Thursday, 30 April 2009

A couple of bad days.

I’m not one to whinge much about my health I make up for it with other things according to the missus. This week has seen me suffering a bit and as such it has curtailed my activities somewhat and perhaps focused my mind on the clinic and other health related services in our area. Nothing like being in pain to help you recognise your vulnerability with life on this planet.
We did have some good news though the Red Route proposals were approved by cabinet so our traffic lights will be installed. Mr Massey will not be happy and I expect another War & Peace outburst in this weeks Observer. The topic does however seem to have caused a lot of comment with most of it being in favour of traffic lights. I feel very privileged in being able to present the petition on behalf of our NHW group calling for these lights, they are long overdue. I wonder how long before a local politician is claiming credit? The Labour bloke is chair of NHW group and very supportive? Trouble is he aint telling folk what he is doing the others are. Better not be too hard on them I need to keep their support on the clinic or is it the other way around?
I look forward to being able to turn right in and out of Hamstead Rd. without risking life and limb. I think it’s a well done Cllr. Hosell and Sandwell and a big raspberry to J Massey.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Newton & Great Barr clinic

What is going on? Recent report in Express & Star claims three new doctors’ surgeries and new clinic to open by June. This is not exactly new news and I suspect the E&S have got a few facts wrong in the reference to opening dates and build details. I’m delighted of course that up to 20000 Sandwell people will eventually benefit from these facilities. I searched the article for any reference to facilities in Great Barr & Newton and guess what? Nothing, one of the worst areas for health provision and still at the back of the pile. The case seems to have gone a little cold perhaps it’s time I went along to see my councillors again this week and my MP. An update is about due. I suspect that unless we keep agitating about this it will quickly get swept under the table and forgotten. I can feel an agitation coming on.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Red route IV

I’ve become public enemy No1
I predicted last week that Mr. Massey would reply to my rebuff of his comments in The Great Barr Observer with the Great Barr equivalent of War & Peace. Well I was right. His latest letter is as you would expect a personal attack on me. I have become public enemy No1 for wanting traffic lights at one of the most dangerous junctions in Great Barr and for daring to challenge his outrageous ramblings. He finishes by telling me my comments are bordering on slander and deserve a reply from his solicitor. I do not intend to respond at present to this latest outburst because he is one of those people who have to have the last word. I wait with interest for further developments.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Stop the world I wona get off

Very few of my poems have deep hidden meaning in the way that some scholars analyse Shakespeare’s works. I’m usually happy to get a story told in verse. Some poems have reflected particular personal events that have affected me and I almost never share these with anyone except my wife. Although I feel they were excellent poetry.
The following poem is the exception because to me it touches on part of the story of my current battle with poor health. I’m sure as time moves on this work will be modified and expanded but for now it’ll do. It was also the third in the trilogy I mentioned on my first St George’s day post. This was written first.

Stop the world I wona get off

If only life were like catching a bus
You could get on and off without making a fuss
Stand at the bus stop and wait in line
Along come the buses three at a time

Choose your route and pay the fare
Sit and wait until you get there
You don’t like that journey changed your mind
There are plenty of others you can find

Get on and off at your leisure
Life can be kind the journey a pleasure
When life’s bad and the journey a horror
choose another route, start again tomorra

Life ain’t like that there’s no going back
Once committed you’re on the rack
I know all this and I can’t help but scoff
So stop the world I wona get off.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

St. George’s day II

My poems are like buses you wait for ages then three come along together. My wife felt that the earlier effort although it reflected what was going on in Sandwell was a bit dull and predictable. She the suggested I might write a sort of Dragons Eye view

I hope you like it

St George’s Dragon

This bloke St. George is big here in the town,
he keeps saving maidens and putting crooks down.
What is the world coming to when you can no longer pillage?
there doesn’t seem much point in terrorizing the village.
He rides into the conflict on his horse so pure and white,
sorts out all the problems, he gives me quite a fright.
No need for rewards, I tell you brother,
he’ll get a plaque giving him freedom of the borough.
I try to wreak havoc, from mayhem I never shirk,
but now I’m in trouble from health and safety at work.
I don’t know what to do except stay on the wagon,
I’m only the bad guy! Yes I’m St George’s dragon.

