It was a truly marvellous experience to see Handsworth Park restored to its former glory. The opening was performed by the Lord Mayor supported by some local councllors. But where were the rest, and where were the M.Ps for Handsworth? Handsworth Park was a priority for me when I represented the former Sandwell Ward as a Labour Councillor, but I didn’t see one of the Handsworth Wood Councillors.
At the opening of Handsworth Park in the 19th Century a hot air balloon was launched. I was hoping for a similar high-profile affair for its renewal. I am disappointed because Handsworth of all places needs to be celebrated, not kept as a secret treasure. Many notable artists and sports personalities have come from Handsworth and it was celebrated in “Handsworth Revolution”, now a classic album from Steel Pulse.
It has been murmered at one point that the Queen would perform the opening ceremony. No offence to Mike Sharpe and otheres present, but it needed someone to draw the crowds. After all the hard work that officers and the Handsworth Park Campaign have put into this, this seemed an anti-climax even. I am not a monarchist, but on this occasion there was a great opportunity to give Handsworth and its great people the recognition it deserves. This was sadly missed. People are pleased to live in and identify with Handsworth because it means a lot. They similarly believe and frequently say that they don’t get the best services “because we’re Handsworth”. Media coverage is frequently negative and associates the area with criminality. On the other hand Sir Edward Boyle, once MP for a constituency called Handsworth, was pleased to take the name as his title when elevated to the House of Lords.
I am proud to live in Handsworth and was delighted to represent a part of it for 9 years. It deserves better.