Triple protest outside council as residents campaign over care home, green belt and 'cover up'

Councillors in Sandwell arrived for a meeting this week to be confronted with three separate sets of protesters.

All three sets of protesters outside Sandwell Council
All three sets of protesters outside Sandwell Council

Dozens of people protested about the proposed sale of a cherished care home in Tipton, allegations of a racism “cover-up” at the authority and plans to build homes on green spaces.

Protesters chanted “save our space” and “save our home” on Freeth Street as councillors entered the building prior to the meeting.

Twenty relatives of people living at Walker Grange care home, in Tipton, were objecting to a proposal that the care home could be sold by the council for £500,000.

Clad in t-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the words “Save Our Home”, they are calling for the care home, which accommodates 22 people, to be saved and improved.

Diane Anderson Smith, whose father Louis has lived at the home for two years, said the council insists the care home is under-occupied and outdated, despite it “only being 29 years old”.

“We relatives live close to Walker Grange, my dad has independent assisted living and can pop in and see me.

“This care home is valuable and a lifeline for our community. How can they expect to sell this care home when there is a £2.5m adult social care underspend at the council?

“We are fighting to keep the home open for residents and staff. ”

Diane Anderson Smith protesting against plans to close a care home in Tipton

A three-month consultation on the future of Walker Grange began on September 23, with three options available: to do nothing; close the home; or keep it open and modernise it.

Diane and her fellow protesters favour modernisation, recognising that the care home needs new windows and a new central heating system.

Other protesters gathered at Sandwell Council.

Brandhall Green Space Action Group, made up of residents from Old Warley, Langley, and Bristnall council wards, have been campaigning to keep the land for local people to use and to stop urban development on the land.

Brandhall Golf Club, an 18-hole municipal golf course, and run by Sandwell council, closed in May last year, after the council said it was spending £275,000 a year subsidising the course.

According to the council, Brandhall Golf Course is currently classed as restricted because it is not “fully accessible to the public”, and that local people are “not able to use this green space as they would other local parks”.

Stephen Peugh, who provides tours around the golf course, said it would be a shame to lose the space.

“This green spaces provides wildlife, insects, and a whole heap of flora. It’s wonderful. So many people have enjoyed this space after discovering it during lockdown.

“The residents want it kept as it is. The congestion will get worse in our local area, and this is the one of the only green space we have in Warley.”

Green belt campaigners outside Sandwell Council

Sandwell Council argues the golf club has 318 members, below the expected number for an 18-hole golf course, of which nearly two-thirds live outside the borough.

The proposed sprawling development called Brandhall Urban Village, at the former Brandhall Golf Club on Heron Road features 550 homes, a new primary school and footpaths and cycle links.

A small coalition of protests against the leaked Wragge review also turned up.

They came to protest against allegations of a racism “cover-up” at the authority relating to ousted councillor Mahboob Hussain.

The leaked report has cast doubt over the credibility of a Sandwell Council corruption inquiry – raising concerns over alleged bias, racism, and political interference.

Ijaz Ahmed, one of the protesters who arrived, said he was “dissatisfied” with the way the council has been run.

“Why are Sandwell Council not releasing this report? How can they blame one entire community for the wrong doings of another councillor?

“The commissioner should be here to run this council for a big shake-up. It is disgraceful. They need to find the facts.”

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