Friday, 17 April 2009

St. George’s day in Sandwell

We Sandwellians have over the last few years been able to enjoy a free family fun day in one of our main parks. This event was superseded by a march across parts of West Brom. Last year there was a bit of controversy at the march and the council withdrew its funding for it. This year the council are funding a party in the park on Saturday and the march has got private funding and takes place on Sunday. I’m appearing at the fun day event with my poetry group so I thought I would publish over the next couple of days some St. George theme poetry which I will be reading at the event. That ought to put you to sleep.:-

St. George’s day in Sandwell meant fun in Dartmouth Park
And marching from Stone Cross was really quite a lark.
White shirts with red crosses to celebrate our patron saint
Fancy hats and ribbons and perhaps a bit of paint.

Roads were closed on the route to make the walk secure
Pubs were open on the march, bunting added to the allure
Folks cheered and waved from windows along the busy routes
All was well until last year when a marching band played flutes

The council cut the funding claiming politics was rife
there could have been a riot threatening limb and life
The council invested loads and loads of cash
To make the party in the park a great family bash.

A celebrity was hired with acts and special events
Poetry Wednesbury will be there in one of the tents
Our patron saint will be honoured in our special way
With fun and frolicking in the park on St. George’s day

I do hope our MP will not be at the march on Sunday because it is supposed to be none political. Gordon when you read this blog can you find him something important to do in Westminster on Sunday please. BBCB

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Double standards.

I can’t help but be concerned about the current row over whether Gordon knew or didn’t know about the smear campaign. Politicians have been attacking each other for as long as we’ve had politicians. Over here in little ol Newton we get it regularly. The late Martyn Smith of the Liberal Democrats would always have a swipe at Labour. Current lot are not as good at it. Our Labour Cllr. noticed that our Liberal councillors had not been attending council or town committee meetings and put it in his last leaflet. (Leaflets from Labour don’t come out often). When apologies to these meetings are made no reason for the absence is given and indeed on one occasion at the town committee I expressed concern that we were not properly represented. It now appears that one of their councillors has been ill. Not a problem for me we all get sick from time to time. However they are claiming in their last leaflet that the Labour councillor acted inappropriately by telling people they had missed meetings and did indeed break council etiquette to score political points because the reason for their absence was his illness. My disappointment comes because until it was published in local evening newspaper about his illness I do not believe that the Labour councillor could have been aware of it or are councillors being trained in mind reading on induction? By publishing this attack on David I think they are now guilty of using the illness for political gain. Perhaps an apology is required here. It seems to be the season for asking for them. The Liberals leaflets these days lack substance and are not a patch on the quality Martyn used to put out. They do however put these things out regularly on a quarterly basis and over here in Newton leaflets win elections. Next time we will end up with a trumped up “community champion” (their description not mine) who does not live in our ward and except for perhaps delivering a few leaflets contributes absolutely nothing to our community.
Marks out of 10 four, should do much better but at the moment they are the only group seen to be doing anything. Now I know that ain't so because I see Cllr. Hosell in action with NHW and othe community stuff but if you don't tell the electorate how are they going to know?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Masochist or moron?

I used the No16 bus service on Good Friday to come back from Birmingham City Centre. The bus stops near M&S so not far to walk. I was the last person to get on. The misses had found a seat and was waiting my arrival. Not walking so good on Friday so using the walking stick I offered the driver my bus pass fully expecting him to check it. This guy never took his eyes of the road ahead. He never saw any passenger get on or what their needs might be. I’m struggling a bit so stand by the pay station holding the rail getting ready for the walk along the bus to join the wife. Driver decides it’s time to move off. No matter this old guy who is having difficulty walking is still holding the support rail. Its foot on the gas peddle, big jolt as the bus pulls away. Bob’s projected forward. Now I’m not sure how but somebody up there likes me because I’m propelled forward in a most undignified manner and deposited in the seat next to the wife. She was not amused and neither was I. If I had been feeling better I would certainly have tackled this bloke about his actions but when you hurt both physically and emotionally by his actions I just accepted what had happened. Now though I’m hopping mad that such a thoughtless driver could have put my well being at risk. I’m coming down on the side of moron.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The silent majority?

