I do love good balanced reporting

Over to the Express and Star for another installment of local taxation rises. This time with Walsall Council announcing a 2.94% increase which is heralded in the Express and Star with the headline ‘Tax rise lowest in area’.

There are two issues that seem to crop up in relation to this. Firstly that I questioned as to why the article on council tax rises for Wolverhampton only reported the ‘Band D’ figure and it’s good to see that the Express and Star have reported the actual figures for all the bands for Walsall but anyone would think the Express and Star were biased and I’m sure it would have nothing whatsoever to do with the political control in the respective boroughs.

However, and this really does indicate rather poor journalism in the use of the headline. Now I’m not exactly sure what the Express and Star determines to be ‘area’. Is it Wolverhampton and Walsall? In that case then yes, factually accurate but at lease from my perspective, if we are talking about comparisons then I would consider ‘area’ to mean the four Black Country boroughs (please, no arguments about the boundaries of the Black Country) of Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell.

This is strange because Sandwell Council put out this press release the other day.

Now forgive me for questioning the mathematically competency of your average Express and Star hack but isn’t 2.9% less than 2.94%?

That said and I’m sure like any other householder, the figure that’s really important to me is the bottom line actually cash amount.

I know I should do a nice table with all the bands in it but it’s late and I can’t be bothered so here’s ‘Band A’ as that’s what is of more concern to me in actually living in one.

Sandwell: £855.88
Wolverhampton: £941.52
Walsall: £948.94

Dudley don’t announce theirs till March 3rd so we’ll have to wait on them but it’s fair to say, Walsall, despite the nice headlines isn’t exactly the cheapest place to live. Let’s not get on to the quality of services either shall we.

Randy lot them Black Country folk (contains profanity)

Possibly a better description might be desperate but just for some light amusement I was having a little wander through the stats to see how people are arriving at the site from particular search terms on Google and two from the last couple of hours stood out.

First up is:

“fuck partys in dudley”

Which thankfully I’m down at 11th place on Google, safely on the second page and:

“women in willenhall wanting to fuck someone at any age”

which is probably more alarming that I’m first on a Google search for such an eloquent use of wording.

The mind boggles sometimes.

Backing the Black Country

It’s time to start mobilising those votes for the Black Country’s Urban Park bid for the People’s 50Million lottery funding.

If you’re not aware of the competition, it will be broadcast on ITV with a phone vote but you can already vote online here.

If you want to see full details of the bid for the Black Country Urban Park then there’s a dedicated website already set up for it here.

Personally I’m most excited about the prospect of opening up the Seven Sisters limestone mines under Wren’s Nest Hill as a tourist centre. Sadly public access to it isn’t allowed at the moment but apparently some of the underground caverns are like cathedrals in size and truly awe inspiring.

So the message is simple. Get voting and support the Black Country Urban Park bid. Not my thing but for those that partake, there’s apparently one of those Facebook groups set up for it here and for those wishing to show their support on their own website I’ve knocked up a few buttons.

As with all image content on this site, unless otherwise stated, it is free for anyone to use and original larger images are available on request in xcf format or if you want another format just say.

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Our first image is a montage of the clock tower at Walsall Arboretum and the Farley clock tower in Greets Green, West Bromwich to symbolise the creation of a green corridor between the two towns with public spaces, cycleways and visitor centre starting at the Walsall Arboretum and finishing right in the centre of West Bromwich, or the other way round if you like.

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Our second image is that of the canal in Wolverhampton which if the bid is successful in the public vote would be developed into a major tourist attraction and community space.

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I’m reliably informed that this is one of the underground limestone caverns of the Seven Sisters development at Wren’s Nest, amazing what a treasure is underneath that hill ready to be explored.

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Again, reliably informed that this is one of the many underground canals leading between the seven sisters caves in Dudley.

Finally, for those of a technical nature, that little slideshow of the images running in the left hand sidebar isn’t Flash so sorry if anyone wants it, it’s not possible to download and use. It’s actually a nice bit of AJAX that I’ve been playing around with. Not perfect, knocks an alignment out on page load but it won’t be up there forever and I’ve been meaning to have a play with it for a while.

Something to warm the heart

Sometimes in politics it’s easy to become cynical. To be spoon fed the dire predictions about youth, conflict in society, community breakdown and despite often having personal experience to the contrary, even the hardest of skins can be pierced by this gloomy outlook on our society.

Then something comes along and makes you think that not all’s bad. There’s a great deal of work going on out there by ordinary people who just want to make their communities better. That all young people aren’t druggie alcoholic harbingers of anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

Anyway, this little piece was brought to my attention and for those suffering from the constant pounding of doom and gloom from the Daily Mail et al, this can really lift the spirits. Especially for myself as it come from somewhere quite local, Dudley. Enjoy.