Monthly Archives: October 2008

Trick or treat night



Youngsters have been designing hallowe’en costumes at their half term youth club at Castle Vale School, ready for the end of week party, before an evening of trick or treating.

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Free financial advice from Birmingham City Council and partners


People with money concerns in the wake of the on-going credit crunch will be able to get free help and advice at free event in the city centre on Saturday 1 November.
Birmingham’s Financial Inclusion Partnership, led by the city council, is hosting a financial inclusion day in Victoria Square. Experts from the council’s illegal money lending team and debt advice service will be on hand, alongside partners such as the Financial Services Agency, Citizens Advice Bureau and Barclays Bank.
Launched in 2006, the Financial Inclusion Partnership (FIP) gives residents information they need to help manage their finances. It is made up of a range of agencies including the council’s debt and benefit advice teams, trading standards, Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer Credit Counselling Service, Job Centre Plus, credit unions, housing associations, high street banks and utility companies.

And now they are taking their message to the heart of Birmingham with the free city centre event. It runs from noon until 4pm and will have fun activities for children as well as help for their parents.
Jacqui Kennedy, Director of Regulatory Services at Birmingham City Council, said: “Many people are unable to access mainstream financial products such as bank accounts and low-cost loans. They are often forced into using alternatives that have high interest rates which can lead to financial and social exclusion as well as poverty.
“The FIP is working to improve financial inclusion in the city by developing a partnership approach to debt recovery, the prevention of problem debt and the provision of money advice.
“It continues the fight against financial exclusion by hosting this event in Victoria Square where agencies will be on hand to offer guidance and assistance to anyone affected by financial issues. Private interviews will also be available. I would urge everyone to visit the financial advice services event on 1 November.”

Cold snap continues



October snow and a sharp frost brought havoc to roads around the West Midlands last night. Temperatures are set to rise to 7 degrees during the day, and down to 1 overnight – slightly warmer – but not much.

Rookery House closure suspended


Following intense pressure over a number of weeks from Erdington’s Conservative Councillors (Cllrs. Alden, Beauchamp and Compton), Birmingham City Council has suspended plans to close Rookery House, Erdington, to the public.

Coun Robert Alden (Cons, Erdington) said: “ This House is a historic building that is vital to the local community. Sadly to many buildings in Erdington have been lost in recent decades. This is why we are so determined to prevent the closure of this one. It is key it is restored and returned to the people of Erdington.”

Cllr. Hassall, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, confirmed to the Erdington Councillors that his directorate had suspended for a month its plans to take its staff out of Rookery House, and consequently to close the house to the public, on 24th October. Cllr. Hassall also confirmed that the extra month would be used to enable council officers, councillors and local residents to meet and discuss how successfully to take forward plans to transfer Rookery House from the management of the Council to the resident-run ‘Rookery House Restoration Trust’.

Cllr. Robert Alden said, “We are delighted that pressure from local Councillors and residents has forced the council into a re-think. We now need to work together to ensure that the management of Rookery House can be transferred from the council to the resident-led Restoration Trust which can oversee the redevelopment of this important community asset.”

Living in sin


Couples in Birmingham cheating the benefits system by living together but not declaring it are being targeted by a joint campaign by Birmingham City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions. The campaign will focus on couples who live together but continue to claim benefits without telling the authorities about their change in circumstances – such as lone parents or people claiming single person discount for council tax.
Councillor Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Unfortunately many people think this is a fraud that you can ‘get away with’, that it is somehow victimless. It isn’t. Honest taxpayers end up footing the bill.
A number of difference methods will be used to identify couples who commit benefit fraud, including data matching, surveillance and tip-offs from the benefit hotline. People who are caught will be prosecuted, which could lead to a custodial sentence.
Anyone wanting to report a suspected fraud can call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440 or Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 9990
In October 2005 an anonymous allegation was received regarding a woman from Evesham, stating she was living with her partner in Yardley Wood. A joint investigation between Birmingham City Council and the DWP revealed that the couple had lived together for at least seven years and had married in October 1999, conning £55,476 worth of benefits. In April 2008 she was sentenced to nine months in prison.
A woman aged 37 from Kings Norton thought she could continue to claim income support, housing tax and council tax benefit as a lone parent for herself and her four children, even though her partner had moved back in with her following a separation. Following a joint investigation by the DWP and Birmingham City Council, she was sentenced in April 2008 at Birmingham Crown Court to nine months in prison.

Gardeners’ frost alert


Gardeners across the region will be scampering to get their delicate plants under cover tonight, following a warning by the Met Office that the season’s first widespread ground and air frost is expected, with temperatures falling to zero degrees.

Short back and sides for paddock



After years of lying fallow, following a soil pollution scare, the paddock in Farnborough Road may be ready for use again soon. Today the tractor gave its jungle-high grass and weeds a crop. 

Below, a goldfinch takes a final peck before the tractor scythes down its food supply.