Friday, 26 September 2008


A hat-tip to Dizzy Thinks for this photo.
A caption competition if you like.

Who's the vent? Who's the dummy?


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Up the Warwicks!!

Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting the Royal Fusiliers when they exercised their right to march through the city.
The regiment has recently returned from Afganistan after a long operation. Thankfully they suffered no loss of life and we are grateful for that.
The title at the top is due to the fact that the former Royal Warwickshire Regiment is incorporated into the modern day regiment. Keith is allowed to call them the Warwicks because his father was a member of the Regiment during WW2. Lesser mortals must say The Royal Warwicks.
One thing that struck us both is how young they all are. We know that it is a sign of advancing years when the police start looking younger but a lot of them were really young. It makes a sharp contrast with some of the track suited herberts you see on the streets and makes you realise the value of discipline and training. We don't believe these so called chavs are any less capable of making something of themselves. It is down to attitude and wanting to make the effort, as it is too many of our young people accept low standards for themselves.


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Monday, 22 September 2008

The Post strikes again!

It seems Paul Dale devoted some of his Iron Angle Column to castigating Keith over his remarks on the report on Sustainable Communities.
Firstly he argued that he had got Keith's Committee wrong due to the fact that a Council website had not been updated. Fair enough but this should have been altered months ago and Keith's only excuse is that he does not spend all day Googling his name and searching for himself on websites.
Paul also accused Keith of being a "Climate change disbeliever" something which Keith denied in his letter to the Post last week.
This further reinforces Keith's view that climate change is a matter of faith for some people and not viewed as the scientific fact that Keith sees it as. Perhaps if Paul had used the term "Heretic" and called for burning at the stake he would have expressed himself more truthfully.
Still, it is Keith's fault for pointing out his inattention to detail and once you upset a journo he has the advantage of having the paper do his dirty work for him.
Watch the press!!!

Diary entries

Last week was another round of meetings.
On Monday Keith went to a meeting of the Northfield Constituency Healthy Community and Older People group.This is a partnership effort which examines ways of making our residents healthier and looks to close the gap between male and female life expectancy.
Women live on average about 5 years longer than men. This has a lot to do with smoking issues and lifestyle.
Keith then went on to the Town Centre Shop for a meeting of the Community Support Board. This was set up after the demise of MG/Rover and is looking at ways to support people affected by the closure.
Sue went to Deelands Hall for the Play Lottery meeting which discusses ways of spending Lottery money awarded to Northfield to improve play facilites for children.
That evening Ken joined Sue at the monthly meeting of New Frankley in Birmingham Parish Council. We try to work closely with the PC and this is an opportunity for an exchange of views and a way of finding common ground on a wide variety of issues.
The flooding in Oberon and Miranda was of particular concern as it was the following evening at the Northfield Constituency Committee. We had asked for senior officers to come along and update us on the position and we have asked for a report detailing what lessons have been learned.
Earlier in the day Keith went to Malvern for a meeting of the Central Technology Belt board of directors. This used to be called the A38 Technology Corridor and Keith still thinks it is a more self-explanatory name.
Sue was on The Roundabout early that morning for a site meeting with local residents and officers to discuss a tipping problem This should now be resolved. Later she went to Hampstead House for a Homestart meeting and then to a governors meeting at Colmers Junior School before getting to the Constituency Committee.
Wednesday saw Sue rushing about for an early appointment at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital before rushing in to the Council House for the Licensing Committee.
This saw a number of Private Hire drivers getting upset at some proposals to tighten up vehicle regulation and they will be going into it all again some time in the future.
That evening all 3 of us were at the Longbridge Ward Committee at Colmers School. Some issues were raised by local residents which we will be taking up on their behalf.
That take us on to Thursday when Sue & Keith were at Forestdale School for an update on the Community Park prokect. Costs have now escalated to £1 million but we have decided to go ahead and use some of the money we already have to get the ladscaping, drainage and fencing put in place.
Sue then had a meeting with local residents at Great Park whilst Keith got on with some leafletting.
That evening Sue was at the Parish Council Offices for a meeting of the Balaam's Wood LNR Group. Sue has managed to get the Lord Mayor of Birmingham to come along on Friday 3rd October to mark the designation of Balaam's Wood as a Local Nature Resource.
On Friday Sue had an early meeting with Coun Randal Brew, the Constituency Chairman, Sue is Deputy Chairman, and Ivor Williams the Head of Constituency prior to a meeting of the Northfield Constituency Strategic Partnership. This, as the name implies is a partnership which looks at all aspects of life in Northfield and plans for improvement. Later that day we went to Bromsgrove for a meeting with Bromsgrove Councillors about the MG/Rover redevelopment. We have'nt met for a while so it was good to catch up.
We have a lot of meetings and a lots of partners. It is impossible to go into loads of details about these groups but if anyone would like to now more let us know and we will either explain more fully or, better still, let you know when and where meetings are taking place so you can come along and listen in or take part.
On Saturday Sue was off for a night on Broad Street, all in the line of duty of course. The night started at 10.30pm and involved visiting bars and clubs to look at security and safety issues and a look at what some taxi drivers get up to. Sue spotted 2 PH drivers plying for hire, that is picking passengers up off the streets without booking first. This is illegal and can be dangerous especially if young women are involved as there have been cases of bogus cabs picking them up an assaults taking place. The visit ended and Sue got home at about 2.30am.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

