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Showing posts from February, 2005

Library off the starting block

Today's Cabinet Meeting started the process of bidding for funds for a new central Library for Birmingham. It may surprise people who live in Birmingham that no bidding for funds had occurred so far. This, however, is the case. We have not been specific about the location as keeping our options open at this stage gives a better opportunity to achieve a more positive solution. The option of putting the Library into Birmingham's West End Cultural Quarter is quite a positive one. The West End Cultural Quarter based upon the traditional plan of a civic centre includes the Museum, two Theatres (Crescent and Rep), Symphony Hall, the ICC and a large number of live music venues. (as well as Broad St).

Tyranny by stealth (The Homeland Security State)

Imagine it: The federal government tracking you in real time, while compiling a database with information on your speed, route, and destination; where you were when; how many times you went to a certain location; and just about anything else related to your travels in your own car. The idea of systems to track where cars are already exists. There are lots of schemes whereby the real time location, speed and other matters (such as whether people are using seat belts) can be tracked. I have had a "tracker" on my car for a number of years as a tool for finding the car if it is stolen. Within the context of politicians having inherent conflicts of interest - which is why we have the separation of the estates of government - Charles Clarke's idea that he should be able to impose sanctions upon people is badly flawed. The arguments that the Labour Party use for keeping detailed records of people in a centralised ID database apply the same to the idea of compulsory tracking. T

Interesting Health Questions (inc MRSA)

The National Health Service is an important issue for many people. One aspect of that has been the question as to how prevalent MRSA is (the "Super Bug"). The linked report from The Telegraph indicates that it appears on the death certificate of about 1,000 patients a year. The real question, however, is how prevalent it really is. Doctors from time to time report "old age" as the cause of death. This could include MRSA. Also Pneumonia is reported which also could involve MRSA. The difficulty is that we really need an audit of the records to find out what the true story is. Even in a City Council debate about MRSA there were two examples of people where MRSA was part of the story, but did not appear on the death certificate. The real problem is that if MRSA appearing on the death certificate causes considerable stress then there will be a tendency for it to be omitted as a cause. This makes it difficult to really know what is going on. Regardless as to how pr

Remember the Tippex

Correction fluid was used to blank out crosses on ballot papers for the People's Justice Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. Fresh crosses were added in favour of the three Labour candidates, an election court was told. It is important to remember that election fraud occurs across the country, not just in Birmingham. The difference in Birmingham is that we are trying to stop it. What about the extra three boxes The legal debate about the three boxes full of only Labour votes does not rely on the fact that they had about 1,700 Labour ballot papers all in the same handwriting and blue ink, but instead on the basis as Envelope A's with a Ballot Paper and DoI in them they should not have reached the count in that form. Evidence stolen from the court A judge in an election fraud trial today renewed his appeal that evidence, which has mysteriously disappeared, be returned . This I didn't expect. Woman tells how postal vote was stolen Miss Ishaq’s fathe

Birmingham Strategic Partnership - goes for Sustainability

With the Birmingham Environmental Partnerships now linked to the BSP the Environmental Partnerships have been tasked with working on practical proposals for Birmingham to deal with climate change and the other requirements for a sustainable city. My own particular interest is not in having a lot of long wordy well meaning and worthy documents, but some key actions that we need to take to improve the situation in Birmingham. The Urban Village Environmental Partnerships in conjunction with Brumcan and the various other non-statutory organisations appear now to be moving further towards results. We also have a further look at "Broadband Brum". It would be quite nice for Birmingham to progress to compete to be the most "wired" city in the world as well as taking serious strides towards being in the more sustainable large cities (I think we have a longer way to go there so cannot get as far as I would like that quickly). Ayoub Khan also obtained a court order for Moham

The Anonymous Boundary Commission

I presented our many thousands of signatures against the Boundary Commission's proposals to split up Yardley to the Boundary Commission. Oddly enough there is no sign indicating "Boundary Commission". That is because they are based in the national statistics office. Hopefully they will heed both the logical arguments to retain the traditional links between Sheldon, Yardley and Acocks Green (going back to 699 and earlier) and also the strong public demand for this and against the Boundary Commission's proposals.

