Read Councillors 2003 Annual Report
Annual Report 2003
Councillor Phil Bateman 2003 Annual Report.
Phil said today " This is my third Annual Report for the Ward. I have been very active on behalf of constituents if there is any aspect of the report that you would like clarification of please contact me and I will willingly go through it with you. It can only be flavour of what is happening but it will I hope be well received."
Councillor’s Annual Report to Wednesfield North 2003
Councillor Phil Bateman
This is the Third Annual Report to Wednesfield North Ward. I am pleased with the progress that has been made and very pleased with some of the changes that I have been instrumental in getting for Wednesfield North.
Wednesfield North Ward is a Ward with a resident population of 10,978 according to the 2001 census figures. It is has a social structure made up of Senior Officials Managers Professionals. It is also a Ward that is well represented by Skilled Workers and Plant and Machine Operators. In short it is an area of Wolverhampton that has low unemployment. Wednesfield North is overwhelmingly Christian with some 81% of the population. Sikhs account for the next largest religious grouping with 2% recorded. It is a large Ward made up of several distinctive parts.
Ashmore Park Estate
This is right at the centre of Wednesfield North and is very much central to the economic and social activity that takes place in Wednesfield North.
Ashmore Park Estate is a large housing estate it is very much the focus for shopping and leisure, worship health and community facilities. The old historic Ashmore Moat from where the estate gets its name has been turned into a learning activity with a display of the history of its origins found in the nearby Ashmore Park Library. This innovative history project is visited by schools etc.
The Ashmore Park Shopping Parade is an important facility locally it contains the local Wolverhampton City Council Housing Office and the Library. It has a public toilet and it contains a variety of shops. These include supermarkets hardware chemist and take always. It is a vibrant shopping parade and it has proven to be highly successful since two car parks were constructed following a local campaign instigated by the local Labour Party and the Shopkeepers.
During the course of the year I have been active in trying to get the local authority to address the walking surface of the Ashmore Park Shopping Parade as injury continues to take place from people especially the elderly tripping on the uneven paving slabs.
The City Council continue to argue that trips and falls on the Shopping Parade is not a problem. But my enquiries lead me to believe that there is more injury taking place but it is not recorded by the Authority. These are the accident figures that I have teased from the City Council finance department to date.
Injury Figures Reported to City Council; Shopping Parade.
• 1998 - 1 accident
• 1999 - nil
• 2001 - 4 accidents
• 2002 - 2 accidents
• 2003 - to date 3 accidents
Safety and Security on the Shopping Parade
During the course of the year there have been one or two incidents on the Shopping Parade that has caused some concerns in the community. There had been a couple of robberies, and some concerns built during the year about youngsters roaming in gangs.
Residents started to have concerns about the effectiveness of the CCTV system that was in place. After a number of debates at the Ashmore Park Residents Association, a number of members visited the command centre and reported that the CCTV system was working. Even better news followed that the person who had robbed a resident was caught by the police and the police officers themselves were commended.
The Shopping Parade remains a very safe place to shop and criminal incidents remain low. Anti social behaviour does have a life of its own and sadly at certain times during the week gangs of youngsters gather which intimidates people. Both residents through the Ashmore Park Police Liaison Committee and the Police have a handle on this problem now.
Essington and Wyrley Canal.
This canal acts as a boundary for the Ward; it is also a valuable recreational facility. Being used by people for walking and angling.
Early in the New Year in January, constituents contacted me with concerns about the way the canal had filled up with a huge carpet of weed. It was choking the water way and stopping anglers going about their sport. It was so thick dogs were being fooled into thinking the waterway was solid. Some owners told me they were concerned not only for their pets but also for the many children who played along the tow path. I wrote to British Water Ways Board and they replied with a tremendous tale of alien water weed active in our local canal system. I reproduce the letter in part as it is quite incredible in its content;
“The Azola is an alien weed introduced to the canal
system from an ornamental garden pond. This happens to be just one of
seven different infesting weed on the Birmingham & Black Country Canal
system. They have gradually gotten worse in the recent past due to
improvements in water quality. Although the Azola is a specific and
unique problem to the Wyrley & Essington Canal
work is currently progressing on a containment strategy for this coming
A tailor made weed boat is currently under test to establish its
effectiveness to deal with the removal of the azola in particular. All
being well it will be put into use in early April following these
trials. Unfortunately due to the high levels of infestation and summer
growth rate of the weed it will only be marginally successful. So to
supplement this action BW is co-ordinating a group of Environmental
specialists who are working on other solutions to help kill the weed
There are many difficulties associated to dealing with this issue but
we will continue in earnest to find a solution. “
The latest situation is that the BWB is till waiting to try out the boat and are now working with ecologists and the environmental Agency to find the right method for dealing with this weed. I am quite concerned about the long delays in time since I was originally informed of the BWB strategy. There is a close watch taking place on this particular canal!
