Another FOI for Sandwell council

We have received correspondence from someone who has taken time to write to Sandwell council. We will update this in due course when they receive a response (hopefully they will). Please continue to contact Sandwell council about this, they will be hoping it all goes quiet over Christmas. It won’t.


Jan Britton,
Chief Executive SMBC
Sandwell Council House,
B69 3DE.

Dear Mr Britton,

Ref Freedom of Information Request re Sandwell council’s cull of Canada geese

I am writing to object in the strongest possible terms to Sandwell Council’s recent cull of some 220 geese taken from Victoria Park Tipton and Dartmouth Park West Bromwich.

I am a lifelong supporter of Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Foundation and someone who values all wildlife in parks. As such I must stress my outrage on learning of the cull performed by SMBC. The reasons given by the council for carrying it out are pathetic. Even if there had been massive numbers of complaints about the geese (which I suspect there were not) the Council could have reduced the number of geese by relocating some to another part of the UK such as a wild fowl sanctuary. Destruction of the geese and their goslings was totally unnecessary and avoidable. There are several wildlife organisations that the Council could have worked with to relocate these beautiful creatures.

I also wish to protest at the lack of scrutiny of the decision prior to its implementation. Once creatures are dead the decision cannot be reversed. As such, your Council members and officers owe it to the public and the animals concerned to pause and scrutinise culling decisions prior to carrying them out. By all accounts the decision making process in this case was merely the presentation of a heavily biased report produced by John Satchwell, senior parks officer, to a misinformed Cabinet member (Maria Crompton) who subsequently gave verbal approval for the cull. It does not appear to have been picked up that Mr Satchwell has a pecuniary interest in removal of geese from Victoria park Tipton, in that he lives in the park and they allegedly foul the grass near his house. Furthermore, there is a shocking lack of reference to any wildlife experts or external organisations who could have generated alternative options.

It is strongly disputed that egg pricking has taken place in Sandwell every year. Similarly, post rationalisations and defensive claims that there were are a thousand canada geese in Sandwell’s parks and open spaces significantly exaggerates the figure of 700 quoted in John Satchwell’s original briefing report. Inflating numbers to defend the indefensible is outrageous.

I have been deeply affected by this cull. I sincerely hope that you will not carry out any more culls in the future.

Turning to the specifics of my freedom of information request, please tell me:

1. The number of complaints received from members of the public (as recorded on the Council’s formal complaints recording process) for each year for the last five years concerning geese in Victoria Park Tipton and Dartmouth Park West Bromwich. Please exclude any from John Satchwell and his family.

2. The specific powers under which the culling decision was made, as devolved to the Council by government generally and specifically to the Cabinet member (Maria Crompton) by the authority.

3. Was Maria Crompton’s decision ultra-vires given geese are not classed as vermin?

4. If Maria Crompton has acted beyond her powers, what action will be taken to discipline this elected member?

5. Identify the names of all (if any) wildlife, animal rescue / sanctuary organisations or experts that were approached by the council for advice or support in analysing the most recent issue of excess geese in the parks, and similarly who may have assisted in generating solutions to the problem.

6. Identify the total number of other culls performed by the Council over the last 5 years, and for each, provide details of the date, the species involved and number of animals per cull, plus the specific powers used to support each decision.

Sandwell council and its contractors have been brought into disrepute by telling members of the public lies about this cull. Sadly it has taken a previous Freedom of Information request to unravel the lies that some Sandwell council officers / members were spinning,. Hence the need to make my enquiries under the Freedom of Information Act.

I wholeheartedly support the campaign group ‘Save our Sandwell Canada geese’ in trying to educate the public about Canada goose behaviour, and preventing any more geese being culled in Sandwell. As the most senior officer of the Council I implore you to do likewise.

I look forward to receipt of the information requested as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs (anonymised) BA, MA, CIPD, FinstLM

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