Save Smethwick’s park birds petition

With the continuing issues surrounding bird deaths at the three parks in Smethwick following the raw sewage pollution caused by Severn Trent Water, two petitions are currently being circulated. The first is a paper petition which will be handed in to Sandwell council, calling on them to take urgent action to remove the toxic threat in the sediment and silt at Smethwick Hall Park (Stony Lane). They have to remove the silt , but in a responsible way, but unfortunately are continuing to procrastinate about contractors. How long does it take to get three quotes exactly? Three months- I don’t bloody think so!

Unfortunately due to the recently announced general election, the date of the next cabinet petitions committee will be pushed back to December instead of November- due to purdah. This is unfortunate but means that there is still time for local people and park users to sign. Contact the facebook page if you are able to help here.

The second petition is an online petition that anyone can sign, and will be sent to Severn Trent. It is likely at some point that there will be a demonstration outside their headquarters in Coventry, should they continue to shrug their shoulders and attempt to avoid responsibility for this environmental disaster, of which they are the major cause. We already know that they have a dire environmental record of faecal assaults on the West midlands environment. 

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HERE IS THE DIRECT LINK TO SIGN THIS PETITION WHICH WILL BE SENT TO LIV GARFIELD- CEO OF SEVERN TRENT.

In my enthusiasm to set up the petition, I unfortunately mistook her for the elf from The Lord of The Rings.  😳 This is now corrected, but still appears on the link. Still , it would be cool if Liv Tyler actually did sign the petition.  😮

In just a week we are at 500 signatures. Here below are just some of the reasons why people have signed. A big thankyou to all those who have signed and shared via social media. please continue to do so, and if there are any twitter users who can share the link to the petition, I would be grateful.

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“It is our duty to respect and protect animals and nature! They, too, have a soul. They, too, have the right to have a healthy life on this planet. In that a nature. You know it? You are humans, be human. Take, finally, your responsibility and react, please.   Stop this suffering towards animals and nature! Civilize? It’s sad to sign petitions. Thank you.”

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A special mention must be given to Lindsay from Linjoy wildlife rescue who has done a great job in helping recent birds we picked up from the two parks recover. As she says, if the effort is made , it is possible to save lives. You could do that by signing our petition. Thankyou.  😀 

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Save Smethwick’s park birds!

When I last updated on this terrible situation at Smethwick Hall park, Sandwell council had put off taking action- to desilt the pool, for receipt of information from post mortem results on the birds taken to the APHA at Shrewsbury, and for the Environment Agency tests on the silt and the water in the pool. This followed the meeting of July 18th.

These results are now in, yet there appears to be continued no action from SMBC, and one has to wonder why? I will look at these issues in this post.

What is clear from the post mortems is that there is inconsistency in “cause” of death, but suspicion that these deaths are botulism related. At this point it is important to stress that this illness is caused by poor water conditions and circulation, as well as contamination.

The Severn Trent raw sewage that went into the pool, combined with the lack of remedial management of this pool by SMBC is the cause of the problem. It is also worth stating that Severn Trent employees who attended the meeting were lying about the “improved” water quality at the pool. From the EA results, it is proven that this simply is a pack of lies from these multiple polluting corporate charlatans.

As will  also be revealed, the situation has now got worse in that birds from West Smethwick park have now been affected, including a family of much loved swans. The issues at Victoria Park have also not gone away, and whilst the situation at Stony Lane remains in “shitu” , all birds on these parks and beyond are at risk.

 

BIRD POST MORTEM RESULTS.

SMBC provided me with a list of birds that they had picked up dead from Smethwick Hall Park. Following the installation of the “bird cage” to keep the creatures out of the contaminated raw sewage area off Margaret Gardens where it had entered, the number being picked up dead and being seen ill started to fall- particularly in the geese. I would state that this is due to them no longer being able to access the contaminated area so easily, though contamination in the main body of water would still be present.


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17th July 2019                   7  x geese

17th July 2019                   1 x goose

18th July 2019                   1 x goose

24th July 2019                   2 x geese            1 x duck

25th July 2019                   10 x geese          1 x coot

26th July 2019                   2 x geese

Fence erected

29th July 2019                   2 x geese

30th July 2019                   1 x goose

5th August 2019               3 x geese

15th August 2019             1 x duck

16th August 2019             1 x goose            2 x ducks

I would add to these figures, that myself and an associate removed 5 ill geese from the pool which were taken to a rescue centre. Three of these survived with treatment to make a full recovery. 

Unfortunately smaller birds– mallards and coots are still able to enter the vile shallow contaminated area.

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All of the birds that can access this area are in serious danger, and are capable of flying out to other sites and causing problems there.

 

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Certainty of contamination with raw sewage!

It is highly conceivable that these birds that had ingested material contaminated with botulism and could and still can fly to other sites. Birds at Victoria park , where there had been a noticeable lull in deaths started to occur again after the raw sewage pollution and the deaths on site at Smethwick Hall. It would be remiss not to link the obvious connections given that the two pools are less than  a mile apart.

Unfortunately it appears that only a small number of the birds seen to be dead during the early stages of this problem made it to Shrewsbury for post mortem! The quality of their remains being sent for investigation is another issue- particularly it seems when they are being stored in the council’s waste freezer at Shidas Lane as was the case with birds last year from Victoria Park. This submission, APHA reference 26-B0090-07-19 consisted of two geese, a duck, and remains that were not really identifiable. They were also frozen, so were not freshy dead when reported on 11th July 2019. I.E PRIOR TO THE LIST THAT I HAD BEEN PROVIDED WITH BY SMBC. FURTHER NOTE THE DATES OF BIRDS PICKED UP IN THE SUBSEQUENT SUBMISSIONS FROM VICTORIA PARK. 

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It is notable that the APHA again included the link to their “avian botulism” management guidance.


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Subsequent supplemental reports confirmed no evidence of AI. No evidence of salmonella and no evidence of West Mile virus. They also said

“We will send a sample for a botulinum toxin ELISA test but due to the state of preservation of the carcases, false negative results are a possibility.”

This test proved negative for the tested birds, with the caveat about the condition received noted.

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I have sort clarification from SMBC as to what happened to the many birds retrieved by SMBC staff in the supplied list between July and August. I have to date received nothing from them which leads me to believe that these birds never made it out of the Shidas Lane freezer!

This, if confirmed, is a disgusting lack of action by this council, and I would remind people of the comments made publicly by two cabinet members when this story was first raised. Claims about wanting to find out what was causing the deaths of the birds is just not accurate when they have failed to even allow them to be post mortemed.

“Councillor Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for safer communities, said: “Unfortunately a number of birds have died at Smethwick Hall Park.

“I am very concerned that we get to the root cause of this as a matter of urgency.”” 

Really?

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I have also had sight of comments made by Councillor Wasim Ali about “taking birds to Shrewsbury” from someone else who had made him aware of the situation. I will update this post with a screenshot when I have this.

Two further submissions from Victoria Park in the same month were more compelling.

APHA Ref. No. 26-B0118-07-19

On 15/07/2019 a moorhen was submitted. NB- This was four days after SMBC had picked up the dead birds at the raw sewage polluted Smethwick Hall park. 

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Subsequent supplemental reports confirmed no salmonella present.

A fourth report however finally confirmed that this bird HAD tested positive for botulinum testing. 


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A further mixed species submission was made on 18/7/19NB This was a week after the birds seen dead at Smethwick Hall were submitted and 3 days after the moorhen at Victoria Park- confirmed to have tested positive for botulinum testing. 

APHA Ref. No. 26-B0130-07-19

This consisted of 3 geese, 1 tufted duck, three mallards, a coot and one unidentifiable bird carcass. These were numbered as follows. It is vital to note the condition of birds 5, 6 and 7- smaller birds (2 ducks and the coot), that were found to contain maggots. It is clear that these birds had been dead in the water for at least a few days- perfect conditions for spreading botulism. 


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The two young geese were suspected to be suffering from “a viral infection”

 

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A subsequent report looked further into the birds able to be taken forward for testing.

 

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No west nile virus was detected, but crucially the test in this young goose (bird 2) confirmed botulism present.


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I believe that after the Smethwick Hall Park pollution, the ducks and coot and moorhen had flown to Victoria Park, or at least one of them. When they died in the water and were left there for  a period of time, the maggots produced would pass on the toxin and be ingested by the other birds.

I would note the following recently published article from the  Veterinary Record from Paul Holmes of the APHA. NB Paul Holmes is the VIO who has post mortemed many of the birds sent from Sandwell’s pools at Shrewsbury, and I am in regular contact with him about this situation.

