It was with little surprise that the joint Health and Neighbourhoods Scrutiny board decided to take “no action” regarding their council’s clandestine cull of Canada geese, overseen by the loose cannon Parks manager John Satchwell.
No surprise because all the councillors belong to the Labour party who occupy 70 of the 72 council seats in this rotten borough, (though 2 cabinet members have now stood down and resigned at least temporarily from the party over allegations of wrongdoing.)
With this context, the deck was always stacked; whatever argument we presented, their decision was made before the meeting had even started. The councillors had three options outlined-
1To take “no action”- basically backing the cull without taking any further questions.
2. Referring the matter to full council- Not really anything other than a gesture for more councillors to ask questions and stack the deck even further in the council’s favour.
3. Launch an investigation. This was the only action that we supported because there is a clear case to answer that the officer overseeing this cull and the process behind it was flawed, totally off the record books and can also be shown to be illegal.
The bizarre “statement of purpose” document will be looked at in more detail in the weeks to come, but this indicates a change of policy, whereby it also admits that they did not have one prior to this, but this does not however appear to be the case.
Many years ago in 1997, there were reports in the local media that Sandwell would be culling geese. It never happened. I wrote a letter, and received the following response from the man in charge of parks at the time, Paul Cosgrove. This clearly states that the council would be maintaining egg pricking, though we know from Sandwell council sources that over the last 18 years this has not been happening to the extent that they claim. If it had then where have all the extra geese come from?
Fast forward to 2013, it appears that this policy went out of the window in an unapproved by any “change of policy” to exterminate 220 geese in two parks ; one where the now parks manager lives, and his son of the same name is project manager of the other.
They think people have short memories.
The committee was told that the licence that Satchwell and cullers are relying on (and which you do not have to “apply for”, was clearly aimed at reducing “the risk to public health and public safety.”
In addition to this Cabinet member Maria Crompton, in a letter to myself dated 14th August 2014 states
“it is clearly evident the numbers have significantly increased to a point where by they have become a concern to public health and public safety.”
There are clear guidance lines stipulated by Natural England that the licence should not be used as a general extermination of something seen as “a nuisance”. “Concern” is not a valid reason for killing Canada geese in itself. There needs to be proof. Dogs can be dangerous but they are not all killed. Cars can be driven out of control, alcohol can be consumed in large quantities…. you get the picture
This General licence can be read in full HERE..
“Overview of licence,
This licence permits landowners, occupiers and other authorised persons to carry out a range of otherwise prohibited activities against the species of wild birds listed on the licence. This licence may only be relied upon where the activities are carried out for the purpose of preserving public health and public safety, and users must comply with licence terms and conditions. These conditions include the requirement that the user must be satisfied that legal (including non-lethal) methods of resolving the
problem are ineffective or impracticable.”
Failure to act within the purpose of this licence as set out in paragraph 1 or failure to comply with the
terms and conditions may mean that the licence cannot be relied upon and an offence could therefore be
committed. The maximum penalty available for an offence under the Act is, at the time of the issue of
this licence, a level 5 fine (£5000) and/or a six month custodial sentence.
Issued for and on behalf of Natural England on
31st December 2013
BUT WHEN CHALLENGED AT THE SCRUTINY MEETING TO PROVE THAT THE GEESE WERE A THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND PUBLIC SAFETY, DISPATCHWELL AND CO FAILED WOEFULLY TO PROVE ANYTHING OF THE SORT.
On the issue of accidents resulting from slippage of faecal matter, an issue which Satchwell and co wanted to make a big deal out of, but only showed that they had left it there for the photo opportunity. HERE IS WHAT WAS LEARNT AT THE MEETING.
Councillor Sandars: “I see councillor Webb.”
Councillor Webb: “Thank you Chair. Question to the officers- Have there been any reported injuries of members of the public slipping on this faecal matter?”
John Satchwell : “NOT THAT I AM AWARE OF.”
LISTEN TO THIS RECORDED EVIDENCE BELOW.
On the issue of Sandwell council having any laboratory evidence to prove that they had determined direct evidence of a threat to public health and public safety from pathogens in the two parks where they carried out culling for this supposed purpose. HERE IS WHAT WAS LEARNT AT THE MEETING.
