This video is a follow up on Dr Lucy Reynold’s earlier analysis of the government’s ongoing programme to privatise the NHS by stealth. Talking to local GP Dr Bob Gill, she also elaborates on measures people can take to head off this programme, particularly in relation to the House of Lords debate on April 24th
A must-view video, in case you did not see it when it first came out.
In early 2012, there were rumours about the possible privatisation of the Northfield Leisure centre. Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts, launched a petition in March 2012 opposing this eventuality, and it had immediate and huge support from users and passers-by.
Labour came to power two months later and the alarm died down.
However, as we know too well, the new administration was soon given notice that it had to introduce devastating cuts to services over a period of several years, and any subsequent hope of opposition from Birmingham Labour came to nothing. We have since witnessed big attacks on Community libraries, Neighbourhood offices, community centres, swimming pools and other services.
The Northfield Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre was opened in May 1937 as a municipal baths; the fitness suite was added in the 1980s. A major renovation took place a few years ago, but the Council is now saying that it is reaching the end of its life and plan to close it in 2017. In its place they seem to want a new pool in Longbridge, but the idea of a municipal pool that is guaranteed to be accessible and affordable is getting lost, as is the case for the Tiverton Road pool.
The consultation meeting in Longbridge on Wednesday attracted a good turnout of 80-90 people, but was dominated by presentations from the top table. The short meeting did not allow time for full discussion by the public, but there was a feeling that a privately run pool as part of the new shopping (and hotel?) complex in Longbridge was not what was wanted. The privately run pool in Harborne or the new University Pool in Selly Oak seem to be the model that the Council prefers, or is resigned to be going along with. Would this be a suitable replacement for the current very popular and well-used pool?
A new community, municipal pool in Northfield would best meet users’ wishes, but they will be most likely be listened to then ignored.
The current pool costs about £4000 per week to run. (Tiverton costs about £6000). Much is made of the Harborne Pool being apparently self-financing, and presumably the new one would aim to have a neutral balance (or be profit making?). But the idea of public services being paid for out of general taxation and not being subject to market logic is once again getting lost. We have seen how this has impacted on trains and buses in terms of fares; do we want to introduce the same logic into other services such as swimming pools?
There will be more news about the Northfield pool in the autumn, so those that want a new community pool in Northfield, or wish to retain the current one, will need to watch developments closely.
A new occupation takes place . . . and is promptly repressed!
The university authorities reveal themselves once more as shameless thugs who are not fit to run an educational institution.
This letter speaks for itself.
Carol Dawson, District Manager, Services For Older People/Elderly Services
Birmingham City Council, Homes and Neighbourhood Directorate
Level 1, 1 Lancaster Circus, Birmingham B2 2RP
17 July 2014
I live at the above city council-run-sheltered housing scheme and, as a vulnerable person, have felt some sort of reassurance knowing a warden/support officer presence on Scheme five days a week (Monday to Friday) was in place. Indeed, I know a good few of my neighbours have always appreciated being able to know they could go to get help from a trained support officer about a whole range of matters on any of the above-mentioned days. Furthermore, the Services for Older People section of the city council’s website clearly states that each of its Sheltered Housing Schemes “is linked via an alarm to a professional member of staff when on duty from Monday to Friday”. (underlined my emphasis)
I heard a while back that Thursdays may no longer be covered by a support officer but, to my utter horror, I have recently discovered warden/support officer presence at the above scheme (where a lot of elderly and vulnerable adults reside) has now been slashed back to mean there will only be an officer on Scheme on a Monday and a Wednesday. To make matter even worse, I only found out (from a very hard-pressed support officer) about what amounts to a sixty percent cut in support officer cover by chance.
Speaking frankly this whole thing is an outrage and it appears the sheltered housing management and other city council officials are presiding over a quite shocking state of affairs where needy and vulnerable service users are being left in a parlous state of affairs and I am directly appealing to you to explain how your duty of care to tenants is being met here.
These quite savage cuts to this and other services coincide with massive attacks on the much-needed public spending which makes the lives of millions bearable in a country with the seventh largest economy in the world. Every politician who supports these cuts at either national or local government level must be put on the spot because they are all accountable, as are city council officials.
I am one of many who will not accept that elderly and vulnerable people should be treated in this way just to save a few miserable pounds because human need, human rights, human dignity and human decency come before balance sheets.
As a service user, I believe I am entitled to have the above concerns properly addressed and look forward to receiving a reply from your department in the near future. Thank you for your time.
City Council Sheltered Housing Tenant and Lay member of Unite the Union. (Name and address withheld for internet purposes).
cc. M Perviaz, Senior Support Officer, Sheltered Housing/Services for Older People
Cllr M Straker-Welds
Cllr L Trickett,
Cllr C Spencer
R Godsiff MP
Birmingham Unison Local Government Branch
Birmingham Trade Union Council
Chair of BCC Sheltered Housing Liaison Board
The mental health advocacy organisation POhWER
By suspending two of the students involved in the struggle to save the university from its pro-business agenda, its authorities have shown once again that they are not interested in dialogue. Their only reply to student grievances is to try and shut them up. So Kelly, Simon (and Hattie) have been targeted in order to frighten the others. Communities Against the Cuts has supported the students of Defend Education in the pursuance of its demands and gives its best wishes to the three victimised students. For details, see
This evening, from 5-7 pm, witnessed another strike in the series of actions by the Fire Brigades Union over their long running pension dispute. Once again, the banners and pickets were outside the closed Kings Norton fire station, and once again there were the regular hoots of support from passing motorists.
The negotiations have dragged on now for three years and there is no resolution in site. The government has adopted the same mean and vicious attitude towards the fire firefighters as they have to other public sector employees, wanting “more for less”. The number of years of service to qualify for a full pension is to rise from 30 to 40, and the already large amount that a firefighter pays towards the pension, about £3,800 pa, is to rise to over £4000. It is one of the least generous pension arrangements in the public sector (if you discount ministers of course).
On top of that there have been years of low wage rises, that were preceded by a wage freeze.
This brutal attack on the firefighters is being met with determined resistance by their union, the FBU, with solid strike after solid strike. They are not just fighting for themselves, but for all those that may need the service they provide. Can a 60-year-old be expected to go into burning buildings, and carry people down ladders? It is a bit like the government’s proposals that would lead to 68-year-old PE teachers chasing 16-year-olds around a playing field.
The idea is that when a firefighter can no longer match the level of fitness required, they will have the “choice” of leaving with a 50% cut in their pension (for a 55-year-old) or getting the sack. Some choice!
This dispute must be won, as must the similar disputes across the public sector. We wish the FBU all our support and also thank them for their help in our recent election campaign.