The following points in this article are relevant to the situation at Smethwick Hall Park and also to the environmental conditions found in this raw sewage contaminated lake. It is interesting to note from Paul Holmes’ article that the majority of birds with botulism are from “urban parks, canals and reservoirs”. I would add that it is potentially being caused by water company pollution issues such as the proven one at SHP.

“Environmental changes resulting in eutrophic (with low dissolved oxygen) water conditions, linked with suitable substrate, can promote toxin production by the bacteria. For example, raised ambient temperatures, poor water quality, fluctuating water levels leading to shallow stagnant areas and warming of the soil and sediment can promote toxin production….

…Unfortunately, carcases received for postmortem examination are often poorly preserved due to the difficulty of locating them and the time required for transportation to the laboratory. Avian botulism is difficult to diagnose as there are no gross or microscopic diagnostic lesions caused by the disease, but postmortem examination of birds is essential to rule out other possible diseases.

Typically, birds are found dead in relatively good body condition but with no evidence of recent feeding. Diagnostic tests for botulinum toxin are not routinely performed due to the quality of many of the birds received and difficulty of detecting toxin in the carcases. A presumptive diagnosis can be made when there are typical clinical signs reported and the absence of other causes of death.”

ENVIRONMENT AGENCY- SILT AND WATER TESTS. 

I submitted a freedom of information request to the EA to obtain these results, and to ascertain the quality of the sediment and the water. It is worth stating that both SMBC and STW had been sent these results in advance of my request and that they had not been shared with local residents who attended the meeting at the park when the EA took them. But no comment it appears from either of these organisations so far in the significance of the results. Why?

The results supplied by the EA show that raw sewage did enter the water, and was still present when the meeting took place, despite the false claims of STW in the press about improved water quality. At the meeting, some individual from STW claimed to have taken readings at the pool to demonstrate improved water quality, yet the EA results taken on the same day disprove this liar and his company totally. Severn Trent water and their staff are making up results, and this should serve as a wake up call to regulators and politicians about how water companies cannot continue to mark their own work, and hide their raw sewage pollution with lying figures such as in this case.

The sediment results can be viewed HERE, and the locations of samples taken in the map.

The water sample results can be viewed HERE, and the locations of samples taken in the map.

I had hoped to speak to an EA spokesman for clarification on these results before posting this post, but I feel it important to post it now and will add the comments at a later date. What is clear is that human raw sewage was detected as well as bird faecal matter as would be expected. Salmonella and E Coli were also detected, though it should be noted that none of the post mortemed birds tested positive for these illnesses.

Raw sewage cannot have a good effect on water quality, and the fact that the EA have not carried out any further tests is again worrying and it is obviously still in the pool- thus the water quality is not going to magically improve is it?

I would remind people that during this raw sewage pollution incident, SMBC failed to inform the public pf the risk, and that several children were seen “playing in the mud” as the council referred to it as!

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A risk to human health not managed by Sandwell council

NO FOI RESPONSE FROM SANDWELL COUNCIL

I have still to receive any acknowledgement  to the request I made to SMBC regards their inspections of the pool at Smethwick Hall Park. I believe they are delaying this because it would show that the poor water quality and blocked outfall resulting in the dire and stagnant conditions HAD been flagged for many weeks to months, yet management had not acted. When they did kneejerk react and unblock the outfall- an absolutely and catastrophic management decision, it resulted in the disastrous lowering of the water levels and fluctuation to allow the birds access to the still contaminated raw sewage laden silt off Margaret Gardens where it was allowed to bake in the Summer sun.

I will now be forced once again to go out of my way and make a complaint to the ICO, but this will be a very strongly worded letter, showing just how Sandwell’s FOI officers are failing to do their jobs properly and comply with the law regarding FOI. I am not the only person who has had issues with FOI in Sandwell

WEST SMETHWICK PARK AND THE RSPCA

The communication from officers at the RSPCA who took away, euthanised and retrieved dead and ill birds has been none existent, and I would add professionally rude. They have contributed nothing to the evidence base regards figures as to what they have picked up, how many birds survived, and if any of these were post mortemed, despite my emails and phone calls to their national control centre. I have no idea why this is the case, if they care, but I am pursuing a complaint to their HQ in Sussex.

The continuing situation at SHP and Victoria Park and the subsequent flight of birds at the end of the moult is suspected of leading to the situation on the third of Smethwick’s parks- West Smethwick Park– just a quarter of a mile away from SHP. This site has had a long history of breeding swans, with high numbers of offspring produced- in fact one year a record 10 cygnets. They were much loved by local residents and park users in The Friends group.

On the late bank holiday of August, it appears that one dead cygnet had been picked up by SMBC, with another reported to be ill. It was reported that the swan was showing the same clinical signs as seen at the other two parks, so was suspected of having botulism. SMBC claim that the RSPCA picked up the ill cygnet and took it away. They further allege that the ACO who picked up this swan stated that the RSPCA would remove the swans from the lake- due to the obvious threat that they were now in.

Over the next few weeks this did not happen. On 16th September, I received a call from an SMBC manager to say that there was another ill cygnet on the pool. There was also a dead coot in the water, and another bird that was remains that had sunk- hence the dead birds being present in the water, that had probably come from Smetwhick Hall Park. The following day when SMBC launched a boat, they reported picking up a further 2 dead coots, off the island, and three dead mallards.

The cygnet was caught by myself on the day it was reported and the RSPCA ACO took it away. Despite having all of our phone numbers, he did not get back to any of us as to where the cygnet was taken and what had happened to it. The SMBC manager again reminded him of what he had earlier said about removing all of the swans to prevent them from the obvious threat that they were now in. This left a pair of swans and three remaining cygnets.

On Friday 20th September 2019 the remaining swans from the swan family on this pool  were all on still present. On Saturday 21st September the council state that  “the RSPCA were called out.  They retrieved 1 x dead parent and 1 x dead cygnet.  They also took 1 x poorly cygnet to Vale Wildlife Centre for treatment (we are awaiting an update from RSPCA as to the health of this cygnet).  ”

I was unaware of this when visiting the park on the following day Sunday 22nd September.   The remaining female parent and cygnet were dead.  These were collected by an associate of mine and taken to SMBC at Shidas Lane Depot on Monday 23rd September 2019 for the council to take them for post mortem. He had offered to take them to Shrewsbury if the council would not take them.

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These two birds are currently undergoing post mortem tests, though it is unclear as to if any of the other birds from either this site, or Smethwick Hall even made it there- as evidenced by the email below!

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No further communication from the RSPCA has been forthcoming. More dead coots have also been reported at West Smethwick to myself by a member of the friends group, and it is again unclear as to what SMBC have done with these. Clearly, if we are ever going to establish the truth of this, then SMBC will have to honour the statements that its politicians have made publicly , or risk looking like they could care less.

A recent Express and Star article quotes Maria Crompton as stating that the council would be pressing ahead with desilting the issue at Smethwick Hall Park- and I’ll believe that when I see it as no time scale is offered. It is further stated that they expect Severn Trent Water to reimburse them for this work- I will believe that when I see it also, as to date this inept lying water polluter has done it can via its dishonest lying staff to conceal their major part in this wildfowl genocide.

“We are actively seeking a resolution to this matter and will continue to do so. It is the responsibility of Severn Trent to address any contamination entering the pool and when this has been rectified we shall seek appropriate reimbursement for any remedial work required.”

Continue to seek a resolution, or actually ACT to resolve it?

It should never be forgotten that this was the council who in 2013/14 rounded up and murdered 220 geese and lied about it. One wonders if this episode has just been a convenient way of offloading a few more whilst they “seek a resolution” that never ends. 

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If you are reading this and live in the Smethwick area, please make people aware of the situation at Stony Lane and impress on Sandwell council the urgent need to take action at this site to save Smethwick’s park birds. 

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Subject access request- goose revelations, fireworks and more

I recently submitted a Subject Access Request  (SAR) to Sandwell council. This is something that anyone can do in relation to authorities that hold personal information about you as a data subject, and is a provision of The Freedom of Information Act.

This offers a broad brush of potential information, so you are invited to try to narrow it down. One of the subjects that I put forward was about Sandwell’s goose cull of 2013-14 and the campaign resulting in The Local Government Ombudsman decision ruling which upheld my complaint in respect of several parks officers in Sandwell council, as well as their contractor who lied about what they had done. I was awarded the sum of £150, but declined this returning the cheque to then chief executive Jan Britton, who has now left the council after years of truly disastrous control.

As part of this request I asked for all communications and attachments held in respect of this involving elected members and named council officers.

The majority of the information eventually supplied to me by the council, and after serious delay by them on this subject and others, appears to consist mainly of emails that I sent to them, but with all the names redacted of whom they were sent to. This is fairly pointless, given that I still hold all of the emails that I ever sent them going back nearly a decade.

