In a Manor to which they are unaccustomed

Manor House, Aldridge

Aldridge Manor: from the Flickr photo stream of PBBryars.

There has been some interesting fallout following the furore kicked up over the imminent closure of Aldridge Manor Youth Club and dismantling of wider youth service throughout Walsall, and their replacement by some frankly bizarre, not yet thought through system. The rapier-sharp hivemind of Walsall Council’s cabinet have clearly been at work, and decided that the consultation so far offered has not been adequate.

Aldridge Manor has therefore been granted a stay of execution until December.

It’s important to note in reading the somewhat truculent press release included at the foot of this post, issued this morning from the grey Lubyanka, that the service users and parents have been offered nothing new from the council. All that’s presented is further consultation. As it stands, the Manor will still close, but in December rather than July,  with this and the rest of Walsall’s service operated from the back of transit vans unless we act together.

Only a cynic would point out that closing a youth club in Aldridge could give the controlling group a bad time at an upcoming, unexpected by-election in the area.

Do not be fooled either by Adrian Andrew’s reference to new buildings, this is classic waffle, clearly cooked up on the fly and does not indicate any such proposal. Ask the people of Bentley how their library is progressing if you’re in any way doubtful of my conjecture.

What this does indicate however, is that the cabinet are rattled. The consultation was wholly inadequate, and it’s nice to see that effective campaigning both on and offline can effect a change in position, both in obtaining statements and bringing the council to heel.

Please do attend  the public meeting tomorrow if you can. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the elected members consider the views of the electorate significant enough to listen to.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 13 June from 6pm to 8pm at Aldridge Manor House, Little Aston Road, Aldridge, WS9 8NJ.

Walsall Council  PR 9088    12/06/2013    [For Immediate Release]

Aldridge youth services consultation extended

Young people and their parents will be given extra time to have their say on the provision of youth work in Aldridge ahead of a meeting this Thursday for parents, young people and service users in Aldridge.

Walsall Council confirmed last week its decision to move youth services for young people from Aldridge Manor House as part of a borough wide property review to help save costs.

The public consultation phase was set to end next month in July but the authority has decided to extend this period to Christmas, giving local people more time to have their say.

The Council has also determined its Integrated Young People’s Support Service (IYPSS) will continue to provide youth services from Aldridge Manor House until the end of the year.

Councillor Rachel Andrew, portfolio holder for children’s services said: “I realise there has been some concern from young people and residents about the closure of Aldridge Manor House Youth Centre.

‘The suggestions being circulated that we’ve failed to properly consult youngsters with this decision simply isn’t the case. We’ve been talking to young people who actually use the centre for their views on the future of youth work provision in the area for some time.

‘The decision to close the building has been made but work with young people will still be provided in this area.

‘The provision of youth work at Aldridge Manor House is only one part of what IYPSS offers and our IYPSS service is just one aspect of youth work being provided in the area. There are many and varied youth activities being provided by our partners in Aldridge and we are committed to ensuring these activities continue.”

Aldridge Youth Theatre has already been given funding worth £5k for youth work and a further £10k later in the year from communities and partnerships portfolio holder, Councillor Zahid Ali.

Walsall’s deputy leader Councillor Adrian Andrew added: ‘In an ideal world, if we were looking to provide a brand new Youth Centre here in Aldridge, it would not look like Aldridge Manor House.

‘An older building certainly has its charm, but it’s very expensive to maintain, there are no lifts for disabled users and staff have to spend too much time managing the building rather than working with young people.

‘So whilst the decision to close the building has been agreed, there is still a huge amount of youth work in Aldridge or services for young people. We’ve taken the decision to give people more time to have their say and over the course of the next few months, we’ll be sharing our ideas for the provision of youth work with young people, parents and the local community.’

The meeting will take place on Thursday 13 June from 6pm to 8pm at Aldridge Manor House, Little Aston Road, Aldridge, WS9 8NJ.

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40 Responses to In a Manor to which they are unaccustomed

  1. Gazza Lichfield says:

    The motive for closing the building is intriguing perhaps a capital receipt is needed . From my days at Walsall MBC this building I think has a number of covenants and also grants that will still be applicable to the building. I would urge the community and an organisation within the community to look at

    and also get the building quickly

    This may focus the council on the service rather than a belief that the have a Capital receipt in selling the building. The deeds of the property should be also inspected by the community to check that there is no restrictive covenant that actually would prevent the council selling this building as it may have been given for a particular purpose. Your community right to challenge would be the best way to try and save the building and the essential services is provides

    • Gazza, the title deeds are not available to download online from Land Registry probably because it hasn’t been bought or sold recently! My question is, if a request was made to view the deed by anyone living in the Borough, would the council be legally obliged to make them available? I know that they can be ordered via downloading a form and progressing through snail mail but I’m also concerned that the Council may have a way of blocking any unauthorised (in their view) requests. Sorry for my ignorance on this subject. This is my new thing to learn today! Thanks. Linda

      • Hi Linda, never say sorry! I would assume you could request to see the deed packet held at Walsall Council (Land Terrier Team) I would expect that they may require written notice though as i would guess there are documents within the deed packet that they would argue are confidential. The deeds themselves wouldnt be as if the property was registered you could have a copy of the register (Basically the same as the deed)

        If they want to be awkward then FOI request as they would have no grounds to refuse this.