Most of the problems through out the spring and summer resulted in complaints from residents about anti social behaviour. Whether it was by the canal at Devils Elbow, or on Ashmore Park the Walkways at Coppice Farm, wherever youngsters gathered there was trouble for residents. Foul mouth swearing, underage drinking and allegations of drugs.
Through out that period the Wednesfield Police, Ashmore Park Police Liaison Committee and the Residents Association all had complaints and there was much effort made to try and deal with the issues as they were raised.
In June we reported that a mapping exercise was taking place organised by the Wednesfield Forum that had indicated that there had been a poor level of resources for youngsters in Wednesfield.
That we should endeavour to provide more facilities to encourage them to take part in organised activity. During the remaining course of the year some success has been achieved with more youth workers in operation and the youth and sports barn operating longer.
Coppice High School applied and received planning permission for extensions to its swimming block. This will obviously help both pupils and the community when it is finally constructed and opened for use. With some application I am hopeful that we can provide more facilities for people who would have lots of spare time on their hands.
These took place in May 2003, and were a huge disappointment for Wednesfield North Labour Party. Again we lost a seat to the Conservatives. Our candidate Councillor Gwen Stafford Good fought a solid campaign but our former Mayor of Wolverhampton lost by just 9 votes.
The results are re-produced here;
Wednesfield North Ward
Name Description Votes Majority
BIRCH Stephen John Liberal Democrat 323
*BOURNE David Julian The Conservative Party Candidate 1,217 9
STAFFORD-GOOD Gwendoline Mary The Labour Party Candidate 1,208
Ballot papers issued 2,751
% poll 31.60%
Councillor David Bourne was elected leaving this Ward with two Conservative Councillors and one Labour Member [me!]
New Access Road
One of the successes of the whole year was the construction of a new access way for people living and often marooned in part of Linthouse Lane by a green open space that deprived them of easy access into their homes, and at times of emergency trapped ambulances in a quagmire like grip when the weather was bad. All that was swept away with the construction of the access……I am pleased to have been instrumental in achieving this.
Police Liaison Committee
Also during August there were concerns raised that the respected Ashmore Park police liaison Committee would be closed down. Rumours were flying thick and fast so I wrote to Wolverhampton’ and received the following reply; Chief Superintendent Tom Duffin said “We value the opportunity to talk to people in Ashmore Park about their area.
We are keen to work with local people and other agencies to reduce crime and
help make our city safer."
I can confirm that there are no plans to reduce the police attendance at this
forum. On occasions due to exceptional or unpredicted peaks in demand we may
be unable to send a representative to a meeting. Those occasions should be
So all in all the result again was positive, and the Committee is working very well at the current time under the chairmanship of Doreen Evans. The last two meetings have seen a total of almost 100 people attending. That’s success in my eyes, congratulations Doreen.
The arrival of the summer also meant some agony for home owners in Wyvern Park as squirrels started to invade roof space and out buildings. This caused a real problem for some. I sought advice front the City Council and the advice was that whilst it was not against the law to kill squirrels it was not advised. What was advised was that netting should be used and holes should be blocked up. I have since heard rumours that some one did ‘cull’ some squirrels, but it is only rumour…..!
There was also a problem with some Council tenants demanding that their windows were replaced I have been active with City officials to see what can actually be achieved. A senior department head has written to me stating. “The position is that the petition has been forwarded to Will Schofield in Regeneration & Transportation as they are the responsible department for the programming of the PVCu window programme.
However an almost identical petition went to Social Care Housing & Health Cabinet last time and they recommended that Wyvern Park be included in the painting programme instead.
Also a similar decision had been taken in respect to another estate Sandy Hollow (Compton). Both of these painting programmes will involve pre-paint repairs initially and if this means that windows are so rotted that they are dangerous or not capable of painting then they will be replaced on an as needs basis. Other external elements will also be painted and this would not be the case for the PVCu programme. I can''''''''t see Cabinet changing their original recommendation here.”
So the advice was very clear here. The Pico programme is not likely to alter. As this programme was largely set by tenants themselves. Any changes to this programme would mean tenants elsewhere dropping out for Wyvern Park to be inserted.
An external painting programme will take place this financial year 2003/4, and those properties that have very poor windows will be treated on their merits. In other words if they are really falling out or a case can be made for them, they will be treated as a normal maintenance repair. I for my part think it would be sensible for residents to accept the advice that is being offered. I have also requested that a clean up takes place in the Alley that links the estate with the Lichfield Road. It was littered with broken glass and rubbish.
