Monthly Archives: May 2016

In/Out Referendum


Here is something to wet your appetite please take time to listen then lets debate about it:

I was once a euro sceptic but no more. I use to think the European Union was all about our fishing policies and a bunch of Germans who wants to maintain their world domination and this is why there want the euro so badly but when I was home after traveling from Europe with a trade union delegation to Brussels and totally forgot that my then partner was holding a house warming party a someone knocked on my door at about 8pm and this was the turning point of my life. A short woman who I recognise said “Hello Gordon it’s been a while since we last spoke”.

Obviously I was not going to let her stay outside and speak to me so I invited her and her colleague into my humble abode. The kettle was on and we offered them a strong cup of chai before the rest of our guest turned up whilst I was entertaining my two guest the conversation led to the European Union which I said to both Neena Gill and Michael Cashman MEPs that I have strong reservations about the current trend towards the European Union. They naturally reassured me that it was not all that bad and don’t believe all those scaremongering stories that you have read in the press and some trade union were putting out on their newsletters to members. Well I can tell all the hype at the time was very convincing and I almost fell for it.

jhirgjkl;To be frank I would say if you are not convinced about the European Union, I have to say that I live in the West Midlands Region in a city called Birmingham and I look around to see the benefits of what the European funding has provide which has been very positive:

Whether or not you are for Brexit or firmly in the remain camp there can be no doubt that the European Union has shaped Birmingham’s development with almost £1 billion of investment.

From the International Convention Centre during the early 90s to the recent Youth Employment Initiative, Birmingham and the West Midlands have enjoyed many benefits of European Union funding.

There are 15 items on our list of things the EU has done for Birmingham. Of course that is not the whole story, there have been many smaller projects and, at the same time, the UK Government has paid millions in to the EU.

jkkhklySo one question for the politicians is whether, should Britain vote to leave, the Government will step in and replace the stream of funding from Brussels and support Birmingham’s future growth and development. The EU chipped in £50 million towards the ICC and Symphony Hall which opened for business in 1991. It most famously welcomed global leaders, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin to the 1998 G8 Summit. Each year it hosts some 350 events including political and business conferences bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city.

There was further help for the city’s conference and exhibition industry with a £30 million cheque towards the refurbishment of the NEC – which of course is home to Crufts and many other major shows bringing thousands more to the city. Remember the upgrade of railway linking Birmingham to London, the North West and Scotland and reducing journey times in the process? The EU paid £66 million towards that.jdfjdgb

Those folks in Brussels helped Birmingham rid itself of one its biggest mistakes of the 1960s. It paid £9.1 million towards the redevelopment of Masshouse Circus in 2002, including the breaking of the Queensway flyover, known as the concrete collar, which had held back the expansion of the city centre for more than a generation.

Built in 1834 the Town Hall is the city’s premier historic building. But just over decade ago it was in a pretty sorry state, covered in soot and neglected. The EU, with a £3 million handout, was among a number of backers which saw it cleaned-up, its stonework restored and its interior refurbished and reopened in 2007.

The home of the Thinktank Museum and Birmingham City University was completed in 2000, it was, through a £25.6 million investment, the the UK’s largest ERDF funded project at the time.

Over £6 million invested in Innovation Birmingham, the former Aston Science Park, bringing digital and high technology businesses and jobs to the city.

Only last month the city council accepted a £33 million EU social fund grant towards its scheme to get 16,000 Brummies age under 30s into employment.urjg

Between 2007 and 2013, as the economy nose-dived, the European Regional Development Fund provided financial support for 24,910 West Midlands based businesses. At the centre of Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter is the Assay Office, one of the few places that precious metals can be tested and hall marked. Part of the cost of its expansion and relocation last year was covered with a £1.5 million EU grant.

The collapse of MG Rover in 2005 directly caused 6,000 redundancies, plus many further losses along the supply chains. The task force was set up to create jobs, invest and help get those workers back into employment. More than a third of its £176 million pot came from EU emergency funds. In the West Midlands alone between 2007 and 2013 universities benefited to the tune of about £260 million, funding research into health, food, energy, climate change and transport. They are receiving similar amounts under the new funding package.

Grants totalling £741,000 over six years helped get the festival launched in 2008 and established. In 2014 the festival was estimated to be worth £2.6 million to the city’s visitor economy. The EU gave £530,000 towards the setting up of this vital community centre in Winson Green. The ERDF stumped up £2.5 million, of the £6 million cost of developing this facility for the Sikh community and wider population of Handsworth. It opened in 2006.ktkyh

I received lots of emails from Friday until today I have had a number of people email, text, call me on my thoughts around the EU referendum  so i thought it i best if i put my thoughts together for you all to consider.