        So perhaps email/write to them and arrange for a viewing of the deeds, I bet the plan attached to the deeds would be ace! as its such an old building. There may of course be many deeds between the various parties who have owned the land and property since day one so make sure you ask to see all the conveyances held that cover the Manor House.

        Also I recall that Aldridge Youth had an agreement (Ken Smith was Youth leader) as a community association? There was a formal committee and I am more than certain that the documents for the association transferred the property on an agreement with the youth club/community association. I am not sure what happened to these agreements as I am going back to pre 2000. They maybe of use or even a way forward for the community to perhaps re-engage these agreements between the council and community associations as a way to keep such a valuable community asset.

        I do think the Localism act is a way forward in attempting to keep the building for community use , this legislation was put in place exactly for these scenarios where the community want to keep a building in use rather than the authority sell for a one of capital receipt and spend the money is clearing a debt. The sale of this building seems to be linked to me to the council’s recent “Smarter workplace” project 🙁

        • Gazza, thanks very much for your comprehensive reply. I do in fact have a copy of the original deeds now acquired from a ‘source’ but the Council Officer did say she was happy for me to go and view the documents at the civic centre, so no problems there!
          The transactions I have detailed in the deeds only go to 1 february 1974 when Staffs CC sold a parcel of land at the front of the Manor House to Aldridge/Brownhills UDC in order that the road could be widened.There’s nothing after that date.
          This raises a few questions but I shall consult with others who know more about the building and what was happening with Community Association on that side of things.
          One question though, was all property previously owned by Staffordshire CC in Aldridge/Brownhills automatically transferred (by parliamentary act?) to Walsall MBC when it was formed in the re-organisation in 1974?
          Thanks once again

          • Yes all lands would have been transferred under the act. Walsall MBC is the successor to aldridge & Brownhills UDC . The deed itself will refer possibly to other deeds and which covenants remain with Walsall MBC

            I recall when I was the treasurer of Aldridge Manor Youth and Community Association that the association were looking to sign a community association agreement (1999) that would provide a continuous presence of youth delivery at the Manor House. (Ken Smith at the time was Youth leader and vice chair) Not sure if Ken is still alive as i notice in 2006 he stepped down with ill health. I maybe wrong but I feel the covenants are something that need deeper look at …

            The community association agreement is something i would encourage you seek this document out. Has it been rescinded? Has the council revoked the agreements? there was one with shelfield and pelsall too …

      • Anonymous says:

        hiya Linda i met u at meeting and ur points were excellent before they rudely interrupted you. you said u were unavailable for nxt mtg. i wud be glad to take any more questions or statements u may have and present them on ur behalf.
        Kind Regards.

        • Hello there! Thank you for your kind words which i really do appreciate 🙂 I will be in touch with several people about the next meeting, so that any questions can be asked but thanks for your kind offer. Not sure how I would contact you mind as you’re anonymous! I am hoping that the date for the next meeting will be announced shortly and that maybe, just maybe it will be held before I go away.

  2. ianrobo says:

    It should be noted that Mr and Mrs live locally and to get three cabinet members to comment on one story shows the impact that this has had locally.

  3. ianrobo says:

    and there is no explanation here of the costs involved we should note. No one can make an informed call with out the costs.

  4. Rob says:

    As there’s been an on-going financial crisis since 2008 wouldn’t it be helpful if people refrained from expecting the council/taxpayer to meet all of their wants and needs and did something for themselves once in a while?

  5. Rob says:

    The above comments indicate self-reliance isn’t an option.
    Not good.
    Some day (very soon) people are going to have to look after themselves.
    Indivinduals will have to walk around their local duck-pond unescorted by “local government” officers.
    I’m sure worse things have happened.
    Carry on protesting!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was at this meeting and the councillors and co. said the capital receipt will be 18k however they also informed us that the money will be used by the council for next 3-5yrs. I understand the reasons for closure and accept them however the statements given to the press ARE UNTRUE . Rachel Andrews has NOT consulted with young people. I know for a fact the staff and volunteers have done this. Also the staff and volunteers do a brilliant job. They ARE focused on the children…i know a door needed replacing to the games and social room but the decision was made that the money should be spent on the young people – that proves their dedication. In addition the community let it be known that they themselves would help with the funding required to keep the centre open. Finally it was also made clear that there are no plans for the building to be used after selling therefore i ask should you not have found both a new use for the building and a secured new location for the youth provision before selling it?! Afterall we were told the decision to close the heart of the community was in fact made in APRIL 2011. 2yrs to make plans shows truly the lack of communication the council claim to have made. I would like to remind all readers that all points in this entry are true and most from the mouths of councillors themselves. I want to thank all who have shown support for the Manor and hopefully the council will listen the public rather than overule us. We are a community whom you are supposed to collaborate with. We are NOT just another ticked box on your agenda!

    • anonymous says:

      nice article 🙂 and i am glad another has noticed the false claims rachel andrews has made. im one of the volunteers at the manor for 3yrs now i have yet to meet her.

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