Monthly Archives: July 2011

Birmingham City leaders pour contempt on Handsworth Wood residents

A treasured local amenity, Hawthorn House, has been auctioned off by Birmingham City Council against the express wishes of local residents. This makes Handsworth Wood a virtually amenity-free zone. It is reported that it will become a private residence.
I reported earlier on a campaign to save Hawthorn House from being sold off. There were attempts to form trusts, however since these appeared to be under the control of individuals there was some concern about the property remaining available to the public in perpetuity. Cllr Randall Brew who was overseeing the sale of property, including Hawthorn House and Milton Grange, also in Handsworth Wood. Handsworth Wood Residents’ Association wrote to him repeatedly to ask what was happening but got not so much as an acknowledgement. Contempt for Handsworth Wood residents, who fought for Hawthorn House to become a local amenity several years back, runs deep.
Interestingly the local Tory candidate in this year’s local election in May has just issued a leaflet supporting the retention of Hawthorn House. Ironically the buyer of Hawthorn House is another hopeful candidate seeking Labour Party nomination for Handsworth Wood Ward against the sitting councillor, Gurdial Singh Atwal. Mr Sandhu I understand was at one time interested in saving Hawthorn House for the community. Perhaps his intention is to present it to us. If he has seized it for personal use then the local electorate needs to know in case he is selected as Labour Party candidate next May. I hear he has the support of Perry Barr MP, Khalid Mahmood. Khalid was a prominent speaker at the “Save Hawthorn House” campaign.

The honours list appears to be for self-service

The News of the World scandal is set to run and run. Now we flash back to 2006 when Lord MacDonald as Director of Public Prosecution was told by his own employees that hacking was rife. Not only did he choose to turn a blind eye, he ended up being hired by the paper.
It seems a day doesn’t go by without one of m’lords or knights being found on the fiddle. So what are honours for? Usually the blurb mutters something about some noble sounding venture that these supposedly selfless beings have been involved in. Then it emerges they’ve had their hand in the till all along. Clearly we need an Order of the Duck House in recognition of their achievements in playing the system. After all Capitalism is all about self aggrandisement, looking after the self and bugger the consequences.
Earlier rumblings about our cash-strapped leaders began investigating “cash for amendments” although promised investigations didn’t reveal the equivalent of the duck house here. The way things are going that’s just around the corner.

The killer was vainglorious, lethal, meticulous and utterly callous

The description of the Norway massacre seems to me to describe very well the content of games and films readily available and marketed aggressively. Once I used to buy music I liked from HMV but now it’s pages are dominated by games and films promoting the violence. The title of this article is a quote from today’s Independent and it could well describe leading game called “The Call of Duty”, which provides impressionable people precisely the excuse that seems to have prompted the Norway killer’s activities.
During earlier reports it was stated that the perpetrator of the mass killings, to which world wide revulsion has been made manifest in the mainstream media, was in the army. Presumably then that is where he learned his facility with arms.
To those living in war zones there is nothing unfamiliar about this terror. It is a daily feature of life. While many may not hold the political views underpinning the terror armies provide a haven for those who do giving them the ability to carry out killings on predominantly Muslim people – those the Norway killer identifies as alien and undesirable.
Private firms commissioned increasingly frequently to operate in war zones are known to harbour sentiments associated with the far right. Erik Prince of Blackwater (now changed to Xe) had a mission against Islam which he was able to realise through sending staff to Iraq. The company carry out secret missions involving assassination in places like Pakistan, not officially a war zone so far.

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Council House doors slammed shut in face of disabled protestors

Those assembled to protest against cuts in benefits and services to the most vulnerable of their citizens found Birmingham Council House doors shut firmly against them. Why was no sitting councillor out there? Are they too ashamed to show their faces. I was once proud to represent this City but I could not have sat inside and ignored these people.
Although courts have ruled against City Council decisions it seems they are prepared to tough it out. I went to a review of an elderly woman who is disabled the social workers involved falling in with the lie “this is nothing to do with the cuts, this client has been over-provided for.” Evidently someone had come in and whizzed round with a stop watch reminiscent of a factory scene in I’m alright Jack when the workers were timed and given impossibly short times for their tasks. In this case it involves using the toilet or swallowing and digesting their food. 1984 has nothing on this.

5000 rally in Birmingham in pension protest

I attended a peaceful but determined rally in Victoria Square yesterday. This was followed by a march through town. My own teacher’s pension had its annual increase markedly reduced by a fall back from final to average salary. This pales into insignificance by what working people are being asked to do losing their jobs which in itself will cut their pension opportunities. Why create a time bomb in which we end our lives in poverty?
Those making these appalling decisions will in no way be losers themselves. MPs and executives award themselves sums many times larger than the paltry amounts awarded to people who have spent a lifetime of hard work. Teaching is not easy at any time. After 60 it is laborious.