Monthly Archives: June 2013

Policing & Mental Health, Coercion or Care? ACCI & BMH UK National Conference 2013

I am getting to report on an important conference I didn’t even attend. I made an early application but from then until now I heard nothing more, although I met with the organiser. I had been hoping to talk to her since I am managing a project on improving bme access to appropriate mental health services. I was therefore delighted when I received a telephone call from the very person. I arranged to meet her and went specially to Wolverhampton to do so.
I felt that I needed to mention some of things going on in Wolverhampton closely associated with the subject matter of the conference which was to be attended by a Minister and Shadow Minister, the Chair of the IPCC etc. I had applied for a place not only for myself but for Jenny Cooper who was permanently disabled by two police officers while arresting her in 2010. I told the organiser about Jenny, and about the man who was tasered while trying to stop a police officer manhandling his daughter who was in an advanced state of pregnancy. These and others we know about who have been harassed and harmed by police officers in Wolverhampton all happen to be black. Since tickets were priced at above £300 was it likely many could attend. Some were made available free of charge and apparently all were taken.
So who was the conference for and did it bring about an awareness of what was happening not least on the doorsteps of Molineux where the conference took place? Certainly Tippa Napthali was there from the Mikey Powell Campaign, a group which has supported many other families who have suffered deaths of their family members while in custody – places where they expected them to have been out of harm’s way.

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Birmingham’s prized education service trashed

In Birmingham Gove has had his way in trashing Birmingham’s once proud Education Service with minimal opposition from the Council. Even the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services in the Con Dem Coalition, Les Lawrence, didn’t support academies and free schools they have gone ahead. Quite a few Labour Councillors think academies are a good idea and some have supported the Nishkam Free Schools. Quite a muddle.
It’s good that the City Council wants to retain some influence on education, but why has it let so much control continue to ebb away. The idea of a co-operative enterprise to maintain cohesion is a good one but it is over a year ago since it was first mooted and although it is supposed to be in place by September there is little sign of an effective vehicle to emerge so far. The Labour Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Brigid Jones, may have good intentionbut she needs a strong officer corps for support. It is not Councillors who are paid to run the City Council, and I know as a former Cabinet Member how important competent and loyal officers are. Brigid’s officers are out of control. I have told her this from my experience as a former governor of Foundry School. When it was forced to become an Academy the Birmingham officers, who should have been supporting the school, came in holding the hand of Gove’s agent, Rob Briscoe, to polish us off. I have heard the same story over and over. Too many Birmingham schools are being handed over to chains of organisations with CEOs taking telephone number salaries. They are paid with our taxes! This is where the money supposed to be for our education service has gone. Even if you like academies you should at least have a say in who your sponsor is. That was denied governors and parents in at least one case with once again Birmingham education officers standing by without offering advice or support. What are they paid for?
I have written to Albert Bore about this, but he has other problems, like raking over the ashes to find if there is anything left to run a Council at all. But he has never been in opposition to private take over of Council Service, he only has a preference for KPMG over Capita.
Once upon a time astute people brought in an educationist rather than a local government careerist to run education. Under Sir Tim Brighouse it thrived. I attended two occasions when HM inspectors looked at the service provided. On both occasions it was accorded high praise, even when Brighouse’s arch enemy Chris Woodhouse led the inspection. How all that can disappear in the blink of en eye is unimaginable. Labour could have seen this coming preparing while still in opposition to do what a number of authorities like Bradford, Liverpool and Cornwall have achieved. What is being done now is too little, too late. Brigid is on her own as she is undermined by her officers. They should be sacked now. Bore is too busy to give it his full attention and he embraces privatisation. Labour Councillors are all over the place. Step forward parents, governors, teachers and other stake holders to regain a democratic system led by the Council. Birmingham Campaign for State Education and the Anti-Academy Alliance will help.
The Socialist Labour Party is totally opposed to academies, free schools and any privatisation of public services.

Hester walking, Bore talking

How do the rich become wealthy? How do the poor stay that way? Is it their entrepreneurial skills that get a talented few to the top, household names like Branson, Sugar, Blair, Mandelson et al as their celebrity allows them to wine and dine with the mighty. More about Bobby.
Today we have the news of Stephen Hester leaving RBS having been put in place to put things right and then getting tangled with the Libor scandal. In spite of this Hester will walk away with a multimillion pound pay off. RBS is in large part nationalised. Who will pay? I suppose it’s us.
Meanwhile back at the ranch here in Birmingham, Council leader Albert Bore is scratching his head with what to do without any money for what heave been termed “essential services”. He is talking to us about what it is we want to keep out of the ashes that have been left in the name of austerity. “We will have to change” he warns stating the blindingly obvious. Clearly we can’t beat ’em so we will join them by making Birmingham lead in the country’s economy. Do we presume that this will lead to a form of trickle down to feed, house and protect our mist vulnerable citizens?
The problem is, as we can see above, he can’t count on being bailed out by his party as they too join in the grandest larceny ever with public funds being handed over to bolster profit. Schools, hospitals, even prisons contribute to the likes of the Chief Executives of G4S, and ATOS who thrive at the expense of the peoples’ misery. They take over key services providing poorly trained, low paid staff.
Is austerity necessary? Yes it is if you have the view that the key to a successful economy is maximising profit and rewarding the few who happen to be in the right place and the right time. This is the dominant version espoused by politicians, the elite who court them and a press ever more tightly reigned in to serve their purpose. Many more are seeing through the great lie and as the power of the state is abused resistance will intensify as we have seen across Europe in Spain, Greece and now Turkey. It will not be taken lying down.

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