Today Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne was at Hutton Hall in Birmingham to attend a Funders Conference.
We discussed the recent report that 1 in 3 of his constituents in Hodge Hill had no formal qualifications and how successful community groups were in helping people within communities become more employable.
The 'Martini' contract which has caused great consternation and distress amongst public sector workers in Birmingham was also mentioned but the MP was unaware of the name workers had given to the change in their conditions of service.
You can listen to the interview using the player below.
A live feed of today's full council meeting which begins at 2pm. The agenda for the meeting can be viewed here. If you wish to debate the issues raised in the meeting on Twitter, the hashtag to use is #bcclive.
Today saw mass protests around Birmingham, culminating in a rally in Victoria Square and a march around the city where public sector workers showed their objection to changes to contracts, redundancies and pension reforms.
Among those protesting, I spoke to Library Workers dismayed by the council's decision to categorise them as generic council workers who could be called upon to work in any council function and not in the work for which they had experience and training.
This contract change, nicknamed the 'Martini Contract' after the old Martini advertising slogan which read "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere", is of great concern to many of the workers I spoke to who also expressed dismay at the removal of overtime/weekend payments, revised hours which could include Sundays and it being against the terms of the contract to get a second job.
Phillipa Hands who is a library steward described how her pay had only increased £3,000 over 21 years which in real terms amounts to a pay cut.
Below are a series of audio interviews with protesters, recorded in Victoria Square.
Kings Heath Park is set to lose 'Gardeners Weekend as Birmingham City Council looks to save £60,000.
The annual event has been held at the park for the last 20 years and is much loved by local residents.
Councillor Martin Mullaney, the minister behind the policy said “The problem we have is the weekend at Kings Heath Park loses £50,000 to £60,000 a year because we have to put on security and pay for parking and coaches."
Down at the park the news was met with anger, "Well it may cost £50,000 but surely that cost is offset by the number of visitors and the raising of the profile of the area" argued local artist Mrs Wormott.
Brett Sheridan, marketing manager of local gardeing center Earlswood Nurseries, told aboutmyarea that his business would suffer as a result of the planned changes "Kings Heath Park is an ideal location for us. We've been going for the past seven years and it does generate business for us. The timing is very good because it gives us a boost to help us through the quieter times of Autumn and Winter."
However David Papadopolus of Highbury Park Friends told BirminghamPhotoReporter "I would be sad to see it go, but I agree with Mullaney that it's lost custom, and pizazz, over the last few years, so maybe a change is better than a rest."
We also contacted Simon Cooper, Constituency Parks Manager who said "I am afraid I am not involved in the decision making insofar as the future of the Gardeners Show but it is well documented just how difficult the existing financial climate is for all local authorities to operate let alone Birmingham. From a strictly personal perspective I don't think it harms to revisit and review the Gardeners Show and maybe the break or change of location will be an opportunity to refresh the whole concept."
COUNCIL FACING HUGE BILL
Birmingham City Council could face a legal bill of around £600,000, after the cabinet lost two High Court cases.
The council was judged to have breached the Disability Discrimination Act, after it proposed to cut funding to disabled adults, affecting around 4,500 adults.
As a result of the court decision, the council have been ordered to halt the cuts, and to "undertake proper public consultation" before any final decisions are made.