Stimulating ideas, broadening debate, catalysing action.
April 2017
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18th May
Time: 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Location: The Edgbaston Priory Club

For the last 10 years Governments of all parties have focused on building more new houses. The planning system has been directed to provide land for at least a 10 year supply, and planning permissions have been exceeding construction for several years. However, house prices and rents have continued to rise faster than incomes, and there is also a gap between the growth in the number of homes and the projected growth in the number of households. Key issues for us (and our children) include:

•  Are land-owners, house-builders and house-owners addicted to rising prices?
•  Can we close the gap between haves and have-nots, and between generations?
•  Does incentivising house buying risk another sub-prime bust?
•  Can public or private renting meet needs in terms of quantity, quality and price?
•  How do we secure ‘Decent, affordable homes where people want to live’?
      - Regenerate our existing cities, towns and neighbourhoods? or;
      - Provide more land ‘where builders want to build’?
•  What kinds of places do we want to live in?
      - How does housing fit into place making?
      - How do we pay for services and infrastructure?

Lord Best been a cross-bench member of the House of Lords since 2001, with particular interests in housing and planning. He led a Lunar Society discussion on housing in 2014. Since then there have been further significant developments: Government has published a White Paper on ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ and elections for a West Midlands Mayor have been held. The Lunar Society mission to ‘stimulate ideas, broaden debate and catalyse action’ has never been more important.

He is currently Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People; Chair, House of Lords Select Committee on Communications; Chair of Council, The Property Ombudsman; and Sponsor, Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.  He was Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation (1973-88) and  the Joseph Rowntree Trust (1988-2006).

Read more about the speaker and book your tickets here. The event will be chaired by Alan Wenban-Smith, whose earlier comment on the situation can be read here.

Tickets include a welcome drink on arrival, three course dinner and coffee.

Inspiring Minds: breakfast with Colin Diamond

Date: 6th June
Time: 7:30am
Location: The Alchemist, Colmore Row

Colin Diamond is the Executive Director for Education at Birmingham City Council. Colin has worked in education leadership roles for over 30 years. He cut his teeth professionally as a teacher, youth worker and child psychotherapist in inner-London. He took on some challenging schools in the East End of London as associate headteacher.

To find out more about Colin and to register your interest for the breakfast, please visit our website.

Welcome to our newest members

We’d like to welcome to the Society the following corporate members: Haines Watts, Pertemps, Aston University and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, joining existing corporate members Birmingham City University, Birmingham Community Healthcare, High Court Enforcement Group Ltd, Midland Heart, Mills & Reeve and the University of Birmingham.

Spread the word!

Do you have friends or colleagues who would benefit from being a member of the Lunar Society?

Why not spread the word? Encourage them to sign up, or supply us with their contact details, and we can provide them with membership information.

JQ Museum turns 25

The Musuem of the Jewellery Quarter recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, coinciding with an exhibition of photographer Verity Milligan’s work - click here to view.

The anniversary doubled as an excuse to celebrate the opening of the museum’s new commercial gallery space where Verity’s well-known photographs of Birmingham are on display.

The museum opened in 1992 and has received around 750,000 visitors through its doors. The museum gives an insight into the history of jewellery production in Birmingham (in what used to be the Smith and Pepper Jewellery Firm) and life in the jewellery quarter as it is today.

The attraction has won various awards over the years, a highlight among them this year being the Visit England award for Best Told Story, where the displays, tours and staff were judged as excellent.

Erasmus Darwin House

Following on from the success of last year’s 250th anniversary of the Lunar Society, Erasmus Darwin House are continuing the story of these remarkable Midlands men and exploring their connections to the Industrial revolution and beyond.

On Wednesday 10th May at Lichfield Guildhall:

Join Darwin House supporter Wendy Moore for magic, spell-binding stories and plenty of cheese (the edible kind) on the evening of the full moon. She returns to Lichfield with her latest book, The Mesmerist and her first-hand experience of hypnotism...

"In 1837, when 19-year-old Queen Victoria ascended the British throne, medicine was a brutal business. Operations were performed without pain relief and the standard medical therapies were bloodletting, purging and dosing with toxic potions. But that summer a promising medical innovation crossed the Channel from Paris: mesmerism. Most of the British medical establishment scorned this new-fangled French idea but one doctor, the highly esteemed physician John Elliotson, embraced mesmerism with zeal. For 18 months in 1837 and 1838 Elliotson staged dramatic demonstrations on his patients at University College Hospital in London which enraptured audiences, provoked sensational headlines and – ultimately – split the medical profession."

Tickets are £15 (includes refreshments and entertainment) and booking is essential. Telephone 01543 306260, or email

For more Erasmus Darwin events, see here.

Congratulations to our chair!

“The outstanding contributions of each new Fellow are a testament to the breadth of the social sciences, both in their ability to inform policy for public benefit, as well as in addressing some of our most pressing societal issues.”

Lunar Society chairman Alan Wenban-Smith has been chosen as one of 47 leading social scientists elected to the Academy of Social Sciences.

The list of Fellows includes academics, practitioners and policymakers across the social sciences that have been recognised after a peer review process for the impact of their work for public benefit.

We want to hear from you!

Is there a particular event you would like to see organised for Lunar Society members, or a certain subject explored? Please get in touch to submit your ideas to the Society programme committee.

Alternatively, if your idea fits into any of the below subject areas, please feel free to contact these members of the executive directly:

The Society has a network of members across the West Midlands, the UK and overseas that straddle a wide range of different sectors and professional interests. We are open to anyone who has a commitment to our aim and objectives. For more information about our work, click here.

About the Society

The Lunar Society was founded in the 18th Century. The founding fathers or 'Lunatiks' as they called themselves, included Mathew Boulton, James Watt, Erasmus Darwin and Joseph Priestley. The original Lunar Men were the change-makers of their day; significant thinkers who challenged each other with their innovations and skills.  

Today's Lunar Society is no different. We have members like Dame Rachel Waterhouse, John Charlton and Sir Adrian Cadbury to thank for continuing the Society's great traditions and ensuring the Society continues to provide a neutral platform to debate ideas and catalyse change. 

If you would like more information on membership or how you could be involved, please click
here, or contact the Society at: The Old School House, Chapel Lane, Birmingham, B47 6JX, tel. 01564 82 1582, email

Copyright © 2017 The Lunar Society, All rights reserved.

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The Lunar Society · The Old School House · Chapel Lane, Wythall · Birmingham, West Midlands B47 6JX · United Kingdom

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