Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

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Most Recent

  1. Remembrance Sunday parades set for change

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    George Makin

    Remembrance Sunday parades could be replaced with virtual tributes this year in Sandwell in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.

    Wreaths in Oldbury in 2019

    The borough normally marks the event in its six town centres with large crowds turning out.

    But this year the council says they are looking into ways to avoid large-scale public events which could include virtual events.

    It says more details will be released once they get national guidance.

    The authority also won't be holding a fireworks display for Bonfire Night or Christmas lights switch-on events.

    Stricter lockdown measures were introduced in Sandwell last month after a spike in coronavirus cases.

  2. Extra staff to handle complaints about councillors

    Rob Mayor

    Political reporter, BBC WM

    Extra help's being drafted in by a local authority to cope with the volume of complaints about the councillors' behaviour.

    Sandwell Council House

    Sandwell Council is currently dealing with nine live complaints, some of which date back to 2019.

    They include allegations of councillors breaking Covid-19 rules and of confidential information being shared.

    The council's decided to have a member of staff move from part-time to full-time to support their monitoring officer.

    With the extra resource, the authority's aiming to conclude all investigations by the end of the year.

  3. Councillors accused of breaking Covid-19 rules

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    George Makin

    Several councillors in Sandwell are being investigated for allegedly breaking Covid-19 rules.

    An NHS Test and Trace employee

    A report to the local authority's Ethical Standards Committee says officers are investigating two councillors while assessing similar allegations against others.

    None of the accused are named in the report.

    It comes as Sandwell is working to contain a spike in coronavirus cases in the past few weeks and last month was named an area of concern by Public Health England.

    Latest figures do show the number of cases coming down with 59 new cases recorded in the seven days to 4 August compared with 88 for the week before.

  4. Cases 'fall by a third' in Sandwell after Covid-19 spike

    Allen Cook

    BBC News

    People who have been shielding in Sandwell due to Covid-19 have been advised they can stop after new cases fell by a third in a week, the local council has said.

    An NHS employee stands in front of a car at a testing centre

    Latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) recorded 60 cases in the seven days to 3 August compared with 91 for the week before.

    The council said while it was changing its advice on shielding, it was continuing to advise all visits to care homes take place behind windows or special arrangements for end-of-life.

    People should also not have visitors to their homes except for those in their social bubble or for essential visits, it added.

    A week ago, PHE labelled Sandwell an area of concern after a spike in cases.

  5. Pay dispute threatens future of reopened leisure centres

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    The Local Democracy Reporting Service in the West Midlands has been covering these stories this week:

    • Council-run swimming pools and gyms in Sandwell which reopened last week could shut again over a pay dispute. Unions say they will ballot staff on strike action unless Sandwell Leisure Trust improves its offer of a 1% wage increase over the next two years. The trust says the proposed offer is about the financial viability of the leisure centres.
    One of Sandwell's leisure centres
    • Children going to a pupil referral unit in Walsall are set to move to temporary buildings ahead of the construction of a brand new school. The council's expected to approve spending £850,000 on facilities for pupils of the New Leaf Centre while a new £7.5m new centre is built.
    • A new learning centre could be built next to a Sikh temple in Wolverhampton to teach younger members about the religion. Guru Nanak Gurdwara, in Wednesfield, has submitted a proposal to Wolverhampton Council for a two-storey building next to the temple.
  6. Gazebo and barbecue abandoned at country park

    Rubbish including a gazebo, a barbecue and a petrol can have been left at a country park.

    The gazebo

    Sandwell Council said today there were also tables and chairs left behind at Sandwell Valley Country Park.

    Branding it "disgusting and totally unacceptable", the local authority tweeted it took staff more than two hours to clean up.

  7. Gyms and pools to reopen despite Covid-19 spike

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    George Makin

    Gyms and swimming pools will reopen in Sandwell next week despite a rise in the number of positive Covid-19 cases in the borough.

    Wednesbury leisure centre

    Public Health England said the rate of infection in the area was 27.2 new cases per 100,000 people for the seven days to 24 July, compared to 21.7 the week before.

    The figure is way below a current hotspot like Blackburn with Darwen which had 75.2 cases per 100,000 up to 24 July.

    The Sandwell Leisure Trust, which runs the nine centres in Sandwell for the council, said it would start by reopening four of them from 6 August and monitor customer confidence and demand.

