Light entertainment


Poor old Morris. All anyone is bothered about is the tree. This image was taken on December 3rd, 2014.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll probably realise by now that Brownhills is the subject of some media controversy at the moment – a story emerging here via the Express & Star and syndicated out to the wider daily papers has caused outrage and recrimination.

Is it the fact that we have a derelict shopping centre in the middle of town, that nobody seems to care about, or know what to do with? No.

Is it about the withdrawal of community access to facilities the public raised cash to pay for? Er, don’t think so.

Is it perhaps over the potholed and dangerous state of the High Street and Miner Island? Doesn’t appear to be, no.

Is it about a string of Christmas lights on a tree on that traffic island, which weren’t quite as glitzy as people would have liked? Could well be…

I’m not going to bang on about this too much – the situation is already ridiculous enough. Our Local Committee – the apparent champions of our town – were justified to grumble that the lights they paid for, for whatever reason, weren’t re-strung from the trees on the central island in Brownhills at Christmas, 2013. Instead, we got some presumably less glitzy, bargain basement ones. But they were there, and we had new ones hanging from the lampposts, like most other district centres in the borough that year.


Mint cornetto, anyone? Well, as Noddy would say ‘It’s Christ-maaaas! Or something. More of the Christmas lights we never had, from November 30th 2014.

That the committee didn’t apparently chase the issue of the lost lights up before the same thing happened again in 2014 is a bit of a mystery to me. They all seem to be people with time on their hands. They like a good campaign, especially if there’s a cuppa involved somewhere, and the chance to have a good moan. I’d have thought pursuing this would have been fairly high up Brownhills Local Committee’s agenda.

Because let’s face it, Ravens Court or other pressing local issues doesn’t seem to be.

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If only someone had informed Steve Craddock, the Brownhills UKIP councillor, Brownhills could have been like Liberace’s boudoir by mid-December…

However, the whole thing seems to have fallen by the wayside, and after some to-ing and fro-ing this Christmas, in which we suffered the gross indignity of the same inferior set of lights being strung from the same tree, the Town Centre Partnership, Committee and Council seems to have finally got things sorted and secured a new set of lights.

Sadly, not in time for last Christmas. Children were distraught, mice threw themselves upon traps and angels wept quietly into their pints of mild in The Shoulder.

For some unknown reason I’ve yet to get to the bottom of, Walsall Council offered to install the new set of lights this week. Whether that was to actually switch on, or just to get an early march on next year’s yuletide rush is anybody’s guess. The affront this offer has caused – clearly far worse than cancelling Christmas itself – has driven the good people of the committee to go to the press and complain.

They are complaining because we now have a new set of Christmas lights, in plenty of time for next year – which may be turned on now as a peace offering and called ‘Winter lights’. This will give the Committee a free 11 months or so to find other stuff to fret about. It’s all win.

Nobody has covered themselves with glory here. The council clearly can’t find it’s arse with both hands and others clearly lack a sense of perspective.

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From the comments on the story in the Express & Star. Is this really the desired reaction?

The press, being what it is, has angled this as some attempt to rebrand Christmas, a la ‘Winterval’. I have seen social media posts and below-the-line comments claiming this is an attempt to appease all manner of religious and non-religious killjoys. A couple of inky nationals are claiming we had no Christmas lights at all. One has photographed the same set of lights we had all Christmas – which change colour – from two different aspects and claimed they were different sets, before and after. One middle brow – or should that be unibrow – tabloid even claimed the Bible prescribe we take down decorations on Twelfth Night, a remarkable assertion soon corrected.


Pelsall’s tree is a live one, paid for a while back by subscription, with lights paid for the same way. It is rather beautiful. We could do the same.

Also out in heavy force has been the traditional Brownhillian inferiority complex ‘Other centres get better lights’ is the cry – well, yes and no. To the best of my knowledge, we all have similar lamp-post lights, and ours look like mint cornettos. Any trees that are present elsewhere are usually donated – Walsall Wood’s is generously paid for by the ward Councillors; Pelsall’s live tree was funded by appeal. Even the Walsall town centre tree is sponsored.

I must admit that in times of austerity and wider cuts, I’m not hugely moved by civic Christmas lights at all. I just can’t get excited about them. I much prefer the wonderful job done by the Brownhills in Bloom crew.

So, well done, Brownhills Local Committee. Of all the issues in the one-horse town, the one  you actually get worked into a lather about, and get national attention for is a set of bloody fairy lights. Top jolly.

In all of this, nobody seems to have noticed that the tree in question is not at all Christmas tree shaped, and is wholly inappropriate for the task anyway.

I’ve known about this situation for a couple of weeks. People have moaned quite a bit about the lacklustre Christmas lights on the island. It’s been irritating me so much that I’ve mailed Brian Stringer – one of the few on the Committee who seems to have a sense of proportion – if he’d make the proposal to the Committee on my and the blog’s behalf to investigate getting a Douglas Fir or similar live tree to plant on the island. I’m personally prepared to make a healthy donation to this, or fund it outright – so that we have a decent Christmas tree in years to come.

