Roger Harmer

Liberal Democrat Campaigner working for Acocks Green

Acocks Green Ward Committee Wednesday 2nd April 2014

April 4th, 2014 by rogerharmer
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Though the agenda was a little shorter than some recent meetings, this weeks meeting of Acocks Green Ward Committee  had several important issues to discuss:

1) Community Chest Grants: The following grants were made for the new financial year:

  • Fox Hollies Football: FITCAP CIC. £6,000 granted (a further £3,500 deferred to the following meeting) to engage with young people in a wide range of positive activities including football and a summer multi sports programme and at community days (for more information see www.fit cap.co.uk or follow @FITCAP on Twitter)
  • Fox Hollies Community Association Easter Play Scheme: £1,500 granted (with £3,000 for a summer pay scheme deferred to the next meeting). This grant will provide a week of activities at Easter for children aged 3-11. Average attendance is 75 children per day.
  • House Of Play & Education: Community & Family Worker. £3,972 (a further £3,528 deferred to the next meeting). This grant will employ a worker for 15 hours a week to lead on their stay and play groups and after school clubs. The worker will also give 15 hours per week voluntarily carrying out admin tasks and working in the community.
  • Acocks Green Carnival Committee: £4,000 towards the costs of this year’s Carnival – the 41st.
  • Sports4Life: Stockfield Estate Youth Programme. £1,080 for a weekly programme of positive community activities for around 50 children and young people aged 8-16 on the Stockfield Estate (jointly funded with the Stockfield Community Association)
  • West Midlands Police: Youth4Em. £500 to work with young people aged 11-19, promoting positive skills, community activities and to divert them from Crime and ASB.
  • West Midlands Police: Burglary Lock Fitting Project. £1,500 to fit improved security measures such as door chains and locks to homes which have been burgled or are identified as being at risk of burglary.
  • Acocks Green Gardening Scheme: £2,400 to help those no longer able to look after their gardens
  • Gospel Oak Community Centre: £5,040 for the Gospel Oak Project Worker & Youth Group. To provide regular youth nights and volunteer opportunities for young people on the Gospel Estate (jointly funded by Hall Green Ward Committee)
  • Millennium Green Trust: £300 for public liability insurance costs. I may have identified a way for this vital insurance cover to be provided free of charge (through membership of the Birmingham Open Spaces Forum). If this turns out to be applicable for the Millennium Green Trust, the money will be recycled back into Community Chest for other projects.
  • TUC Centre: £2,500 for Local Neighbourhood Advice on issues such as benefits claims, social security tribunals, debt and housing issues.
  • Acocks Green Carers: Christmas for Carers, £1,208. This will fund a Christmas buffet and  and coach trip to a restaurant for a Christmas Meal and entertainment for those caring for others.

2) Environmental Health Update: Kate Careford our Environmental Health Officer reported on work she has being doing including work to clear up the Yardley Road.

3) We had a visit from Andy Knight the Crew Commander at Hay Mills Fire Station. He showed us one of the West Midlands Fire Service’s new rapid response vehicles which can get to a fire quickly and deal with less severe incidents.

4) Acocks Green Conservation Area: We had great news from Julia Larden of the Acocks Green Focus Group, with the public vote result being declared as an overwhelming endorsement for the Area with (figures corrected since the meeting) 96 saying yes to 3 saying no (inside the area) and 18 yes and 0 no (outside the area, but within Acocks Green). This represents a turnout of around 20% from the proposed Conservation Area, a level not far short of that seen in local elections. The Conservation Area will now progress towards formal approval from the Council.

5) Acocks Green Tree Removals: My previous blogpost (see below) caused quite an impact, thanks to great work by the Acocks Green Focus Group, the Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum and the Arden Road Residents Association in checking up on the proposed tree removals. It turns out that some of the justifications are very dubious. What’s more the notices on the trees don’t always tally with the email from Amey and the email address on the notices isn’t a live address. As a result the trees are being double checked and several may be spared. A small victory for the importance of open government and my thanks go to Cllr Iain Bowen for passing on the details about the trees so that I could publish them on this blog.

6) Future meeting dates: The following dates were put forward for the coming year’s meetings of the Acocks Green Ward Committee:

  • 18th June
  • 10th September
  • 29th October
  • 17th December
  • 18th February
  • 8th April (this may need to be altered)

7th) Finally a farewell was said to Cllr Iain Bowen who is standing down at the coming elections after 8 years of tremendous service to Acocks Green ward. Being a good local Councillor – and Cllr Bowen has been a very good Councillor – is hard work and Cllr Bowen fully deserves a rest. I do hope it is just a rest and he comes back at some point in the future.

