coalition

Are you sure we are all in this together?

We have a coalition Government behaving as if it has a mandate and as if it won a landslide victory. The radical welfare changes that started on Saturday are yet another clear indication of this Tory led government’s cynicism, arrogance and of its total lack of compassion.

Today sees the continuation of their ideological attack with changes being implemented to disability benefits in the north of England ahead of a nationwide roll out of the new measures as part of the government’s plan to cut the welfare bill.

The move to replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will end what Iain Duncan Smith called the ‘ridiculous’ system that gives people lifetime awards as the disability living allowance is replaced by the new personal independence payment (PLA).

The new system which includes face-to-face assessments and regular reviews (managed by ATOS) and will see changes to assessment claims that might mean 600,000 people miss out on support with some new assessment rules on mobility being sneak in through the back door.

Over half a million people have now signed a petition asking George Osborne to live on £53 per week, something he has brushed off as a publicity stunt. Yet surely this shows the real depth of feeling, from ordinary men and women, already struggling and this Government should pay heed to the level of opposition being displayed to their vicious welfare cuts.

We can all feel the effects of this governments attack on ordinary men and women. Many in work are not only seeing their hours reduced but their ‘in work’ benefits reduced also and those who are out of work are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. If we are not personally touched by these changes, then our families, friends, neighbours most certainly are.

One thing we can be certain of is that we are not all in this together.

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.

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