The crooked Tividale “builder”

 

This is another post about the “non-bino” wino from Lower City Road- Mr Sydney Sheldon- the man whose dubious brickworks enterprise following on from the Barnett family ruined the area around Rattlechain with the sell off of large parcels of land for housing. I have also heard that there was a stables in the vicinity that was used for grooming, and giving free rides, and not just of an equestrian variety by a certain tenant of his.  😕 Blind eye I wonder?

I have already looked at how this convicted criminal and conman would allow

Flytipping – especially of chemical waste  to flourish around his “business” and he also took matters into his own hands regards criminal damage. 

 

But before all this I have found another article where this “builder”- (WTF of?) ended up in court. The Rugeley Times of 3rd June 1950 explains how Sydney was also a rogue landlord.

I do not know how this man made his money initially, or how he acquired the brickworks at Rattlechain from The Barnett family demise, but he appears to have had fingers in the pie in multiple land ownerships across the area, including obviously, these houses in the Walsall area. I just love the phrase “alleged to be a builder himself” used in the article. It should be said that he was also an alleged brickworks manager at this same time. 🙄

Sheldon had failed to appear when summoned to carry out simple repairs that he should have been capable of completing himself. His “shameful neglect” of the houses was further compounded by his arrogance of refusing to accept letters to his home address in Lower City Road- pompously called “Chelmarsh”.

This appears to set fourth a pattern of thinking himself to be above the law.

 

Four Faults. LOL

With his brickworks fraud gaining momentum through the planning application to dig a further hole- into which would be dumped uncontrolled illicit waste, he obviously also found the time to buy land in The Smethwick area, as this post from The Birmingham Daily Post of 1st August 1968 attests.

He is now self titling as “Warley builder and estate developer”, and appears to have objected to a compulsory purchase order on land in Mallin Street. If you read this it once again seems to be a cost undercut that the man is proposing.

 

I did endeavour to see if the crooked house still existed in Lower City Road, but alas, it appears that Chelmarsh was either demolished, renamed or renumbered. Perhaps it was rebuilt by a

Conman, scumbag, wrong un, but always a crook from the local vicinity. 

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A Tividale Brickworks for sale

 

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The Rattlechain brickworks c1950, and by now the associated former clay pit was being filled with the toxic waste of Albright and Wilson

There is a some detailed information publicly available concerning The Rattlechain Brickworks in the Samuel Barnett era- principally in connection with the 1899 canal breach and subsequent blame game as to how it had happened.

I put forward another lost gem in the form of this post concerning the state of play with the Barnett family in 1911 and also the connected Stour Valley brickworks further down the canal.

After the death of the main protagonist, it is clear that his sons took over the business, perhaps under the guidance of the consigliere Frank Dawes. There are some fading lights which guide how the business was operating towards the 1930’s and towards the Second World War.

A worker had a serious accident in 1927, and had won compensation from the firm three years later.

The estate of the man in question appears to have been put up for sale around 1933 with several advertisements concerning the considerable property he held, though I am not sure why his heirs would have been selling it all off. Perhaps there were serious failures at the brickworks at this time in the depression era, and the Barnett’s needed some loot pretty fast. The 25th May 1933 Dudley Chronicle shows several house lots for sale by auction, including  The Orchards in Dudley Road.

I’m staggered at the amount of property that this private landlord had amassed.

Even the family heirlooms appear to be on offer. Is nothing sacred! I would have loved to have got my hands on one of his piano fortes.  😆

Whatever happened from all this, the brickworks appear to have struggled on. From records from 1938, it is possible to see that it was an industrial smoke nuisance on the radar of the local board of health in Rowley Regis, (as well as the Brades works), in a report- what a great legacy the Barnett family gave to the area, where of course when councillors, they could have written off such complaints.

What is not clear to me however as yet is how the Barnett family ceased connection with Rattlechain, and the conman Sydney Sheldon acquired the plant and more importantly, the surrounding land, which he had absolutely no intention of using for brickmaking.

This post looks at available news sources that I have found before, with new material concerning the advertised sale of the works at different times, and what was being sold in addition to the brick manufacture apparatus. It is clear that this estate was considerable.

