Saturday, 31 July 2021

Frank Gardner on Afghanistan deaths 17 April 2021


The cost of this 20-year military and security engagement has been astronomically high - in lives, in livelihoods and in money. Over 2,300 US servicemen and women have been killed and more than 20,000 injured, along with more than 450 Britons and hundreds more from other nationalities.

But it is the Afghans themselves who have borne the brunt of the casualties, with over 60,000 members of the security forces killed and nearly twice that many civilians.

The estimated financial cost to the US taxpayer is close to a staggering US$1 trillion. 

Twenty years on, the country is still not at peace. According to the research group Action on Armed Violence, 2020 saw more Afghans killed by explosive devices than in any other country in the world. Al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS) and other militant groups have not disappeared, they are resurgent and doubtless encouraged by the imminent departure of the last remaining Western forces.  END of Gardner's report


Afghanistan: Record civilian casualties in 2021, UN reports

Afghan civilians were killed or injured at record levels in the first half of this year as violence escalated, the UN says.

A new report says Afghanistan recorded more than 1,600 civilian deaths so far in 2021. That's a 47% rise compared with this time last year.

And the UN warns the number of deaths could rise still further.

Government forces have been fighting Taliban insurgents, who now control large parts of the country.

Most international forces have withdrawn after a mission lasting nearly 20 years.


Women and girls should never be a target of violence

  • The IRC is horrified and outraged by the barbaric bomb attack on the Sayed-u-Shohada Girls’ School in Afghanistan, which killed more than 50 people.

  • Afghanistan continues to be one of the most dangerous places for civilians and children, and attacks targeting them are a gross violation of international humanitarian law.

  • All parties in Afghanistan must stop this terrible violence immediately. The IRC is calling on the International community to support peace efforts

Friday, 30 July 2021

from the Guardian on 29 July 2021

Extreme weather will be the norm and UK is not prepared, scientists warn

Last year was first to be in top 10 for heat, rain and sunshine, as scientists say UK’s mild climate is at an end

Extremes of weather will strike the UK more frequently owing to the climate crisis, scientists said after data showed that last year was one of the warmest, as well as one of the wettest and sunniest, on record.

Last year was the first to figure in the top 10 for heat, rain and hours of sunshine, in records stretching back more than a century, as moderate British weather is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, according to a report from the Met Office and climate scientists.

The extremely sunny start to lockdown in the spring of 2020 followed the wettest February, while a heatwave striking in August combined to make 2020 the third warmest year, the fifth wettest and the eighth sunniest on record, according to the State of the UK Climate 2020, published in the International Journal of Climatology.

Israeli apartheid confirmed


In April this year, Human Rights Watch issued a report, titled “A Threshold Crossed”, condemning Israel for “committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians”.

“Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy,” the leading international NGO flatly stated. “In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

The bluntness of the claims in the 213-page report shocked some, but the debate on whether or not Israel has imposed an apartheid regime over the Palestinians has a long history.

Left Unity, Life of Brian and prices galore


I fully understand what Sandra, Bob and Tarsam all say and write. It is irrefutable. The fact that we all may be going to hell in a hand cart is of no comfort when they feel left out, isolated, forgotten and imprisoned. I want an inclusive for everyone society where the wealthy (those, like me who can live simply on less than the average) must share that wealth in a humanitarian and philanthropic way with those who have less. That is supposed to be the role of the government and of all the authorities who 'rule' over us. Therefore, I am only too glad to pay more in taxes to build a more socially inclusive society with less of a chasm between the top and the bottom, between the Queen Bee and the worker bees.
In that case, treat those with disabilities like royalty. Give 'em the best - an upper crust, chauffeur-driven experience when they need or simply want to get out and about. A Right Royal Ring and Ride that is fare-free and gets a five-star rating every time from everybody. 99% of us can be trusted not to abuse the system. Anyone pulling a fast one can be checked up on and excluded in the future.
On Dan'spoint, now. Where there is a will there is a way. Money is no object when it comes to Trident replacement, 40% more nuclear weapons, over 2% of GNP on armaments, £106 billion for HS2, £15 billion for Metro, £300 m for Sprint, £200 m minimum for a purpose-built yacht Britannia 2 ... There is always money for what they want because they can always cut overseas aid and break the law of the land in the process.
I think Dan is right about joining up with all the other smaller left groups. Left Unity ought to be the home for all - from Corbyn to Communists. But the important thing is to get what we want without gaining power through the inconvenience of garnering votes that we'll never get in this right-wing-dominated nation. The Judean Liberation Front, the People's Front of Judea and Kick the Romans Out should all be in Left Unity!
FROM WIKIPEDIA - to put a smile on your face!:"The film's themes of religious satire were controversial at the time of its release, drawing accusations of blasphemy and protests from some religious groups. Thirty-nine local authorities in the United Kingdom either imposed an outright ban, or imposed an X (18 years) certificate.[6] Some countries, including Ireland and Norway, banned its showing, and a few of these bans lasted decades. The filmmakers used the notoriety to promote the film, with posters in Sweden reading, "So funny, it was banned in Norway!"[7]"The film was a box office success, the fourth-highest-grossing film in the United Kingdom in 1979, and highest grossing of any British film in the United States that year. It has remained popular and was named "greatest comedy film of all time" by several magazines and television networks, and it later received a 95% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus, "One of the more cutting-edge films of the 1970s, this religious farce from the classic comedy troupe is as poignant as it is funny and satirical."[8] In a 2006 Channel 4 poll, Life of Brian was ranked first on their list of the 50 Greatest Comedy Films.[9]"

