Birmingham's Con-Dem council is planning 3,500 new homes over 10 years. Half earmarked for council tenants, half sold at affordable prices.
Rather unusual for the parties of the right. Why are they doing this?
The local elections heave into view and it looks like the present council will lose office.
Despite the city's motto Forward Birmingham, the largest single council in the country has long been in reverse gear.
Selling off land and buildings to the highest commercial bidder has been more its style.
With 30,000 families on the waiting list for affordable housing in the city, at this rate of replenishment it will be precisely 100 years before the existing queue for homes fades!
Yet there are nearly 30,000 unoccupied homes.
The jobs front is not much better, with the West Midlands on the second-?highest unemployment rate of all English regions and the East Midlands in a continuing upwards trend.
We are told good government lies in the May 3 referendum to decide on having an elected mayor ruling the one million people of Birmingham.
Similar votes are due in Coventry and Nottingham, where Labour is more unambiguously against.
Most progressives and those on the left are campaigning hard for a No vote.
Yet most establishment politicians think that the as-yet-undefined powers of such a mayor should cover what affects 2.7 million people in the seven West Midlands boroughs.
Electing a dictator is no new idea. It's often forgotten that fascism began with a sort of democratic mandate which soon slipped into Duce, Fuhrer and Caudillo.
There's an obvious question to ask.
Why can't the West Midlands have an elected authority, such as the country council abolished by Thatcher in 1986?
Unquestionably, co-ordinated strategic decisions are needed across the English Midlands.
Not only is our last carriage and wagon factory in jeopardy, the long-awaited electrification of a £57m rail line between Walsall, Cannock and Rugeley is now in doubt after a government decision to spend more than 40 per cent of a £10 billion fund on London and south-east England.
Plans to sell Birmingham's water, which all comes from Wales, to the parched south-east are proceeding, even though the Environment Agency has announced that the Midlands is officially in drought.
Given these developments, over which we have no control, amid the London-centric nature of the entire news media it is intriguing that the explosion of public anger seen amongst Midlands people this last month has begun to feed in to the burgeoning organisation of Midlands Morning Star Readers' & Supporter's Groups.
Reports of the recent successful national conference have energised appetites to mobilise in a similar way across the region. Speaking to the Leicester group recently, I discerned a willingness not only to link up with other groups in a campaign to unite civil society groups, unions, and political bodies but also a determination to ensure that the paper reflects and informs this process.
Little wonder, since Leicester Council decided to have a mayor by diktat. Labour's candidate for local police commissioner was the only person shortlisted for the role. As an anointed member of Sir Peter Soulsby's cabinet, nothing less would do.
Then, in an optional move, Derbyshire's councils are making a total of some 20,000 staff face a pay freeze for a third year in a row. This at a time when Derby City is cutting £9.4 million funding for vulnerable elderly and disabled people to live independently in their own homes.
Rarely heard of in the wider media is a campaign such as Occupy Nottingham, now in Market Square for half a year. City Council plans to evict them continues at the courts.
The Save Our Leisure Centre campaign in Foleshill saw over 100 people march the two-and-a-half miles to Coventry Council House with a petition of 10,000 signatures.
Wherever you look in the Midlands, there is a rising fight. George Galloway has spoken of an army "mustering in the north."
All my political life I have heard of the Midlands being some kind of weather vane for British politics.
If that is still true, you'd better add us to the army. Nowadays, you need to draw a line from the Severn to The Wash. North of that you have the most deprived regions of Britain. Plus those that are most hostile to the Con-Dem government.
May Day demonstrations in the Midlands have been held in every town and city. A special effort needs to be made to link up with community campaigns. We're also going to see the Morning Star a part of this process.
Last year's marches, and those associated with 2011's national stoppages, were the biggest in 40 years. Watch out for them again - something big is stirring in the "middle lands."
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