Northfields Way Community Consultation

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Good News!

Cllr Steve Wade posts with the following update on Northfields Way:

“NORTHFIELD WAY/CLAYHANGER: There is a drop in session tomorrow in Clayhanger Community Centre 6-8pm with Walsall Council regarding the proposed design for the area to ensure we sort out the problems of fly-tipping, unauthorised encampments and general ASB in this area.

See you there.”

Monday 29th February 6pm – 8pm at Clayhanger Community Centre.

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Spring Cleaning

Litter, dog waste and general rubbish are a frequent topic of conversation on Clayhanger social media. Indeed, two Clangers have been in touch expressing concern over litter in and around Clayhanger.

My gut feeling is that, as a Council Tax payer, the hedge rows, area around the shops and the common and park should be kept clean by Walsall Council. Certainly, potentially hazardous materials need special handling and should be left to experts. Unfortunately, the reality is that budget cuts mean that this is not happening as frequently or as thoroughly as we may like.

So, I have e-mailed Clean and Green at Walsall Council to see what support they can offer if Clayhanger were to organise a community clean up:

“There has been a lot of discussion between Clayhanger residents on social media about litter, dog waste and general rubbish in and around the village. In fact two residents have contacted me directly to see if there is anything which can done about it.
There are a number of ‘hot spots’ in the village which also seem to be associated with anti-social behaviour and residents have been encouraged to report these via the appropriate Council numbers and Police. 
I believe that there is a community clean up taking place in Brownhills on Saturday 5th March and I wondered if it would be possible to organise a similar, council supported event, in Clayhanger on Saturday 19th March. A ‘Clayhanger Community Spring Clean‘ if you like. 
I shall use madwblog to gauge interest in such an event but would be most grateful if you could let me know what services and support the Council could offer alongside the goodwill of Clayhanger residents.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
There will be several considerations for such an event, not in the least: safety when picking up rubbish; appropriate protection and equipment and, perhaps most importantly, large enough numbers to make the event viable.
So now – deep breath – will you, residents of Clayhanger, take part in a
‘Clayhanger Community Spring Clean? Complete the poll!

Northfields Way barriers – meeting scheduled. 

Cllr Bird has replied to my email asking when the scrutiny committee would be meeting to discuss the barriers on Northfields Way. His response is below. 

The last time this was discussed it was Corporate Scrutiny on 21.01.2016 the minutes of which are available on the website
I understand that Councillor Ferguson has asked the Chairman to include this item on the next Scheduled meeting of this Committee on on 8.03.2016
As a member of the Executive I am not allowed to be a member or influence scrutiny matters as a matter of law in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2000

As Cllr Bird’s email indicates, the barriers were already under discussion on 21 January 2016 and so it would seem the process has begun. 

We await the outcome of the meeting on 8th March. 

Here we go again?

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Photograph taken by madwblog at 5pm 22nd February 2016.

It seems that Northfields Way is to again be occupied by travellers, so soon after the last illegal encampment was moved on.

It seems that, at the moment, I have the uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. As I pulled up to take this picture and chat to another Clanger who had done the same, a very nice lady in a blue fleece came over to talk to us. Blue fleece lady works for Walsall Council, although I don’t know in what capacity. She informed me and my fellow on looker that the family currently on Northfields Way are not the same as the one who were moved on previously. This means that the current Section 77 and 78 order does not apply as it only covers the family who were there before.

However, blue fleece lady assured us that this family are known to her and that they have suffered a punctured tyre after being moved on from another encampment in the borough. Once a new tyre has been sorted they will be off again. Hopefully by 2pm tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd February).

My fellow Clanger was calling the police as I pulled up and I imagine that many others of you have done the same as you arrived home.

It seems that all that can be done is to wait. Wait to see if the encampment grows and  wait to see when the barriers will finally arrive.

Looking back…Anyone for tennis?

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Photograph supplied by madwblog.

A few days ago, I posted this photo on Walsall Places, People and History Facebook page. It was taken in November 2010, I think, and is of the field and pools to the right of The Spot as you leave Clayhanger, inbetween Bridge Street and the Canal.

