An important announcement in this campaign, now a year old since we learned of Sandwell council officers lies and deception and that this council had conspired to murder 220 geese in two of its green flag parks. This is unquestionably avian cleansing, at first denied with lies of “relocation” and then justified with smears that when questioned do not stand up to scrutiny, yet “no action” taken to look at the officer lies and deception or investigate it from Sandwell council’s so called “scrutiny” committee.
Pivotal to several sources of misinformation about the geese has been compiled by Sandwell’s Director of Neighbourhoods Adrian Scarrott. He has selectively released information on a drip feed basis in order to neutralise scrutiny of his department’s decisions and has wilfully delayed responses that I have asked for over several issues.
Principally he delayed sending out the independent investigators report (completed 11th February 2015), (sent out by him on 23rd March 2015) which confirmed that John Satchwell and others had admitted lying about the cull till after that same officer had been answering questions under scrutiny at our petition hearing (on 25th February 2015).
One would think it important that such an officer who admitted lying would be given a grilling by a scrutiny committee, but alas Scarrott and co assured that this key report was not released before this in order that he wouldn’t.
The latest stalling tactic involved a response to me asking questions which I posed in an email dated 28th June 2015. Note that the council are supposed to respond within 20 working days, yet this has taken over two months just for this formal answer, dated 26th August 2015. I had previously asked the questions via telephone conversations with his secretary as well as other scrutiny officers who claimed to not have the answers. I don’t know who really does in this council because they appear to make it up as they go along, digging holes and then backpedalling in the hope that someone behind them has filled them in.
This is the response from Scarrott, which confirms that no geese will be killed this year. I have of course heard this story before, and so I treat it with the scepticism and suspicion as should everyone else reading this should. What is also revealed is that for some reason the two parks in question and none of the others it seems are subject to a “consultation” on how geese are to be managed. Why these two parks have been singled out again is not revealed though of course it should be restated that the parks manager lives in one with his son as “project manager” of the other. It would be nice to believe that decisions were made on scientific evidence rather than family ties and nepotism, but I know that this is not the case with this local authority shambles.
A Freedom of information request for this report referred to stated that it could not be found. This I find impossible to believe and the reason stated for not keeping it questionable. That the council retains minutes, yet not the reports referred to within them appears highly unlikely. Reports are usually found within the council minutes.
The letter includes the minutes from January 13th 1997. It was around this time that reports in the local media suggested a cull of geese, and myself amongst others wrote to the council at the time receiving this response from Paul Cosgrove. This stated that the council would be continuing with egg pricking. “It has at no time been the Local Authority’s intention to pursue any other policy..”
It should be noted that as revealed in this post that Chairman of the Leisure committee at the time was Friar Park Councillor Geoff Lewis– an angler. That the committee decided to try and convince people of “the problems caused” by the birds is also perhaps not surprising given that they obviously spoil the fishing of his mates.
- What is revealed here is that egg pricking was accepted as the method for controlling the goose numbers- and therefore formed Council policy.
- That it would be the task of Sandwell’s countryside rangers to prick the eggs on Sandwell’s sites.
- That this work would be undertaken during a two week period over a number of years.
The second paragraph needs to be explored in detail. In the absence of the report it would appear that the only method of noting “alarming” increase in flock numbers would be to have undertaken some form of count at each site. In the absence of the report we conveniently do not have such numbers, which of course allows this council to speculate that the numbers have increased. THEY HAVE NOT. Indeed how could they IF the countryside rangers had been carrying out egg pricking during a two week period over several years?
If the council thought they were being clever here in trying to argue that they have not in fact breached their existing policy, then they have once again shot themselves in the foot by not being able to produce a report which justifies the caveat which they may now be relying on. I would hope the Local Government Ombudsman is not so easily hoodwinked by a change of policy without consultation, as has been admitted by Sandwell’s monitoring officer, Neeraj Sharma.
- There is no mention of this report or the minutes of this committee at all in John Satchwell’s 2013 report entitled “options for the reduction in Canada geese numbers in Urban parks”,
- No mention of it in Adrian Scarrott/Steve Handley’s rebuttal of our petition
- No mention of it in the information supposedly relayed by the council to the so called “independent investigator” who found that the council had supposedly followed a process- when in fact they had not followed their existing policy.
The only conclusion one can draw from this is that the report, whoever wrote it, had been forgotten.
The last sentence states “consideration be given to the total removal and human dispatch of those flocks.”
This is absolute nonsense. Why would “the total removal” be justified in an increase in numbers? This is clear extermination of an entire species without justification, and could not be supported by the general licences that Natural England supposedly govern. There appears to be little understanding of goose movements or behaviour by the author of the report and by the councillors on this committee.
The third minute of this report basically involves council taxpayer funded propaganda for tackling Lewis’ spoilt fishing days out.
So once again it is time to gear up for confrontation with Sandwell council concerning potential goose culls in 2016. We need your support as do the geese. We need to be ready when the council come out with the wording of their “consultation” and respond to it that no culls of adult birds will be acceptable.