I did feel that Saturday's meeting was very well controlled by Mick and Roy, when a clearer invitation for a wider discussion amongst the members attending over what they might have wanted to talk about relevant, of course, to our large area of benefit, might not have been amiss. We did have a most welcome, delightful and interesting talk from Mick.
Mick started by talking about nature conservation, wildlife sites, the Black Country Plan and left the wall garden to the end of his talk. The wall garden was what the AGM was about. Mick told us that the nearly £19,000 in the bank, can only be used for the wall garden. However, it only covers a very small area of the Halesowen Abbey Trust 'Area of Benefit' that the AGM was about.
I was not allowed to remind members of the Ray Smith wildlife pond in Leasowes Park, despite Mick talking about the canal as a linear pond and reminiscing about rowing boats in the Lapal Canal in Leasowes Park. More might have been invited to come up with their own ideas as to how to promote nature conservation in our area of benefit, or how to improve public footpath access or, to positively encourage our wonderful farmers and landowners, like Philip Bibbey, to use the land for less horsiculture (Mick's very own coined and excellent name) and more for farming to feed us all. No mention of farming in tune with nature (or regenerative farming) in our area of benefit to enhance nature conservation and to slow the rising emissions of greenhouse gases that worsen the climate emergency that our council, together with regional and national governments, all declared so solemnly.
The Abbey Trust AGM might have included the Abbey but there was no mention as to how (by keeping the farmers and landowners sweet and content, compliant and quiet) access to view the Abbey was ever going to come about. After many years, if not decades, we are still officially, to step no nearer to the Infirmary than the exact line of the public right of way. What is our committee doing about that, I wonder? Yet, if I remember correctly in the 80s and 90s, it was Mick and Roy's sterling work that got English Heritage to restore, at public expense, this privately owned Infirmary.
One item that was on the agenda was Halesowen in Bloom. Could Hilary have been invited to the front with Mick, so that we could have had a fuller report from her? And, could we have had an update on the built development at Lyeclose Farm and Illeybrook Farm? Next year, perhaps?
In our area of benefit, Roy did a detailed survey of all of Dudley's stiles but it took years for the "modest" (Mick's word) number of stiles to be fitted with steps, as Roy was recommending. The "modest" work was finally done last year but at yesterday's AGM, neither Mick nor Roy was able to tell us the number of new steps that had now been installed for the £9,500. Perhaps, the council will return to the job this year but, will the committee remind them that we do expect more stiles to have steps fitted for our £9,500?
In all the decades I have known Mick and Roy, certainly our leader Mick has told me about his interest in other issues and concerns elsewhere, over greenbelt protection. Therefore, I would love us all to write one email each in support of saving the only public open space and the nearest thing Merry Hill has to a wildlife site, from being completely destroyed by a double track, concrete railway viaduct for Metro "bus on rails" trams. What the authorities want, wipes out any hope of saving our borough's very last and seventh railway. All the others have already gone for a burton.