About 4 years ago my wife went away for a weekend and left me to entertain myself and I wrote a letter to the local paper, it was made letter of the week. In that letter I expressed my view that Solihull was being slowly dismantled and services where either closing or being farmed out to other local authorities. Both the MPs at the time, responded by telling me I was wrong and how hard they worked. Well my wife is away for another weekend and I thought I would write another letter.
I am even more sadly convinced that Solihull will disappear as a local authority and wonder why our MPs and Councillors don’t accept it and say they are powerless to stop it. Is there any other area in the country with almost a quarter of a million people (and growing) without some of the basic facilities that have gone.
Have Oldham, Trafford, Swindon, Portsmouth, York, Rochdale and Luton all similar sizes to us got the things we have lost. Can you imagine any of these areas without a police station. We don’t have a full A&E department. We lost our ambulance station. We have lost our court to Birmingham and Coventry and Warwickshire. It now appears that soon we won’t have a 24 hour police station. Our Councillors have spoken of joining a consortium of other local authorities. Do we need as many Councillors as there is much less they are responsible for and my local councillor seems to spend his time collecting litter. I wish the Councillors and MPs will at least be honest with the people of the Solihull Borough and tell us they are powerless to stop the dismantling of our area. If they respond to this letter don’t just tell us how hard they work for us, show the evidence that services most areas accept as basic amenities are not disappearing. I will give an undertaking that if my wife goes away in another four years and we have managed to hold on to the facilities and services other areas in the country take for granted, then I will go out collecting litter.
I too share the concerns of your reader, Colin Downes, (last week’s Observer) regarding the budget increase shown in the Council Tax bill for 2018/19 received from SMBC.
I look forward to seeing the reply to his requests, especially to see if the a response is forthcoming and where the information can be obtained from.
From that I wonder if it’s time for retired accountants who are willing to look at these matters, free of cost, to put themselves forward to ascertain if all this is justifiable costs or just another layer of state bureaucracy being hosed-down with public funds that tax-payers are having to pay for.
I also notice that Solihull Council’s budget has increased by some four per cent that includes adult social care. Amazing really when you find out that they can send the chief executive and their “growth and development” chief on a property jolly on the French Riviera (MIPIM). The cost to tax-payers is recorded at just under £ 9,000. Disgraceful in today’s times. Just wonder how much they have in their Reserves that’s never mentioned.
Where’s those public-spirited accountants ?
I too was disgusted to read of the Council Leaders £18K trip to the ‘Property Investment Conference’ in Cannes.
For weeks there have been young people in Shirley sitting outside shops with nowhere to live – during this cold winter they have been relying on the public just to give them a coffee and sandwich. Maybe the Council members should try sleeping in the freezing snow in the Parks and doorways – one chap I talk to says he has tried to get help from the Council, Salvation Army, etc. but, to date, has had no help.
The NFU’s defence of the possible Government-backed slaughter of badgers is the usual nonsense. Warwickshire is effectively a clean county–virtually untroubled by bovine TB and what few recent outbreaks there have been have often been positively identified as being caused by farmers bringing in diseased cattle from other areas. Culling is supposed to be an attempt to control bTB in hotspot areas (as the NFU admits) so why is Warwickshire (defined NOT as a hotspot but a much less worrying Edge county by Defra) even being considered? It’s prejudice stoked by rumour from farming interests. The NFU pretends that all disease-control measures must be used, so ask them: why has testing for bovine TB relied so heavily for decades on an ineffective testing system (the “skin” test)? Why do so many farmers buy new stock without checking the bovine TB history of the farms selling that stock? And how many put in place the biosecurity (disease prevention) measures which Defra strongly recommends? The answer to that last one is very, very few, as Defra admits. It’s not badgers Defra should be eliminating but the failed management systems on the farms which allow–indeed encourage– this respiratory disease to spread. One more point: the NFU claims that the randomised badger culling trials supported badger culling. In fact the conclusion of the independent scientific experts was that culling could make no meaningful contribution to the problem and that controls should be concentrated on reducing cattle-to-cattle spread. Anyone who cares about wildlife should oppose this new move to slaughter even more badgers, most of them healthy and making no threat to TB spread in cattle.
I have read in the news and seen on TV the remarkable story of the French Gendarme, Arnoud Beltrame, who gave his life as a ransom in the recent French terrorist attack.
What amazing courage this man showed and what an incredible sacrifice he made to save others.
During this Easter Holy week, it is hard not to be drawn into thinking of the amazing sacrifice that Jesus Christ made some 2,000 years ago when he was crucified on a cross to become a ransom for the lives of all human beings in bringing them the opportunity to have a relationship with God and find forgiveness from Him.
In a world where there is so much sadness and strife it is comforting to know that there are people like Arnoud who are willing to lay down their lives for others and it is equally comforting to know that, as we celebrate Easter Day, there is a God who cares about each of us enough to send His son to die on our behalf.
Roger Marshall MA
In the week where we saw reports in the national press that response times are suffering (we’re told it can now take days to respond to a 999 call), a Solihull Council report showed that 1,671 more crimes have been reported this year compared to last. And this comes on the back of plans to sell our police station. As a councillor in Smith’s Wood, residents reported to me this week that having rung 999 (as local youths ran across the rooves of their bungalows), the nearest response car was ten miles away, and stuck in rush hour traffic. They were seen four days after they made their call.
At the same time, we’ve heard politicians accuse the police of wasting resources. The simple fact is that our police force simply don’t have the resources they need. They have seen their budget cut by 25% over the last few years.
It’s no good just blaming the police anymore. They need proper resources to do their jobs properly. It is scandalous and deceptive for our MPs to vote for these cuts in Westminster, then come back here and organise “petitions” criticising people for making the cuts they themselves voted for. It’s time for more honesty with the public – I call on our local Conservative MPs to call on their party in Government to sort this out and to stop voting for these cuts, or to be honest with the public that they are the ones to blame for the police’s problems, not the hard-working men and women who go above and beyond to protect us every day.
Councillor Mark Wilson
Smith’s Wood Ward