Tuesday, 7 August 2018

URGENT - Save Londonderry Fields!

Before reading on please note that the Save Londonderry Lane Playing Fields Campaign is holding a public meeting on Sunday evening at 6. Please go along and support them:

Sunday 12th August at 18.00
The George Pub, George Road, Oldbury B68 9LN.

Sandwell Labour is now waging war on open green space in the heavily-urbanised Borough. The amazing Sandwell Valley is sacrosanct and, because they are a favourite of "leader" Steve "The Milkman" Eling when he is not living in bucolic Derbyshire, so are Warley Woods. But the so-called socialists are determined to try and concrete over every other bit of green space going including the 19ha fields at Lion Farm. They need money to keep their sinking and stinking barge afloat and to waste on nonsense like the £6k they just blew on the canal boat p*ss-up.

But Londonderry is different as the corrupt comrades themselves want to destroy it for a multi-million pound vanity project - a huge swimming pool for the Commonwealth Games (closing two other local ones in the process). The finances for this white elephant are opaque. Money is supposed to flow in from the Games Committee and others but us taxpayers are ultimately on the hook. Already the cost of the contract has gone from £15m to £30m to, er, £60m! It is all pure guesswork and the people of Sandwell and beyond will end up paying through the nose for this sheer folly for years to come.

Sandwell Labour have fallen out with Sandwell Leisure Trust at least twice. SLT is supposed to be an "arms-length" charity but as it relies for most of its income from bent Sandwell Council it has to jump to what the comrades say or go out of business. They have been under pressure as it is and have recently made folk redundant. But Labour have already given them the contract to run the Games pool without putting it out to tender! Another possibly disastrous hostage to fortune.

If the pool gets planning permission (see below) the contract to build the wretched thing has already been given to big Tory donors, Wates Construction, via a so-called existing "framework" agreement so that, once again, the deal does not have to go out to proper tendering. This whole nonsense is ALREADY a "red-risk" project at the Council and common-sense says that if Wates come up with reasons why the Pool might not be ready in time OUR money is going to be thrown at them to get the required result! Prepare to be shafted folks!

The comrades decided on this masturbatory exercise with minimal consultation (as per usual) (and what they did was seemingly related to mostly asking people if they would like a nice new pool rather than explaining what a disaster this is likely to be). The decision was rushed through and Labour's pet media blazed the "good news" bullsh*t across Sandwell.

On 23rd January, 2018 no less a figure than Jan Britton (the dismal "head" of Sandwell's bent paid service) got round to writing to local residents who stand to lose their valuable green space. Britton described the pool project as "exciting" and confirmed that the only consultation to date had been with Sport England and Swimming England. He announced "we WILL be hosting the swimming and diving..." (ie before any "consultation" with affected parties and before any application for planning permission). He then backtracks a bit saying "you will have the opportunity to make comments and raise any concerns that you may have and all comments will be considered by the planning committee". This is, of course, a joke as corrupt Labour have 70 of the 72 seats and they have already made the decision to try to force this through at all costs (and cost it will if you don't stop them folks).

There was no reference at all in Britton's letter, of course, of the costs of any of this.

Image Express and Star (annotated)

As with Lion Farm, however, there is a small problem. Parts of both green spaces are held in Trust for the people in Sandwell by "Fields In Trust" a national charity (FiT). Indeed the bent Council actually put the spaces in Trust in the first place to replace other green space they wanted to build on ie where Portway Leisure Centre is now in Oldbury. They managed to con FiT only 6 years ago that by building on green space at Portway they would put other fields in trust but they are now trying to renege on that deal in respect of both  Londonderry and Lion Farm!

They are now apparently saying to Fields in Trust that they will simply move the Trust deed protection to other areas of green space but where? Maybe to the all ready sacrosanct areas as a ploy? How on earth does that help local people and organisations that use the Fields like the Warley Football League?

Now it gets odder. The sleazy "Socialists" are panicking about the time scale for carrying out this project. Thus they are trying to bounce FiT into making a rushed and ill-considered decision to transfer the deed's protection (although WE, locally, still don't know where to!) They are trying to force FiT's board to consider the transfer at their Board meeting at the end of August which is crazy when nothing is in the public domain. I, for one, have written to FiT requesting that their Board do not consider this matter until all the information is publicly available.

But soft - what is this? Fields in Trust wrote to the Save Londonderry Playing Fields Campaign Group saying "we have now received a request ro build on part of the protected section of the field... I understand that local people had their chance to have their say when Sandwell Council mailed 800 properties in the area so if anyone wants to write to us it would be useful  to know if they responded to the consultation."

The problem with this (apart again from not saying where the alleged "protection" would be transferred to) is that Sandwell Council has seemingly told them a massive porky since none of the local residents has actually received the mythical consultation letter! Who was responsible in Britton's bent paid service for this outright lie?

The problem is that FiT say they must receive representations by no later than Thursday, 16th August, 2018 for them to be considered by the Board (although given the misinformation about the consultation they may wish to review their own constitution as to whether they can legally proceed to discuss the matter).

Accordingly I urge you to write or email Field in Trust as a matter of urgency and to say:

1 you object to the lack of any consultation whatsoever in respect of this matter;
2 you have not been told where the protected area would be transferred to; and
3 in any event you object to the transfer as you wish to retain Londonderry Lane Playing Fields as playing fields and community open space.

Email to info@fieldsintrust.org marked "Save Londonderry Lane Playing Fields" or

Write to Fields in Trust , Woodstock Studios, 36 Woodstock Grove, London W12 8LE.

I expect if you attend the meeting on Sunday evening they may have some pro-forma objection forms or similar but time is of the essence here. You must object by Thursday 16th August!

If you write independently it would be helpful if you could let the campaign group know so that they can keep a tally of objections.

Don't forget the Campaign Facebook group: Save Londonderry Lane Playing Fields".

Planning.

I have not seen it myself but I am told Steve Eling has been quoted in the Sandwell Chronicle of 2nd August as saying "we have got planning permission". Milko never tells a lie "lol" and so he must have been misquoted since this is also, er, not actually true!

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - COMMUNITY NEWS - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Facebook:  Julian Saunders                       Twitter:  @SandwellSkidder

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Post:  Jules Saunders, 11 Chelworth Road, Birmingham B38 0BG

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