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A Difficult New Budget for Birmingham is Published

At a Press Conference this morning, Sir Albert Bore, Labour’s Leader of Birmingham City Council, released the first draft of the Council’s budget for the new financial year.

In challenging and difficult circumstances, faced with a settlement from an unlistening central government that leaves our city at least £79 million short of the money it needs, Labour has responded to the Tory-led government’s false picture of the scale and fairness (or lack of it) of their cuts.  In spite of continuing misinformation from the Minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, Labour has carried out extensive consultations with the city’s residents.  And following this, Labour’s first concern (shared with the people of Birmingham) rightly remains focused on young people and those most vulnerable.

Lisa & Martin and Labour's Team in Moseley & King's Heath say Give Brum its cash!

Lisa & Martin and Labour’s Team in Moseley & King’s Heath say Give Brum its cash!

In this budget, your Labour council will :

  • Freeze Council Tax for the year ahead to ensure that the council receives the best possible income from this source. Unlike  the previous Tory/Lib Dem partnership, Labour is not playing politics with the Council Tax rate, but getting the best possible deal for Birmingham people.
  • Run a joint commissioning programme with the Health & Wellbeing Board, targeted at children and young people.
  • Retain the valued  “Connexions” youth employment support service, targeting the needs of vulnerable young people, and integrating with the Youth Service.
  • Introduce changes to refuse collections (while retaining weekly collections) in line with other local authorities, such as introducing an affordable charge for bulky and green waste collections.

Labour’s full draft budget document can be downloaded (as a PDF file) here:

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Community conference: Our Public Services – the future?

by Lisa Trickett

What happens in public services in the coming years will affect us all, whether we use public services or work in the public sector. It is really important to me, as Labour’s candidate for Moseley & Kings Heath, that local people are involved in the decisions that affect their lives.

So on the 17th November, Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey will be joining us to discuss how public services can best be protected from Government cuts and also what we want from public services in the future to meet the needs of everyone. Joining him will be Cllr John Cotton who is the Labour Group lead on devolution of public services.

This is an important opportunity for us to explore, with people who will be shaping policy nationally and locally, how we as a local Labour Party branch can make a difference to the public services around us.

The meeting starts at 7pm at the Moseley Exchange building in Moseley.

Please come to the meeting if you can. Also please forward this to friends and colleagues who may be interested or share the event on share/invite friends to the Facebook event.

I look forward to seeing you.

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Introducing Lisa Trickett, our candidate for the 2012 local elections

by Lisa Trickett

We are living in serious times. Every week we hear about another treasured service being cut by the Tory-Lib Dem Government or the Tory-Lib Dem Council. As a local resident, a mother of two young girls and someone with elderly parents I am deeply concerned about what is happening to our community. I decided that I could not sit by and watch the dismantling of vital services. Huge job cuts will strip away years and years of experience.

Serious times demand a serious response. I will stand up for our community and our city, and you can help by getting in touch with your ideas and concerns.

Together we can make a difference and secure a better future for all.

Hall Green Constituency – a response to Councillor Mullaney

by Martin Straker-Welds

Given that Councillor Martin Mullaney has raised the issue of the Hall Green Constituency on his blog, I would like to respond on behalf of myself and my Labour colleagues in Hall Green. It is certainly true to the extent that the Liberal Democrats in Hall Green have been pushing us to take the constituency chair, a position that we have politely declined.

As you might expect, we discussed the issue at length before coming to this conclusion. With an equal number of votes to Labour, the Lib Dems are nonetheless better placed to influence the corporate centre. Not only are they coalition partners, but Cllr Mullaney’s position as Cabinet Member for Leisure & Culture gives them greater clout when trying to mitigate damage from a sharply reduced budget.

And ultimately, the Lib Dems voted for the cuts to Birmingham’s budget – Labour did not.

The Lib Dems claimed that cuts would not affect frontline services. Labour knew that with cuts of £212m, it was inevitable.

As to Cllr Mullaney’s claims that we voted for specific cuts to the Hall Green constituency budget, the options have yet to be presented by the Hall Green directorate.  We have no choice over the figures laid by the corporate centre, as Cllr Mullaney well knows.

Please don’t appeal: a message to Birmingham City Council

by Claire Spencer

A week ago, Birmingham City Council’s proposed cuts to social care packages were ruled unlawful by the High Court.

The cuts, of around £17.5m, were to be achieved by removing social care provision for adults deemed to be merely ‘substantial’; offering it only in critical cases. But the High Court ruled that this was unlawful, under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Birmingham City Council is now considering an appeal – but we think this is a waste of time and money. There are plenty of opportunities in the future (including under the Localism Bill) for councils to strengthen their balance sheets; and those opportunities do not have to include the removal of social care from those who need it.

Birmingham Labour has started a petition, asking Birmingham City Council not to appeal the decision – to save that money, and instead, apply their energies to a different solution, involving service users in that process. It has already been emailed to all Labour members in Birmingham, and we’d appreciate the support of anyone else who agrees that there is another way.

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