Breaking the ice on Hatherton Lake for a spot of foraging, the Hippo noticed a dead pan report in TheYamYam regarding grand plans for the Grace Academy in Darlaston. It seems that the Development Control Committee at Walsall Council has had another look at the proposal to sacrifice George Rose Park on the altar of some rich, mad buggers crusade to save the great unwashed from eternal damnation.
Only two months ago, the same committee rejected the same plans. It seemed that taking a rare green space in that place beyond the M6 where they grow derelict factories might have an impact on the quality of life of the citizens. This decision was surprising as the committee has a Conservative Chair and Vice Chair and a Conservative majority of four. So some naughty Tory councillors must have voted with what is left of their minds rather than doing what they were told. The increasingly unstable Mike Bird warned ominously at the time of “wider implications for the council.” Perhaps his comment was accompanied by one of his “special” looks directed at the naughty ones.
But that was Zen, and this is Tao, so what has changed? Perhaps the naughty ones were taken aside and the full deal was explained to them or, more realistically, they were threatened with an eternity of purgatory.
The Grace Academy is run by millionaire evangelical Christian Robert Edmiston who has been questioned by police regarding the cash for honours scandal and has made a series of major donations to the Conservative Party. His organisation boasts of school trips to Africa, not to dig wells or build schools, but to open evangelical radio stations to broadcast creationist nonsense to the gullible.
One of his other trophy schools, the Grace Academy Solihull, has one of the worst records for persistent absence in the country. It could be that the kids there have realised that God has a sense of humour after all and giggle at the thought of God not spending the seventh day resting, but whizzing round the planet planting fossils and stuff called real evidence to fool archaeologists. Carbon dating must really annoy creationist who think the Earth was made a few moments before God blessed us with their birth.
The decision to close the former Darlaston Community Science College and hand over independent control of the school to Edmiston was taken by Cabinet and Serco in the face of massive public opposition and widespread criticism over the lack of adequate consultation. There was no mention of taking the park in the original “consultation”.
Ironically, when the results of the flawed consultation revealed bogus support for the Grace Academy, Councillor Bird is reported to have said that “you can`t keep coming back for more consultation because you don`t like the result.” It seems that principal does not apply to the Development Control Committee.
God would have smiled at the news of Walsall receiving nearly £5 million to restore the Arboretum in the same week that the announcement was made to dig up George Rose Park and turn it into a training camp for Christian soldiers. A council statement said that parks are important as places for people to spend time with family and friends and benefit from having green open spaces to enjoy. It seems that principal does not apply to Darlaston.
In the Arboretum, a refurbished boat house and bandstand will obviously draw visitors from as far away as Chuckery and the Butts. Posh housing for the wealthy on the golf course would be acceptable, their bins are full of goodies, and, at last I can have a decent nights wallow now that the wretched, illuminated tat has been consigned to the skip.
As for what this council will do next to swell its coffers…?