  8. Bridges and roads to be fixed thanks to £7.5m fund

    Allen Cook

    BBC News

    Bridges will be repaired and potholes prevented with £7.5m from the government, a council's said.

    The money's coming to Sandwell and the local authority said it would be split between three schemes.

    The bulk of the cash, nearly £5m, will go on essential repairs to Dudley Street Bridge and Scott Bridge in Newton Road, Great Barr.

    The council said it'll use more than £2m to fix roads and footpaths to try and stop potholes forming and make them safer and smoother.

    The rest will go on emergency measures to temporarily widen pavements, bring in one-way systems and introduce pop-up cycleways to try and get more people walking and cycling.

  9. West Brom fans ignore Covid-19 advice to celebrate

    BBC Radio WM

    Hundreds of West Bromwich Albion fans gathered to celebrate their team's promotion to the Premier League despite being urged to stay away.

    A draw with QPR and Brentford losing to Barnsley secured The Baggies their place in the top flight.

    The result led to fans heading to The Hawthorns, ignoring health officials' and the club's warnings to stay away.

    West Bromwich Albion fans celebrate their side being promoted the Premier League
    Callum Robinson of West Bromwich Albion celebrate with the fans outside the stadium
    West Bromwich Albion fans celebrate their side being promoted the Premier League
    West Brom fans celebrating
  10. West Brom secure promotion to the Premier League

    BBC Sport

    West Bromwich Albion will be back in the Premier League next season after securing promotion last night.

    Charlie Austin of West Bromwich Albion sprays champagne after the result

    Despite failing to beat QPR in their final league game of the season, a draw was enough for Slaven Bilic's Baggies to go up in second place after Brentford lost to Barnsley.

    The only disappointment for Albion was that their latest promotion came behind closed doors, with no supporters allowed inside The Hawthorns because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    But, while Albion's players celebrated on the pitch and showered Bilic with champagne, a group of Baggies fans were determined not to be left out.

    Despite warnings from both the club and Sandwell Council to stay away and follow social distancing guidelines, a large gathering of supporters were soon showing their glee as car horns blew and blue smoke gusted outside the Jeff Astle gates.

    Elsewhere in the Championship last night, Birmingham City avoided relegation despite losing 3-1 at home to Derby and Stoke City beat Nottingham Forest 4-1.

  11. Covid-19 cases 'will increase with pubs reopening'

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    George Makin

    The front line of coronavirus has moved from hospitals to the wider community and the next three months are critical, a top health official has warned.

    Beer being drunk

    Dr Lisa McNally, director of public health for Sandwell Council, said infection rates and outbreaks will increase after pubs and stores reopen this weekend.

    Sandwell's had four outbreaks of Covid-19 in the past month and Ms McNally admitted cases were going down "very slowly" in comparison to other areas.

    But, with many people expected to go for a drink this weekend when pubs reopen, she pleaded with people to stick to social distancing rules.

    "Please stay at least one metre away for other customers and don’t think that after two pints it is OK to stand at a crowded bar waiting for your next pint.”

  12. Council 'doesn't have answer to Covid-19 £2.8m shortfall'

    BBC Shared Data Unit

    Sandwell Borough Council says it doesn't know at the moment how it will meet an expected budget shortfall of £2.8m this year due to Covid-19.

    Sandwell Council House

    Nearly 150 authorities across the UK have forecast a combined budget shortfall of at least £3.2bn, a BBC investigation's found.

    In Sandwell, the local authority says the financial impact from coronavirus so far stands at £24.385m and it's had £21.578m in emergency funding from the government.

    Deputy leader councillor Wasim Ali says making any predictions on the long-term effects would be based on assumptions and it doesn't know if ministers will provide more money.

    "Once we understand this position better, we will then have to decide where we can make necessary savings and where we need to reprioritise and redirect resources as appropriate."

  13. Coronavirus cash crisis risking jobs, union says

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    George Makin

    Job cuts are inevitable unless the government grants funding to solve Sandwell Council’s coronavirus cash crisis, a union says.

    Sandwell Council house

    The council has warned many services face deep cuts in order to plug a £2.8m overspend since the pandemic began in March.

    The council is the area’s largest employer – with some 10,600 jobs across a range of different areas.

    A report on the financial impact of the virus is set to be discussed on Thursday.

    Darran James, branch secretary for the GMB, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The council has shared the report with us but what they have not shared is what the future holds.

    “It has been council workers who have kept the country going during this Covid pandemic so how the government can stand by and watch councils go into deficit is beyond belief.”