Petition calls for all 54 Coventry City Councillors to resign

A petition has been created by a resident of Tile Hill, Robin Elms, calling on all the city's councillors to resign.

Clearly this is not going to happen and Mr Elms would be better using his energies to run a campaign to get himself elected to the council.

This story has been making think about whether the current council setup is the best for purpose.

At the moment there is are 18 wards each with three councillors. Each ward has around 12,000 electors. This means that the electoral wards do not necessarily match local self identified communities. I represented Bablake ward from 2000 (when I was the youngest councillor) until 2014 and my former constituents didn't think of themselves as Bablake residents, but instead residents of Allesley or Keresley or Whitmore Park or Coundon. Indeed some of these areas are split between wards!

Also at the moment the council is elected by thirds so rather the whole council being up, one councillor in ward ward is up for election over a three year cycle with no elections in the fourth year. This can mean that it is impossible for the political control of the council to change before a vote has been cast!

I think the structure of the council needs to change to allow a greater connection between councillors and their communities and also to allow the chance of changing the council at every election (albeit at the cost of one election every four years rather than three every four)

So in summary the council should change to 54 single member wards of 4,000 people each rather than the current 3 member wards of 12,000. This would allow wards to match local communities better and also allow councillors to connect with their residents better. The council should also switch to all out elections every four years rather than the current election by thirds.

Greece, the Euro and Sovereignty

It looks like the terms required for the Greek bailout have passed in their parliament. This of course happened after the Greeks had rejected similar terms in a referendum.

This has resulted in questions about where sovereignty lies and tweets with the hash tag #ThisIsACoup

While it is not a coup it does show that joining a currency union does have an impact on a nations sovereignty and underlines why a country needs it's own currency. It demonstrates the wisdom of the UK in keeping the pound, and it's good to note it appears to have stopped the argument about joining.

The other thing to note is the reaction that Greece might leave the euro generated. It clearly showed that there are those in EU who believe as an article of faith that there can be no moves away from European Integration. In February 2015 Jean-Claude Junker saidsaid (in French) "Il ne peut y avoir de choix démocratique contre les traités européens" or in English "There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties" By putting their articles of faith of European integration above democratic choices and economic facts they are just like flat earthers or young earth creationists who not only put their faith above recognised facts but reject generally accepted scientific fact in favour of pseudoscience. We listen to the pseudoscience of the European federalists at our peril.

Coventry Healthy Churches and Same Sex Relationships

I have just had an interesting twitter exchange with Fr Martin Saxby the Healthy Churches Development Mentor in the Diocese of Coventry.

It started when he posted a link to an evangelical news site that appeared to compare euthanasia with homosexuality. When I called him out on this he said

@a_j_williams Turning away from God in any form, particularly by institutions, is a sign of a decaying society.

I asked him to clarify yes or no whether he thought homosexuality was a sign of a decaying society. His response :-

@a_j_williams My last tweet to you tonight: are you usually so aggressive? Yes or No?

Ignoring the fact this a standard response from somebody who does not want to justify themselves so prefers to attack their opponent (I believe the traditional version of this question is "When did you stop beating your wife") it is interesting that Fr Saxby refuses to respond to me despite the fact I am both Lay Chairman of a Deanery Synod and a member of the House of Laity of the Coventry Dioscean Synod.

While we all know there are bigoted priests out there what is particularly concerning about Fr Saxby is not only did he refuse to give me, a deanery lay chair and diocesan synod rep answer, his substantive post is Healthy Churches Development Mentor. Presumably Fr Saxby does not think gay and lesbian people belong in a healthy church.

I do not believe that people who are born with attraction to the same sex as themselves are sinners. I do not believe that someone who finds their life partner and enters into a life long relationship with someone who just so happens to be the same sex are sinners.

I believe a healthy church includes and celebrates the relationships of everyone, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and celibate. If Fr Martin Saxby, the Diocese of Coventry Healthy Churches Development Mentor does not support this he should resign.

Happy St George's Day

St George was probably a soldier living in Palestine at the beginning of the fourth century. He was martyred at Lydda in about the year 304, the beginning of the Diocletian persecution, and became known throughout the East as 'The Great Martyr'. There were churches in England dedicated to St George before the Norman conquest. The story of his slaying the dragon is probably due to his being mistaken in iconography for St Michael, himself usually depicted wearing armour; or it may again be a mistaken identity representing Perseus's slaying of the sea monster, a myth also associated with the area of Lydda. George replaced Edward the Confessor as Patron Saint of England following the Crusades, when returning soldiers brought back with them a renewed cult of St George. Edward III made St George patron of the Order of the Garter, which seems finally to have confirmed his position.