The first apparent end of the Barnett era appears to have occurred at the eve of WW2 , and adverts appeared in The Birmingham Daily Post around 1939 such as the one below from 13th May.

 

This concerned the sale of “a modern and up to date plant” for the production of 7 million bricks per annum. This figure compares with the 40,000 per day cited in the 1911 article concerning the works. It is claimed that there is an “inexhaustible mine of Staffordshire clay” within the 61.5 acres of land. Interestingly, the name of Dawes appears in the solicitors dealing with the matter, with the auction taking place at The Grand Hotel in Birmingham on 15th June 1939. One can only speculate as to why if it was “inexhaustible”, that the Barnett family were apparently letting it go after so long. Were they in debt, or no longer interested in the trade?

A further BDP post of 17th June, confirms that the freehold of the land had been purchased at this auction for £14,000, but not who to.

 

Subsequent to this , another Daily Post article of 18th October 1940 mentions that a private company had been registered as “Barnett’s brickworks” , with the head office being at Rattlechain. 

I do not know who exactly was in control of the works at this time, but a subsequent planning record statement suggests that  by 1948 the brickworks were struggling.               This should however be taken with a large pinch of salt given that it is the conman Sheldon making the claim. It is also stated that work on the new pit started in 1946, (this would become much later the contentious “Duport’s Tip”, and it is likely that far less bricks were made from this marl after this time.

scan0064

The area of Barnett’s brickworks comprising around 62 acres, as matching the sale description is shown in this post war interim development order.

The picture of the works below was taken in 1948 as part of the Conurbation book.

The canal based Rattlechain brickworks

Rattlechain brickworks Crown Copyright 1948

More importantly, the brickworks and surrounding lands were up for sale once again in this year as revealed in the 10th April 1948 Birmingham Daily Gazette.

The area here is massive at 45,100 acres, and included other factory areas, as well as the three Rose lane cottages, which were occupied on a lease basis.

An overhead picture of Rose Lane and the brickworks from around this period shows the extent of what was being sold, and complements the description in the auction. An overhead shot from the same year also shows the extent of the mainly agricultural land, with Rattlechain brickworks marked at 4.

Panoramic view from 1950 showing Rose Lane marked in red. To the left The Rattlechain brickworks and Rattlechain lagoon, the Tividale sewage works, and bottom left, The Vono Lagoon.

Detailed information is given about the state of the works, and an inventory, which now produced an alleged 100,000 bricks per week. The claim that 7 million bricks per year could be produced is again made.

It is not apparent as to whether this auction sold off every lot, particularly the brickworks themselves. Sydney Sheldon’s involvement with the works appears to start before the Second World War, yet by 1950 he is listed as “managing director” with the application to extend the works in his signature. The description given here however is much different to the flannel being spouted in this auction, and one has to wonder what con artistry was beginning to emerge here.

scan0079

“These brickworks are old and in very poor position. Before the war he had 40 to 50 people working for him, in 1949 he had only about 15, and his works were working at only about 25% capacity.”

Furthermore  “According to the valuation returns he produced 3.5 million bricks in 1948 and the average selling price was £8 per 1000 bricks.

I have outlined what happened next in the Sheldon Empire HERE, and the loss of the once agricultural land around Rose Lane HERE,  and it is clear that brickmaking was never really the intention of this man, and “building” bricks it seems would encompass the tipping of building rubble and God knows what else across the whole site.

By 1973, the reckless fly tippers of Duport Properties Limited would register freehold interest in the brickworks and 2.5 acres on the south side of the works. The fate of this site had been sealed. 

 

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Oldbury’s acid bath lake 1- The toxic legacy of Accles and Pollock

 

Hazardous waste and dodgy old marl holes filled with liquid toxicants go hand in hand with this polluted town. Rattlechain lagoon however is not the only hazardous waste liquid dumping site , though there are no similarities between the former lagoon in Shidas Lane/Rounds Green Road  in terms of the chemicals deposited in there.

