Earlier this month, I was pleased to help launch Birmingham Fair Money, a new campaign against illegal money lenders and legal high interest lenders in our city.
At this moment, we have high cost lenders trading in Birmingham who lend at APR rates of well over 1,000%. If you then add on their late payment and roll over fees these loans inflate very quickly. The result is rapid and brutal. Many of the clients of these companies are trapped in a spiral of unfair debt from which it is difficult to escape.
On top of that, we have cases of vulnerable people falling prey to unscrupulous illegal loan sharks.
Birmingham Fair Money is all about providing an ethical and affordable alternative for local people. Working with Citysave Credit Union and Moneyline, we’ve brought together a number of not for profit, community based lenders providing affordable and responsible lending.
A central loans shop, known as the Cabin, has now opened on Lower Bull Street in the city centre. It will be staffed by Citysave staff and community volunteers and will be open to the public from Tuesday 1st October to Christmas Eve. The Cabin has been funded with proceeds of crime money taken from convicted illegal money lenders and the England Illegal Money Lending Team, a specialist enforcement team who are based in Birmingham will be highlighting the dangers of illegal loan sharks and encouraging anyone who has been a victim of this crime to come forward.
As well as being able to visit the Cabin for a loan, you can also access information online at www.birminghamfairmoney.org.uk, which holds details of all of the not-for-profit lenders involved, along with other useful advice on maximising your income or getting help with debts and managing your money.
We’re also continuing to keep the loan sharks under pressure. To report a loan shark, you can call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text the word ‘loan shark’, together with your message, to 60003, email via firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a private Facebook message to the team at www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject.
The latest update from the Shard End Ward police team is now available. Download your copy by clicking here.
The next meeting of the Shard End Ward Committee is on Monday 23 September, starting at 7pm. This month, we will be at the Yardley & District Rugby Club, 1 Cole Hall Lane, B34 6HE.
Items on the agenda include updates on the former Yardley Sewage Works site and the refurbishment of Moorfield Hall. The local police will be attending and you can also read the latest police update newsletter by clicking here.
All residents are welcome – come and have your say!
The City Council’s budgets are continuing to shrink as a result of the massive cuts being made by the Coalition Government. Over the next few years, the budget will be effectively halved. These are cuts on a scale that has never been seen before.
The cuts mean that there will have to be big changes to balance the books in the years ahead, so we’ve started a detailed review of Council services. The changes that we will have to make will have an impact on everyone in Birmingham, so we want to discuss them with residents before going ahead.
You can get the full background on the Service Reviews, together with a series of “Green Papers” setting out some initial ideas and questions about the future of council services, by following this link to the Service Reviews webpage. The page also includes details of how you can get involved and share your comments and ideas. This is an important discussion for everyone living in Birmingham, so make sure you have your say.
UPDATE 16/8/13: An on-line presentation about the Service Reviews is now available. Click here to watch the presentation.
Regular readers of this blog will know that the misuse of off-road motorbikes is a perennial concern for people living in the neighbourhoods that make up the Shard End Ward.
My colleagues and I are continuing to work closely with the local police to try and tackle the problems caused by the misuse of these vehicles. One of the key issues for the police is getting evidence so they can identify and take action against the perpetrators.
If you’ve got any information regarding locations, perpetrators or the vehicles involved, please make sure you let the police know. They’ve set up a special on-line survey where you can leave details – you can access this by clicking here.
You can also download a copy of the information leaflet, Off Road Motorbikes, Safety & the Law here.