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2019 –A (Wednesfield North) Review of the Year!

2019 –A (Wednesfield North) Review of the Year!

Well we are approaching the end of an action-packed year here in Wednesfield North. It’s had quite a lot of ’Highs’, and a fair share of ‘Lows’. Read the results of our Year here in Wednesfield North.

2019 A Good Year for Wednesfield North
All in all, it’s been a decent year for our community. Let me just run through the highlights of our year, as I see it.
Well we had around 60 new homes constructed and built here in Wednesfield North and opened this year. All of whom are finished now. Sites in Peach Road, Parker Road, and Danesmore Pastures. Using brownfield sites, like we have done here to develop the homes, must be the way forward. We are pleased as Wednesfield North Councillors because our community has grown that little bit bigger, and having more good quality homes for families is quite a development, in what is a tight urban area.
Education
Oak Meadow School in February put on a magnificent Art Exhibition entitled ‘A Million Dreams’. It was the work of their pupils, and it was stunning to see. All three Labour Councillors visited the school, and we were blown away by the quality of the work undertaken. It has to be said, that as we approached the end of this year. Oak Meadow School has featured consistently in the news. Their pupils took part in a TV debate about Obesity, and then this month (December). The School won another coveted Award for their work around the ‘Million Dreams’ feature. Ashmore Park Nursery School also featured heavily in the Year. Back in the Summer the Ashmore Park Nursery, was praised by Ofsted inspectors due to it giving children the “best start in life”. Inspector Dr Bogusia Matusiak-Varley visited the nursery and praised it in all categories. She found the school had “maintained the outstanding quality of education in the school” since its last inspection in 2015. Mary and I serve as Governors of the school. We dealt with numerous School Governors meetings. Plus, we also dealt with 125 emails items and issues relating to the school and correspondence.
Coppice High School has the remarkably talented Billy Ellitts studying at this Performing Arts School. Billy is just 12-year-old, he studies at Coppice Performing Arts School in Wolverhampton, trains at Jordon School of Dance in Halesowen, and is a member of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and during the course of this year in Portugal he became a World Champion of dance. All three City Councillors are very proud of what Billy has achieved this year. He is also a member of the Ashmore Park Walk of Stars! Woodend Primary School The issues that we have dealt with regarding this school relates to Parking, and speed issues on Woodend Road. We are also trying to get a further bin for the school. We also hold our advice Surgery in the school. Allowing close links to develop. Corpus Christi School – There has not been a lot of contact between the school and the Councillors this year, though we have been involved with them around some environmental work the school is doing.

Public Realm and Waste Disposal.
These are issues that often relates to street furniture, Parks, Green Spaces and grass cutting. And the pruning of trees! During the year there is always issues relating to Parks and Open Space Grass verges and other more oblique issues. During the course of this calendar year the situation has been much the same as it has been in previous years. Complaints and concerns have been logged and followed through on items as different as – Dog fouling, Tree issues, Use of Rat Poison, Football Pitch conditions, Litter bins and vandalism of street furniture, and Park and Green space littering. The big talking point issues for residents. This year I have written 44 individual pieces of correspondence dealing with resident’s queries and requests around Public Realm. We have also dealt with another 47 cases relating to the changes made by the Authority to bin collection, and the dumping and \fly tipping of rubbish.

Action Against the Loss of the Greenbelt.
Again, your Wednesfield North Councillors have spoken up against proposals that threaten the established Green Belt in Essington. We broke the original story in April 2018. Since then we have published our views, and have spoken out against the Green Belt loss. I have attended two public meetings on behalf of our situation. These meetings have been held in Essington. A number of Wednesfield residents asked questions and made statements. It was clear that the Wednesfield residents didn’t want new build housing developed on this Green Belt! It very much signified that Wednesfield is not only interested in the arguments being developed, but is very much against the downgrading and the loss of the Green Belt. As Local Councillors we have been supporting the Essington Action Group. These public meetings were a meeting for the public to find out more about the plan by South Staffordshire Council to explore why construction companies and landowners want to build 2500 new houses on the Land North of Linthouse Lane on the boundary of Wednesfield and Essington. This particular meeting was a well-attended meeting with perhaps 2/3rds of all those in attendance being from Wednesfield. Also attending was Emma Reynolds MP for Wolverhampton North East. I spoke at both the meeting, again reaffirming that the City Councillors of Wednesfield North, Rita, Mary and myself, were against the proposal as it related to the Green Belt. Emma also spoke up for the Green Belt. in this part of South Staffordshire.