On the 23rd June 2016 we have an opportunity to decide the future of our United Kingdom with the EU Referendum. It is a once in a lifetime chance, and we cannot afford to get it wrong.

I pondered over the last few 15 years, and like a lot of you I’m unhappy with the undemocratic status of the EU, the lack of credible accounts, wasteful neglect of our resources, and the perception of a wider capitalist agenda on the cards.

However I did my own research, listened to colleagues, and attended debates to reach the conclusion that despite the scepticism the alternative of not being a member of the European Union is far too risky, and something that we as a country can ill-afford. The cost of the membership is alleged to be approx £18.8 billion but we have a special rebate that returns allegedly in the approx of £14.4 billion out of which £9.8 billion is given to the farming industry, and £5.7 billion to universities. This leaves around £89 per head for EU membership which is minuscule in comparison to the fact that Norway for a mere trade agreement contributes approx £134 per head without having a vote or indeed much influence in the EU.

We have around 2.5 million British in the European Union, and a similar number of EU citizens here but overall they contribute more than £2.6 billion that access to welfare benefits which we hardly hear of.

Imagine if we left the EU, and car makers such as Jaguar Land Rover were forced to pay a tariff for every car exported to the EU who are our largest importers of goods. There was be no sound economical reason for Jaguar Land Rover to stay in the West Midlands and it would have a devastating impact on us.

The EU is not perfect but we can work together with other socialists within Europe to bring about a fairer more transparent, democratic Europe. I fear the far right will take hold if we exit.

TTIP is a threat either way but being part of a united Europe puts us in a stronger position to negotiate in our interests. I believe being out would give big corporations free reign and too much power see article below:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html

The EU in a rational and coherent manner. Whatever your final decision maybe, it’s important that you use your right to vote, having weighed up as much information as possible on this complex issue. The outcome of this referendum will affect us all for generations to come. Please vote wisely.

I cannot see how more than 40 years of EU legislation that has had an impact will unravel if we left the EU, and the consequences that would have on everyday life for us. I recently went to five events across the West Midlands and London all speakers agreed it would be very messy divorce indeed. I am voting Remain, alongside my three local councillors and Member Of Parliament along with my fellow Labour Activists on 23 June and urge all to vote Remain.

 

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Satire: Conservatives say “On Yer Bike if you are disabled and homeless”


Here is something we all should not forget in a hurry:

Forgive me for being an old fart and a so-called loony left-wing which so people who may think I am which is very far from the truth.  What annoys me more is that we have all witnessed successful governments come into power all claiming that they will address the root causes of homelessness and they fail to grasp the nettle of how serious the problem is and would rather brush it under the carpet.

Let’s us all go back in time to the year of 4 May 1979 and 28 November 1990, when a woman called Maggie Thatcher who led a Conservative Government came to power she made claims There is no such thing as a society here is the full interview dated on 30 October 1987 with the Women’s Own Magazine:

“I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it.’I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

See link below:

http://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/~alexss/thatcherism.pdf

The reason why I and many others refer to this interview on the grounds it fundamentally changed UK with the housing, NHS policies in regards to the way how they housed people based on their income and not really taking into account people with disabilities which included mental health, alcoholism. Thatcherism basically caused the coal mining, manufacturing, housing, and hospitals to close on a full scale and start to thinking of rebranding the market which left many to be made homeless and jobless to the extent the then conservatives could not give a flying monkeys as long as you are a millionaire then it was a case of welcome to Britain if you have money in your pocket jingling.

Thirty years later we have seen a Labour, Coalition, and Conservative government with a society still being discontent to see increase in foodbanks, soup kitchens, high unemployment, homelessness which is endemic and not withstanding zero hour contracts. All incumbent governments use language to hookwink the so called intellect challenged into believing they will build more house, hospitals, and create more jobs.  Voters and non-voters are seeking answers to where are the new houses and jobs. If they build houses it is not affordable rent and the prices for the new homes are unaffordable to the average Joe Blog unless they have rich parents who will help them on to the ladder to buy their first property.

So it comes as to no surprise when Local authorities are unlawfully resettling homeless families in temporary housing far away from their local area, forcing them to spend hours travelling to schools and health services, a study has found.

The housing charity Shelter says some council are guilty of unsafe practices by pressurising homeless families into accepting unsuitable housing up to 100 miles from where they live, causing them unnecessary hardship.

It is alleged in one case, a woman made homeless in West London who was told relocation to Hastings on the south coast would keep her “close to London”, had to make seven-hour round trips back to the capital to take her ill baby to weekly hospital appointments.

