Another triumph for investigative journalism

From the Express & Star, Wednesday, 29th December 2010. Scan supplied by reader Neil. Click on image for a larger version.

I am indebted to reader Neil, who supplied the scan of last Wednesday’s Express & Star article about the planning application to convert the peaceful wildlife haven of Ryders Mere into a commercial leisure fishery. Regrettably, I missed this one, but it’s a true gem of local journalistic oeuvre.

Nothing less than a puff-piece for the developers, the article is fawning and completely uncritical of an application that threatens to destroy a well-loved local amenity. I also wonder how many residents of the housing estate nearby, and more specifically those dwelling in Ryders Hayes Lane,  are aware of the proposal to construct an access road to the Mere from their quiet, residential street. I bet the ones that do aren’t thrilled at the possibility of having to suffer continual vehicular access to the site.

The article blithely parrots the line about vandalism which has already, apparently ‘part-ruined’ the site, which is news to anyone who visits regularly. The article, clearly hastily assembled from the risible ‘Supporting statement‘, submitted by the applicants, talks vaguely about the proposed ‘smallhoding’ and the increase in site security, however, no concrete designs of the building, or what it would involve have been submitted, only an area of blue shading on the site plan.

I’d be interested in any details of this smallholding, as clearly, staffing such a site full time could be risky for the staff in such an isolated spot. Since vandalism and mischief are clearly 24 hour concerns, that would be the only way to improve security. The cost of meeting such requirements would be quite extensive, so I can’t help getting the impression that this isn’t a serious proposition. It’s looking awfully like a softener just so Parkhill Estates – the owner of the site as detailed in big, bold lettering on the front of the statement – can commercially exploit a work of successful reclamation which has become a vital component of our local, post industrial environmental recovery.

I’m hugely concerned about this situation, and the future of Ryders Mere. Right now, it constitutes a rare and successful reclamation of former opencast in an area bligthed by landfills, spoilheaps, toxic waste dumps and abandoned workings of all varieties. There are plenty of commercial fisheries in the locality, and I don’t deny anglers their sport, but can’t we just leave the lake as it is for the community and wildlife lovers to enjoy?

It would be nice if, for once in a while, the Express & Star could take time out from it’s usual obsessions – mainly that of trying to become a poor parody of The Daily Mail – and actually do some decent local journalism. I’m not holding my breath, frankly.

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4 Responses to Another triumph for investigative journalism

  1. Roger Jones says:

    Back in the 90s it seems Walsall Council initially rejected the planning application for the removal of mineral deposits from this site. A hard to locate website pdf (BC39531P) reveals the reason for rejection as the close proximity of housing and the effects on wildlife. This must have been overturned on appeal. There is no link to any appeal notice (there must have been one and its subsequent approval)
    Why do local authorities make it so difficult to negotiate their planning pages? The red line link on the map for Ryders Hayes Mere incorrectly directs one to planning application 10/1641/FL not the correct 10/1566/FL

  2. There was a protracted battle over opencasting on the site, and oerations were indeed, granted on appeal. The business was done and dusted quite quickly – I can’t guarantee it but I’m sure it was well underway by 1997 and all gone by 2002-ish.
    The site owners did a very good job of restoring the land, and if you visit Chaz Mason’s blog (linked in the previous article) you’ll see the site has a whole variety of interesting birdlife, including last year, a Hoopoe.
    The name Parkhill crops up over and over again in relation to such sites in the area. I’ve always found that interesting.
    Yes, Walsall’s planning site is badly broken. I’ve given up complaining about it. They don’t seem interested in doing anything to fix it.

    Cheers for your interest


  3. Tim says:

    Hi Bob,

    I’ve received a letter telling me the application has been withdraw. I had expressed an interest after making a few comments what now seems like years ago and had almost forgotten about it so it’s good news for the present.


  4. Pingback: Ryders Mere fishery plan withdrawn « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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