God of hosts,
who so kindled the flame of love
in the heart of your servant George
that he bore witness to the risen Lord
by his life and by his death:
give us the same faith and power of love
that we who rejoice in his triumphs
may come to share with him the fullness of the resurrection;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Readings for today :

1 Maccabees 2. 59-64
2 Timothy 2. 3-13
John 15. 18-21

Taken from Exciting Holiness Collects & Readings for the Festivals & Lesser Festivals of the Calendar of the Church of England

1000 Years of Annoying the French

I have just read an excellent book 1000 Years of Annoying the French.

Highly recommended.

Was the Battle of Hastings a French victory? Non! William the Conqueror was Norman and hated the French. Were the Brits really responsible for the death of Joan of Arc? Non! The French sentenced her to death for wearing trousers. Was the guillotine a French invention? Non! It was invented in Yorkshire. Ten centuries’ worth of French historical ‘facts’ bite the dust as Stephen Clarke looks at what has really been going on since 1066.

Bishop's Visitation

This evening I served at the Bishops Visitation at the Cathedral. This is the services where all the newly elected Church Wardens are formally admitted to office.

The service was very well done bringing together a mix of traditions in Anglicanism we had everything from a praise band though to Faure.

What I liked about the service was that it did have traditional elements, we had an anthem by Faure, we had incense being burnt, we had a Magnificat chanted, we had three decent hymns and we had sung prayers. In addition the two "praise band" songs we had, although not to my personal taste, were at least not heretical. One of my major problems with "praise songs" when chosen at the Cathedral is we often sing (well I don't because it is heretical) the song In Christ alone my hope is found had often been the one of choice.

This song, which I believe originally came from NFI a "restorationist" denomination is heretical due to the second verse :-

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live

Specifically the problem with this is that it refers to PSA (Penal Substitutionary Atonement) which is contrary to the teachings and doctrines of The Church of England.

A belief in PSA would mean a belief in a blood thirsty God who was only interested in revenge. That's not the God I worship. In addition PSA would mean that there was no need for a resurrection of Christ - the work would have been completed on Good Friday. The resurrection is not an afterthought - it is the centrality of the Christian Faith. Our salvation comes from not just Christ's death on the first Good Friday, but also from Christ's victory over death and his glorious resurrection on the first Easter Day.

National Tackling Drugs Week

An exhibition of photos by some of the city's drug users will take centre-place at Coventry's Tackling Drugs Week celebrations in the city centre.

The exhibition will be held at the Tackling Drugs Week shop in City Arcade from June 8 – 12. The shop will be open to anyone who wants to find out more about what agencies – and communities - are doing to tackle drug misuse.

Drug workers will also be on hand to offer advice and information on any aspect of drug misuse and the support available to help users.

During the week, a number of events are being held around the city for members of the public, drug users, families of drug users and frontline workers to raise awareness of treatment services.

Cllr Andrew Williams, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: "Drugs is a major issue for all our communities and we want to take part in National Tackling Drugs Week to highlight the work we're doing to help reduce the harm that drugs cause to individuals, families and communities.

"The work we are doing to tackle drug misuse is a mix of work to help ensure today's young people don't become tomorrow's addicts, treatment to help users control and stop drug misuse and enforcement action against drug dealers and those committing crime to fuel addictions.

"Everyone can help in our work to tackle drugs – either by promoting drug treatment to any users they know or by reporting drug dealing and drug use to help the police build watertight cases against criminals."

Events held throughout the week include:

  • A talk to parents of drug users by Elizabeth Burton-Phillips, author of "Mum, can you lend me twenty quid?"
  • The launch of two new drug services – to help more addicts become drug free and to give extra support for families of drug users
  • Presentations of 12-step programmes to former and current drug users
  • A community consultation event in Foleshill dedicated to bust cultural myths surround drugs

US Researchers Say "Weekly curry may fight dementia"

According to BBC News a researcher at Duke University in the USA has suggested that eating curry may reduce the chance of dementia.

It seems to me that every so often these stories come along, which have a nice soundbite like this. In reality though this is just a hypothesis without any firm evidence to back it up. We will have to wait and see what the outcome of any in depth study is.

Then of course the question will be, "What about the beer that goes with a night at the curry house?"