For those readers unfamiliar with The Socialist State Of Sandwell, "Birchley Island" may conjure images of a verdant sanctuary amid a tumbling stream whereas the reality is a hideous, traffic-clogged roundabout next to Junction 2 of the M5. A picture of the wretched place of torment follows:
|Picturesque Birchley Island|
Of course, no sponsorship was forthcoming for this hell-hole and the taxpayer duly stumped-up £450,000 on new lights, flowers, semi-matured trees, ornamental shrubs and gravel paths to give drivers a "more welcoming entrance point to Sandwell". It was claimed that the huge sum - including a ludicrous £30,000 (yes, thirty thousand pounds) "Welcome to Sandwell" sign - had turned the former eyesore into "an urban oasis" - albeit one somewhat disturbed by 92,000 motorists a day. Judge for yourselves:
At this point, SMBC had spent the thick-end of half a million quid on this nonsense but Hussain was still claiming that sponsorship talks were continuing.......Needless to say the Express and Star were happy to puff all this - take the headlines, "Island basks in £450,000 improvements" and "Sign of a warm welcome to Sandwell". Unfortunately, some "bask-ards" risked life and limb to cross the road and nick the exotic plants so that SMBC had to invest in something called a "dome hawk camera" (no, I am not making this up!)
Then a casino came on the scene despite SMBC having banned them in Sandwell from 2006. An application from Grosvenor Casinos (Rank) apparently pre-dated the ban and so the lure of filthy lucre proved irresistible to the socialists under the usual cover that it would create jobs (see also the current ice rink scandal). Accordingly, the Planning Committee approved the casino plan with all thoughts of concern about gambling in an area of high deprivation put to one side and Hussain was able to say, "I am really pleased. It is another way we are improving a major gateway to Sandwell." As ever the Express and Star jumped in with the headline, "Oldbury Casino brings jobs joy".
But oh dear....after a legal challenge a High Court Judge ruled that SMBC should not have granted a gambling licence and they should consider an application to revoke it but the "licensing bosses" decided the licence was valid and should remain in place. All this has cost the taxpayer at least £5,800 in legal fees which SMBC "finance boss", Eling, says he hopes he will "get back" (we wait we bated breath particularly as SMBC seems to have been at fault and therefore not usually entitled to a costs order.......)
In the meantime SMBC have decided to block the casino idea anyway by driving a new road straight through the "urban oasis" including the near half million quid worth of trees, exotic plants etc etc so that the bulk of that money looks to have been totally wasted by Hussain and his Labour colleagues.
If this situation could become anymore farcical, it has today. Step forward jolly Kevin Beresford who shot to fame a while ago with his infamous "Roundabouts of Redditch" calendar which achieved national cult status. He apparently approached SMBC with a view to presenting them with an award from his "UK Roundabout Appreciation Society" and the morons fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Clearly anyone who claimed Birchley was "attractive" with "high quality design and layout" was likely to be either mentally-ill or taking the mickey but so obsessed are SMBC with spinning "good news" no-one seems to have bothered to have a look at cheeky Kev's website - roundaboutsofbritain.com. There they could, for example, have seen Kev's "roundabout jargon" and if you haven't got time to look here are a few:
"Desert Island" - a somewhat uninteresting island with nothing on it.Can be made more interesting if placed in an exotic or unusual location. Thinking about it there is no such thing as an uninteresting roundabout;
"Gyratory Galactico" - a roundabout with the X-Factor:
"The Monty Don" - a roundabout in full bloom;
"Toker" - grass only roundabout!
Someone, presumably in the press office, saw an opportunity for spin, arranged an "award ceremony" and good-old Kev had the chutzpah to turn up and go through with it. Even Hussain felt he had to get in on the act and this is the unbelievable result:
The spin doctors start, "An attractive gateway traffic island....has been praised by a national body which encourages high-quality roundabouts" and Hussain pronounces himself "pleased" with the "recognition" for the key gateway. He is pictured receiving a calendar from Kev.
Once again, and so swiftly after the ridiculous "dog-shit" campaign, Sandwell Labour have managed to bring the Borough into disrepute and they even seem to be in denial that they have been duped.
A £10 donation to MacMillan for the best "new name" for Birchley Island via email@example.com within next 7 days (result will be announced via @bcrover twitter a/c). To start the ball rolling, how about "Hussain's Folly"?
Special thanks to Kev for his brilliant jape.
THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG
e firstname.lastname@example.org t @bcrover (Vernon Grant)
Confidential phone - 07599 983737