Unfortunately, Sandwell council have redacted all names on the emails about me between officers and members, to prevent me identifying who sent them. I also believe that I have not been given all of the communications by them by any means. I will be appealing this , as there are some aspects which appear to warrant “personal injustice”.

Sandwell council try to cover up.

Back in August 2014, when I had released the film of  Pestex undertaking a round up in 2013, (having been told by them and 4 other Sandwell council officers at that time ) that they had been released at the Sandwell Valley), I put in a freedom of information request concerning missing geese at Victoria Park Tipton.

I attempted to find out what had happened only to be lied to again by parks manager John Satchwell, in a phone call which also saw him making veiled verbal threats against me. These were reported to the council via appropriate channels, and you would expect them to be dealt with under the complaints process.

It became clear only after the FOI had been published and a news story broke and became viral, that SMBC had some hasty explaining to do. The council’s  explanation as to why they had carried out the cull in these two green flag parks, with the personal vested interests left out  in those explanations concerning the then parks manager, were obviously then released to widespread derision and ridicule.

This conversation below , now released publicly for the first time shows the questions that The Birmingham Mail reporter asked SMBC , and also their response. It appears to show someone in SMBC, presumably from their communication spin doctor (liars) department.

The Birmingham Mail , after being contacted by myself, asks the question as I did at the time, as to why SMBC had posted the FOI response to my house, rather than on the whatdotheyknow.com website, where it was publicly available. I stated that this was deliberate to avoid being made public knowledge, i.e in order to protect the council liars.

This email appears to confirm that they were quite aware that the response HAD NOT been posted to whatdotheyknow, and instructs that someone uploads it. The email also states that “this could run”- which of course it did, way beyond the negative reaction that SMBC envisaged!

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I have to say that this is a rare example of good local journalism, and unlike that so often given in The Express and Star involving Sandwell council, (see further below in this post )where responses are merely printed as factual and not questioned.

I then asked reasonable questions of the council and appeared on Radio WM , as well as the story going National when the video of pestex rounding up birds was released.

This was obviously a game changer to the council who were by now aware that a major petition was underway to call officer actions to account under scrutiny. As I learned at the time, this was the first time that a petition calling for this had ever been put in to Sandwell’s Labour council.

A bonkers SMBC letter defending the cull and revealing how little they knew

This email was written in September 2014 when the council were on the ropes in terms of the pathetic excuses given for culling the geese. I am not sure if it was written to Animal Aid or another swan rescue organisation, but from the start it swerves answering staright questions. Given that it refers to a letter that I received, this can only have been written by Maria Crompton, or at least briefed for her.  This letter was dated 14th August, so just a month before.

  • How can “distress” be measured, when no one from SMBC was even present at either the round up or the cull? The birds were clearly in distress when I filmed them being contained in the horsebox.
  • Questions of “experience” reveal a great deal, as is the fact that the SMBC respondent wasn’t there at the culling. See highlighted in red.
  • The reference to human spittle was the fact that one of the pestex employees spat on the grass at Victoria Park Tipton, and can be seen on the video.
  • They cannot answer which sexes were left behind at the site, nor indeed if mates and family groups were split in this random “distressing” episode.
  • “There is clear evidence that particularly during the breeding season Canada Geese can be very aggressive and do harm other waterfowl. Whilst I have not witnessed this myself I am reliably informed that this does happen.”

Where do you even start with this one! No “clear evidence” is presented that Canada geese harm other waterfowl, because none exists. In fact it is the opposite, with swans attacking Canada geese throughout the life cycle. The author states they have not witnessed this themselves but are “reliably informed” that this does happen. By whom, I wonder- the same council officer liars who made up statistics and rubbish to justify a cull and then lied about this repeatedly?

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  • Once again, where is the “clear evidence”?
  • Muscovy ducks are of course a “non native species” just as Canada geese are termed. SMBC had ludicrously appeared to have suggested that these had been displaced by the geese, but who had illegally put them there to start with never addressed. One hopes not Sandwell council.
  • In terms of the young goslings, the author of the letter has already stated that they were not present at the cull.

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  • I would point out that at no time did I tell the newspapers that I had seen young goslings being rounded up. I supplied them with several pictures, one of which was of young goslings taken at Dartmouth Park just a few years earlier. This was quite purposeful, as it proved the fact that they were not pricking eggs (see above), and that if SMBC  had an issue on numbers then there was “clear evidence” that this was a problem that they had let happen. The goslings featured in the picture on this website header were geese in Dartmouth park that would have been likely to have been amongst those rounded up and killed by Sandwell council. I cannot say for sure what was rounded up at Dartmouth park (including goslings) as I was not there- and neither of course as we know was anyone from SMBC.

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Juvenile Canada goose goslings at Dartmouth Park taken 16th July 2011.

 

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A Freedom of information confirmation that SMBC staff were not present at the cull- on SMBC property, and no contract with Pestex. 

This email refers to an FOI request that I made about SMBC’S relationship with Pestex and an internal review due to them not answering the questions. I won’t go over this again, as it has been covered HERE. What this email confirms is that in preparing the answer, SMBC were really not up to speed on what to say.

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Darren Cooper’s diktat

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As can clearly be seen already in this post, and throughout the report The prejudiced lie written in direct response to the council’s cull, SMBC’s logic behind it and actions were objectionable and misguided. Their evidence was far from “clear”.  These deserved adequate scrutiny and investigation.

The former Leader of this council , Darren Cooper said nothing publicly about the cull at all for several months. He left it to others to face the flack, yet when he responded to a campaigner who wrote to him stated the following, that it was he and his cabinet that had taken the decision.

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This would drop him personally in the shit as it subsequently appeared that no decision at any meeting had ever been recorded and no record of this meeting exists. I still hold the opinion that this was because Cooper was lying to protect Satchwell and no “political decision” was ever made, just an officer one.

It could however confirm that Cooper did not want his personal involvement and wrong doing uncovered , and so ordered the diktat below.

From the SAR, an email which SMBC have purposefully blanked out to disguise who sent it shows the little Hitler dictator author instructing others , probably officers, to not have any contact with myself only through him or her. He or she further then states that I should be treated as “vexatious”. No evidence of vexatious behaviour is provided with the email, because none existed to back up the statement. IT WAS A PURE ATTEMPT BY ONE INDIVIDUAL AT GATEKEEPING POLITICAL AND OFFICER CORRUPTION WITHIN SANDWELL COUNCIL.

I believe the author of this ,due to the abysmal mixing of “is” for “his” to be the said moronic Darren Cooper . Seen here is a direct example of how this gutless, fat yellow coward used public servants and tax payer’s money to do his bidding, and to cover up lies that he knew had been told by his corrupt parks officers, and also most laughably in the process, not even able get his diktat right. 😆 Such a great socialist, but one in true action.

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“I do (not) want any conversations being had with him by any officer without informing me or (blank) in the first instance.”

I believe the blank name to be “Jan” , as in Jan Britton, his right hand man in covering up the wrongdoing in SMBC.

Cooper’s actions here are unlawful and without mandate. That any officer of the council complied with such as unilateral a decision would make them as corrupt as he was if they carried them out.

I am not clear if this “vexation policy” was ever introduced against me, though this email in itself was never passed to the LGO in my complaint to them, presumably because she would have come back with the observation “please provide examples of Mr Carroll’s “vexatious” behaviour and your “vexation policy”. 

It is clear here that the author of this email was attempting to cause me personal injustice in getting to the truth of the council officers lies, and theirs, and the unrecorded political decision that never existed in record.

DARREN COOPER=DEAD CORRUPT LABOUR AMATEUR POLITICIAN AND COUNCIL LEADER. 

Brunswick park bonfire cover up

Another example of Darren Coopers’s lies when council leader occurred again to protect Satchwell and his council’s wrongdoing in the event that left several people injured in 2015.

I have detailed how this event unfolded and the subsequent lies of Cooper repeated faithfully in The Express and Star without question. At this point I would add to this that a former E/S journalist told me that Cooper had personally threatened the Express and Star after he had become leader with pulling all SMBC council  advertising with the paper unless they started to print more favourable news coverage of SMBC and its actions. I have no doubt that this was true and have no reason to doubt this journalist.

Did this have any impact with the hierarchy of the paper? Many people have commented elsewhere as to how they covered Cooper and his regime in many subsequent news stories. When I asked SMBC via an FOI as to how much they had paid MNA media/Express and Star during the particular reign of the “supreme” leader, they were completely unable to provide evidence of what they had actually paid them  for!

“The invoices we receive are from MNA and we are then able to identify which of these relate to Express and Star. For 2014/15 total spend on MNA Invoices was £72,190.02 – this amount includes £15,661.08 of Express and Star invoices.”

