The state that we are in


Don’t we deserve to know what the hell is going on?

I’m pleased to note that despite the celebratory tones of a report in the Express & Star a couple of weeks ago, Walsall Council are reinforcing the hard line taken on the owners of the derelict eyesore in the middle of Brownhills, Ravens Court, with a strongly worded press release issued a couple of days ago.


I fail to see the great leap forward. From the Express & Star, Wednesday 26th November 2014.

I covered this recently (as I have been doing for five years) and the claims of UKIP Councillor for Brownhills, Steve Craddock who says he and former Tory Regeneration Leader Adrian Andrew facilitated some kind of deal with the owners of the precinct to submit a planning application for renovation or redevelopment ‘in the new year’.

To anyone who has been following this sorry saga, it seems reasonably clear that the owners would have made this promise anyway, in order to forestall legal action by Walsall Council,  forcing them to clean Ravens Court up and secure it.

The powers the Council have to actually force action are very limited, but any gesture to coerce  remediation is welcome.

I’d really like to invite Steve Craddock, Adrian Andrew or indeed, the site owners Lightquote (or their agents) to explain a few things, because I, and many others, are having difficulty understanding what’s actually happened.

My issues are as follows:

  • The owners have had several years to submit an application – they haven’t. Why?
  • Ravens Court has been allowed to fall into disrepair and degenerate into a state in which nobody would want to rent a unit there. Why?
  • If the owners really care for Brownhills and the fabric of Ravens Court, why not do the minimum to clean it up and make it good? Why has there been no previous gesture to do this?
  • Through the inaction, the local economy of Brownhills has suffered. There seems to be no intention to acknowledge this or recognise the effect the dithering is having on our community. Is the harm this situation is causing understood?
  • Why let volunteers in the form of the Brownhills Town Centre Partnership and local traders beg for the resources to clean up a mess that belongs to you just so we can have a Christmas event? Wouldn’t a conscientious landlord have helped here?

I remain concerned about the future of Ravens Court, and if I or others with a semblance of critical thinking are to believe the vague promises made, I’d really like to see some valid commitment. The floor is open here as it always is.

You can comment here directly, or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Please, meet us halfway. Talk to Brownhills properly and directly, not through a gatekeeper. Explain to us explicitly the delays, prevarication and inaction since Tesco called the party off. This may not matter to you – Brownhills is a tiny town miles from your head office in London – but the resolution of this mess is crucial to our future.

I look forward to a reply.

Surely, with a decent renovation and some decent tenants this could be earning money rather than rotting away?

Walsall Council wrote:

Walsall Council could take action against the owners of the Ravenscourt Shopping Centre in Brownhills if plans for its redevelopment are not submitted in the next 6 months.

The local authority has set the deadline in a bid to press the owners into action, after concerns were raised over its dilapidated state.

More than 500 people have signed a petition calling on the local authority to compulsory purchase the site after swarms of traders vacated the precinct.

Tesco had plans to purchase the site and expand its superstore in the High Street, but shelved plans a couple of years ago. The centre has been in a state of disrepair ever since. Fly-tipping and graffiti are just some of the concerns raised by locals and traders.

Regeneration officers are in ongoing discussions with the owners of the precinct to bring forth plans for its redevelopment, but have confirmed their intentions to serve a section 215 notice in 6 months time should proposals stall.

Cabinet will be asked to support this recommendation on Wednesday evening, 17 December.

Councillor Mohammad Nazir, Walsall Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said: ‘There is no proposed scheme at this stage and no imminent plans to demolish the centre. I will be recommending to my Cabinet colleagues that officers continue to work with the owners of Ravenscourt Shopping Centre in a bid to improve the appearance of the precinct but if that fails, we will adopt the planning committee resolution to carry out enforcement action.

‘It is in everybody’s interests that we find an achievable solution for the centre but we won’t allow the situation to continue indefinitely.

“The ball is firmly in the court of the owners. We have spelt out our intentions and so it’s now up to them to come forward with their proposals.’

A planning application will need to be submitted 6 months from the date of the Business, Employment and the Local Economy Scrutiny and Performance Panel on 24 November 2014.


It’s common to blame the Council or Tesco for the state of Ravens Court, but as this Walsall Council document shows, neither own it.

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7 Responses to The state that we are in

  1. Pingback: The state that we are in | Gaia Gazette

  2. Peter says:

    Hi Bob, I’m not holding my breath but you never know it is Christmas after all………….. I suspect the actual answer to all 5 points you raise is “Don’t care”, although there are other places in Brownhills that could have held the Christmas event other than Ravenscourt Precinct. As I have said all along Ravenscourt is simply an entry on a balance sheet somewhere and gets a mention quarterly at a board meeting or finance meeting as “No Change”. Surely the owners are holding out for a development opportunity and get shut of it as 1 lot? It would be nice to hear from Adrian Andrew or Steve Craddock, who have obviously been working so very hard with the owners agent to move things forward, but I doubt we’ll hear from either of them, perhaps through fear as I suspect both would have to get “party” approval before saying anything on the subject or because like the owners and agent of Ravenscourt they too couldn’t care less! I suspect a mixture of the two.
    Tesco couldn’t give a toss about redevelopment as the existing supermarket store today probably rakes in enough already, Lightfoot couldn’t give a toss as it’s just an entry on a balance sheet and the Council only jump up and down in case someone gets injured and tries to sue them, I know they don’t own the property but as you explained Bob they do have an interest in the surrounding footpaths and paved areas and therefore by showing they are concerned at the state of affairs, can at least use that to cover their backs in the future when nothing has happened and someone does get injured or worse!
    What about the Big Society in action?………… Aren’t we supposed to take things into our own hands these days? …………….. Anyone got a Bulldozer? I assume they have it insured so that wouldn’t be a good answer either…….

    Keep up the good work Bob, and don’t let that bone go!

    All the best.


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  6. m jcox says:

    I saw our mp wendy morton and counciller ferguson september 2014 and was assured walsall council would have a definate answer on ravens court by dec.2014 here we are two years later nothing .Unfortunately ravens court is in brownhills not in aldridge then things would have been different there seems to be no interest in brownhills

    • The answers are not Walsall Council’s to give.

      They have no control and can’t do anything with it, although when going for election several politicians have talked about imminent deals and plans that never materialise.

      The tories in particular and Steve Craddock were all promising a plan was ‘just around the corner’ – must be a damned big corner.


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