Gritting Record for Birmingham

This winter has seen the city of Birmingham smash the previous record for the number of consecutive nights the roads have been gritted. Last night was the 20th consecutive night, the previous record was 14.

Wrap up warm, folks!


Birmingham Tory Questions Climate Change

Just days ahead of Copenhagen, the Conservative PPC for Birmingham Ladywood has questioned the science behind the man-made climate change argument.

As the City Council was passing the "Birmingham Declaration on Climate Change", Cllr Colin Hughes went on a libertarian rant accusing his Council colleagues of using climate change as an excuse to boss people around.

Whilst I agree complex government "just for the sake of it" is unnecessary, solving issues such as climate change requires cross-party support and strong leadership at all levels of Government. This is exactly what Birmingham has done - something which should be celebrated, not belittled.

According to Adrian Goldberg's Stirrer website, Hughes said:

“Climate change devotees still rely on these models, despite the fact that we know these models to be wrong, for end-of-the-world predictions to justify their proposed actions.

“What this means is that we should be very careful before spending huge amounts of the public’s money on schemes that may not be necessary.

“The research needs to go on because there is huge gaps in our knowledge and understanding but while the science is lacking there are authoritarians on all sides of this chamber who can’t help but to use this issue to boss people around and to tell others how to run their lives.

“They’ve jumped on this bandwagon and use it to excuse any and all government interference into private lives. We are elected by the people of Birmingham and we owe them better leadership than that.”


Birmingham Declaration On Climate Change

Ladywood ward - city centre housingBirmingham Liberal Democrats took a bold step this week proposing the “Birmingham Declaration On Climate Change”, which was adopted at Tuesday's full Council meeting.

Proposed by group leader Cllr Paul Tilsley and seconded by Ladywood’s Parliamentary Candidate Cllr Ayoub Khan, the Declaration shows Birmingham’s desire to lead the way out of this dual economic and environmental crisis we find ourselves in.

The Declaration will mean the country’s biggest local authority will use its purchasing power to stimulate the city’s green economy, creating new jobs whilst reducing energy bills for the residents.

I am delighted to see a commitment to connect 10% of homes to district heating systems, something which is already happening in Ladywood. There’s also a commitment to create a further ten eco-communities based on the successful Summerfield model.

In addition to this, the declaration states that by 2015 all Council vehicles should be electric or LPG, an electric car charging infrastructure will be developed, 50% of the Council's energy use will be from renewable sources, the Council's energy consumption will be cut by 25% and 10% of homes will have retrofit insulation.


Response from Clare Short to My 1010 Letter

The letter to Clare is here.

The response:

Dear David Nikel

Thank you for your email. There is not a debate on the 10:10 campaign as such, but a general debate in time allocated to the Liberal Democrats on "Government's failure of leadership in the Climate Crisis".

I do strongly support all initiatives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Best wishes

Yours sincerely

Clare Short


1010 Motion: Letter to my MP

Dear Clare Short MP,

I am writing to urge you to support the Liberal Democrat opposition day motion this Wednesday to ensure all government departments achieve 10% emission reductions by the end of 2010.

The latest IPCC Assessment Report (2007) predicts huge changes in the world's climate over the coming decades if atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions are not stabilised. Without adaptation, the world's poorest will be hit by a lethal combination of reduced agricultural output, increased risk of extreme weather conditions and increased exposure to disease.

We need action on climate change today. The more time we spend debating different solutions, the more effort we will need in the future to bring stable atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. We cannot afford to wait any longer.

We have in our hands the power to prevent harmful climate change. By taking small, simple measures, every individual and every organisation in the UK can achieve a 10% emission reduction by 2010 - a spring board to the larger cuts necessary in the future.

Here in Birmingham Ladywood, big changes can be made by investing in modern public transport infrastructure and CHP (combined heat and power) technology for industrial and public sector buildings.

By supporting the 10:10 campaign on Wednesday you will show that the UK can lead the world on the most greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. I urge you not to sit on your hands on this issue. Please stand up and support the Liberal Democrat motion on climate change.

David Nikel


Ed Miliband Interviewed by Ladywood Kids

Climate Change minister Ed Miliband was in Ladywood recently to visit the Summerfield Eco-Village project. Local news project TNT News were on hand to interview him. Click here to view the video.

What's interesting for me is how uncomfortable he seems when being questioned by the children (should he look at the camera or the kids!?) but also the following comments on the TNT website:

It was interesting for us to see the minister’s public relations team. I think there were at least four of them and they all seemed scared stiff at the thought of us interviewing him, perhaps incase we asked awkward questions! They wanted us to go into a separate room and wait for him to finish his tour before allowing us to interview him.


Catch-Up From The Capital

Blogging has been non-existent this week as I'm down in the big smoke for a few days. People need to smile more in this city.

Here's a round-up of what's been going on back in Birmingham:

  • Soldiers from Birmingham and the West Midlands will be welcomed home today with a march through the city centre. A one-minute silence will be observed and I will be joining in from 100 miles away.
  • The "Gym For Free" scheme, so successful in its trial across Ladywood, looks set to be rolled out across the city.
  • Jewellery Quarter based company Life has developed the brand concept “WorldF3rst” for the Formula 3 vehicle developed by Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre.
  • Birmingham's Chief of Regeneration Clive Dutton has left the city for the London Borough of Newham, managing the transformation of the area due to the 2012 Olympics.
  • The City Council is taking advice on hitting tough CO2 targets from environmental guru Jonathon Porritt

There's also plenty of talk about the proposed UK City of Culture bid on which I have very strong views, so will blog about that separately.


Urban Gardening For Ladywood?

The city of Birmingham has the largest provision of allotments of any local authority in the UK with over 7,000 plots. But there is absolutely nothing for the people of Ladywood ward!

The situation isn't much better across the constituency either, with just one solitary site in Soho ward. For the unaware, Birmingham Ladywood constituency (Ladywood, Soho, Aston, Nechells) has the highest percentage of families in the UK living below the official poverty line. When the recession struck, Birmingham Ladywood was the worst affected constituency in the entire country. Bearing these facts in mind, is it not astonishing that there is just one Council allotment for the entire constituency?

The benefits to families below the poverty line could be immense. Growing your own food is cheaper and the potential health benefits are huge.

The Liberal Democrats have a track record of implementing allotment expansion plans in urban areas such as Islington and Sheffield. There is no reason at all why our Liberal Democrat partnership council here in the second city can't follow their best practice.

Today I have written to various folk at the Council and Heart of Birmingham PCT to encourage them to consider supporting further allotment sites in Ladywood.


Electric Cars For Birmingham?

Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Trust and Aston University are taking part in an electric car trial on the streets of Birmingham. Both are trialling a number of 2-seater Smart Cars, modified to charge using a standard 3-pin electric socket.

This could prove a great solution for company car fleet owners and for city dwellers who need to potter around an urban area. But they’re not a great deal of use beyond that, with a limited mileage of 70 miles between charges.

Of course the argument is for longer journeys you can use a combination of public transport and park and ride facilities, but that's not yet feasible nationwide.

But it is a huge step in the right direction and a positive outcome of this trial could see the streets of Birmingham filled with small electric cars sooner than you think.

Now if only they looked better…