Paul Bristow for Peterborough!

Over a hundred campaigners descended to Peterborough this afternoon and we were treated to a surprise guest speech by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP alongside many other MP’s.

The by-election in ten days time will be a close run thing, and while Brexit is at the forefront of many people’s minds, it’s important to remember it was triggered by the previous Labour MP’s sentencing for perjury, her dishonourable refusal to resign, thus requiring a petition to force her out. The Conservatives have a strong economic message, and have been the only party committed to delivering the result of the referendum from the outset. We have the policies to deliver a better country for us all.

Having campaigned with Paul in the local elections and now for him, he is the right local candidate for the region, who knows and cares about the issues affecting people every day. And it is only the Conservatives who have the vision and policies to continue taking our country in the right direction.


Home-to-School Transport for 0-25yr olds in Education

Labour-controlled Birmingham City Council today voted to push ahead with an entire overhaul of their 0-25yr old home-to-school Assisted Transport service despite concerns raised by parents, cross party councillors and the Department for Education.

These changes combine all transport arrangements for everyone using home-to-school transport. After the initial decision was ‘called in’ by my myself and Cllr Debbie Clancy, and unanimously agreed by the cross-party Children’s Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the matter was referred back to Cabinet for their reconsideration 22nd May 2019.

Councillors at Scrutiny were compelled by a number of concerns especially around how the new policy was not considered clear, did not contain examples or clarified what ‘exceptional circumstances’, ‘discretionary’ or ‘unsafe journeys’ were. Very compelling was the response by the Department for Education themselves to the consultation, which outlined in some detail their own concerns.

Executive Cabinet Meeting 22nd May 2019- Travel Assistance Call in Decision

We do not think, in the current format (although perhaps this is only due to the consultation format) that the policy is particularly easy for a parent to understand, as it is very long (8- pages in total) and only limited sections may be relevant for a parent at any one point..”

Department for Education response to BCC Consultation

The Department for Education among many other points raised highlighted their concerns with the application form which includes ‘a number of questions that the parent should not be required to answer’ and fields which are ‘not relevant for determining’ eligibility.

As a scrutiny body, we raised many other concerns including:

  • adequacy of the length of the consultation period,
  • short time period between the end of the consultation period and the submission to Cabinet for approval,
  • leading questions in the consultation process,
  • changes to the stage 2 appeal panel from independent cross-party councillors to council officers,
  • lack of clarity with the policy,
  • the appendixes changes were all to be changed in the future and not altered as part of this submission,
  • given the history of Council and Children’s Wellbeing it was important for us to get this right.

Disappointingly, despite the concerns of cross party Councillors, the unanimous decision of cross-party scrutiny, parents and the department for Education, the Labour controlled Council Executive ultimately waved through these changes.

Considering the very poor history our Council has with Children safeguarding and the importance of getting things right this time, we have have concerns whether this policy will help or hinder future families seeking assistance.

We have repeatedly called for cross party proportional representation of who chairs the overview scrutiny committees. Instead in a Labour controlled council led by Labour Cabinet members, we have the farcical situation where it is ostensibly held to account by Labour scrutiny chairs- their colleagues. Without any genuine accountability, openness or transparency, it is no surprise the council is where it is today.


Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

Everyone has mental health. It needs to be seen alongside physical health as something which affects us all and should be talked about without fear or mental reservation. This week, why not continue to help break down these barriers by having a chat with a friend, family member or a colleague and think about your own wellbeing too.

CALM: Campaign Against Living Miserably is one of many charities doing incredible work.

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. In 2015, 75% of all UK Suicides were male. Everyone has low moments and many of us have had suicidal thoughts of feelings at some point in our lives. It does not mean that is the answer. There are always options, people who you know, don’t know, can or can’t see, who care and can help. To be vulnerable and to open up is sometimes the hardest thing to do and takes immense courage. Talk it over or start a conversation with someone.

https://www.mind.org.uk/


Knife Angel

A powerful statue arrived in Birmingham today with an even more important message.

Made up from 100,000 knives surrendered as party of weapons amnesties by police forces across the country, it is a powerful reminder to us all of the devastating effects that knife crime can have in our communities and how it is in our hands. I see it as both a reminder of the grief and pain caused to so many by knife crime, but also I feel it carries a message of hope. Each knife surrendered is a step in the right direction. The angel both cradling what is lost, is also looking down upon us, calling upon us all to do our part.


Peterborough By-Election looming..

After Fiona Onasanya MP refused to resign following her conviction for perverting the course of justice in December, residents in Peterborough have started the Recall Petition to get her removed. I am confident that the threshold of 10% of eligible voters will be easily passed triggering a fresh start for Peterborough.

A jury unanimously convicted the MP of lying about who was driving her car when it was caught speeding back in July 2017. Sentenced to three months in prison, she served four weeks before being released on licence.

Today we took the opportunity to visit friends and family in my fiancé’s hometown of Peterborough and stopped in to support the local Conservatives for their upcoming local elections and Paul Bristow, our Parliamentary candidate. 


Four waste Cabinet Members in less than one year..

