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 21st 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: https://www.ft.com/content/848c5b44-4d7a-11ea-95a0-43d18ec715f5
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. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000dy6g
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:
27th February hosted by the U3A at SC United Reformed Church B73 6AA and addressed by W.Mids Mayor, Andy Street. Daytime. https://u3asites.org.uk/sutton-coldfield/contact
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?