Some more pricks?

A recent freedom of information request to Sandwell council has revealed the egg control measures employed for 2018 in their parks and open spaces. It is important that these figures are obtained and made public for evidence that the council are undertaking the “management” of egg numbers as they claimed they would. Of course we also don’t trust a word they say from past experience, so for this purpose it serves as a later reminder to potentially catch them out about certain matters if they go back on what they claimed that they would be doing.

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I will look at the analysis of the figures below, but the main news this year is that SMBC have once again started to hire the services of a so called “pest controller” to do their dirty work for them. This is surprising given that in meetings with officers last year it was intimated that council workers would be doing this work, given the issues surrounding pestex and the impossibility of verifying their claimed figures. It would be possible for an outside contractor to sex up the number of nests/eggs just to keep them in business- particularly if they are being paid by the hour. How would the council verify any of the numbers? Even current manager Max Cookson said as much at one meeting that we had with him.

The new contractors are revealed to be “Betapest”, with Sandwell council paying them £3,250 to undertake the work.

The questions asked were as follows.

1) In 2018 how many Canada goose  nests were identified, how many eggs did each of these nests contain, and  at which Sandwell sites were these nests located?

2) In 2018 how many Canada goose eggs were pricked and at which sites did this take place?

3) In 2018 how many Canada goose eggs were oiled and at which sites did this
take place?

4) In 2018 how many Canada goose eggs were removed from nests
and at which sites did this take place?

5) Please state which company was used to carry out this work, and at what cost to the council?

The council responded

“We respond as follows: 1) Please see attached documents for this information regarding Parks and Open Spaces. With reference to Countryside sites, although they were visited, no pricking, oiling or interfering with nests took place. Only a small amount of nests were found and the eggs had already hatched. Gosling numbers were extremely low this year on
Countryside sites.

2) None

3) Please see attached documents for this
information.

4) None

5) Betapest – £3,250 ”

EGG FIGURES 2018

The following figures were presented in the council attachment for each park. I will look at each site in turn with issues raised about the claimed figures. It is apparent that this year the contractors made repeat visits to each site, with some receiving three, in essence doubling or tripling the work for themselves with often no new nests appearing. Whether this is a good use of council tax payers money is another question.

The key numbers are In total seven sites were visited. A claimed total of     29    nests bearing  a  total number of 156 eggs of which were treated  107 , which equates to      69%.

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Three nests are claimed at West Smethwick Park with visits made on 11/5/18 and 15/6/18 with no new being found.

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Just one nest was identified at Smethwick Hall Park with visits on the same days.

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The Smethwick trio was rounded off with two nests being found at Victoria Park Smethwick. Much can be said about the current appalling situation at this park and the way in which birds have died on here, which is all down to Sandwell council and their wilful lack of action. At the time of the claimed visits, on the same dates as at the other parks, the pool had be now seriously depleted due to the unfixed collapsed vent. The island on the pool had also been cut back, supposedly by someone the council knew from the friends group for that park who is in the landscape gardening industry. It is unlikely that any of the geese at this park at the time are still alive, and certainly no offspring survived. Of course, the RSPCA had to cope with used syringes before they launched the boat to attempt to save birds.

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And so to the scene of the much publicised culls of 2013/14 at Tipton. The first thing I would stress is that I would strongly dispute the figures of 13 eggs being found in a single nest, in fact all the numbers appear to be much higher than in the previous parks, which suggests to me that the geese were using nests from the previous year where the treated eggs from previous years were still in situ. WE KNOW FROM THE PREVIOUS FOI REQUESTS, THAT THE COUNCIL DO NOT REMOVE ANY EGGS FROM THE NESTS, BUT JUST PRICK THEM, AND THIS AS THEY HAVE REPLIED TO QUESTION 4 WAS THE SAME FOR THIS YEAR.

There is a disproportionate figure for this site, but what I am certain of, is that despite the contractors claiming to have left some eggs, not a single gosling at this site survived more than a few days. They were either predated, or killed by the swans. In fact on one visit to the site, I bumped into two pcso’s who had come across a commotion involving two woman who feed the birds at this park. They had seen the male swan attacking a gosling and had tried to stop him, to no avail.

Visits to this site were made earlier in April, then again with further visits on 11/5 and 15/6. Whereas I do not dispute the number of nests being plausible on the two islands, the numbers in each nest are unlikely, for the reason stated above.

 

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Dartmouth park, scene of the other cull in 2013 appears to have had 14 nests identified, this on the two pools. There is once again one nest with a claimed 13 eggs in it which I do not believe to be plausible for the reasons stated above. This site also received three visits on the days parallel with Victoria Park Tipton.

I am not aware that many of the goslings that were allowed to hatch survived this year and the numbers were certainly down on previous years.

 

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Three visits were made to this site with just one nest being found. I am certain that this figure is correct, given that two goslings did hatch. They only survived however due to the male swan at the site being killed by an out of control dog, something which Sandwell council has a big problem with at its formal parks.

 

 

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This site which appears as a form of hybrid countryside and formal park identified no nests over three visits.

The lack of figures for the countyside sites identify that “Gosling numbers were extremely low this year on Countryside sites”. I would concur with this statement, but would also draw attention to previous years where SMBC had pestex interfering with nesting birds only for them to claim eye watering numbers of nests and eggs at places like Forge Mill Lake. Predators at the countryside sites, fox, crow , magpie, heron and also swans account for many goslings not surviving in any case.

For clarity and discussion, the following table shows numbers at the sites previously given in FOI requests to SMBC since 2013.

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If you look at the figures for Victoria Park Tipton and Dartmouth Park over the five previous years, this years figures appear all the more dubious and inflated. So Victoria Park Tipton number of nests 2013 2, 2014 4, 2015 2, 2016 2, 2017 no figure. This year 7 claimed.

Dartmouth Park 2013 6 ,2014 3 ,2015 9 , 2016 6  , 2017 no figure. And this year suddenly we are supposed to believe that 14 appeared.

Whatever the motive for presenting these two parks as having the most number of nests/eggs, the number actually hatching and surviving cannot be disputed.

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We will of course be asking the same questions next year, and reflecting on the results. But rest assured that we will always be watching Sandwell council and their actions , as they just cannot be trusted.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Some more pricks?

Remember, remember Brunswick’s 5th of November

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This is a goose free cruelty article, but summarises the behaviour of two of the main protagonists in the cull of Sandwell’s geese. The one is an ex parks manager, whose biased report appears to have led to the culls in 2013 and 2014. The other purported to lead Sandwell council and had ambition to become the metro mayor of the coined “West Midlands Greater Authority” before his death in April 2016.

This post summarises the bonfire event which took place in Brunswick Park in Wednesbury in 2014 and the subsequent events where members of the public were injured by a so called “stray firework” – that being the tagline that Sandwell council and its leader were happy to promote in the media, until a freedom of information request revealed significantly more about the organisational shambles that was operating on that fateful night.