The site itself started as they all appear to as a marl hole for brickwork manufacture. At this point it formed a centre point between three roads, Rounds Green Road, Portway Road, and Taylors Lane, (later renamed Shidas Lane ), and the Portway arm of The Birmingham Canal. Two brickworks appear on the 1904 map, Portway Brickworks and Little Fields brickworks.

By 1916 , the site is shown as “old clay pit” though the brickworks at Portway are also still marked.

 

Accles and Pollock began the manufacture of steel tubes in the town in 1901, merging with Oldbury Tube Works Company, Merimans Limited, and The Oldbury Steel Conduits Ltd  nine years later.  The company later became part of the Tube Investments Limited group (TI).

A & P made tubes for bicycles, ships, aircraft and scientific instruments like syringes amongst other similar items.

In 1932, a company called Metal Sections Limited was taken over by TI and transferred to A&P occupying The Paddock works which were located adjacent to this clearly waterfilled old marl hole. They would later move out of the works to set up a stand alone company.

The pictures below date from 1934 , and show the situation as it then stood, thus confirming that at this time though shown as an “old marl hole” on maps, it was really a substantial pool, though I doubt contained “water” that anyone would want to drink.

Rounds Green Road at top of picture in bowlike bend

Paddock Works on the top left of lagoon

 

 

The 1938 map shows the Paddock works for the first time, along with the now renamed Shidas Lane.

Only in 1958 is the site shown as “pond” on the ordnance survey map.

Overlay of 1904 map over current bing maps location.

 

I spy an old marlhole filled with acid waste

 

As a wartime manufacturer, making gun barrels amongst other things, like Albright and Wilson, they had strong political links in the town which made them part of the business mafia that controlled it. W.W Hackett in particular was a titular figure in this company of tubular bell ends and in local politics.

To illustrate my point, this sycophantic arse licking piece from 21st May 1949 Birmingham Daily Gazette was written on his retirement from the bench, of which company he had Ken Wilson from A&W.

They forgot to state ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTER!

The types of chemicals, particularly acids that were being handled and disposed of by Accles and Pollock before waste management licensing and at The Paddock works were highly dangerous. The article below from 18th October 1957 Birmingham Daily Post shows how a worker at the site was poisoned by tricloroethylene vapour and the company found to be “negligent” 

In this case, this chemical widely used as an anaesthetic was being used as a metal degreaser. Though Thomas Bell was awarded damages for his injuries, this company hired people in the medical profession if you can even call it that, to attempt to deny that he had suffered a coronary thrombosis. 

It should be noted that this chemical is also a human carcinogen and occupational exposure is associated with a range of other human conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Clearly, its effects in groundwater are also very dangerous , as would be allowing it to be discharged into the sewer network. Oh wait…..  😮

Particular concern has been shown in the US regards this chemical from industrial sources entering drinking water and poisoning people.

Of course, it was by 1977 that we get the first hint of “protection” of the environment for this dangerous chemical being used amongst others at The Paddock Works site, and an overview for how long this industrial polluter had been using the old marl hole for its foul purposes of waste disposal. This meeting of the West Midlands County Council waste disposal and licensing committee of December 22nd 1977   is known in infamy for how many dodgy licences for dodgy firms were being discussed in a single session. Included at this meeting as “contentious” licences were The Mitco Lagoon as well as Albright and Wilson’s Gower Tip, and our own Rattlechain lagoon. This was another of the contentious licences on the agenda- truly incredible how these vile shitholes all appeared in conjunction on the same radar all at once, though blind it seems to the eyes of the pillocks at the meeting.

 

The information gleaned for Accles and Pollocks use of the site should be taken as accurate and more authoritative than anything that can be found today. We learn that

  • Accles and Pollock were discharging a “variety of waste acids” at a rate of 10,000 gallons per hour to the lagoon.
  • Of this 4,000 gallons per hour were extracted and “treated” prior to discharge to sewer! The other 6,000 gallons “soaked away” and was “suspected” of soaking away into nearby mine workings!
  • The licence appeared to be wanting to start a “phased withdrawal” from this operation.
  • The condition 6 wanted a 3 year time limit on this.

