hall green blp

Open letter to Cllr James McKay

Dear Cllr McKay,

I am writing to you in my role as Campaigns Co-ordinator for the Hall Green BLP to seek some reassurances and also pass on some concerns that have been raised by some of our party members and residents within the Hall Green Ward.

We are of course aware that as a result of winning government funding, Birmingham Council will be moving towards the introduction of wheelie bins over the next two years. We are also aware that the consultation has begun and will continue for some time, but that a preliminary report will be compiled in two weeks time based on the initial responses.

Although we realise this move to a wheeled bin service will prove beneficial in that it will protect weekly collections and provide funding to upgrade the fleet, we are concerned that the views of all residents are taken into account before decisions are finalised of how such a scheme will operate.

We are therefore seeking assurances from you that serious consideration will be given to potential issues that may arise in respect of problems related to rear access, or where the physical features of the homes make wheelie bins impractical. This will need to be done on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis, and in cases where problems are identified, we are asking that the council does not impose wheelie bins on residents who cannot manage them and seeks other ways of supporting residents where such problems might arise such as through the use of assisted collections.

We are aware that the newly adopted Council Budget includes proposals for the introduction of an annual service charge of £35 for green waste recycling from February/March 2014. Residents will be required to ‘opt in’ to this service and will be provided with a 240-litre wheeled bin.

Some of our concerns regarding this are similar to those outlined above in relation to the management of such a bin which will require similar reassurances.

We are concerned that many who live in Hall Green, whose glories are their gardens and the trees that are on the public spaces, also have to clean up leaves that block sewers and cause potential problems for pedestrians. It is alas, a fact, that council sweeping is being cut.  These civic minded individuals are doing a public service to their community and should not be penalised for the trees planted many years ago.

It is of concern that many of these services are Internet only facilities and many people in this ward (amongst them keen gardeners and supporters of the environment) do not use the Internet and would never ever dream of posting their personal details on a website. They are concerned and worried and we request that you please examine methods to allay their fears and concerns.

Although we fully support the Council’s commitment to recycling and your personal objective for Birmingham to become one of the leading green cities, we are concerned that as an optional service, many who might wish to take advantage of it may not be able to as quite simply, they may not be in a position to afford the charge.

We are therefore requesting that you reconsider the implementation of such a charge.

If a charge is enforced, we ask that you explore other ways to ensure that all residents can participate in such a scheme despite their financial position.

I am posting this open letter on our website so that all members and viewers of it can comment.

I appreciate these concerns may appear parochial to many but they reflect a concern that the ‘Centre’ may have not appreciated the depth of feeling within this community.

Yours sincerely

Kerry Jenkins,
Campaigns Co-ordinator,
Hall Green BLP

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Petition against new play facilities?

Hall Green’s Lib Dem Cllr Paula Smith presented a petition to full council yesterday that appeared to exclude any mention to the fact that the proposals being opposed are for the installation of play facilities to be enjoyed by the children and young people, families and communities across the Ward.

The actual wording of the petition presented:

I the undersigned wish to keep the open green space known as Newey Goodman Estate the way it is presently and use it as a village green which it has always been intended for and has always been the case. We object to any change proposed by the council to place equipment upon our open green space. Save our village green.

There is no doubt that whoever may have signed this petition did so in good faith but who might, in retrospect, and given the real detail of the proposed play area, actually agree that the retention of green open space and the installation of a play area are not at odds. Other references referring to the space as being a ‘village green’ are also very misleading.

Please watch the webcast and let us know if you hear any words that refer to children, young people and play facilities….you will have to skip right through to 04:39:51

Hall Green BLP, alongside the Labour councillors,  will continue to campaign for additional services and provision for children and young people across the Ward.

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A community playground for Hall Green?

In November last year, local councillors from all parties, youth workers, community groups, educational representatives of South and City College and constituency officers met at the District Convention to discuss the needs of children and young people in the wider district and in each of the Hall Green Wards. There were a series of talks from Youth and Education officers from Birmingham City Council together with input from the assistant principal of the College, the Chair of Governors from Joseph Chamberlain College and Councillor Tony Kennedy.

All councillors representing the Hall Green Ward and representatives from local community groups and youth service providers discussed how best we could engage children and young people in Hall Green and a clear consensus was reached on the need to ensure that Hall Green had adequate provision and services to meet the needs of the 7,000 children and young people across the Ward, and the need to identify more spaces and places for young people to meet.

Unfortunately, this consensus seems to have been abandoned at this months Ward meeting at which residents from a local housing estate were in attendance solely to oppose the proposals for the installation of much needed playground equipment at Newey Goodman.

The case put forward in opposition was that any installation would result in an increase of anti social behaviour and criminal activity. This is not borne out by research undertaken by the local police neighbourhood team and could not be quantified.

Despite the Liberal Democrat Councillor not adopting a position of opposition at a previous meeting at which these plans were introduced, it now appears that she has decided not to support this proposal for additional provision of services for children and young people in Hall Green.

Consultation that has been undertaken by Hall Green BLP has found real support for these proposals which would give Hall Green a brand new playground with facilities catering for both children and young people.

Currently there is only one small park in Hall Green at Marion Way and despite plans to renovate the park next month, this existing provision is far from  adequate and in comparison to surrounding Wards, it is clear that the children and young people in Hall Green Ward are being short changed and let down in terms of the services and provision available to them.

It is seemingly a natural reaction to oppose change in the first instance but the current opposition to the playground proposals for Newey Goodman appears to be based on little more than ‘nimbyism’ on the one hand and the hope of some political point scoring on the other.

As we face impending reductions in council funded provision of non statutory services across Birmingham this adds up to a very real problem for the children and young people growing up in Hall Green.

The recent launch of the mobile play service was a real step in the right direction, alongside the youth project running at Highfield Hall but these are temporary solutions and do not make up for a lack of permanent playground facilities.

We need to welcome proposals that would result in an increase in services for our children and young people. How can we sit back and refuse our children and young people such provision?

Wherever any new such provision is proposed, it is always going to be in someone’s back yard, and is always going to be opposed by a minority. We need to stand together as a community and see the bigger picture and how we ensure the very best deal for our children and young people. We have the chance of doing this now with a real opportunity to have a  ‘community playground’ in Hall Green, but in order to realise this, we need first to become a real community.

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