Emergency Resolution for LU to consider on 17 July 2021

As internationalists and socialists who are concerned for the future of humanity and, in fact, all of nature, we note:

This week
  1. Abnormally and record high temperatures in western N America, with wildfires out of control.
  2. Disturbed weather patterns and extreme weather events since Wednesday have killed over a hundred in western Europe, with a similar number missing.
  3. Extreme weather events affect those of our number with health issues much more seriously than those who are fully fit.
  4. Since 1988, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has consistently warned of such events from the burning of finite fossil fuels that is changing, dangerously the chemical composition of the atmosphere that allows life on earth.
  5. Therefore, we appeal to the WMCA to act as though they are taking the climate emergency seriously by now moving to a rapid reduction of fossil fuel use that includes minimising fossil fuel travel and spending and, in every other way minimising our impact on ailing life support systems.
I've kept it short and simple!

Talk and then vote as to whether Mike should send this to Laura Shoaf, Interim Chief Executive of the WMCA?  If not, I'm happy enough to send it as coming from me, only - and from no-one else!

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Green Paper engagement survey from TfWM

TODAY ON BBC NEWS from Roger Harrabin:

The UK is already undergoing disruptive climate change with increased rainfall, sunshine and temperatures, according to scientists.

The year 2020 was the third warmest, fifth wettest and eight sunniest on record, scientists said in the latest UK State of the Climate report.

No other year is in the top 10 on all three criteria.

The experts said that, in the space of 30 years, the UK has become 0.9C warmer and 6% wetter.

The report's lead author Mike Kendon, climate information scientist at the UK Met Office, told BBC News: “A lot of people think climate change is in the future – but this proves the climate is already changing here in the UK.

“As it continues to warm we are going to see more and more extreme weather such as heatwaves and floods.”

Scientists warn of worse extreme weather if global temperatures rise and politicians fail to curb carbon emissions.

We must have compulsory rationing of petrol and diesel by issuing coupons to motorists, as was done during the energy crisis of 1973.  See Andrew Marr: 'A History of Modern Britain', p 340.  And, the national speed limit was cut from 70 to 50 mph to save fuel.

Regional Fare-Free Public Transport (FFPT) with bus lanes on every nearside lane with traffic light bus priority to speed them past car commuters.

Car parking has meant that front gardens have been paved over.  This increases flooding risks and means yet more of nature is concreted, bricked and tarmaced over when we humans are part of nature.  We need to respect her and live in harmony with nature, rather than thinking we can do without her.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods with financial incentives as rewards and carrots for households without cars, paid for by those with cars.

We all have to urgently cut greenhouse gas emissions by travelling less, spending less and consuming less.

My own voluntary car pledge to reduce my 2019 mileage by 50% for 2021, which is now being met by my magnanimous self-restraint.

Make raised platforms for wheelchairs to have smooth, step free access to bus and train, as they have for tram travel.

Let the most mobile, like me, sacrifice something for the sake of the least mobile.

What you have written is very true - the runaway greenhouse effect when all tipping points have been reached and earth turns into venus.

