For some 25+ years now I have been raising and attempting to get the powers that be at Sandwell council to enforce and manage this recklessly practiced activity on Sandwell’s council owned pools.
When trying to campaign you go through all of the motions of writing letters, emails, presenting visual evidence and more of late posting these via social media. But in all of that time, the only thing that has struck me is that councillors in this borough and their officers could not give a shit about the wildlife affected, whatever they claim to be, whatever they claim to be “animal lovers”. Because if they were all of that, they would pass and enforce policy wouldn’t they- based on the irrefutable evidence based information that I have systematically set out?
In 2002, I set about conducting a survey of the council’s pools regards fishing issues, “An assessment of Sandwell Council’s fisheries management and its effects on wildlife and the environment” and quantifying the problem of discarded line and tackle, and the consequence of wild birds becoming injured through this. This was to be a 60 page report. My thanks to Darryl for scanning this for inclusion in this post.
If you don’t want to read the entire thing, then the executive summary will suffice.
A number of recommendations were produced. We collected large amounts of tackle and fishing line from many sites across the borough and combined this with rescue statistics of birds that were injured as a direct result of angling activity- i.e that which could not be refuted. As a matter of course, all of our rescue statistics were sent to The National Swan Convention ( an umbrella group for rescue organisations), who collated figures for the Environment agency study and campaigning. The conclusions drawn from our report were
- 1633 yards of fishing line was collected in just 9 months from Sandwell sites, with 1007 yards of it from Victoria Park Tipton alone!
- multiple instances of illegal sized lead shot were collected as well as barbed and treble hooks which were supposedly “banned” on Sandwell’s pools
- 36 birds had tackle related injuries, 14 of them pigeons
- Little regulation and enforcement by Sandwell council with free fishing and alcohol consumption being rife
- Fishing on non designated pools was occurring threatening wildfowl that shouldn’t have been
Above all it was noted that free fishing was a serious issue related to anti- social behaviour and litter issues and that this was a problem across Sandwell- because the council did not charge and allowed free unregulated fishing.
I further after many years of emails to numerous councillors and officers put in FOI requests which clearly evidentially prove that the council makes nothing from the policy which they enacted.
More recently, a “lockdown litter” campaign was introduced, and yet there was a meaningless response from Sandwell council at this time, with clearly very little interest in engaging with this issue. IS THIS BECAUSE OF PAST ISSUES WHERE THEIR GOOSE CULL WAS EXPOSED AND THEIR OFFICERS EXPOSED AS LIARS? IF THIS IS THE CASE, THEN IT IS CLEAR THAT POLICY AND ITS DIRECTION IS NOT BASED ON EVIDENCE, BUT ON PERSONAL PREJUDICES AGAINST THOSE WHO WITNESS INJUSTICES THAT THE POLITICAL CLASS ARE NEVER GOING TO ACKNOWLEDGE.
WE CONTINUE TO BE LET DOWN WITH FALSE TIMESCALES, PROCRASTINATION AND UNANSWERED EMAILS FROM SENIOR OFFICERS ABOUT THIS SUBJECT. IF THERE ARE ANY LEADERS IN SANDWELL COUNCIL, IT IS TIME THAT THEY REVEALED THEMSELVES NOW TO BREAK THIS CYCLE OF LETHARGY ON THIS ISSUE.
After 21 years in 2023, it is the same old story, in the same old places.