Big City Plan – Last Week

It’s the last week to get your comments in to the consultation on the Council’s Big City Plan. You can email, phone, or send an old fashioned letter (all the contact details are at the link above), but Friday (6th Feb) is the closing date.

If you’re struggling with some of the concepts, or would like to discuss your ideas then the independant Big City Talk website may be the place to go. It’s got a “plain English” version of the doccument and also comments by other Brummies who care just as much as you about how the City Centre might change over the next 20 years.

City Council Block Twitter

I hear that Birmingham City Council is now blocking  “social networking sensation” Twitter (as it is classified as a “social networking site”). Following hard on the heals of the shock horror stories of Facebook usage (stupid story as not only are the methodologies used for tracking such things deeply flawed, but the communications team are using it as part of their job) it’s not surprising, but it isn’t sensible.

You get the feeling that it would be blocked as the people responsible for blocking will  have just heard about it,  I’d love to hear the reasoning behind restricting access.

The official statement from the council is:

“Twitter is classed as a “social networking” web site and Bham City Council has imposed a restriction (in line with its Internet Use Policy) on the use of social networking sites during core hours – i.e. between 1000 and 1200 and between 1400 and 1600.   Outside those hours, these sites are generally available. People who need to use social networking sites for work, rather than for personal use, are given access at these times if they can confirm that it is needed for their work.”

That’s all very well, but it is in my opinion like asking for permission to use the Internet at all, or a phone, or the post. It would make you feel nervous, that you were doing something wrong — even if you weren’t. I don’t think Twitter is a “social networking site”, I think it’s a new and important communication tool.

I don’t think that I could do a job that didn’t allow me unfettered access to the Internet — Twitter has become my open-plan office, except that it’s filled with some of the country’s great thinkers rather than just the people I work with. If I  chat there it’s certainly no more than you would on the way to the stationery cupboard/water cooler/ kettle/toilet and back.

We live in an age of ever-more rapily changing communication landscapes. We have Twittering MPs, hell a Twittering (well his team at least) US President — we’d kill for a Twittering Birmingham Councillor. You can’t fight the tide, and to block a tool that is already proving useful (check out this snow map – updated live) would seem to show at the very least a lack of foresight. They’ll end up paying to train staff on what they might have learnt for themselves anyway.

Prehistoric find uncovers early Birmingham

A dig in Banbury St, where the new BCU campus may be, has uncovered flints that "may be evidence of prehistoric life in Birmingham". That, or they're something left over from a fight after a Blues Villa game. Birmingham Central has a ton of detail. [link]

5km or Brum to Mongolia, it’s up to you

Couple of charity events been brought to my attention this week. One a simple(!) 5 killometre run starting and finishing in Perry Park. It’s no marathon-length BRMB Walkathon, but if you fancy a trot round Great Barr then entries are now being accepted and the run itself is on May 3rd.

The other event you’re not being asked to take part in, and you’ll thank your god or the random nature of the world that you aren’t. For four brave and stupid Brummies are going to drive a VW Golf all the way to Mongolia, and Charile Boorman’s sweaty face won’t be anywhere near them.

“Essentially we will be driving a knackered 1.2l Car from Goodwood Race course to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, completely unsupported and entirely for charity…”

They’re not off until July, but are setting up stall around Brum a few times before then and have a website with all the info on –