Or (at least some of them do). 🙁
As stated a couple of blog posts ago, I set out to raise certain issues with those standing at the local elections standing in the Great Bridge, and Oldbury wards in Sandwell. The Rattlechain lagoon and Temple Way Estate are located in the latter, with Sheepwash Nature Reserve lying in the former. I have low optimism in politicians generally based on past experience, or would be ones, and I am afraid that this pessimism has not really lifted as a result of this little experiment. 👿
I WOULD ALSO STATE THAT I HAVE NO PARTY POLITICAL ALLEGIANCES, HAVE NEVER BEEN A MEMBER OF ANY POLITICAL PARTY, AND HAVE NO DESIRE TO EVER JOIN ONE EITHER.
Issues surrounding site allocations for new housing I have discussed several times, and the opposition to the so called “garden City” was noted in a petition handed in to SMBC in 2017 against the allocation of houses in the Dudley Port Supplementary planning document. This opposition is still very much in force, and we want it removed!
The declarations as to who are standing in these wards for the May 6th vote is now out, which consists of 1 Conservative Party candidate in both wards, 1 Labour Party candidate in Great Bridge/Labour/Co-Op in Oldbury, 1 Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate in Oldbury, and an Independent candidate in Great Bridge.
Following publication , I reached out to the six candidates standing, three in each ward, whom are listed below.
I contacted three of them via social media email addresses (see below), but the other three, including the serving councillor seeking re-election for Great Bridge proved more elusive, so I wrote to her via the contact address in Tipton listed on the SMBC CMIS website.
The other two candidates I wrote to via their election agents, as listed on the SMBC notice of election agents.
Will Gill, Nathan Poole (Conservatives), and Rizwan Jalil (Labour) were sent the following PDF which contains some questions at the end of it. This PDF is a small history of rattlechain lagoon and also the adjoining land which has a separate history of its own, and one notes the “misery” that was spoken of by residents of Temple Way when protracted “reclamation” works endured for over ten years on that site.
Letter to candidates. Stop the garden City ruining sheepwash
It also looks at the “need” for housing evidence in the area, or lack of it, and makes the connection that any attempts to build on despoiled land would have an unbearable affect on the residents of Temple Way, as well as on the nature corridor of Brades Hall/Birmingham Canal and Sheepwash itself.
I wrote to Ann Jarvis as stated, and to the election agents listed of Sandeep Singh and Richard Gingell, and invited them to make contact with me so that I could give them the same opportunity as the other three in answering what their position was on this topic by sending them the same PDF electronically. I gave them all a time limit for publication of 30/4/21.
I would stress that I offered ALL fair billing, without editing or censure or bias, in response to the questions, and I hope that in publishing the responses which I have received , as well as screenshots of the replies that one can see that I have been true to my word.
Unfortunately, grass roots local issues such as this get lost in the party political campaign dogma of the National position, but this commentator and campaigner does not agree with such use of LOCAL elections for these purposes. I would also add that in the past I have seen many a party political campaign leaflet that are identical to the next ward, save for a short candidate bio. It would be refreshing for a change to see a leaflet produced entirely by the candidate, with their own ideas for the area they want to represent, and not one imposed upon them by higher command or some puppet master running for higher position. This is just a personal view, but perhaps constructive criticism for the future.
Here is a list of the questions posed in the PDF, with relevant links.
1 A petition of over 400 names was handed in to Sandwell council opposing the designation of building houses in this area, by local residents of the Temple Way estate and users of Sheepwash local nature reserve. Do you support the building of houses on the piece of land next to a still classified hazardous waste site and built on top of another historic landfill site, or do you back the local residents and campaigners against such a proposal and will speak up on their behalf to remove it from Sandwell’s site allocations in the Black Country Core strategy review?
2. Please read again the following post about events which occurred in the 1990’s , and in particular the letters of local residents to Sandwell Council planners concerning this site and how regulators failed them and the environment by allowing the blight to continue for years. As a local councillor, what would you have said to council officers in respect of this situation at that time, and do you think it acceptable that such a scheme could occur again?
“Misery” at Temple Way | What Lies Beneath Rattlechain Lagoon?
3 These land titles were registered in Jersey in 2003 for a mere £5,000, yet reportedly sold in 2018 to a company based in Hampton In Arden for £1.5 million. There are a number of such sites in our area registered in tax havens such as this which lie dormant for many years only to appear to magically reregister in the UK with the advent of tax payer funded cash schemes such as those operated by the WMCA to “clean up” abandoned sites where the polluter did not pay to clean them up. What are your thoughts on this? Should the polluter pay, or the tax payer?
(more on this to come in an upcoming blogpost ED)
4 Please read again the following post concerning the loss of data concerning the right to know “What’s in your backyard”.
Do you think it right that local residents are being denied the right to
such information, and as councillor will you campaign to make such data more accessible to the public via the council website? See for example Dudley’s planning website which lists historic landfill sites and maps them out.
Why is it so hard to unearth what’s in your backyard? – Eyes of the
5 I would invite you to give a short statement about your credentials in respect of environmental and wildlife issues. Are these matters important to you and what would you do to protect sites like Sheepwash and surrounding wildlife corridor areas?
RESPONSES GREAT BRIDGE CANDIDATES
WILL GILL (CONSERVATIVE) emailed on 11/4/2021
A response (of sorts) received on 28/4/21.
Many thanks for your email. It has been received. It has been read and appreciated by myself and the candidate for Oldbury Nathan. We truly appreciate your time formulating this document and recognise your care for the reserve. May I ask who has responded to this so far? If you could inform me of this at your earliest convenience.