Though he was lauded in eulogies by the political class and his friends in the media, Darren Coooper was a deeply unpleasant man in life. Not only was he involved in a long social media trolling campaign with others against a Birmingham woman whose husband had began to expose the institutional Council corruption rife under his leadership, but he looked after those around him , seemingly unable with the Chief executive, Jan Britton, Monitoring officer Neeraj Sharma and audit risk manager Peter Farrow,  to detect any of the activities of fraud and corruption and wrongdoing occurring at the authority, not least of his own then Deputy.

If it hadn’t been for Julian Saunders’, “Sandwell Skidder blog” , it is unlikely that any of the wrongdoing would ever have come to light- especially when the mainstream local media danced to his tune and his thuggishly tribal football firm analogies and West Bromwich Albion, an organisation he gleefully boasted about ripping off as a child by sneeking into the ground.

I could write much more, but I’ll leave that to Julian Saunders, though perhaps all you need to know about Darren Copper, the man the myth, and his intellect can be summed up in his own posting below. You are as they say “what you eat”.

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Fuel, bangers, mash… to continue the bonfire leitmotiv.

Sandwell Council actively promoted the 2014 “free event” on social media at the Wednesbury park leading up to the night in question. This is perhaps where the planning went out of the window, as well as several thousand pounds up in smoke.

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There was a planned schedule of events

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Cooper himself liked the tweet

The council also put out this gem on twitter.

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Perhaps PROBAN overalls , Kevlar vest, gloves and helmet should also have been advised!

 

The following story concerning the Brunswick Park event and aftermath appeared in this BBC new article the following day.

It was reported in this article that three people had been injured with others treated for minor panic related injuries.

Another BBC article from the same day reported that the crowd had been “double that had been expected”.

It also quotes then Cabinet Member Maria Crompton.

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We see here then the threads that Sandwell council would attempt to present in subsequent media interface.

  • That it was all down to a  “rogue firework” being to blame.
  • That they, Sandwell council, had done all they could to ensure crowd safety by pushing the crowd back, and in this case to “outside the cordon”

Both of these statements were later revealed to be extraordinary lies. You can account for a “stray firework” by ensuring the crowd are not within the safety zone, and as will be demonstrated, that is not what happened on the night, and it would have been known to staff and councillors that this had been the case. But who briefed the cabinet member to state such lies?

The Express and Star article of the 7th November then focussed attention on a “probe” into the event and the cause of the incident.

It states

“Numerous calls were made on the public address system for people to move away from the fireworks before the display started. The event was delayed for 20 minutes as the crowd was forced back.”

Also in the article Councillor Elaine Costigan is quoted as saying

“She said: “If you get a rouge  (sic) firework, what can you do. There were a lot of people there but even if it had been 1,000 in the crowd you can still get a rouge  (sic) firework.

“People are still saying what a fantastic event and exhibition it was. We have to look forward now.”  “

As will be evidenced, there was very much that Sandwell council could have done to prevent this incident from ever happening in spite of “rogue fireworks”.

Two further Express and Star articles gave the human impact story of those actually injured, and the fiasco of the event by now was starting to unfold on social media about the organisation, the enormous crowds and the fact that it was a free event that had been atrociously planned.

The article of 8th November Wednesbury firework victim tells of horror, tells the story of Jason Deeley-Brewer who was burnt by the firework.

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Picture, Express and Star

 

Mr Brewer, who needed hospital treatment accused the council of failing to protect the public, and this claim would be proven correct in the subsequent investigation.

The article also stated “He says he will now take legal action against event organisers Sandwell Council over his injuries. “

and “Mr Deeley-Brewer has contacted solicitors to begin the process of a claim against Sandwell Council.”

Also in another Express and Star  article of 11th November, the mother of a schoolgirl also injured in the event

“said her daughter had been traumatised by the accident at a packed Brunswick Park in Wednesbury when a stray rocket veered into the 12,000-strong crowd and struck her.

She claimed seven-year-old Kacey-Lou had been left with a fear of fireworks.

It is also stated in the article that the girls father “has sought legal advice over the matter with a view to suing Sandwell Council. “

Nothing further appeared in the press until the following month, but by this time, rumours had began to filter out of the event, and from within the council itself as to who had been responsible for the fiasco taking place, as well as giving the order for the fireworks to be let off, despite the crowd being too large to accommodate the venue safely.

By this time Sandwell council had as required reported the matter to The Health and Safety Executive, though with incomplete details as to who had been injured. I requested this information via the HSE, and they supplied the following RIDDOR form submitted by the council, which clearly shows only one person being injured. “Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

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Unfortunately RIDDOR is a rather rudderless measure of accidents given that it only requires reporting of the most serious types of injury or death. It does not however discharge Sandwell council and the firework company from negligence under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as will be evidenced.

In the form it states that a roman candle malfunctioned, and that Jubilee fireworks were “responsible for the firework display.” The dishonest liar who completed this form negated to mention anything about organisation of crowd safety or that the crowd were within an area too close to the display. The council officers and those in senior positions were well aware that more than this number had been injured, in fact their own employees had.

With at least two threats of publicised legal action, the council then appeared to go on the offensive, trying to build on the mythology of the “stray firework”. In the article of 27th December, The Express and Star give Cooper free reign to promote this lie without question.

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The utter lies of Darren Cooper

 What we do know is by this time, and very quickly after the event, it was apparent as to which officer of the council had made the decision for the event to go ahead and that he had overruled the firework organisers in doing so. It appears that this tactic of “the stray firework” was an attempt by Cooper to blame the firework company and even manufacturers of the roman candle article rather than his protected officer. At this point, this lie became a conspiracy and plot to deny the truth.

“We do all we can to ensure safety”

All then appears to have gone quiet, with no news stories about anyone taking legal action, nor of the investigation that the council had claimed to have been investigating. Of course, any reasonable news organisation or journalist would have asked to see the council report to verify the voracity of claims being made by leading councillors happy to blame “stray fireworks” ,and by implication the event contractors Jubilee fireworks, rather than themselves, and specifically the man that they were protecting from scrutiny.

On 10th September 2015, The Express and Star published another article , this time focussing on the event moving away from the venue of Brunswick Park which was suddenly no longer big enough to accommodate the crowds. It is clear at this stage that the investigation must have been finalised, and that one of the recommendations within it  was the reason why the event was being pulled in 2015.

We once again see Councillor Costigan quoted making a misleading statement, leading towards the firework and away from the reason why the firework had reached people.

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Garbage, it could have been prevented, as the report states.

A further article appeared in The Express and Star following the 2015 Dartmouth Park event, which was again marred by organisational problems and yobs throwing their own fireworks at another free event. Again the mythology of “the stray firework” was repeated.

By this time, I had been given specific information by informants within Sandwell council and what had really happened that night in 2014 in Wednesbury- a far cry from the lies issued by councillors that had been given space within the local newspaper without checking for accuracy.

I submitted a freedom of information request to Sandwell council, asking for the Sandwell council report. Specifically I asked.

“(ii) It is alleged that several calls were made on the public address system before the fireworks were set off with a delay of 20 minutes. Can you confirm that this was the case, and therefore on whose instruction on the night the firework display was told to commence? Which officer of the council gave the nod to commence the display on the night?
(iii) I am requesting any recorded information that you hold where any officer of the council admitted making a decision to proceed with the display despite the safety concerns.
(iv) Within the report, or separate to it, can you produce any recorded evidence or record of investigation which shows direct evidence that a faulty firework was to blame for this incident, and not your council’s organisation of crowd control on the night?”