Other cases include relocated families who arranged for their children to stay with grandparents or friends during the week so that they could remain at their old school. Other reported embarking on school runs lasting up to two hours.

Despite official guidance requiring councils to place families where practical in the borough in which they are resident, Shelter says authorities in London are now moving households out of area “as a matter of course”.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Faced with severe budget cuts and overwhelming numbers of homeless families coming to them for help, it’s sadly not surprising that overstretched councils in London are failing to meet their current legal responsibilities.”

Latest official figures show that 17,150 households were temporarily housed out of area in 2015, up from 5,330 in 2010. Over 90% of placements were made by London authorities, who say their hand is forced by high rents, housing benefit caps and affordable housing shortages.

Oh let’s not forget that Homeless disabled people are increasingly being turned away by cash-strapped councils as officials find reasons to avoid treating them as a priority, according to lawyers mounting a potentially landmark legal challenge.

The Supreme Court will consider decisions by local authorities to deny housing to a man with learning difficulties and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), another with mental and physical health problems and a drug addict who has been homeless since 2005.

One activist condemned the current system, saying it allowed councils to abandon people to a life on the streets, where the average life expectancy is just 47.

Housing applicants are considered to have a priority need if they are vulnerable, for example because of old age, a mental health problem or a physical disability. Local authorities test vulnerability by comparing applicants with “an ordinary homeless person” and considering whether they would be less able to fend for themselves.

The three-day Supreme Court hearing, will examine the way this is done and any change could have nationwide implications.

In one case, Southwark Council in south London decided Sifatullah Hotak was not a priority despite his PTSD, learning difficulties and symptoms of depression. They agreed he was vulnerable but said his brother Ezatullah Hotak, also homeless, was able to look after him. Mr Hotak, an Afghan national in the UK legally, relies on his brother to wash and dress him and make sure he goes to medical appointments. Both men live in a hostel but the council decided Ezatullah would be able to cope even if they were on the streets. In 2011, the council said: “On his own and street homeless, Mr Hotak may also be at risk of harm insofar as it may have an impact on his health. However, we are satisfied that his brother is capable of providing continued housing and support if they were street homeless together.”

Mr Hotak’s solicitor Pat Wilkins said her client’s situation was part of an increasing trend.

She said: “It’s getting more difficult for [vulnerable] people to get housed. I think there is a general shortage of housing and therefore local authorities have had to become much tougher about their decisions on how that housing is allocated.

“The most vulnerable people tend to be those who [do not] have the loudest voice, who aren’t able to make the case that others can.”

In a second Southwark case, Patrick Kanu was refused housing despite having a mental health disorder and a number of physical problems. In 2012, the council argued his conditions could be controlled by medication and his wife and grown-up son could help him.

Mr Kanu’s solicitor, Stuart Hearne of Cambridge House Law Centre, echoed Ms Wilkins’s comments. “There has become a noticeable increase in local authorities refusing to accept people with significant mental health problems [as a] priority need,” he said.

In a third case, Solihull council decided that Craig Johnson, who has a history of drug use and has been convicted of 50 offences, mainly petty theft, was not vulnerable enough to receive priority housing even though he has been homeless since 2005.

Jon Sparkes, of homelessness charity Crisis, said the current system was “unfair and wrong” and a “long-standing injustice”, arguing all homeless people were vulnerable.

“The resource level of the local authority shouldn’t be material in the decision about how vulnerable someone is,” he said. “While I can see some logic in there being priority and lower priority, having a system which enables a local authority to turn someone away to a [place] where their life expectancy is 30 years lower than the general population, I can’t see how that person is not a priority.”

Southwark’s housing spokesman, Richard Livingstone, said in both of its cases the Court of Appeal had found that the authority acted correctly.

“If a different view is taken by the Supreme Court, then this will be taken into account,” he said. “This is a much wider issue than decisions made by individual councils and we welcome the focus Crisis and Shelter are bringing to the national legislation and the questions raised.”

Solihull council declined to comment until after the hearing.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Housing authorities must ensure that suitable accommodation is available for people who have priority need.”

