Thursday, May 19, 2005

The splendid Warley Woods

One of the things Birmingham’s Labour controlled Council did before they lost control to the Tories and their allies, the little tories last year, was to hand over the running of a large expanse of park, woodland and a golf course in my Ward to a Community Trust. The Warley Woods Community Trust is comprised of a democratically elected Board from amongst members of the local community who pay a nominal sum to join. With the income from the Golf Club and some national lottery funding, we are at last beginning to see a reversal of the decades of decline.

However, a few hundred yards away there is a public park which is also in Sandwell, but administered by Birmingham City Council. Lightwoods Park has a fine bandstand (featured on this blog’s masthead) …. and…. errrm… that’s it. The children’s playground hasn’t had a penny spent on it since Anneka Rice helicoptered in for the day about 12 years ago, and the paths are a danger to cyclists, people with pushchairs or wheelchairs, and pedestrians who cannot cope with rough terrain. The tennis courts have long since disappeared and old men with misty-eyed memories stare out over what used to be a fine bowling green.

This isn’t a Labour-Tory rant. The park fell into decline years ago and has been getting worse under both administrations. I wrote to Labour Councillor Ian Ward about three years ago to complain, and he never even bothered to reply. My fellow Ward Councillor has tried to complain to the City Council and they said he couldn’t complain because “he didn’t live in Birmingham.” True… but the bloody park isn’t in Birmingham!

We’re not even demanding a lot. All we want is our local park to be under local democratic control, and our MP has now written to the Leader of Sandwell Council asking him to take up the matter with Birmingham’s Tory Leader, Mike Whitby. To make matters worse, Whitby lives within a hundred yards or so of Lightwoods Park, and directly opposite Warley Woods, but he doesn’t seem to care a toss. Well, the people of Bearwood do… and it’s time we raised our voices so loud that Cllr. Whitby will not be able to avoid us.