Thursday evening was the last West Bromwich Town Committee meeting. These committees have been in existence for ten years and to me they were a useful part of local democracy giving has they did the public a platform for debate, for questions, the presentation of petitions and to see their councillors in action or not has the case may have been. Last night the chair read out a statement to the effect that it was the end of committee with no time for questions or debate. I felt that this was an inappropriate and undemocratic way to do it. The local forums which are to replace the town committees do not seem to me to be formal enough or indeed established in some areas to be able to do the job. Ours in Great Barr & Newton is run on a voluntary basis by a well respected ex councillor who gets some help with notes from the meetings. I think the council should have a clear plan of the alternative before finishing the committees. The argument was that members of the public were not attending but West Brom always had a good attendance and last night the room was full. This was partly due to a group of about 25 protesting about the Red Route along All Saints Way and handing in a petition of some 400 signatures against this. The group were very vocal and humorous at times in their opposition but last nights meeting only allowed for the presentation of the petition and they were advised of a meeting later in the month when the matter would be discussed at the council house. Judging by my ear wigging a bloke in front of me who persisted in talking to a councillor in front of him and preventing me from hearing the proceedings the Tories are going to support them in opposing this scheme. This will give Cllr Ward a bit of a problem because he referred to an earlier petition which I believe was the one I presented about a year ago with 750 signatures calling for safety measures on Newton Road and he was involved with. He agreed to find out about this petition because it seems as though it may have been misplaced. I couldn’t help but think that I was part of the silent majority on Thursday, but my back hurt and I was feeling a bit below par so I thought wait on Bob there will be another opportunity.
Our new sector police Inspector introduced herself. We had met at NHW earlier in the week and knew each other from stuff in the past she is very welcome on our patch.
A lady claiming to be one of the new public crime fighters asked about how the police were going to deal with new regs, re communications with the public outside of NHW. I was surprised by this statement because I assume she was talking about one of the new anti terror teams (she terrified me)which have been talked about but as far as I’m aware no one on our patch has been involved with and probably I would know. Insp. Munslow did not appear to know about this new development. Are the Home Office recruiting and training these people without the knowledge of local police? This seems to me to be a dangerous situation.
Two councillors gave an account of their duties. This was as a response to a question I raised about 6months ago because I was concerned that there was no way of checking that the claims made by councillors in their newsletter were true and I felt that some of them were indeed whoppers. I will never know now will I? At the end I noted that the local paper were interviewing one of the protestors against the Red Route I wonder if the article will give a balanced view on the whole scheme? The last one didn’t. For the moment I remain one of the silent majority.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Red Route III

I have to apologise to our local freebie newspaper The Great Barr Observer re my post Thursday 9th April “Red Route II” They have in fact published my letter today. About an hour after receiving my paper I received a telephone call thanking me for taking the time to address the issues and saying it was about time someone challenged his ridiculous comments. They were also very complimentary about the quality of my writing but I’m far too modest to dwell on that.
My guess is that next week we will get the Great Barr equivalent of War & Peace in the letters column in ramblings against these lights and perhaps me but for the moment justice has been done.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Red Route II

