Report on the Committee Meeting held on 12th February 2020

Held at  Hill Allotments Social Club B75 5EY 

Present: David Ratcliff, Ben Auton, Steve Lyne, Roger Low, Colin Marriott Apologies: Peter Cooke, Linda Hudson

Langley  housing:   Steve reported that rate of construction and numbers of new homes are being reduced. Another building company is being taken on and that ecological components planned are to be reduced.
     Dugdale Crescent: Judy Lewin informs that village green status has been granted. The longer term implications of protection of the site & its community standing were pointed out.

B’ham Green Party Matters: The SC group participated in B’ham Green Party’s rolling newsletter deliveries to other area households and will continue to do so. Sutton members will also do the Litter Pick Sunday 16 February, 11-00 am Rendezvous @ Junction of Long Croft Close & Tangmere Drive B35 7QS

DIARY note: SC members will also be at the am & pm sessions of the Action Day Saturday 22nd February meeting up at the Tyburn House, Kingsbury Rd, Castle Vale, Birmingham B35 6AA

Consultations, policies & participations:
     The meeting was made aware of a number of consultation deadlines concerning development, ecology and transport at town, city and W.Midlands levels and for which local groups and members are preparing submissions.
     SC Town centre: EcoSutton will be talking to the planners on 13th February.
In the week of 21
st February EcoSutton will take the opportunity to prompt SC Town Cllr Clare Horrocks to proceed with the climate emergency plans.
     At the end of March there will be a Birmingham City Council Consultation regarding transport. It is said that under W. Midlands auspices the Sutton Park line will operate passenger services using standard gauge battery-powered trams with small stations.
     The W.Mids Climate Proposals Consultation towards end of March was discussed & tied up with the Bham CC clean air initiative. The SC Green Group is drawing up policy based on information from the Bham Green Party & other sources.
     Roger pointed out that the ‘zero’ used at national level referred to zero greenhouse gas levels including CO2.
     EcoSutton air quality testing in the town is providing results above ‘safe’ levels. Specific particulate figures from a.m. & pm readings taken by a Sutton Girls’ School pupil over three months are indisputably excessive. Clare Horrocks has accepted EcoSutton’s recommendations though EcoSutton needs £3,000 to be able to monitor nitrous oxide levels.

 Sutton Park: It is thought that on pragmatic grounds the role of SC town council will not change for some ten years. As with all such ‘civic’ open space, leisure facilities, the lack of a mandatory obligation on local authorities in the UK to provide and maintain such services has led to severe de facto cuts through lack of staff replacement citywide. If anything, Sutton Park’s status and the SSSIs in it give it a certain protection – though links between these could be threatened by proposals for revenue-earning activities.
     Financial figures quoted were: £160,000 p.a. in costs; £500,000 being produced largely from rents.

5G microwave mobile communications system: Health concerns continue to be ignored by the industry and government not least through a lack of of independent research globally & the legislation overriding any objections even to the siting of masts. Very wisely, Sutton Coldfield Town Council has lodged objections to the piloting of 5G in the town.
     In this, they are in line with the official stance of the Swiss government which has halted the rollout of 5G over health concerns:

Chemical use in the environment: The prime concern expressed was that of effective but safe alternatives to glyphosate. Though over-used & toxic, it remains well studied & understood. A total ban would open the way to fresh, untested chemicals. Ben stressed that the effectiveness of glyphosate in limited, extreme cases in protecting against invasive bio-destruction of habitat made clear that more stringent training and controls in its use are what is required.
     Standards & competences of DEFRA / Sewage Treatment standards 30 years old were explained & debated in view of references to the Minworth Sewage Plant made in the BBC Radio 4 “File on Four” about on-going health risks of sewage sludge use on agricultural land.

Events: Sunday 24th May: EcoSutton will have a stall at New Hall Mill, Off Wylde Green Rd, Sutton Coldfield B76 1QU

Public Meetings: Further Information:
th February hosted by the U3A at SC United Reformed Church B73 6AA and addressed by W.Mids Mayor, Andy Street. Daytime.

28th February 7-0 pm at SC Baptist Church B72 1TA, Andrew Mitchell MP speaking on government and the climate. Questions handed in before the event can be put to him. [ A list of questions drafted by Green Candidate Ben Auton is attached below].

