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13 November 2014

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You are in: Black Country > Places > Places features > Should Sandwell & Birmingham merge?

The Public in West Brom

The Public in West Brom

Should Sandwell & Birmingham merge?

An online petition is asking the Prime Minister to give Birmingham City Council control over the Sandwell borough. What do you think?

Greets Green Family Fun Day in West Bromwich

Greets Green in West Brom

The petition has been posted on the Downing Street website and argues that Sandwell would be better off under Birmingham control.

It states:

"The Metropolitian Borough of Sandwell should become part of the City of Birmingham, and the two local authorities should be merged.

"Sandwell's public services are poor and its schools under-perform. Sandwell's public spaces are unkept, its main roads littered and dirty and its leisure facilities under-funded. Public money is wasted on schemes such as 'The Public' and other redevelopment schemes are expensive and painfully slow.

West Brom fans celebrating at the Hawthorns

West Brom fans at the Hawthorns

"Birmingham by contrast is a popular, well run, historical city which needs expansion to ensure it can compete on a global scale. If Sandwell is removed from the national map, the six towns which make up the borough can retrieve their strong local identities and be part of a larger, more forward thinking city."

Jim Gull, from Bearwood, has already signed the petition and says:

"I've been dissatisfied with Sandwell Council for a long time. I really don't believe that they're working in our interests. If we are united in Birmingham, there's strength in numbers.

"I believe that Birmingham would go out of their way to do work in our area that needs doing. I like Bearwood, I like the area. It doesn't matter whether it comes under Sandwell or comes under Birmingham.

Bullring aerial

Bullring, Birmingham

"What matters to me is: are the streets clean? Are the drains cleaned out? Is it looking dilapidated? Are there facilities in the parks for the youngsters? It doesn't matter to me who I pay my rates to."

To find out more about the petition, click the link below:

Should Sandwell and Birmingham merge? Tell us your views in the box below:

last updated: 09/04/2009 at 14:05
created: 06/04/2009

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Rob
Birmingham!! clean? hmm no it isn't April the first. go look at the five ways shopping centre, for gods sake. Bearwood is a nowhere place anyway who cares?. Sandwell council are useless, but Birmingham council couldn't find their behinds with an atlas. Here`s a message for Birmingham council "`Onds off brummie".It`s bad enough that Sandwell was made up...unfortunately Birmingham is all too real!

Vee
I love how all these people who believe themselves to be superior because they don't live in Sandwell don't even appear to have grasped English orthography! Awful has one 'l', and idiots contains and 'i'... I have been born and bred in Sandwell and personally I'm tired of being slated for that reason - but whether the councils are merged or not, Birmingham and Sandwell will still be two separate areas that just happen to belong to the same beaurocratic jurisdiction. So perhaps you should keep your noses out of council business and invest in some spelling revision!

Tim
I am all for the abolition of Sandwell, Awfull name with no commercial clout. At the very least give Old warley back to Birmingham it was part of Quinton many years ago!

Jake
If Sandwell people are saying that they don't want to be merged with Birmingham tough luck because Sandwell is being merged with Birmingham. It's as if the people of Sandwell are happy that they live in a industrial area don't they realise that this is England and it will be demolished it wont stay industrial forever it will be demolished you idits.

A Concerned old sanwellian
I used to live in Bearwood, in the Sandwell run part of Bearwood and I now live in Moseley which is under Birmingham City Council. So I know both councils and their services. In my opinon, Sandwell Council are a far superior council. Although Council tax was slightly higher in Sandwell in relation to Birmingham, the services from Sandwell are excellent. I only receive one roll of bin bags from Birmingham Council in a year, I used to get regular deliveries of bin bags from Sandwell. The road sweepers always turned up on the same day at the same time, once a week. I'm lucky if I see a road sweeper on Birmingham roads, once a month. The libaries are better in Sandwell, the swimming pools are better in Sandwell, the street lighting is better in Sandwell. You can actually ring Sandwell council and get through to the department you need, first time!Writing this, I am asking myself why I ever moved?? Perhaps it was the people.... the grass is always greener on the otherside. Well from a person who went to the otherside, it's not. It's muddy, boggy and smelly. Just pop to Moseley on a Saturday or Sunday morning and see the sick lined streets for yourselves!!

steve Briscoe
Birmingham eating up the region not a good idea!it wouldent be worth voting in local elections

steve phillips
No way should Birmingham take over Sandwell

Philip Tibbetts
Surely would it not be better for Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall to merge into a Black Country County Council?