After all, these chaps love conifers. What better gift could I give?

Let me just make this clear. A couple of weeks ago, I made the offer to fund, or substantially fund a live Christmas tree for Brownhills miner island. I am happy to put my money where my mouth is.

This would mean we’d have something worthy of hanging a decent set of lights off, which we now apparently have.

Of course, few will be able to appreciate the lights or tree, because we’re all too bloody busy trying to avoid the potholes in the island…

You couldn’t make shit like this up.

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15 Responses to Light entertainment

  1. Christine says:

    My daughter who lives in Barnsley emailed me the article that was in the Daily Mail. I hope they don’t start looking at us too closely, that really would be embarrassing.

  2. Becky T says:


    Ooooh dear what a to do!!

    I personally don’t think your very generous offer of a live tree on the island is a good idea though. Aesthetically as it grew it wouldn’t look right with the tin man which by now should have lead (if marketed right) to Brownhills being on the Tourist map in some small way!

    They definately look like cornettos 🙂

    Not only are the pot holes a nightmare but the recently installed traffic bump just before the island is like a large boulder!

  3. peter says:

    Hya Bob, Maybe Brian can have some influence with the committee (whoever they are?), but I rather suspect that the Brownhills Local Committee would rather stick needles in their eyeballs rather than accept your very kind and generous offer of help, again!
    Previous complaints have centered on who and where the Brownhills Local Committee are? How can they be contacted? I wonder what the average age of the Committee is?
    At least we can all look at the lovely Christmas lights in January……………. says it all really doesn’t it?

    Keep up the good work ……….


    • Brian Stringer says:

      Hi Peter. B.L.C has an office above the Library and the phone No is 01543361144. We hold a meeting on the first Monday in the month at 7 pm. Our Chairperson is Douglas Birch, who can be reached on 01543360176 and our vice chair is Barrie Poxon on 01543454941. Sec is Diane Jones on 01543377347.
      The committee consists of myself. Mr Gerald Bickley, Kath Fitzpatrick. Dave Jones. Ann Baker. Neal Jones,& Vivienne Aston.
      Jan Davis from Brownhills Community Ass attends our meeting as do Cllrs Barbara Cassidy and Steve Wade.
      At our next meeting I will bring the matter of the tree up as several people have offered to chip in.
      My own personal view however is that we as a committee should too chip in, but leave all negotiations and siting to others, because it’s obvious from the general tone of the bloggers, that whatever we do we shall still be classed as a bunch of doddering old wankers, although perhaps I shouldn’t say old, because it could be construed as ageist..

  4. Eryl Powell says:

    Hey Bob – I’d very much like to contribute to the tree with you.
    Have to make sure it’s a tree that doesn’t grow so large that it detracts from the miner.

    All the best,

    • Cool. It’s just a matter of nipping the top out. Thinking an 8-10 foot live tree can’t cost too much.


      • Andy Tye says:

        HI bob, To be honest this whole issue regarding the Christmas lights could be our undoing. Its bad enough seeing The town in daylight hours without lighting it up at night and then having to endure more of the same. Its a sad sorry shame how Brownhills has declined. We should be asking “WHY”? and “How”? it has come to this. I think the sooner we become governors of our own town the better. Its been on a steady decrease since we were forced into a so called partnership with Walsall council. We have been ignored by Richard Shepherd for far to long, now I hear he is handing in the crown. No doubt he will be in the house of lords before to long, lapping it up without a care. Just one other point to make. Without the market, Brownhills is a dying town..

  5. David Evans says:

    HI Bob

    ah yes, the wonderful Daily Mail. What a national asset it is too. I don’t buy it myself. Love the early illuminations to celebrate the Chinese New year, though. 2015, the year of the sheep..or goat.
    Your idea of a good, proper size, real, well-shaped tree, preferably lit with lights at the appropriate festive season is an excellent idea which I hope will become reality.

    kind regards

  6. Pedro says:


    At a meeting of the Brownhills Council on Wednesday night the question of public lighting again cropped up as it is continually doing. From remarks which were made by certain members of the Council it would appear that lamps are moved from one part of the district to another with a glorious impartiality. No sooner does Mr A suggest that a particular lamp should be moved from its position and fixed elsewhere then a member of the council promises that it shall be done immediately. Mr B has a similar opinion with the regard to another lamp in the district and this upon being brought to the notice of the representative of the people is likewise removed to a place where it shining light may the better serve to brighten the path of the inhabitants. And so on.

    But this mode of procedure somehow fails to meet with the universal approval and at a meeting on Wednesday night a resolution was adopted that for the future no Lamp should be removed without the consent of of the whole Council and not as at present at request of a particular member.

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