The council were then forced to release the report.

The first thing to note about the report is that its author Chris Williams  “Senior Lead Officer (Health and Safety)” had completed it sometime in November of that year.

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 It is therefore apparent that when Cooper was quoted in The Express and Star article of 27th December that he would have had FULL knowledge of this report and conclusions.

The witnesses to the event are listed as follows.

Witnesses: Mark Bowhay, Wayne Chattin, Kayleigh Love, James Piggott, Christopher Jones (Wardens). Sunish Patel, Tony Potter, John Satchwell.

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All of those listed as witnesses were employees of Sandwell Council. Specifically at this point in time, they also including the warden service were managed by John Satchwell– parks manager.

Why there were no independent witnesses to the event, and why their input does not appear to have gone into this report remains unclear? This automatically has to ring alarm bells in that if all of these individuals were managed by the same individual, and the one who had a pivotal role in the disaster that unfolded , then there may well have been pressure to agree on a specific story, which may not have been the one that happened.

Where were the firework staff, the injured parties, the St John ambulance staff who treated them, as well as several hundred members of the crowd who must have seen something?

“Prior to the event, the site plan was drawn up and event safety arrangements and risk assessments prepared. Risk assessments were also obtained from Jubilee Fireworks. Some informal planning meetings took place prior to the event but no minutes/documentation were forwarded or considered as part of the investigation.”

One has to ask from this statement if these “informal meetings” really existed at all ? Why would it not have been forwarded to the investigator as key evidence ?

“At 19:15, it became apparent that the numbers attending the event were much higher than in previous years. This was due to the fact that it was a free event and weather was perfect for a firework event. There had also been excellent marketing and communications for the event, particularly on social media.”

This of course is where the planning of such an event was key. The free event was the whole issue of the cause of the problem, but only Sandwell council could attempt to claim some self praise in light of a report about its own utter failure to manage an event by its own staff !- “there had been excellent marketing and communications for the event”

“Announcements were made by Free Radio asking spectators to move but this did not prove to be successful as the announcements could not be heard at the bottom of the park and people were reluctant to move into the main body of the park.”

So now the council even desperately attempt to blame the radio station!

“John Satchwell (Parks and Countryside Manager) was attending the event as an observer and quickly identified the difficulties that staff were having in moving spectators out of this area. John asked the wardens to locate ‘megaphones’ so that they could be used to get the safety message across to spectators. This had limited success and subsequent comments on social media by persons who attended the event stated that they had difficulty in understanding what the instructions were.”

He had no business as an observer intervening in this event. That is where the whole report starts to unravel and the event descend into chaos.

We then have several unsubstantiated statements blaming the people who had been invited to this free event. Remember they had paid nothing to turn up and gain entry, they had lost nothing in being there.

“Staff continued to attempt to move spectators from the safety zone but was subject to abuse and physical threats of violence. “

“…staff and the firework company continued to receive abuse.”

“A terrific amount of abuse was directed towards wardens and staff following the incident.”

This appears a direct attempt to present mitigation for an unprofessional decision being made.

“It was made clear by the fireworks company that they were concerned about people standing in the safety zone but not at the rear of the firework display.”

 

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This key statement about John Satchwell’s key intervention is the whole reason why this firework display took place, despite the firework staff being effectively overruled by him to “let them have it”.  He had no business making this decision as he was not part of the events management.  The key statement about him “taking responsibility for what happened” means that he would take responsibility for ignoring the advice of the firework professionals, aware that they were being pressured, not least I have no doubt by Satchwell to ignore key legislation about health and safety at such events.

Any subsequent talk therefore of “rogue fireworks” by councillors and others is only an attempt to divert attention away from this key decision and “responsibility.”

DISTANCE

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The distance of 41 metres is key.

The report mentions The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as well as two published guidance manuals for managing such events.

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These two documents can be downloaded below for clarity.

Working-Together-On-Firework-Displays

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In terms of the now former guidance HSG123, the Sandwell council report states the following

“The HSE guidance document ‘Working together on firework displays, a guide to safety for firework display organisers and operators’ sets out the minimum safety distances to be
maintained for firework displays (nominally 100 metres for fall-out areas and 50 metres for the safety area). At the Brunswick Park display, the result of the malfunction was to displace the candle in such a way that it fired its final shot slightly backwards into what should have been a spectator free zone. This resulted in a number of people being hit. The distance from the firing zone to the estimated position of the main casualty was measured as 41 m.”

This therefore confirms that people were struck within an area in which they should not have been, and that the display took place despite the organisers and Sandwell council being aware of this- a far cry from the initial pack of lies about the stray firework.

Of course, this then means that the council admit to not adhering to practices under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and by this admission, they should have been expected to face legal action.

The report however chooses to ignore other statements made in the HSG guidance manual such as the following paragraphs. This is by no means an exhaustive list , but ones in which Sandwell council failed on the night in question, but omitted from Chris Williams report.

“Defining the main features of the display
11 One of the first things to be done is to decide on some basic details, for example:
• What is the expected size of the audience?

• Is there to be a bonfire? (lt IS preferable not to light the bonfire before the fireworks are fired as stray sparks may accidentally set off the fireworks.”

Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to undertake this advice and by failing to identify the size of the audience. They also failed to ensure safety by lighting the  bonfire before the display, thus pushing the crowd back.

“15 Once you have selected a display operator, you and the operator are strongly advised to agree your respective areas of responsibility for health and safety.”

Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities in that some random bloke popped up from the crowd taking over with no defined role.

 

“18 The display site needs to be large enough to ensure all the above areas can cope with: the types of fireworks to be used (this affects the size of the safety area and the fall-out area) a change in the direction or strength of the wind;  the expected number of spectators.”

 Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to ensure adequate safety areas and adhering to them

“Provision of site facilities

37 Prevent spectator access to the safety, fall-out, bonfire and display areas, by a suitable form of physical barrier.”

Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to prevent spectator access by failing to form suitable physical barriers. 

“41 A small public address system or loudspeaker will ensure that announcements and instructions can be clearly heard by all spectators at larger displays.”

Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to ensure that all spectators at larger displays could here instructions and announcements.

“Crowd safety

49 Provide an adequate number of stewards responsible solely for crowd safety. Ensure stewards receive adequate briefing, and a clear chain of command exists. Make them easily identifiable, for example they could all wear fluorescent jackets.”

 Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to adhere to a chain of command.

“50 Pay particular attention to keeping spectators out of the safety, firing and fallout areas. Control entry to the spectator area to avoid overcrowding.”

Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to keep spectators out of the safety area. They failed to control entry into the spectator area.

“What if something goes wrong?

Plan in advance! 54 Well before the day of the display, you will need to consider what could go wrong on the day. Draw up a plan to deal with each emergency or contingency, answering the questions ‘What action will be taken?’ and ‘Who will take that action?’ Involve the display operator in this exercise where necessary.

Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to provide any form of written and  minuted risk assessment process.  In the reports words

“In previous years the main fireworks event at Dartmouth Park had been subject to regular meetings prior to the event. This was not case for this years ‘free’ event(s).”

Spectators in the safety, firing or fall-out areas

61 If spectators break through the barrier into the safety, firing or fall-out areas, ensure that firing of fireworks stops as soon as is practicable.

Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to stop the firework display when it was fully aware that the area had been breached. It commenced the display in disregard for this.

“Disorderly behaviour by spectators

62 If trouble seems to be developing, call the police before attempting to deal with the matter yourselves.”

 Sandwell council failed in its responsibilities by failing to call the police. There is no mention of anyone calling the police, not least because of the alleged “threats and intimidation”. Of course, these may not even have happened, we have to take the council’s witnesses words for it!

There are multiple failures in the risk assessment process and the HSG154 GUIDANCE.

The council failed in managing overcrowding, failing to anticipate crowd numbers, keep records and adhere to The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

In the report’s own words:

“The risk assessment and safety documentation did not adequately address the potential risk of how the safety/fall-out zone would be managed.”

Indeed the mantra of Sandwell council and its heralded free event appears to have been “If we burn it, they will come.”

The report itself concluded the following about the cause of the incident.

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IE Failures admitted by Sandwell council

After the publication of the FOI request, The Express and Star finally redeemed its credibility by reporting on the facts of the case, rather than the lies of councillors and that an officer of the council had been “responsible” for allowing the event to continue despite knowing the dangers of doing so.

The following post on a firework forum about this event , perhaps sums up perfectly the essence of the case.

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But Cooper’s protection of John Satchwell was not just motivated about protecting a council officer from blame, who was to blame and who had “accepted responsibility”, no, it was because Satchwell himself was a member of the Tipton Green Labour party.

It was for this reason, a fully complicit attempted burial of the truth to hide behind “the stray firework” mantra, and all those officers and Labour councillors who took part in it after the council report had been written and the facts established are not only dishonest liars of the worst kind, but they were also attempting to prevent legal action being taken against the council.

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Once again, The lies of Darren Ciooper printed in The Express and Star, together with the key statements from the report he was lying about

It is worth stating that if this FOI request had not been submitted, then Cooper, Satchwell and co would have escaped any real scrutiny of their and Sandwell council’s actions that night and that blame would have been put down to a “rogue firework”.  Indeed this is just one example of a veritable selection box of stories occurring in Sandwell council whereby things were covered up or evidence distorted to protect those close to Darren Cooper, and all apparently under the noses of the senior officers and directors. One can only now be grateful that this poor man’s peaky blinder Mafioso is no longer in control of Sandwell council, but unfortunately the legacy burns on with an eternal flame of idiots still in post and those who choose to look the other way when something goes wrong.

The council had to call in RoSPA when it all went pear shaped again with a free display in Dartmouth Park in 2016 amidst widespread criticism; they clearly had learnt very little from past events. The RoSPA report is notable for mentioning aggressive security guards and swearing DJ’s- remember the witnesses at the 2014 event saying similar things about the crowd?

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If only fireworks came with suitable protection around them; but don’t rely on johnnies, they are easily prone to being “faulty”. 😆

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Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Remember, remember Brunswick’s 5th of November

Willfull Delays

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Following the last post concerning Victoria park Smethwick and the continued death of birds at this site, I contacted the Express and Star newspaper, who in the first week of August had previously exposed the situation that had been occurring for some weeks.

It was stated in this article by the cabinet member that “We have been liaising with the Environment Agency and the RSPCA and have sent a bird off for an autopsy to ascertain what is causing this problem. We are awaiting the results from DEFRA.”

All this sounded positive spin, yet the reality was quite different.

Once again the latest Express and Star article contains the following from Councillor Gavan about Sandwell council’s apparent proactive approach. .

“We are very sad to see that birds are dying at the pool and we are investigating the most recent spate of deaths.

“Dead birds are currently with the RSPCA and Natural England for autopsy to try to establish the cause of death.

“We are working closely with the friends group, DEFRA and the RSPCA and Natural England to deal with issues at the pool as quickly as possible. Our engineers are working to fix the collapsed drain and we are shortly to tender for oxygenating equipment for a number of our pools.

“We will also work with a contractor to remove litter and refuse from the pool.”

There are a  number of facts of the case which need to be put on record surrounding these SMBC press office claims.

  • Sandwell council were aware of the bird deaths in July, and have had over three months to collect litter, fix the collapsed drain, and to install oxygenating equipment.
  • The RSPCA have told me that Sandwell council stated to them that they would be doing this following the initial incidents in August- BUT DIDN’T.
  • The RSPCA have had great difficulty in getting anyone from management in Sandwell council to contact them or get back to them.
  • The RSPCA left dead birds that they had collected for the council with SMBC/Serco to arrange collection with DEFRA.
  • Two weeks later leading up to the report I put in on 8th October about fresh dead birds, they were still in a Serco freezer at Oldbury.

I CONTACTED THE WILDLIFE INCIDENT UNIT AT NATURAL ENGLAND- SPECIFICALLY DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF RAT POISONS PUT DOWN HAPHAZARDLY BY SANDWELL COUNCIL EMPLOYEES.

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The wildlife incident unit picked up all the bodies, and so this had nothing to do with the council “arranging” to do anything to investigate the issue. They would still be going off in the Serco freezer if it had been left to Sandwell council managers.

I also contacted The Environment Agency who told me that because it wasn’t a River they couldn’t investigate it, but just issue the council with “advice”- presumably as they had in July, but I wonder what they had advised and if the council had followed it? The officer from the EA who rang me back said that someone from the council had said that they would ring me back in five days, though I note that this didn’t happen.

In terms of litter, this is merely a symptom of the council’s neglect, but a red herring in terms of it having anything to do with the bird deaths at the pool. Most of the litter is connected to drug and alcohol misuse and little else. This week some of it finally appears to have been collected, but only as a result of the bad publicity. I am still sending off a dossier of evidence to Keep Britain Tidy as regards their Green Flag designation of this park.

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Not much of one for wildlife

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Beer cans, laughing gas canisters and syringes

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A sign , not too far away.

 

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Victoria Park Smethwick- The Park of Death

In August I detailed how several birds had been found dead in this “green flag” park managed by Sandwell council. It had been reported in The Express and Star newspaper that these birds had been “left rotting” in the pool for several weeks and that the council had supposedly sent off birds for post mortem.

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Despite issuing statements in this article around Botulism being the likely cause of death and attempting to focus attention on the unproven toxin rather than the environmental conditions at the park in question , there were also some unanswered questions as well as issues surrounding what I had seen two of Sandwell council’s environmental health officers or pest controllers  doing at this location at an earlier date with baited stations and rat poison. THIS REMAINS THE CASE.

Despite using a media platform initially to suggest that they were in control of the situation as regards removing any dead birds from the water, unfortunately subsequent inaction by council officers has failed to alleviate what has occurred at this site or even attempt to investigate it. There were conflicting statements made at different times by councillors/officers as to how many birds had died and what was happening with the alleged post mortems.

