Filed under: Election 2005
Let me introduce you to someone.
This is Mike Whitby, who just happens to be the current leader of the Tory group in Birmingham and, thanks to the Lib Dems cutting a deal last year, of Birmingham City Council itself.
Mike doesn’t actually, so I understand, live in Birmingham, although he does own a property in Selly Oak on which he pays council tax or business rates so he does qualify to stand as a councillor in Brum.
He actually lives in Sandwell - on Lightwoods Hill in Bearwood so I have been told.
He also has a business is Sandwell - Skeldings - which is based in Smethwick. In fact by a strange coincidence in my previous job I actually worked in offices right next to his company.
As leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike is ultimately responsible for the state of Lightwoods Park in Bearwood which is ‘owned’ by Birmingham City Council but actually in Sandwell - this is not so uncommon a situation as most local parks round here were once the private lands of local industrialists and businessmen before being willed or place in trust with local councils for the benefit of local people. Parks were once a vey good way of ensuring that your posterity if you were wealthy enough to own a fair bit of land.
Now when I was a kid, Lightwoods Park was a pretty nice place to visit as local parks go and generally well maintained - it used to have a little putting green and the bowling green there was always busy if the weather was good. But over the years its gradually become more and more run down and fallen in disrepair, in no small part due to this odd situation where its in Sandwell but the responsibility of Birmingham city Council who really don’t seem to give a toss what kind of state the place gets into - not to put too fine a point on it, these days the park is a fucking disgrace.
Now we, in Sandwell, would like to sort this out, do a few renovations and generally ensure that the park is brough back up to scratch… except that we can’t because it belongs of Birmingham.
So here’s the rub. In June, Smethwick Community Forum will be holding an open forum meeting for the people of Smethwick at a venue in Bearwood and we’ve a few things we’re looking to get our teeth into - the Safeway/Post Office closure, the bloody casino which is apparently back and, yes you’ve guessed it, the state of Lightwoods Park…
…and as Mike appears to be a resident of Bearwood and would, therefore, be eligible to become a member of the forum then I think it only right and proper that we extend him an invitation to attend the meeting - in fact once the details are finalised than I may arrange for a number of local residents who I know to be very unhappy with the state of the park, to deliver the invitation in person.
Now I don’t know of Mike has ever visited here - probably not - but I do know that John Hemming pops by every now and then, usually not long after I mention his name - so if you do happen by, John, be sure to let Mike know that there’s a few local people would like a word with him about the park…
…ooh, and before I forget, as ‘customer service’ at Birmingham City Council falls within John’s purview as Deputy Leader, perhaps he could also find out why a number of local people who’ve phoned BCC to complain about the Park have been told by Council staff that they can’t deal with their complaints because the complainant doesn’t live in Birmingham.
From what I understand this is nothing to do with the Contact Birmingham call centre, btw, but whoever it is that people have been speaking to directly within BCC.
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