Boldmere Futures Partnership were desperate to save the Christmas Lights Festival and made a last-ditch appeal to Sutton Coldfield Town Council for help! They hoped the ‘Amenities Committee’ would be sympathetic – faint hope I am afraid – the response was more akin to that of Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist.
We now know from the statement by Simon Ward in the Observer that ‘Boldmere Futures Partnership’ did not follow due process – always the last refuge of a bureaucrat who has made a poor decision.
Statements like “I am deeply uncomfortable with the overall cost of the Boldmere Christmas Event” suggests he had sight of the application prior to the Amenities Committee Meeting and the decision was already made before it took place. Sorry to say that this is another example of poor governance where decisions are made in private and then announced in public.
He also asserts that BCC should provide the extra funding – why? Vesey residents fund roughly a quarter of the Council’s income yet decisions are made to the detriment of the ward and the larger town by non-Vesey Councillors. The Vesey Councillors are marginalised and the ‘two’ conservative Vesey Councillors either have no say or have forgotten their duty to the residents and are too busy trying to climb the ‘Greasy Pole.’
Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council was prepared to subsidise the ‘Concert in the Park’ to the tune of £25 per head (£6.25 of which came from Vesey residents) but refuses £1 per head for the Boldmere Christmas Festival to keep people safe!
There is a growing demand for an urgent review of the council’s structures and procedures many of which are not fit for purpose. Several Councillors should be considering their positions over this fiasco.
Printed by the Royal Sutton Observer on their letters page 10/11/2017
We now have the official statement on behalf of ‘Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council’ and their reasons for declining the emergency funding request. A request that resulted from the need to fund a substantial increase in security which could not be foreseen during the planning of the event.
I have a few observations which I have annotated below in red: –
Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council town clerk, Olive O’Sullivan, said: “The town council is sorry to hear that the Boldmere Christmas Lights event has been cancelled.
The view expressed by committee was that the community grant in the Four Oaks, New Hall and Trinity wards should not be spent on an event in the Vesey ward, particularly when the other local centres would not have a festive light switch on event in their local areas. (What about the Gracechurch Centre? The other areas do not have an established event and the council just needed to increase the budget to overcome this issue. With over £1m in reserves of which £250k has come from Vesey Residents one would have thought this would not be a problem.)
If a local centre wanted to do something over and above what the town council is providing in terms of festive lights then that activity should be funded locally. (This suggests that the residents have no say in the matter. It also adds weight to the argument that the budget should be under the control of Ward Councillors and not an ‘Appointed Committee’ which is not representative of the wards. The Amenities Committee has 4 Trinity, 2 Four Oaks, 1 New Hall and 1 Vesey Councillor.)
The council appreciates that rising costs of road closures and stewarding for events means that the Boldmere Futures Partnership had to make some difficult decisions about the event.” (The decision by council left us no option but to cancel as the Councillors who are also members of the Boldmere Futures Partnership one of whom sits on the Amenities Committee were aware. The lack of empathy with the impact on Boldmere and the wider community who have supported the event for 5 years is disappointing)
For the sake of transparency here is the address and question which I put to Sutton Coldfield Town Council tonight. Unfortunately the time allowed was reduced from 3 minutes to 2 so I had to precis it for the meeting. The request to allow the Sutton Vesey Town Councillors and the Resident Groups to progress the matter was ignored and the BCC Landscapes consultation will go ahead on Mossy Bank and Boldmere Gate at a cost of some £2000. There will also be an online survey on the SCTC website. When you consider that the Cofield & Warden Road residents presented a survey with 169 signatures against Mossy Bank it makes you wonder why they are going to be canvassed again as part of the official consultation. Maybe the council is hoping for a different answer the second time around. Or are they hoping that the number of Boldmere residents who want a playground at Mossy Bank will out number those who live there – quite possible I suppose when you consider there are 360 pupils at the school. There will also be a public meeting at the Carpenters Arms at some point. A great shame that what started with a request for a ‘Pocket Playground’ for younger children in the heart of Boldmere has been hijacked.
Yesterday there was a flurry on Twitter when it was reported that Town Councillors had been in to Boldmere Junior School asking the pupils their thoughts on a new playground. This should have been answered immediately but with the 140 character limit you need to be clear and concise.
What does this mean? The School Pupil Council decided to hold a debate on whether the new playground should be located at ‘Mossy Bank’ and Carl agreed? What did they vote on – presumably whether the new playground should be at ‘Mossy Bank’ or ‘Boldmere Gate’? I am however assured that no Town Councillors attended. No doubt the outcome of this debate will be announced at some point. It was perhaps ill-advised to choose this topic as the children went home and told their parents and it escalated from there with concerned parents up in arms that their children have been dragged in to the issue. A number will be seeking clarification from Carl on Monday!
One final thought is that Bob Churn of BCC stated that in the consultation children would be consulted on what type of playground they would like, he did not indicate the choice of location would also be included. I wonder if this has somehow been misinterpreted.