It subsequently transpired that just one female mallard had been sent off for post mortem and received on 19th July. I had to obtain this myself via an FOI request to The Animal Plant and Health Agency, after failures from SMBC officers to provide me with any basic details,  where it appeared that someone from Sandwell council/Serco (Smbc’s waste partner contractor), had informed them that around 20 birds had been found dead to that date.

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The limited post mortem APHA reference number 26-B0162-07-18 , hampered by the decaying carcass quality was only tested for avian influenza, and so no botulism was even considered or looked for.

Numerous more deaths of several species have since been noted since August, and these were also reported to Sandwell council, and the RSPCA have been heavily involved in catching sick birds, as well as retrieving dead ones from the lowered water levels. These birds were then given to Sandwell council to arrange further post mortems with Defra. Unfortunately it appears that this did not happen.

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Sick goose

 

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Another Dead mallard

I am setting out below the full email correspondence between myself and Sandwell Council surrounding this issue for the record. What can be seen here is the dithering, inaction and inconsistent statements which in themselves raise questions as to why SMBC are rather muted about issues surrounding this lake and what is behind the cause of the birds’ demise.

 

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Contacted Max Cookson, “waste and transportation manager” SMBC copying in cabinet members Cllr Bill Gavan and Cllr Dave Hossell.

Reference made to conversation with MC a few weeks earlier following publication in Express and Star of multiple bird deaths at this site. At meeting with Max cookson I had asked who had collected the dead birds and where they had been taken? He had said that he would contact me with this information but hadn’t done so. I query a number of issues surrounding the litter in the pool and also the fact that SMBC  are aware that the pool cannot retain water due to the collapsed and unrepaired drainage channel underneath the pool. N.B The picture of a Severn Trent water van in this park is noted, but what were they doing there? Is there no link to anything going on or may have transpired in the pool?

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21/8/18

Reply from Max Cookson stating that he would supply me the information in the next week or so and also claiming that the council were looking at aerating the pool. He had copied in to this council officers Matt Darby, Jo Miskin and Darren Jones.

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21/8/18

Reply from Cllr Gavan acknowledging the email and also asking the above named officers whether it would be possible to clear up the litter around the edge of the pool? (Sent from his I phone.) N.B this being one month since the dead mallard had been submitted to the AHPA and longer still from the claimed deaths of dead birds weeks earlier that had been “left rotting” by the council in the lake.

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13/9/18

I Emailed Max cookson also copying in Cllr Gavan and other officers that he had previously tasked with clearing the litter. I pointed out that no action at all had been taken and that I had also not been contacted by Max Cookson or anyone else as had he had stated would happen in his email of 21/8 .  N.B Three weeks had gone by without reply. I also had at this point obtained the “post mortem” of the single bird that they had sent for post mortem myself via an foi request, also without having been informed by MC as to whom he had contacted at DEFRA. (see above)

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17/9/18

A forwarded email from John R satchwell sent to myself and for some reason him copying in chief executive Jan Britton and someone called Alan Caddick (no idea). Many claims made in the email but no detail as to when the council would be taking action, and largely telling me what I already knew and had found out myself via the freedom of information request. I am certain that he did not compose this email himself, and the fact that it was a forwarded email would appear to confirm this. The wording of this is very similar to that I had received from the APHA , then vla about deaths at Rattlechain lagoon and is deliberately non specific. So who wrote this email really?

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On 8th October, I visited Victoria Park and was horrified to see a dead swan carcass on the pool, as well as a dead goose on the island and at least two dead mallards in the water. Another mallard was visibly sick on the water. I am aware that the swan had not been at the site on my previous visit of 4th October. A passer by reported that it had been alive the day before on the water.

I contacted the RSPCA for assistance in rescuing the mallard.

 

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A boat was launched, after removing a syringe from the edge of the water, the mallard was caught and the officers also retrieved the other dead birds. To watch the RSPCA catch the bird click here.

 

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The open bait box, minus any bait was also noted at the edge of the pool.

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As Sandwell council continue to procrastinate and dither on taking environmental action, one can only hope that someone who is not out of their depth at two feet of water will hopefully seize the initiative and start caring about this park. Here is a video I took on 16th August concerning the litter and issue surrounding the collapsed and badly “repaired” water leak. Two months on- still no action.

The claims made by Sandwell council’s press office and cabinet member within this article cannot be further from the truth. Accordingly I am contacting Keep Britain Tidy with evidence to demand that this park is judged again in its current state.

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#draintheswamp

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Poisoning the park

 

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A  chance encounter some time back with some suspicious looking geezers  led me to enquire about so called “pest control” in Sandwell’s parks and open spaces. The issue of “what is a pest and when does it become one?” is obviously a moral question and not one with which this local authority would of course have been historically interested. The fact that there exist non-lethal methods of managing populations of certain mammals or birds does not appear to compute to those in power or “responsibility, and we have certainly seen the sinister side of “pest control” by a private company that SMBC hired to kill geese.

So firstly, I wanted to ask Sandwell council what types of poisons were used within its parks. The request was made via whatdotheyknow.com as has been the case with other requests to this council.

Dear Mr Carroll, Re: FOI 9893981 – Rodenticides and poisons used in parks and green spaces

I refer to your Freedom of Information Act request made on 22 November 2016 relating to the use of rodenticides in parks and green spaces within Sandwell. I would advise you that pest control in parks is generally carried out by the council’s own Pest Control team but at Sandwell Valley Park it is undertaken by a private company.  

I have set out the answers your questions below for the financial year April 2015 – March 2016 

1. Could you please reveal a list of the rodenticides and other chemicals used for controlling species in parks and green spaces within the borough of Sandwell? 

The Rodenticides used on our sites are:  

Rascal Difenacoum Grain  

Rascal Difenacoum Paste 

Ratimor Difenacoum Wax Blocks 

Sakarat Difenacoum Grain Bait  

2. If held can you state the volume/cost of these chemicals used in 2015/2016 financial years? 

Rascal Difenacoum Grain = 16.5 kg at a cost of £17.32 

Rascal Difenacoum Paste = 900 grams at a cost of £10.60. 

Ratimor Difenacoum Wax Blocks 95 Kg at a cost of £216 

Sakarat Difenacoum Grain Bait 20 Kg at a cost of £32.40

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. 

With regard to other chemicals used I would refer you to the answer you received following a previous Freedom of Information request:

 

4. Are they employed for use in any of Sandwell’s judged Green flag parks?    

“Rodenticides are deployed in parks which have gained the Green Flag award.” 

Discussion.

All this is rather interesting, especially given my encounter with two individuals who appear to be in the employment of Sandwell council- appearing at Victoria Park Smethwick in a van with a Sandwell council logo. It was clear that they had with them a tub of something, yet no apparent means with which to conceal it and were gazing into the water and surrounding vegetation.

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On closer inspection it was apparent that this tub was a container of Ratimor wax blocks– as confirmed in the FOI answer from Sandwell council. But this container is at direct odds with Sandwell council’s answer that it uses Ratimor Difenacoum blocks- as closer inspection reveals that this particular container has red blocks on it. This means that this particular container is Ratimor Bromadiolone blocks instead. Here is the proof of this, so please compare the two with the picture above that the SMBC operatives had with them. An online search of this particular anti-coagulant substance reveals quite a lot about it and also the methods that should be deployed when it is unfortunately used.