One hopes that it was not for printing “good news” and or gatekeeping bad news like the absolute inaccurate and falsified pack of bullshit  lies below, which still appears on their website!

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I submitted a freedom of information request about this incident after receiving specific information about it; obviously Cooper’s diktat had not worked and one officer in particular was widely despised by many staff in his command.  😮 😮  😮

This is the internal email that refers to my request.

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Not sure why the author of the email felt the need to put several exclamation marks after my name, but thanks, I take it as a compliment.   

In the particular case of the Brunswick park Bonfire, there were serious editorial failures in the press reports of accuracy involving the known lies that Cooper was making about the “rogue firework”- after he would have known that the council officer in question and the firework company had gone ahead with the display knowing full well that they were not complying with  published guidance and health and safety laws. He knew that one officer had stated that they would “take the responsibility for what happened.”

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The subsequent email below I believe to be written by John Satchwell and possibly to Maria Crompton, the cabinet member at the time.

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The response to the request was sent to whatdotheyknow by Lynn Floyd, who I believe was Satchwell’s secretary at the time. It is incredible that he was the one dealing with the request knowing what it contained, and this is obviously expressed in this email. The fact that legal services were asked about it is presumably an attempt to ask them if there was any way of dodging answering the request- presumably through the process of caveats within the FOI regime. Obviously there weren’t.

The bombshell in this is the statement “WE STILL DO HAVE FOUR CLAIMS PENDING FOLLOWING THE INCIDENT.”

Presumably Cooper would also have been aware of this, as would many other staff, and no doubt the lies that appeared in the press both from him and the SMBC  spin doctors were a direct attempt to stop the people injured from making such claims and establishing the truth, or the public from finding out about it. SHAME ON ALL THOSE WHO WENT ALONG WITH THIS FRAUDULENT DECEPTION.

SMBC’s ignorance of wildlife and pesticide legislation.

The background to this foi request can be read HERE, concerning what I observed two smbc pest control operatives doing in Victoria Park Smethwick, and in particular several failures to adhere to correct pesticide legislation and use.

Question 3 and the published foi request response from smbc stated that

“3. Are rodenticides / chemicals used near children’s play areas, areas of open water or are there any areas where they are restricted from use- and for what reasons? 

“Rodenticides are always placed in a safe location, by trained operatives based on a site specific risk assessment and depending on the nature of rodent activity in the area. Rodents are often attracted to water sources so it may be appropriate to bait adjacent to this area but all reasonable steps are taken to protect non-target species.   All rodenticides are used strictly in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines, particularly in relation to health and safety. Other than the precautions referred to above, there are no restrictions on the location where rodenticides are used.  “ ”

The internal email relating to the answering the request is quite staggering in that whoever wrote this in relation to non target species i.e those protected in law by the Wildlife and Countryside Act states  “I’ve made a few small changes, but in the answer to question 3 I’ve have added a reference to taking all reasonable precautions to protect non-target species. Given Mr Carroll’s interest in wildfowl, I think it would be useful to be able to say  this if we are confident that it is true”

Well I certainly hope that they are “confident”! 

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Make no mistake, there is much missing from this subject access request and what I asked for, particularly involving a matter of fraud that I reported within the parks department. An internal review will hopefully reveal much more, or if not the information commissioner’s office. SMBC have form for trying to cover things up. 

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Severn Trent Water’s longstanding pollution shame

Ever since the privatisation of water in  1989 , this company based in Coventry and serving a large proportion of the West Midlands has had a dire record of polluting Rivers, canals and pools with human excrement. They also claim to not be responsible for “third party misconnections” which pollute from their apparatus into waterways.

The issues at Smethwick Hall Park recently prompted me to look back at this company’s greatest shits collection. But first from their annual report for last year their claimed mission statement about “building a lasting water legacy” which delivers….. “environmental leadership.”

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Last year they made over £525 million pounds.
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An article from The Sandwell Evening Mail of 11th February 1989 reveals how millions of gallons of sewage polluted the River Stour at Kidderminster. Whatever the dodgy explanation offered for their failure to prevent this contamination, it is the denials at the end of the piece which leaves the worst taste in the mouth, and similar to those that Severn Trent have made about the water quality at Smethwick, in that they did not think this human excrement would have a harmful effect on wildlife!


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An article below shows how the Water Act failed to stop companies like Severn Trent polluting the environment. In 1988, they are revealed to be the worst polluter in Britain with over 5,000 incidents; nearly a quarter of the year’s total. Yet prosecutions against water authorities was very poor in this year with just 307 out of 23, 952.


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If you compare these figures to the most recent from The Environment Agency, you can see how privatised water companies have not solved pollution issues. They are largely now self regulating and can disguise their pollution incidents more easily. How can anyone defend the Water Act 1989?

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Over 1600 pollution incidents in 2018-          30 years of privatised water failure.

The article below from September 1990 shows what part of the problem was, and still remains to this day. Privatisation has led to a pure drive towards share holder prosperity, as the failures of pollution and covering it up to protect these profits has soared. The former national River’s authority could not find three magistrates who were not shareholders in a case brought against the company for polluting the River Sherbourne.


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The following year in March, The Sandwell Evening Mail again reported a Severn Trent sewage pollution problem after an investigation by The Green Party. The Midland Rivers had 51 incidents of sewage pollution.


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In July of the same year, the paper also reported another sewage pollution incident on the Stourbridge Canal. The headline is totally misleading in claiming that The River Severn had been “saved”. Over 30,000 gallons of raw sewage had split into the canal. The company pumped a million gallons of this foul water into nearby fields.


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In November, another article stated that British Waterways were looking to the polluter to pay them compensation for the mile stretch of canal that they had had to pump dry. Given that fish were removed from the affected stretch of canal, the earlier claims about not causing any damage to wildlife in the previous incident are of course absolute lies.


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The following from the opening paragraph of this article from    tells you all that you need to know about Severn Trent.

“Severn Trent Water has one of the worst pollution records in Britain.”

The article also shows the dismal failure of the Water Act in that pollution by water companies had risen massively after privatisation. The obscene profits of Severn Trent and of their share holders were obviously not being pumped back into stopping the sewage issues. In addition to this, they also started to close sewage treatment works such as that in Tividale, offloading the contaminated sites to any cowboy tipper for additional profits.


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Many of the water works they had then have been flogged off for housing developments, adding to the problems of new estates causing “misconnections”

More recent incidents of Severn Trent pollution are not hard to find.

Their pollution of Sutton Park led to a massive fine- £500,000, but again took years to bring to court. 

Also take for example this incident reported in The Express and Star from 2009 about 30 miles of canal being affected with 1000’s of fish deaths in Wolverhampton. 

Just a couple of years later, the same Severn Trent pumping station caused the issue again.

And as if things were not smelly enough in Wolverhampton, a brook course very similar to the one that is seeing raw sewage pollution going into it and out of the Smethwick Hall pool as well as “misconnections” occurred in 2017. 

All of these incidents, both historic and in more recent times show that this water company cannot be trusted to protect the environment. They are a serial environmental damager and launch faecal assaults on the waterways of The West Midlands on a regular basis. Worse still are their claims of not causing any damage and living in denial.

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It can only be hoped that someone in Government puts an end to this obscene share holder driven pumping of profits and renationalises the water industry. 
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“The perfect storm”… of human incompetence and failure

I take the first part of this title  from an SMBC employee describing events, who was present at the meeting at Smethwick Hall park regarding the appalling bird deaths following the confirmed Severn Trent Water’s contamination of the site with raw sewage .

The second part I take from direct observation and answers obtained through questions of SMBC themselves.

What is blatantly clear to even the most stringent SMBC supporter is that this site has been badly neglected for many years. Even Cabinet member Maria Crompton, who suddenly appears to have found a new appreciation for our beloved geese, has acknowledged as much and has proclaimed that she will get it sorted out.

But let’s not pretend that this situation has suddenly crept up on SMBC. It is one that must have been known about for years, by parks officers and directors, and for whatever reason ( and don’t give me any bullshit about “the cuts”), has been put off for another day.

There is more silt in this pool by volume than water. Having set waist in it myself, I know this to be the case. There was a ridiculous spectacle of swan pedallos at this site a few years ago where the real birds themselves were roped off inside the area that they now need to be kept out of.

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Picture facebook

This “fun day” event was used as a publicity vehicle for a then prospective Labour Councillor, who bizarrely would become a cabinet member for parks for a time before being ousted after making derogatory remarks about fellow councillors, including the one who is now in his stead. Then we had the useless Gavan, who paraded in front of the cameras at Victoria Park Smethwick last year following bird deaths there , blaming the hot weather, unaware that the water collapse itself was due to a collapsed Severn Trent Water asset that someone from SMBC had botch job repaired. This sets the scene of the farcical political “storm” that is Sandwell council- and the sewer swamp which unfortunately never appears any closer to draining.

