Walsall Wood away to Ellesmere Rangers at Beech Grove this afternoon, plus news from Bill Shaw

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Ellesmere Rangers ground, Beech Grove, is famous for it’s unusual dugouts. No shit. Image from Dovey1977.

Saturday 1st August 2015

Walsall Wood away at Ellesmere Rangers
(That’s the Ellesmere near Oswestry in Shropshire, not the one in 
Cheshire!)

Kick off is 3:00pm

Ellesmere Rangers Football Club
Beech Grove
Ellesmere
Shropshire
SY12 OBT

Hopefully, a match report will follow…

For the Good of the Wood!

Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.

Also, a note from Bill Shaw:

Hiya Bob,

Sorry I haven’t been in contact earlier re: the Kidderminster game, whilst I’m improving slowly I’m not back to anything like my best yet, but here goes.

Walsall Wood 2 v 1 Kidderminster Harriers

From what I’ve been told it was a cracking game with both sides playing free flowing football, Joey Butlin continued on from last season to open the scoring in the first half, Luke Adams then added the second in the second half to put Wood in the driving seat.

An unfortunate clash of heads saw play delayed as one of the Kidderminster youngsters appeared to be badly injured, play did eventually continue with the visitors pulling a goal back with 10 minutes to go to make for an interesting last few minutes but Wood held out to record a victory.

With Harriers also playing up the A5 at Shrewsbury this was the Under 21 Academy squad, but as I said about the Pelsall game, you can only beat what is put in front of you.

So it’s off to Ellesmere Rangers on Saturday 1st August for the last friendly this term, with the long awaited season opener against Bardon Hill Sports a week later at Oak Park kick off 3.00 pm.

Regards
Bill Shaw

Cheers for that, Bill – and do get well soon. For the Good of the Wood!

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Please help find Tiger the tabby cat!

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Anyone seen this lost tabby? Image from Kelly-Anne Hircock.

Here’s an urgent appeal for a lost cat that’s come in from Kelly-Anne Hircock‎ on Facebook, who’s lost her beloved cat, Tiger from the Lindon Close area of Brownhills (the area behind Knaves Court).

Kelly-Anne posted:

Has anyone seen our cat?

She’s been missing since Tuesday night. Her name is Tiger but answers to Tig too.

If anyone has seen her please contact contact me, thank you

If you find Tiger or know where she is, please comment here, mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com, or contact Kelly-Anne direct via Facebook.

Cheers all…

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Cockfest starts today!

Here’s a really, really great thing happening this weekend at Newtown, Brownhills from today (31st July 2015) – a two day festival with proceeds going to the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity featuring music and fun in memory of a much-loved local man who sadly passed away this year.

Cockfest runs over the whole weekend with camping available. It’s from Friday 31st July 2015 up until Sunday, 2nd August 2015 in a field just off the A5 at Newtown, Brownhills. There’s live music Friday and Saturday, food, a licensed bar, campfire and all manner of entertainments and fun, including an adult-sized bouncy castle…

A weekend pass is £20 for adults and just £5 for kids, and day passes are £12 and £3 respectively. You can book yours by calling 07966 611170, call in to the great Chase Inn or visit the event’s Facebook page here.

This looks like a professionally run event now in it’s second year (don’t know how I missed the one in 2014), and some of the bands look terrific – and it’s for charity and in memory of a great chap, so what’s not to love?

It’s apparently called “Cockfest’ because it’s on a chicken farm…

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This looks brilliant!

There’s a really good article on Nativemonster which I’ll quote here:

Brownhills music bash to honour late friend FRIDAY 24TH JULY 2015

A Brownhills music festival is making a welcome return – and will be raising charity funds in memory of a well-known father who died unexpectedly.

The next Cockfest – inspired by the organiser’s passion for poultry – is set to be double the size it was in 2014 and will be dedicated to Carl Findon-Kent.

Friends and family were left in shock when Mr Findon-Kent from Brownhills suffered heart failure and passed away on April 24.