Community Wars Continue

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of the disputes between b:cen and BANF . The b:cen management don't seem to have learnt anything. Their most recent newsletter funded by part of their £2million a year grant from central government continues to launch into a diatribe against me. In particular they have a go against local government as a mechanism for making decisions. On the other hand we have the Home Offices State of the Sector Panel The most recent newsletter (December 04) indicates that CVS (Community and Voluntary Sector) organisations are gnerally happiest with their relationship with local government (and least happy with the European Union). The debate remains, however, as to what is the best mechanism for determining public policy. Should it be directly elected representatives or people appointed by primarily statutory agencies onto local Qualgos. (Quasi-Autonomous Local Government Organisation). I cannot really fathom out the logic, but it appears that the

Council Meeting 22nd February 2005

Yesterday's council meeting had two main items of business: The Council Plan - a summary of what the council is trying to do. The Budget - next years planned finances including a Council Tax increase of 2.8%, The behaviour of the Labour Party was unusual. They said that they had no proposed changes to our Council Plan. They also called for a Council Tax increase of only 1.5%. Their calculations involved taking £3,642,000 out of the "rainy day" accounts (contingencies, balances, reserves) which is risky as it makes it harder for the council to cope with unpredicted issues. At the end of the meeting they refused to vote on the budget. Why they would not press the "abstain budget" is not clear. It is as if they all walked out. However, the budget has now been set. It involves an increase from £301,096,000 to £345,363,000 on Social Care which is £44,267,000. It involves using the fourth option for housing and resolves a number of other matters. Labour's

Bordesley Election Petition - today's proceedings

Apart from police evidence as to who did what (and other allegations), there are two key areas of dispute in the Bordesley Election Petition. These relates to the ballot papers that were counted. One relates to a particular group of three ballot boxes that contained lots of Envelope "A"s. Each of the Envelope "A"s contained both a ballot paper and a Declaration of Identity. The Commissioner at the time of writing has picked on the interesting point in law which is that if the electoral procedures are operating correctly then there should be no Envelope "A"s containing both a ballot paper and DoI. In theory the ballot paper is placed in Envelope A and Envelope A and the DoI are placed in Envelope B. When EnvB is opened the number on the DoI and EnvA should be checked. At that stage if there is no DoI then EnvA should be opened. Therefore at the count there should be no EnvB's with DoIs and Ballot papers (because if that had been what had happened t

Labour Councillors Walk Out - 1,500 Ballots alleged to have signature mismatch

The Labour Councillors responding to the Bordesley Petition have now walked out of the court. This has, however, not stopped the court continuing. The Petitioners have started by identifying the different types of fraudulent votes. The first category they have identified is those votes where the signature of the voter on the Declaration of Identity (DoI) differs from the signature of the voter on the Application for a postal vote. That means that either the application or DoI is bogus. It could be that the application is bogus, but the voters signature on the actual DoI is correct. However, it is a good measure of fraud in an election. 1,500 ballot papers are alleged to fall into this category. (that's 4,500 local election votes and 1,500 European votes) The case continues

Adjournment Ploy Fails - Bordesley Petition

A last minute attempt by the Labour Councillors to have the petition adjourned beyond the election failed at the Bordesley Election Court today. The Commissioner had made it very clear he believes the issues in the petition need to be resolved before the General Election. He maintained this position.

Brownian Motion

So, Gordon Brown has decided that money spent filling in potholes is a Capital payment. Similarly the subsidy to rail travel is also a capital payment. What it really means is that he has actually given up on his "Golden Rule". He is fiddling so many of the figures that he is now falling back on the debt as proportion of GDP calculation. None of these statistical changes make any difference to the real world. What they mean is that Gordon Brown is to be as trusted as Tony Blair. (ie not trusted). I don't have a proper source of information for these figures, but I believe that the roads figure is £2.7bn pa and the rail subsidy is £6bn (don't know over how many years). I am still more concerned about Labour fiddling the elections than I am concerned about Labour fiddling the books.

