Weoley has a straight choice – protecting local services or the bedroom tax and savage cuts

Steve BootonUntil we get rid of the Tory Government in 2015, we have to stand together to fight unfair cuts and protect the vulnerable and young as best we can.

This Government has proved itself to be a Party of freeloading millionaires giving tax breaks to the rich while the least well off in our society are made to pay for the crisis created by their friends in the banking world.

People in Birmingham have been especially victimised. The average cutback in Birmingham is £149 per person, more than double compared to the national average of £74 in the rest of the country.

People in Weoley have suffered because of cuts in jobs, benefits and cruel legislation such as the Bedroom Tax that has made the lives of ordinary people, particularly the elderly and disabled, a misery.

It is typical of local Tory Councillors in Weoley to blame Birmingham City Council for the financial dilemma produced by their very own silver-spoon Cameron, who hasn’t got the first idea of what ordinary people’s lives are really like.

What we need to meet the economic crisis is not redundancies and cuts, it is jobs, training, affordable houses, strong local communities and businesses and proper apprenticeships for our young people.

For the last three years, I have been campaigning on behalf of the people of Weoley. I meet people every Saturday morning outside the Co-op on the Square. I have knocked doors and talked to those who work full time yet are forced to use foodbanks; to those struggling to pay rip-off fuel bills; to young people despairing about their future, and to young parents wondering what the future holds for their children.

With the help of our Labour MP, Richard Burden, I have worked to resolve hundreds of cases of unfairness and injustice. I’m proud to be a long-standing member of the Labour Party because Labour is the only Party that will fight for ordinary people’s rights to a living wage, future prospects, a secure and affordable home, and a decent quality of life for everybody.

When the present Tory Councillor was Chair of the Planning Committee, permission was granted for the building of the new Asda store that is now ripping the heart out of Weoley’s small businesses and community life. If I sat on the Planning Committee it would be to bring more houses and jobs to Weoley, not profit to greedy multinational companies!

The election on Thursday offers the people of Weoley a straight choice between a Labour candidate doing everything in his power to protect local services and a Tory candidate who is on record as supporting the Bedroom Tax and savage cuts to Birmingham’s budget.


The truth about green waste

Green waste - the truthLike everyone else living in Birmingham, Labour believes that the green waste collection is an important service and we would love to keep it free. We understand the concerns being expressed across the city.

The Tory/Lib Dem government has slashed Birmingham’s funding by a massive two thirds. Imagine if you earned £18,000 a year and your wages were cut to £6,000. Wouldn’t that change everything about your life? That’s what has happened to Birmingham.

Hard choices

This means that Birmingham has to lose many valued services – like the free green waste collection. The bitter alternative would be to cut precious services for vulnerable elderly people and local children. We know that there have been problems with implementation and we are working round the clock to get it right, but these new charges are happening because of Cameron and Clegg’s decisions in Westminster – faithfully supported by local Tory and Lib Dem councillors and MPs, the very people who are now crying crocodile tears about cuts.


We are used to the hypocrisy of the Tories and Lib Dems, especially when it comes to standing up for the wrong people:

  • On the same day they condemned more than 13,000 disabled, sick and vulnerable people in Birmingham to the bedroom tax, they gave a tax cut of £100,000 to millionaires so that they can have as many bedrooms as they like.
  • ‘We will look after the vulnerable,’ they said. Yet disabled people in poverty are bearing the brunt of the national cuts, losing an average £4,660 per year.
  • ‘We will protect front-line policing,’ they said. Yet 15,000 police officers have been cut, 1,171 in the West Midlands, the region the hardest hit.
  • ‘We will make it easier for parents to balance childcare with work,’ they said. And then? They voted against extending free nursery places for 3 and 4 year olds from 15 to 25 hours a week.

Richard Burden, Northfield MP, said: “I get so angry about the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Conservatives who complain about green waste charges at the same time as cheering on the government which has put Birmingham in this position.

“Tories in this area claim Birmingham gets a good deal from their friends in Downing Street and that the council has more than enough money to go around. Not so long ago, they used to complain that Birmingham did not get enough from the last Labour Government when funding for our city was at record levels.”

The Tories and Lib Dems are against green waste charges in Birmingham where the Tories are in opposition, but they support them in nearby Bromsgrove where Tories run the council. In London, Lib Dem minister David Laws has gone so far as to suggest that councils could charge for bin collection.

Standing up for Birmingham?

They say one thing here and do the reverse in Westminster. The simple truth about Birmingham Tories and Lib Dems is that not once have they stood up and opposed what their government has done to Birmingham.

They claim to be your friend. But, if you shake their hands, you would be wise to count your fingers afterwards.



Tory swimming baths claims don’t hold water

In response to the Tory misinformation being distributed in Weoley, Brett O’Reilly, Northfield councillor, tells us about the future of Northfield swimming baths, an iconic building where many of us in Weoley first learned to swim.

‘You have to wonder why the Tories are making up stories regarding this issue. The fact is that Northfield is going to benefit from the most significant investment in leisure in over a generation.

It is extremely misleading and unhelpful to scaremonger stories that residents will have to use the new facility at the university. The aim of the new centre is to provide a facility within Northfield District that is not only fit for purpose, but will be sustainable for generations to come, not the short-sighted sticking plaster that the Tories delivered previously.

