Birmingham MPs speaking up for our City


Birmingham MPs were active in the Commons yesterday on behalf of our City. I raised the issue of school crossing patrols and the unfair financial settlement being imposed on Birmingham by the Conservative Government. Gisela Stuart from Edgbaston called for a radical overhaul of the way local government is treated so Birmingham can better meet the challenges and opportunities our City faces. As Shadow Police Minister, Jack Dromey took apart the Government’s treatment of our police services- a theme also taken up by Steve McCabe from Selly Oak.

You can see my speech here. As I reported yesterday, it is excellent that Birmingham’s Labour Council has listened to the representations made by parents, teachers, unions, road safety campaigners, Labour MPs and the Birmingham Mail by saving lollipop men and women on Birmingham’s busy roads.  But the issue has not gone away. Up and down the country road safety budgets are being squeezed and school crossing patrols axed as a result of the way the Government is treating local councils. Birmingham is being hit particularly hard by a funding formula that means we lose out at a rate twice the national average while more prosperous areas like Wokingham are actually getting increases in spending power as a result of the Government’s policies.

As I also said yesterday, how dare the Tory Local Government Minister Eric Pickles criticise our city over things like school crossing patrols when it is his policies that are causing the problem in the first place?

Still, the decision by Birmingham’s Labour Council to save our lollipop men and women does seem to have sent the Tories into a bit of a tizzy. Desperate to jump on the bandwagon, they were rushing around yesterday with an apparently hastily cobbled-together petition calling for the Council to save the service they have already agreed to save.

There is always a danger of politicians rushing too quickly into a photo opportunity before they know what they are doing. In Weoley for instance, the Solihull domiciled Tory candidate for Northfield rushed on to Twitter with a posed photo boasting “At Princethorpe School, massive response to or petition to permanently save our lollipop people from Labour cuts.” Unfortunately for her, the shallowness of the message was accentuated by the fact that she does not seem to know which school she had been pictured outside. If I’m not mistaken the photo was not of Princethorpe School but of the nearby Edith Cadbury Nursery:

At Princethorpe School, massive response to our petition to permanently save our lollipop people from Labour cuts

— Rachel Maclean (@RachelMaclean3) February 10, 2015

If you want to represent an area, it’s always a good idea to get to know it in reality, not simply for political marketing material:

@RachelMaclean3 Shouldn’t candidates know which school is which? This is Edith Cadbury Nursery, not Princethorpe #LoveWhereYouLive

— Richard Burden MP (@RichardBurdenMP) February 11, 2015

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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