Monthly Archives: May 2009

The rise of women in the European Parliament

Voting for the European Parliament takes place this Thursday in the UK, and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for most other European countries.
Since 1979, the percentage of women MEPs (members of the European Parliament) has grown slightly with each five-year election. In 1979, 16% of MEPs were women. In 1984, the figure increased to 18%; then to 19% in 1989, 26% in 1994, 30% in 1999 and 31% in 2004.
Of the major countries in the European Union, France had the highest number of female MEPs at the 2004 election. 45% of its 78 MEPs were women.
The UK is divided into regions for voting. Castle Vale is part of the West Midlands region, which is allocated a total of six MEPs. Voters have to vote for a political party. Each party has drawn up a list of candidates, in rank order. The number of votes a party receives determines the number of its list of candidates who get appointed to the Parliament.
Widespread disillusionment with politics in the UK following recent expenses scandals may have a dramatic impact on Thursday’s poll.


Matthew Boulton, the face of a £50 note

Matthew Boulton, (1728-1809), one of Birmingham’s most famous ‘sons’, will be the face of the new £50 note when its redesign is launched in 18 months’ time. Alongside the face of Boulton will be the engineer James Watt. Both men were part of the Lunar Society, a group of 18th Century forward thinkers, inventors and businessmen who met in the Birmingham and Lichfield area on evenings when there was a full moon (hence Lunar) to avoid being mugged on their way home. Boulton was regarded as the business brains of the group. He lived at Soho in Birmingham, where he set up a minting factory which made and exported coins to Africa and Russia, and eventually produced copper coins for the UK.

Two new ‘fitness’ classes for June

A keep fit class for ‘mid-range’ exercisers is is to run on Tuesday mornings at the Sanctuary from 10-11 am starting on 23rd June. Sessions will cost £2 per person.
A new Line Dancing class will run on Thursdays, also at The Sanctuary, from 12.30-2pm, starting on 25th June.

Swimming the Channel

Vale’s annual Health, Environment and Democracy Day will be at Centre Park on Saturday 6th June from 11-3pm. It will be preceded by a sponsored walk ( a 2km and a 5km version, both starting at 9am) around Castle Vale, the proceeds of which will go to the fundraising group ‘Target’ who are hoping to raise enough money to buy a community mini-bus.
In the afternoon, a group of swimmers including local bobby PC Colin Evans are hoping to boost the Target funds further by swimming the length of the English Channel at the Castle Pool in Farnborough Road.

Victoria Square ‘World Food Fair’

Birmingham is to host an outdoor ‘International Food Fair’ in Victoria Square between 20th-28th June. 60 stalls will be set up for visitors to sample foods from various countries and cultures. The event, which is free, is being described as a ‘summer sister’ to the Christmas outdoor Frankfurt Market.

Red light for speed merchants

The new speed sign outside Chivenor House

The new speed sign outside Chivenor House

A digital speed sign that tells drivers how fast they are going has been installed on Tangmere Drive outside Chivenor House. The installation follows a concerted campaign by residents’ groups and councillors who have been concerned for the safety of children attending the nearby primary school and playgroup. Many parents have complained that cars parking by the side of the road to drop off and pick up children have increased the danger caused by speeding traffic.
The new sign monitors a vehicle’s speed as it comes into sight from the mini-roundabout near Tangmere Square. If the vehicle travels above 30mph, the speed is indicated by a red light; the lights are yellow if the vehicle is within the speed limit.
speeds of 30mph and below are indicated by a yellow light

speeds of 30mph and below are indicated by a yellow light

Deep clean for Birmingham school hit by swine flu

Welford Primary School, seven miles away from Castle Vale, now has 50 reported cases of ‘swine flu’. 44 of those cases have been reported today. The school closed early for half-term as a precaution following a high absence rate, and is being ‘deep cleaned’ during half-term.
Welford Primary School, in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, has 474 pupils.
The school has issued a joint statement along with the Health Protection Agency, which has guidelines and advice on its website: