Not Sandwell this time but neighbouring Walsall, where one nature reserve site has over the years lost many birds due to inconsiderate motorists running them over as they cross between two lakes separated by a busy main road. It is an issue that has been going on for many years without resolution.
Of course the foolishness of locating a road between two pools where wildlife cross is one that is now lost to history, but that doesn’t mean that this has to continue forever or that this highway should remain as it is.
Recently, this longstanding issue received some unprecedented publicity , largely due to the advent of social media, when two cygnets were run over by a reported impatient driver who drove off without stopping as the swan family were crossing the road.
A petition was launched calling for improved traffic calming measures, but the driver herself appears to have been given little more than a ticking off by the police, who have refused to officially confirm that they traced the vehicle that she was in, but instead left it to social media to disseminate that they had.
Walsall council manage the site, and following other deaths, in 2006 they installed several signs along the road and rubble strips which they hoped would prevent accidents.
The signs may be fine but the application to actually slow vehicles down was never up to scratch, and today the so called “rubble strips” are little more than coloured punctuations on a sentence of death by idiots who insist on speeding along this straight road.
But added to this appears to be a total lack of understanding from the council as to the view that the birds have when attempting to cross this road of death. Unfortunately there is an ill defined pavement cum layby , if it even is one, where cars park alongside the road, and where people are supposed to also walk.
What chance then of anyone seeing birds crossing between a dingy overgrown clump of bushes and trees on the main lake with additional cars also blocking the view, and what chance of the birds realising that they are in danger when they unaware of any green cross code?
There is no pavement on a significant part of the road, thus forcing people into the road when people are parked alongside the road. The legality of all this is something which needs to be looked at, especially from a disabled perspective.
A further obstacle is encountered further on in the form of an ironic safety barrier over a brook which feeds the pool, where again people are forced to walk in the road to get around it because some highways fool didn’t consider that this may cause some danger.
Unfortunately despite the campaigners efforts the council appear to have decided to allow the status quo to continue and in a report to be considered at the full council meeting have recommended that nothing is done as there have been no accidents to human life in the last five years. Their ignorance in seeing what a piss poor job of a road layout they have created is only blinded by their sheer stupidity and apathy to this situation, but unfortunately this appears to be the price of civil service accademia, with all common sense apparently removed on obtaining a university degree.
And then there is of course the old “cash strapped council” rhetoric so loved by leftist local authorities, when the councillors are themselves pocketing large sums of money from meeting attendance for “special responsibilities.” Onward march the suited trousered philanthropists.
Well in terms of funding, I have uncovered that rather than being “cash strapped” the authority did have and still has the money to provide “improvements” to this troubled wildlife haven.
A development at Linley Road just around the corner on a former care home in 2011 produced a section 106 agreement between the developer and the council. Council documents show that they had originally intended to grant £41, 760 to the swag pool – the larger of the two waterbodies.
I submitted a freedom of information request to Walsall council to clarify what had happened to this money, as it is quite evident that nothing has been spent on improvements at this site during this time.
The council confirmed that not one penny had in fact gone to the nature reserve site but instead to other more economically viable human orientated facilities like The Walsall Arboretum, where there is a prestige redevelopment strategy.
“I can confirm that £41,760 was received by Walsall Council with £41187.89 as an open space contribution (A percentage is taken for planning costs), with a deadline to spend by 1st August 2018 – the funding has all been committed.
The S106 Agreement states “To use the Open Space Contribution for provision of open space within the wider vicinity in accordance with the Council’s Urban Open Space Supplementary Planning Document and Planning
Policy Guidance 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation.” There is no reference to Stubbers Green in the section 106 agreement
10% (£4,119) of the funding was top-sliced for the Arboretum restoration project, 15% was top-sliced for ongoing maintenance of improvements (in line with all S106 schemes now) and the rest was spent on various improvements at Blackwood Park, Doe Bank Park, High Heath Park and Rushall
I’m not sure what the term “top-sliced” means here but it is evident that somewhere in the pipeline, officers or councillors or both in Walsall Council decided to shaft Stubbers Green , and there is no clear reason given as to why?
The council’s report states “Officers from Clean and Green Services are exploring opportunities to secure external funding that could be used to provide environmental and ecological improvements to the nature reserve.”
Well perhaps someone should have looked a bit bloody harder at money they had in the bank before deciding to spend it on other sites.
It is also fair to point out that the former leader of WMBC , Councillor Mike Bird declared a personal and prejudicial interest at the meeting where the application was approved, yet this is not made clear as to what this was.
The development itself appears to be well established in a square of 13 houses.
So this leaves a site where road kill is happening quite frequently up shit creak, and is only likely to continue when the local authority screw it out of money that would have been put to better use than in the aforementioned parks.
Someone once told me that “you have to see things from the point of view of a bird” in looking at problems such as this, and since hearing this I have never looked at anything the same again. The view below is a birds eye view at their level. So imagine having this view obstructed by a parked car blocking it. Then the further issue of an observation/feeding platform obstacle badly positioned so that members of the public can stand and encourage said birds across the road. It should never have been put there.
If only there were more bird brains on Walsall council instead of human ones.