Also the road at Broad Lane North was resurfaced as was Lichfield Road, and I have had the police looking at the speed of traffic operating along Broad Lane North. Three road lamps have had bulbs replaced and Broad Lane North is currently bathes in light the length of the road.
Linthouse Lane & Woodend
This part of the ward has had a few problems over the last year but again there have been a number of successes. I have taken up a number of individual cases from residents. The problems were of a personal nature so really cannot be aired here. But there have been other issues in the community.
During the summer when the nights were warm. There were a couple of cases of youngsters racing cars in Wootton Ave and concerns that there were under age drinking taking place. The local police were informed and I received a note at the end of the summer from a resident saying that the problem has subsided after the police attention.
Complaints of car speed still haunt the Lane and the City Council has responded to my requests to have a speed camera installed on the Linthouse Lane. At the time of writing this report it still has not been erected but there is a promise of attention. There has been a lot of resident pressure for this to happen.
One of the real big issues has been the plan to convert a Council Depot into a large sheltered housing scheme in Moathouse Lane East. A large number of home owners in the area are concerned about the size and layout of this scheme. A lot of effort has taken place to influence this proposal at design stage. It is due in front of the Planning Committee in January 2004. I support the concept in principle but want to ensure the design is right for the neighbourhood.
Kitchen Lane Conservation Area
This is one of the biggest problems we have in the Ward. It is a very valuable amenity. But it is being spoiled by people who constantly dump rubbish and beer cans, bottles and drug implements.
Here we see Gwen Stafford Good and myself with some of the garbage that was dumped early in the year that led to our campaign for an environmental clean up across Wednesfield North.
This has been a highly successful campaign with some good results in some places. But it is a challenge up on this site. I am not giving up and will continue to process the problem with the Authorities.
Environmental Clean Ups
These have taken place at the Kitchen lane Conservation Site, Raven Crescent, Sandy Crescent, Ashmore Avenue, Wolmer Road and Palmers Close Garage Sites.
All of these clean ups have taken much required resources, it is a real problem as the garbage dumpers quickly pull down the image of the areas that they dump their rubbish in.
I would appeal to residents to report the dumpers to the Police or the City Council. Failing that a telephone call to the Crimestoppers line on 0800 555111 will allow you to make your complaint anonymously.
Parking & Grass Verges
Again this is a problem that abounds across the Ward indeed Wolverhampton. I have been acting with the Residents Association in addressing the issues. I am pleased that the City Council has agreed to put some resources into this area of policy.
New car parking arrangements around the Oakmeadow School will we hope lead to less parking on grass verges in Peacock Avenue. City Engineers are looking at some innovative arrangements for the part of Peacock Avenue nearest the Ashmore Inn.
New parking arrangements for Ferguson Street are also being pursued by me. My campaign for more City Council resources in this policy area is key to being able to do more. Indications are that the City Council are moving towards providing these financial resources.
Coppice Farm Estate
This is a very important part of the Ward it falls into the North Eastern Boundary of the City and shares its boundary with Walsall MBC. It has some unique problems which are in the main anti social. In recent months I have been working with residents to reduce anti social behaviour and to persuade Walsall MBC not to place a ‘ball park’ on the open space that is seen as important by residents of Coppice Farm.
Other Issues Undertaken
• Abandoned Cars
• Coppice High School/Danesmore/St Albans School
• Drugs Problems
• Skateboarding Issues
• Ashmore Park Youth Club
• Footpath 316
• More than 1,000 individual Correspondence undertaken.
But as a local party we have come through 2003 in good shape. There is much more to do and some real challenges ahead. In 2004 we face an all out City Council election, with new boundaries and a bigger part of Wood End being inserted into Wednesfield North.
There is of course real benefits of living in Wednesfield North the schools are by and large good schools finishing in the upper quartile of City Schools in the main. Living close to one of the Midlands best hospitals and in the Crime league Wednesfield North is bottom but one, in the areas listed, being 19th out of 20 Wards in the City, for the period April to June 2003.
In total only 146 crimes were reported in Wednesfield North against 472 crimes for instance in Wednesfield South during this period which are the latest crime figures available.
These are all good reasons for living and working in this part of Wolverhampton City.
Finally click into www.philbateman.com for all interesting local news and views. Keep up to date with what is happening in your neighbourhood. Comment and air your views.
Happy New Year everyone in 2004.
Councillor Phil Bateman Labour Wednesfield North
Article Date: 29th February 2003