This information is absolutely shocking in how little regard this dangerous waste was accepted to be escaping without proper scrutiny. Even more shocking is that the licence was subsequently granted to carry on regardless, despite the “contentious” aspects considered.  This is just another example of the bloody imbecile Ken Harvey waste disposal officer at the time and his legacy of shame and incompetence. the next item on the agenda that day was…. SL31 Rattlechain Lagoon.  😕

I put in a Freedom of Information Request to The Environment Agency to see if they held this historic waste management licence, SL137  as well as any other relevant modifications passed after this.

 

The EA responded with some useful information.

A map of the historic landfill site numbered EAHLD23686 can be found HERE. 

Note the Sandwell council refuse tip at Shidas Lane across the road which was also an infilled brickworks marl hole.  The map of the licenced site, also confirms the area shown in the historic maps and photos above in this post.

As can be seen by the licence SL137, this is another typical example of how vague Harvey’s wording was and how anything could go. It is difficult to see how this man was anything more than a waste disposal industry bought bunged shill. That is the only conclusion that any reasonable person could come to when studying how much escaped scrutiny during this disastrous period of waste dumping in the West Midlands County and his departments systemic failures to “control” pollution. 

I have set out the main points of the licence and how it was altered by subsequent modifications in the PDF below with relevant links to that within.

Shidas Lane lagoon waste management licence and modifications

one thing of concern is that the original licence condition 6 gave a three year time limit to 1981 of discharge, yet the subsequent modification gave a mealy-mouthed bypass for this without specific time limit! Of particular note however are the chemicals and their quantities being discharged into the lagoon which warrant further scrutiny and need to be highlighted clearly! John Haigh would have had a field day here down the Paddock!

 

 

Hydrochloric acid

Sulphuric acid

Nitric acid

Hydrofluoric acid

Chromic acid

As well as providing the licence, the EA also provided a data sheet on information they held, which states that the site had been being used for this purpose by Accles and Pollock since 1925. Thus it appears that the apparent “water” in this lagoon was nothing more than an acid bath. 

Thus we see here that they had been unregulated for 50+ years, discharging dangerous and carcinogenic wastes into drinking water and beyond without scrutiny.  Were the local health board aware of this, or was it the fact that those like the weasel Wilson family of the company controlling this aspect of civic life not that interested if it blotted their fellow industrialist and councillor mates economic interests?

More recent documents dating from the 1980’s are supplied in the form of the trade effluent discharge consent permitted by the equally disgusting environmental polluter Severn Trent Water.

THIS ALLOWED 900 CUBIC METERS TO SEWER PER DAY AT A RATE OF 11 LITRES PER SECOND. 

Limits were placed on heavy metals within this mix, as well as PH between 6-12. I would argue that these were all set too high. The PH of 12 is especially a  very strong alkaline.

By the 1990’s the site works had now become known as TI Apollo– and later “Apollo Sports”  this referring to a brand of sporting items manufacture such as javelins.

A very detailed “working plan” of how this works operated and its interface with discharge to the lagoon, can be read HERE.  

This all smacks of carefully worded theory, but as I have seen with Albright and Wilson, was the practice really as clockwork as they would like to suggest?

It appears that by now, Severn Trent had reconsidered their inappropriate limits, but I’d still argue they were too high- particularly on Chromium.

Accles and Pollock would morph into the Apollo Sports brand , and I am sure that javelin throwers and golfers would have had no idea of what crap was being dumped in order to facilitate their elite sports projectiles and clubs, but I really wonder anyhow if any of them would have even cared?  😥

As a footnote to this , and a theme that you will find regularly if you are a reader of this blog, we see a tiny number of individuals who pollute rewarded, and the victims of industrial pollution left to rot.

12th June 1989 Sandwell Evening Mail and all the shit that they didn’t want they puttered down the sewers! 

The ponse in uniform in this picture was well known for digging up land himself to be infilled with mountains of waste. Lieutenant indeed for an aristocracy that buys up land in splendour for agriculture and spits out titbit crumbs of contamination for the rest of us to live amongst.