Elections
Wednesfield North City Council elections took place again in May 2019 – Councillor Rita Potter won the seat with 42% of the Votes and has a four-year term to serve. This will take Rita up to 2023. Rita is a great local Councillor and we were very pleased to have won a very hard-fought Municipal election campaign this Spring. Sadly, in just the last few days of 2019 – GE2019- Emma Reynolds (Labour) who gave 9 years loyal service to Wednesfield and Wolverhampton North East, lost her seat to a Conservative. We wish Emma the very best in what she does with her life. We thank her for her service on behalf of Wednesfield North and its residents. The new Conservative MP for Wolverhampton North East is Jane Stevenson. Here is the GE2019 election results. –
Wolverhampton North East – Parliamentary Seat The Conservative Party Win
• Jane Stevenson, Conservative – 17,722 (majority 4,080)
• Emma Reynolds, Labour – 13,642*
• Vishal Khatri, Brexit Party – 1,354
• Richard Maxwell, Liberal Democrats – 960
• Andrea Cantrill, Green Party – 603
• Turnout – 56 per cent
This is undoubtedly a very low point in the year for Mary Rita and me! We work so hard for Labour here in Wednesfield North. But we have to get on with it. And We Will! The 2020 Local Municipal elections will show the results of our hard work for the residents of Wednesfield North. We are gearing our selves for a big fight locally.
Wednesfield in Bloom -June 2019
The Wednesfield in Bloom initiative goes from strength to strength. There are far more people involved in the project now, than I ever thought there would be. The volunteers are crucial to the health and well being of the Wednesfield entry. I want to thank every single one of the volunteers for giving their time freely to the hard work that is taking place now on an annual basis. 2019 was significant to Wednesfield North because it became a full player in the Village entry. It was a spectacular success for Ashmore Park. We had complete buy in from all the residents, all the shops on the Shopping Parade, the Co-Op, The Ashmore Inn the doctor’s surgery, the Ashmore Park Nursery, St Albans Church, Ashmore Park Motor Services. and the Wednesfield Aces! Great donations of both money and flowers enabled us to deliver an Award-winning performance for the Wednesfield Village entry. Not only did we play a significant role in Winning a Heart of England Gold Award again. But we are delighted to inform you that the Ashmore Park with the Wednesfield Village entry has been elevated to the 2020 Britain in Bloom competition. The stakes have risen enormously. We will be looking for help and advice from all our residents, for the 2020 competitions.

Ashmore Park Shopping Parade -Shops; I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that during this year, We have taken up lots of individual shops complaints. Its been a very varied bag of complaints. Many of the issues have been around the drains, water ingress of shops. Some issues relating to leases, other due to the closure of Griffith Drive by the Severn Trent water company. We have worked hard with individual meetings, face to face relating to both good news projects. Sometimes not such good news! But all in all we believe working hard at relationships is a win for everyone. I have written 51 individual pieces of correspondence under this headline.

#Stuff4Steph -July 2019
My personal thanks to ‘Hands on Wednesfield’ and Gemma Ballinger, and James Clarke for working so hard with the three City Councillors, to make this the success it was. Ashmore Park and Wednesfield families had a great Saturday in July as every one pulled together to provide a fete, stalls, live entertainment, music, and it was all broadcast by Wolverhampton Community Radio! Despite what we would describe as less than ideal weather it was estimated that over a thousand residents and visitors were entertained on the day. We have agreed to do it all over again in the same format-next year. Which will also have a snappy title to go with it. In order to get the event operating there were 46 pieces of information written and produced to pull it all together.

Wyrley & Essington Canal
What a great year it has been on ‘our canal’ the waterway is the boundary for the Ward with Wednesfield South, it is a valuable amenity for all the people of Wednesfield. It has been the subject of a very long campaign by both myself and my tow Councillor colleagues Mary and Rita, to turn it into a Local Nature Reserve. In April the Wyrley and Essington Canal became the latest Local Nature Reserve for Wolverhampton. I am personally very pleased by the result. My fellow Councillors Mary and Rita have given me much support for this project. We are all delighted with the outcome. With some funding to manage the LNR, the Canal and River Trust will manage the scheme. I hope they will continue to deliver a great facility for Wednesfield families. I was also delighted that we were able to run two very effective ‘Litter Picks with the help of Volunteers in July and October. That became a very effective way of ridding the area of plastic and other rubbish. We will be delivering another Litter pick in 2020. Watch this space. There were 162 items of correspondence written up about the issues relating to the WE Canal that I produced this year. The largest and the hardest to pull together was the two great Litter picks that we managed, one in July and the other in October. In total the CRT provided two vessels for the two litter picks and around 94 Volunteers gave their time over the two events. That was magnificent. We filled the barge with all the litter and rubbish we picked up. But for me the stars of the show were the volunteers that came and gave their time freely.

