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Polluted Smethwick pool finally set for clean-up

By Jamie Brassington | Smethwick | Environment | Published:

Council bosses have drawn up £300,000 plans to clean-up a polluted Sandwell pool where 35 birds died in one month.

Dead birds seen in Sandwell last year

It comes after a campaign was launched for authorities to take action on the pool at Smethwick Hall Park.

Leading campaigner Ian Carroll claims work was delayed because Sandwell Council and Severn Trent Water were in dispute over clean-up.

The birds died between July and August 2019 - however the problem is believed to have stretched back to January 2019, when raw sewage entered the water from leaking pipes.

A petition was launched by Mr Carroll in December, signed by more than 1,000 people, calling on the water company to take action.

A second petition, with around 400 signatures, also called on the council to desilt the park.

Now council documents show environmental officers have drawn up proposals to tackle the issue.

These include desilting the pool - which Mr Carroll claimed was contaminated and making birds ill - and then reusing the silt to reduce the police size by 50 per cent.

There also plans to buy water pumps at Smethwick Hall Park, and other pools in Sandwell, to tackle pollution after a number of wildfowl deaths.

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And the council has announced plans to re-instate a dedicated team to look after the borough's pools next month, after the service was axed back in 2016.

The plans were due to be rubber-stamped on Wednesday but the meeting was called off following the coronavirus outbreak.

The report said: "Over the past two years there have been significant wildfowl deaths at the following pools: Victoria Park, Smethwick, Smethwick Hall Park and West Smethwick Park.

"Several other sites have also been affected but to a lesser extent. Avian Botulism was identified as the most probable cause of the bird deaths although post mortems carried out by the Animal Plant Health Authority (APHA) have proved inconclusive.

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"Avian botulism is a paralytic, often fatal, disease of birds that results when they ingest toxin produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum."

The report added: "In 2016 the council made the decision to disband the dedicated highway/parks brook-course and pools maintenance team.

"The Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities has agreed to reintroduce this team from April 2020.

"This team visited all the park pools on a weekly basis removing debris, litter, kept gulley gratings clear of debris, removed animal carcasses, cleared embankments of vegetation and maintained safety standards."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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