20 October 2012

Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got, 'til it's gone

Joni Mitchell sang wise words about that Big Yellow Taxi, paving paradise and putting up parking lots. A hit 40 odd years ago, the words of that song are timeless and as relevant today as they were back then. On a day when hundreds of thousands of ordinary people including the wonderful Aiden and the Jafro Boy, also known as plebs, are marching in London to protest against austerity and just what the realities are of being a pleb and being in it together far more that any tory boy minister will ever be, it is apt that I write about how precious are the free things in life. Except that they're not really free. There is always a cost and when that cost is not met, there is a heavy price to pay.

People who live in Walsall are incredibly lucky. Yes you read that right! We have a jewel, a precious jewel. That jewel is called Walsall Countryside Services. There must be some very committed and hard working people who work there because the miracles that performed within this urban borough are a credit to them, a credit to the people of the borough and a credit to Walsall Council. They do an awful lot with not a lot of money and we all benefit from it. Think of the wonderful and beautiful green spaces, nature reserves and parks that we have in Walsall and you start to understand what miracles are performed.

The photographs here are of Park Lime Pits which is a beautiful place just 2 miles from the centre of Walsall. I take visitors from all around the UK there and always they are incredulous that such a place exists in Walsall. Other places that I enjoy on a regular basis are The Dingle, Cuckoo's Nook, Barr Beacon, Merrions Wood, The Arboretum; all of these and the many others in Walsall such as Shire Oak, Moorcroft, Rough Wood and Fibbersley Nature Reserves, the Commons of Brownhills, Clayhanger and Pelsall, Goscote Valley and Stubbers Green are cared for, nourished, improved, conserved and maintained by a group of staff from Walsall Countryside Services.

I'm lucky enough to know one or two of those committed and hard working souls through various means but the person I have most contact  with is Morgan Bowers. This is because I'm involved with Friends of Park Lime Pits and the Pits and Lime Pits Farm are part of Morgan's portfolio of work. I'm told that the other staff at Walsall Countryside Services are every bit as friendly, driven, conscientious and enthusiastic as Morgan. There's a lot goes on outside normal working hours such as the Meteor Watch at Barr Beacon tonight, courses on basket weaving, Peregrine Watch, all designed to bring what Walsall has to offer closer to the local people.

We all need a little time out to enjoy an oasis of calm and green and Countryside Services make sure that those spaces are maintained and kept well for us to be able to do that. Alas my concern is the financial juggling that the Council are about to embark upon in preparation for setting the budget for the 2013 financial year and the effect that loosely juggled balls will have upon this precious service. I am not aware of what cuts may be made and what that could mean in a practical sense to the service and for those that work for it but what I do know is presently they do a brilliant job, which the council is quick to milk for publicity purposes (because let's face it some other services at the council seem only to be able to garner bad publicity in recent times) and that it would be a great pity if those committed staff were to suddenly find their hands tied when it comes to providing a first class service or worse still, they find themselves making fortnightly visits to sign on.

We perhaps take this jewel a little for granted. If we do then we really will not know what we have enjoyed until it is gone. Personally I don't want to take any risks and will be emailing my local councillors to let them know that I do not want to see this service cut to the bone and decimated and for the jewel to be allowed to tarnish. I urge everyone to do the same.


  1. Well said Linda, I agree totally, though I feel like a traitor now having been to Sutton Park this afternoon. I did however think of tonight's meteor watch as I took a photo through the trees of barr Beacon.

  2. As a kid, I'd Tarzan swing over Park Lime Pits, oblivious to the fact how dangerous it was. Haven't been there for years. Linley Wood was another. Used to walk along the railway lines from the Lime Pits to Linley Wood. Crazy kids.