Dear Editor, You conclude that there is probably “nothing untoward” in the secondment of about 100 city council staff to full or part time trade union tasks (Post, Agenda, Oct 7).
Could any union bashing, confrontational and extremist councillor justify how transformation of services can progress without staff sharing front line knowledge with managers?
Could we be told just how much remote private consultants are costing councils?
How much do obscure and expensive enquiries from some elected members more interested in sensational media attention than suburbs like Moseley cost us all?
Without conciliation from union officials, councils would pay out far more in industrial tribunals, court and health and safety Executive fines.
Unions engage in collective bargaining for thousands on wages and conditions.
Perhaps the sponsored union bashers would rather council managers interviewed tens of thousands of their staff individually?
Of course some union activists are involved in politics but it is for fellow members to determine their mandates in democratic branch elections.
I could name one political party which denied local members the opportunity to deselect a councillor not up to standards.
Though party politics have a declining role in many unions, I am rather proud that it is a Liberal Democrat councillor raising the issue of Unison losing any help towards office costs from the city.
Showing little grasp of how we are governed
Dear Editor, Liam Byrne MP may be a high-flyer at Westminster but his comments about litter show he doesn’t seem to have grasped how Birmingham is governed.
Before they left office in 2004, his Labour colleagues introduced some devolution and localisation to the city. This means that, for some services, local constituencies have budgets and control over what is delivered.
It was surely obvious that the result of this would be that, after a while, differences would appear in the services delivered across the city, and that is exactly what is happening now.
It started with crossing patrol wardens and the news that their numbers might be reduced. When The Birmingham Post reported this, an illustration of a crossing warden in Edgbaston was used. However Conservative controlled Edgbston has no plans to reduce our number of wardens. It is my understanding that it is some Labour controlled constituencies, who over-spent last year, such as Perry Barr, who are considering this option.
As for street cleaning, there are core street cleaning services provided centrally across the city. However, individual constituencies have the option to enhance their street cleansing services if they wish to, and some (such as Edgbaston) have done exactly that. I suspect Sutton Coldfield may have done the same, since Mr Byrne (Post October 7) helpfully points out that Conservative controlled Sutton has cleaner streets that his Labour controlled constituency of Hodge Hill. If he is right, then the fault surely lies with Hodge Hill’s councillors for failing to enhance their services in the way other constituencies have.
Might I suggest to Mr Byrne that instead of rushing to get his face on the internet, he simply asks Hodge Hill’s Labour chairman if he will divert some extra resources to getting their streets clean. In Edgbaston we employ a two man Hit Squad who spend a day in each ward picking up fly tipping and litter which has been reported in by residents or councillors, and they spend the fifth day mopping up outstanding jobs in any of the wards. There are of course still mucky spots in our constituency (because some people do, sadly, persistently dump litter) but once these areas are brought to our attention, we do at least have our own crew we can send out to deal with them.
Another service which has been introduced centrally by the Conservatives and Lib Dems who are running Birmingham, is a team we call the “one in five”. Basically this means that each ward across the city has a special cleaning team for one week in every five, to tackle things such as weed strewn pavements, fly tipping, or litter strewn streets. When this service was introduced, the Cabinet Member, Coun Len Gregory, specifically said that he wanted local councillors to decide where this crew went in their wards. So if Mr Byrne has found some areas which need work, all he needs to do is pass them on to the local councillors, who can in turn pass them on to the “one in five” crew for the next time they visit Shard End or Washwood Heath.
If things are as bad in his constituency as Mr Byrne says, then the local Labour led Constituency Committee clearly hasn’t been delivering for the people of Hodge Hill. Perhaps it is time residents there considered voting for another party.
Coun Deirdre Alden,
Conservative Chairman of the Edgbaston Constituency Committee.
Sweeping statements on EU benefits
Dear Editor, According to Neena Gill MEP (Post, Oct 4): “The UK exports more to Holland than it does to the entire Commonwealth”. That’s like me saying all my post goes to the Royal Mail.
Such statements made by those who desperately try to defend the indefensible, try to deceive people into thinking that there are benefits to membership of the EU – which there are not. The Dutch ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam are like vast Royal Mail sorting offices. Container ships go there, their loads are then sorted and put onto other ships which are then dispatched to all points on the globe. By using the above sweeping comments Neena Gill can make such claims, even though the final destinations are to places where we do most of our trade such as the USA.
In fact, when you look at British trade in total, of the 100 per cent of trade 80 per cent is internal, which includes you buying your Birmingham Post at the corner shop. Of the 20 per cent that is left for exports, around 60 per cent is claimed to be to the EU and the other 40 per cent to non-EU nations, but that does not take into account the above Amsterdam and Rotterdam effect. Although there are no accurate figures for this effect, it probably reverses the figures to around 40 per cent of trade to the EU.
The end result of this is that we are being asked to sacrifice 100 per cent of our sovereignty to the EU in return for around 10 per cent of total trade. It seems a pretty poor deal to me.
Regional Liaison Officer,
UK Independence Party.