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The following data sheets sets out how the company producing this poison say that it should be used.

Ratimor Wax Blocks Data Sheet

This clearly states “Apply bait in locations out of reach of children, pets, domestic animals and nontarget wildlife, or tamper-resistant bait stations. “

The active ingredient of this poison is Bromadiolone. A safety data sheet on this substance can be viewed below.

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There have to be concerns as to what these two individuals were doing with this bait, in this, a so called “Green flag” Sandwell park and also the ways in which it was being deployed. I expressed my concerns at the time to the RSPCA.

It is evidently clear that the SMBC operatives WERE NOT following the guidance of the manufacturers about valid PPE. No gloves were being worn.

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It was also clear that one of them was also smoking at the time, and to add further insult to injury, the fag end was discarded into the bushes- now I wonder if a member of the public had done this they would be fined?

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The two individuals promptly left when they knew that I was on to them, though it remained a mystery to me on close inspection of where they had been that there were No bait stations visible at all. I am certain of that because I clearly searched for them. I also do not know what they were doing using a stick- but I’m sure they weren’t bloody fishing- so were any blocks being dropped!

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At a later date however, I observed rat bait stations in clear reach of hands in plastic easily destroyable containers, “secured” only by a couple of loose cable tags.

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One wonders why this poisonous material was being left at this site, clearly against the guidance use of the manufacturers.

I am unaware of how often and frequently this operation has continued over time and where this poison has been deployed, yet this week, a story in The Express and Star reveals that a number of birds and geese have been reported dead in recent weeks at the same Smethwick Park.

It is reported here that just one bird has been sent for post mortem, which if looking to confirm botulism poisoning is a hopeless task. There are dead birds on the island, and the pool has also been supposedly “fenced off” even though there is a fence around the pool already.

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There have to be questions asked about the new housing development taking place on the site of a former Sandwell college, immediately adjacent to the pool, and what may have entered the water from this site. Why is it that this side of the pool has been fenced off to fence off the fence?

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This pool has long had a problem of a collapsing drain underneath that every time there is a heavy downpour it collapses severely depleting the pool. This happened a few weeks ago again, and has yet to be repaired- but it is clear that it has never been repaired properly to start with.

It may well be the case that this factor along with the weather conditions has caused an outbreak of botulism in this park- but this is an environmental issue very much in Sandwell council’s own hands. Before they look at water quality, I would be looking at what is being dumped around it- and this extends to more than a few loaves of bread and rotting chapattis.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/smethwick/2018/08/06/dead-geese-left-rotting-in-pool-at-black-country-park/

 

 

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A thoughtful education

Pest controllers, local authority bent council officers, aviation industry , conservationists with a black and white view of life and a God complex, “educators” with obvious childhood issues- they all appear to have it in for Canada geese. But whilst they moan and whinge and give nothing but lies, here Gooseman and Swanderwoman set out some of the virtues of the humble goose.

Perhaps they’re just jealous of a bird species that is everything that they are not.

 

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Our latest leaflet can be downloaded below.

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Say “NO!” to wildlife culls.

 

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Rising for wildlife

It’s June and that means the annual gathering in Birmingham to celebrate wildlife in all its various forms at The Birmingham Wildlife Festival. This was the fourth year that we have attended and it always offers a variety of stalls and guest speakers fused with musical interludes.

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The stall provided information about Canada geese and their efficacy highlighting how the much maligned species does not deserve such a negative label as “pest species”.

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It wasn’t long before Gooseman, the Park Knight appeared to lend a hand with proceedings. This was Gooseman’s fourth appearance at the festival also, but it still seems that some people think he’s a penguin in disguise. :roll:

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Gooseman made his debut at the festival  in 2015 swiftly followed by a little more exploring in 2016 , though I still have no idea as to what was going on here! Last year he invited swanderwoman to join him.

This year however he was flying solo, posing for selfies, high fiving and on his best behaviour given that the rossers were nearby.

S9560006He also met Brenda the badger and Tigerman whilst perusing the other stalls.

It wasn’t long however before he got a little bored and set off in search of food.

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But suddenly a plethora of furry characters appeared as if by magic. With the world cup on, gooseman wondered if these were invading Russian ultras cunningly disguised. If these rufty toughty football firm mafiosa are ultras “till they die” , does that make them always ultras?  pondered gooseman? 😆

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But gooseman needn’t have worried as these were no football hooligans , it was just the Birmingham furs doing a walkthrough in celebration of the same cause.

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Foxes, cats, phoenix’s , goats and who knows what else offered a truly anthropomorthic feeling around Victoria Square.

But as his new found friends departed Gooseman saw what he thought was an egg and decided to try and hatch it.

Must have been oiled he thought, as it failed to hatch- still at least there were no chance of any culls of wildlife taking place in the square given the people and superheroes gathered there in support of celebrating compassion and advocacy of the natural world.

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Till next year……………..

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A strange education

It has recently been widely reported that a school in Sussex- “Saxon primary school” decided to carry out a cull of Canada geese in a field which is apparently used by children at the school. The decision was supposedly based on misinformation about the goose droppings being “harmful” to the children- though no apparent evidence appears to be forthcoming of any previous incidents where this happened. I’m not sure of how long this school has been in operation, but the Trust which runs it along with two other neighbouring schools has existed since 2013.

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So far it has been reported that 14 geese were shot- a very “limited” cull you might say and rather pointless given that birds return to such areas if surrounded by waterbodies- as this one appears to be. From what can be seen from this overhead picture below, the area in question is miniscule compared to the area of water that surrounds it. It almost appears as an insignificant quay.

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I’ve zoomed in here from this google map, but if you zoom out, the surrounding water area makes the field itself almost lost. The school itself boats 4 playgrounds. I’m not sure why one of these could not be converted to an astro turf area or synthetic pitch, but that of course is up to “the educators”.

There are various elements to this story and tragic events- for the geese. It appears newsworthy as it obviously shows human conflict as well as being that time of year when newspapers are looking for what would be considered “odd” stories.

Let’s first look at the school ethos itself, based upon some comments made on their website- that is “The Lumen Learning Trust.”

“At the Lumen Learning Trust, we are a little bit different.

For a start, we are a small Trust, absolutely focused on supporting children to become curious, inquisitive and capable young people.

Saxon School is on a large site with four playgrounds, a trim trail, a 5-acre playing field and its own swimming pool.”

So we learn from this that the area in question is just 5 acres. Easily fenced and capable of geese  being deterred from entering it- certainly from the waterside.

“The School Grounds

Saxon Primary is situated on a very large school site which includes a very large field and three separate playgrounds. Consequently we aim to make the best and most effective use of our school grounds. In addition to their use in our PE curriculum, the grounds are rich in animal habitats and plants which help us develop our science curriculum.” 

The field is not large. The quote “the grounds are rich in animal habitats and plants which help us develop our science curriculum.” is one which I will be reminding you of throughout this post- as it is clearly is at odds with the decision which they appear to have taken and obviously not capable of seeing regards Canada goose habitat.