 

 

Tree Removals in Acocks Green

March 26th, 2014 by rogerharmer
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The Council’s contractor, Amey, have announced that a number of trees will be removed across Acocks Green in the coming month or so, mainly because they are dead, diseased or dangerous. These are listed below with the reason, given by Amey, for each removal. Whatever the cause, each old tree removed will be replaced with another young tree, though this might not be until next winter as the tree planting season is coming to a end. The list of locations where trees are being removed is:

Location & reason give for removal:

Outside 61 Arden Road – Highway Obstruction

Opposite 14 Bramley Mews Court – Dead

Outside 14 Chaucer Grove – Structural Integrity

Outside 50 Circular Road – Structural Integrity

Opposite 2 Cypress Square – Structural Integrity

Outside 42 Denham Road – Decay

Outside 28 Dolphin Lane – Decay

Fenton Way (opposite 222 Douglas Road) – Structural Integrity

Opposite 464 Gospel Lane – Structural Integrity

Outside 295/297 Gospel Lane – Structural Integrity

Outside 9/11 Henbury Road – Decay

Outside 18 Henbury Road – Highway Obstruction

Outside 29 Henbury Road – Decay

Outside 2/4 Malvern Road  - Decay

Outside 2 Northanger Road – Decay

Olton Boulevard East (to the rear of 1291 Warwick Road) – Structural Integrity

Outside 19/21 Oxford Road – Decay

Outside 36/38 Oxford Road – Decay

Outside 999 Warwick Road – Structural Integrity

If you have any concerns about any of these removals please let me know.

 

March Unemployment Update

March 23rd, 2014 by rogerharmer
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UK Unemployment continued its steady fall last month. The seasonally adjusted unemployment benefit count fell 34,600 for the UK to 1.174,800 (3.7%). It fell 3,300 in the West Midlands to 125,100 (4.7%) and by 1,086 to 40,866 (9.0%) in Birmingham, where it has been falling for two years now.

While the unadjusted unemployment claimant rate also fell across the City (though more slowly than the adjusted rate), Acocks Green suffered, what is hopefully no more than a blip, and saw a rise last month. Our claimant level rose by 30 to 997. Despite the monthly rise this still represents a fall of 236 over the past year. Our long term (over 12 months) claimant total rose by 7 to 351 in the month and our youth claimant total rose by 20 to 243 in the same time.

Spring Road Litter Clearance

March 22nd, 2014 by rogerharmer
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I spent a productive morning helping to clear a huge amount of litter from land by Spring Road station. Thankfully, the size of the task was more than matched by the numbers of people helping out including the 260th Scouts, the Hazelwood Residents Association and our local councillors. Lots of people stopped to say thank you as they passed by on foot and even in their cars. Lets hope the newly cleared land stays tidy and doesn’t suffer from new litter being dumped there.

More Bus Route Changes Afoot for Acocks Green

March 17th, 2014 by rogerharmer
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National Express West Midlands just can’t leave our buses alone. Having had one of their ‘consultations’, they have decided the alter the 1 route, which was not part of the consultation. The 3 will no longer run from Shirley to Acocks Green and the 1 will be extended down through the Gospel Estate to Shirley on the same route as the 31. Cllr Iain Bowen and I have written to Centro objecting to these changes as they were not consulted on.

 

As with many changes with Bus routes, they will bring a mixture of benefits and disadvantages, depending on where you live and which service you use. While I am concerned that extending the 1 risks worsening the delays on this service, which can be severe at times, the key thing is that there should be proper consultation on all these changes, so that objections can be raised and responded to properly.

Acocks Green Ward Committee Weds 26th Feb

March 2nd, 2014 by rogerharmer
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Last Wednesday’s meeting of the Acocks Green Ward Committee saw a number of important local issues discussed:

There was an update on Environmental Issues with a focus on the Yardley Road. 34 Duty of Care visits were made on businesses in this area to check they have proper commercial waste contracts. While it would not have been surprising to hear that some didn’t, we were amazed to hear that 13 were in this situation. There will also be a litter pick in the area on Monday (3rd March) at 2pm (meet by the Great Western Pub). I asked that other businesses in Acocks Green (especially in known areas of dumping such as the Fox Hollies shops) be checked for proper contracts too. Local residents also complained about litter in the park by Pemberley Road (Curtis Gardens).

While this year’s Community Chest has been spent, some underspend on funded projects allowed for a grant of £754 for a gating project in Tynedale Road.

There was a long discussion about the proposed savings in the Yardley District Budget for 2014/15 and 2015/16. These are still in consultation, but proposals currently on the table would generate a significant proportion of the savings by closing the Neighbourhood Offices at Stechford and Acocks Green. Residents and a member of staff at Stechford spoke with great passion against these closures, while recognising that if cuts are scaled back in this service, more will be needed elsewhere.