The 46-year-old dad-of-two and stepdad-of-three who worked at Anchor Garage was an immensely popular man who helped set up the inaugural charity fundraiser last year.

Around 50 people attended the event, enjoying a BBQ and live music on the Saturday night, which raised £500 for good causes.

But this year, support and enthusiasm for the second Cockfest has grown to new heights after organisers Keryll Jenkins and fiancé Martin Payton said a stage would be named after the late Carl.

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A popular and well liked man: Carl Findon-Kent. Image from Nativemonster.

Miss Jenkins, said: ‘Carl loved a good party. So this year we said we would build a stage in his memory and name it after him.’

More than 12 artists and bands will perform at the event, which will be held in the couple’s back garden on Watling Street, Newtown, from July 31 to August 2.

Anyone interested in going along has been advised to contact Miss Jenkins on 07966 611170 in advance to buy tickets or visit the Chase Inn.

Weekend wristbands which include camping cost £20 for adults and £5 for children.

Day passes cost £12 for adults and £3 for youngsters.

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Don’t bank on it

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Still no further forward.

Many of you have asked me for updates on the situation with Ravens Court, the decaying, derelict shopping precinct that lies deserted in the centre of Brownhills – you’ll remember that way back in November 2014, Walsall Council issued an ultimatum to the owners that if they didn’t submit a planning application within six months, they’d initiate legal proceedings to force the landlords to tidy it up.

The precinct – which is owned privately by a Mayfair-based company called Lightquote Limited – is in a shocking condition, and has slowly continued to decay since Tesco pulled out of a plan to build a new store here in 2012. Lightquote fully expected to sell Ravens Court to Tesco and make an effort-free killing – but were left with an unfortunate white elephant when the retail behemoth’s economic fortunes went south.

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It was good news week in the Express & Star, Wednesday November 26th 2014.It all seems to have gone a bit Pete Tong.

At the time that Walsall Council issued the ultimatum, officers and other interested parties were at the end of their tethers, as being in private hands, there is very little the authority can do to force the owners to act. Legal action is expensive and lengthy, and there’s no guarantee of winning. Such action can only force a tidy up.

In more jovial humour at the time, Brownhills UKIP Councillor Steve Craddock, naiveté dripping from behind his ears, followed the owners down to the Fearie Glen and swallowed the story that there was some kind of plan, and that all would be revealed if we sat tight and trusted him and his oppo, Tory group regeneration wonk Adrian Andrew.

The hapless kipper went to the press and announced jovially that they’d all been working together and things were being pushed forward. Forward so far, they appear to have fallen off a cliff without trace.

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Last Friday – 24th July 2015 – the rear block toilets had been broken open again, with evidence of drug use and possibly squatting – a regular occurrence.

Since then, nothing has happened in the ground except more ASB, more break ins, and more decay. We had an election, after which the Tories regained control of Walsall Council, winning back control following the loss of outgoing Brownhills Councillor Barbara Cassidy’s seat to a tory, who’d been campaigning on the street by telling everyone the Tories were sorting out Ravens Court.

This must have particularly stung UKIP, who appear to have been nothing more than useful stooges to restore the Mike Bird status quo.

I had periodically reminded readers that the clock was ticking for action on Lightquote by the Council, but the current position seems a little uncertain. Naturally, I think the Authority is still hoping a deal can be sought.

I had been alerted through various contacts that action might be imminent on the part of developers, so I hung on and gave them time. Six months was up in May. I gave it until June. Another whisper. Nothing.

Since then, I’ve had contact from the only politician seemingly happy to speak frankly on the matter, Brownhills Labour Councillor Steve Wade. Steve has issued the following statement, on several issues:

Hello Bob

I have a statement from the council with the very latest update of four major issues that relate our area. As you can see, and contrary to what other ward councillors have recently advised the community, these are still very much active and are ongoing.

Regarding Ravens Court and The Warrener’s Arms, I and ex councillor Cassidy, have battled to keep these issues at the top of the regeneration agenda for a number of years in an effort to get the council, owners/developers to the table to try and thrash out some viable proposals for development. I will continue to do this for as long as I am a councillor, and indeed beyond.