“Science

The National Curriculum places strong emphasis on the development of experimental and investigative science (Scientific Enquiry). It also provides children with knowledge and understanding in topics such as ‘Life Processes and Living Things’, ‘Materials and their Properties’, ‘Physical Processes’ (electricity, forces, motion, light and sound), and the ‘Earth in Space’. “

Our curriculum is organised into topics that year by year build on children’s prior knowledge and skills. They are taught the skills of prediction, testing results, measuring and recording accurately and explaining what they have discovered. We aim to ensure that, through Science, pupils will extend their knowledge and understanding of the natural and physical world and thereby develop a fascination and respect and ultimately a sense of responsibility for our world and the creatures and plants that inhabit it.”

One wonders from this waffle as to how the children at this school, based on the simple decision to slaughter geese entering their perfect habitat are able to develop any “respect” and “ultimately a sense of responsibility” for their world and creatures and plants that inhabit it”.

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Canada geese are also protective of their young, but don’t kill anything.

The legitimacy of the cull.

The decision to cull, like that in Sandwell was based on lies. Lies perpetuated by the avarice of the pest control industry and also Natural England- to whom their civil servants are nothing but confederates and shills to the same end. Their policy is based on lies and misinformation as well as fake figures and ultimately supporting a law regarding so called “non native species” as being worthless which can be killed. All of this stems from  the ghastly European Union Habitats Directive- championed by the likes of the avian eugenicists at the RSPB- who get a great deal of money from the Nazis from Brussels.

One can only hope that when we thankfully leave this corrupt union, that this piece of crap is written out of UK law forever and along with it “The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981”. The so called “general licenses” stem directly from European Union legislation to preserve flora and fauna within the continent of Europe. Those who wish to remain as part of this empire would do well to educate themselves as to how this vile political fakery pretends to have supported animal “sentience”. It is lies.

The EU Directive implemented into British law was written for farmers to protect landholders and also the likes of the allied pest control industry- but never for the wildlife itself. It was not written by wildlife rehabilitators or those championing welfare with an ounce of common sense or compassion. It was written by cold hearted conservationists, whose love of themselves and self importance no doubt finds favour in Royal circles, which is why these hypocrites appear to think nothing of blasting birds for “sport” and then getting all sentimental over the likes of red squirrels, that were themselves blasted by the same gentry as “pests” many years before.

There is nothing “complex” about this decision, it was one of laziness and ill considered snowflakery. Just because the pest control industry likes to make false claims about Canada geese, so there are those who use children as masks to hide their own paranoia and phobias of certain creatures.

I remember having long discussions with Andy Tyler, the late former director of Animal Aid about the cull in Sandwell and those in general who decide to carry them out. Andy had the view that such people see wildlife as “ornamental” and objects to be viewed or used as appropriate, whilst other animals inside their house were no doubt feted and given human names, to which the children of the house would be encouraged to “pet” and talk to – almost like surrogate parents to occupy their time whilst their parents were no doubt too busy to do anything with them themselves.

Such people are of course stark raving hypocrites. Should children be encouraged to draw pictures of swans and teach them to tag words such as “regal”, “beautiful”, “graceful”, etc to this species, whilst at the same time encouraging them to regard geese as “pests”, “vermin” and “dirty” for being of a different species?  I can tell you that swan shit does not smell of rose petals and neither are the shaft lice that infest their wings so great either when they get everywhere you could think of. 😆

But such people describe and use wildlife as some form of “education” as though they are just objects to be used for this purpose, and to “entertain” the children rather than having a right to exist for anything else. Such logic is perverse.

The RSPB COMMENTS.

“We hope the school can use this as a learning opportunity for pupils to explore the interconnectedness of people with nature, the laws that protect wildlife and the difficult decisions that we all face at some point in our lives.”

Of all the stupid and hysterical comments made by the school’s executive principal , those attributed to the anonymous RSPB spokesman speak volumes about this particular organisation and its own connectedness with wildlife murdering organisations like the BASC and the NFU.

The only thing that children will learn from this is that anything which is considered “inconvenient” in nature can be killed. If it is a swan, that’s wonderful, if its a goose then kill it. Men with guns were invited into this school to shoot something that could not defend itself. What a great lesson that provided. The law as detailed above does not protect wildlife, it protects those humans with a vested financial interest who make money from killing it.

There was no “difficult decision” here and such platitudes show the RSPB for what they really are, which is a money making organisation masquerading as a charity offering “a voice for nature”. Where is the voice for the so called “non native species” of bird here?

I suggest that if anyone wants to help nature and care for it then they contribute to a local wildlife rescue organisation rather than an administrative Royal sponsored body which does not “protect” anything.

On a final note, I would point out that a school with a logo encompassing lethal weapons in a city that the world can see is now totally lawless with daily stabbings everyday perhaps sums up the mentality of those running it.

 

To date, over 67,000 people have signed a petition against the school’s actions.

 

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THIS PETITION AT THE LINK HERE.

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Making up a number

I have recently discovered an old Express and Star clipping from 1997, as well as a letter from Sandwell council at the time concerning a letter that I wrote back then when it was intimated that the council were thinking of culling geese.

The upshot of all this is that the council did not do this at this time, but instead drew up a policy of controlled egg pricking based on a report carried out by officers.

Following the controversial cull in 2013/14 where several Sandwell council officers lied, (as well as lying in a freedom of information request to another individual about not lying!) I had asked for the original report from 1997 under a freedom of information act request, yet the then Head of Neighbourhoods, Adrian Scarrott, claimed that no copies remained. I always believed this to be another pack of lies and very convenient, as this report would no doubt have given an estimate of numbers of geese in Sandwell’s parks and open spaces as they then stood, which would have informed opinion or not of how their numbers had supposedly increased as the council claimed in their defence in 2014- or at least that would be a basis for a theory.

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This reply from Scarrott of 26th August 2015

What we have from the claimed 2013 report by the liar John Satchwell, is a number of 700 Canada geese in Sandwell’s parks, yet this figure appeared to vary between different letters and statements made and received at different times by numerous Sandwell council sources– i.e they were all invention. The fact that this alleged report was never minuted at any meeting nor apparently ever minuted as being discussed, and only became available after the infamous FOI that I put in always made me doubt whether any report had ever been written or approved at all, and the action of culling was entirely down to one officer’s own actions. We of course cannot believe anything that the fat odious and now thankfully deceased former leader of Sadwell council Darren Cooper said to be the truth as he was as wide with the truth as he was in girth.

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The report which went to the so called “scrutiny committee”, compiles by Scarrott

But this article from 1997 gives a clear reference to the number that Sandwell council were claiming to be present in 1997 at the time of their policy- and that number is “more than 700 Canada geese”!

This then provides clear evidence that in the intervening 16 year period between a policy that the council officers had appeared to have forgotten, and the ludicrous and heavily Natural England plagiarised Satchwell report, that Sandwell council’s own estimates of geese had in fact not gone up at all, but were the same or had gone down.

