I see the alternate reality that seems to pervade the Walsall Civic Centre is still in full effect. Today, Linda Mason, lead campaigner against the horrendous cuts in Walsall Council’s Greenspaces team, received this rather tetchy billet-doux from Councillor Anthony Harris – coincidentally member for Aldridge North and Walsall Wood – who’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture.
It seems that they don’t like dissenting voices up in WS1…
Fresh from voting himself and other cabinet members a handsome and eye-watering raise in allowances, it seems Mr. Harris would rather we celebrate the reduction in cuts to the Greenspaces service from £400,000 to £300,000 (euphemistically termed ‘Savings’ in the language of the spin doctor). Backed up by a dodgy report from the Black Country Wildlife Trust, who seemed to have the wrong end of the stick, Councillor Harris seems somewhat annoyed that anyone should think cuts of £300,000 could be anything but good news.
Linda and the rest of us who are fighting these cuts have explained repeatedly why they are bad, and why cuts to Countryside Ranger staffing will result in increased ASB, flytipping and a lack of awareness of the environment in local citizens. The Councillors – the vast majority of whom, of whatever political persuasion, ignored mail shots and requests for help with the campaign – responded by restoring some services to Parks, which isn’t the same thing at all.
Frankly I am disgusted because this is the first communication I’ve received from the council despite promises that they would get back to me about all my concerns!
It is the free speech thing that so enrages me. I can criticise the council when I feel it is justified and on this subject I feel, sincerely that it is. Councillors made promises to me about consultation and keeping me informed. That has been ignored and instead I get this letter. You can understand why I might be a little upset!
One wonders here just who is working for whom – the spectacle of an experienced and well-remunerated councillor lecturing a volunteer campaigner about speaking to the press is both blatant chutzpah and breathtaking arrogance.
Perhaps if they all spent less time playing kindergarten politics, and looked after the people of Walsall instead, we’d all be in a better place.
Welcome to Walsall, where the only green that’s nurtured is the fivers paid to the cabinet…