Birmingham, B29

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Police commissioner elections - where?

posted by pindec
Today you can vote for a local police commissioner.

If you want to find your local candidates, see the West Midlands site here.

If you're anything like me, then you may have lost your polling card. So you might wonder where the polling station is (I remembered that mine had changed location, but not where the new location is), and off I popped to Birmingham City Council (BCC) website to find it.

The Elections Office site doesn't have it. Hmm. A search on the BCC site for "polling stations location" doesn't return it. Back to trusty Google, and an old post from the Birmingham Newsroom (still not clear how that's different to BCC 'news') implies the info is available via BBC's "My Local Information" section. Back to BCC homepage. Where is "My Local Information"?

*argh*. No link to "My Local Information" from the homepage. Back to Google.

Ah, here's "My Local Information". Click to go to the *actual* My Local Information page. Enter postcode. I have to tell the system my exact house number? Not sure I really want to do that, so I choose a neighbour's house.

And then it shows me the information. To be fair, there's quite a lot of helpful info on that page. Sadly, the polling station location is wrong, still listing the old polling station (Selly Park Tavern Skittle Alley).

Finally, after re-searching the BCC site for "polling station" (! such a different search than the one above that didn't return relevant results) I get some relevant results. IN PDF FORMAT! Bleugh.

But if you need to find your local polling station with a tiny bit less pain, here's the list.

And if you used to vote in the Selly Park Tavern, you need to go off to the BAYC Conference Centre, Hilda Simister House, 581Pershore Road, Selly Park, Birmingham, B29 7EL.

Here's hoping some lovely open data for the whole country featuring polling stations arrives on soon :).

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012


posted by pindec
The B30 bunnies over at Stirchley Happenings are off for a walk on Sunday 26th Feb. If you enjoyed our perimeter walk back in 2009, you may want to pick up a tortoise and join them. They only have one more B than us :).

They are even drawing B30 in their walk, reminiscent of Nikki Pugh's rather lovely GPS art.

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Monday, 22 March 2010

battery innards

posted by birmingham b29
You may be sad that the old Battery Building got flattened to make way for more excting retail opportunities, but as part of the excellent Flatpack festival, you can see its innards while it was still (just) alive.

On Thurs 25th March there's an event called More Films about Buildings, featuring amongst other things the video "Take Only Photographs, Leave Nothing But Footprints", shot inside the Battery Building by Dale O’Keeffe.

If you can't make the event (and Flatpack's stuff is *always* awesome), you can see the video online here.

(thanks to @genzaichi for the heads up :)).

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

got any spare pics of Selly Oak?

posted by birmingham b29

Selly Oak Railway Bridge - dating from 1931
Originally uploaded by ell brown
We've been emailed by Saima Ali from BCC (who also has a yahoo account), who says:

"I work for Birmingham City Council, and in particular neighbourhood management. We work together with local residents to try and improve local services and areas. This includes removing graffitti, arranging litter picks, improving community gardens and helping respond to issues of anti-social behaviour. This is a long shot, but I'm putting together a celebration of our work, as its all done on a minimal budget, We are desperate for some photos of Selly Oak, and I was wondering whether you had any that you could donate.

The work we are doing is not for profit, and really relies on community spirit and a willingness to be involved."

So if you're interested in donating some pics, please get in touch with Saima.

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Monday, 8 March 2010

Dawko goes electioneering ...

posted by birmingham b29
We've had our first election leaflet, from Nigel Dawkins, the local Conservative parliamentary candidate, and uploaded it to the excellent The Straight Choice website so you can also enjoy it.

We weren't expecting much, but this is pretty lame. He has focused on a single issue (Cadbury takeover) and managed to blame the Labour Party for the failure of his letter to Lord Mandelson preventing the takeover. It's also simply not true that Steven McCabe failed to support Cadbury: we imagine he felt as an MP he might be able to do more in Parliament than co-signing a Tory councillor's letter. Plus Dr Lynne Jones, our current MP, has been quite busy asking questions.

Also, it's not every day you get a Tory getting outraged about a free economy: apparently, Nigel will launch a "Let's Keep Manufacturing" campaign to "make it more difficult for our manufacturing companies ... to be taken over by foreign concerns". This might come as a surprise to Conservative head office, whose business policy contains the promise of "Reducing the burden of regulation", and whose whole microeconomic stance could never been summed up as protecting ordinary people against "banks, the shareholders, the city whizz kids". Plus anyone who can remember the Tory privatisation bonanza in the 80s might feel a bit sick at his accusation that Labour is pursuing a policy of "everything is for sale".

We imagine that Kraft might be a bit surprised at him borrowing Cadbury's trade mark too ....