Visitors –Whilst on the canal theme we had the BCN Canal cruise visit Wednesfield twice during the year. This was a very welcome event as these tourists spend their resources in our Village, boosting the local economy with more than thirty boats over the two trips during the summer it was estimated that some £3,000 was spent in this way in Wednesfield. The good news is that I am already informed that in 2020 the BCN Cruise will arrive again.
Wednesfield Canal Festival
Wednesfield Canal Festival 2019.This was another great two-day event, this year we welcomed a 5.27% increase in attendance, and we are being informed that local business in Bentley Bridge Leisure Park also recorded increased patronage. This is what it is all about. Fun and great benefits. The Hands on Wednesfield Volunteers are just fantastic, and it is this group with Bentley Bridge Leisure team in partnership deliver this fixture in the fun stakes. The Great news is that in 2020 we are poised to do it all again! I am sure that this news will be much welcomed by Wednesfield as a whole. I am also so indebted to the Bentley Bridge Leisure Park Management and the Management of the Nickelodeon Public House. They work very closely with us. They make resources in their business available to us. They are integral to the event. I thank them for their effort and their endeavour!

#ShopLocal

Your Wednesfield North Councillors have run three #ShopLocal events this year. One on the 5th of July coinciding with the Inspectors arriving from the Heart of England in Bloom to inspect the Wednesfield in Bloom flowers, and the second of the two events took place on December 14th. The three Labour City Councillors worked hard to deliver an event that had Music, singers, choirs and coincided with The Hub at Ashmore Park and the Hands on Wednesfield team running a Santa, and a Treasure Hunt for the children. It was a bitterly cold day on December 14th but it was a great day for the community. Plus, the small businesses that took part. They were all fabulous, Plus we launched the Christmas lights. With regards to the production of these events, there were 31 individual pieces of correspondence and numerous meetings, to get the events operating. What also is becoming evident a week or so now away from the event. Many of our local shop owners are telling me that they did get new customers, and that there was a lift in the footfall. That was what it was all about!

Our Very First Community Excellence Awards!

In November 2019 – Together with ‘Hands on Wednesfield’ your three Labour Councillors created and ran a ‘Community Excellence Awards’ ceremony at the Ashmore Inn. It was the first time we have all come together to deliver an awards night for Wednesfield’s unsung heroes and great Volunteers. It was a fab night and more than 90 people attended the evening…. There were 36 individual awards presented. There are more to give out and we shall do that again till all our unsung heroes are recognised! It was a privilege to be part of that event. This event will be repeated again next year in 2020. I personally am very proud of this particular initiative. We held the event on November 14th at the Ashmore Inn our community interest PH. It was a fitting venue for the event.

Advice Surgeries. –
The three Labour Councillors representing Wednesfield North Phil and Mary Bateman with Cllr Rita Potter, continue to hold regular Advice Surgeries in the three parts of the Ward. Woodend Primary School, Ashmore Park Nursery and The Hub at Ashmore Park.

The Hub and Ashmore Park Community Association

These are key organisations here in Wednesfield North all three Wednesfield North Councillors work hard with the organisation. Helping them to deliver their own programmes. Wee are also called in to assist events and at times landlord disputes with the Local Authority. There has been 43 reports and correspondence made in the course of this year, as well as many face to face meetings.

Housing in Wednesfield North

Housing issues still takes a lot of time for all three City Councillors up here in Wednesfield North I have had a massive 273 item and issues in correspondence with the Authorities. This is big volume of case work. But the size of it emphasises the work we do for our constituents. All of those individual items have to be researched, read, or then written up as an advocacy document for the constituent’s case. Housing issues are a massive part of the three Councillors work load. No matter which way you look at it, housing certainly is a priority issue for the electorate. This year in 2019 we have seen 52 Homes constructed on Danesmore Pastures. 4 Homes built on Parker Road, 5 built on Peach Road, and 2 on Whiston Avenue. There has been social housing in the Danesmore Pastures and Whiston, with Peach and Parker. The first time in years that we have built social housing in Wednesfield North.

Planning

Besides the huge issue with regards to the Green Belt battle. I have also raised 19 other items with the Planning Authorities during the course of this year. This includes matters regarding unadopted walkways, Bonfires, illegal business development and Tree Preservation. Planning issues lead to lots of enquiries, not every case is followed through to the committee stage. Residents are concerned to know what is taking place. I try to use all my Social Media sites to keep our electorate up to date with live planning issues.