What the then Labour Government want us to believe:

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/labours-legacy/6509704.article

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premiership_of_Tony_Blair

http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/spcc/wp02.pdf

http://www.general-election-2010.co.uk/50-labour-party-achievements.html

What the then Conservatives and Libdem Coalition Government want us all to believe:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-housing-for-older-and-vulnerable-people/2010-to-2015-government-policy-housing-for-older-and-vulnerable-people

Now that we have a Conservative from 2010 –to present they say that they are introducing housing benefit caps and suppose to build more houses:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-rented-housing-sector/2010-to-2015-government-policy-rented-housing-sector

https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto

Establishment Need To Address Homelessness and Not pay Lip services


Here is a sort youtube for all to watch:

I recall some time ago whilst on my train journey(six years ago)  I was in discussion with a colleague on our way to Westminster Village my colleague commented that a woman in £1,000,000 crown decrees that Britain to ‘Live within its means’. Then she left Parliament to return to her £1 billion house. Was there anything in the speech about Building social housing, help for citizens needing food banks, soup kitchens and getting our vulnerable and homeless, rough sleepers of street into safe environment with own space with own front door key. Political establishment elite dictating policies of Austerity and deep cuts onto the UK citizenship while they increase family fortunes and Westminster getting higher wages all paid from the Public purse, the very people they socially, financially attack and the list goes on.

Reflecting back then I thought my colleague made sense and sometimes we all need to pick sense out of nonsense to have a sense of purpose to continue to campaign that was 6 years yesterday while deciding to write this article rest assured the opportunity came when I received a call from my long standing friend (Javed Iqbal) called me out of the blue said to me meet him in Birmingham City Centre. The next day I was in the city centre to meet up with him. What I did not know that he wanted to bring to my attention of a project that he with the help of family and friends got together to take some positive action to feed the homeless people in Birmingham after talks failed with the city officials.hdnrit

There is no surprise this is still occurring in 2016 which continues as public services continue to receive cuts from Central Government and Local Government. Hey who am I, or anybody else to judge others by the circumstances of individual lives comes to mind sure I could mind my own business and let it go undressed.  Do I hear some people say what a disgrace the establishment are doing “bugger all as they are more concerned of keeping up with the smiths or jones this kind of reminds us of a British sitcom called Keeping up with appearances sure we all could have a few laughs but does this make it right. Of course not. See details https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeping_Up_Appearances Sure they are more than happy to use photo opportunities to say what a wonderful thing they are doing to help the homeless”.

Sure politicians are more than happy to use photo opportunities to say “what a wonderful thing they are doing to help the homeless”.

Granted homeless comes in many forms and various issues of their circumstances to top this of many feel that the government are paying lip services towards homelessness  to assist them back into society this the general feeling that is floating around by some community leaders that I have spoken to just yesterday. It’s about time that the establishments take the bull by the horn to combat homelessness instead of paying lip service as there seem to be a crisis on the increase throughout the UK. What both Central government and Local Government have put on paper is fine and dandy but it more froth than action unfortunately. See links below:

http://qni.org.uk/docs/mental_gealth_guidance_print.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34790094

http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/children-mental-health/mentalhealthfoundation/1531562006_making_the_link.pdf

http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/document_library/research/service_access_lit_review.pdf

http://www.mungos.org/documents/5390/5390.pdf

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Mental_Health_and_Housing_report_2016_1.pdf

http://www.homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/site-attachments/Evaluation%20of%20the%20Homeless%20Hospital%20Discharge%20Fund%20FINAL.pdf

Intriguingly this establishment makes claims that they are providing assistance to the homeless with mental health. See link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-fund-to-improve-the-health-of-homeless-people

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/412047/150309__homelessness_change_prospectus_full.pdf

https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1223587406195&ssbinary=true&blobheadervalue1=attachment%3B+filename%3D894519FINAL_Homeless_Health_Report.pdf

Well I’m sure that I am not the only one to say where has our tax money have been invested as there is still homelessness across the UK and Wales as to-date there is no improvements out there and Central Government are very quick to say that Local Government has the responsibility to ensure they use the funds to ensure that they clear up the problem. On the other side of the coin Local Government and charities are singing the same tune by claiming that they are not getting enough funding to continue with the services and they have to cut back on services to homelessness and they are expected to do more for little and nothing.  The sad thing about this it took a person like Javed Iqbal and friends to come together to provide this sort of service through the kind donations of friends, relatives, and the public to help the provide goods and by using all the social media to bring this to the attention in the public domain. I give him a hat tip to him with the help of friends and family.

If people wants to help with the donations please see link below:

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/javed-iqbal

Then ask yourselves this question why you voted for your Local Councillors in the first place and if you come to the same conclusions as I have it is for them to represent YOUR views and communities then this what people can do to help is to write to the Birmingham City Council Labour Group Leader or lobby your Local Councillors:

John Clancy Labour Group Leader

Council HouseVictoria Square Birmingham B1 1BB

Email address: john.clancy@birmingham.gov.uk

Telephone: 0121 464 4000

The contact details can be found on:

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/wardcllrs