Double standards

It is extremely hypocritical of Conservative Councillors to campaign against a new facility, especially after the same model was used in Harborne under their administration: typical of the double standards that we have come to expect. Further to this, we have the Conservative constituency candidate jumping on the bandwagon with stories of the new facility being built somehow outside of the district.

We have learnt from the mistakes of the previous administration that if a facility is to be replaced, the old one needs to remain in use until the new one is ready, unlike in Harborne where people were deprived of their pool for a very long time.

Northfield not only needs a new facility (and I should know as a user of the service with my wife and daughter), but the residents of Northfield deserve a new facility. Maybe it is the case that the Tories somehow feel that Harborne was more deserving and that Northfield should make do.

  • Northfield baths opened on 8th May 1937 and were the first in Birmingham to be built solely for the purpose of recreation.
  • The building was designed by Henry Simister for the Birmingham Baths Committee. There were two pools, as there are now, with a large café overlooking.
  • The fitness suite was added in the 1980s.
  • The refurbishment in 2003 was the last major spend on the building.
  • Situated opposite the Black Horse on Bristol Road South, the building is considered a local landmark.
Reproduced from B31 Voices


Tories lack a credible policy

The cynic in me would suggest that as the Tories lack any credible policy for Birmingham, they will continue to spread lies and scaremonger about the future of services in Northfield.

The message from me as a Northfield Ward Councillor is simple: stop making things up, stop scaremongering, stop misleading the people of Northfield, and start behaving in a responsible manner and contributing to the discussion on how best to deliver the service in Northfield.

With the discussion around location and extra provision still ongoing, we could actually work cross-party to deliver a new and exciting facility for Northfield. I suspect however that devoid of any real policy, the Tories will continue to scaremonger and in so doing hope that the citizens of our community will be duped into thinking that they actually care about the services on which the majority of us rely.

I would personally welcome any comments and contributions from members of the public. Furthermore, please feel free to contact me if you would be interested in the facts, rather than the political posturing that has unfortunately blighted this most positive investment in Northfield’s Leisure provision.’

You can can contact Brett at brett.o’reilly@birmingham.gov.uk.

You can contact Steve here.

Steve Booton is Standing Up For Birmingham

The Tory-led Government has unfairly CUT Birmingham’s funding this year by £149 per person.

The national average cut is just £45, so if all parts of the UK were having their budgets calculated fairly, Birmingham would be £79 million better off.

Next year will see a further reduction of £120 million, threatening more local services. Birmingham City Council has already had to lose 7,000 staff since the general election and more job cuts are on the way.

Weoley people can’t rely on local Tory councillors for a fair dealDespite these cuts, your Labour Council has been able to propose additional resources so they can:

  • support our hard-pressed children’s social services;
  • make sure older people being cared for is a top priority;
  • transform leisure services, including six new swimming and leisure facilities.

Steve Booton, the Labour and Co-operative Party candidate for the local election, said: “I meet people every week out and about in Weoley who are really suffering under this Government.

“The bedroom tax has pushed some into debt and others are having to fight to keep their sickness benefits.

“We’re not ‘all in this together’. The vulnerable are being targeted, while bankers still get their bonuses. We need to get together to stand up against this and that’s what Labour is doing.”

Join our Standing Up For Birmingham campaign

Use our Contacts Page, leave a comment on the form below or come and meet us outside the Co-op on the Square between 12pm and 1pm most Saturdays.

Or call Steve on 07830 945754.

New Year, new pledge

4.79 million people in the UK are paid below the living wageEvery day, Steve and the team hear or read about the concerns of ordinary hard-working people in Weoley. From the bedroom tax, gas and electricity prices and wheelie bins to jobs, pensions and housing, Steve and the Weoley team are out in the community listening and responding to the difficulties caused by the Tory austerity agenda.

As campaigning got under way for the local elections in May this year, the Tories announce yet more welfare cuts, and the middle class face a ‘crisis of confidence’ over living standards, Ed Miliband has promised to freeze energy prices, address the prospects of young people in Britain and make work pay. Not only are ordinary people feeling let down by the Tories, but the foundations of British life have all been ‘undermined’, the Labour leader said.

Steve, Ghiyas and Robbie on the stall

Steve, Ghiyas and Robbie on the stall

Steve Booton, commenting on the outlook for Weoley, said: “We regularly go out to meet the people of Weoley. We visit their homes and we hold our stall on Saturday outside the Co-op on the Square.

“Last week, most of the residents we met in Lockwood Road and on the stall were concerned about the high cost of living, the unfair central government attacks on our city’s budget and the rip-off energy prices.

“We had lots of signatures added to our petition in support of Ed Miliband’s policy of freezing energy prices for two years.”

Come and see Steve and the Weoley Labour team

Steve and the team will be talking to voters throughout the ward over the coming months and they’re outside the Co-op on the Square most Saturdays between 12 and 1. Or you can contact us as follows:

  • call Steve on 07830 945754
  • come and sign our petition to freeze energy bills at our street stall on Saturday at 12 noon outside the Co-op on Weoley Castle Square
  • go to our Contact page to send an online message