So it appears then that a very few individuals who practiced elite sports for the wealthy- particularly golf, warranted the pollution of Oldbury. There are those who claim that Oldbury is famous for “making things”. I would state that in this endeavour, through industrial processes, it is the people of Oldbury who were well and truly “shafted” as a consequence by the likes of Accles and Pollocks and the Apollo offshoot.  The polluter never paid to clean up the massive bogey they left behind, and it would not be long before A&P went tits up into the rough as a company and left behind their problem toxic waste lagoon.

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Sandwell local elections-the candidates speak- Rattlechain/Sheepwash/Temple Way

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
World (dannyhalpin.com)

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. 

Hi, Ian, 

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.

Regards

Will Gill

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. 

“Hi Ian,

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.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Gingell”

 

RIZWAN JALIL (LABOUR AND CO-OPERATIVE ) , emailed on 11/4/2021. Email response received 13/4/2021

“Hi,
 
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.
 
 
Many thanks 
 
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. 

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A Hazardous waste site reminder- never forget.

The obscurity of the location of Rattlechain lagoon was always part of the problem. Set in a post war era as part of a “tipping area” with very few houses around, it may well have made it a “suitable” location at that time. But then some planning berks decided to create an estate off The Dudley Road, and so this has continued to expand on former agricultural land.

Panoramic view from 1950 showing Rose Lane marked in red. To the left The Rattlechain brickworks and Rattlechain lagoon, the Tividale sewage works, and bottom left, The Vono Lagoon.

The most noticeable feature of the site for many years was the long discharge pipe jutting out into the centre of the lake. When i first laid eyes on it many years ago, the first thing that i thought of was the fabled “Iraqui super gun”. 

I just wonder of the same Sheffield manufacturers made both?

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Tanker discharging waste into lagoon in 2001

 

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The method of disposal and “site procedures” , as stated by the site operators can be read HERE, and note the commentary on this as most of their tale was a deception then, as it remains now with regards to what they were actually doing. (And see photograph from 1994 at the bottom of this post which demonstrates this point).

Before the demise of this turquoise metal structure, which ironically attracted birds to the site, I took this video as an archive  reminder of its existence for posterity. It can be viewed on the facebook page for this website below.

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Despite attempting to remove their apparatus from the site in 2013 as part of the cover up works which I looked at HERE , Rhodia/Solvay have never removed the toxic legacy of what lies beneath and what was discharged from it.

A second video from Christmas 2009 shows the effects of this said operation and what happens when wildfowl are poisoned by waste such as that being disposed of in this site. As stated before, it was never “safe”, and it was never a “small amount” that was dumped there.

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I have recently stumbled across a rather important picture in the public domain dated from 1994. It shows the position of what was occurring at the site at this time, with a tanker set up in the so called “beach area”. The large pipe in the centre of the shot is there, but not apparently being used.

In the background we see evidence of the abysmal foundry sand so called “reclamation” going on which caused “misery” for many years to local residents of the Temple Way Estate. Of course this would also illicit the removal of the former Tividale Sewage works for housing, which was granted on appeal in 2004.

This tale of two tips is important to knowing their entirely separate histories, and their total incompatibility with filling a large watery hole with a great mound of sand.

I would also add that whatever the tanker driver was doing in this picture, and you can clearly see that liquid waste is being discharged from a hosepipe, AND NOT CONNECTED TO ANY PIPE, it does not match what is described in the rattlechain site procedures, and I cannot offer any explanation or defence as to what was going on here.

We know historically that one driver had “used their initiative” and unloaded barrels which caught fire when this method was still being applied in 1989in this very same area. Perhaps this was another example , but what effect would this have had on leaving said waste above the water level, and likely to dry out, let alone be ingested by dabbling wildfowl? 

Toxic Lagoon And Tip. Photograph by Robert Brook/science Photo Library (fineartamerica.com)

The camera does not lie. Only some site operators views of history do. 

Toxic Lagoon And Tip. Photograph by Robert Brook/science Photo Library (fineartamerica.com)

 

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The political class say “the West Midlands deserves better”- Yes just not them!

I am no fan of politicians of any variety. They appear out of hibernation in December before a May election and preach how things will be better if they are elected.