gimme, gimme, gimme.

This is a pic we should have put up last week. I shows Sue with Richard the new vicar at St. Leonards Church, Frankley. The other lady is Sue who works at the Frankley Library and is one of those people we frequently see involved with the life of her local community.
It shows up the contrast between people like Sue who are determined to put something back into their neighbourhood and others who just demand and take. The dependency culture has sunk deep into the phsyche of our country and will take years to wean people off.

Licensing ceremony

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Sunday, 14 September 2008

Climate alarmism

Keith stirred up a real hornet's nest on Friday at the Scrutiny Co-ordinating Committee.
During a report on sustainability Keith attacked a paragraph which said we would PROBABLY see massive infrastructure and network collapse after 2011 if we did nothing. It also said we COULD see massive loss of life and companies moving abroad.
This is the part Keith took exception to, the use in a report of the words COULD and PROBABLY instead of facts and figures. He used the term: "Villa COULD win the Premier Leaque but PROBABLY won't" to illustrate the proper use of the words but of course the Post has twisted, sorry, spun, this into him saying "Green doom as likely as Villa winning the Premiership".
Readers of this blog will recall the Post accusing Keith and fellow Conservatives of racism some years ago, even our sensitive local MP joined in. The Post of course ballsed it up by calling us "Northfield Conservatives" instead of "Longbridge Conservatives", a not uncharacteristic lapse. Since then we have turned this safe Labour stronghold into a ward with 3 Conservative Councillors during which Keith has won 2 elections. So much for personal attacks. Even former Councillor (how good that phrase sounds) Steve Bedser used personal attacks against Ken Wood this year, fat lot of good it did him.
Keith's views on climate change are quite clear. He accepts the climate is changing but wants to see evidence, not a quasi-religion whose doctrines have to be taken as a matter of faith. Keith is a keen recycler and urges his constituents to do the same. It is sensible and logical to conserve energy and to cut out waste, especially in the Council, but also within our own lifestyles. The problem he has is in dire predictions of impending doom if we do not do as we are told by a self serving climate industry and a government whose own profligacy knows no bounds.
The Birmingham Post and Mail is of course owned by Trinity Mirror Newspapers who are no friends of ours. Their circulation figures have resulted in a large number of staff sadly being made redundant and the paper is about to turn tabloid. The loss of jobs is a blow to the people concerned, many of who Keith knows and some of whom he likes.It seems the publisher's stewardship of the titles may result in the ultimate demise of this once great part of the Birmingham landscape.

