Category Archives: Walsall Council

Historic Colts go on show as Museum closure announced

Bayard's Colts on display in Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)
Bayard’s Colts on display in Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)

Seventeen mysterious carved wooden clubs, known as the Bayard’s Colts, have gone on open display at Walsall Museum, but members of the public will need to visit the museum above Walsall Central Library as soon as they can to take advantage of this rare opportunity, as Walsall Museum is now slated for closure on 31 March due to budget cuts.

The ‘colts’ are thought be at least 300 years old but their exact age, origins and even how they got their name remain a mystery. Last year the museum received a £12,000 grant from the Arts Council to increase public awareness including commissioning an acclaimed play called the Tat Man Tales, family fun days and storytelling courses.

The clubs were carried behind the Mayor in ceremonial processions at the openings of markets and fairs and on other civic occasions.The colts were hung up on the wall of the Magistrates Court in the Guildhall when the Walking the Fair tradition was discontinued in 1870.

Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Museum (pic: Stuart Williams)

They were transferred into the care of Walsall Museum in the 1960s although continued to remain hung in the Magistrates Court, out of public view, before returning to the museum in 2012. They are now on show in the Changing Face of Walsall gallery.

Sadly, following the full Walsall Council meeting on 26 February, the popular museum announced on Twitter that it would close on 31 March 2015.  Museum staff thanked their visitors, donors and volunteers for all their support over the years.

The thousands of artefacts held by the museum will be put into storage.  A bid for Heritage Lottery Funding will be made to hopefully redisplay collections at some future time.

Walsal Museum graphic panel (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsal Museum graphic panel (pic: Stuart Williams)

Entrance to the museum, above the library in Lichfield Street, is free. It is open Tuesdays to Fridays 10am to 5pm and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm.

Council tax benefit scheme cut

Walsall Council House

A local Council Tax benefit scheme has been cut back in Walsall following  government funding reductions.

Walsall Council bosses approved changes to the council tax reduction scheme at Full Council on 12 January 2015 whereby all working age residents will have to pay at least 25% of their council tax bill.

Councillor Sean Coughlan, Walsall Council Leader, said: “In April 2013 central government replaced the national council tax benefit scheme with a new scheme administered by the council.

“Since then the government funding to support the new scheme has reduced year on year and the council has been able to protect all residents from the impact of these changes until now.

“From April 2015 this will no longer be possible as the council is faced with the challenge of having to save £86 million over the next four years.

“Our decision to provide a maximum benefit of 75% will save the council over £2.3 million in 2015/16 whilst still providing support to vulnerable groups within the working age council tax base.”

Portfolio holder for social care, Councillor Diane Coughlan, explained: “We understand that some households in Walsall may find it difficult to pay their new or increased council tax bill so we are making it easier by providing more flexible paying options.

“Instead of paying ten monthly payments, we can extend it over twelve months.  If you prefer a weekly or fortnightly payment scheme, that can also be accommodated.

“Council officers are also on hand to help with money management and budgeting advice.”

Council tax bills will be posted out to residents from 6 March 2015 which will include an information leaflet on help with paying your bill.

Council and police target truants

Walsall Council and police working together (pic: Walsall Council)
Walsall Council and police working together (pic: Walsall Council)
Truants will be targeted in a new joint project between Walsall Council and Walsall Police starting on Monday.

The project sees the council building on their success to date with partner agencies as part of the national Troubled Families programme and uses funding from within the programme for the truancy patrols.

A police officer and council attendance officers will tour the borough in a branded vehicle stopping children of school age and/or their parents to ask why they aren’t in school and if necessary ask them to return to school.

Officers will also support children, young people and their families if they identify any concerns or issues, as part of our focus to help families as early as possible. The team can help to signpost families and young people to a range of support and advice as sometimes there can be other issues beyond truancy.

The focus will be on school children of all ages.

The project will run to the end of the current school year at which time it will be evaluated.

Issues around school absence and anti-social behaviour are also addressed directly in schools with the support of attendance officers.

PS Gary Iliff, from Walsall Police, said: ”These dedicated multi agency patrols will supplement the existing engagement in schools by local neighbourhood teams.

“There will now be greater support for families at the earliest opportunity to maximise educational opportunity in Walsall.”

Councillor Barbara Cassidy, portfolio holder for children’s services at Walsall Council, said: “An education is one of the most important elements to a successful future.

“To learn, grow and achieve, children and young people need to be in school.

“As well as the educational benefits, many children get other benefits from attending school such as interaction with their peers and a healthy meal.

“This is why it is important that we support young people and their families to understand the importance of attending school regularly.

“These regular patrols will also help us to reach out to any children and families who may need some extra support so that we can put them in touch with the right agencies to help them.

“If you are concerned about a child or young person or if you have any queries I would encourage you to contact the council’s attendance service on 01922 686233.”


Bands on the run – to Barr Beacon!

Bands on the Beacon (pic: Walsall Council)
Bands on the Beacon (pic: Walsall Council)

This year’s Bands on the Beacon music festival will be bigger and better than ever, running over two days at the end of June, organisers have announced.

The popular event will be held on Saturday and Sunday 27 and 28 June at Barr Beacon, the borough’s highest point, and will also feature arts and artisan stalls.

A line-up will be announced shortly and there will also be an opportunity for up and coming bands and artists to showcase their talent.

