Sandwell council is currently “reviewing” its green space strategy, previously undertaken in 2006. Much of this appears to have taken place on the quiet, and I only found out about it by chance when a “workshop” dealing with matters of “biodiversity” was passed to me to attend at the Sandwell Valley.
This ties in with Sandwell council’s much heralded clap trap of “vision 2030”. This verb laden plethora of local gov speak bollocks is what makes councillors salivate, and what many of their academia jockey officers at senior level think will appeal to the masses- the idiots.
Here they are in all their glory.
The first thing to note about these 10 ambitions- (no idea as to how they were formed and by whom), is that they are all geared around people, the family unit, education, transport links and jobs. These are all political campaigning tools, but they are also appealing to the purely selfish, consumer society that wants everything easily and wants it cheaply out of some sense of automatic entitlement- i.e your typical Labour voter.
Personally I have no interest in children, no interest in education, no interest in transport extensions and creating shitty poorly paid jobs to reduce the jobless figures. What I do have is an interest in protecting the environment, wildlife and biodiversity and habitats. NONE OF THE AMBITIONS ABOVE EVEN MENTION ANY OF THIS.
I am not alone in thinking this or pointing it out. At the workshop, attended by invite to many of the same faces that are rather passive friends of Sandwell council and the party who run the show without any opposition, also stated the same. THERE IS NO AMBITION FROM SANDWELL COUNCIL’S “VISION” TO PROTECT WILDLIFE, THEIR HABITATS AND THE ENVIRONMENT.
Sandwell council’s partner, CPUK, who had been undertaking a survey of the local authorities green space and their wildlife classification designation presented a series of data sets dealing with population density, access to designated sites and quality of these based on the green flag award status. This latter award has been used as a political tool in many ways by Sandwell’s Labour group, although as I have pointed out in one case, it is not an award deserving of the cloth where wildlife is being destroyed due to poor quality maintenance issues.
After the presentation which revealed that there are just 12 designated local nature reserves in Sandwell’s six towns (7 of them in West Bromwich alone), there was an opportunity for some group think around the table. This looked at the council’s vision and the issues and challenges that face achieving better biodiversity in the borough.
I pointed out , as did others that the vision above , particularly concerning building more houses, is in direct opposition to encouraging biodiversity and wildlife habitats. Time and time again in Sandwell, and in particular in Tipton and Oldbury, two towns which have just 1 local nature reserve between them, every area of green space is being sold off by Sandwell council to create housing.
Two highly controversial schemes, one at Lion Farm playing fields to create a retail park and another at Londonderry Lane playing fields to build an aquatics centre as part of BIRMINGHAM’S Commonwealth games do not show much optimism for achieving a green space strategy- unless that strategy is about getting rid of green space in Sandwell to make some Malvern dwelling party political donor more money.
There is also the ludicrous “Dudley Port Garden city” – a testament in itself to rewarding land banking and tax avoidance and how mass house building to rip up green space and create one giant housing estate is favoured by the same mealy mouthed socialists.
In short, there are no political champions in Sandwell’s one party dictatorship state for wildlife and biodiversity, and this was another point where I was not alone in thinking the same. It was notable that not a single councillor of Sandwell’s grossly overpopulated amateur politicians (linked extensively by nepotism and cronyism), was present at the workshop. How many were invited I do not know, but it is difficult to see any evidence of any of them ever expressing any interest in the environment publicly, except to pay lip service to the idea.
And that unfortunately is why I think this strategy is just another example of piss and wind- a talking shop for ideas, none of which will ever make it off the sticky note and into council policy. Where there is a quick buck to be made out of selling off green space, (the Hussein family appear to have swindled and collared all the bogs in Sandwell already), the local elected at Sandwell appear to be set on doing this. Titford pools is another area that is threatened by part of the Jeremy Knight Adams scheme at Lion Farm- yet this area could and should be designated as Oldbury’s sole local nature reserve. One has to suspect that the lack of ambition to classify such areas by the Labour Sheisters over many years is precisely why they will not do so in the future.
The future then for Sandwell’s green spaces, for its wildlife and biodiversity under the threat of house building and get rich quick retail parks looks very bleak- unless you live in the so called “green belt” of Sandwell where many of the Sandwell councillors choose to live.
If only there was a political champion for wildlife at high level in Sandwell- another point made widely, who could lead the ambition for wildlife. Unfortunately the political heavyweights in this area appear to be more interested in combating Tony the Tiger on cereal packets than getting down and dirty with protecting Sandwell’s quickly disappearing green space. I think we need a Sandwell Chris Packam instead.