard NRDC)
http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jschmidt/five_reasons_we_need_a_new_glo.html

The Doha climate talks were a start, but 2015 will be the moment of truth (The Guardian)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/10/doha-climate-talks-global-warming

Vast methane ‘plumes’ seen in Arctic ocean as sea ice retreats (The Independent)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html

#Labourdoorstep

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The Hall Green team, aided by colleagues from Moseley and Kings Heath, our two councillors and your candidate for 2014, were out in force last Saturday. The team knocked doors in Blythsford Road, Sandgate Road and Newborough Road and talked to residents about local issues and local politics!

We also delivered our latest leaflet so if you weren’t in when we knocked your door, and you would like to speak to us about an issue in your area, or would like more information about Labour in Hall Green, you can find the contact details of our candidate Kerry Jenkins on the leaflet as well as details of our two councillors.

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