Mrs Green Has A Great Idea…

Posted by on Aug 13th, 2013 and filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site


Mrs Green has a great idea which could make her neighbourhood a better place to live – and save some public money.  Trouble is: no one wants to know.  Who does she approach?  How does she find out about them?  Can she even get heard?  And if she is, will she get help, or a cold-shoulder?  In Birmingham, councillors, officers, public agencies, residents and community and voluntary groups are meeting over the course of the Summer to work out how to help the city’s Mrs Greens (and people like her) to help the city thrive despite spending cuts and increasing welfare need.

Birmingham’s Neighbourhood Strategy should set out in no-nonsense terms why, and how, the city’s public agencies will work alongside community groups, citizens and businesses to make better places to live and work.  There are plenty of challenges:

  • working out how to enable local initiative without disadvantaging areas that don’t take a lead
  • getting the balance right between the councillors we elect and residents and groups that make a difference by doing
  • even working out how money has been spent in the past and what the real aims of public spending are.

It isn’t all easy.  Which is why Chamberlain Forum is supporting Birmingham City Council’s initiative to involve Mrs Green and others in working out the answers.  Join the conversation at any of the remaining events planned over the next few weeks:

Wed 14th Aug 13
9.00am -12.30pm
Selly Oak
Stirchley Community Centre
Thurs 15th Aug 13
1.30pm – 5.00pm
Hodge Hill
Ward End Library
Fri 16th Aug 13
1.00pm – 4.30pm
Stechford Cascades
Tues 20th Aug 13
11.00am – 1.00pm
The Factory (Young People’s Event)
Thurs 22nd Aug 13
12.00pm – 3.30pm
Newtown Community Centre
Thurs 29th Aug 13
10am – 1.00pm
Hawkesley Community Centre  

For more information, you can contact the Council on 0121 675 3499 and you can download a copy of the existing draft n’hood strategy green paper here  If you can’t make it to one of those meetings, or want to comment here and now, why not use the comment box below to let us know what you think…




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1 Response for “Mrs Green Has A Great Idea…”

  1. I forgot says:

    I came here to comment on the session I attended, but got distracted by a Google News item on the sidebar over there >>>

    Raising Goats in the City

    and this one: Livestock Used for Brush Clearance at O’Hare (Chicago Int’l Airport)

    Schemes like these could solve a fair few of Birmingham’s persistent and not-so-minor problems.

    Mrs Green would like to see the Council take a ‘Yes we can’ attitude to urban livestock, both on public land (grazing in parks to cut mowing costs, reduce carbon footprint, practice sustainable urban agriculture) and privately, as in Oakland.

    Today, we have a culture of ‘it can’t be done, it’s against policy/regs/H&S/insurance’, which I think of as the bloody-mindedness of people who are thinking of their own workload rather than the big picture. That mentality has to give way to ‘shall we give it a go?’ for the new neighbourhood strategies to work.

    Of course, among other things, it means giving neighbourhood managers some power to make decisions – and mistakes. That means suppressing the blame culture, giving front line managers a modicum of unquestioning support, particularly when those managers are working with voluntary groups to deliver city services.

    It also means getting the corrupt/manipulative/obstructive councillors out of the way. Which in turn means having a much more robust auditing/oversight process that the public can have confidence in. I am not going to help the City deliver a service only to see a local Cllr redirect the work I’ve done to his own ends. I’d want a transparent and trustworthy process for auditing the work that gets done.

    This sort of citizen involvement has to be grounded not in the fear of losing services, but on the existence of goodwill between volunteers and administrations. That’s a people focus. The new neighbourhood strategies will flourish or founder on the ways participants are treated; the ways people feel after an encounter with neighbourhood management, and with each other as they struggle to solve big problems by doing their bit.

    Mrs Green wants to know how these people and their goodwill are going to be managed, recognised, and fostered. She wants to know how transparency, responsibility and human kindness are going to be given space in the process. And then she wants to know how to get stuck in.

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