Budget 2005/6 more details

Our budgetary proposals have been welcomed across the city. People recognise that we are acting on the issues that they are concerned about. They also welcome our movement towards more cost effective governance. More money for Social Care. The budget goes up by 11%, sustantially more than the increase from Central Government. The fourth option for Housing. Birmingham and Cambridge (Lib Dem Run) have both committed to providing the resources for the fourth option. Park Keepers - 1 Park keeper for each district. Bus Wardens - bus patronage has been going down because of difficulties with the service. Kerbside collection for recycling not just paper. More support for Apprentice type training A system to stop the council losing messages More effective action on graffiti, flyposting and dumping. All in all, a Cleaner, Greener and Safer City than under Labour and with one of the lowest council tax increases in the country at 2.8%. What we must do, however, is to continue the process of c

Redirection of Postal Votes

Today I spent a few hours doing some analysis for the Election Courts which happen over the next 4 weeks. Gradually the true evidence is being provided by people such as the police, the CPS and the returning officer. I cannot reveal anything about that here as it will have to wait until the court. There is, however, a lot of evidence of various sorts. One aspect I can talk about is the redirection of postal ballots. Quite a few ballots have been sent to addresses just a few hundred yards away. This is done even if on the next year's electoral roll the voter remains at the original address. This is what we call the "Pendle fiddle" because it started in Pendle where postal votes were misdirected to a collection of central addresses. More information on this is available here The Pendle fiddle has been used in Birmingham, but not as much as in Pendle. For example in the 2003 local elections 27 postal votes were sent to the home of the Labour Agent rather than the vo

Aston Election Petition

I thought it would be useful to put the Aston Election petition on the web. I need to tidy up the layout, but I haven't got the time for that at the moment. The words are verbatim. I have been involved in three election petitions. One failed in 2000 and was based around Sparkhill. It failed because I told my lawyers that it needed to be served in 5 days and they got it served in 6. I also have advised the Bordesley Petition. This particular petition was one I drafted. I have been working on raising the profile of the massive election frauds committed mainly by the Labour Party across the Country for some time now. With a bit of luck we will prove that in court by the end of March. I hope to get the Bordesley Petition and put that on the web as well. There are about 2-3 petitions per year. These two petitions are the first to come to court based upon fraud in about a century. There were some that came close, but people pulled back. The strength of the Aston petition is

CIA links terror threat to Iraq

BBC news Issue Before the war Now Weapons of Mass Destruction No threat Now a threat Terrorism No threat from Iraq Iraq a "breeding ground" British Soldiers no deaths Many Deaths Iraqi Civilians few recurring deaths Thousands of Deaths The real issue about Iraq is that going to war was not the only option. Sanctions shored up the regime of Saddam Hussain because his regime handed out food. It would have been quite possible for the Ba'th regime to have been removed by the Iraqi people if it has not been shored up by the West. Saddam had murdered large numbers of his own citizens, but at a time when the regime was supported by the USA. There were more options than either do nothing or go to war. It is, however, now too late. One key element of getting calm after the elections is the phased withdrawal of the belligerent troops. Bring our boys and girls back.

Labour Funds more teaching of children to do graffiti

see Page 8-9 of the report For all of Labour's woffle about anti-social behaviour they continue to fund training for graffiti artists to be better graffiti artists. Extracts from the report: ============================================================================ Hugh Thornberry NCH Director said: "I am really impressed. What a great piece of work." Karen Stone NCH Assistant Director said: "A fantastic representation of ideas of children and young people and their creative skills." The Spray it ‘n’ Say it Report and DVD is available January 2005. Spray it ‘n’ Say it Phase 2 is currently being planned by BCF in Partnership with The Haven, LIFT Project at Welsh House Farm. ============================================================================ There is clearly an issue to be tested here. The issue is whether or not the children who have been taught to do graffiti have managed to restrain themselves from doing it in places where it is not wanted and wh