Malcolm Rose
As an ex pat Blackcountry man stop this nonsense now. West Bromwich was part of Staffordshire and The Blackcountry, Biriminham was never and will never be Blackcountry and has no part to play in the aministration of West Bromwich! New Zealand.

Matt
I think it is a crazy idea for a suggested merger - Sandwell is the Black Country and what kind of effect would this have on organisations such as Black Country Tourism and the Black Country Consortium? How would the Black Country Museum be able to explain that a number of towns in the region are controlled by Birmingham if this takeover was to happen?How can real Black Country towns such as Tipton, Wednesbury and Cradley Heath be taken over by Birmingham? The Black Country is a very distinct area and we have been fighting for years to show that we are distinct from Brum. Sandwell also contains part of the Coseley area - a fact that many people don't realise and Coseley has been for many years split between Dudley, Wolverhampton and Sandwell. I can't imagine a town the size of West Bromwich - another true Black Country town - being administered by Birmingham. Birmingham is already too large as an authority - in comparison Manchester City Council covers a much smaller area and places like Old Trafford aren't even within the city's boundaries.

Gill Justice
It wouldn't be a 'merge'it would be a 'takeover' as it was when Warley and West Bromwich so called merged in 1974. Yes, there would be positive issues but there would also be many negative ones too. We do need Sandwell councillors to get their act together and have no more white elephants like THE PUBLIC (ironically named as the public had little, if any, say in the spending of their money). There are issues with the top jobs too, we only need one council leader, one chief executive one director of each service, would would happen to those in the present position? If Sandwell open spaces and streets are dirty and littered, take a trip down the streets of Handsworth, Small Heath, Lozells, Sparkhill to name a few. This debate could, and probably will, go on forever. Maybe we need more cooperation between councils, but a Birmingham takeover ... no thank you.

Keith Bracey
For your information Damon Birmingham is the current holder of the title: 'The cleanest city centre' out of all the core cities.Damon's post is typical of the negativity of Sandwell residents towards BirminghamWhen will people realise that 'together we can be stonger' and that Birmingham and Sandwell should work together to raise the quality of life of ALL its residents.However I must agree about Sandwell Hospitals. I am full of praise for the treatment I and my family have received at Sandwell General Hospital, where both of my children were born.

David
I lived in Sandwell for nearly 11 years. Its a dump and the so called councillors are rubbish. Get a council with councillors who can keep their promises not for the elections only.

Jimbo
I work in both Birmingham and Sandwell and visit people in their homes and at work. I know how proud the Black Country people are but I believe Sandwell Council are letting them down badly. Take it from one who sees both sides, Birmingham Council will improve the lives of the Black Country folk beyond recognition and they can keep their identity safe. Vote yes to the merger! And include Walsall Council as well.

Andy Neale
It's not a case of who's bigger or better. On both fronts Sandwell as failed it public with bad investment ideas as 'The Public' and the re-generation of Oldbury town proposed complex etc. but on the other hand Birmingham have also let there tax paying public down by having sub standard run council housing, which twice as gone under different run plans to get it out the debt !!!!!So merging the 2 will not improve the so called "forward-thinking Brummies as much as those who are supposedly stuck in the 19th century !!!!Take a trip down Small Heath or Handsworth is just as much of putting as a trip down Cape Hill. It's nothing to do with the amount of rubbish or who is the better region here. This is to do with Birmingham wanting to merge the 2 to gain extra funding to support it's self more in this difficult economic time. Which is understandable on any front.So there will always be good and bad or weak and strong views on this, but the plain truth is those who are from Birmingham are Brummies and don't want it and those are from Sandwell are Black country folk and never want to be classed as Brummies !!!!!