This is a view of the same pool from the path leading to the canal which I am sure many Clangers will be familiar with.

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‘What I refer to as ‘The New Pond’ was once a quarry and brickworks.’ Credit: Brownhills Bob.

Not thinking that it was much more than just a photo I was pleased with, it turns out that there used to be tennis courts here!

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Walsall Wood colliery in the background, where the Maybrook Estate is now. Image very generously supplied by Marion Jones

Brownhills Bob has written about it in his blog and I encourage you to have a read.

Clayhanger is full of hidden depths. Makes you think about the history you are walking on when out and about in Clayhanger.

Source: Anyone for tennis?

 

 

A Bird in the hand.

This email will be waiting in Cllr Bird’s – Leader of Walsall Council – inbox on Monday morning.

Dear Cllr Bird,

It is with delight and relief that I received the news last week that there are to be barriers placed on Northfields Way, Clayhanger, to stop further illegal encampments and loitering. I thank the council for acting with speed on this matter.

 

Some events of the last seven days have raised some questions for me, however, and I wonder of you could take the time to answer them?
1. What is the Council’s policy on how information is released to the public?
I was surprised to see earlier this week, on Ben Brittian’s Facebook page, a statement from yourself, confirming that the idea of barriers on Northfields Way was the idea of Ben Brittain and Cllr Ferguson and that Cllr Wade had ‘no part of this initiative’. Is it Council policy for the Leader of Council to use Social Media, such as the personal Facebook page of an unelected representative, in order to communicate with the electorate?
2. What is the Council’s policy on sharing planning information decisions with the public?
I wonder if you could also explain why the decision to put the barriers in is not recorded on any public documents on the council’s website. As this is the first place I and other Clayhanger residents visited to verify the information, it seems fairly obvious that if people cannot find any official verification they will begin to doubt the announcement. Which is exactly what has happened. Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain perhaps could have waited to make the announcement and deliver the fliers to the residents of Clayhanger until such a time that it could be officially verified.
It does rather make communication at the council look inefficient. Nothing on the council website, Cllr Wade had no information and yet Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain appear to have all the information at their finger tips and had time aplenty to print fliers and deliver them. It’s no wonder people become cynical about politics. Such a shame at a time when Mr Cameron wants us all to ‘do our bit’ and be ‘all in this together’. I would really like to be. If I had all the information. I would be unstoppable.
3. When can Clayhanger residents expect the barriers to be erected?
A further scour of the Council website today (19th February) confirms that there is still no official confirmation that these barriers will be put in place. I wonder of you could advise me on the progress of the initiative?

Thank you Cllr Bird for your time and I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Northfields Way – Life after Barriers? Cllr Wade has the answers.

Cllr Wade forwarded my questions regarding the barriers on Northfields Way to the relevant Council Departments and has had a reply. As far as I am aware, Cllr Ferguson has made no response.

“Please find enclosed a reply to the questions (below) you put to me and Cllr Ferguson.

On the Clayhanger now has a Community Centre page, four main questions have been raised and discussed:

1. Does there need to be notice given that the barriers will be in place? A Traffic Regulation Order?
2. Where exactly will the barrier be placed?
3. What will happen to the ‘dead’ area behind the barrier? Can it be developed?
4. There are concerns that travellers and loitering will just occur in front of the barrier rather than at the end of Northfields Way potentially causing more disruption.

Good Morning Councillor Wade,

Our team have had some involvement as we were approached to discuss what options from a highways perspective could potentially be delivered, subject to the outcome of any community engagement and statutory procedures.

In terms of a barrier across the public highway this would require a traffic regulation order to be progressed to prohibit vehicular traffic from using the public highway. This process allows for objections to be raised and considered prior to any final decision to proceed with the traffic regulation order.

The most appropriate location for any barrier would need to be determined, but a location near to the junction with Allerdale Road is likely to prove the most effective in addressing the existing problems.