IAN CARROLL: “I would like to again stress, and I can’t stress this fundamentally enough, this general licence was applied for by the council; only allows them to do this method “to preserve public health and public safety”. Any issues regarding unsightliness, nothing to do with it whatsoever. Can I ask the officers, what laboratory evidence and analysis have Sandwell council undertaken of geese faeces on these two parks of pathogens present? Can you produce any factual evidence of pathogens in a laboratory report rather than just theoretical studies that you have found off the internet?”
John Satchwell: “THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION CHAIR IS “NO”.
LISTEN TO THIS RECORDED EVIDENCE BELOW.
- OVER 1700 PEOPLE SIGNED THIS PAPER PETITION CALLING FOR SCRUTINY- AND OVER 3000 THE ONLINE PETITION, YET SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” TOOK “NO ACTION”
- THEIR OFFICERS COULD PRODUCE NO FACTUAL OR DIRECT EVIDENCE OF HARM FROM GOOSE DROPPINGS IN THE TWO SANDWELL PARKS, YET SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” TOOK “NO ACTION”
- NO LABORATORY EVIDENCE OF ANY PATHOGENS IN ANY GOOSE DROPPINGS THAT THE OFFICERS OF THE COUNCIL POINT TO, YET SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” TOOK “NO ACTION”
- NO MEASURABLE OR DOCUMENTED CASES OF A SINGLE PERSON BECOMING ILL AS A RESULT OF CONTACT WITH CANADA GEESE OR THEIR FAECES IN SANDWELL, YET SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” TOOK “NO ACTION.”
- NO PROVABLE ACCIDENTS HAVE TAKEN PLACE AS A RESULT OF SLIPPING ON GOOSE DROPPINGS, YET SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” TOOK “NO ACTION.”
- NO EVIDENCE OF ANY PERSON BEING ATTACKED BY GEESE IN SANDWELL, YET SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” TOOK “NO ACTION”.
- NO EVDIENCE AT ALL THAT THE 220 GEESE MURDERED UNDER THE LICENCE WERE “A THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND PUBLIC SAFETY” , YET SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” TOOK “NO ACTION.”
SO SANDWELL LABOUR “SCRUTINY” APPEAR TO TAKE ACTION ON THE BASIS OF VISIBLE MESS AND MEASUREMENTS OF COUNTING A SINGLE SPECIES , BELIEVING THAT NUMBERS INCREASE THE “RISK” TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND PUBLIC SAFETY, WHEN THEIR OFFICERS HAVE UTTERLY FAILED TO PROVE THAT A SINGLE BIRD IS ANY RISK AT ALL.
THEY ALSO APPEAR TO TAKE ACTION ON A FEW OF THEIR SUPPORTING SHILLS GETTING HOT UNDER THE COLLAR ABOUT A NON EXISTANT “RISK” PRESENTED AS SUCH WITHOUT ANY PROOF, BECAUSE THOSE INDIVIDUALS LIKE THEMSELVES ARE PREJUDICED TOWARDS A SINGLE SPECIES WITHOUT APPARENTLY BEING ABLE TO EXPLAIN “WHY?”
“DIRTY”, “TOO MANY”, “AGGRESSIVE” – ALL NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES THAT DO NOT JUSTIFY A CULLING POLICY ON THE BASIS THAT SANDWELL COUNCIL CARRIED OUT THE CULL. THE GEESE ARE NOT A THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND PUBLIC SAFETY, AND SANDWELL LABOUR SCRUTINY HAS ONLY SUCCEEDED TO SHOW THAT THEIR OFFICERS HAD NO EVDIDENCE ON WHICH TO BASE THEIR DECISIONS, ONLY PREJUDICE OF ONE TARGET SPECIES.
WE WILL BE TAKING ACTION BY WRITING TO NATURAL ENGLAND AND DEFRA WITH A RECORDING OF THE MEETING, AS TO HOW SANDWELL COUNCIL Failed to act within the purpose of this licence as set out in paragraph 1 and failed to comply with the terms and conditions meaning that the licence cannot be relied upon.