Local Elections 2012 – Our Questions to Acocks Green Ward Candidates

April 11th, 2012

It’s that time of the year again, and Acocks Green could be an interesting ward to watch as popular, and hard working, Lib-Dem councillor of the past four years, Roger Harmer goes head to head with Labour’sLabour’s John O’Shea an active, pithy, and very well informed commentator and critic on the local political scene for years. Last year, this, previous Lib-Dem stronghold lost a seat to Labour, in a surprise win. This time, in our ward, there are also six other candidates, including Acocks Green regulars Joe Edgington for the Conservatives andAmanda Baker for the Green Party. Who do you want to represent you as your elected representative on Birmingham City Council? How are you intending to vote on May 3? To help Acocks Green people who care about the future of Acocks Green, to decide we are putting our own questions to some Ward candidates.* Acocks Green Focus Group is concerned with the appearance and physical structure of Acocks Green: buildings, street furniture, road layout, trees and green spaces. As last year, our questions are designed to reveal how candidates will help to look after the fabric of Acocks Green Ward.

We will publish answers verbatim, without comment, only adjusting appearance for uniformity where necessary. By April 17 we expect to be posting a set of answers in order to help Acocks Green residents, who care about their suburb, to decide which candidate’s name to put their ‘X’ by when they drop their bit of paper into one of those black boxes. Although we will not be commenting, our ‘post’ comments section will be open as usual and it will be possible for readers to comment on answers if they wish, or, indeed for candidates to comment on each other’s answers. Candidates’ answers to Acocks Green May 3 2012 election questions here

The Questions

  • Supermarket developments around Acocks Green have been very much in the news this year, and petitions both supporting and opposing the proposed Morrison’s development on Shaftsmoor Lane were handed into the Planning Department. It would now appear that a decision will be made on this scheme, and another one for an Asda based development in Reddings Lane, prior to the May 3 local election. However, proposed modifications to the much discussed ‘Draft National Planning Policy Framework’ now seem to be seeking to take into account the types of concerns expressed by people, in regard to unchecked supermarket development, both in Acocks Green, and across the country. Do you support these modifications, and, if you were elected what steps would you be taking to help

    protect Acocks Green shopping centre from decline as a result of ‘out-of-town’ shopping facilities?

  • This July we will know the result of a bid for funding for the Acocks Green section Birmingham City Council/Solihull MBC/Centro Smart Route route scheme on the Warwick Road. (A Smart Route is a red route with special facilities for buses. If you are unfamiliar with this scheme there is a report on a meeting between Birmingham City Council Transportation Department staff and Acocks Green delegates belowhere If you are elected will you support this scheme, which will involve the implementation of a single carriageway through part of Acocks Green centre, to replace part of the present dual carriageway there?
  • If elected, will you actively also support ‘de-cluttering’ (removal of excess street furniture) as part of the implementation of this scheme?
  • Acocks Green people are working, with guidance from BCC officers, on their own Conservation Area, proposal. If elected, would you support such a scheme in your work as a councillor, e.g. speaking and voting in favour where possible. If the answer is ‘this depends’ please elaborate.
  • Just in time for the 2012 elections, Acocks Green Baptist Church corner of Yardley Road and Alexander Road, Acocks Green.) appears to have put forward a new proposal to demolish the locally Grade A listed Glynne Edwards Hall (This featured in last year’s questions.) At the time of posting we are unclear about precisely how the re-designed building would appear, but page 3 of the new ‘briefing’ document linked to above makes clear, by omission, that the third building on the site, The Glynne Edwards Hall would be demolished: see highlighted section. The, widely opposed, scheme previously put forward to local people, involved the replacement of the Glynne Edwards Hall with a plate glass design. It is not yet clear what form the new design would take. However, owners of the Hall claim that the new scheme, like the old one, would enable them to finance proper maintenance for the two statutorily listed buildings on either side, by letting rooms in the new building. See our main, 2011, Glynn Edwards Hall posting here here for more information about the previous scheme. The new briefing sheet also directs to www.stockfield.org which describes the 2011 scheme, implying the new one is not very different. If elected, would you support or oppose the scheme to demolish The Glynne Edwards Hall. Please give at least one reason in your answer.
  • We are also concerned to protect our local public buildings by ensuring that they remain well used. There has, recently, been concern about reductions in library hour provision in Birmingham Libraries. If elected, would you be concerned to maintain the present 50 hours per week opening provision for Acocks Green Library (Building locally listed Grade A) and, if so what steps would you take?
  • There has been a proposal that Acocks Green Police Station should be moved from its present location, to a more central one, and the building either then sold or demolished. A sentence in a report to the Police Finance and Resourcing Committee in January reads:

There are no custody facilities at either Erdington or Acocks Green. What is proposed is the REPLACEMENT of each of the stations with new buildings.