If a barrier system were to be introduced the area beyond the barrier would retain its public highway status, it’s just that vehicular traffic would legally be prohibited and physically prevented.

Clearly the location of any barrier would have to consider the impact of deterring unauthorised encampments and general loitering. That’s why a barrier system would be most effective if positioned near to the junction with Allerdale Road.

In terms of the latest proposals for further community engagement, it’s probably worth having a word with the manager of the Area Partnership who I understand is leading on this.

Regards

The first paragraph raises some interesting points:

Our team have had some involvement as we were approached to discuss what options from a highways perspective could potentially be delivered, subject to the outcome of any community engagement and statutory procedures.

The team having ‘some involvement’ and ‘options... [which] could potentially be delivered‘ would indicate that far from the barriers initiative being ‘allocated[…] [and] installed asap’ as boasted by Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain in the (now infamous) flier, the barriers have not yet reached any official planning stage and that there is a due and proper process to be followed: ‘subject to the outcome of any community engagement and statutory procedures’  which I welcome and I’m sure you do too.

Unfortunately, there will be no room for redevelopment of the ‘dead’ road behind the barrier, but perhaps it is reassuring to know that highway regulations still apply which offer that piece of unused road some protection against inappropriate use and behaviour .

Cllr Wade has, as suggested in the email, contacted Area Partnership and is awaiting a reply.

Wild, wild horses…

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The Clayhanger 2 have almost reached celebrity status over the past few weeks. They are here, there and everywhere! Notoriously good at escaping, the ponies have been spotted in all four corners of Clayhanger. Unfortunately, they were not ‘there’ when I popped up to the field in Northfields Way to see them.

Which leads me to ask… where are they?

I believe they were spotted on High Street on Sunday, but they do not seem to have made it home.

From the posts on Clayhanger Community Centre Facebook page, it seems many Clangers are concerned about the welfare of the ponies. I am too. Although, since I first tried to find out who owns them, quite a few ponies seem to have come and gone. Like many others, I have contacted the police (who will only come out if they are on the highway), the RSPCA (who will only come out if the animals are mistreated or injured) and Area One partnership (who have not been back in touch about who owns the field.)

Now this is where I wondered if madwblog could help. What if you posted your pictures to madwblog – on Facebook is probably easiest- of the happy wanderers with a date, time and location and that way a ‘log’ of their escape dates could be kept. If this could be produced to the police or RSPCA as a record of their escape frequency perhaps something more positive could be done about keeping them safe and well in the field. Additionally, has anyone managed to successfully get any authority out to them or any official body to say they will look into the welfare of the ponies? I know Stevie Ansell will come out to them if she’s asked but is it fair to keep asking her?

As a horse-lover, I’m not too concerned about them wandering, they won’t do much harm except for making dents in your lawn. If you are lucky they may leave you a gift for the roses or veg patch. However, meeting a pony when you come round a corner with your dog or having to shoo it from your drive to get the car out could be a bit nerve wracking. Like any animal you aren’t familiar with, you don’t know how they will react. Most times, horses and ponies will slope off with encouragement and it’s extremely unlikely one would ‘attack’ you. When ‘spooked’ though, a horse or pony can cause damage. They would make a mess of your car if you hit one and a swift kick to your canine friend would, at the very least, mean a large vets bill.

If you should see the Clayhanger 2, take a photo, post it to madwblog and give them a wide berth. If you have to approach them, do so from the head end (no-one likes a stranger up their rear) talk and walk calmly. Let them sniff your hand keeping your fingers flat. Raising your hand up to stroke them on the face my cause them to pull their head back which could clock you on the nose (ouch). Try not to feed them. It makes them bad tempered because then they expect food from everyone and the next person who doesn’t produce any goodies might get a nasty nip.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Clayhanger 2, I believe one pony is black and the other white. The black one has a white blaze (stripe down the nose). Please correct me if I am wrong.

Round ’em up cowboy!

 

 

 

Northfields Way – life after barriers? 

