The present and future of Hodge Hill, an interview with Liam Byrne.

Many residents of Hodge Hill know themselves what the problems are in the local area, but in a climate of uncertainty and the Government’s budget growing ever smaller, where does this leave Hodge Hill? And what are we doing to defend our community?

B36Blogger talks to local Hodge Hill Labour MP, Liam Byrne, about his vision for Hodge Hill’s future.

Police

“Police cuts are one of the main issues we face at the moment, we expect that up to 800 officers from West Midlands Police will be lost from our local streets by March 2011. We also predict that up to 1,200 officers could go in the next few years. We don’t want to lose our officers.”

Labour activists have recently put plans in place to defend the local community, and they call for the community’s support.

“We have recently been given the green light to launch our ‘Save Our Cops’ campaign, we will be hitting the streets and doorsteps across the city over the coming weeks, asking for the city’s support.”

It is not just police cuts that have affected Hodge Hill; communication cuts mean that Liam has a much stricter budget when it comes to reaching out to the local community. The communication slashes mean volunteers are being relied on to post the message out by hand to your doors.

You can keep up to date with meetings and local news on B36Blogger and Liam Byrne’s Blog.

Liam says, “We are extremely worried that the work we have done over the past five years will be lost.”

Drugs

Another persistent problem in Hodge Hill is drug-related crime, something that has been happening under our noses for some time. Some may consider it a taboo issue to discuss drug dealing on your street, but many residents have seen this happening, Liam does not fail to address this issue and has been pro- active in finding ways to tackle this long-term problem.

“We need to get drug dealers off the streets. Our new Assistant Chief Constable is Sharon Rowe. ACC Rowe has massive experience to bring to Birmingham from the Met in London. I’m glad we’ll have that experience on hand in our fight against the dealers trying to profit from poison. We want to underline how vitally important we see the fight against drugs to be. We are looking at how other communities who have been successful in these issues, and how they have dealt with the problem. We will be following their ‘Taking the ground’ scheme; we combine police, the local Council and the local community. We ask the community to make an investment into their local area. We do this by literally ‘taking the ground’ from the dealers, so we ask the community to take pride in their area, we help to make the area look nice, this acts as a deterrent to drug dealers.”

Street Surgery

Every week Liam talks to the local residents of Hodge Hill and surrounding areas in a scheme called ‘Weekly Street Surgery.’ Often residents will be unaware that Liam will be visiting.

“Weekly street surgery has been active for 6 years. We select a street for that week and literally go and knock on doors. We talk to residents and fill out a sheet on their suggestions or issues with their street and area. I go out with Labour volunteers; we have a diary with our schedule for where we will be in that week. People are usually pleased that I have come out to talk to them.”

This is a great way for you, as local Hodge Hill residents to get your voice heard, your opinion does matter, and it’s the residents of Hodge Hill that know the most about what is going on in the area.

Look out for a schedule of where Liam will be each week on the B36Blogger site.

Weekly resident meetings are also to be resumed in January, this year local police officers will also be involved in meetings. This is another way for you to get involved in your local community, and hear what other residents have to say. Also look out for your invitation to these meetings coming through your post box.

Parents also have a chance to speak to Liam, as he also conducts a weekly ‘School gate surgery.’

“We go to a different school each week and talk to parents about any issues they might have. We learn the most from street and school gate surgery because we get the chance to talk to residents and find out what they are unhappy with.”

Hodge Hill 2020

The budget cuts do not mean it is not all doom and gloom for Hodge Hill, Liam’s vision for Hodge Hill has made some significant developments.

The ‘HH2020’ scheme promises a new sports village, improved shopping facilities and family housing. Already three kinds of progress have been made.

“We have made significant developments in physical regeneration, the planning application for the redevelopment of Shard End Crescent and adjoining maisonettes in already underway, and the developments are already visible. We have also provided new parking in Alum Rock, we want to make it a better place to go shopping.”

Liam also proposes to get community service up and running, there is already a scheme in place to get 2-3,000 youngsters increasing their confidence, which will give them great potential for the future. Liam is working with head teachers in schools to get this scheme to improve youngster’s self esteem in place within all Hodge Hill schools.

The Big Lottery Team has also recently awarded the Bromford and the Firs £1 million in long-term funding for good causes on the estates.

“We have learnt the value of having a vision for this community, and we are making steady steps forward, nothing happens as quickly as you want it to.”

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