He ain`t a-gonna need this house no longer
Ain`t a-gonna need this house no more
Ain`t got time to fix the shingles
Ain`t got time to fix the floor
Ain`t got time to oil the hinges nor to mend no window panes
He ain`t gonna need this house no longer he`s a-getting` ready to meet the saints.
Talking to a wall can, on some occasions, be therapeutic to those engaged in deep contemplation. Articulating complex thought processes by vocalising at some stout bricks bonded by two parts sand one part cement can be helpful even if the activity attracts some funny looks. Walls, however, are not great conversationalists and unless you happen to be in procession of a very loud trumpet in the manner of Joshua before the Walls of Jericho, it is pointless to ask any questions. Given a reputation for stubbornly refusing to engage in any form of dialogue, it still remains more likely that you will receive a straight answer from a wall rather than a straight answer from Walsall Council`s breeze block cabinet.
The shameful litany of deception, subterfuge and sheer arrogance surrounding the sell-off of the Aldridge Manor Youth Centre is a case study in how to operate a thoroughly rotten borough. For an example of how to run rough-shod over a community and disregard a group of people too young to vote, look no further than Mike Bird, Adrian Andrew and the rest of the “members” with a cabinet portfolio. After kicking the issue into the long grass on the back burner and bricked up in the attic until a by election was won with a shockingly low turnout, promises can now be casually broken. To justify the duplicity, Walsall`s cabinet once again turn to their deception of choice, a bogus, meaningless, carefully spun “consultation” smoke screen. The people have spoken, they claim. No, their rich mates have spoken and said they want a nice piece of real estate at a knock-down price. When a council press release states that after the young people have been kicked out, the building will be “protected by…a specialist security company in order to help avoid it becoming a target for vandals” you can almost hear the Swan Vestas rattling in the pocket of the borough arsonist.
In looking for role models and examples of probity and public service, the young people of Aldridge and beyond would be well advised to avoid any scrutiny of Walsall`s Planning Committee. Guilty of numerous counts of maladministration, three elected members cannot legally be named because that would bring the council in to disrepute even though their actions have already brought the council in to disrepute. Thank goodness the councillors representing Aldridge Central are above that sort of thing and I am certain that council leader Mike Bird has had a quiet word with Councillor Q about his misdemeanours. Mike is good at talking to walls and also talking to himself.
The Walsall Labour Group continued to amuse by screaming outrage but then saying they will close the youth facility anyway just at a later date. The local Liberal Democrats turned the other cheek of one of their many faces and it emerged that kicking the kids out will save £18K a year. That is an enormous amount of money especially when compared to the increase in allowances to cabinet members and the £8million that appeared from nowhere as a sweetener for slave labour purveyors of cheap clothing. In the spirit of inclusion, the cost of making the Manor House fully accessible to young people with disabilities has proved to be prohibitive and the only final solution is to close the place down. Gordon Bennett, those pesky wheelchairs eh? Spoiling it for everybody else.
The promise of a public meeting has been dropped in favour of a “drop in” session on October 1st when residents have the opportunity to talk to a wall. Well, perhaps not a wall exactly, but council officers already in fear for their jobs doing the dirty work for cabinet members who took the decision and are too frightened to face the public. Councillors Q and X and V and the Andrews Sisters are likely to be otherwise engaged.
For a local perspective, the indomitable Linda Mason offered these wise words earlier this month. She has also started a petition asking for the promised public meeting so that those who make decisions are held accountable by the people that they are supposed to serve. If, unlike Walsall cabinet, you are more interest in the future of young people rather than flogging off the family silver, the petition can be signed here. There are two days left before the petition closes.
Forget Shakin` Stevens, Rosemary Clooney sang:
“This ole house once rang with laughter
This ole house heard many a shout
Now he trembles in the darkness
When the lightnin` walks about.”