I have not represented the area which is now Handsworth Wood Ward for three years now. Visiting some areas where I haven’t been since brought a great shock . One area, known as the Leverretts, was affected by a grass fire in the surrounding Sandwell Valley just over a year ago now. One house I visited was open to all comers. The fence had not been replaced, and others had taken advantage of the dereliction by dumping. Evidently the Council had promised to dig a trench as a fire break. But there are other open areas where people come into the estate and leave all sorts of debris behind. I have alerted Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor John Lines. We used to do a lot of work here and helped residents get rid of asbestos. I had a very warm welcome.
At the New Inns, populate by African Caribbeans after a Housing Association associated with the churches developed the site. “We are forgotten about” complained a resident pointing out rat holes as evidence of infestation. I got on the phone to Environmental Services there and then. These are not the only places who say they never see a councillor.
Both other parties refer to me in their literature. The Tories refer to Raghib Ahsan and me leaving Labour as a kind of justification for him doing so. As they say no publicity is bad publicity. Labour put out a blurb about Tories, Lib-Dems and me “ganging up” on Paulette Hamiliton, the imposed Labour candidate. They were in the words of fellow Councillor Atwal. Strangely there’s variant where I’m “ganging up” on Paulette with Atwal! No, understand I’m standing as a result of Labour’s privatisation policies nationally and the strange behaviour of the Regional Office in dispensing with democratic processes locally. Paulette has no problem apparently in going along with this. Unsurprising because it’s to her advantage. It’s amazing that you can spend years working to secure a seat, which is what we did for twenty years, then someone can swan in an assume a kind of divine right! Paulette entered the arena three years ago with her then friend Arjan Singh. (who is now said to be “ganging up” against her).
The Tories used to give the air that they were the natural government of the country. Arjan reflects this by putting his posters up on all the Gurdwaras in the area. Claims he has permission, – more likely knowing him he would see this coming from a higher level. He told my colleague that unlike him “he didn’t believe in God”. Many Sikhs are unhappy with the temples being used in this way. After three terms some of New Labour are taking the same attitude. The problem is they feel that whatever is fed to us should be accepted with gratitude for their beneficense, whether entering costly and bloody wars abroad, hospital closure, private prisons and elite schools at home. Balls.