Odd policy wonks aside, one thing really concerns us: Nigel's use of a graph to explain why you have to vote Tory in Selly Oak to get rid of Gordon Brown. Here's the offending "chart":
From b29

The only label is "recent polling results" - there's no indication of numbers, location, date, who carried it out, etc. etc.. Does he really expect voters to make a decision to vote for him on the basis of a ridiculously badly constructed graph? We have emailed him to ask him for the following info:
  1. when was the poll conducted?
  2. what were the raw data results? (We cannot see any numbers on the chart)
  3. where was the poll conducted?
  4. who was the poll conducted by?
  5. what was the poll methodology?


Nigel replied, saying that the chart was based on national polling figures, possibly from Jan. So, no figures, no provenance, but it's national polling figures, from earlier this year.

If you would like to see the wide range of national polling figures for yourselves over the past few months (actual data), here's a handy summary.

Frankly, we don't think Nigel's response is good enough. We replied saying "We think it's unusual to publish a chart with no figures or provenance, especially when your leaflet specifically implies that it was a local poll by using the text "only by voting Convervative in this constituency ..."". Perhaps they were not expecting people to actually look at the leaflet :).


He ended up getting a little snippy with us, saying that he thought it unusual to be contacted via email by someone without a name (we signed our email birminghamb29) and snail mail address. Is it? We noted that he doesn't put his own snail mail in his emails ....

So we replied:
"Does that mean you don't want to send us the figures? Or you would like to if we identified ourselves? We don't think we should have to identify ourselves directly when asking about your election leaflet." And asked again about the figures.

Nigel reiterated that the chart was drawn from national polling figures from Jan, of which there are loads. Looks like he doesn't want to share :(.

Oh, and just to be clear - this blog doesn't endorse any particular party. We're looking forward to receiving more leaflets from the other parties to pick apart :).

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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

b29 springwatch - verging on the toasty at last

posted by birmingham b29

Monday, 1 March 2010

secret spring garden door

posted by birmingham b29
secret garden spring door

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Thursday, 18 February 2010

broken hearts in b29

posted by birmingham b29
Just before yesterday's snow, I noticed an early Valentine's rejection in the gutter:

gutter hearts


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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

urban street crime in middle-class B29 shock

posted by birmingham b29
There's a burnt-out car in Selly Wick Road!

From b29

Apparently the fire service were busy putting it out on Sunday evening around 6:30 PM.

Must remember to add it to Fix My Street, but in the meantime we're enjoying the NIMBYness of some of the B29 FMS entries: this person from the ever-lovely Weoley Castle posting in the "Flytipping" category clearly thinks that the race of the "youths" is relevant, though she hasn't quite grasped the precise definition of teenager ...

*UPDATE* - the car was reported to Fix My Street, and has now gone. Although we also got an email from BBC asking for the following info before they took it away:

Telephone Number
Make & Model of Vehicle
Registration Number
Colour of Vehicle
Is the vehicle taxed?
Exact location of vehicle

That seems like a lot of personal info you're required to give them before they act ... information gathering overkill?

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Thursday, 21 January 2010

Brum taxis: lottery?

posted by pindec
You may have seen the headlines on 11th Jan about the odd criteria being applied to people applying for taxi licenses in the Midlands.

The situation in Birmingham is still unclear: the Council's newsroom website reported the story as part of its Media Watch, but there is no release about it, and we've been asking for a link to their policy on twitter, which they seem to have been ignoring. (Not even a reply saying why they don't want to give it to us). Does this mean the BBC newsroom is overworked, inept, doesn't care or is trying to avoid the issue?

The Council's own site (the newsroom is a separate bit, presumably because the expensive new content management system on the main site doesn't allow them all the functionality they need) just has links to application forms - there's no mention of what criteria will actually be applied. I'd find that a bit weird if I were applying for something ... However, there is a list of prosecutions, which mainly features driving without insurance.

So we'll do some more digging ... I can't believe the Council doesn't understand that people are concerned about this, and that it *might* be a good idea to try and be a bit more transparent? Interestingly, although the Post reported the story, they didn't get a quote off BCC. Is that cos they didn't try, or is the BCC newsroom ignoring them too?

The newsroom got back to us after a few days (still no info from the BBC actual). They stated that: "Birmingham City Council Licensing does undertake Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for all new hackney carriage and private hire driver’s licence applicants. In addition further checks are carried out every three years for the duration of a licence".

Other points were:
  • An applicant with a conviction for any sexual offence should normally be refused.
  • An applicant with a conviction for a drug related offence should normally be refused. 
  • Applicants with driving offences can only have their license reinstated after a period of time equal to the amount of their ban after getting their driving licence back (e.g .if they were banned for 6 months, they can get their taxi licence back 6 months after getting their driving licence back). If the ban was due to drink or drugs, there's a min of 2 years.
Which is reassuring :)

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