Town Council: David had provided notes on SC Town Council meetings. Notable were the reactions to the imposition of the 10 to 19 metre high masts. The matter of the £500,000 budgeted for the centre development planning & the town council’s involvement of the whole of the garden area surrounding the Parish Church, some of which does require serious renovation, was discussed. The exercise is thought to show the council’s competence as a stepping stone towards being granted further responsibilities.
     The implications of the Bham CC’s granting the interim PFI contract to Tarmac (formerly held by Amey) rather than undertaking such work “in house” are that SCTC’s intention to appoint ‘Wardens’ to carry out certain local remedial work would breach the PFI contract terms. ‘Wardens’ would only be able to report work needed as is at present done in Erdington regarding police & council matters. They would provide a “visible presence”.
     There is great concern about world emissions but pleasing news that levelling-off is being achieved due to increased production of energy from renewable sources.
56% of power during the year was for the first time produced by wind.

Green Group Media & Communication matters were again raised.
It was agreed that green businesses contacts should be liaised with more systematically.

Projects notices: EcoSutton was not awarded its Lottery funding for setting up its Energy Poverty project. However, the Witton Community project has commissioned EcoSutton to run three lectures on the issue for staff there.
     It is encouraging that B’ham CC in Vesey ward is running one of its new Neighbourhood Schemes which connects social workers and volunteers concerned with the over-50 age group so as to increase the number of those able to continue independent living.

Letters & Press: In addition to formal submissions to consultations, Ben is to write to the Sutton Observer with a response to the transport plan.

Recycling & Composting: Bham CC is going to deal with food waste and composting, which in any case is mandatory. It is tragic that the infrastructure has been in place for two years but yet used. It will be done at the old Coleshill Sewage site through Severn Trent Water authority. The Minworth plant is already dealing with Sainsbury’s food waste.
     Local household food waste segregation has increased awareness and proven in other areas to reduce family food waste. The subsequent shortfall at processing centres is made up by staged increase in fuel crops use to maintain gas production.

Tyseley Incinerator: Breaches of regulation continue to be made by B’ham CC because whilst mixed waste is permitted for incineration, segregated waste is not. B’ham is therefore in breach by dint of re-mixing segregated household waste.

UN Climate Change Conference – COP (Conference of the Parties) in UK:               Great concern was expressed about the integrity & transparency of the Boris Johnson regime in running this: whether fair & adequate pre-conference public briefing would be given in view of recent treatment of press reporters. -EcoSutton will seek a briefing with Andrew Mitchell.

AOB: That a Campaign be directed by Green Group members to publishers of magazines received by post to get all plastic wrapping replaced by bio-degradable starch based packaging.

Date of Next Meeting: 7-30 pm Wednesday 11th March 2020 at Hill Allotments Social Club, off Dugdale Crescent B75 5EY


Questions from Ben Auton to be asked at the Public Meeting addressed by Andrew Mitchell 28th February 7-0 pm at SC Baptist Church B72 1TA

Will he join the Conservative Environment Network?
Will he be part of any of Environmental Select Committees this term?
Will the UK Gov’ follow the Scots Parliament in consulting on a circular economy bill?

Are the energy efficiency building standards he voted down going to be returned and would he support them being applied to the Langley Development?

Will a Food waste bill be put forward this year despite the Gov’ failing to do the consultation last year?
When will new digital recoding of waste movements come in to force?
Will a deposit return scheme be brought in for plastic bottles as expected last January?

Will the Gov’ ensure a consistency of recyclable materials collection for all domestic and business premises?
Why are Styrofoam products still being produced?
When will the planned waste exemptions reforms take place?

Will the UK reach its target of 50% recycling this year?
Are we still going ahead with changes to the Waste Framework Directive post-Brexit? – despite failing to do a planned consultation?
Are we still going ahead with changes to the Landfill Directive post-Brexit? – despite failing to do a planned consultation?
Are we still going ahead with changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive post-Brexit?

