Council Tax Refunds for Missed Waste Collections- Rejected twice by Labour

Two sets of bin strikes paralysed the city from 2017 ending only in March this year. Do you remember the inconvenience and mess for this basic service? Not only did they cause misery for thousands of residents with some not having any collections for 10 consecutive weeks, but they cost the city a over a staggering £15m in total.

Two years ago this week, I submitted a petition of over 14,500 signatories from residents calling for a proportional refund to their council tax. Calls for this apology refund was disgracefully voted down at committee- on the Labour Chair’s casting vote after it was tied 4-4 in December 2017.

Incredibly waste strikes resumed December 2018 lasting a further 3 months until March 2019. The final insult to residents..

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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.

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Travel Assist- a failed service failing Disabled Children

Back in early October, over a month on from when guides and chaperones were arbitrarily removed from school routes taking disabled children to and from their home three days before the start of term, parents and schools had yet to hear back from officers

0_travel-assist-protest-92018regarding a way forward.

Questions have been asked how these potentially dangerous and last minute changes could have been put through, what is being done to safeguard these children, what risk assessments have been done and why lessons have not been learnt from past years and the OFSTED inspection a few weeks ago. And despite meetings and reassurances given for immediate replies, no answers have been given.

As the Shadow Cabinet Member for Children’s Wellbeing, I have been leading the voice for the parents. I have yet to receive satisfactory answers, but I am pushing hard to have the questions raised, answered by those who have implemented these changes.

Over the weeks I have had meetings with parents, whose children have been affected by this poor decision. Many have expressed that they are their wits end and are at a total disappointment with the actions condoned by the Council.

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As the Governor at Wilson Stuart School, one of the schools affected, I have formally asked for a review into the Travel Service system to ascertain exactly what happened in September, if risk assessments were done to children affected as suggested, that only the children with the lowest needs had their guiding support removed, and why parents and schools were not consulted ahead of these changes being imposed.

With just days after OFSTED rendering a damning judgment on the council’s SEND department, if the Council cannot safeguard the wellbeing of 30 disabled children to and from school, and cannot treat children, schools and families in a humane and compassionate manner, how are we able to trust them with the running of the wider council?

I will continue my battle for these children, schools and parents until all questions have been rightfully answered.


Council Tax Refund- Council Decision 4 – 4 Against

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The petition calling for a proportional refund to Birmingham City residents’ council tax for over 3 months of waste collections strikes gathered over 14,400 signatories triggering a decision by the Scrutiny Committee.

I was proud to commit on behalf of so many my argument why residents are entitled to a refund. Residents have received in 14 weeks of strikes, with some having 7 consecutive missed collections, massive inconvenience to a basic service and obligation by the Council. There was a huge impact to residents and the reputation of the city nationally as well as potential heath risks and the costs incurred by so many who took their waste to the local skip by themselves.

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An efficient Birmingham Council

Efficiency is at the heart of any strong business and country. The answer cannot be relentlessly throwing more money good after bad, but living within our means, a strong growing economy, a fair society that works for everyone and crucially making sure that resources are directed to where they are needed and not wasted needlessly.

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Birmingham’s Labour Leadership in Council are undoubtedly wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers money on consultants instead of putting it towards front line services. Cllr Jenkins highlighted the case in Full Council where some £300,000 was paid to outside consultants to advise the council on the Service Birmingham IT contract- a contact that is part owned and negotiated at great cost to the city. £27,000 was spent on a report into school transport for special needs children which proposals that were unworkable, nonsense and ultimately ignored. Some £4 million has been paid to consultants since the start of 2014 to support Children Services- a department still in special measures and now being taken from the failing Birmingham authority into a governmental trust.

A PR Consultant was hired for almost £1000 a day to improve the image of the city.

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