I was particularly disappointed by our local freebie newspaper The Great Barr Observer over it’s coverage of the Red Route consultation in their letters columns; my post Monday 30th March detailed my objections to the main persons comments in opposition to the recommendations. They chose not to publish my letter but publish a somewhat weak response from the person who had challenged earlier letters. I suppose my comments were rather more personal an attack than they consider appropriate but with the kind of scaremongering his letter contained I think it was necessary.
Anyone who has not followed this debate closely could be mislead by the headline that “Lights would make traffic worse” and indeed be lead to think that those of us who live in the Hamstead triangle are somehow going to have our lives put at risk by the introduction of a set of traffic lights. What utter bloody rubbish.
Some years ago a plan to introduce a red route along Newton Road was defeated by local opposition but largely as I remember it because the council folded under pressure. I do hope that this time a similar fate does not meet this scheme. The last time they did not have petitions calling for some of the measures and we did not have a Labour councillor to press for the measures. It’s easier for an opposition member to blame the party in power for a failed attempt much more difficult if it’s your party bottling out. More info on the scheme can be obtained by logging on to I have looked again at the proposals and although if I put myself in the frame of a resident living on the Newton Road there are some circumstances where they might feel uneasy about the proposals (the lights on stilts at the junct. of Hamstead Road) but for all other users of this road what is being suggested is a major step forward in road safety. I will continue supporting and campaigning for it. The red route work at Scott Arms now all the regulations are in force is helping traffic flow at this our busiest junction. I have no reason to believe that similar conditions will apply on Newton Rd and All Saints Way.
Tonight we have our town committee meeting and I understand from reading our local evening newspaper a opposition group from the All Saints Way end of the route will be presenting a petition against the plans for their end. Should be a lively and entertaining meeting and as I understand the last town committee meeting. Must make an effort to attend.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Bulletin on the railings

After seeing his consultant this afternoon his majesty has asked me to pass on the following information. His condition continues to respond well to treatment. Routine blood numbers although still marginally high are responding to treatment and his general condition is improving. He will be able to continue with his public engagements. His majesty wishes to thank you all for your good will messages.

The reality:-
Phew a close shave, blood numbers halved from last time which was two thirds down from time before so steady progress, also some improvement in bone health. Not a bad prognosis for me. Living life on a 6 week cycle as I do can be a little traumatic at times and towards blood test time I have been known to get just a little tetchy. I have never suffered fools gladly and these days my acceptance of what I see as plonker behaviour towards me and mine gets very short shrift. As the misses often comments these days I’m on a short fuse. Friends, family and close associates need not worry. Others; well you will know when my patience with your behaviour runs out. I won’t mind at all if you are offended.

Monday, 6 April 2009

A tale of two cities

Well two bus journey’s really. During the American visit we went on a nostalgic trip to Oxford. In order to get into Oxford City centre these days you have to use park and ride or consider a long walk or risk a motoring offence. We chose the bus ride. My first impression was how clean the bus was. Coming back this evening it’ll be just the same as No16 I reflected. Well, it wasn’t, on the way back the bus was just as clean and there was no litter in or around the bus shelter at either end of the journey. Compare this to a recent trip on a No 16; litter all around the bus shelter, the bus like a pig sty with Metro newspapers and other waste paper products all over the floor and the bus smelling of cannabis, stale chips and curry sauce. On my return the bus stop at Hamstead was littered with fag ends and the grass reservation destroyed by tyre tracks. Why do we have this; leave our rubbish anywhere mentality? The tyre tracks were left mostly by the buses. One city can keep its buses and city clean another just about anything goes. You could argue that perhaps the intellectual level in Oxford is higher but I think it is much deeper than that. What makes us proud of our neighbourhood? In my case it was bread into me to look after my neighbourhood and that was a worn torn part of Brum. Our younger people don’t seem to have a sense of pride in our area. I notice our grot spot is grotty again. I maybe ought to give a prize for the councillor who finally gets this site permanently fixed. I don’t necessarily think the fines and outlawing of the culprits is the answer it certainly doesn’t seemed to have worked to well in Sandwell but we do need a lot more research into the mindsets of the people who litter. Then we should name and shame em!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Dog poop