I can’t promise to always be this quick off the mark (I have other things to do you know – don’t laugh) but following a message I received from Elaine and reading the discussion thread on Facebook, I have penned a hasty email to Cllrs Wade and Ferguson thus:

Dear Cllrs, 

There has been a fair amount of discussion on social media and on madwblog about the barriers on Northfields Way. On the whole everyone is happy that there is to be some sort of barrier. Quite a few residents have questions though and I wonder if you would be able to take some time to answer them?

This comment is from Elaine to madwblog. 

“Love your posts, don’t stop!

however on a serious note, sorry, the barriers in Northfield…. why not landscape? build the edges up to form a bank then plant trees. wild areas, make it part of the common ground…. money…. yes I know. However, the boulders or whatever they are going to put there, will look unslightly, and I wonder how long it will take before the residents whose houses back onto that bit of road will start complaining about children skate boarding, playing football, and generally being children…. hey ho”

On the Clayhanger now has a Community Centre page, four main questions have been raised and discussed:

1. Does there need to be notice given that the barriers will be in place? A Traffic Regulation Order?

2. Where exactly will the barrier be placed?

3. What will happen to the ‘dead’ area behind the barrier? Can it be developed?

4. There are concerns that travellers and loitering will just occur in front of the barrier rather than at the end of Northfields Way potentially causing more disruption. 

In the interest of open communication, I think Clayhanger residents would really appreciate your time in responding to their concerns, as the news that the barriers are to be put in place has come out of the blue and the feeling that I get is that they would like to be included in the decision making process. 

This email will be copied to madwblog as more residents may want to comment. If you would like to follow the blog and find out what the Clayhanger electorate think and are discussing, please search madwblog.com or click like on the Facebook page. 

I look forward to hearing from you both.

I hope followers of madwblog don’t object to my boldly mailing our elected repsentatives and paraphrasing comments posted to Facebook. Madwblog isn’t about representing Clayhanger, it’s about sharing information and communicating. Please do tell me if madwblog has overstepped the mark. 

Madwblog has no special access to Cllr Wade and Cllr Ferguson. Their email addresses are freely available on the council website as is a whole host of other information relevant to Clayhanger and Walsall at large. Great cure for insomnia… 

Northfields Way – Barriers a step closer?

There’s a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time.

Well, it just so happens that when I went up on to Northfields Way about 3.30 this afternoon to look at the resident Clayhanger ponies (they weren’t in – anyone know where they are?) there was a nice chap in a blue woolly hat getting out of his car. He had in his hand a trundle wheel (the type used for measuring distance) which he promptly trundled across the width of Northfields Way.

Never one to miss an opportunity for a chat and just to be plain nosy I asked “What are you doing?” and give him my best cheeky grin. He looked at me somewhat blankly, so I rephrased.

“OK, I know what you are doing, you’re measuring the road, perhaps a better question is ‘why are you measuring the road?'” I waited with baited breath. Obviously I did really know why he was measuring the road, but I wanted to find out what he would tell me.

“There’s going to be some barriers to stop the travellers” he replies helpfully.

“Oh yes, I’d heard about that,” my acting skills know no bounds “I’d heard there were some old ones we might get from somewhere else.”

“Yeah, they’re up at the depot,” he gestures vaguely in the direction of the Council Cleaner Greener depo. Although he could have been pointing anywhere in an ‘over there’ kind of way, “We might paint them up, or if not, there will be some new concrete ones which will be painted up.” he replies – or something to that effect, I paraphrase, don’t hold me to it.

“Oh, so you’re just seeing which ones will fit?” I do my light-bulb moment face.

We spend a few minutes chatting about the travellers and the ponies (the field is a terrible state, but more about that another time). Woolly hat man tells me he lives in Pelsall and he’s seen the ponies down his road. They get about don’t they, the Clayhanger 2?  He finishes his trundling and we share a cheery farewell.

So, the plans for the barriers on Northfields Way are in the system. Woolly hat man has been out with his trundle and I was in the right place at the right time. Just like Cllr Ferguson and Ben Brittain were when the ‘initiative’ of the barriers was spawned. Maybe they met a nice man in a woolly hat by the road too.