My voluntary self-restraint will not be enough and governments around the world must govern for the sake of all and to try and reverse the downward spiral of ecocide.  STOP HS2, METRO, SPRINT immediately.  Turn buses into electric buses directly on roads without the railway tracks having to be laid for "bus on rails" trams.

What you have written here is excellent and very true.  Addressing the climate emergency begins at home and ends at home to show other countries what can be done to combat ecocide.

It must involve reversing economic growth for, instead stable or steady-state economics.  Go, once more, for a 3 day working week that was so successful in 1974.  "Yet, it also gave millions an enjoyable frisson, the feeling of taking a holiday from everyday life." (et al, p 340)

Reverse the selfish doubling of production and consumption that comes from unsustainable 3% economic growth every year for 25 years.  (Sir Jonathon Porritt)

What you have written here is excellent and very true.  Addressing the climate emergency begins at home and ends at home to show other countries what can be done to combat ecocide.

It must involve reversing economic growth for, instead stable or steady-state economics.  Go, once more, for a 3 day working week that was so successful in 1974.  "Yet, it also gave millions an enjoyable frisson, the feeling of taking a holiday from everyday life." (et al, p 340)

Reverse the selfish doubling of production and consumption that comes from unsustainable 3% economic growth every year for 25 years.  (Sir Jonathon Porritt)

YES!  Much more needs to be done, as I have already described.  Change NOW as I have done.  If I can do it why not everyone by losing small prizes to win the much bigger prize of true sustainability, a healthy planet where life support systems are not deteriorating - and, eco-socialism!

POSITIVE CHANGE:  Positively hopeless transport decisions when you destroyed two mainline Victorian railway stations in Brum for something much worse.

Positively and truly incompetent when you bulldozed parts of the free-flowing, congestion-free inner ring road to replace it with yet more traffic lights and one-way systems to cause gridlock in rush hours and that accelerated climate catastrophe.  IDIOTIC FOLLY!

NEGATIVE CHANGE:  In 50 years of living and working in both Brum and the Black Country, congestion all over and, air quality in some places, has got worse.

Large scale destruction of railway lines and stations and, then mothballing 56 Kms of double track for 6.7 Kms of trams and leaving 50 Kms for freight only and no passenger trains.  TRULY DAFT!

Metro madness has resulted in railway infrastructure - stations and track - being taken for tram stops and tramlines.  One principal mainline station in Wolverhampton is now a conference and events centre.  Snow Hill platform 4 was taken for the "bus on rails" tram from 1999 to 2015.  Since 2015, platform 4 remains wasted, unused.  Snow Hill Station remains half its former size, I have been told.

'Grand Central Shopping Centre And Diesel Perfumed Underground Station Stuck In The Basement Of The Former John Lewis Store' railway station is a £750 m mega project with a suitably grand and very long name indeed, when a fraction of that money could have been used to build a healthier, more pleasant station of fresh air flowing through and natural light.

By less socialising in person, more by Zoom and less travelling by fossil fuel dependancy.

Much less social and economic activity as we lockdown for climate out of enlightened self-interest - for our own survival as a species.

The Clean Air Zone must continue, parking restricted, the carrot of FFPT and bus priority introduced and greenhouse gas spewing mega projects Metro and Sprint scrapped.

Unnecessary travel with all its congestion, cocktail of poisonous gases from exhaust gases and the knowledge that yet more deadly greenhouse gases are changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere.

We need to show some restraint over travelling, spending and consuming; quite apart being from being less greedy in wanting evermore prosperity when so many are so rich they don't know what to do with their money except to buy ever bigger cars and to have evermore holidays ever further away.

I think, we need to be less prosperous, less well connected to bring about a fairer, greener and healthier West Midlands.  Evermore economic success/growth is fairy tale economics that is pure deception and is bringing about "the collapse of civilisations, the extinction of much of the natural world and time is running out" warnings from David Attenborough at COP24 in Poland in December 2018.

e-mail to Ros on 29.7.21 re UK already undergoing disruptive climate change

Dear Ros - it is urgent that we all pull together on the top priorities for Dudley MBC because of these further alarming reports this morning:-

  • 2020 was the third warmest UK year since 1884; all the years in the top 10 are since 2002
  • Last year was one of the least snowy on record; any snow mainly affected upland and northern areas
  • Spring 2020 was the UK’s sunniest on record, and sunnier than most UK summers.
  • 2020 was the UK’s fifth wettest year; six of the 10 wettest years have been since 1998
When you met with Patrick Harley, did you and Marie have a set of prepared questions to put to him?
If so, what were they, please?
Did Metro and Sprint and the £1 billion regeneration of Dudley town centre come up in conversation?
If so, what was said?
Did he explain why he was destroying the Derby to Devon via Dudley principal mainline railway?  What were his reasons?  And why did he want a tram stop instead of the reinstated railway station that was so popular for 100 years?  Especially, when he wants Dudley to become a city and Dudley is the biggest UK town, by population, without a railway station!