The twitter picture below, a favourite tool of SMBC’s spin machine and their ex Express and Star journalists comms team, (where invariably they go to die along with reporting any vestige of the truth), shows the previous incumbent posing in a high vis vest fest, along with the failed staff and directors who apparently could not spot the silt or debris in the pool that they claimed to be doing something at during their “customer service week”.

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Talentless shit

The silt has obviously been building up with litter debris over at least 20 years. There is talk from local residents that some dredging was carried out around the early 2000’s but this was only to dig “a channel” and did not remove anything around the edges. We know from the recently obtained NIRS reports from the Environment agency that contamination from Severn Trent Water PLC has been occurring at the site since at least 2006, linked to bird deaths at the time.

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“Sounds like wrong connections, and the dead birds are a cause for concern.”

“Smethwick hall park is quite heavily polluted by wrong connections and is also covered with litter to the extent that litter is the favoured nesting material for coots, no dead birds seen at time of visit, but seven were seen during a second visit a week later”

After the discovery of the Smethwick turdberg and the raw sewage in the lake, SMBC then devised a kneejerk let’s remove the blockage disaster at the outfall from the lake. All that this achieved was to create the “perfect” breeding ground for Severn Trent’s microbes of excrement by dropping the water levels significantly to expose the turdberg to direct sunlight.

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The crud blocking the outfall was over 1 foot deep of litter and silt above the water level.

The recent hot weather and also rain has provided the final straw, but let’s not pretend that this is some “natural” event that has lead to these circumstances, it is a series of managerial failures and poor decisions made of top of these which have made the situation worse. 

I made a complaint to SMBC about this before the recent spate of deaths, particularly about the failures to clear and maintain the silt and litter situation that had built up. At this time, SMBC staff had at least acknowledged their failures of communication with regard to their contractors HILLS who were supposedly tasked with clearing out and maintaining this pool amongst others.

The official response that I got was a pack of spin doctor bollocks, which failed to acknowledge any of the statements that these same staff had made in private.

“Dear Mr Carroll,

We have responded to your case with reference number CU124317552.

I refer to your recent correspondence concerning Smethwick Hall Park. 

Severn Trent, the Environment Agency and Sandwell MBC have been working closely together to improve the overall quality of the pool.  Severn Trent have recently discovered an unmapped overflow that unfortunately had cause some pollution into it, however the Environment Agency removed much of the contaminated water and subsequently pumped clean water back into it. 

There is a large sediment bank within the pool, it is our understanding that this has contributed towards its stagnation.  We are currently looking at potential feasibility options regarding the removal of this bank. 

The management of outflow at the pool is undertaken on a monthly basis through contractors.

We are aware of issues where children have entered the pool and walked upon the sediment bank. As you’re aware, some signage has been placed around this location and we are also working with relevant partners to actively discourage and prevent any further instances of this nature occurring again.  However, we cannot provide around the clock supervision at this site.  Therefore, should you witness any person entering this area I would encourage you to contact the local police service (telephone number 111) or our Environmental protection team (telephone number 0121 569 2200). 

We will continue to work with partners to ensure that the pool is kept clear from contamination and are seeking further assurances from Severn Trent to prevent this from happening again.  We are also looking at the viability to install a permanent aerator into this pool. 
Thank you for showing an interest in this matter.

Kind regards Customer Feedback Team

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The claim about Severn Trent’s “had cause some pollution into it,”, whatever the hell that means, refers to the raw sewage that local observers and the Environment agency recorded, yet why do SMBC attempt to deny the serious nature of what THEY KNOW had gone into the pool? The signage that they put up failed to communicate ANY of the risks of danger to the public, failures under The Health and Safety at Work ACT, and also The Occupiers Liability ACT when it comes to excluding unwanted trespassers to a known site containing danger.

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Even the latest sign that they have put up, still fails to acknowledge what the “contamination” was!

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Instead of attempting to cover up their and Severn Trent’s mess, perhaps a little honesty instead of deliberate spin doctoring would not go amiss.

I stated to SMBC that their response was garbage, and also the provision of false information as regards what had really happened with the contractors. And then I received this response, which appears to suggest that the failed management themselves get to decide what is a complaint and when someone can make it!

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To unravel the lies a little further, I put in A freedom of Information request to SMBC about the said supposed “monthly” clearance of this lake by Hills, and the response only drops them further in the shit.

“(I) Could you please supply all correspondence held with Severn Trent Water including emails and attachments in relation to the confirmed sewage pollution and other matters which occurred earlier this year.
(11) All correspondence held between yourselves and your contractors HILLS for clearing out the outfall into this lake, when it was realised that this supposedly monthly task had not been done for many months. NB conversations with council officers have explicitly stated that this was the case.” 

The response was a series of emails which I have deciphered below. What is apparent here is that SMBC supplied no emails about the confirmed sewage incident with Severn Trent itself. The only communication between the two parties appears to have been about some herras fence panels that had been left behind by Severn Trent.

It is clear from the “monthly trash screen inspections” from SMBC that the pool on February 27th was seen to “need long reach mechanical to clear debris in grid.” 

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What is not clear from this one supplied monthly inspection is how long this issue had been flagged. I have therefore put in a further FOI request to SMBC in regard to these records going back a few years.  

The issue at the site at the end of April only appears to have triggered this grid block flag however, as an email from an SMBC officer confirms.

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It appears that removing this blockage cost SMBC via Hills £2,362.25.

 

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Later in June, well after the proven raw sewage issue had been noted and SMBC officers were fully aware of this, it appears that SMBC again contacted Hills with a view to removing the now exposed turdberg of shit at the other end of the pool. Once again SMBC refer to this as “a sediment bank”- not revealing any of the issues surrounding it which were well known to them.

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Hills responded stating that the sediment needed to be properly tested- and so they should as a responsible contractor baring in mind that known human waste contaminated with shit would be classed as “special waste”. It appears that Hills also refer to their previous job at the site which appears to indicate that this material from the outlet to the pool was given to SMBC to get rid off at their leisure. One can of course only speculate as to what SMBC did with this, or if any of the tests referred to, baring in mind the known human excrement contamination of the pool were carried out.

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What happens next with this removal of silt should perhaps be taken out of the hands of all those who have previously had involvement with this site. I would not recommend the manual removal of this known human waste contaminated turdberg. When Hills undertook the debris removal at the other end, the smell was horrendous and the liquids were split all over the path outside someone’s house and leading to a school entrance. The risks of spreading this vile crap all over the grass and banks of the pool near Margaret gardens should not be contemplated.

Only a more expensive vaccum truck removal technology will suffice here, which limits the amount of this material being spread even further. The risks to the birds at the site will also have to be considered and the area fenced off for many weeks after any removal has taken place.

Personally I would cut off and partially infill the area where the council; have now finally erected a barrier to stop the birds entering this high risk area, including the island. I would cut off Severn Trent’s asset from the pool permanently, or if this cannot be done, turn this area into a permanent interceptor which does not allow anything but clean water out into the pool. Reed planting should be encouraged to help manage this process.


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The dredging of the rest of the pool, is going to be a very costly operation. I believe a similar exercise at Redhouse Park cost around £400,000. Perhaps a polypropylene liner  should be considered to further reduce the risk from the pool.

In terms of costs, perhaps it is time for local businesses in this area to step up to the plate and make a contribution. It should also be noted that just half a mile away, SMBC have acquired and are spending themselves around £4 million pounds on tarting up West Smethwick Park- a fraction of which really needs to be spent on a park with already adequate facilities. Unfortunately however, SMBC are a vanity project led organisation who will throw millions in one direction while everything else goes to shit creek.

Things such as restoring the Chance bust- an industrialist polluter company in the area are a fucking joke of taxpayers money quite frankly. The Chance family themselves should pay for this not us. 

Of course the “idiots” who pay the idiots at SMBC to make grave errors of judgement are never listened to, and so I unfortunately see the disaster at Smethwick hall park only continuing for some time to come. Perhaps in 2022 when the eyes of the world are on Sandwell for the Commonwealth games where the aquatics centre is to be built in the next street, the grim reality of the local environment will finally be dealt with as a “legacy”.

 

 

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Smethwick Hall park- The Severn Trent “misconnections” Connection

There are serious pollution issues at this pool at present and proven sewage has gone into the pool, which as far  as I am concerned, are linked to the bird deaths at the site. Severn Trent have attempted to deny this, yet after receiving information from an FOI/EIR request to the environment agency about past reported pollution incidents under their National Incident Reporting scheme, there is an uncomfortable pattern which appears for this three star  ♠♠♠   environmental terrorist water company.

