On Monday I was at Ladywood Ward Committee at which only two of the three Councillors were present. This was held at the Blue & Orange Theatre Great Hampton Street Hockley.
Various issues were discussed from area improvements, bicycle thefts not being reported, mailbox thefts and the impact of Seagulls in the area.
It did heat up near the end when a green paper was discussed regarding the proposed cuts yet again to council services. Members, of the public did voice their concerns at the lack of apparent fight by City Leaders against the Cuts and a more compliant attitude.
The attendance was notable that although this meeting was in the Jewellery Quarter area of the Ward out of some 30 attendees only one was from the BME Community.
On Tuesday I attended a meeting within the Handsworth Wood ward concerning the proposed wheelie bins, where Cabinet Member James McKay was present.
There was good attendance and the indeed the public audience was very mixed a more true representation to say the least. The notably Councillor Hamilton was the only Ward Councillor in attendance.
Residents raised the issue of excessive fly tipping at present and fear it getting worse once wheelie bins issued. However, some had not realised that the issuing of Council black bags ceased in April and indeed they will have to purchase their own until 2015, before the Holford Drive Perry Barr refuse collection depot launches wheelie bins.
James McKay was able to discuss the advantages of wheelie bins from his own experience of living in Harborne, although the demographics between Harborne and Handsworth being different.
Councillor McKay did point out that, most major cities the size of Birmingham did already operate the wheelie bin system. However there was an admission of administrational issues when private tenancies changeover, which is a frequent occurrence in Handsworth.
On Thursday I went to the Ward meeting in Kingstanding which had 10 attendees of which one was from the BME Community.
It was more a friendly tea party atmosphere in my view. Various initiatives were discussed, but, two key main points:
1. The Budget was on the agenda, however, the City sent an Officer who in my view did not have a clue of what he was talking about, as his focus was adults and communities only and was unable articulate the issues sufficiently. The public did voice their concerns surrounding the compliant actions of the Council. However, the Chair Councillor Des Hughes of which there were only two Councillors present pointed out that the City has to set a legal budget. ‘Sounded more like a line from Sir Albert Bore’ beware its catching.
2. They had a public vote of the allocation of Community Chest funds which was agreed.
The overall issue was the lack of attendance from members of the BME Community with the exception of Handsworth Wood.
Budget Consultations are happening within these Ward Committees with small attendance figures.
Decisions on Community Chest funding applications are being made by a small number of people.
Are all residents in each ward aware of these meetings, we must hold elected members to account and I know it impact upon watching the soaps, but, our day to day lives more important and remember there is I-Player.
You can find out when your local meetings are by visiting www.birmingham.gov.uk/wardcommittees or alternatively visit your local Library of ask your local Councillor.
It’s our City we must use every opportunity to hold elected members to account.