You wrote, "improvements to public transport to encourage people out of their cars".  What are your reasons, Ros, Marie and Chris for supporting trams replacing buses and trains at the most enormous cost in accelerating climate catastrophe?

We have opened a Pandora's Box of troubles that will be impossible to put back.  But we must not give up trying but much more urgently reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.  We must immediately stop all work on HS2, Metro, Sprint and put the staff, instead to work on fitting PV, insulation and reusing water in every single building.  Jobs only to feed us and to keep us in shelter and clothing and, well away from coming flood danger.  Only an eco-socialist society can do this.  Hence, I'm a member of Left Unity, as well as a life member of national FoE since the 80s.

We must stop turning nature into concrete, brick and tarmac by destroying railway lines (6 in Dudley alone and 7th on the way) and building unnecessarily, like moving Dudley Leisure Centre all of 1 Km to sit alongside Metro in Flood Street!!

We must regenerate agriculture, woodlands and hedges to bring biodiversity and maximum sequestration of CO2.  I think the Hagley Road hedge regeneration and new planting was the right thing to do, it seems to me!  I walk or cycle past it because it is near where I live.

Everything else, like Dudley town centre, must have retrenchment and not Patrick's kind of regeneration.
Sorry to make more work for you, Ros but I'm a worried Weller about the tough future my two baby granddaughters are facing.  And, I'm guilty and sorry for my own contribution to it.

Please, join me on my cycle ride on the Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway, on Sun 8 Aug at 3 pm from Fens Pool Avenue/A461/Stourbridge Road, to see the state of it now.  We turn back whenever we want.  After an hour might be enough.  MAP BELOW.

Best wishes

Wednesday, 28 July 2021


When Ray and Vi Donovan left court after the sentencing of three boys who murdered their 18-year-old son, Christopher, they said they had justice for Chris, but not the truth. They still didn’t know why Christopher was murdered on a May evening in 2001. That was a question the trial didn’t answer and only Christopher’s killers could. Years later, they would meet the three boys, by now men, to ask that question - why? Criminal justice asks what laws have been broken, who broke them, and how the lawbreaker should be punished. But Ray and Vi needed different questions answered. They started to go through a restorative justice process - an alternative way of understanding crime that centred on their needs as victims, which Ray says is ‘not rocket science, it’s two people talking’. Ray and Vi spent months preparing for each meeting, thinking about what they needed to know and what they wanted to happen afterwards. Until they met and talked with each of these three men. In this episode of Sideways, Ray and Vi tell of how restorative justice changed them. Matthew Syed examines the philosophy underpinning restorative justice, asking what needs it seeks to address and its relationship to criminal justice. With Ray and Vi Donovan, MBEs For Services to Restorative Justice, Dr Kerry Clamp, Associate Professor of Criminology, University of Nottingham, Professor Joanna Shapland, Edward Bramley Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sheffield and Sam Fallows from the Probation Service. Presenter: Matthew Syed

Left Unity motion re extreme weather events

Motion from Tim Weller,

“As internationalists and socialists who are concerned for the future of humanity and, in fact, all of nature, we note:
This week,
Abnormally and record high temperatures in western N America, with wildfires out of control.
Disturbed weather patterns and extreme weather events since Wednesday have killed over a hundred in western Europe, with a similar number missing.
Extreme weather events affect those of our number with health issues much more seriously than those who are fully fit.
Since 1988, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has consistently warned of such events from the burning of finite fossil fuels that is changing, dangerously the chemical composition of the atmosphere that allows life on earth.
Therefore, we appeal to the WMCA to act as though they are taking the climate emergency seriously by now moving to a rapid reduction of fossil fuel use that includes minimising fossil fuel travel and spending and, in every other way minimising our impact on ailing life support systems.”