I’m also trying to get the council to obtain the land owned by Tesco for community activities and the possibility of a return of Brownhills market in some guise.

Unfortunately, the wheels of local government run extremely slowly and this is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of trying to get things resolved. I will keep you posted on any developments.

Steve Wade

The statement from Walsall Council Steve cites is as follows:

Cllr Wade

As promised, an update on the matters you requested.

Ravenscourt
No further update has been received since officers from the Planning Department provided comments to the agent on the draft scheme that was submitted earlier in the year. In contacting the agent to seek an update and remind them of the six month date that Cabinet agreed to hold off from serving a S215 Notice, it was confirmed that the agent/contact no longer works on this scheme – an alternative contact is therefore being sought.

[So, there has been a ‘draft scheme’m of some kind submitted by the owners, which hasn’t been made public. I’ve heard it wasn’t very detailed. Planning – as is their job – advised upon it, to no avail. Now the people who were dealing with it for the landlords are no longer concerned with it. Sounds just topper that. – Bob]

Warreners’ Arms
No further progress has been made by the land owner since the sale of the land to the former proposed developer fell through in 2014. As Planning Committee resolved that the planning application – demolition of the former PH and construction of 58 flats – be granted subject to conditions and a S106, officers will need to report back to a future Committee to recommend for refusal as the S106 remains undetermined.

[So, no change at the Warreners then – despite rumours. Thanks for clearing that up – Bob]

Land fronting High Street (Tesco)
This land is owned by Tesco and it is understood that they have identified this parcel of land surplus to their requirements and available for disposal/sale. Officers therefore continue to endeavour to make contact with Tesco to progress the proposition of the Council negotiating acquisition of this land to provide a civic space on the High Street for events and market opportunities. The progress of engaging Tesco has been hampered by continuing changes in personnel, which we understand is the result of recent redundancies within the organisation. A new contact has been provided by the store manager which officers are pursuing, together with other potential avenues of contact that others hold for Tesco.

[This came as a bit of a surprise, and I support this wholly – Bob]

I thank Councillor Wade here and now for his openness and honesty on this matter – it’s nice to see someone trying to push things along. Thanks for keeping us informed, please stay in touch. I like the idea to get that waste ground into some kind of use; it’s long been needed.

Back to the matter in hand, I think it’s quite clear Lightquote are stalling, and the agents who were representing them are no longer doing so. This reeks of commitment, I must say: in my continued research I can find no evidence that Lightquote are anything more than a land banking operation with no obvious evidence of previous development experience.

I have repeatedly requested Lightquote issue a statement. Why on earth would they not do so? They own a large, crumbling edifice in our town (miles from their registered offices) – and even if they bought in good faith, hoping for a quick turnover and commercial gain – they owe it to Brownhills to at least show good intention. That they seem unwilling to do even basic clean-up tasks is quite shocking, really.

So, where does this all go from here? I wish I knew. The Council has not the money to compulsorily purchase Ravens Court; the £3 million this is estimated to cost is just not available in these times, although I’m sure Walsall would facilitate a deal if one was on the table. Purchasing the site speculatively would be hugely costly and not solve the issues.

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Here’s the complexity of the ownership of Ravens Court. Walsall Council have agreed that they’d concede the central area to aid development if necessary.

With the owners seemingly unwilling to develop, I think the only likely outcome right now is demolition – and I’m not sure that would be a bad thing. The site is an unfortunate shape, and marooned by surrounding car parking. It’s long and narrow, and about the only thing I could see it practically hosting would be some kind of drive through – but the cost of the land to do that would seem prohibitively expensive. At least demolishing the place would remove the blot on the landscape, and make the High Street less dismal. But it’s a long shot, and would require action on the part of the owners.

Don’t hold your breath.

Walsall Council can only – and I hope they do – press on with court action to force the precinct to be cleaned up; but even that, if successful could take a year or more, and will to actually solve the problem.