"Operation Third Term" Labour's GOTPV Campaign - their view on postal voting

Labour's 2005 General Election Campaign booklet is called "operation third term". In section 8 relating to Postal Votes it says: Labour supporters with a postal vote are four times more likely to vote than Labour supporters who vote at polling stations. If we can get them to apply for a permanent postal vote it helps our electoral prospects in future elections. That is not surprising if their vote is stolen and filled in for them. It only takes one Labour activist to fill in hundreds of postal votes. They say: After the ballot papers have dropped: From this point your election campaign should be all about making sure that Labour supporters use their vote. Brief your volunteers • Under no circumstances should they handle or view the ballot paper until it is securely sealed in its envelope. The best way to increase the number of Labour voters voting by post is to make sure that every time a volunteer contacts a Labour voter they offer a postal vote application form. In the

Labour Lawyers pull out of court case

Six Birmingham Labour city councillors alleged to have masterminded a campaign of postal vote fraud will face a High Court hearing without legal representation. The Labour Party confirmed last night that London-based law firm Steel and Shamash was no longer acting for the Bordesley Green and Aston ward councillors. (extract from article in Birmingham Post linked above.) It remains that there is a question as to what Labour Candidates were doing on an industrial estate after midnight with hundreds (and possibly thousands) of postal ballots. Election Day story about postal votes It also remains the case that there was electoral fraud not only in the two wards which have election petitions, but also other cities. The Labour Party are driving to have postal votes because they know that they get more votes. How many are honest and how many fraudulent is not clear. What is clear that thousands are fraudulent in some wards. (and hence parliamentary seats as well)

NRF goes through "on the nod"

Having led their troops up to the top of the hill to oppose our analysis of the Neighbourhood Renewal Funds Labour today recognised that we were right. The attempted an oblique assault on our proposals to give each ward a basic £50,000. When I pointed out that included would hit Oscott even harder they pulled back. Labour MPs are still trying to make something of the fact that we have put Performance Reward Grant into Social Care and Housing. The fact is that the City Council's biggest problem areas are Social Care and Housing. We have put most of the spare resources into Social Care and put £1.6Million into Housing to deal with the Labour Government's inane requirement for yet another survey of tenants views on stock options. We know tenants want to stay with the City Council. We have worked out the finance for the fourth option, but the government still require us to waste money on yet another stock options exercise. In the mean time there are rumours Labour are distanci

For students of electoral procedure - UIA get 140 seats out of 275 a majority (estimate)

As I am the sort of person who is interested in the mechanics of elections I thought I would have a look at the seat allocation procedure. It is a different procedure to that used by the UK for the European Parliament (D'Hondt). The details are available at the link above. The initial quota is 30,750. All parties with less than that get excluded leaving only the remaining groups. I'm in bit of a rush at the moment so I have not checked the calculations. These are the figures at stage 2 of the allocation. Party Votes Quota My Guess 102 43205 1.48 2 130 2175551 74.69 75 169 4075295 139.92 140 175 93480 3.2 3 204 36255 1.24 1 255 150680 5.17 5 258 36795 1.26 1 283 60592 2.08 2 285 1166943 40.07 40 311 30796 1.06 1 324 69920 2.40 2/3 352 43205 2.40 2/3 Total 8009450 275 On this I guess that SCIRI/Da'wa UIA will have 140 seats of the 275 viz a majority. This is the interesting thing about the net. All the media are saying that UIA don't have a majority, but on my calcu

Iraq Election Results (provisional)

There are those that say that the Vietnam Election results from 1967 are a precedent that informs the Iraqi Results announced about 90 minutes ago (1pm GMT, 4pm Iraqi Time). I would argue differently. The national results which *provisionally give the following: 130 Kurd Alliance 2,175,551 26% 169 Shi'a UIA 4,075,295 48% 285 1,168,943 14% Total Votes 8,456,266 Are a clear victory for the Shi'a UIA list with the Kurds putting in a very strong showing. This gives the Kurds+Shi'a 74%. For key votes in the provisional national assembly 67% is needed. Also the Shi'a list have to be in government. *provisional - subject to appeal by parties Note I have only reported those parties that got over a million votes. Most of the parties got small votes which will not deliver any representatives. 85 parties got less than 10,000 votes. That will probably give the Shi'a UIA a majority in the Assembly. (As those votes will most likely not be counted towards anything. I have,