A cops and vicars evening

On Thursday evening we again split our forces to attend different meetings.
Sue was at St. Leonards Church for the Licensing of the new Vicar. This is nothing to do with the fact that Sue is on the Licensing Committee. She may hold sway over recalcitrant taxi-drivers and misbehaving publicans but has no influence on the selection of new ministers. It was an enjoyable event and we offer our welcome and suppport to Richard on his new living.
Keith went to Frankley for another Neighbourhood Tasking Meeting. Local police were in attendance to hear local people talking about the problems they have. This is still not working properly but persistance will be needed for it to succeed.
Our local MP turned up to speak about the floods. This is not the correct forum for such events and tends to undermine the authority of the Parish Council which should be able to take the lead on it and work with the Constituency and City council to prevent it happening again.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Council meeting Tuesday 9th

Prior to the Council Meeting at 2pm Keith was at a meeting with the chief executive and the other Scrutiny Chairs to discuss the way forward. There are some issues which have needed sorting out but we are all confident that Birmingham's Scrutiny function will continue to lead the way for the rest of the country.
During the Council meeting we had a shortlived attempt at a comeback by the Labour Group. This quickly fizzled out but we had a lively spat between Cllr Selma Yaquoob and Cllr Emily Cox over the Friends Institute in Hall Green. Emily won by a short head.
Ian Ward, the Labour Group Deputy Leader set a rather silly trap which exposed the amateurism that pervades all their efforts at the moment. They introduced a motion lauding the Minimum Wage. This policy is now accepted by the Conservatives and we had no problem with it. In an effort to provoke us he made an outrageous and nonsensical attack on us in an effort to get us to vote against the motion. All it did was to ensure some of our group sat on their hands. If this is the best they can come up with some of them will be looking for new jobs in 2010.
Earlier Sue introduced a petition to get some traffic calming outside the Meadows School and Ken introduced one objecting to a telecoms mast at the Dingle Social Club.
Wednesday saw Sue at the Fostering Panel over at Sheldon while Keith had a meeting with Cllr Neville Summerfield about the Central Technology Belt. This used to be called the A38 Technology Corridor which may be a more explanatory name.
That evening Keith & Ken went into the Council House for a JNC meeting to shortlist candidates for Head of Service for Younger Adults. Keith went on to a EPM Performance Board. This is a group setting up the Council's latest Business Transformation scheme which introduces new super-duper computer technology into the way the Council does business. This will drag our methology into the 21st century and completley modernise some of out rather archaic systems.


On Monday Sue went to London to attend the BMA Pensioners lunch. Keith spent all day up at Oberon Close on Frankley to take a look at the results of the flooding there and in Miranda.
When he got there he found 2 Housing Officers and our Estate Assistant trying to sort things out. This was clearly not enough and Keith started making phone calls. In a short while we had 2 dustcarts and crews to get rid of damaged furniture, carpets etc, Environmental clean up teams to sort out the mud left behind and Engineers to check over the properties. This resulted in 3 bungalows being declared uninhabitable and the occupiers offerred rehousing. A Senior Electrical Engineer started checking for damage and brought 2 electricians out as well. The Constituency Engineer came out to check the infrastructure.
About 1.30 we had all exhausted our phone batteries so it was decided to take an hours break for food and recharging and we all regrouped at 2.30. The Constituency Housing Manager was also there and they went to all the affected residents to check that everything was being done to help, including the offer of dehumidifiers to help with drying out. We would like to extend our sympathy to everyone affected by the flood and thank everyone who helped sort it out.
Upon checking it appears there is a large sump above Miranda Close which takes away water coming off the adjoining fields. It appears this was overwhelmed by the sheer volune of water and a pool about 30ft deep formed which eventually inundated the area below.
That evening we held the Conservative Group meeting to prepare for the following day's Council Meeting.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

