Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council

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  1. Pandemic pay rise for Walsall Council staff

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Council staff in Walsall are to get a 1% pay rise as a thank you for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    From 1 April, the lowest pay grade will go up from £17,665 to £17,842, the authority, which has set aside just over £1m to cover the costs, says.

    The decision, which does not include education staff who are directly employed by schools under the academy status, follows a move to increase councillor allowances.

    Walsall Council

    Mike Bird, leader of the Conservative-run council, said "the time had come" to acknowledge the work done by councillors and council staff.

    "It has been extremely difficult and continues to be so to work from home. It isn’t as easy as people would think," he said.

    Labour group leader, Aftab Nawaz, added: "During this real hard time, we’ve seen our staff go far above and beyond what they’ve done before.

    "They sometimes aren’t given the recognition that they should be by the public."

  2. Weather causes widespread disruption to bin collections

    The number of places having their bin collections cancelled today due to the wintry weather is increasing.

    Bin covered in snow

    Sandwell Council said pavement and road conditions have forced them to suspend household waste collections and recycling collections have already been suspended due to staff shortages.

    In Walsall, Wolverhampton and the Staffordshire Moorlands, local councils said collections would continue but warned of disruption away from main, treated roads.

    Walsall Council has also closed both tips in the borough.

  3. Protesters urge council to 'end holiday hunger'

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Gurdip Thandi

    A protest has been held in Walsall this morning demanding the council fund meals for vulnerable children during half-term.


    More than two dozen demonstrators, organised by trade union and community campaigners, waved placards and chanted outside Walsall Council House.

    Their protest came after the government refused to extend free school meals for children over half-term and said extra money had been given to councils to help struggling families.

    Many councils, including Birmingham, Telford & Wrekin, Wolverhampton and Staffordshire have pledged food or vouchers to help those most in need.

    Today the Conservative leader of Walsall Council Mike Bird said it would cost the local authority £213,000 per week, which was money it did not have.

    He also said it had a crisis fund to help families in need all year round.

  4. Council defends not offering free school meals

    BBC Radio WM

    The leader of Walsall Council has defended the decision not to provide free meals in half term for vulnerable children, saying the local authority can't afford it.

    The UK government extended free school meals to eligible children during the Easter holidays earlier this year and, after a high-profile campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford, did the same for the summer holiday.

    But it has refused to do so again.

    Mike Bird

    Some councils are providing meal vouchers, but Walsall council is not one of them.

    Mike Bird, leader of the Conservative council said: "One of the main reasons being we haven’t got the money to do it, if you do it for this half term, then the next request would be for Christmas, Easter and the summer break and for Walsall council that means £1.5m and that's a figure we just haven't got.

    He told BBC Radio WM the half term was a "foreseen expenditure".

    "We're doing our bit," Mr Bird said, adding there was help available through the local authority's crisis fund.

    "It’s no good feeding a child for just one week, it has to be an all-round package, there has to be better ways of doing it than throwing money at one week."

    The council has previously reduced its spending by £193m and needs to save a further £18m to balance its budget for this year.

  5. Covid-19: Remembrance Sunday parades scrapped

    Remembrance Sunday parades have been scrapped in Birmingham and Walsall due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    A previous parade in Birmingham

    In Birmingham, the city council said there would be no public event in the city centre, but people could watch a live-stream of a scaled back service from the city's cathedral on 8 November.

    Smaller services will be held in Walsall, but the local authority said parades through the town wouldn't take place.

    Councillor Garry Perry said they had been waiting for government guidance but "we could not hold off the decision any longer".

  6. 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.
  7. Swimmers told 'arrive beach ready' as pools reopen

    Allen Cook

    BBC News

    Swimmers are being asked to arrive "beach ready" if they want to swim at Walsall's council-run leisure centres when they reopen on Monday.

    Wider swim lanes at Walsall pool

    Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities were told they could reopen from 25 July by the government as lockdown eases across England.

    Walsall Council said its four centres at Oak Park, Bloxwich, Darlaston and Gala Baths had been prepared for social distancing, but people would have to book in advance.