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Pledges, trains and footpaths - to address the climate emergency

Dear Sharon and Geo

Would you put on the agenda, please these items of mine?
  • Personal, voluntary pledges to cut our own greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Write to officers, members of Worcs CC, MPs to get behind the mainline, Derby to Devon via Dudley Railway, on the 47 Kms section that can still be used for passenger and freight trains, despite Dudley doing Metro trams on two nibble sized sections, totalling 6.7 Kms in the Black Country.  (It goes through Worcester and Kidderminster and would be a useful, alternative route to avoid Brum)
  • Write to officers, members of Worcs CC, MPs to get behind the national Right to Roam campaign to allow less able-bodied walkers (like me!) to use public rights of way (PROWs) where there are rickety stiles, especially, stiles without steps and, closed/missing footbridges on PROWs.
Many thanks


Who are the real terrorists?

You wrote, "the £4 billion saved from the overseas aid budget, which means the poor in these countries, starve and they will inevitably come here to seek a better life, bringing with them  their terrorist tendencies."

I think, we have to be careful not to accuse others of "terrorist tendencies" unless we have the proof, the evidence.  Our ancestors, over hundreds of years, went to their lands to explore, to trade, to claim their land for ourselves as part of the glorious Empire.  We even press-ganged them and put them into inhumane prison conditions to cross the Atlantic.  When they arrived, we never paid them wages for working on our American and Caribbean plantations, to give us cheaper sugar, tobacco and coffee in the UK!

I think we are in debt to them!


Saturday, 24 July 2021


 Hi David

You wrote,"I think someone said too that the trackbed is still owned by Network Rail and leased to WMCA for 12 (?) years, after which time it could be taken back???"  This does sound like guessing.  I have had no reply to my FoI request for the price that WMCA paid to Network Rail.  I have found in one document an indication that the transfer took place last year.

"I would strongly advise you to bite your lip and find a way to "make friends and influence people", it's a great skill to learn."

Very true, but it is great fun pointing out the bleeding obvious and making fun of the mess all these big VIPs and experts are making of transport!  In addition, my thoughts have always been that if the Emperor has no clothes you ought to tell him.  Or, if a man has his flies undone, you should tell him to avoid further embarrassment.  It is exactly what I prefer people to do with me.  As you have done!

Since the 1990s, RDS/Railfuture has always prided itself on its "make friends and influence people" policy.  They have some of the top people in the railway industry as their members.  They have had some of these top people speaking at their excellent conferences, too.  Railfuture has always fully supported HS1, HS2, Crossrail 1 and 2.  I think, it has fully supported all the tram network rebuilding in the UK, even as Beeching's closed railway lines have been built on and completely destroyed - partly by trams, as with Metro One in 1999.

When HS2 is finished, including the E arm to Leeds, the train will only stop at five stations, two of which are airports.  Therefore, those passengers might just as well use the plane.  What a scandalous expenditure to escalate the climate emergency that is doing us all down, just to give a minority the choice of plane or train!

Did Railfuture support the reopening of the Borders Railway and get behind the woman who was the leading light in that successful campaign (but not for full double-tracking - yet another blunder!)?  They certainly did after she succeeded because I was at their Brum conference at the Quaker Meeting House in Bull Street when she was given some special award/accolade by them.  Excellent!

Don Payne and Peter Hughes and, now yourself, have been the only members who have indicated any kind of appreciation for my insistence that saving and rebuilding the railway network must come before rebuilding the tram network.  Now, of course, the tram network has taken over so much of the railway network that capacity has been lost, so that gives Railfuture further arguments for wanting and strongly supporting HS2 and Crossrail 2.  This, despite the fact that railway congestion and railway bottlenecks are not helped one iota with HS2 because the thing goes so fast it only stops at two airports and three stations.  So, even after HS2 is fully finished and operating, you still need every single intercity train to also operate to stop at all the many stations that HS2 does not stop at!!!

HS2 is simply a greenhouse gas gorging equivalent to the plane.  Metro, similarly but, as an alternative to the bus.  Both are ecocidal projects.  Railfuture and FoE, Campaign for Better Transport, Greenpeace, Transport for Quality of Life, Clair Haigh of Greener Transport Solutions all support HS2 and trams because they are public transport.  Hopeless! 