I doubt Brownhills is unique in this position – I think this situation is being repeated up and down the land in unremarkable towns like ours, where property speculation has failed and left communities with vacant, derelict sites money can’t possibly be made back from. All we can hope is that the Walsall Housing Group projects locally generate more trade and drive some degree of investment.

If they don’t, we’re stuffed.

Posted in Brownhills stuff, Environment, Express & Star, Followups, Interesting photos, It makes me mad!, Just plain daft, Local media, Local politics, News, Panoramio photo discussions, planning, Shared media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Catch San Brett live on the radio tonight – live from Brownhills!

Just a quick post to highlight that friend of the blog and queen of the Brownhills Full English San Brett will be live on 2ndcityradio.net tonight (Wednesday 29th July 2015) from 7-9pm – tune in on line at the link below.

2ndCityRadio.net – listen along live here

San’s show is on tonight and every Wednesday!

San, of course, owns San’s Kitchen in Silver Court, a popular local cafe where she engineers a fine butty, but San is also a great laugh and is sure to be hugely entertaining on air, whilst also playing a whole variety of music.

Tune in if you can, San’s a star!

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Sounds like a great show!

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Lichfield Waterworks Trust – July public meeting this Thursday

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Sandfields Pumping Station – a great historic building with immense history and social significance – not just to Lichfield, but to the Black Country. Lichfield Discovered and local historian Dave Moore are fighting to save this valuable asset for the community.

Sandfields Pumping Station champion and public historian extraordinaire Dave Moore has been in touch to let me know that this Thursday (30th July 2015) there is a public progress meeting for the Lichfield Waterworks Trust charity, formerly the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station group.

It takes place at the Duke of York pub, Greenhill, Lichfield from 7:30-9pm.

Dave wrote:

Dear Brownhills Bob,

Monthly Progress Meeting of the Lichfield Waterworks Trust, formerly known as the Friends of Sandfields Pumping Station.

Thursday 30 July 2015 at 7:30pm – please note the new venue

The meeting place is;
Duke of York
23/25 Greenhill
Lichfield
Staffordshire
WS13 6DY

T: 01543 300 386

The Lichfield Waterworks Trust is a Community Incorporated Organisation, registered with the charities commission who are fighting to save the Grade II* listed building know as Sandfields Pumping Station for the benefit of the community.

The unique 190 Hp Cornish Beam Engine and building area magnificent monument to the lives of the people who died in the black Country during the mid ninetieth century due to the cholera epidemics. It also celebrates the achievements of the Victorian water engineers who gave clean water to the nation.

English Heritage has designated Sandfields Pumping Station as a building that has ‘more than special interest’, hence the reason it has been listed at Grade II*

Unfortunately, what some see as Lichfield’s most significant pieces of Industrial Heritage, a true hidden gem form the past is now a building at risk.

All are welcome to become involved in this challenging but rewarding project.

Dave Moore

Do pop over to Dave Moore’s blog and check out the history of Sandfields Pumping Station, an almost forgotten gem – the group also has a Facebook page.

Dave is, of course, one of the leading lights of Lichfield Discovered, along with Kate ‘Cardigan’ Gomez from Lichfield Lore.

It’s great to see people like Dave encourage a better attitude to our historic buildings, rather than that which we seem to have here in Walsall, where we regard heritage architecture as merely ‘fuel’.

Please do attend if you’re able, it’s sure to be enlightening and educational.

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Holland Park fun day this Wednesday – get down there with the kids!

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Always a cracking event. Get the kids down there!

Summer holidays, eh? Kids already driving you mad already? This Wednesday 29th July 2015, between 10:30am and 4:00pm there will be an opportunity to get them off that games console and out into the fresh air with the annual summer fun event at the ever popular Holland Park in Brownhills.

The event will be free, but some activities may be chargable. These events are very popular. It looks like being a great day for it this year.

If you can’t make this fun day, there’s loads of others going on at other parks in the borough which you’re welcome to attend.

If you need more details, please call Walsall Council Greenspaces on 01922 654893.

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