I went across the border today at the invitation of the kind folk from the North West Edgbaston Neighbourhood Forum in Birmingham. It was a really good, lively meeting with over 50 residents present, all of whom seemed ready and prepared to enter into the debates. They have an issue in respect of Deers Leap wood, an area of natural beauty in their area which appears to be the target of housing developers Persimmon Homes, and the residents feel they are getting less than positive assistance in their fight from the City Council Planning Department in Birmingham.
I was there, together with an officer from Sandwell Planning, to talk about a variety of changes that have taken place in the shopping centre in my Ward, which borders the North West Edgbaston area. Although there were a number of grumbles, most of them entirely justified, we were very politely received and people seemed genuinely appreciative of the fact that we had given up a glorious hot Saturday morning to try and explain developments. It was actually quite refreshing to go to a public meeting that was not just an excuse to moan at someone, and where the crticism was so constructive. There was considerable anger about Lightwoods Park which is in Sandwell and (allegedly) maintained by Birmingham. I pointed out to the residents that they should pressurise their Ward councillors in Birmingham, particularly Councillor Mike Whitby, the Leader of the Conservative/Liberal group who control the Council in Birmingham (again, allegedly).... but like us I suspect they are wasting their time. Teflon Mike doesn't seem to listen.