Conservative Candidate for Great Bridge. “
I received nothing further, despite emailing that two other candidates for Oldbury had responded up to that point.
ANN JARVIS (LABOUR) Wrote to home address 13/4/21 inviting opportunity to send PDF on obtaining direct email correspondence address.
NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER RECEIVED.
SANDEEP SINGH (INDEPENDENT) Wrote to listed election agent on 13/4/21 inviting opportunity to send PDF on obtaining direct email correspondence address
NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER RECEIVED
RESPONSES OLDBURY CANDIDATES
RICHARD GINGELL (TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALITION)
Wrote to election agent 13/4/21. Email response received 15/4/2021 seeking some clarification, and main response received 22/4/21.
So sorry it’s taken me a few days to get back to you, work has been pretty hectic and I wanted to get the chance to actually go down to Temple Way to get a complete feel for the area so I could give your document the attention and understanding it deserves.
I walked from Callaghan Drive, up and through Gladstone Drive and then up and round to MacDonald Close before going through the little footpath on the northern tip of MacDonald to have a quick glance at the general state of the area from a wildlife perspective. I have also been around the other side from the canal where the pylons and the entrance to Sheepwash are many times, so I’m familiar with a good chunk of the site.
My immediate thoughts: How in god’s name are you going to move that much ground, with barely any access whatsoever, without massively disturbing the hundreds of residents for what could potentially be years? It’s frankly impossible. If the council wanted houses here then they should have started on this before completing or even beginning work on the estate around Wilson Drive. Based on this fact alone, I would argue firmly that this ship has sailed. This area, regardless of any other factors, is unbuildable.
The other factors? This is not even soil. I had a suspicion that this was the case based on the condition of the greenery present at the top of the site if you enter from the canal-side. I had no idea it was actually sand. Your document has really left me gobsmacked. Would I want my family to have to endure a 6 month sandstorm for the sake of building houses that the community doesn’t want? Would I want my family to move in next to a poisonous lagoon doing god knows what to the local environment? No on all counts. The companies that have done this to our town should face criminal charges, not just mere fines and a rebrand.
In fact, once you look at a map it becomes immediately obvious that the Oldbury ward is densely populated. Sheepwash and the land the other side of the canal sits as a bastion of beauty in a town filled to bursting point. Funnily enough the council HQ is in our ward, complete with one of the biggest car parks I’ve ever seen situated about 50 meters to their north west, with a nice big dilapidated industrial estate another 10-20 meters further north which would have excellent transport links. Why are these not being developed?
While I’m not opposed to building quality housing the people want to live in but this scheme is almost the punchline of some cruel joke. Destroying these vital spaces and ruining the lives of those around it would be a completely inappropriate course of action from the council and make no mistake, I would oppose it vehemently.
The fact that the council is considering this, even after monumental opposition from the community really speaks to how broken not just our local politics, but politics in general has become. You alluded to this in your previous email by suggesting that national issues overtake those that are affecting us in our communities. The workers that built them have been left behind by our politicians, too busy furthering their own careers to stop and look at the trail of misery left in their wake, reducing us to nothing more than an expense on a balance sheet.
TUSC stands for a mass programme of quality, affordable public housing to meet the crisis of homelessness and overcrowding we see in our communities today. There are many brownfield sites across Sandwell and the wider Black Country which could be used to achieve this. The problem? They’re currently in the hands of large developers who want to “land bank” now in order to extract maximum profit later, often with public money funding the initial costs. We say it’s time for councils to use their powers to take over these sites to build for public need, not private greed!
This is part of the reason I’m standing for TUSC. The other parties either have never cared for us or are too tied up in their own internal struggles to remember why they’re here in the first place. TUSC provides us with an alternative to let them know that we are not expenses, we are people, and we will be heard.
For anybody reading this: If you’re sick of our councils thinking nothing of our suffering if it benefits the personal wealth of those in charge, if you’re sick of companies treating us little more than cattle with fire and rehire schemes, if you’re sick of the already exorbitantly wealthy becoming wealthier while those around you endure crushing austerity, seemingly never able to do more than survive, join us. Vote TUSC. These are our communities and it’s time we took them back.
Please feel free to post my response in its entirety. I would be beholden to nobody except those in the community I would serve and as such have nothing to hide.
RIZWAN JALIL (LABOUR AND CO-OPERATIVE ) , emailed on 11/4/2021. Email response received 13/4/2021
Thank you for reaching out and bringing such a important issue to my attention.
I would like to let you know that I am standing elections to help serve the residents at the best of my ability with any issues that affect them.
If elected I can work closely with the organisation to help resolve this appropriately.
I will also be willing to meet the organisation as soon as i am elected.
Rizwan Jalil “
NATAHN POOLE (CONSERVATIVE) emailed on 11/4/2021
NO RESPONSE WHATSOEVER RECEIVED
So there you have it, and please feel free to quiz said candidates further on the matter if you should see them. I think that this was a worthwhile and productive exercise and there needs to be more of this type of forum at local level to flesh out issues of concern.
I will not tell people who they should vote for, (and people can judge the quality of responses from the candidates as they see fit), except to say, that if someone cannot even be bothered to engage with their electorate in this way, when asked specific questions on a specific local issue, and that all responses received, (as seen), have been published in full as promised, then why the hell should they expect anyone to vote for them on May 6th?
I myself will be voting against the position of Mayor of the West midlands, as it is an undemocratic role , as is that of the Police and Crime Commissioner, where I will be voting for the only non party political candidate Julie Hambleton.