Lib Dem Pre-Manifesto 10 point Plan - Debate post

I have put the 10 point plan in the sidebar (blogroll). I have also copied it below. If we find that there is a particular debate about any specific item then I will put in a specific entry for that. Top ten reasons to vote Liberal Democrat Put patients first - free doctors and nurses from Whitehall meddling. Free personal care when you need it – no one forced to sell their home to pay for care. No tuition fees, no top-up fees – university affordable for every student. More investment in children’s early years – spend the £1 billion Child Trust Fund money when it matters most. 10,000 more police on the streets – cutting crime and the fear of crime. £25 more on the pension every week at 75 – a million pensioners off means-testing. Free off-peak local transport – for all pensioners and disabled people. Axe the Council Tax – Local Income Tax is both fair and affordable. We should not have gone to war in Iraq – it’s time to restore trust in the Government. Take the environment s

They cannot be serious

To quote from the newsweek article: "... Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians ..." Now if you put that with Juan Cole's analysis of munitions and the level of support for the insurgents: "Likewise, the guerrillas in Iraq have many advantages. They were the managerial class and the officer class, so they have a great deal of organizational know-how. They clearly still have some of the loot the Baathists stole from the Iraqi people, and they know where the missing 250,000 tons of munitions are. If either ran out, ther

Election Campaign Misses Point

As usual the Election Campaing looks as if it will miss the point. The real challenges are to identify the problems and then look at how to resolve them. Much of this relates to the mechanisms by which government operates. For example we are heading for bed number cuts in Birmingham (yes about 100 more beds to be cut on the current info I have). This is driven by the incompetence of the governmental structures rather than any shortage of finance. Similarly the Criminal Justice system is in a bureaucratic muddle - although some aspects of this are getting sorted. One of the debates that misses the point by the furthest is that on migration. Most of the problems that arise from immigration result from people who are illegal immigrants abusing the processes. For example there were the Chinese Cockle Pickers. It is not that we need lots more laws. What we need are laws that work. These are Labour's pledges: "Your family better off" The problem with this one is Labour kn

CarpetGate - getting to what underlays the issue

With a bit of luck CarpetGate will help find out a lot about the practicalities of why the Council Tax Payer is frequently ripped off. The particular cost was agreed by the council as a fee to be paid to the subcontractor plus a small percentage to the contractor. The contractor has a responsibility for value for money - which in itself is an interesting question to resolve. The Council does a lot of work on the basis of a schedule of rates. The idea of this is good that contractors get a mixture of work some of which is more profitable and some of which is less. The work is also done on a range of timescales. It will take me some time to get into the details of this. It all seems to be the same situation whereby the council puts itself into a weak negotiation position and then loses out. The same thing applies to big projects as well. Ideally we should keep a number of options on a big project until the contractual stage. This enables a proper negotiation rather than one in wh

Schools Shortchange

The government pride themselves on funding school rebuilding through PFI. The only problem is that they are not giving all the money. Par for the course really. They are only giving about 80% of the cash. It looks like "building schools for the future" is going to be similarly partially funded. I am also worried about planned NHS bed cuts in Birmingham. The details on this are not clear yet, however.

Even Allawi was calling for troops out

This story says: Even Mr Allawi's party website in Arabic said that that the interim Prime Minister wanted a staged withdrawal of the US forces. I understand that he says something different in English. Meanwhile the results are delayed Still it looks like 169 (Shi'a main list) will come top followed by 130 (PUK KDP alliance). The most ironic element is that it appears that the US's favourite candidate has actually done better in Iraq than in the US expatriate vote.