This produced a response in the form of an impromptu and urgent meeting outside the building in January. Inrecent email Bob Jones, Chair of West Midlands Police Authority Finances and Resources Committee promises that local views will be taken into account ‘& and if the best option turns out to be staying where we are then that is were we stay’

What do you feel the future of Acocks Green Police Station should be, and how would you help protect the locally Grade B listed building?

  • A public footpath path running between Fox Hollies Road and Fox Hollies Leisure Centre has been closed for the past five years, causing great inconvenience to local people. (See full details of story here) If elected would you support the re-opening of this path so that it can be used by residents of Acocks Green, and nearby areas, who wish to exercise at the Leisure Centre.
  • What support will you be giving to the newnew Acocks Green BID manager in her work to make Acocks Green shopping centre an attractive and popular shopping venue?
* This year there is an unusually high number of candidates running
for election in Acocks Green; there are eight candidates.  We have
taken the decision to invite half of these candidates to answer our
questions.  With apologies to the other candidates, we have invited
the two candidates who are widely considered to be most likely to win
this election and two others who have run in an Acocks Green Ward
election before.

4 Responses to “Local Elections 2012 – Our Questions to Acocks Green Ward Candidates”

  1. Trevor Wagg says:

    Sorry Julia but I think this is very wrong to exclude 4 candidates. The whole basis of our democracy is to allow anyone to have their say. You cannot have an unbiased forum whilst only allowing certain candidates to have the chance to express their views, with others being excluded.
    I fully appreciate that many, myself included, find the policies of some of the excluded parties totally unacceptable, but if we start censoring what we do not like, are we any better than they are.
    I would seriously urge the 4 selected cadidates to consider if they should take part in a debate on this basis.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Trevor

      Last year we asked all five candidates to comment, and, indeed, went to some trouble to contact the UKIP candidate who was not on email, and, at first, not seeming to respond to his agent’s messages. This year, the main reason for excluding other candidates was that (1) We have eight candidates, which seems to be a lot for anyone to absorb and weigh and (2) Four of the candidates are likely to have little knowledge of the issues under consideration. This time, our qualifying rule was that the person had to have stood in a previous election in Acocks Green. We note that a similar approach has been applied in some other places, for example in the present London mayoral election the BBC says that it is concentrating on candidates with a track record in previous elections.

  2. Alan Ware says:

    As one of the disenfranchised candidates I would like to say thank you to Trevor for his democratic opinion. As a Social Democrat I would like to say that democracy is not just about the freedom of speech, it is also about the people’s right to hear the voice of democracy. Only totalatarianism smothers the elector’s choice to hear alterative views. It would seam that someone feels they have the right to decide what the public are allowed to hear. It is not the first time I have stood in Acocks Green and it will not be the last. Hopefully next time the public will have a chance to hear what all candidates have to offer.
    Alan Ware

    • Julia says:

      Hi Alan, We did not know you had stood in Acocks Green before, so, our apologies, although it would have been fine to have dropped us a line earlier on about this. However, the situation is that our group is, quite literally, ‘focused’ on the fixed features of Acocks Green: buildings, street layout, green open spaces, trees. We were faced with eight candidates, more, I think, than any other Ward in the city. I don’t know whether you, yourself, have ever attempted to co-ordinate a number of people, and their statements, in this way, but I can testify that it is a lot for one rather frazzled person running a website on a volunteer basis. (This year, to be honest, with various personal issues, four felt almost too many!) It seemed best to make a pragmatic decision. The decision that was made was to invite candidates who we knew to have stood for Acocks Green before, and who seemed, therefore, more likely to be able to comment, in an informed way, on the issues relevant to this group and to this website.

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