mark
why dont all black country towns join together to form another city with a new city centre in the middle and call it black city and give them idiot brummies a run for their money afer all while we were smelting,forging steel etc most brummies were probably still hunting rabbits dressed in bear skins. shame on the 'brummie' from warley for denying her roots!just remember halesowen is mentioned in the doomsday book long before bham was even thought off so get stuffed brummies would rather join wolverhampton and give u a real run for your money!!!

Michelle M
I am Black Country born and raised and so are my children. Our Council is not the best but it is certainly not the worst. Why is it that we are to be palmed off on some other borough's council and nobody has even bothered to even think of finding some other funding for us! We were about to spend x amount on a stupid sign next to J9, why not use that money to clean our streets. There are too many cultural differences between us and brum, financially it might look great, but in a reality, i can see all hell breaking loose because of our differences! think again people!

Damon
Sandwell is too good for Birmingham, for a start Sandwell hospital has a better reputation than some of the hospitals in Birmingham, also Sandwell streets are not full of trash like Birmingham, we actually have recycling schemes in place that are much better than what Birmingham have. I aint no 'Brummie' im Black Country and proud. Born in West Brom, raised in Wednesbury! and PROUD!!!

Keith Bracey
Glad to see my post has caused such debate!I agree with what Alan and Nicola have said, however Colin's attitude is typical of the problem that Sandwell folk seem to have with Birmingham, that they're too 'posh' and full of forward-thinking ideas(the Birmingham motto being 'Forward'!) If Sandwell wants to stay rooted in the 19th and 20th centuries and remain a depressed industrial area with redundant chimneys and foundries let it and let Birmingham forge ahead without them in its ambition to become a world city, and at the same time to make the West Midlands(or Greater Birmingham as it should be) a world class region. The people that run Sandwell ought to realise that today's economy is a knowledge economy where people use their minds rather than their hands to earn money.These people do not seem to be aware of this fundamental change in the global economy shown by the fact that they spent 60 million quid on an Arts Centre rather than a University in Sandwell.A university in Sandwell would have produced the skilled graduates that the area needs rather than the largely uneducated and unemployable drones that Sandwell's underperforming schools currently produce. The fact is Birmingham realises the value of education shown by the fact that out of all of the core cities it has the best GCSE results whereas Sandwell usually finishes at the bottom of Local Authority education league tables.As Alan says there is a fundamental flaw in the way Sandwell is run and until this changes Sandwell will never improve as a place to live and work.Colin says the problem with Birmingham is 'the people that run it'Frankly I'd rather be run by ambitious, imaginative people who actually have the lives of their residents at heart rather than their own dubious legacy (Viz The Public!) Coun Mike Whitby, the leader of Birmingham City Council(and incidentally a Sandwell resident and company owner who pays all his business rates and Council Tax to Sandwell MBC) has stated publically that it his ambition that he improves the lives of Brummies such that Birmingham rises from its current position of 55th in the Mercer League of the World's Most Liveable Cities into the top twenty.How about that for taking the city of Birmingham and its citizens 'Forward' not back as Sandwell seems to be going!As a Sandewell resident, I'd like to see Coun Bill Thomas, the Leader of Sandwell MBC show similar ambition. Sadly it will never happen and that is also why Birmingham will never be able to share some of its success with Sandwell, its poor relation!

Jenny Allen nee Whitehouse
I was born in B;ham but raised in Oldbury. I see myself as a Black Country girl NOT a Brummie!!! There IS a difference. It was bad enough becoming part of Sandwell. Oldbury is part of the Black Country, and should remain as such, not swallowed up by B'ham.