Budget consultations

One of the interesting exercises around the budget is the consultation with various groups affected by the budget. Friday was the Unions, Monday was the Community/Voluntary/Non-Statutory/Not for profit/Social Enterprise sector. These have been useful exercises although relatively easy this year because the budget is generally good news for everyone. One issue that arose during this was the "Schools Forum". This is another body established by the government which has a statutory postion, but is not directly elected. In this instance, however, I think the processes have been set up properly and the Schools Forum acts to replace the discretion of the Secretary of State for Education. One of its key roles is to deal with disputes as to how much Education funds will be kept centrally and how much sent to schools for each LEA. The interesting question for the moment is what the government will do with schools funding with the Education Bill. The theory of the bill

Demise of UDP

For a number of years we have had the process of a "Unitary Development Plan" as a guide for planning throughout the city. The government have tired of this and are now going for a different system with Local Development Frameworks (LDF) instead. The LDF consists of Local Development Documents (LDDs) as part of a Local Development Scheme (LDS). So that's clear then. Normally these processes of change go round in a circle. For example back in 1990 there were four District Health Authorities in Birmingham. This changed to one single Health Authority, then it split into 11 Primary Care Trusts which merged into 4 PCTs (Today) and there are rumours that it will revert to a single organisation in the future. The cycle of change in the Health Service is around 14 years. Each change lasts about 3-4 years until it is changed again. The advantage of continually reorganising things for central government is that it gives the appearance of progress when in fact the

Kurds predominate in UK Iraq Elections

The Results of the Iraq Elections from people living outside Iraq are now available. Margaret Thatcher introduced a system whereby people who have left the UK could vote in UK elections so that is not unique. In the UK 28,673 people voted. 62% of those voted for list 130. I have a real struggle reading the arabic script, but I think the name of the party is something about not occupying and Kurdistan (I think the last word is Kurdistan or something like that). 19% voted for list 169 which is the main Shi'a list. In the US 32% voted for the main Shi'a list, but only 4% for Allawi's list (5% voted for Allawi in the UK). This may shock the US State Department. The US State Department totally misunderstand the situation. The evidence of the election result is that in a secret ballot 32% of Iraqis living and working in the US have voted for a list that wants the withdrawal of occupying forces. I cannot find an easy source of information as to which list is

Yardley Net Campaign Hots Up

One of the issues in Yardley for the General Election is that the Labour Candidate is not really interested in Yardley, but wanted to be the Labour Candidate for Wakefield Central. As part of her campaign to be selected in Wakefield (June 2004) Karen Marshall from Yorkshire said "there are four candidates left on the shortlist and I feel that Jayne Innes is the best one for the job. She has local roots in the constituency [Wakefield Central]..." "I think it's important to have someone who has a head start and who knows the local area [Wakefield] already." Ms Innes Campaigning in Wakefield When we put a reference to the original Labour noticed it and changed it from the "lass with the local [Wakefield] roots to": This link They may change this again so I will extract the text: "Birmingham Lib Dem leader John Hemming's commitment to being the MP for Birmingham Yardley is so half hearted that even if elected he plans to treat it as

Iraq Election Results

After a bit of a rummage I have found the website of the Iraq Elections Commission It is ironic that the website of the Iraqi government is part of the US Embassy domain . It was almost inevitable that in any election which has any validity that the party backed by the Mujtahids would win. The difference now in Iraq is that the concept of Vilayet i Faqih is not seen as necessarily being the core of the political philosophy of the Shi'a. To a great extent they were playing a waiting game tolerating the occupation in the hope that they would obtain political power once the music stopped. Conflict between the Shi'a and the Muwahiddun has existed for at least a century. This is likely to continue. The divisions between the Sorani and Badinani Kurds have been put aside for the national elections (although not the elections in the Kurdish areas) with the clear objective of the Kurds of maintaining their local power base. The tensions with Turkey, Syria and Iran which could

