Valerie Vaz MP calls for parliamentary debate over Council’s lack of transparency

Rt Hon Valerie Vaz MP criticised the loss of green space under Walsall’s Conservative Council and its failure to consult local people

Rt Hon Valerie Vaz MP said:

“At Business Questions on Thursday 4 February 2021, I called for a debate in Parliament following Walsall Council’s repeated failure to consult local people over the loss of green space.

“The 2019 Conservative Manifesto promised to “safeguard our green spaces”. This promise has not been kept in Walsall South. The Conservative Council recently announced that they would be selling off one of the allotment sites in my constituency, without any consultation with local residents.

“Allotments in Walsall are in high demand and there are over 250 residents currently on waiting lists, with some having to wait between 5-10 years for an allotment. During the pandemic, they have been an important community resource for growing food, staying active and maintaining wellbeing. I am appalled that Walsall Council are selling off allotments at a time when the community needs them most.

“On 7 January 2021, Walsall Council’s Planning Committee approved an application to build 15 new town houses on green space in Walsall town centre. This site is one of only two green open spaces left in the town centre.

“Significant planning applications are being rushed through without any consultation with local residents. A large house in multiple occupation (HMO) application for 33 vulnerable and homeless adults is being considered by the Planning Committee. This application is in an area with the highest number of HMOs in the Borough, the highest population density, and high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour.

“I am alarmed to hear from many of my constituents who live in neighbouring properties who said they have not been consulted about this planning application. I have written to the Chief Executive of Walsall Council to request it is withdrawn from consideration by the Planning Committee until a full and proper consultation and assessment is carried out.

“Proposals for a temporary traveller site on green space in yet another densely populated area of Pleck ward are being considered by Walsall Council next week, which was never considered as part of the Site Allocation Document (SAD) following extensive consultation.

“The West Midlands Mayor is campaigning against the loss of green space in Sandwell. This is rank hypocrisy. Mayor Street should turn his attention to the Conservative Council in Walsall, who are presiding over the loss of green space despite a commitment to build on brownfield sites only.”