Climate Change

Wolverhampton has declared a Climate Change Emergency. The current rate the sea is rising is 90% greater than the 20th Century average. DEFRA predicts £130 billion worth of infrastructure is at risk of flood damage, 12 of the UK’s 19 nuclear power plants at risk of coastal flooding by 2080. All the prediction just emphasises that whatever we do in Wolverhampton also has an effect on Climate change not only in our immediate confines, but even further afield. Our City role is to lead Wolverhampton’s sustainably into the future ensuring our residents are well equipped to thrive in a changing world. That means that we have to start doing more for our climate, changing where and when we can to cleaner more sustainable fuels and better outcomes for the climate. This will force change on Wolverhampton, we will not be able to duck our responsibility.

Police and Crime

Wednesfield North Labour City Councillors have campaigned for the whole year for more resources for West Midlands Police, and we have campaigned strongly also to keep the Wednesfield Police Station open.
I am proud of the way that we have worked with Wednesfield Police, providing help and support for their initiatives where and when we can. We have also campaigned to get speed cut on a number of roads across the Ward. Save the Wednesfield Police station – which has been hard campaign. I think this can be viewed at the moment as a partial success, as it hasn’t closed completely. It is still being used by the Neighbourhood Police. Though it is disappointing that we still have not been able to persuade the Police to open the station to the public. In total I have written – on behalf of my Councillor colleagues. A 148 individual Police and crime correspondence/email in the course of this year. We are concerned about the levels of crime and the poor force numbers. What to me is sad though is that from December 2018 through to November 2019- The latest Police UK statistics for Wednesfield are these. Many may feel that they are indeed low for expectations the public have, to how the Police should be protecting them and their property.
• Total number of crimes are 2297.
• Of these crimes 1639 offences had No Further Action against them.
• That is 80% of those crimes reported.
• There was 3.38% of offenders dealt with by the Police.
• Sent to Court were just 4.70%.
• 5.78% of those were dealt with by a Court.
• That equates to just 118 persons getting justice
These are the reasons whilst we have been campaigning to the Government for more Police and more Police resources.
Sadly, with the GE2019 gone, and West Midlands Police struggling to recruit. It looks like 2020, will be much like all the past years. I just do not know how the public puts up with it! Final word on this- Wednesfield is a low crime Ward here in our city- Thankfully! I would like to say that the few Neighbourhood Police and PCSO’s we have, do a really great job. It’s just there is not enough of them! Source -Crime stats (Police.UK)

Transport Issues

This is a Portfolio that has electors in Wednesfield North very engaged. The broad transport issues that residents raised with me were varied but one thing that does take the notice is the fact that growing in size and importance, is the issues relating to highway safety.
Surprising to many people will be the fact that Public Transport issue was the largest overall issue in this portfolio during 2019, there was 35 items reflecting individuals concerns for the local bus service during the tunnelling arrangements. But analysis reminded me that Griffith Drive was closed by Severn Trent Water Company for 6 weeks, as ST invested in a new water main. That issue caused much disruption to resident’s public transport plans, and disruption around the business of the Shopping Parade. Highway Safety issues ranked heavily in the correspondence topping the table with 38 items of correspondence! As did people’s concerns relating to the issues of pavements in the Ward. All in all, there was 154 episodes in the transport files.
The top 3 issues being
1- Highway Safety
2- Public Transport
3- Pavement Issues

Welfare and Social Services

There are always concerns about people’s health and welfare every year. That is the situation again in 2019. Concerns were raised by residents about members of their family, and friends. It’s a very complex situation. I had residents speak with me about a wide range of issues. The Blue Badge service was a service that picked up a lot of concern and criticism from constituents, as did the local GP Practices. During the course of the year I sought help for people who had a beef with their Local GP or the Service the GP operated. I had 11 items of correspondence on this unhappiness alone. I referred residents onto other areas of the National Health Service, or sought advice from Wolverhampton’s Public Health.

In conclusion 2019 – Was a very varied year, good things and bad things, but never dull!

We did some great work with volunteers, we worked in partnership with a whole range of organisations, we had fun and we had some very sad days. We lost a whole range of community folks and characters. Yet as a community we are very resilient. As we look to 2020 I fully expect Wednesfield to be in the news – and making news, hopefully all with good purpose.

May Mary and Rita and me! Wish all who read this a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more

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