The family friendly festival will run from 1pm-6pm on both days and this year’s event will be ticket only.

Organisers are having to charge a small fee for tickets as funding for Bands on the Beacon, the majority of which came courtesy of the Heritage Lottery Fund, ended last year.

Tickets for each day will be £4 for adults with “kids for a quid.” Under fives will be allowed in free.

Councillor Adrian Andrew, chair of Barr Beacon Trust, said: “We know from the feedback that we get each year that people want us to continue putting on Bands on the Beacon and visitors have told us they’d be prepared to pay a small amount if it meant the event could continue.

“We’re looking at making a weekend of it in 2015 with bands on both Saturday and Sunday up at Barr Beacon as well as the introduction of stalls to add to the festival feel.

“We’re working with local guitarist Wayne Moseley whose band Dinky played at the first festival in 2010 to try and secure sponsorship for the event and we hope local people will get behind us to support it. The Trust has pledged £5,000 and Wayne’s company, BBR Engineering, has put in another £2,000 so  we’ve set the ball rolling!

“Bands on the Beacon is a brilliant day out – ask anyone who’s been over the years – and we’re all looking forward to making this year’s just as enjoyable.”

For regular updates check out Bands on the Beacon’s facebook page, @walsallcouncil on Twitter and the council’s website

Hippo keeps council on the hop!

Hoppy Hippo in the snow (Pic: Stuart Williams)
Hoppy Hippo in the snow (Pic: Stuart Williams)

Walsall’s popular hippo sculpture is moving to a new temporary location this weekend whilst redevelopment work continues in the area he currently calls home. The concrete hippo, affectionately known as Hoppy, will move from The Bridge to outside Walsall Central Library in Lichfield Street in the early hours of Sunday morning. The area around The Bridge is currently the focus of major regeneration work with the construction of a new Primark and Mid-Counties Co-operative food store. As outlined late last year a planning application has also been submitted to create a new permanent location at The Bridge for the town’s historic market.This application is due to be considered by the planning committee in the coming weeks. It is unclear how long Hoppy the Hippo will be at his temporary home but the long term plan is to allow him to relocate back to The Bridge area once all the work in this area of the town centre is completed.

Historical note
Statue of Taweret, British Museum (courtesy John Bodsworth, Wikipedia)
Statue of Taweret, British Museum (courtesy John Bodsworth, Wikipedia)

Hoppy received ‘his’ name by popular acclaim back in the early 1970s, when he was first sited outside Lloyd’s Bank on The Bridge and was regularly jumped over by both youngsters and a mayor of Walsall! Hoppy is, however, technically female, as the children’s play sculpture was inspired by the ancient Egyptian goddess Taweret, goddess of children and the northern sky, which is why it was deliberately placed facing north on the ‘banks’ of the Walsall Brook (representing the River Nile) which flows under The Bridge.

Proposed changes to special schools

Walsall Council Logo

Notice of consultation

Parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) and a range of other key groups have been consulted on proposed changes to increase the capacity of the borough’s special schools as part of a borough wide review.

The review has considered the need to ensure all schools in Walsall work to inclusive principles so that there is an effective range of provision for all children including those with special educational needs. An Inclusion Strategy will develop this work across schools.

Walsall Council’s Cabinet agreed proposals to proceed with formal consultation with relevant stakeholders on proposals to increase the capacity of Walsall’s special schools.

Parents and other stakeholders have already been involved in a range of consultation with views  incorporated into the current proposals.

As part of the proposals, Oakwood and Old Hall Primary schools would between them increase their capacity by 10 places (130 places in total); Mary Elliot would increase their capacity by 20 places (130 places).

Phoenix Primary and Elmwood School would become one school with separate primary, secondary and sixth form departments. There would be 40 places (an increase of 10 places) in the primary department, 56 places in the secondary department with a sixth form to be developed.

Castle Business and Enterprise College and The Jane Lane College of Cognition and Learning would between them increase their capacity by 50 places (270 places in total) with the re-introduction of Key Stage 1 provision.

There is also a commitment to further expand the Shepwell Centre to accommodate a further 20 secondary pupils.

Where there is building work required, funding for this will come from capital agreed at the schools forum.

The extra school places will be funded through the high needs block of the dedicated schools grant.

If approved, the work would begin from September 2015.

The consultation period will run from Monday 23rd February 2015 to Friday 20th March 2015, lasting four weeks.

All schools must clearly display at every entrance to the school a copy of the statutory proposal so all stakeholders. The local authority has provided every school with two copies of the proposals and an electronic version to be displayed on each school’s website.

Councillor Barbara Cassidy, portfolio holder for children’s services at Walsall Council, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the families who have shared their views with us so far on behalf of the children of Walsall during the informal consultation events across the borough.

“We have been pleased to hear from so many passionate and committed parents and professionals working with children with SEN.

“The council is committed to ensuring that all children in Walsall receive the very best education possible and we welcome further feedback from everyone involved on how we can ensure our special schools help us to make this happen.

“A review of our SEN provision is long overdue and I would encourage students, parents, staff and anyone else with an interest to share their views with us, we look forward to hearing from you.”

If you would like a copy of the full proposals or if you wish to submit any comments either in support of, or objecting to, the proposal please send them to:

Carol Douthwaite – Administration Manager – SEN Team
Walsall Children’s Services
Educational Development Centre
Pelsall Lane