Operation Snowfall Launches to Prepare For Winter in Walsall

Walsall Council has launched Operation Snowfall this week to prepare for a potentially cold winter ahead.

As part of the operation, gritting trucks hit the streets of the town to ensure that driving routes are clear for when the snow and ice begin to appear, while over 200 salt bins are being stocked up for residents to use on roads.

The gritting trucks in operation this winter in Walsall include:

  • Grittney Gears
  • Snow Trouble
  • Selena Snowmez
  • Gritzilla
  • Grittendor
  • Thaws Hammer

The names were chosen by local primary schools in 2018.

Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council said:

“As always, we’re well prepared for the winter and not just here at the highways depot. Decisions about whether we’ll be sending ‘Selena’ and her friends out are made on a daily basis by our winter service decision makers. The decision to treat the road network is based on the likely road surface temperature, localised weather forecasts we receive five times a day and date from our own weather stations in the roads, which can even advise on the level of existing salt content on the roads.

“In advance of the cold weather to come, I would like to place on the record my thanks to our highways officers and colleagues at Tarmac who turn out in rotten weather and often at unsociable hours to keep us all safe.”

Mark Harriman, Contracts Manager at Tarmac said:

“We’re fortunate to have a very experienced team, with some of them having gritted the roads of Walsall for over 40 years, but it’s always useful for the drivers to have this run-through to ensure we’re thoroughly prepared.”

The highways depot in Brownhills is stocked with around 3,000 tonnes of salt which is ready to be spread on around 218 miles of roads which make up the gritting routes. It can take approximately three to four hours to treat each route.

Councillor Kerry Murphy, Portfolio Holder for Clean and Green said:

“I attended Operation Snowfall and I can only say that every day is a school day! I think most of us have no idea how much science and technology goes into keeping our highway users safe.”

Information on which roads are treated can be found on the Walsall Council website.

Rushall McDonalds Closed For Refurbishment

The popular McDonald’s restaurant and drive-through in Pelsall will be closed for approximately four weeks for refurbishment.

Mcdonald’s on Daw End Lane, Rushall

The Daw End Lane McDonald’s plans to re-open at 11am on November 30 after work to improve the customer service experience is complete.

Judging by reviews on Trip Advisor, it appears that the Rushall franchise was in desperate need of refurbishment with comments such as “Terrible (every single time!)” and “Worst McDonald’s ever”, contributing to the 44 reviews and two-star rating.

During the closure, regular customers of the restaurant are advised to use the McDonald’s at 26 Wisemore near Walsall town centre or the one at Reedswood Retail Park.

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Should Walsall Council’s Chief Executive Role Be Scrapped?

Following the departure of Walsall Council chief executive, Dr Helen Paterson, Councillor Pete Smith has called for a public discussion on whether to now make the role redundant.

Dr Helen Paterson

Dr Paterson, who has been chief executive of Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council for the last five years, is set to take up a new position as chief executive at Northumberland County Council.

Her role at Walsall Council is reported to cost £195k a year, a sum that Councillor Smith of Blakenall Ward feels could be unnecessary during the current cost of living crisis.

In an article from the Local Democracy Reporting Service, via the BBC, Councillor Smith said:

“Does Walsall Council really need another chief executive at a cost of around £200,000 per year, given that services have been cut to the bone, with many services outsourced and given that the council is apparently strapped for cash due to energy cost rises and that the Civic Centre is almost empty, with so many staff working from home, including staff paid at the highest level?

“On the one hand the council can afford to pay out this sort of money on one job, yet on the other hand impose even further cuts to services and even further rises in council tax bills from April 2023.”

“I think there should be a public discussion on this subject before council managers rush to find a replacement.”

Council leader Mike Bird congratulated Dr Paterson on her new role.

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Sandwell Nurse To Run New York Marathon In Memory Of Sister-In-Law

A Sandwell nurse is preparing to run the New York marathon in memory of her sister-in-law.

Stephanie Coates, an advanced clinical practitioner working for the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, will take to the streets of New York in memory of Donna Coates who lost her life to Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) while in her thirties.

Stephanie Coates (left) with her sister-in-law Donna

Donna was also a senior nurse working for the same trust when she passed away in 2019.

Stephanie said: “Donna was the life and soul of the party, with the most infectious laugh – she was very strong, and you’d never have known what she was going through. She always had a positive mental attitude in the face of whatever she was going through. Her loss has left a huge hole in the lives of those who knew and loved her.”

A Go Fund Me page, raising money for the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Charity has been set up.

Sandwell Christmas Lights – Switch Ons Confirmed

Sandwell Council has confirmed details of Christmas Lights switch ons across the borough for 2022.

Six events across the region will see the traditional switching on of the Christmas lights and feature music and entertainment, as well as stalls, food and drink.

  • Oldbury Civic Square – 19 November 5pm to 7pm
  • Smethwick Council House – 24 November 6pm to 7pm
  • Crankhall Lane, Friar Park – 25 November 4pm to 7pm
  • Tipton Town Centre – 25 November 3pm to 6.30pm
  • Langley 26 November – 5pm to 8pm
  • Wednesbury Town Centre – 26 November 1pm to 5pm

It’s totally free to join in the fun!

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Deadline For Secondary School Applications Ends Soon

Walsall Council has issued a reminder that applications to apply for secondary school for September 2023 are due to end on 31 October 2022.

Only 70% of expected applications have currently been received with parents being reminded that filling in the application will improve their chances of their child getting a place at their preferred school.

Applications can be made online.

Councillor Mark Statham, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said,

“I strongly urge parents and carers to make sure that you maximise your chances of obtaining a year 7 place at one of your preferred schools by submitting your application prior to the national application deadline of 31 October 2022.”