A full diary

Last week was again busy with lots of meetings. Ken & Keith are again sitting on a JNC committee selecting an Assistant Director for Younger Adults. A younger Adult is someone between 18 & 65, after 65 we all become older adults.
Tuesday was Keith's HR & Equalities Committee meeting. The press turned up in the shape of Paul Dale from the Post & Mail. Fame at last Keith thought but Mr. Dale's interest was in the attendance of Cllr Alan Rudge the Cabinet Member. Paul got a couple of quotes out of it but he missed a really interesting discussion about Single Status and the implementation of a new computer system which will give us a lot of data on workforce development. The great thing is that we have some real experts on this subject on the comittee and they gave the Assistant Director a real grilling but also contributed some good ideas.
On Wednesday Sue was putting the fear of God into recaltritant taxi drivers who think nothing of driving around without insurance and get a bit agrieved when they are caught and punished. That evening we held the Longbridge Ward Advisory Board.
On Thursday all 3 of us were at Alpha Tower for an early meeting about the MG/Rover Enquiry. Keith had to shoot off to chair the Ring & Ride Users Group and that evening attend the Board of Birminghan Conservatives.
On Friday we had another early meeting at the Constituency Office in Vineyard Rd to discuss the forthcoming Constituency Committee.
This weekend Keith was at Frankley for an advice centre. All the rain this weekend saw some flooding at Oberon Close on Frankley and the Business Resilience Team were there to provide help and advice to affected residents
Today we had a bit of light relief with a fund raising event for Nigel Dawkins who is the PPC for Selly Oak. It was planned as a garden party but the weather put the kybosh on that so we held it inside. Still there was a good turnout and a good bit of money raised. Keith even managed to win a bottle of plonk.
Next Tuesday is Council Day so we will be getting ready for that and another round of meetings and dealing with people's issues. Lets hope for a little less rain as we are still getting our leaflet round.

3 very tired young men.

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Waiting at the Cathedral.

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A long walk

When we got back from the holiday we received an e-mail informing us of an event a St. Philips Cathedral. 3 young men were walking from London to Birmingham to draw attention to the toll gun and knife crime were taking on other young men in Birmingham. They completed the walk in 4 days and if you think that is easy try walking 30 miles in a day and see if you fancy doing it for the next 3 days. We ended up at the press conference at the Jury,s Inn on Broad Street. Unfortunatley the media, with the exception of the Post & Mail, failed to turn up. It seems they are quite happy to show pictures and newsreel of reporters standing in front of police tape, deploring the latest round of violence, but are not interested in telling the story when people put themselves out to try to do something about it.
We took some photos, the second one was affected by the flourescent stripes so the quality is not very good.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

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On one visit to the Council House we came across teams getting ready for the annual Sedan Chair Race. Keith volunteered to be a passenger but strangely there were no takers.

Cigarette break over (Smoke training really)

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Get me down!!!!

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What does this button do?

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If the hat fits....

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A mountain of mail

We actually got back last Wednesday and popped into the Council House on Thursday to pick up the mail. We already had a small mountain at home but the real weighty stuff was at the Council House. We are still wading through it so please be patient if you are awaiting a reply.
On Friday Keith & Sue met with Transportation Strategy officers at Alpha Tower to discuss Highways plans for the Rover Site. This will involve extensive works to Longbridge Lane and the Longbridge Lane/Bristol Road South junction and we are concerned that everything is done to keep traffic flowing during the work.
We are pleased to see the speed camera in Lickey Road is slowing everyone down. We are not great fans of these devices but if it helps bring down the accident rate at Lowhill Lane and Edgewood Road junctions we will be satisfied.
On Saturday Keith & Ken turned up at Colmers Leisure Centre for the usual Advice Surgery only to find it was closed. Not to worry, we sat in the carpark and carried on al fresco. Luckily it was a nice morning and the people who came to see us were happy to conduct their business in the sunshine.
Afterwards we went to watch Moseley RFC get walloped by London Welsh. They will get better.
On Monday Sue spent the day with the Fire Service at Northfield Community Fire Station and at the training grounds at Woodgate Valley. They managed to find a uniform that fitted where it touched and she spent an exciting if exhausting day going through some of their training routines and in the afternoon accompanied them on home visits trying to get people to have smoke detectors fitted. Our thanks to Andy Simmons for his efforts. Here are a few pics.

Keith at Stirling Castle

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Loch Lomond

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Sunset at Ayr

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The Old Town Bridge in Dumfries

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View from Powfoot caravan site

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We're back.

We thought it about time we got back to blogging so first off here are some photo,s from Scotland.
It really is a beautiful place and the weather rarely puts us off although when we packed up to leave New England Bay the rain turned to hail and Keith got soaked through whilst emptying the unmentionables and unplugging the electric.