Time for a change in Ladywood

23 Mar


Ladywood ward needs a councillor who opposes austerity at every level, including when it comes to voting in the council chamber. It needs a councillor who rejects the pro-business agenda of the ruling Labour Group and Kerslake. And it needs a councillor who rejects the racist scapegoating of immigrants for the social ills caused by the 1%.
Robert Brenchley, of Birmingham Left Unity, is offering the voters of Ladywood the option of choosing such a candidate.
The election leaflet can be downloaded here;




Slaney Street 7

18 Mar
Slaney Street issue 7 is now out, and of course still free. This edition features;
  • The vicious attacks on the library service, in particular on the Library of Birmingham.
  • The onslaught on Birmingham City Council services, via the huge cuts being transmitted by the Labour administration.
  • The onslaught on Birmingham City Council, via the Kerslake review, which has as its aim the handing over of even more of it into the arms of big business.
  • The war on the poor, on women and on Muslims.
  • The struggle against racism and fascism.
  • Greece.
  • Pride.
  • and more . . . . .
Why not take some for your circle, neighbourhood or campaign?

“West Heath Library will be re-built”

13 Mar
That is what local citizens and potential library users have been told repeatedly by local councillors. There is even a notice on the old library announcing the demolition would be beginning in January of 2015!

SyrizaRally 009SyrizaRally 007











But . . . . . nothing is happening. The hoardings are not up and no work is in progress. What is going on?

A pan-European struggle against austerity is needed

8 Mar
SyrizaRally 014
A highly successful public meeting last Friday saw about seventy people turn up to the Birmingham Left Unity meeting to hear Marina Prentoulis of Syriza speak of the situation that the new anti-austerity government is facing in Greece.
She talked of the very tough negotiating conditions that were being imposed by EU leaders, but how they were determined to start rolling back the years of appalling austerity, and that their project has only just begun. She said how Syriza would like to solve all the problems of European nations suffering under austerity, but how they could not do it alone.
In that respect, it was good to see a delegation from the Spanish Podemos in the room, giving solidarity to the anti-austerity struggle. The Spanish elections are due at the end of the year, and Podemos is hoping to become the second anti-austerity government in Europe.
The meeting was introduced by Robert Brenchley, the Birmingham Left Unity candidate for the council ward of Ladywood on May 7th. He described it as a ward where the Labour votes are taken for granted, but how the residents get little in return.
There was plenty of time for discussion, and some of the topics that were touched on were the “Grexit”, defaulting on debts, and a very favourable comparison of Syriza to the British Labour Party and its sister party PASOK.
Marina talked of how Syriza began as an electoral coalition, but how in 2012 it turned itself into a party and its various components, for example Synaspismos, dissolved themselves, and everyone now presented themselves as Syriza members in public.
Syriza members still have the right to organise as platforms within the party. For example, the left platform is a significant minority and has taken a critical stance towards recent negotiations.
It would be good for there to be a realistic chance of an anti-austerity party coming to power in this country, but things are clearly nowhere near as advanced as in Greece and Spain.
An appeal was made at the end of the meeting for all those present to join Left Unity and to help bring us a bit nearer towards that goal.
The audience listens to a Podemos speaker

The audience listens to a Podemos speaker


Solidarity needed! Rally this Friday.

1 Mar

LU Rally March 6th_page_001


Here is a downloadable version, for printing and circulation;

March6th rally version 2


Birmingham Needs a Comprehensive and Efficient Library Service!

26 Feb
The LoB rally on February 7th

The LoB rally on February 7th

The Institute of Directors is moving into the Library of Birmingham on a permanent basis, and this symbolises the direction of the city regarding public services; huge cuts and a pro-business agenda.
As we approached the opening date of the new library in September 2013, there were fears about bringing big private interests into its ownership and control. But one response was that the corporate world would be able to bring in some much needed cash to bridge the funding gap. Well, that did not happen, the money did not materialise, and added to the miscalculations over the rates and running costs, and the huge cuts to the Birmingham budget by central government, the ruling Labour group has planned massive cuts to this 17 month old library, or ‘prestige project’ as one leading manager stated.
And let us not forget the financial attacks on the community libraries around the city either.
With even more cuts planned for next year, what future for a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ public library service, a specified under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act?
What is at stake here?
In the Shawshank Redemption, Andy DuFresne says;
“You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory”.
But what might have been mystical, comforting and endearing in that context, does not apply to a comprehensive and efficient library service. The Czech-born writer Milan Kundera (who wrote The Unbearable Lightness of Being), said;
“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history, Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. …”
Well, at the huge rally organised by the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage, back in January, it was pointed out that the archives constitute the memory of Birmingham, and without proper care, it could eventually be lost.
And furthermore, at the successful rally outside of the Library of Birmingham on February 7th, Carl Chinn pointed out the huge gain that a free library service had been to the working class of the city.
Libraries are a vital community asset, warm and welcoming places where people can meet, read, study, research and write, and where learning and cultural activities can be organised.  They are not just about the lending of books. The internet, bookshops and other resources can complement a free and efficient library service, but they are no substitute. So, there has to be a massive outcry from the citizens of this city at the vandalism that is going on.

Continue reading

Protest at the Council Budget setting meeting on March 3rd, 1pm!

20 Feb
The following appeal has been issued by the Friends of the Library of Birmingham;
Save our Libraries; Carl Chinn and others

Save our Libraries; Carl Chinn and others

“In its summary of the responses to the consultation over its budget for 2015-16, the Council acknowledges that the total number of submissions over the Libraries, Museums, Arts and Heritage was the highest, comprising 50% of the total (followed by Adult Social Care on 29%). And within that high level of submissions, by far the highest level of opposition to the proposed cuts was registered (78%), when compared to other service areas.
The thousands of people who had signed up to the petition circulated by the Friends of the Library of Birmingham were also acknowledged. This petition called for opposition to the cuts to the Library of Birmingham, in particular the reduction of the opening hours from 73 to 40 and the sacking of 100 staff. It also opposed cuts to the Community Libraries.
However, once the consultation period was over, and the draft budget produced, it became clear that this overwhelming rejection of the plans of the ruling Labour Group had been ignored. The cuts to hours and staff were being pursued, and the reduction of the budget had only been reduced from £1.5 m to £1.3 m.
Several direct questions to the Council had been asked at its meetings, for example there was one regarding the question of charging for certain services, including music. The question was not answered by the cabinet member responsible, and it was then revealed that charges would indeed be made for music.
According the OECD, of which the UK was a founding member, public consultation is:
Notification (to publicise the matter to be consulted on), consultation (a two-way flow of information and opinion exchange) as well as participation (involving interest groups in the drafting of policy or legislation).
The latter point hardly applies in the Birmingham situation, so we are arguing that the consultation has been a sham, and that the views of those who have taken a lot of trouble to make their views felt have been ignored.
It could be countered that the consultation is about how to implement these massive cuts, rather than whether to or not. Indeed, that was the distinct impression at the consultation meetings and on the forms. There was never a “none of the above” alternative.
However, our reply is that this is all being proposed by a party that did not include in its election manifestos in 2012 or 2014 that it would countenance huge cuts to this brand new library or the 39 community libraries. (The same applies to the other two minority parties of course)
So, we think it is clear that the Council has no democratic mandate for these cuts to the library service.
We are therefore fully justified in protesting at this abuse of democracy and the attack on learning and culture at the Council Budget setting meeting on March 3rd. They lost the argument during the consultation, and have now lost all democratic legitimacy.
We appeal for all those opposed to this shameless vandalism to join us at 1 pm outside of the Council House.”
Since the appeal was agreed, UNISON have also decided to protest.



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