I was really nice honest. About a year ago we had some problems with irresponsible dog owners who did not clean up after their pets. Problem was they were using the grassed area outside the front of my house as doggy loo. I wrote a couple of really nice poems to the dogs and posted them on my front hedge. Our local dogs all read well and the problem went away. Not a single misdemeanour for a year until last week when, da da “it’s back”. To say I’m a little upset is perhaps an understatement as a friend stepped in it and brought it into my home. I cleaned it up and removed the offending pile but this time the notice that went on the hedge was anything but friendly and not addressed to the dogs. If I catch this owner there will be trouble and dog mess in the air. Since putting up the notice however I have watched from time to time from my study window and dog walkers are giving our bit a wide berth. Why can’t we change the rules so that dog owners have to prove they have facilities for cleaning up against having to be caught mid poop as it is now? I read tonight that our local council are thinking of reducing the fixed penalty fines for littering from £75 to £25 this is because of the credit crunch and offenders wouldn’t be able to afford to pay. I can’t believe I was reading that if they can’t afford to pay the fine they shouldn’t bloody well be littering. As far as I’m concerned we should be doubling the fine and taking on more wardens to administer it.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

G20 and Gordon puts his pay rise on hold.

I need to go and have a lie down. I’ve just discovered there is something I agree with, with our beleaguered prime minister. He is not taking his and neither are his cabinet taking their pay increases. I hope all MPs will follow this lead but I’m not holding my breath. Gordon has said on many occasions that we should not reward failure. He was referring to bank bonuses in the main but it equally applies to politicians and I guess this is about as close as we are going to get of him admitting his part in the collapse of our economy. With the G20 in town this week I have to ask the question why here? It will be costing us the British taxpayer millions to put this on. Gordon already spent goodness knows how much travelling the world trying to drum up support for his plan (if that is the right word) without much success as far as I can see. Mr Sarkosy and Ms Merkle are having a moody and threatening to walk out. Typical of the French why are you bothering Gordon let em go. Gordon does seem more on top of things these days and all this buddying up to Barack is bound to rub off.
We have a national debt which I doubt my grandkids will ever pay off yet we carry on spending. We have a planned budget in a few weeks yet listening to Alistair Darling at the week end laying out his plans to help our recovery he claimed that the government had increased pensions. This is typical of Brown attitude to pensions. Yes pensions have been increased but only in line with inflation which is what normally happens. The 60quid extra did little to help any of us. I’m sitting on mine writing this tosh. Doesn’t look like we are going to get any help with savings now they are worthless in terms of taking income from them. I hear pensioners were outside the Bank of England protesting. I did agree with having the right to protest but not using violence in the way some elements did.

I did a google search from March 2005 just before the election when the following appeared on my MP’s blog site. Under the headline

Are you reading this Bob?!

"The Chancellor announced that every council tax paying pensioner household will receive £200 on top of the existing winter fuel allowance of £200. There are 12,980 pensioner households in West Bromwich East - nearly a third of all homes.
I think that at least deserves a couple of verses."

He dropped the scheme at the next budget alienating 12980 homes in West Brom East.
Excuse me for asking Tom but isn’t that close to your majority?

My poem to celebrate that windfall read:-
You asked for it!
As pensioner champion I went to see Tom,
its important he knows where were coming from.
The Tory policy it just cannot be real,
but the Lib Dems case as some appeal.

Toms hot on the phone to Chancellor Brown,
please dear Gordon stop acting the clown.
Give my pensioners a break on council tax,
he repeated the plea on email and fax.

I’m sorry I have to keep making a fuss,
now all UK pensioners get a free ride on the bus
There are four key issues which can’t be ignored,
at this point most politicians seem to get bored.

A fair pension for all is what we seek,
when do we want it? well this week!
No more pensioner credits they’re just a joke,
the way they are run don’t help the old folk.

Base local taxes on ability to pay,
see the Lib Dems they’re leading the way.
make average earnings our index linking,
we’ll all vote labour without even blinking.

I know the recession is affecting everyone but I get the feeling that he thinks pensioners are in some way immune to what is happening. Not so Gordon. Please wake up mate and start to put things right with basic state pensions, the pension protection fund and financial assistance scheme. They all need urgent help now.