What a waste of £106 billion to speed climate catastrophe and to hasten our undoing as a species!  Do listen, Dave to this evening's 'Briefing Room', here:

In the 1980s/90s, RDS did not support me over my opposition to the KBH and did not appear at the public inquiry into the KBH, if I remember correctly.  Chris Baines; and, of course, Chris Crean and Brum FoE were brilliant, however.  I was arguing for the money to go on finishing the Black Country Railway, instead.  RDS was nowhere to be seen, however!

Railfuture produced this excellent colour brochure but Steve Wright wrote and told me not to promote it.  Hopeless!
Best wishes

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Climate, trees and the Hunnington footpath

Dear Neil and Jenny

I must apologise for the tone of my email last week.

Since the 1980s, I have been playing my part in countering human-induced climate change with my guerrilla gardening landscape enhancement schemes.  These, with the knowledge of the landowners, are at Frankley Service Area and at Merry Hill Shopping Centre and are my two main ones.  Playing my part, too with cycling to and from work until retirement at 65 years in 2013 and, minimising my use of fossil fuels that, in our burning, is bringing climate breakdown.

The scientists began, more obviously, telling us about disturbed weather patterns and extreme weather events from climate change in the 1980s.  Now, we are hearing and seeing they are right.  That the planet is both burning and flooding.  Burning in the western USA and Canada and, last week hundreds killed from floods in western Europe and now, this week in China.

Only by walking and cycling more, cutting our prodigious consumption of everything and planting trees and shrubs and restoring our peatlands can we counter climate breakdown.  Hence, I work in my retirement in keeping public rights of way open and available for us all.  It is brilliant that you both walk the Hunnington path on your land.

Now, it is over to you.  Please do your civic duty, as I have been doing for decades.  On your own land, I am suggesting you plant your own shrubs and trees, with woodland management to increase biodiversity and improve our prospects during the challenging years of this century.  Growing trees and shrubs absorb carbon dioxide.  And, perhaps, water those six oak whips that are well spread out, in the brambles between the path and the steep bank down to the caravans.  They are likely to die unless you water them once a week until the end of August.  Summer showers are not enough for the water to penetrate to the roots in this first season.

I will continue to keep away but my curiosity will, no doubt, drive me back before the end of the year to see how the footpath is doing.

Very best wishes to you both


On Tue, 13 Jul 2021 at 18:55, Tim Weller <> wrote:
Thanks for writing, Neil.  I thought you were appreciating my work for you both.  How wrong I was!  Oaks have gone today and the bare-rooted whips will now die.  I'll do no more clearance of paths.  So over to you if you wish to carry on walking them.


Tuesday, 20 July 2021

W Mids COP Coalition

Leon - mentioned Copenhagen for those interested - here is a thread that global South countries called climate fascism.

If you are interested in the UKs fairshare of effort
And if you are interested in the Global Green New Deal

The Slow Food International Climate and Food declaration will be presented by Slow Food UK to Cop26 - Please sign, share and consider what is on your plate can work for positive or negative -

Hi I'm Lisa - im a co-operator from Places in Common ,Cllr for Brandwood and Kings Heath - and a member of SERA's national executive  - the Labour Party's socialist society engaged in policy on climate change.  With Georgie Nott

Hi all, I am Ginnie Wollaston from Stourbridge Dudley working with Jai Jagat UK and my favourite ice cream is mint chocolate or almond - plain chocolate only! Glad to be seeing so many joining in!

From Anneka Deva (she/her) to Everyone:  07:32 PM
Hi Emma and Ann, here’s our beta page for OwnIt There’s a sign-up form there and we’ll be inviting folks to get involved and start peer-support groups through OwnIt later in the year.

From Anna Makanjuola to Everyone:  07:45 PM
Any general questions related to Young Christian Climate Network’s UK Churches’ Relay to COP26, please see the website: and for any specific Birmingham enquiries please email:

From Anneka Deva (she/her) to Everyone:  07:47 PM
Camino to COP -

From Chris Crean to Everyone:  07:48 PM 07720147330

From (H)simbi to Everyone:  07:57 PM

From Ruth  Tetlow to Everyone:  08:09 PM
If anyone knows a group of children aged 8 - 12 yrs who could get together for activ ities in the summer - on environmental issues. Footsteps has funding to organise such events this summer . see

From Matt Sowerby to Everyone:  08:15 PM
nice to meet you all! If anyone wants support to involve creativity (probably more specifically creative writing) into their activist projects, feel free to get in touch (@hopepunkplanet & for workshops, performances, comms, commissions etc.