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A recent claim by Severn Trent Water stated that the water quality in the pool was much improved. LOL

The following details as revealed in this supplied information demonstrates that pollution “misconnections” as Severn Trent likes to call them, has been occurring for many years, in particular from Severn Trent Water’s apparatus. The reports go back as far as 2006. THEY ALSO DEMONSTRATE THAT AT LEAST ON SOME OF THEE OCCASSIONS, THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN NOTED TO BE DEAD BIRDS WHEN THESE POLLUTION INCIDENTS HAVE BEEN WITNESSED. 

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“Caller reporting oil on the pond… there have been dead geese there and also dead fish recently.”

It appears that there was some confusion in the report originally, but little doubt after establishment, that Smethwick Hall Park was the polluted source of concern.

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“Sounds like wrong connections, and the dead birds are a cause for concern.”

“Smethwick hall park is quite heavily polluted by wrong connections and is also covered with litter to the extent that litter is the favoured nesting material for coots, no dead birds seen at time of visit, but seven were seen during a second visit a week later”

This report, from the EA officer themselves perhaps sets the scene, and is a sad indictment of not only Severn Trent’s failure, but also of Sandwell council’s to properly manage this litter strewn site.

This connects to following incident 00401674 24/5/2006

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“Report of four dead ducks & a misconnection to the pool Off Londonderry lane.” 

Severn Trent and Defra were informed, and presumably the birds were sent for post mortem. It is not clear what happened with this, but presumably no detailed post mortem was undertaken or investigation made into the clear link to the pollution concern.

“Pool is grey/blue with misconnections smell. Six dead ducks.”

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There is no evidence recorded as to how these “misconnections” were resolved, but I remember from conversations with former drainage engineer at SMBC, John Ashcroft, that Severn Trent had supposedly found “many”. The fact that these 2006 events again occurred into the summer months suggests that there may have been a die off of birds related to botulism evolving from a sewage “misconnection” again.

The following report I know to be one of mine concerning diesel going into the pool in 2013. 01085293     10/02/2013.

I reported this when I saw it, yet it appears that the EA attended in the fading light. 


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A 2016 incident, perhaps the red herring of the bunch, was reported by SMBC after motorbikes had been dumped into the pool which leaked diesel. 01413658   24/02/2016

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And then to this year, and another call that I know I made.

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I tried to give as much detailed information as possible, and at this time there was concern about the situation at Victoria Park Smethwick (and still is) with bird deaths. There appears to be some confusion recorded on here, as the collapsed sewer relates to Victoria Park and not Smethwick Hall. I noted a dead goose and duck were present on this occasion, which had not been there on my visit a week earlier.

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 What I didn’t get from this was much in the way of feedback, which looking at what is recorded below appears to demonstrate that sewage was already going into this pool and from the same source as later found in May.

Unfortuanely, as I have reported before, the EA now call the polluter to investigate the scene, rather than doing it themselves, and so Severn Trent attended this incident.

“08/01/2019 S. Roe (EA)  rang STWL for an update. Informed that a crew attended and a strong sewage odour was observed. Ammonia readings at the weir were 3.7 and 4.5 at end of lake.”

It is important here that Severn Trent themselves observed “a sewage odour”. As these readings were taken by Severn Trent themselves, they are not independent, and this needs to be questioned when looking at the source of the ammonia readings- usually indicative of sewage related releases.

Severn Trent again failed to locate this issue.

The ammonia readings relate to parts per million, with anything above 1 giving the EA cause for concern. They concluded that there were   “multiple misconnections”, but what exactly is the bloody point of stating this time and time again, yet failing to ever actually identify their source? 

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It is further revealed that Severn Trent had “placed a bung” at the outlet , I  think they mean inlet, to stop further pollution entering the lake. They also claimed to not be able to reach a suspected polluted manhole due to traffic. Again we get the same “multiple misconnections” which attempts to absolve them of any blame.

It appears at a later date that the EA were contacted by Severn Trent ti claim that they had traced one misconnection to a property. What happened to the “multiple” ?

It is also claimed that  CCTV camera was put down, possibly Margaret Gardens, (though this is redacted) where foul is entering the surface water sewer, ie shit is entering the lake. 

And then perhaps the final damning statement made by Severn Trent, which as we know was to prove utter bullshit.

“As far as we can tell from the extensive searches we have been conducting over the last few weeks, there are not any blockages contributing to this pollution and it seems to be multiple miscons that intermittently  pollute. “

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This is of course not the case, as was later proven by the incident in April, which I again reported.  01696951 24/4/2019


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Severn Trent reported finding “misconnections” at the inlet yet again :roll: and “faeces visible”.

I ask the question that given that they have now identified misconnections along a line in Margaret Gardens as to why “despite their extensive searches” just 3 months earlier they had failed to detect this?

It is however revealed that their own blockage of their own pipe was not found- again. What interest you could argue would it be in their interest to, given that they face a fine for such failures?

The EA staff then subsequently attended, finding their own observations.

“30/04/2019
 
P.Mullard and B.Baily attended the Smethwick Hall Pool finding the pool containing grey water and solid sewage. P.M and B.B collected water samples and sent them to the lab for analysis. Tom reported Severn Trent had attended on the 28/04/19 and not found a blockage. “

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The lack of finding a blockage is bollocks

 

The subsequent NIRS form was also obtained from this FOI which relates to investigations the EA made on the brook course running into the pool, revealed by local campaigner Mike Allen amongst others to be highly polluted with both sewage and other chemicals.

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Multiple misconnections are again noted by the EA , though there appears over the course of this report to have been little progress made in finding them.


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I have to say from reading this it only further gives me the feeling that water companies, who were recently severely criticised by The EA in an annual report  for their “Generally woeful environmental performance”,  are failing to prevent these issues from arising, a product of a system where they are basically allowed to mark their own work.

Severn Trent Water can try to apportion blame onto those not fitting washing machines or other appliances correctly, but the question must now be asked after seeing for how long this has been going on and their failure to stop it as to whether it is time that Sandwell council , if they can, can disconnect Severn Trent’s apparatus from entering their beleaguered and polluted swamp off Stoney lane for good. I do not have ANY confidence that Severn Trent will prevent these occurrences in the future, nor in that they will be monitored sufficiently by a regulator under a system which is not fit for purpose. 

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Smethwick Hall Park sewage pollution- correcting misinformation and inaccurate reporting

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Turds have been spotted

The impact on the confirmed sewage pollution incident at this lake has been horrendous, yet three themes have emerged over the last week in response to the bad publicity for Sandwell council and Severn Trent Water. These are 1. Procrastination on the part of SMBC 2. Denials by Severn Trent. 3 Inaccurate reporting of the facts.

Unfortunately, as I have found before, the local media in this part of the world are NEVER on the side of the underdog or investigative journalism. They merely print the lies of the spin doctors and don’t challenge them with incisive questions. 

Let’s look first at the headline in this article, “Smethwick pool sealed off following mysterious geese deaths”.

This allies some apparent decisive action by SMBC with there being “mystery” about the geese deaths. In fact the truth is SMBC’s action is very limited and for show only after the event, and does nothing to prevent the goose deaths, from which there is no “mystery”. The pool has been “fenced off” , which I will show is also inaccurate, but was NOT fenced off when the proven sewage leak had occurred, and Sandwell council managers were fully aware of the fact that this had occurred. All SMBC has done is to put up some herras fencing around part of the pathway around the lake. You can still walk around the entire lake, and I also last Friday saw children squatting in the same area that the geese are dying in.

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You can walk right round this to the left

One notes that the first picture in the above story shows SMBC  operatives removing a dumped trolley that has been in there some time in this same area, and Not any dead birds.

The second shows a council operative in a boat that the council have suddenly acquired, yet look at the lack of any PPE in both pictures.

“Back in May, a blocked sewer pipe caused waste water to enter the pool. However Severn Trent said it was “confident” the bird deaths were not connected due to the ‘extensive nature’ of the repair work.”

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Firstly , as I have demonstrated already, the EA as well as myself and several other members of the community smelt and saw “crude sewage” and “raw sewage” solids in the pool. IT WAS NOT “WASTE WATER”. This is inaccurate reporting. All that Severn Trent actually did was to pump out dirty water and pump in clean- so they claim. There was NEVER any removal of the “crude sewage” and “raw sewage” that had gone into the pool.

“We’re confident the quality of the pool is much improved as a result and that these bird deaths are unconnected.”

