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Enforcement Log-Jam – a cut to far

by Ian Shires on 6 April, 2021

Photo dated pre COVID-19

Continuing cuts to vital council services are impacting on our environment claim Willenhall Liberal Democrat Cllrs Dan Barker and Ian Shires.

Over the last few months, local Liberal Democrat Councillors have dealt with a number of complaints from residents that have required Planning or Environment Enforcement investigations.

These include:

  • Complaints about neighbours building something large in back gardens without planning permission;
  • The ongoing issue of ambulances using their sirens unnecessarily when leaving the ambulance maintenance hub;
  • The ongoing issue of noise and environmental pollution linked to activity at MX Academy and off-road bikes at a number of locations;
  • An apparent conversion of an ordinary property to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without planning consent;
  • Fly tipping on and around shopping precincts;
  • Breaches of planning conditions and pollution control orders at a so-called recycling unit;

And much, much more….

None of these investigations have reached a satisfactory conclusion yet some of them have been ongoing for many months. One of the most recent cases wasn’t even officially acknowledged until weeks after it had been reported it to officers.

Why? Because Walsall’s Conservative controlled Council through its elite 9 person Cabinet has continued to slash and burn the very services that impact most on residents, whilst allowing an increase in middle and upper-management posts in the Council House at Walsall.  

Things are getting so desperate it appears that there are just two officers dealing directly with planning enforcement issues across the whole of the borough (population 272,000 plus!). Things are even worse in pollution control and not much better in environment control.

Think about that. All the cases listed above are just a few of the outstanding cases across Short Heath and Willenhall North, just two of the Borough’s 20 wards!

If there are similar numbers of cases in other parts of the Borough, it’s no wonder a massive backlog of cases has developed. Two officers by themselves are nowhere near enough to deal with the work involved, all they are doing is firefighting.

We shouldn’t be surprised. This situation is the logical outcome of the savage cuts to local government funds over the past few years. Austerity is shown to still be alive and kicking in Walsall and ordinary residents are suffering as a result. In fact, councils aren’t the only public sector bodies unable to do the jobs people expect of them; for instance, we are also fully aware how the police cannot adequately tackle flagrant law-breaking on our patch due to continuing cuts in funding and resources. We could go on……

Returning to the issue of enforcement, what we need is action. And if the Tories are not prepared to properly resource the workforce to do the jobs that people need them to do, then they should pack their bags right now!

Liberal Democrats would do things differently. We would rebuild the budget based on shifting resources to areas of need to tackle the issues you have said are most important to you, uppermost being supporting local people and local communities.

Together we can build a better future!

Published and promoted by Stuart Hodges on behalf of Ian Shires and Dan Barker all at 33 Stretton Road, Willenhall WV12 5EJ

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