Letter to residents and local businesses, please click on images below for information from the Council’s highways engineers:

high st pelsall cway_Page_1


high st pelsall cway_Page_2

Walking Football project at Oak Park starting Tuesday 10th March from 10.00-11.00.

It could be fun for all sorts of reasons…


Martin Berry Walking Football

Healthwatch bulletin: survey makes interesting reading.

Click on image to read through report.

Bulletin 7 Pages from Bulletin 7

In my previous post I made a number of commitments, five in-fact.

Two of these sought support from Government for our local hospital.

Please find below my un-edited letter to Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health sent yesterday:

Dear Jeremy

Thank you for all your efforts supporting the NHS and social care systems through these difficult times of unprecedented demand on services.

I am writing to you in my capacity as Chairman of Walsall Council’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny committee with some specific short and long term requests to help our local health systems through this difficult time.

While I support mechanisms that incentivise acute providers to manage patient flows such that the 4, 8 and 12 hour A & E breaches are kept to a minimum, in Walsall Healthcare Trust’s (the ‘Manor’) case the hospital has needed to cope with the additional demand (i.r.o 20%) resulting from the closure of Mid Staffs A & E.

This has pushed the Manor’s ability to cope with the already high levels of demand from Walsall’s own population well beyond its capacity to deal with patients without significant waiting time breaches. Consequently the Trust is suffering the financial penalties arising from these breaches.

It doesn’t seem logical to penalise the Trust in this way as it will only serve to take resources away from patient care at a time when it is needed most. These are unprecedented times and I would ask that you consider suspending the penalty regime for the nine months October 2014 June 2015 and review this again in June.

I would like you to know that the local authority has engaged in a very proactive way with the trust and it is doing all it can to improve patient flow. The addition of a 30-bed ward will ease the situation somewhat. However, I remain concerned with demand levels, particularly as we experience a peak in respiratory cases in May/June and we haven’t yet had a particularly bad spell of inclement weather. You will be aware that the Manor was one of the Trusts that declared a Major Incident last Monday (5th January).

I would also ask that you consider the impact of additional demand from Mid Staffs’ patients on other services such as maternity. So for the Manor to continue providing services which are excellent as well as safe in the future it is likely to need additional capital investment to accommodate this additional activity in the future.

Therefore I would respectfully request that you interrogate both the Trust and the CCG in relation to adequacy of arrangements for the short and long term with a view to supporting any bid for capital investment for these services and their future sustainability.

Yours faithfully

Marco Longhi

Chairman, Health and Social Care committee.

Walsall Council

Following our hospital’s declaration of a Major Incident since Monday 5th January, I contacted the Chief Executive to arrange and see first-hand what is happening on the front-line. Most importantly, I really wanted to thank staff in A & E for the herculean effort I knew they must have been putting in to keep the show on the road.

My visit today lasted nearly two hours and what I saw renewed my confidence in a special trait we have as human beings: the team spirit that makes us go that extra mile when the chips are down.

What I observed was heart-warming. I heard stories of staff working 14 hour shifts, staff from other departments coming in to help, staff feeling very unwell themselves but soldiering on and staff giving up their planned festivities. It was great to see and great to hear.

But here’s the thing: I’m angry. I’m angry that staff and patients have to go through these traumatic experiences in 2015. A hospital declaring a Major Incident is just one step below having to refuse patients. This is wrong, especially when all the warnings were there, for all to see, a long time ago.

In my view this is a failure of leadership in its broadest sense while the NHS continues to be a political football with all the main parties pointing the finger of blame at each other. People don’t want this. People want politicians to work together at times of hardship. It’s bizarre that politicians should tear into each other while the vast majority of people sit back and say: “you are all as bad as each other” – and then choose not to vote, or vote for a protest party.

People also want senior health officials to ‘walk the talk’; it’s time for more action and fewer reports and assessments. I’m all for evidence-based decision making, but when we spend an inordinate amount of time and money collating this evidence, only for it to be reviewed endless times until it becomes out-of-date, then something is wrong. We talk about care in the community for years before it actually starts happening. And then, surprise, a Major Incident happens.

