Birmingham Friends of the Earth wants to see a sustainable Birmingham: not only a city run in an environmentally just and responsible way, but one that enables all its citizens to make good lives, livelihoods and communities together.

For this reason we share the deep concerns of many other civil society groups about the scale of Birmingham City Council’s cuts. As they stand, the cuts will see society’s poorest and most vulnerable bear the brunt of the resulting social, economic and environmental adversity. In particular, the loss of libraries, community centres and wellbeing activities will do huge damage and must be resisted. Cuts should have long term cost benefit analysis: many of the proposals will cost Birmingham’s council and economy far more in the long term. 

Transferring ‘assets’ to community hands is not a solution to lack of funding: community asset transfer should be driven by the power, passion and resources of a community, not forced on struggling communities out of necessity.

Our national Government must have a role in ensuring that Council-run services receive adequate funding, in order to empower local communities and enable their citizens to thrive. Whatever the failings of Birmingham City Council, the shared experience of local authorities all over the country show that this is a national issue. One that must be addressed.

It’s important that decisions on cuts have democratic input – both through elected representatives and through other participative means.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth supports a small number of the proposals due to their potential to reduce environmental harm:

  • We welcome the change to fortnightly residual waste collections and the food waste collection. If so many other English cities can do this, so can Birmingham. For reasons of cost and environment, we must join the rest of the country in dealing with the resources we call ‘waste’ more responsibly -but some budget is needed for communicating this effectively. 
  • We welcome the reduction in the use of herbicides and the use of mulch, which we have been calling for for years.
  • We support the introduction of car parking charges at country parks as it means drivers are paying the costs of the land needed to accommodate vehicles. 

Additionally:

  • Penalising poor driving behaviour such as pavement parking, speeding and other parking charges could also raise revenue while providing safety and environmental benefits at the same time. 
  • The council should review and reduce temperatures in council-owned buildings, and insulate buildings wherever possible to generate economic and environmental benefit.

More widely, and while retaining our party-political impartiality, we will act in solidarity with others in the city who are fighting the social, economic and environmental injustices and hardships of the cuts.

 

Birmingham Friends of the Earth