Well this sums up Birmingham City Council for you. After just three months in charge, Cllr Brett O’Reilly is stepping down as the city’s Clean Streets, Waste and Recycling Cabinet Member.

The waste strikes in Birmingham have cost the city well over £12 million pounds and is being subsidised by funds meant for vulnerable older people. It is the collective failure of the Labour controlled council which has caused the strikes and their mismanagement that has cost the city dearly in money and reputation.

I constantly receive emails and calls from residents still without a reliable service- the basics of a provision council is supposed to provide. Very frustrating times for us all with no end in sight.

Key facts:

  • Three months of strikes in 2017 cost the city over £6m.
  • Strikes in February 2019 are costing the city £5,8m so far.
  • Legal costs are more than £1.45m.
  • There is an estimated £1m in settlement payments.
  • At one point, 1030 calls to BCC a day were being made.

 


Chinese Labour Corp

The story behind the Chinese Labour Corp is being displayed at the Chinese Community Centre in Digbeth for a few weeks before being moved to Birmingham Library. It tells of one of the least recognised contributions towards the First World War.

In July 1916, some 50,000 labourers  came over from China after a three month journey. Many did not survive the journey. A total of some 100,000 Chinese workers joined the British Chinese Labour Corp supporting the allied war effort.

They were told they would be in non-combatant roles and far from the front lines but as the war progressed without end, their roles grew.

Mainly aged 20-35, the labourers were set about building munition depots, carrying munitions to support front line troops, or repairing supply lines, unloading ships, repairing trenches, roads and railways. At the end of the war they were used for mine clearance, and for a long time after the end of the war, they recovered bodies of soldiers and reinterred into the neat rows we see today, and filled in miles of trenches. Dangerous, hard and remitting work.

They worked ten hour days, 7 days a week, with only three days three holidays. Many went on working till 1920. Many thousands died from disease, a flu epidemic which spread across camps, enemy action or wounds. An estimated 10,000 died. However, some say the number was as high as 20,000.

Tragically at the end of the war, a giant canvas exhibited in Paris at the end of the war- which was at the time the largest painting in the world- showed a victorious France surrounded by her allies. The Chinese workers, whose contribution undoubtedly helped the war effort was literally painted out to allow for the arrival of the United States

Called the forgotten of the forgotten. Britain has over 40,000 war memorials, not a single one is dedicated to the Chinese Labour Corps. An effort led by Steve Lau of the Ensure We Remember CLC Campaign is leading efforts to properly recognise that we indeed remember.

 


Home For Good

Every year 40,000 children and young people come into care in the UK. We want every child to have stable and loving home where they can thrive.

Home For Good

It all started with a key! For several months I have been supporting Home For Good with their celebratory event in February 2019 at Birmingham Cathedral. The event designed to celebrate the work of foster and adoption families across the city is a brilliant initiative by Home For Good which I was delighted to offer my help towards. The message is simple- we all can play a part in unlocking a home for a child. Take a key and make a commitment to champion fostering and adoption in Birmingham. What can we all do to help find a home for someone without.

Home For Good calls on our faith as Christians to help and care for the vulnerable through the church network to create supportive communities promoting and supporting fostering and adoption.

https://homeforgood.org.uk/


China West Midlands UK

Honoured to be invited to speak at the CWM2020 dinner alongside Cllr Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council Leader, Beverly Nielsen from Birmingham City University, Paul Faulkner, Chamber of Commerce and many other distinguished guests.

“China will soon be the biggest economy in the world. It holds a fifth of the world’s population and has a distinctive cultural inheritance. Although the West Midlands has good connections with China, we can all benefit from further developing this relationship by celebrating and strengthening the economic, social and cultural ties between China and the West Midlands.”

CWM2020

We envisaged that throughout 2020 there will be a series of events with China related elements at various times and in different places, starting with the Chinese New Year 2020 and finishing with Chinese New Year 2021. For example, museums, theatres and art centres in the region that could run exhibitions and shows with a cross-cultural China theme. Similarly, the universities, schools, sports clubs, community organisations and business groups could run seminars and events during the year. The various local authorities could invite their twin cities in China to visit and participate in the events. All these China related events can be badged as China West Midlands 2020. The key message CWM2020 wants to convey during the preparation stage in 2018/19 and in 2020 is the strengthening of connections in business, education, culture, arts and sports for deeper understanding, greater collaboration and mutual prosperity between the West Midlands and China.

CWM2020 was started by the Chinese Community Centre, Birmingham Business Focus and Birmingham China Business Forum, with it’s steering group consisting of Julian Lloyd-Webber (Chair), Beverley Nielsen, Didi Xiao, Debbie Jagla, Peter Cannon, Bill Good, Yeow Poon and myself. It’s aims and ambitions have been endorsed by Andy Street the West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor.

Strong community leaders working together supporting the future of the region.


Greg Clark Fundraising

Delighted to host our third Conservative Fundraising dinner in Birmingham for AndyStreet and the Birmingham Conservatives this year with our special guest Greg Clark MP Business Secretary.

Immensely grateful as ever for the support of friends, family, sponsors and colleagues who together helped us make the event such a great success. We welcomed 240 people to the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre in the heart of Birmingham.