The quality of the pool is still terrible, as any blind fool would realise. The depth of the “water”,  if you can even call it that, is dredged up as a black treacle every time the birds swim through it. They are ingesting this faecal contaminated matter and dying afterwards. If this is “unconnected” to their deaths then why are Sandwell council now “fencing off” the pool? Would any Severn Trent official care to come to the pool and create a brew from the said “quality” water they have pumped into this shithole in the ground?

There is another  example in the Express and Star about this factual incident where it is “claimed” that sewage had gone into the pool. There is no “CLAIM” ,it is an established FACT. It is not denied by Severn Trent, and the Environment Agency themselves described it as “crude sewage” and “raw sewage”. So why therefore the  inaccurate statement concerning “claim” in these reports?

A “claim” is something that is not backed up by any evidence, just opinion. It is wrong to report something of which there is indisputable evidence as “claim” therefore. Anchored to this is a seemingly authoritative statement, which is a “claim”, but is never stated as such, by Severn Trent. The story also mentions nothing of the “misconnections” going into the pool which have not been fixed at all.

THE QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ASKED.

  • For how long had “crude sewage” and “raw sewage” been going into the pool?
  • What volume of “crude sewage” and “raw sewage” and solids entered the pool?
  • Why did SMBC not fence off the pool when the incident was occurring and known to them?
  • Why did it communicate VERY limited information to the public about this human health risk, only mentioning “mud”?

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  • Why are SMBC not stopping the birds entering the area of concern where misconnections are still coming into the pool via an also still vile contaminated brook?

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  • Why haven’t the media asked them these specific questions?

SMBC LACK OF ACTION.

I have spoken to Max Cookson, his director Alan Caddick, and cabinet member Maria Crompton, yet all appear to ignore the issue that I am trying to get them to action , and the longer this goes on, I doubt their sincerity about this situation. Or perhaps they believe that I have nothing to offer and don’t know what I am talking about? Either way the deaths of birds will continue if they continue to take no action to stop the birds accessing this area.

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Carnage at Smethwick Hall Park #CG22

Well. where to start with  this one! Perhaps here, in May, when I previously outlined how I had reported raw sewage and other contaminants going into this small pool off Londonderry Lane Smethwick, just less than half a mile from where a new aquatics centre is being built for Sandwell’s bit part in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games of 2022.

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Severn “stench” Trent, had had a blocked sewer from off the main road, as well as “misconnections” going into the pool from the inlet. Actually , I have been reporting these grey water issues for years, and had discussions about them with former SMBC drainage officer John Ashcroft. He has been retired many years, so it goes back this far!

I put in a freedom of information request to The Environment Agency about this specific incident, which can be read HERE.Monitoring data for Smethwick Hall park following human excrement contamination 

“Please provide by electronic means all test data sets provided to you by Severn Trent Water at this pool located in Londonderry Lane Smethwick West Midlands from 1st January 2019 to the present day.
Please also supply all the actual test data sets taken by your own staff following the confirmed contamination of human excrement into the lake from Severn Trent Water apparatus.” 

The EA responded with The National Incident Reporting System form (NIRS) for this job, numbered 01696951.

Some background info on how this works via the Common_incident_classification_system_04_01  , can be read in this previous blog post about how the EA are failing along with the Canal and Rivers Trust to accurately assess the real damage to the environment caused by environmental pollution. They are interested in only fish deaths, and not birds. It is a system devised by cretins, and no doubt by those who have financial interests in fisheries management and those former MP’s like Martin Salter who went on to get a job at The Angling Trust. IT DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE DEMISE OF WILDFOWL- IT DOESN’T CARE AT ALL ABOUT THEIR DEMISE AND SLOW DEATH THROUGH POLLUTION. 

This system has a range from 1-4, with 1 being the most serious- in their short sighted view.

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The first thing I would like to point out about the supplied EA form, is the redaction of my name as the reporter of this initial incident. I have amended this below accordingly, and the observations that I made when the call was made on April 24th  are noted.

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This issue was then categorised as 3 on the CICS system and on the NIRS form- meaning that they attached low priority to it- also meaning that no EA officer actually was attending, but that they had basically informed the polluter Severn Trent to mark their own work. THIS IS WHY THIS SCHEME IS A FAILURE, AND ONE OPEN TO CORPORATE FRAUD.

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Severn Trent reported finding “misconnections” at the inlet and “faeces visible”.

It is however revealed that their own blockage of their own pipe was not found. What interest you could argue would it be in their interest to, given that they face a fine for such failures?

The EA staff then subsequently attended, finding their own observations.

“30/04/2019
 
P.Mullard and B.Baily attended the Smethwick Hall Pool finding the pool containing grey water and solid sewage. P.M and B.B collected water samples and sent them to the lab for analysis. Tom reported Severn Trent had attended on the 28/04/19 and not found a blockage. “

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The lack of finding a blockage is bollocks

When in attendance with the EA, they found reduced oxygen levels and high ammonia levels around various points in the pool- obviously indicative of sewage pollution.

The EA supplied data they had taken as part of the exercise which can be read HERE.Unfortunately this doesn’t say very much.

ST then put in some PR management by putting a pump at the pool to recirculate water and expel the contaminated top layer. PLEASE REMEMBER HOWEVER, THAT AT THIS STAGE, THIS SEWAGE ISSUE HAD ALREADY BEEN OCCURRING FOR SOME TIME. Excrement, like everything else sinks, and forms into a layer on the bottom of whatever it rests on- in this case, years worth of silt and debris that had been accumulating over many, many years.

What happened next was a disastrous decision taken by kneejerk SMBC management to try to disguise this failure. They employ a contractor HILLS to allegedly clear out the debris of this pool which collects at the outlet. From here it flows into The Birmingham Canal. This clearly had not been done for MANY months and there was a thick layer of material blocking the water course. On lowering this they would have course be lowering the water level in the pool, which in turn made the contaminated silt more reachable to the birds, and the bacterial pathogens within it exposed to direct sunlight to multiply to their hearts content.

The sum total of SMBC’s managerial actions to protect the public at this stage was to erect this useless laminated sign. No communication was made to advise the public of this public health risk. Children were seen playing in the “mud”- silt contaminated excrement.

59920892_1581668668643705_3761557539230056448_oChildren continued to play in the excrement infested waters.


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This turdberg was visible and accessible to the birds, and the water was black when they paddled through it.

Heras fencing put in to protect Severn Trent’s pump was also tossed into the crap heap.

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THE RESULTING BIRD DEATHS

Within the last week many birds have been found ill and dead, suffering from botulism type symptoms- but let’s remember the direct causal link to this- the sewage pollution incident. The scene has been horrific, but yet again, to date SMBC have yet to take any practical action to prevent the birds from coming into contact with the contaminated area.

They have again knee jerked only due to the bad publicity and threat of it by putting up some token fencing, that s not doing anything at all. This same ploy occurred at Victoria Park Smethwick last year.

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What information does this even communicate to warn and inform the public- where is the publicising the link to the sewage incident?

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But not the birds contact with the dangerous material

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A goose waits for death on the contaminated exposed silt

The full horror of this can be seen in a video I took, before SMBC turned up to try to remove the evidence before any press turned up.

 

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A Sandwell council body bag, full of dead birds

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A young goose fights to stay alive off the island

Severn Trent Water however have disgracefully attempted to distance themselves from their caused serious pollution incident in comments made in press articles, which unfortunately although mentioning the proven sewage pollution have given them enough room to apply “mystery” to the bird deaths- well there IS NO “MYSTERY” .

Comments about water quality are a nonsense, but a distraction technique away from the silt and taking samples of that which will confirm the botulism causing pathogens present.

In the FOI request, the EA supplied previous reported pollution incidents they have on record at the site, most likely ones I have reported going back to 2006. These were grey water issues , the same “misconnections” that ST have been blathering on about, but not preventing for years. I have now FOI’D these NIRS reports also to see what the EA recorded about them. By no means is this a full list of observations that myself and others have made, just the times that they have been reported.

Notification # Notification Date
401674 24/05/2006 11:36
1085293 10/02/2013 14:31
1413658 24/02/2016 14:58
399837 17/05/2006 09:42
1672260 06/01/2019 14:43

This incident makes bad timing for this persistent environmental polluter. An EA report into water company performance reveals that Severn Trent have been docked a star from their rating by the EA- from 4 to 3, personally don’t see how they even get 1.

Dave Throup, EA manager for H/W said in a tweet

“Generally woeful environmental performance by English water companies during 2018 highlighted in our annual report. Our local company @stwater performance has deteriorated and it failed to meet targets on discharges or ceilings on pollutions.”

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Severn Trent had 287 confirmed pollution incidents, but how many went unreported because of the open to fraud self reporting system?