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This year locally in the English West Midlands, we get both council elections delayed from last year, plus the pointless Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner polls thrown in. The latter two positions have no mandate for their creation by the public, and there does not appear to be any mechanism for removing this shackle of tax payer burden either. If the candidates had the b 😛 llocks to allow a “scrap this position” on the ballot paper then I would bother to vote.

Unfortunately, there really is no difference between any of the Mayoral candidates when it comes to brownfield building. I have called out current mayor Andy Street before for his “brownfield first” agenda , which offers nothing for those who live around such sites, particularly historic landfill sites, except disruption, exposure to long buried hazardous dusts and chemicals , and the eventual prospect of lack of services, increased density of population and loss of green space. His “brownfield” are our green spaces, or those which have the potential to become the nature reserves of tomorrow with sensitive and limited management. Unfortunately, what you will probably get from a development in such areas are plenty of houses with  a “tree lined boulevard” or hedgerow thrown in as some form of “mitigation”. Effectively, litter traps where the new neighbourhood dogs can have a piss.

I looked at the Government’s abysmal planning reform white paper, and how this “developer’s charter” if approved makes the prospect of having no green space left in our area even easier if you are deemed to be in a “growth” area. Growth that is by developers and the construction industry laying their cuckoo eggs on our soiled soil.

The West Midlands County is tiny compared to the surrounding counties, yet the population is greatly in excess. The rich keep it that way  with their “greenbelt” agenda.

Locally, the unelected West Midlands Combined Authority, a poor man’s reinvention of the West Midlands County Council and “The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership”, a new name for the The Black Country Development Corporation is being handed obscene amounts of tax payers money for the house building “clean up” of toxic sites. There is even a £17.5m new building being built in Wolverhampton called the “National Brownfield Institute.” Again we pay for this, when the polluters of the said land never did. 

According to this gushing article, this building will  “be home to a state-of-the-art research and innovation centre and will feature commercial testing facilities and lab space.

It will also house a national policy institute which will inform and guide future strategy development around brownfield regeneration, give specialist advice on dealing with contaminated land and repurposing buildings and sites and look at new and innovative construction methods such as modular housing.”

“Specialist advice” from whom? This is a private sector body created using public money, and also funded by public money to pay for land that was abandoned, or from which serial polluters like Severn Trent Water PLC can flog off for their shareholder profit. WHY THE HELL SHOULD WE PAY FOR THIS, AND, DID I MISS THAT DEBATE? 

Around Rattlechain lagoon there is an evil air stirring on “Mount Doom” that has been buried for some years, a “sleepless malice” with the renewed prospect of more built development. Nothing escapes my eye, and I have been monitoring it for some time, as have local residents, and I will be reporting soon on this.

See the source image

In this regard, I will be asking questions of those standing in Sandwell in the wards of Oldbury– which contains the lagoon and surrounding area, but also Great Bridge which locates Sheepwash local Nature Reserve– which is under increasing threat of such developments on its border. Every candidate standing in these wards will be contacted and asked the same questions and invited to make comment without editing.

It is important at these elections that people voice their opposition to housing being targeted on open space and the very worst historic landfill sites adjoining their homes and the direct threats that “remediation” of these pose. Once the greenspace is gone, it will never be replaced. You should not be left with no open space because green belt votes are considered more important. Use your vote wisely. 

#STOP THE GARDEN CITY

 

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Blob phos- The joy of tainting

The artist formally known as “the tramp phosphorus” has recently been inspired to take up painting of his surroundings using the wet on wet tip technique. What else can he do after being locked down by the flocculant?

The mountainous foundry sand greened landscapes to the horizon, the flurry of critters scampering through the bushes and the swish of birds wings through the murky lagoon waters- what inspiration.

On a recent wet tip tutorial, he demonstrated to a gang of cormorants his recollections of the waste pipe that used to jut out into the depths of the hazardous waste site discharging liquid laced with milky white happy little phosphorus particles. Of course, there was much to recall layered and smeared on the marl canvas already.