Why has the government not come up with a consistent Clean Air Strategy? Is it just a cynical political move to make city councils unpopular? Will the government increase funding to councils for this?
Does he support BCCs clean air strategy?
What is the Conservative strategy for raising the uptake and quality of public transport?
How should SC go about getting more cars off the road when the level of car ownership is the highest in UK?

Will the government introduce a Carbon Tax?
Will the UK set more ambitious targets than the Renewable Energy Directive post Brexit? (32% electric from renewables)

How will the Gov’ implement its tree planting targets?
What is he doing to reduce his carbon footprint?


Committee Meeting on 11th September


Apologies D. Ratcliff.

Forthcoming Election. We will be needing 6000 leaflets to cover houses in the Walmley and Minworth wards. Ben to compose content and to check on useful material available on the Green Party website (policy etc.).
Check with M. Okole on availability of free election material & free Royal Mail delivery.

Litter Pick on Sep. 15th. Meet in front of Minworth Primary School 12 noon. Bring your own litter grabbers. Linda to provide extra one for Peter if he is well enough to go.

ClimateProtest for Youth for 20th September in Vesey Gardens. See advert on the website (Local Events).

Birmingham City’s ‘Car Free Day’ planned for Sep 22 has been postponed.

Some discussion of the ‘People’s vote’.

Congratulations to Eco Sutton on its lively work and news of its award of £8,700 toward its projects which will include air quality mapping in conjunction with local schools. (See Eco Sutton Website)

Sutton town centre. Linda received response to correspondence she has had with the Council concerning the Active Travel Initiative. The reply to be published on our website.

Date of Next meeting planned for Oct 9. Peter C. to book room at Hill Allotments Social Club.

Amnesty International meeting – Forum on Human Rights Sept 27at the Catholic church, Lichfield Rd.
Eco Sutton to have a stall at Expo Sutton.
Ben . mentioned Sutton Coldfield Green Power to urge BCC to have a second anaerobic digester dedicated to dealing with future waste food collections. Such digesters already functioning well elsewhere.



Committee meeting Wednesday May 8 2019


Present: P Cooke, C Marriott, B Auton, D Ratcliff, S Lyne Apologies none

Matters arising:
Schools ‘Academisation’ 6 schools creating academy group Boldmere , Holland House, Minworth , New Oscott, Penner.
P Cooke has still not heard back from Mrs Walcott of Boldmere school & is having difficulty getting information.
On a national scale 6996 new academies were created in 2017 now reach a total of 146 667. This results from the flagship government policy with financial incentives – ultimately aimed at being available for commercial “buy-outs” in the future.
6000 are expected in the next two years.
We note that local council expenditures are “lost “ when schools moved to academy status.

Walmley & Minworth, Sutton Council by-election:
We continue to await a reply to our letter about an adjudication anomaly over postal votes. The delay is due to continuing electoral administration demands on staff. Several postal votes had been invalidated due to DOB/date of signing of form confusion. CM following up. A marked register has been requested.

UK Council elections May 2019
Green councillors were elected in Cannock & Solihull, which is of particular interest as SC members have previously been involved there.

European Elections
West Midlands candidates: Ellie Chowns, Paul Woodhead, Julian Dean, Kefentse Dennis, Helen Heathfield, Diana Toynbee & Louis Stephen. 7 seats available, voting by ranking, count by d’Hondt percentage system PR ( England, Scotland, Wales)
The Green Party has been looking for funding.No info’ on campaign yet.
It was agreed that it is too late for Sutton to take active part locally. It was felt difficult to raise this issue on the Nextdoor Internet forum. Tom Pratt has circularised us that a hustings for candidates will be held on Wed 15 May 7pm Priory Rooms, the Quaker Centre in B’ham.
Of current Green MEPs, M Scott Cato standing; Keith Taylor standing down.

Climate Extinction Rebellion
Andrew Mitchell’s “green conservative” stance in his “From the House” space in the SC Observer provoked dissent at the meeting. BA is to draft a rebuttal for consideration. [Subsequent to meeting, P C has had a prompt retort published in the Sutton Observer.]

Walmley Minworth litter pick
It is proposed to do a litter-pick using council equipment. Photos of the pick will be taken and what’s found with Green logo displayed. BA to check with Birmingham for kit. Sunday 19 May possible.