Mary Nightingale
It's for the best that BCC to take over Sandwell, for starters they ae nighbours and it will oost Birmingham's population which it is losing. Why should Birmingham push area out like they did with Chelmsley Wood wer eosing our heritage and poulatiopn, we sould be absorbing it, so i's only for the best for Sandwell to merge with Birmingham and it doesn't even feel liek you've left Birmingham when your in Sandwell the M5.

Nicola Walker
I was born and raised in Warley, 1.5 miles up the Hagley Road from Bearwood. I am a Brummie through and through despite having to pay council tax to Sandwell. I work and socialise in Birmingham City Centre and hardly ever venture into the Black Country apart from visits to Ikea or Dudley Zoo as a child. I think there is a very strong case for pushing the Birmingham boundary back to the M5, beyond there it is different and the people are different.

Alan Childs
This topic will definately ignite a fuse in many readers.I feel Sandwell being subsumed by Birmingham would only work if Birmingham recognised Sandwell's Black Country Heritage, embraced it and didn't try to push it to one side to promote it's Modern Global Image. From every other point of view, I think it would be better for the region to be part of BCC, education, services, reputation are all better in Birmingham and I think they could (over time) bring some of that class to sandwell.All the areas of Sandwell have a great and respected hertiage, the name Sandwell doesn't, as Keith stated it was just plucked from the air in 1974 to suit a local governemnt re-shuffle. If the name "Sandwell" went, the name "black country" may move closer to the lime light which is only a good thing for the associated areas.I know many civil servants for Sandwell and they, along with it's residents all know the authority is fundamentally flawed in many ways. This area has been my home all my life, born in Smethwick, moved to Bearwood, now living in Oldbury, I wouldn't like to see anything detrimental to our local area, but I can only see us being run by BCC as a good thing.Alan Childs, 25, Oldbury

Colin Brown
Definitely not. Sutton Coldfield was "absorbed" into Birmingham and that can hardly be classed as a success story. It is not, however,Birmingham that is the problem, it is the people who run it.

Nigel Smith
Why would Birmingham want Sandwell. It'll only serve to drag the place down. I agree with the content of the petition. Civic pride in Sandwell is none existent. The litter is unbelievable. Keep it.

Rob M
its already bad enough trying to convince the rest of the UK that the Birmingham Accent and the black country accent are different if we merge we'll never be able to convince the rest of the uk

John
Being born and bred in Wednesbury, the greatest disaster that ever happened to the ancient Borough was it being absorbed into West Bromwich - they even managed to 'Lose' the priceless mayorial chain. For Wednesbury to become part of Birmingham and labelled 'Brummies' would be the last straw! I've moved - to Walsall. My kids attend two of the finest schools in the Country and our waste is recycled unlike Birmingham's black bag scheme

Assad
Too right, and take Walsall as well.

Bob Tidmarsh
Absolutely not, no never ever ever. Sandwell is a good place to live we do not need taking over by brum.

Keith Bracey
Sandwell was an artificial construct born out of the Local Government reorganisation of 1974 and in truth has never been popular with Black Country folk. Similarly Birmingham 'taking over' its Black Country cousin has also never been popular in the '6 Towns' which make up Sandwell.Like Jim Gull I was born and raised in Bearwood, which enables me to see both sides of the argument, however I see myself as a 'Brummie' and my allegiance is to Birmingham, now a modern successful city. Other 'Bearwoodites' like famous actress Julie Walters, identify more closely with the Black Country.I can see no end to this impasse, however I can see the benefits in marketing the area to inward investors as 'Greater Birmingham.'However Birmingham, as a successful modern 'Global City with a Local Heart' would probably subsume Black Country towns like West Bromwich and Dudley, so that would not be a good idea as these town's contribution economically and culturally would be lost to the region.Ever the pragmatist could I suggest that like the '5 Towns of The Potteries' could we not have the '6 Towns of The Black Country'?This would be a great way to market some of the heritage gems which lie in the area like the Black Country Museum, Dudley Zoo and Castle and the Stourbridge Glass Museum.I'd be interested in other Black Country folk's reaction to this suggestion.Keith Bracey, Oldbury

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