There are five things I intend to do:

  1. Convene a meeting of providers very soon and ask them whether they now feel they have sufficient capacity for short and long term demand given that we have not yet experienced severe weather conditions
  2. Ask commissioners at the next available Health Scrutiny meeting whether they are satisfied with Walsall’s GP service provision in the context of patients’ demand on A & E and the Major Incident declaration
  3. Lobby NHS England and the Secretary of State to relax punitive financial penalties against our hospital for waiting time breaches at this time of acute demand. This only serves to take funds away from patient care. I will also ask the CCG to make clear their intentions in this regard.
  4. Seek cross party support from the Borough’s politicians. The crises in health and social care demand action centred leadership and not political recrimination.
  5. Lobby Ministers to ensure that Walsall Manor Hospital receives its fair share of funding for emergency care provision, and maternity services as a result of the additional pressures placed on services by Mid-staffs.

Councillors, the Council, Sustrans and others have received regular complaints about individuals throwing stones/objects from the bridge onto passing cars. This is clearly very dangerous and could result in serious injuries – or worse.

A risk assessment of the situation has resulted in the proposal to erect a fence either side of the bridge which is tall and made with a climb-proof mesh.

In an ideal world we would prefer not to have to erect such structures, and although it will be painted green, it will be clearly visible given it’s height. We have to balance the risk of someone being seriously hurt against the visual impact of this fence – it is a solution which has been used successfully in other places.

A planning application will be necessary so members of the public will have an opportunity to make representations during this formal process, but we wish to involve as many people as possible at this early stage.

Please see letter extract from Safer Walsall Partnership below, as well as images of mesh and artist’s impression of the fence. Any early consultation responses may be sent to Karen Bateman at batemank@walsall.gov.uk – Direct Line:  01922 654296


Dear Householder,

Please find enclosed drawings relating to a proposed planning application that Sustrans and the Area Partnership intend to submit in the near future.

Your Area Partnership, which includes local Councillors advocating on your behalf, the Police, Walsall Council and other Agencies working together to tackle issues of local concern, were approached and tasked to investigate problems arising from misuse of the leisure path at the disused rail bridge adjacent to Station Road.

Following reports from residents and road users of dangerous activities on the bridge, Police and the ASB Team have invested many man hours attempting to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of all partners to deter the young people involved from what we know local people fear could result in a fatality, we are left with no option but to look at a physical solution.

Sustrans and the Area Partnership have agreed to the installation of a 3m high barrier fence on the bridge in an attempt to safeguard vulnerable traffic and pedestrians.

We are aware that this installation, if approved would have an impact on the skyline from both approaches and before we submit our application, would like to invite your comment. As you can see from the enclosed elevation, we will attempt to mitigate impact with a mesh designed to offer best views (and least visual impact), giving us the security that we need to stop the activities while not supplying climbing opportunities.

If responses indicate a need, we will call an open meeting to discuss this proposal prior to submitting our application. If we do not receive contrary indications from this letter, we will assume that there are no objections and continue with the application for planning permission by November 2014.

Please could you let me have any comments (preferably in writing/email) by 15th October 2014

 Thank you for your kind attention


Yours sincerely

 Karen Bateman

Victims of Crime Officer


Artist impression

Artist impression of fence over Fordbrook Bridge

Mesh image

Mesh image

All councillors received this email a few moments ago from the housing lead at the Council.

I’d like to share as much as possible as it might save people money :-)

Dear councillors,

You have previously asked about and supported the collective fuel switch programme and i thought you may be interested in a quick update

Ichoosr have extended the deadline for those who have their own access to the internet and email to register and consider switching under the summer fuel switch scheme. Households in Walsall now have until 21st July 2014 to see what savings they can make on their home energy bills by registering at: 


 Average predicted savings for households in Walsall are £170 per household with the highest possible savings being shown for those currently with Dual-Fuel paper billing who decide to change to monthly direct debit of over £300.



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