 

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From Express and Star 14/1/1997

We do not get which officers drew up this report or the verification of the cogence of evidence about the claims about footpaths and lakes being fouled. Of course they attempted the same thing after culling in 2013/14 and it didn’t stack up then.

Two former councillors are quoted in this article, Bill Archer and Jim Mckenzie. I have never heard of the latter, though it was not uncommon for Bill Archer to be quoted on just about anything at this time given the lack of Conservatives in this Labour dominated council. Mckenzie’s claims are garbage and unsubstantiated. I have no idea how he does not agree with the council officer figure, though like most amateur politicians, pet theories trump any scientific evidence- “the Satchwell way” it appears was rife back then too it seems. Of course, if this ex councillor was right, which he wasn’t, then that would make the situation even worse for this Labour controlled authority which culled on the basis of figures that were their own invention.

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The key figure about Canada goose numbers in Sandwell- from Sandwell council’s own report

I am aware that I made numerous points in a letter following this article, and another that had appeared on the front page of this paper. The letter from Stuart Gallacher, then director of Education and Community services states that the article in the paper was misinformed and that the council in fact would not be culling any birds but undertaking egg pricking. We have to take his claims at face value.

He did however enclose a copy of a Defra report on the subject of Canada goose control at the time, and I will look at this in an upcoming post in more depth as it is quite interesting.

 

 

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polluted thinking

Two recent press releases from The Environment agency offer a very contradictory response to issues of water pollution and subsequent prosecution of those responsible.

My dealings and experiences with this government quango, have shall we say over a considerable period of time been less than impressive to put it very politely. In fact you could say I find them about as useful and popular as a hard backed copy of The Da Vinci Code in an Oxfam shop.

Previous gems relating to the notorious chemical dump at rattlechain lagoon involved one “pollution/prevention control” officer telling me that phosphorus wasn’t toxic- as “I’m a scientist, I did A level chemistry” – (not appearing to know the difference between elemental white phosphorus and total phosphorus!) His line manager added that phosphine was “marsh gas” ,whilst adding that his major at university had been zoology. 😯

Time and time again as a wildfowl bird rescuer I have dutifully rang the 0800 807060 incident number to report chemical pollution of watercourses, in an effort to try to prevent and save birds from being affected by the contaminants, whereby you would hope that timely intervention would prevent such incidents, and also save volunteers and charities the task of having to deal with a situation of rescuing them at a later date. Time and time again, I have been let down, and so have the birds.

One example concerned the firm Masefield Epson Limited in Tipton. Their environmental release onto a canal was one of the few that I have reported that the EA actually traced, but the recording of the fact that a family of swans apart from the surviving female was wiped out by their chemicals was not in the prosecution.

The EA really only appear to care about fish deaths- it’s where they make their money from rod licence sales, but you’d hope that their thinking wouldn’t be so shallow. Unfortunately it is.

The first press report quotes chair of the EA, Emma Howard Boyd and details the annual state of water report from the EA which they published at the same time. I will look at this in more detail below, but the quote from Ms Boyd is what you would want to see from an organisation claiming to want to be “creating a better place”. You would hope that this place would be one where polluting companies- especially multi million pound for profit water companies were punished every time for environmental pollution that they caused.

“Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“Water quality is better than at any time since the Industrial Revolution thanks to tougher regulation and years of hard work by the Environment Agency and others.

But there are still far too many serious pollution incidents which damage the local environment, threaten wildlife and, in the worst cases, put the public at risk.

I would like to see fines made proportionate to the turnover of the company and for the courts to apply these penalties consistently. Anything less is no deterrent.” “

The second press release therefore comes across as being rather odd in relation to the above line. This concerns the Environment agency effectively removing themselves and the polluter from the court system, and instead introducing an “Environmental undertaking” scheme, whereby the polluter can offer up some cash to restore the environmental damage which they created.

Personally I have great problems with this, particularly when the polluter has a dire environmental record, and can be seen to be somehow getting good PR for themselves by bunging gratefully receiving “charities” with a few quid. “The polluter pays principle” may be being met, but the way in which it is decided , and by whom in the EA gives cause for concern. Who decides to prosecute, and on what basis? Who decides which charities benefit, and are the top table charities the only ones likely to ever receive any money?

This article reports that  the polluter United utilities, a water company paying “£155,000 in charitable donations”. The EUs were offered to the Environment Agency after the company admitted causing sewage to pollute two watercourses in the summer of 2016.

I have no idea how the ramblers association connect themselves with water pollution , or how they make the EA approved charitable list, if there even is one. It concerns me that some charities here will be more equal than others in terms of receiving cash- particularly the more established well known ones, or how are we to know what connections the polluters have with these charities, or even the EA officials making the decisions?

United Utilities to put it mildly and if you’ll excuse the pun have a shit record for water pollution and being fined and prosecuted by the environment agency.

This story reveals how they pumped seven million litres of raw sewage into the Duddon estuary and were fined £750,000 in 2015 by the EA.

This story deals with how they were fined £666,000 in September of last year , by The EA for polluting the River Medlock in Manchester with raw sewage.

Just a month later they were pumping out their shit from tap water causing a cryptosporidium issue. On this occasion they were fined £300,000.

They are also culpable to failing environmental permitting regulations resulting in hefty fines.

TheEA officer in this last case is quoted “The case illustrates that the Environment Agency will not hesitate to take action where companies pollute the environment, especially where measures could have been put in place to avoid it.” 

In short this company who have also engaged in goose murder are a grubby shambles of an operation and persistent serial polluter of the environment and of water. Why should they get good PR for stumping up a miserly £150k when they are a £1.5 billion profit company?

The latest EA state of water report makes interesting reading, particularly on some themes which I have gone into before about the manner in which geese have at certain times been scapegoated for causing “environmental damage”.

DOWNLOAD THIS REPORT HERE.

The main findings are revealed below.

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 Thus we learn that agricultural and farming practices and the water industry are the main polluters and reason why river pollution is so bad- and nothing to do with wild birds and animals like geese.

One of the most interesting parts of the report concerns phosphorus. “The main cause of phosphorus in rivers are sewage effluent and run-off from agricultural land. “

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In context the ludicrous Defra report outlining why geese can be culled contains the following misnomer. Like the author of this report, “Dr” John Allen, it is a fucking joke.

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Perhaps Defra then, on the pure “scientific evidence”  should be issuing general licences in how farmers can be “humanely culled” to prevent such incidents from occurring. 😆 Unfortunately scientists are bought and paid to make up lies on behalf of economic interest lobby groups like the agricultural/farming industry.

The report also mentions chemicals entering rivers- from of course more economic interest lobbies like the pharmaceuticals industry- to which farming is heavily linked- particularly in the form of antibiotics.

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The pharmaceuticals industry along with fake “doctor” psychiatry is intent on hooking people on drugs and false hope.  They invent a so called mental health “illness” , then encourage people to “talk about stigmas” etc which no doubt has boosted sales of their human body malware enormously, especially with copious pious celebrity/political endorsements. But all of these happy pills are eventually going down the shitter, into the water and poisoning the environment- so before you are “depressed”, perhaps try getting something that others before the snowflake quack science of the late 2oth Century came along  and grasped, and that is

grip

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