10:10:20 living - my vision to improve our prospects!

My voluntary pledge for a brighter future!

25 COPs have not made a scrap of difference.  In fact, all the travelling for so many has meant more greenhouse gas emissions that we are meant to be urgently cutting.

I am living out my pledge to cut my diesel car mileage by 50% on my 2019 mileage; and, to keep to 60 to 65 mph cruising on motorways for 95% of the 70 mph sections.  That achieves over 70 mpg.  Car use only for trips where the 100% fossil fuel-free pushbike would take more than an hour to cycle!

We use 3 units of electricity per day averaged out over the year.  Gas use is not so good but no more than 20 C in cold weather for the main room we live in.  All the other rooms are lower.  £40/mth for total gas and electricity.

Zero food waste, with composting for guerrilla gardening.  Minimum shopping, maximum cycle use for all local journeys and bike turned into a cargo bike.

Absolute max of 10 units of elecy per day

Min 10 miles per litre if you drive

Max 20 C in room you sit in.


Friday, 16 July 2021

Disability issues

Thanks very much for this very authoritative and helpful contribution from the three of you - Sandra, Bob and Tarsam.  Tarsam's piece is alarming but hits the nail on the head.  Thanks to all of you.

To what extent do the three of you consider that you have "Community Based Independent and Supported Living" now?  Or, not at all?

Is the correct progression: self-care, family care, community care with independent and supported living, hospital at home care, palliative care?

What do you understand as "the crisis within Social Care", Sandra and Bob?
Presumably, you don't mean the Dilnot Commission proposals, that I immediately think of?
However, do you support his proposals?
Do you want free personal care for all in England?
From all those with the ability to pay, to all those in need?

We have, "What is required is a radical transformative approach."  However, having read every word more than once, I am still not clear what exactly that means, for me, if I was still working as a social worker.  What, exactly, should I have done differently?  I seem to remember we had an Independent Living Fund that we could apply to.

Sandra and Bob are quoting, I think, when they write:  "there is an urgent need to promote a Human Rights perspective on Independent Living to both disabled and non-disabled people".
What is your "understanding of disabled people’s perspective on Independent Living", Sandra and Bob and Tarsam?

On my garage wall, I have stuck up the UN's 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' from the N Ireland Human Rights Commission.  30 articles that I did read, at the time.  All brilliant stuff, I'm sure.  I must re-read them before our meeting!  

How can social workers, as I was for 35 years, improve their practice in the light of all that you both want?

What are "Neoliberal social policies" and was I guilty of practising them as a local authority social worker?
What are your experiences of social workers?  How should they change?

Is there a country with the best model of social care that we could learn from?
Which country has the best health service?

Best wishes

from the 'Canary'

Labour MPs being friendly with Tories has been a historical problem. Under the guise of cooperation for the greater good, so-called left-wing politicians have snuggled up in political bed with the right, because we all have to work together – yes?

No, we don’t. It’s this weak (and often ineffective) opposition which has led us to this point. Countless unnecessary deaths from coronavirus (Covid-19); “grave” and “systematic” violations of chronically ill and disabled people’s human rights, and 130,000 deaths from Tory austerity. Our two-cheeks-of-the-same-arse political system is broken.

To politicians like Nichols, being MP is clearly a game of political football. It’s one where you fight against your opponents for a short amount of time. But when the whistle blows, you’re all mates, really.

I'm a disabled person on legacy benefits, I'm not interested in seeing anyone who claims to represent me yukking it up with the people who are actively threatening my life.

Urgently, mitigate, adapt and minimise everything and anything ...

... that will cut deadly gg in the medium to long term.

All the money and attention, that will in themselves emit gg, must still go into restraint, reduction in economic growth; into retrenchment and, regeneration only if it brings about a massive reduction in fff energy use.

Regeneration should not be about spending £1 billion in Dudley town centre to bring big, flash, prestigious schemes of offices, shops and stores to impress visitors and rush the locals by popular Metro tram to Merry Hill.

Use the £1 billion for refurbishment of Wellington Road Leisure Centre instead of moving all of 1 Km.

