Highgate Residents Group meeting is just the beginning

The well attended first meeting of the Highgate Residents Action Group held by Birmingham Workers Party

Monday the 4th of October saw the first meeting of the Highgate Residents Group. A group brought together by targeted canvassing and leafleting of the Birmingham Branch of the Workers Party of Britain.

The Workers Party – Birmingham have been out door knocking and speaking to local residents of the Highgate area over the past month, seeking to understand the living and working conditions of local people, in order to organise and act collectively to tackle some of the major issues.

What we have discovered through our work is further confirmation of the systematic neglect and dereliction of duty by the Labour-led Birmingham City Council, it is truly criminal. We have remarked on the illegal and inhumane behaviour of the Council many times, regarding their unlawful homeless housing programme, the rising infant mortality rate in the city as a result of the increasing poverty and lack of social provisions, their disregard for the working people and small business owners of Kings Heath who are being poisoned and pushed out due to the implementation of the LTN scheme without consultation.

The Highgate Residents Group meeting discussed the necessity of taking collective action, of fighting against and fixing the root cause of the issue rather than seeking to treat the symptoms (not that the council are even willing to do that).

It is not acceptable in modern Britain, the fifth biggest economy in the world, that working people are continuing to live in conditions reminiscent of Victorian slums, while the Council sits on financial reserves of over half a billion pounds.

It is time for the working people to come together and demand what is rightfully ours. Good wages and working conditions, affordable and well kept housing, cheap or free public transport, and elected representatives that actually represent the working class of Birmingham, not the financial interests of big business.

The next meeting of the Highgate Residents Group will be held on Monday 1st of November at 7pm. During this meeting we will further discuss concrete plans to hold the Council to account for their lawless behaviour.

Please join us.

Studley Tower a story of neglect

In September 2021 as part of our canvass of Highgate, the Workers Party – Birmingham surveyed residents in Studley Tower, some of whom had complained to our party of poor maintenance of their property by Birmingham City Council.

Our survey found:

Some residents we spoke to had issues of overcrowding, one man occupied his one bedroom flat with five children

Many residents we spoke to had issues with heating and ventilation, broken windows, broken boilers, poor heating systems

Other residents we spoke to had issues with vermin, with both rats and cockroaches reported as being present

On 20 September we raised these matters with Birmingham City Council.

Birmingham city council officers responded promptly.

To get these issues addressed we’ll be working with residents and the council to ensure the issues are sorted.

The Workers Party – Birmingham is recruiting

Save the world-famous Bullring markets!

Traders at the open, indoor and rag market are facing a barrage of attacks from the council, which mean the 850 year old market may soon be history.

The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging for stallholders and workers at Birmingham’s world-famous Bullring market. Many traders have not been able to operate due to lockdown with little to no support from the council. Stallholders run the types of small businesses that couldn’t as easily adapt to online sales as many other small businesses could, which means for long stretches of time over the past 18 months they have not been able to make any income.

Now that restrictions are over and the market is back in full operation, the stallholders are being hit again. Not only have the Labour run council demanded the stallholders pay rent for the time of the lockdown this year (when they couldn’t legally operate!), they are now facing an uphill battle in their recovery as the city centre has become a ghost town because of the clean air zone charge, constant road closures, and abolition of many parking facilities near the market.

Birmingham Workers Party was speaking to stallholders in August about the council’s plans to segregate the city centre. Many stallholders were furious but not surprised at the further attacks by the Labour run council. Many stallholders and stall workers are having to pay 8 pound per day to drive their vehicles in the city centre because they could only get an exemption for their car but not their delivery vehicles. Even the people who did get an exemption know it will expire after 12 months and they will be forced to pay up to 50 pounds per week for the privilege of attending their business.

Stallholders listed many challenges they face, not just the demand for months of rent when they could not work, and the CAZ which has massively reduced footfall in the area. The constant construction zone that is Digbeth has led to road closures and lack of consistent public transport services to the area, meaning that even of those shoppers who do visit the city centre, few will travel to the lower side where the 850-year-old market stands. Add to this the increase in online shopping, fast fashion and cheap supermarkets and you can see why many of the stalls now stand empty.

A council that worked for the people would not be demanding rent during lockdown it would be providing financial assistance and relief, it would offer permanent exemptions to stallholders and workers who travel to the city centre not delays to the inevitable, it would invest in showcasing the famous markets across the West Midlands, Great Britain and the world, it would be supporting stallholders and workers to keep this famous market alive and flourishing.

However, we don’t have a council that works for the people. We have a council hell bent on selling off the whole city centre to big business. The endless stream of challenges, setbacks and changes has led some stallholders to believe that the council wants them gone to make way for housing developments, and the actions of the city council certainly point in this direction.

Our message to the council:

Stop demanding rent from lockdown!

No more Clean Air Zone charges!

Save the Bullring Markets!

Workers Party Statement on passing of founding member Brian Travers

George Galloway & Friends, Radio Roadshow, with Brian Travers (UB40), Adam Garrie, West Bromwich Community Centre, Gayton Road, West Bromwich 13th Sept 2019 Photo credit: Stalingrad O’Neill

The Workers Party of Britain is saddened to learn of the death of founding member Brian Travers. Our party sends its condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Brian, especially his wife Lesley. Brian was a founding member of the Workers Party of Britain, a much loved member of its Birmingham section and a long time personal friend and supporter of party leader George Galloway.

Brian was known as a talented musician but far fewer are aware of his deep humanity and socialist convictions. His passing, after a brave fight against illness is a moment for us to reflect on a brilliant musician, talented artist, sincere socialist and son of the working-class.

“Man’s dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world–the fight for the Liberation of Mankind”.

Statement on Council plans to segregate Birmingham city centre

The Birmingham branch of the Workers Party of Britain call on our supporters, neighbours and fellow citizens of Birmingham to oppose plans to segregate our city into zones and segments, preventing free movement of residents and ratepayers, while increasing pollution on the ring road in the periphery of which live many of our poorest children in some of our most neglected wards.

Plans by Birmingham City Council to make life difficult for ordinary commuters and residents are openly admitted to being implemented for the benefit of big business, retail and leisure alone. A city centre given over purely for the benefit of students and shoppers is an insult to those living and working in the city and, along with the disastrous LTN schemes across the city, a colossal waste of public money and the energy of our council officers.

We demand urgent action is taken to clean our city streets, to improve the public health and implement free public transport for children as the first step towards a genuine attempt to remove vehicles from our streets.

The Council consultation on this disastrous scheme will be open until 9 September. Lets make our voices heard!

Respond to the consultation: https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/economy/segments/consultation/intro/