This week I have been to two of the Birmingham Budget Consultation meetings. I went to the one in Erdington on Tuesday and popped in for the first hour of the one in Cotteridge today.
Considering there are only 4 such meetings across the whole city, and people attending may therefore be expected to travel quite a distance, the choice of venues was slightly odd. The one in Erdington was a held in a good size room (a church) with plenty of space for everyone – but very limited parking.
Despite it being a large room and a Tuesday in Erdington, the place was at least two thirds full. Today’s meeting was on a Saturday, and had been heavily advertised on Free Radio all week (and possibly elsewhere as well) so a bigger crowd could reasonable have been expected. So why on earth they had a smaller room is beyond me. Not only that but it had limited parking and was in the middle of a shopping centre on a Saturday just before Christmas. So parking was difficult and then there wasn’t room for everyone to sit down and some people were left standing. It also started over ten minutes late.
There were 6 Cabinet members present on Tuesday (missing were Cllr McKay and Cllr Ali) and this was down to only 4 today (the same two were still missing plus Cllr Stacey and Cllr Cotton were not there either).
It was interesting to hear how annoyed with the Labour administration Labour voters were. They criticised the Tories too, but they were not Tory voters, so that’s not surprising. Speaker after speaker said they had voted Labour, they had put Albert into power (“We put you where you are” was a typical comment) and they were not pleased by how the Labour administration was now acting.
Interestingly too, there was criticism from the floor (again I think from Labour supporters) about the Living Wage. One man asked where the money had come from to fund it, someone else called out that it had been a bribe, and one lady said to the Labour Cabinet “it would have benefitted more people if you hadn’t ****** sacked them.”
All in all, I think it’s fair to say that from what I saw, the Labour Councillors running Birmingham got a rough ride this morning. Which, in my opinion, is no more than they deserve.