“Make sure you utilise all five of the preferences to ensure that your child is allocated a school that you would be happy for them to attend.”

West Midlands Bird Keepers Urged To Take Precautions

The UK government has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone across Great Britain this week, with bird keepers across the West Midlands urged to take precautions.

The precautions listed are as follows:

  • Keep domestic ducks and geese separate from other poultry;
  •  Ensure the areas where birds are kept are unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources;
  • Feed and water their birds in enclosed areas to discourage wild birds;
  • Minimise movement into and out of bird enclosures;
  • Cleanse and disinfect footwear and keep clean and tidy the areas where birds live;
  • Reduce any existing contamination by cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas;
  •  Keep free-ranging birds within fenced areas, and ponds, watercourses and permanent standing water must be fenced off (except in specific circumstances, such as zoo birds).

Residents are urged to report any suspicion of avian influenza in captive birds or poultry by contacting the Defra Rural Services Helpline on: 03000 200 301.

29 Warm Spaces In Sandwell Offering Comfort Over The Cold Months

29 venues across Sandwell have opened their doors as Warm Spaces to help local residents with energy support over the cold winter months.

19 libraries, three community centres and seven leisure centres are offering a variety of support services, including advice on how to manage bills, information about energy support and signposting to access financial help.

In addition to offering warm and safe spaces, all participating buildings will offer a hot drink as the ability to charge devices and connect digitally.

A spokesperson for Sandwell Council said:

“The cost of living crisis is impacting households across Sandwell, with rising energy, fuel and food prices affecting everyone. With many households having to cut back on essential items or dip into savings to meet rising living costs, the Council is working in partnership with community organisations to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access help when they need it. We want to support those most impacted, including those who have not faced financial challenge before.” 

Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, said: “Libraries and community centres have always provided a safe space and warm welcome to our communities. As we enter the winter months, we are taking practical steps to support people in their community who need it the most. 

“These include Warm Spaces across all six towns in Sandwell as well other important initiatives that are aimed at both addressing immediate hardship and building longer-term financial resilience and wellbeing. 

“We know how much people are already struggling with rising energy prices and this network of Warm Spaces is just a part of our response. 

“We saw the response from our community throughout the pandemic, as local groups stepped up to support those in need of help and know that we can maximise our impact by working in partnership with our local voluntary and faith organisations. We have launched a small grant programme, to enable them to open up their buildings through the winter.”

A full list of the Warm Space venues in Sandwell can be found here > https://www.sandwell.gov.uk/supportingsandwell

Dudley Drops Out Of Black Country Plan Over Green Belt Concerns

Dudley Council has withdrawn from the Black Country plan to develop 76,000 homes across the region by 2039.

The plan originally involved the councils of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, but concerns over the building of new properties on green belt land has seen Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley pull out of the scheme, stating: “I’m not happy to move forward and sacrifice Dudley’s green belt land to meet other local authorities’ housing needs. “

The three remaining councils plan to press on with developments, but are now expecting delays and enhanced costs.

Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, said:

“We’re disappointed that the joint approach we have all been working towards for many years has fallen through. The Government has set challenging targets for new housing in Sandwell so it’s important we progress planning for Sandwell’s future housing and employment needs whilst continuing to listen to the feedback and information that we receive from residents, businesses, investors and other stakeholders. We’ve now decided that the best way to work towards achieving these aims is to develop our own Local Plan for Sandwell.”

Leader of Walsall Council, Councillor Mike Bird said:

“The four councils of the Black Country have been working hard to find a way forward for our future development needs. A great deal of time and money has been invested into developing a single Black Country Plan. It is a great shame that Dudley Council has decided to pull the plug. We will now concentrate on developing a Local Plan for Walsall.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said:

“Dudley Council’s decision to walk away from the Black Country Plan will lead to delays and extra cost, which is disappointing after the four authorities collaborated over a number of years to progress the plan so far. We will now work with people we can trust to meet our legal requirement to prepare a Local Plan for Wolverhampton that delivers the necessary housing and employment land in a sustainable way — and provides certainty for our communities, businesses and stakeholders.”

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Local Bus Routes In Jeopardy As Government Grant Ends

Numerous Sandwell and Walsall bus routes could be reduced or axed when a government grant ends this year.


Pressure is mounting on the West Midlands Combined Authority, who met this week to discuss cutting or amending 36 local routes.

Some of the affected routes could include:

  • 26 Walsall to Blakenall
  • 30 Darlaston to Bilston
  • 41 Willenhall to Walsall
  • 35/35A Aldrige/Leighswood to Walsall
  • 54 Hamstead Village to Perry Barr
  • 61 Perry Barr to WestBromwich
  • 600 Queslett to Perry Barr

The cuts are blamed on the government-funded Bus Recovery Grant coming to an end, as well as less passengers, shortage of drivers and high levels of sickness.

School Bus Routes To Be Affected

National Express will also be affected and is in talks to cut 12 of its 60 bus routes by the end of the year, which will affect services to some schools.

Pete Bond, Transport for West Midlands (TFWM) director of integrated transport services, said: “Bus services are by far the most used form of public transport in the region, offer an affordable alternative to the private car and play a vital role in reducing traffic congestion, cut pollution, and assist our moves towards a net-zero carbon region.

“But there is no doubt the industry is struggling – we have sadly lost five of our smaller operators since the start of the Covid pandemic – and as a transport authority we need to target our limited resources where they can make the most difference and, using our value for money criteria, protect the taxpayer.

“It is an incredibly difficult situation, but we are pleased that by adjusting our rules we have been able to reduce the impact of the review and will be looking for ways to extend existing services or introduce alternatives to cover some areas.”

A final decision on the cuts to bus services has not yet been made.