 

One diorama showed the symmetry of the two lagoons and dividing causeway path, well one lagoon needed a friend.  😆

Said tramp to his captive audience

“Take some titanium white and blend it with a little cad yellow phosphorus, and blend it back. There we go, right over there, here and everywhere. Mix it up, scrub it in,  tiniest little circles, tiniest little circles , grab it and pull, grab it and pull…..”

A stunning result

“And now the fun part of it…. wash the old brush using odourless paint thinner…..shake off the excess…. and beat the devil’s element out of it.”

And for his pièce de résistance, Tramp painted a birds eye view of the lagoon…

“You could add a happy little palm tree going right off the canvas. Mix some Prussian blue and Vandyke brown….have a foundry sand mountain that lives here….there we go…A few distant evergreen trees and some happy little clouds of phosphorus pentoxide… and I think that’s ready for a signature…..

One is reminded of the mantra of Albright and Wilson. “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy little accidents.”

“Until next time… happy tainting, and God bless.”

 

No critters were harmed during the making of this blog post, unlike the dozens poisoned in this former brick work clay pit filled with a banned rat poison in suspension. 

 

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Rattlechain lagoon makes The ENDS report!

 

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The notorious Rattlechain lagoon , a local hazardous waste dump with a very murky secret has at last gone national!

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The ENDS report is a brilliant publication and can be subscribed to HERE. 

I must thank Danny Halpin, a keen young investigative journalist for his time and effort in uncovering a large body of information that many authorities would like to remain buried- particularly the construction industry and those crowing for the “brownfield first” building agenda.

The article references some of the struggles that I had, particularly early on in attempting to find out why many birds were dying on this lake, which would go on to be accurately described as “a lake of death”.  

I bore direct witness to the suffering of birds who were unfortunate enough to land on this backwater dump, surrounded by canals and adjacent to a nature reserve, and nothing but obstacles were put in my way by multiple Governmental agencies in attempting to find out the real cause of death.

This was of course , white phosphorus, (P4), a banned rat poison, which perversely, was still allowed to be dumped at sites like this in considerable amounts. This had happened for years, despite even in the 1950’s local authorities knowing that it was “a peril to children”, but still it continued, and then became even worse sanctioned by a paperweight waste disposal licence that was not worth the paper it was printed on.

The idea that this highly toxic and poisonous waste could be dumped in the open air was flawed to start with, and those who considered it “safe” to do so, as the waste management application suggested should have been made to ingest it, along with the fools who believed the “science” of these reckless fraudulent liars operating out of Oldbury.

When applying for a waste disposal licence to The West Midlands county council in 1978, Albright and Wilson had the audacity to make false claims about the “safe” disposal of “small quantities” of this dangerous banned rat poison by claiming that “natural oxidation” would deal with it.

The process was neither “safe” and the amounts were not “small”. Albright and Wilson liars of the chemical industry. 40 years on, it’s still there.

In the ENDS article, Rhodia/Solvay still cling to the deception of percentages of the total waste, but this was dismissed when I asked the EA for the records of how much waste had been deposited since licensing, which can be read here. These quantities do not include the many tonnes of waste dumped for the 30 preceding years before this, when this company were also a Ministry of Supply phosphorus munitions producer in WW2 making the stuff that unleashed a firestorm on Dresden and Hamburg. The wastes of war had to go somewhere, and a satellite waste dump down the road was the answer.

Rhodia also made statements to another national newspaper journalist some time ago, admitting that there were “tens of tonnes” of white phosphorus buried within the waste- when you look at it like that, the 0.1% they claim is perhaps put into a better context and not the disingenuous bunkum that they are trying to peddle.

Milligram quantities are enough to poison people, as well as the unfortunate birds that I myself pulled from the water on several occasions.

It is quite apparent however from Danny’s investigation via ENDS that Rattlechain lagoon is one of many sites that have been forgotten like this around the UK, or perhaps deliberately buried for corporate benefit, and secured by industrial friendly politicians who even in the past have been known to be paid “policy advisors” for such.

