March 2010 Archives
Tomorrow Birmingham City Council will approve a Climate Change Action Plan. This formality marks the city's desire to be a significant player in a radical social and technological revolution that is just beginning.
That the necessity for the revolution is now widely accepted by governments, business and social leaders across the world as well as by our own City Council is a cause for celebration. So why, Jonathan Porritt asked in his lucid, engaging Lunar Society Annual Lecture last Tuesday, is there so little fanfare?
Incumbency, he argued persuasively, was the major factor. This single word encapsulates so much about why the fanfare is more occasional off-key trumpeting than a full-blown massed-voiced choir raising the rafters.
Birmingham City Council got the favourable publicity it craved by offering a cosy chat to the BBC with Children's Services Director Colin Tucker.
During the course of a half-hour discussion, Mr Tucker let slip that six social workers had been sacked for incompetence during the past year.
The inference, in the course of a discussion about the death of Khyra Ishaq, was obvious enough.
Council social services, under fire for failing Khyra by failing to investigate properly her teachers' concerns that she was being quite literally starved to death by a deranged mother and step-father, was demonstrating that it could be tough when required.
High Speed 2 presents great opportunities to redress the UK's North-South imbalance. But it can only capitalise on these opportunities if it's part of a bigger agenda than getting people from A to B.
In an article about High Speed 2 in Friday's London Evening Standard, Andrew Neather asserted that getting to the Bull Ring ("but hey! did you really want to go?") in less than an hour wasn't worth the ÃÂ£30bn ticket, echoing Paul Dale's blog though from a perspective much closer to St Pancras and HS1.
Is there a General Election in the offing?
Excuse me for sounding a tad cynical, but just pause to think about the Damascene conversion of Labour and Conservative parties to the cause of high speed rail.
We all like the vision of 250mph bullet trains rocketing through the countryside, cutting journey times between Brimingham and London to 50 minutes. Very sexy.
It's the sort of feel-good policy that politicians love to promote.
Remember John Kennedy's man-on-the-moon ambitions in 1960?
The subsequent space race embraced cutting-edge new technology and made the Americans feel even better about themselves than they normally do.
The sentencing of Angela Gordon and Junaid Abuhamza for the manslaughter of Khyra Ishaq - the seven-year-old Handsworth girl brutally starved to death under the very noses of social services - will do nothing whatsoever to shift the arrogant culture of denial at Birmingham City Council.
Hours before the pair were due in court, a council spokeswoman was still peddling the line that talk of serious mistakes by social workers and education official contributing to Khyra's death was simply "a matter of opinion".