Phil Santos, from the Transportation Department, gave a short presentation on the proposed Smart Route plans for the Warwick Road in Acocks Green. Concern has been expressed (which I share) that the plans now generate little extra (or even a reduction, depending how you look at it) on-street parking (important to generate extra passing trade for the shops in the Village). There was also concern about the design of the new streetlights for the Village, which has changed at the last minute from a heritage design to a very modern design, without public consultation. This again is disappointing given the very long time these plans have been in gestation. While we should be taking advantage of the environmental and cost savings the new LED streetlights bring, it should not be beyond the wit of the designers to come up with a traditional looking LED streetlight – we can hardly be the only area that has asked for them.

The next meeting will take place in the (reopened) Library  on Wednesday 2nd April.

Unemployment Update

February 25th, 2014 by rogerharmer
Comment?

Unemployment continued its fall last month with national seasonally adjusted claimant unemployment falling by 27,600 to 1,215,700. In Birmingham it fell by 244 to 41,952. Seasonal adjustment of the figures takes into account the fact that unemployment normally falls in some months (such as November and December with temporary Christmas jobs available) and rises in others (such as January when such jobs end). So the seasonally adjusted figures give you a better idea of the underlying trend than the unadjusted figures. In Birmingham the difference between the two figures is illustrated by the unadjusted figures which rose by 673 – compared with the adjusted figures falling by 244.

The monthly ward figures in Birmingham are only available in unadjusted form. In the absence of seasonal adjusting, its useful to compare them with the figures from 12 months before, which I often do in this blog. For Acocks Green the unadjusted monthly figures rose by 22 to 967, which is 237 down on a year ago. Within that figure, youth unemployment rose 4 to 223 (down 93 on a year ago) and long term unemployment rose 5 to 344 (down 32 on a year ago).

 

Acocks Green Conservation Area Consultation Events

February 23rd, 2014 by rogerharmer
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The consultation events to gain residents’ feedback on the proposed Acocks Green Conservation Area have now been arranged. They will take place on:

Monday March 3rd: 5-8pm, Birmingham City Mission Hall, Rookwood Road (near the junction of Arden Road and Flint Green Road) and

Saturday March 8th: 10-2pm, Glynn Edwards Hall (at the junction of Yardley Road and Alexander Road).

Tuesday March 11th: 6-8pm, Glynn Edwards Hall.

The proposed Conservation Area covers Elmdon Road, Colwall Walk, Malvern Road, Sherbourne Road, Sherbourne Drive and parts of Arden Road, Greswolde Park Road, Flint Green Road, Dudley Park Road, Station Road, Oxford Road, Rookwood Road, Yardley Road, The Avenue, Roberts Road and a small, non residential section of Alexander Road by the Yardley Road.

Buildings in Conservation Areas are protected from unsympathetic alterations, which do not fit the character of the area. Trees also enjoy more protection. As a result they often become more sought after areas to live in and property prices can increase relative to other areas.

If you want more details and a map of the Proposed Area, there is a very thorough article on the Acocks Green Focus Group’s website here  

Acocks Green Library set to reopen on Tuesday 4th March

February 14th, 2014 by rogerharmer
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I’m told that Acocks Green Library will reopen on Tuesday 4th March. This is based on a promised hand back to the Council on Wednesday 19th February by the contractors. There then needs to be a deep clean of the carpets and fixtures, reinstallation of the IT equipment and a margin for error to sort out any unexpected problems.

It will be great to have the Library back with us and good to know that, with the roof renewed, the building is in good condition to face whatever the weather throws at us for many years to come.

Fox Hollies Green Neighbourhood Forum Public Meeting 5th February 2014

February 6th, 2014 by rogerharmer
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Yesterday evening I attended the latest Open Public Meeting of the Fox Hollies Green Neighbourhood Forum. This Forum covers Acocks Green Ward to the south of the Warwick Road and the east of the Fox Hollies Road.

Dave Swingle gave an update on the work of the Fox Hollies Community Association (I sit on the management committee of this local organisation) and the wide range of work it carries out for the community.

PCSO Ludford then gave an update on policing and crime in Acocks Green. This presentation was similar to the one at last week’s meeting of the Acocks Green Neigbourhood Forum. However we heard that Inspector Goodrich will be leaving our patch on 10/2/14 and will be replaced by Inspector Ruth Lockyer. He also told us that Esso plan to sell the Merestones petrol station to the Co-op in the next 6 months.

Finally Mike Byrne gave a fascinating talk on the history of Acocks Green. One of the many things I learnt was that the name Acocks Green comes from a hamlet which was roughly where Dolphin Lane meets the Warwick Road, when (pre 1850 or so) our area was farmland with just a few hamlets dotted around . I can strongly recommend Mike’s talks to anyone with an interest in the history of our area.

 

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