    Swimming will be allowed in double-width lanes and gym equipment has been moved further apart while one-way systems will be signposted.

    Spread out gym equipment
  8. Emergency transport plans approved in Birmingham

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

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

    • Plans for Birmingham's future after lockdown which could see wider pavements and curbs on car usage have moved forward a step. The city council's cabinet approved the emergency scheme, which also includes expanding the cycle network, and will bid for government funding.
    Cycle route in Birmingham
    • Job losses and debt from the impact of coronavirus could lead to more people taking their own lives, health bosses in Walsall have warned. Councillors were told there's been no increase in suicides but officials were worried about the coming months as the economic affects set in.
    • Two schools in Birmingham will be expanded to teach an extra 374 pupils as part of proposals to tackle the city's rising population. The city council approved business cases for both Kings Heath Boys Secondary School and Waverley School, Small Heath, amid an increase in birth rates and with more families moving into the city.
  9. 'Pockets' of poor water supply remain in city

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

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

    • People in parts of Wolverhampton are still complaining of poor water supply to their homes more than a week after hundreds of homes were first affected. Severn Trent says many areas have had their supply restored but there are pockets of ongoing problems with demand for water outstripping supply.
    A generic tap
    • People in Solihull are being urged to buy face masks from DIY stores to free up medical masks for key workers. The borough council's leader, Ian Courts, is asking residents to use scarves or homemade masks to prevent a rush on medical-grade masks.
    • A further £1m could be spent on gloves, face masks and other protective gear in Walsall to protect schools and care homes from Covid-19. The council's cabinet has been recommended to approve spending the money from September as services begin to return.
  10. Coronavirus spread affects election plans

    As well as elections for the West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, the following councils were expecting to be holding elections for some of their seats on 7 May.

    • Cannock Chase District Council
    • Coventry City Council
    • Dudley Council
    • Nuneaton and Bedworth District Council
    • Sandwell Council
    • Solihull Council
    • Walsall Council
    • City of Wolverhampton Council
    • Redditch Borough Council
    • Rugby Borough Council
    • Tamworth Borough Council
    • Worcester City Council

    They will now be held next year instead.

  11. In pictures: World Book Day

    Allen Cook

    BBC News

    As anyone with children may well know, Thursday is World Book Day - when youngsters dress up to celebrate books and reading.

    We're already seeing plenty getting involved in the West Midlands, including pupils at St John’s Church of England Academy in Coventry:

    St John’s Church of England Academy

    Library staff with Walsall Council have also got involved:

    Walsall Council staff

    While Dawley Primary Academy, Telford, tweeted these images:

    View more on twitter
  12. Councillors told to 'pull their weight'

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Walsall councillors have been told by the Conservative leader of the authority they have to prove their worth and show the public they haven't all got their "snouts in the trough”.

    And Mike Bird's deputy Garry Perry said: “We have elected members, and I’m not saying who they are, who do not always pull their weight."

    Mike Bird
    Image caption: Mike Bird

    Mr Bird and Mr Perry made the comments as councillors discussed a programme designed to make the council more efficient and cut the budget by £78m over the next 10 years.

    And Mr Perry added: "This is probably going to be unpopular, we have to start making elected members accountable as well."

  13. Video content

    Video caption: Walsall vehicle enthusiast buys fire engine on eBay

    Walsall vehicle enthusiast Lawrence Garbett videos the restoration of a fire engine he bought for £1,500

  14. Walsall pushes 'climate emergency' target back by 20 years

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Walsall's target of becoming a carbon-neutral town has been pushed back 20 years, to 2050.

    The Labour group on Walsall Council had asked for a "climate emergency" target of getting there by 2030, but the ruling Conservative group managed to get that amended.

    Walsall Council

    The Conservative council leader, Mike Bird, said he wanted to ensure there was an achievable plan in place.

    Earlier this year, the West Midlands Combined Authority called for the region to have net-zero emissions "no later than 2041".

    The UK as a whole is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050.

  15. Video content

    Video caption: Former allotment turned into graveyard for cars

    Drone footage shows more than a dozen cars abandoned on land in Walsall.