Mike's Vodafone Shares

Just to explain the situation with Mike Whitby's Vodafone Shares. Councillors (and MPs) need to declare "pecuniary interests" where they may be influenced by a conflict of interest between their own personal finances and those of the common good. As far as shares go a "pecuniary interest" or "prejudicial interest" is defined as having shares with a nominal or face value of 25K or over 1% of the company. Note that this is not a market value of 25K. The reason for this limit is that for a large company (eg Vodafone) whether or not one or even 20 masts are installed will not affect their market value. Hence the two matters do not conflict. Mike Whitby was criticised for not declaring that he held 2,014 shares in Vodafone which have a Nominal Value of 107.13 whilst having a market value of around £2,800. Either way the shares are well below the 25K limit. (For those new to Birmingham Mike Whitby is the leader of the Conservatives on the Cit

Infectious Disease Trends for Birmingham

Reportable infectious diseases and food poisonings 1999-2004 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Campylobacter* 1219 1274 1209 957 857 832 Cholera 1 2 1 0 0 0 Cryptosporidium* 93 83 29 94 44 Diphtheria 0 0 0 0 0 0 Dysentery 63 99 8 1 3 4 S.Sonnei 24 25 15 20 other Shigella 29 23 15 32 Encelphalitis (I) 0 0 0 0 0 0 Encelphalitis (PI) 0 0 0 0 0 0 Food Poisoning 667 478 204 198 192 145 Salmonella 182 183 173 243 VTEC (0157) 16 4 8 8 Hansen's Disease 0 0 0 0 1 0 Hepatitis A 48 45 41 82 42 46 Hepatitis B 9 4 16 20 88 Hepatitis C 4 6 28 64 91 Leptospirosis 0 0 0 0 0 0 Malaria 8 28 40 27 13 12 Measles 40 35 57 80 29 35 Meningococcal Meningitis 30 34 37 12 16 21 Meningococcal Septicaemia 55 84 63 40 44 37 Meningitis (Other) 24 32 31 21 30 28 Mumps 143 125 32 34 40 369 Ophthalmia Neonatorum 12 12 3 7 6 7 Paratyphoid Fever 11 8 17 9 14 11 Poliomyelitis (P) 0 0 0 0 0 0 Poliomyelitis (NP) 0 0 0 0 0 0 Rabies 0 0 2 0 0 0 Rubella 21 30 28 35 30 10 Scarlet Fever 40 38 30 28 49 25 Tetanus 0 0 0 0 0 0 Tub

2.8% and money to sort out Social Care

So we have announced a 2.8% Council Tax increase (lowest in the Metropolitan Region) and also an additional £30 Million plus for Social Care. We also have set our sights on sorting out the problems in Housing. I think there is now a general recognition that we mean what we say when we talk about sorting out the problems in Birmingham.

CarpetGate - the pile thickens

At least I am getting to the bottom of the reasons why the City Council spends so much money on getting simple things done. It all comes down to being governed by budgets rather than value for money. Hence we end up spending the budget rather than checking what we are paying for is value for money. One of the key changes has to be to get a concentration on unit costs as part of value for money. The expensive carpet in the Labour Group Offices was spectacularly expensive for five reasons: a) It was top of the range carpet b) It was patterned so there was 30% waste c) The work was done out of hours d) The price was not competitive to start out with it being on a mixed schedule of rates e) It was done on a "money no object" basis. I am gradually getting to the bottom of the figures. Whether it was 2, 2 1/2 or 3 times the real market price is not clear. What is the case is that we need to be a lot more cost effective in how we do things within the City C

No questions from Labour

I was quite surprised at how few questions there were from Labour at today's full Council Meeting. The questions did not fill the full hour allocated and they didn't ask me anything. Clearly they have so little to say as they are so much in agreement with what the administration are doing that they could not find any questions to ask. We did have an interesting discussion about MRSA. This discussion made it clear that many Labour Councillors don't know the difference between a virus and a bacterium. This is an important issue as people generally have the same misconception. This, in part, is the reason why people often demand anti-biotics for viruses (4th decelension hence not viri) . The overuse of anti-biotics is part of the cause of prevelance of MRSA. The most important issue is antisepsis and the requirement for cleanliness. Much that a lot of money is being spent on the NHS there is not an acceptable outcome in terms of cleanliness. Part of this is d