Sutton Park policy
It has not yet been possible to formulate a Sutton Greens policy but ECO Sutton have drawn up a confidential policy. SL to circulate. It was noted that Amey is involved in maintenance work in the Park. Discussion on which assets may be considered for transfer from city to Sutton remains unclear.

Dugdale Crescent
Current policy is to wait for Bham city proposals , anything else creates problems. A fund-raising Disco is to be held. Friends group have wildflower seeds: seeding not yet carried out.  Brief discussion on idea of a children’s play area on the green  .Different views on necessity to “use” green space.

New Green Party membership
Agreed to draw up list of research projects that might attract students to get involved. A litter-pick with a banner at rush-hours was mooted. Streetly

Methodist Open Day Sept 2019
SL is to confirm the date. ECO Sutton is having a stand. Sutton Greens could consider the option.
Youth & Community Centre at Reddicap Heath continues to wallow in need of refurbishment. Sutton Council could assist though it is uncertain
if it is in B’ham City ownership. The question could be asked at council meeting.

Langley housing development
Revised proposals have been offered for consultation at the following venues: Harvest Fields Wed’ 15 may 2-7:30 and Th. 16 May 4-8:30 Falcon Lodge 21 May 5:20-7:00; Walmley Club 23 May 5:30 -7:30.
ECO Sutton is pushing for solar panels, district heat using Minworth sewage plant gas.
Other discussion on suggestion for new developments proposed in the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife by Chris Packham – bird boxes, ponds & green spaces.

Amnesty International have adopted a strategy of support for environment as well as environmentalists & human rights defenders – likely to be constrained by major budget problems. Climate Change: ECO Sutton have produce an edited version of a paper for individual action. SL is to circulate this when ready.
DR had visited a Danish recycling area ( at Vejle ). There were 28 categories of material for collection also a compost self-collection point ( material from composted green waste). Polystyrene foam is collected (noted that it will not be in use from 2020 on).
Wales is  ahead of England in recycling rates, motivated by lack of ground fill sites.
Roughly & Trinity wards meeting Town Hall Thur 9 May 2019: No member from the wards was present to assent to attend.

ECO Sutton activity
Newhall Mill Open Day Sunday 12 May. Social media: Twitter account now active. Their Facebook has had password problems, the account to be deleted & replaced. New site: Ecosutton 2 Campaigns
Langley & Peddimore, pushing idea of a ‘garden city’
Sutton Town centre, in consultation (Tony and J Heywood) • Red Rose Centre ( Sutton library ) subject of planning for redevelopment. Questions of eventual ownership & profit. • Eco Sutton is meeting with A Mitchell about Sutton Planning.
Water station in pubs ( noted that there exists a statutory duty for pubs to provide water). EcoSutton is to pursue the “Refill” scheme.
Community interest company (CIC).   Formed to help with fuel poverty issues for Witton, Castle Vale,
Solihull and Sutton.
Air Pollution: Applying for £10K grant to get portable monitor kit.  Noted that we have been unable to get background figures from
crematorium pollution monitoring site.
Vulnerable persons register:
Heat and Electricity ,ECO Sutton is drawing up a register to enable utility companies to assist when there are extended power/gas cuts.

Cooperative campaigns with others
Noted that FOE & Greenpeace groups are not interested in cooperative campaigns.
5G Hazards
Discussion on increased health hazards associated with increased power microwave for 5G & lack of independent safety evaluation to date. SL/CM to check info’ available. More large tower aerials have been seen. [Subsequently  explained in SC Observer tat these towers are not for 5G]
A film about the issue did feature David Icke – to the consternation of some.]
Birmingham Bio-region group some time ago were in contact with CM. He will pass contact info’ to Oxford Bio-region Group.

BA /DR to A Mitchell: He has said he now favours a no-agreement drop-out of EU for UK. And that a second vote may cause civil unrest.
PC has sent a strongly-worded letter to Andrew Mitchell opposing the UK government policy of private for-profit education being foisted on developing countries.

The EU is to direct a quarter of its expenditure to environment.
Meeting closed at 10pm
Date of Next Meeting: Wednesday 19 June 2019, 7-30 pm at the Hill Allotments Social Club off Dugdale Crescent B75

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