REFURBISH instead of demolition for rebuilding that results in two thirds of all the waste generated.

Your £1 billion can be quickly used in PV solar on every E, W, S roof and to do internal and external insulation of every building.

Used to finish the UK's last, principal, mainline railway in the Black Country.  You have built over the other six in Dudley borough, alone.

Used to end the discrimination and inequality against the middle aged and young who are not allowed to have Fare-Free Public Transport like the OAPs like me have had for 13 years, in my case.

The winning leadership of Gareth Southgate

Even as a keen footy fan, I'm troubled by the hysteria of some when winning as if possessed & the sight of tearful kids when losing.  Gareth Southgate seems the only role model here, humble in victory, dignified in defeat, fair & respectful in leadership. Should be the next P.M.  Colin Port  13.7.21

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

STATEMENT for Future Council Scrutiny Committee, Dudley MBC on 15.7.21

Scathing, outspoken criticism at Dudley's Future Council Scrutiny Committee on 15 July 2021

Tim Weller, in the public forum, read out this excoriating criticism of councillors, officers and of the Metro Mayor yesterday evening:

STATEMENT for Future Council Scrutiny Committee, Dudley MBC on 15.7.21

Your predecessors, sixty years ago completely destroyed the tram network.  Only 20 years later, by 1981, they were planning to rebuild it but, on the railway network that you were also closing and thinking it would never again be needed.  So about 100 Kms of railway lines were also completely destroyed and used for everything but the kitchen sink.  Because you thought that hotels, homes, cars and offices were meant to run down railway lines.

Metro started in 1981.  Not then or, in any single year since, has there been any debate and vote as to whether converting the bus and part of the urban railway network into a tram network was a sensible thing to do.

Two or three years ago, Midland Connect and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce got into the papers about their campaign to have the 87 Kms and 8 lane Western Orbital Motorway built through Worcestershire and Staffordshire.  But no discussion, debate and vote in even their own organisations!  No consultations even with councillors, let alone the general public.  Still to this day.

Metro and Motorway get foisted on us with no consultation, let alone debate and vote in any of the seven constituent councils of the WMCA.

Scotland does things democratically, fairly and correctly.  Edinburgh City Council had meetings to discuss whether or not to go ahead with their tram.  Then, a debate and vote.  On both occasions, Edinburgh Conservative Group was strongly opposed on grounds of cost.  The Green Party and the LibDems joined the SNP to get the tram construction through instead of arguing for Fare-Free Public Transport that is always much better value for money to entice motorists out of their cars.

They knew that in 2015 when they reopened the 50 Kms Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, it cost £7 m/Km to rebuild.

The Conservative Group leader, at the time, wrote to me:

"The first section was completed at a cost (as you indicate) of £55.43m/km (that opened in 2016).  The proposed cost of the extension is £87.01m per km before overruns and before the ‘lessons learned’ enquiry by Lord Hardie has reported."  Cameron Rose  Conservative Councillor,  Southside & Newington ward 4 March 2019

You Conservatives are in control in Dudley, in Walsall, in Solihull and you have a Conservative CA Mayor, Andy Street who is even more irresponsibly extravagant and financially foolish and wealth flaunting, with his vanity project to impress and attract foreign tourists. This, by spending £15 BILLION to 2040, at £750 m every year to get 150 miles of underground and overground "bus on rails" trams on railway tracks on roads to replace and duplicate electric buses directly on roads without the railway lines. This, imposed on you with no consultation even, let alone a single debate and vote in any of the seven council chambers!

This is the biggest financial and transport scandal in the history of the UK. And you all sit there and let it wash over you!

What is worse, you have been lied to with the immortal words, "Light rail investment provides the basis for restoring heavy rail services at the appropriate time" on the UK's very last principal, mainline railway from Derby to Devon via Dudley. And that appropriate time never comes, of course.

SOURCE: Tom Magrath, Passenger Services Director, Centro in a letter to me, dated 18 September 2000.

And, you have been lied to by the Interim Chief Exec of the WMCA, Laura Shoaf who said on 'Midlands Today', to reporter Peter Plisner, that "passive provision" would be built in to the Dudley tram line to allow for the return of passenger and freight trains. Even a child knows that trams, trains and goods trains all on one set of double tracks is an utter impossibility. Laura Shoaf is so desperate for trams, she is prepared to lie as Tom Magrath did 21 years ago.