THE FULL EA REPORT CAN BE READ HERE. 

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Open to total serious fraud

 

There is all sorts of talk now between the main players, but most if not all of it is bullshit. Talk about “working together” is crap; they are blaming one another behind the scenes. SMBC claim to have “fenced off the pool” yet children were seen playing in the same area the other night, and not all the ill birds were removed at all, when I went there.

If SMBC want to stop bird deaths, then they have to act fast, and block off the contaminated area to the birds.

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FENCE THIS AREA OFF

But I don’t think they will do this, as this is SMBC, the same authority who in 2013/14 murdered 220 Canada geese by breaking their necks in two of their green flag parks. I’m sure that many in SMBC are loving this, a way to offload many more without apparently having to spend any money on doing so. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE, SMBC, AND THE CABINET MEMBERS AND COUNCILLORS WILL BE JUDGED ON WHAT THEY DO NOT DO TO PREVENT MORE BIRDS FROM DYING AT THIS SITE. 

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PRACTICE WHAT YOUR PROPAGANDA PREACHES.

 

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Shittish Waterways and The Canal and Rivers distrust

As a wildfowl rescuer in the West Midlands for over 20 years, the most common recurring problem facing these type of birds is pollution in the water. This is not just from industrial sources but often from boat traffic on the canal.

There are not a great deal of problems from boats in permanent moorings, but when they start to travel, some boats  leave behind a vile scum of diesel contamination like some form of watery slugs.

I have no idea as to why at present there are political idiots claiming “climate emergencies” and taking action on land travel pollution, yet the real visible pollution on the canal waterways as far as I know has no plans to be tackled. ALL DIESEL POWERED MARINE CRAFT AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED SHOULD BE PHASED OUT IN THE NEXT DECADE. IT IS POLLUTING THE WATER ENVIRONMENT AND DOES NOTHING TO HELP WATER BIRDS OR THEIR ENVIRONMENT AT ALL.

Before anyone jumps on me and starts pontificating on the original uses of these structures and the deluded rose tinted recollections of steam and how this region “made things”, I don’t care. This retrograde amnesia has no place.  The present and future  do, and some of these boats are causing real problems for wildfowl that are now attracted to these areas, which are increasingly becoming centres of housing around them also.

This post deals with two sites and two incidents that have recently caused me to wonder if it is any longer possible for swans to nest and have cygnets in these shitty Canal and Rivers Trust run boat lanes.

I am not a fan of the CRT, and never were of their forerunner British Waterways either. They have orchestrated a fake and misleading campaign about bread being “harmful” to ducks, which in itself has been more harmful to the birds as some rescue organisations and experts have pointed out. The CRT ad was a marketing campaign, originally to promote them as a new charity when the part publicly funded BW ceased to exist.

The strange thing about the CRT is their support of fishing and boating- their two main income streams, and the complete lack of acknowledgement of these activities being the real harm causing significant impact on water birds that they claim to want to conserve.

In the shithole that is Sandwell, for the first time in 20 years, two pairs of swans nested at Titford Pools and The Old Mainline Canal in Tipton. Both of these are on what is known as The BCN – Birmingham Canal Navigations. Both pairs hatched 5 cygnets.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the pair at Titford were in trouble, and their cygnets were missing. I could see one dead on the island by where they had had a nest. Both were covered in some contaminant which I suspected was diesel. The problem with this canal area is that it is situated immediately under the M5 motorway, and it is likely that there is considerable run off from this source off the road and into the water.

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Not a great picture, but a dead cygnet on the island

Having called the RSPCA and with no action being taken, myself and Wychbold swan rescue picked up the pair from the site, and I  would note after having had harassment from the police who had been called by someone thinking that we were stealing the swans. If only these same people had been around to care about the missing cygnets and the contaminated swans eh? 😡

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Other previous swans in this area have had the same issues. Drunks continue to squat under the motorway and most of the anglers who fish in this area are pissheads who toss their rubbish behind them carefree of anyone ever challenging their illegal behaviour.

At Tipton, a pair of swans nested near to Factory Locks. At just 5 weeks old I had noted that they were near to the Coseley Tunnel near to where 5 boats had been mooring for approximately two weeks. The next day I did not see the family.

The area around these boats was polluted with contaminants, though notably not anywhere else on the network for well over a mile in both directions. This at least tells me the likely or suspected source. It was apparent that one boat had recently been “blacked”- the cans of paint still on the deck. This practice of waterproofing should not be carried out in the water, but in dry dock on land- what do you think happens when paint enters the water?

 

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At this same area I noted a coot in distress which had clearly become a sponge due to the pollution it had been through.

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The swans minus any cygnets were on land near to where they had nested, but  out of the water , vigorously preening themselves and also clearly affected by what they had swam through.

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I called various agencies, and eventually a couple of days later the swans were caught and taken to the RSPCA rescue centre.

S2270011 I had contacted both the Environment Agency and the Canal and Rivers Trust, not only about the actual harmful pollution, but also about the likely source. I was tasked with sending them pictures and I expected them to do their jobs and clean it up, but perhaps from previous experience I knew that this was a vain hope. As it transpired they have done absolutely nothing.

The EA officer told me that he had left it with the CRT, as they now only have 6 staff and no longer attend incidents on canals and pass them on to the CRT. The CRT state that one of their ecologists went out and assessed the scene, recording it as “localised” and would be broken up by boat traffic. This of course is the problem for water birds, in that it does not break up when they go through it, and also this drifting mass of pollution is only likely to affect more water birds wherever it drifts due to it not being controlled and contained.

It is this categorisation of “low priority” by the CRT ecologist from which I have the most anger.

 

CATEGORIES.

The agency use the ” Common incident Classification Scheme as guidance ” for incident reports when members of the public report incidents of environmental pollution via the Freephone 0800 number. The CRT no doubt follow this same protocol.

This can be read below.

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I have previously written a blog about this on the sister website whatliesbeneathrattlechainlagoon, and my experiences with reporting a repeat pollution incident, which surprise, surprise involved Severn Trent (stench) water.

To summarise again here, Two tiered systems are used and within this different category level responses are noted.

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The wording of these categories are rather vague , but appear to relate primarily to fish, and not to any water birds affected- one notes what I have already said about how these organisations do not care about wildfowl in distress.

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So to these organisations, fish are priority and wildlfowl are not. The impact of 5 cygnets (all of them) being lost were categorised as category 3 by the CRT ecologist, at which point the EA would not attend, with the CRT deploying no resources either. I’m not sure how the adult swans feel about this incident being “a very limited impact” or anyone who had marvelled at these birds and their cygnets cruising the waterway for over a mile stretch. Boaters fed them near to the Malthouse stables, and they were doing well. The effects of their loss is not “reversible” , they will not be coming back from the dead.

The last pair of swans on this canal to breed or even attempt to breed was in 2001. They too lost all 8 cygnets to pollution from an industrial source- Masefield Epson and their hydraulic oil spill into the canal system near Newcommen Drive.

Having reported this issue to the EA, where they then did attend themselves, I gave a statement leading to the prosecution of these dirty Dudley port scumbag polluters.

These are press reports from the time, though the fine of just £2000 was derisory.

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The mysterious “Grime reaper” even paid a visit to the scene with a mop and bucket. Perhaps he may appear again….

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I can only once again hope that the CRT drastically rethink their ill though out responses to the plight of these birds. We do not have many in the West Midlands, and they have faced dreadful persecution from thugs and pollution. Unfortunately the “responsible authority” appears to be on their side, and not ours.

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Back to water

Swanderwoman and Gooseman although working hard fighting grime and corruption in the background have now emerged for personal appearances at some waterway festival events.

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Swanderwoman deputised for The Park Knight at The Hawne Basin open weekend in Halesowen on the Dudley Number 2 canal. “She” was especially pleased to be “manning” the tombola stall, whilst also promoting a new swanwatch leaflet.

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Swanderwoman sported a packed lunch on this occasion, and also her trusty swan hook, just in case there were any birds in distress in the vicinity.

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Feeling a little half and half?

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As always the stall had a variety of cards, keyrings, information leaflets and goose/swan food available.

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It was a well attended and organised event by The Coombeswood Canal Trust.

The following weekend, the action switched to Brownhills and “the curly wyrley”.

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The local birds can be thankful of the generous nature of the Brownhills folk who cleared out all of our supply of goose food! Swanderwoman even had a trip to find the local swan family who were fed.

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Gooseman also bought his sidekick Goosuki with him.

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Well done to The Birmingham Canal Navigations Society who have taken over the running of this event.

Selfies were posed and all had a great time. I’m not sure if Brownhills had ever seen anything quite so theatrical, well maybe not……

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