Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter. This covers local issues and developments as well as my actions in Parliament. As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on these or any other issues.
In Birmingham Northfield
The Boundary Commission published their proposals for changes to Parliamentary constituency boundaries in England. Under these proposals, Birmingham would be set to lose one Parliamentary seat overall. There would still be a constituency called Birmingham Northfield, but it would be very different to the current one. Read more
This morning I asked the government about the problem of superfast not-spots in urban areas. This has been an ongoing issue that affects a number of constituents in Birmingham Northfield and many of you have been in touch with me about it.
I have been raising this in Parliament over the last year and have also met with internet service providers (ISPs), highlighting concerns about the lack of coordination to reveal and plug gaps in the upgrade to superfast.
I will continue to seek answers on this in Parliament from the government as well as liaising with Birmingham City Council and ISPs, urging all three to work together and do what is necessary to get superfast broadband to these not-spot areas as soon as possible.
You can watch my question and the government’s response here:
Originally published in Bromsgrove Standard – 5 August 2016
This is a diary piece of good news and of bad news.
During the General Election campaign last year, Conservatives in South Birmingham were rushing around claiming that Northfield was going to lose its swimming pool. Their claims were, of course, rubbish, as they well knew. Northfield pool was coming to the end of its life. The issue was not whether it would be replaced but where in the constituency this would happen. I guess they thought why let the facts get in the way when you are trying to win votes.
But the City Council don’t come out of this smelling of roses either. The good news is that they have commissioned a contractor to rebuild and operate the pool. The bad news is that what they are planning to do is well short of what they should be offering. Against my and local Labour Councillors’ advice, they opted to rebuild on the existing site, meaning they would have to close the existing pool while they built a new one. But they said the new one would be worth it. We argued that the space constraints on the existing site would limit what they could do, with the risk that the historic frontage to the building could be lost when people in the area want it retained. They said they would try to retain it.
We now know the result, they say they can’t retain the frontage because (guess what?) space constraints prevent it. Also, while the pool itself will no doubt be better than the last one, they can’t work out how to fit a sauna and steam room in what is meant to be a new state of the art leisure centre.
There were alternatives which could have built a better pool and leisure centre elsewhere in Northfield town centre and save the historic frontage of the current building. Birmingham’s Labour-led council should be commended for investing in a new pool for Northfield – something the Tories never did when they controlled the City. But I have seen for myself what other cities in Europe and beyond can achieve when regenerating public facilities like this. That Birmingham has shown neither the vision nor the creativity to approach the development of Northfield pool in a similar way is a real missed opportunity.
Today I put questions to the government about the BBC alongside fellow Birmingham MP, Steve McCabe. This is ahead of the government publishing a ‘white paper’ tomorrow on the BBC’s future.
I urged the Secretary of State to address the issue of the BBC not providing fair shares of investment and operation to the midlands. I also suggested that moving the Channel 4 headquarters to Birmingham would be a forward-looking step for the company.
You can watch my question and John Whittingdale’s answer here: http://goo.gl/KEc1bQ
A resident living close to North Worcestershire Golf Course wrote to me last week to tell me that he had seen a copy of a recent letter from the Management Committee of the Club saying that they intend to close the Club with effect from March 2016.
The resident who wrote to me asked if this meant that the land at the Golf Course will definitely now be redeveloped for housing. This does not automatically follow and I thought it would be useful to update residents generally via Facebook with my understanding of the current position.