The case of young Zane Gbangbola and his Dad’s efforts to uncover the wall of silence and denials is one that I too recognise, and I am sure that there are many other environmental campaigners across the country, and throughout the world who have also been side lined by corporate denial and Governmental ignorance in the same way.  Read about the family’s story HERE on their website, I firmly believe after looking into this that a perverse injustice has been served here, and I wish them well in uncovering a truth that I believe will one day be admitted.

You have to wonder with all of the joined up denials and attempts to silence by those in local Government and national agencies to whom these civil “servants” serve ?

The What’s in your backyard EA website, and the manner in which it was removed from public view, I have looked at in This FoI request. What it was replaced with, and the amount of info that has now been obscured with is really not worth bothering with, as the ENDS article suggests.

The quote from Professor Andrew Watterson   is again something which I recognise fully. This applies to the sites around rattlechain lagoon where housing has been progressively developed over the years, leaving the watery toxic waste hole in situ without dealing with it first, and by that I don’t mean filling it in.

I will be going into painstaking detail about this no doubt in the coming months to years, and have already prepared multiple pages and posts after unearthing vast quantities of desk buried information from various sources. Developers may be increasingly finding it easy to build on such sites through manipulation of the planning process, but I promise them the mother of all battles with them attempting to pull the wool over people’s eyes as to the historic legacy buried at these “shovel ready” sites. 

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White phosphorus misadventures #5 Bright eyes, burning like fire

This is another very weird tale of how to treat a longstanding white phosphorus burn from the early 20th century. The same story appears to have been syndicated in a variety of titles that I have come across, though I take this one from the 16th December 1904 Ashbourne News Telegraph. 

At this point in time, P4 was being phased out of matchmaking due to the dangerous nature of the substance and its poisoning of very young women in particular in the matchmaking industry.

This story from America involves another youngster, but we are not told as to how he came by the injury. I am not sure if “Cornelius Post” was his name, or if the comma in the article refers to the story coming from a newspaper by this name in the New York area?  

The grotesque and cruel method used to treat the burn on his leg was to place a live rabbit on the burn in some bizarre skin graft operation. They could have course have just used some stuff off his own arse, instead of inflicting such an ordeal on the poor thumper. I cannot see how the life of the rabbit would possibly have been saved, or even the boy himself. Thank goodness this type of “surgery”  never caught on.

 

I feel a song coming on……….

“How could the leg that burned so brightly, suddenly burn so pale- Bright Eyes.”

 

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Albright’s toxic archives #32 A cloud over Oldbury 3

 

Published just a day after the laughable comments of works manager Ian Woodhouse’s statement that there would be an “extremely unlikely event” of a major incident being declared at this Top Tier COMAH site, this Sandwell Evening Mail piece from 16th January 1992 shows that there was just that.

Once again, The Trinity Street terrorists toxic assault chemical of choice was white phosphorus. P4 being delivered into the works by rail had caught fire. The amount being carried was 50 tonnes, an extraordinary volume of such a dangerous substance being delivered into an urban area. The “irritant white chemical” was of course oxidising phosphorus- phosphorus pentoxide.  This chemical is also toxic. 

The early morning drama saw both the A&W part timers joining forces with the professionals.

Once again, Woodhouse tries to play down the incident and again directly lies that phosphorus pentoxide is not toxic.

Phosphorus pentoxide is “toxic”. It is a COSSH substance hazardous to health.

The Public Health England Guidance on white phosphorus incident management 2016 makes it specifically clear in its key points, that the oxides arising from uncontrolled releases of white phosphorus are “toxic”.

And this was certainly known to these producers of white phosphorus in 1992.

He also makes the  ludicrous guess that he “thinks” the fumes had dispersed before they reached the site boundaries- so therefore he attempts to connive that there was no off site release. Of course, this was as the Environment agency report from 1997 states, directly linked to his personal bonus scheme as works manager.

What were local residents supposed to make of such senior officials at this chemical factory when they made such verbose statements of untruthful information about their daily activities? What confidence could they have in living next to a site which handled such large amounts of dangerous flammable chemicals which gave off toxic gases when exposed to air? Would their “safety cards” that had been delivered by the company in a PR exercise protect them? It had however been The Albright and Wilson way for many decades, as this blog has repeatedly demonstrated through direct evidence. 

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