Hall Green MP takes on Sunak over Gaza
Plus: Does HS2's northern leg have a future?
Dear Readers — Yesterday’s newsletter saw multiple points of order from myself. For those who missed it, I asked for suggestions on a suitable name we can call our community, promised an update on wind in the West Midlands, and kept us all on tenterhooks regarding our January subscriber target.
Firstly: on the name suggestions, keep those coming in via the comments or by email. What we’ve had is brilliant so far and I’ll get back to you on those next week.
Secondly: the wind. It’s been an undeniably windy week and, as I laid out on Thursday, I thought it would be interesting to find out where in the West Mids has been the blowiest. (Okay, so I was also looking for an excuse for why my running watch was telling me I wasn’t as quick as I thought I was; but I was also very, very interested).
A couple of upfronts before I share the answer. Wind data is limited by where the Met Office have anemometers — the instrument normally used to measure breezes — and the figure relates to a gust, a sudden rush, rather than a sustained current.
That being said, we do have a location and number. The highest speed recorded over the past week was at 8pm last Sunday in Coleshill. Technically in Warwickshire — which speaks to the hodgepodge nature of our boundaries in Brum — the small town got hit by a gust of 45kts or 51.75 mph. Nowhere near where I usually run. Much faster, too. I need a new excuse.
But this week’s gusts are nothing compared to the strongest winds ever recorded in Brum, which were in Elmdon on 2 January 1976 where the Met Office say a 76kts wind, almost 84mph, ripped through near the airport. So famous was the storm associated with that wind it got its own name: the Gale of January 1976.
Now some of you might be saying: “Hold on Dan, we’ve had tornados in Birmingham before. Including the Birmingham tornado of July 2005 which carved a path through Moseley and Kings Heath causing circa £40 million of damage. Surely those are stronger?”
Well, yes, probably — the Met Office and The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation reckon that tornado hit speeds somewhere between 137 and 186mph — but those are estimated figures. No anemometer confirm (as far as I’ve read or been told). Which isn’t to downplay their destructive nature.
In non-wind-related news: we have hit our subscriber target for January! 306 of you are now paying subscribers. That’s both an investment in, and a punt on, consuming news and media in a more sustainable, thoughtful, and community-centric manner. From Kate and myself: thank you so much for this.
I can see some of the stories you’ve been reading the most are Kate’s interview with Andy Street, this wonderful profile on Birmingham’s first Michelin-starred chef, and this Dispatch investigation into housing for the homeless in Wolverhampton. We hope to continue delivering stories like this to you and your subscriptions directly enable us to do just that. Pats on the back all around.
As ever, if you haven’t subscribed, please consider doing so.
Brum in Brief
🚆HS2: Back on track? Last week, The Dispatch covered news that developers would be able to take forward planning applications on land previously earmarked for the scrapped northern leg of HS2. Fast forward seven days and West Midlands mayor Andy Street, along with Manchester counterpart Andy Burnham, has revealed he is taking proposals to transport secretary Mark Harper to discuss the potential of reviving a dedicated Manchester-Birmingham line. “Highly unlikely” to be the same as HS2, this announcement will surely buoy supporters of increased inter-city capacity.
🔊Hall Green MP takes on PM: Tahir Ali, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, has made headlines after telling Prime Minister Rishi Sunak he had "the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands" over the Israel-Gaza conflict. The Dispatch has since heard that Labour Party leader Sir Kier Starmer personally called Ali in for a meeting and asked him to apologise, adding that people were calling for his resignation. Ali has since offered an apology but added he did not "resile from my strongly held views" on the conflict. You can watch Ali’s Sunak exchange, here.
🔁Sandwell Council defections: Sunak is also taking broadsides from within his party. Earlier this week, former cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke called on his parliamentary colleagues to oust Sunak to avoid a potential election “massacre”. However, two Sandwell councillors, David Wilkes and Archer Williams, once chair and deputy chair respectively of Tipton and Wednesbury Conservatives, beat Clarke to the punch. Within Sandwell Council, the pair have defected to Labour with Wilkes saying he couldn’t tell his constituents to vote Conservative in the next election adding that “Sunak is a weak leader, out of ideas”.
👨🚒Fire chief passes: The chief of West Midlands fire service, Wayne Brown, has been found dead at his home in Birmingham. Police are not treating the death as suspicious. Brown was reportedly being investigated after questions on social media arose about his academic qualifications. Separately, he was involved in a court case in which a man was charged with harassment against him. Previously, Brown had a multi-decade career in the London Fire Brigade with London’s deputy mayor for fire and resilience saying he was hugely respected and “much loved by colleagues.”
⚽No Premier League, no problem: With Premier League football taking a break for the weekend, football fans might want to head 15 minutes up the M6 to see Tamworth Football Club in action. With their ground a stone's throw from the Snowdome, ‘The Lambs’ are unbeaten in eight games, sit top of National League North and are well-placed to continue their good form. They take on 18th-placed Spennymoor Town from County Durham at 3PM on Saturday. Tickets can be found here.
⛪Architecture slam: For those who prefer buildings to balls, Birmingham City University, Eastside Campus is playing host to a day of short presentations regarding C20th buildings and design featuring Jellicoe’s, Memorial Gardens, the art of Dale-de-Verre, Twentyman Churches and more. I’m personally a fan of both football and a Twentyman church but this also takes place on Saturday. Neither can I make both events nor make your own Saturday call for you (as fun as that would be) so the choice is up to you. Further details at a click.