For over 40 years, ever since 1972 the debate over the position of Pheasey has been a debate quietly going on. We have had boundary reviews since we were moved into Pheasey in exactly where we should be. For the Boundary reviews until 2002 we were left a single small ward but over represented by three councillors.
This was corrected in 2006 when the Pheasey Ward was renamed Pheasey Park Farm with the addition of Orchard Hills. This never felt right to many people as the two areas are separated by a mile of green belt and using different services. For any councillor to represent the ward properly requires juggling between two areas with totally different needs.
So I found THIS (a PDF file) which is the final boundary review from 1977. What is fascinating is that 37 years on a lot of the arguments then are relevant now.
In these proposals to get over the under sizing of Pheasey it was proposed in draft to move Pheasey to Aldridge, these were the responses –
First from the the then Labour MP of Aldridge Brownhills (were were in that constituency then)
Returning to speak about the Pheasey area, he said that it was unnatural to link .this area with a part of Aldridge. Pheasey had an electorate of some 7,800 (admittedly smaller than the 10,000 + mathematically required for one ward) but it was separated from Aldridge by permanent green belt. Perhaps it would be the most satisfactory solution to make a separate Pheasey Ward, even though it was of smaller electorate than was required, but he went on to say that there had been a joint meeting.of all the political groups in Aldridge – the Labour Party, Conservative Party, Liberal Party and Ratepayers’ Association – and they had agreed that Aldridge was a physically distinct community with a strong community spirit and that it should be retained within one ward. He said that the Labour Party favoured retaining the existing Aldridge Ward boundaryJbut, if this were not possible, they would prefer a 6-member ward made up of the existing Aldridge Ward and the Pheasey Ward. This Ward would, however, have an electorate of about 21,000, mathematically satisfactory for a 6-member ward.
This is the exact same argument that could be made for the current ward of course. Back then it seems there was a large and wider political engagement in the process. Remember for the review in 2002 it was proposed to add Hundred Acre to Pheasey to bring up the numbers. Some people may remember how heated in Streetly that got.
So then we had two contributions from Pheasey residents that are well known to older residents.
Sorry for the formatting but the debate is rather familiar of course –
Councillor W.A. Compton (a Borough Councillor of Pheasey Ward)
representing Pheasey Labour Party, said that he was a Councillor of
some 50 years’ standing and the people of Pheasey strongly objected
to the Commission’s proposals for the formation of a ward linking
Pheasey with part of Aldridge. He said that Pheasey was not really
part of Walsall, it was a completely separate community having its.
own new community centre. To connect Pheasey with part of Aldridge
would mean that an area would be added into Pheasey Ward which
had no connections in affinity or community relations. The Pheasey
people were mainly Birmingham overspill residents with no “black
country” outlook. The inclusion of part of Aldridge in the ward
would mean that Pheasey could have .3 Aldridge Councillors representing
the ward and they would have no interest in the communal life of
Pheasey. All the people of Pheasey expressed the opinion that
Pheasey Ward should remain as it was at present.
Councillor Compton then referred to the petition which had
been submitted with some 228 signatures in which the residents of
Pheasey Ward objected to the Commission’s proposals for reasons
that Fheasey was separated from Aldridge by natural boundaries of
green belt and open space; the additional area of Aldridge had no
natural affinity with Pheasey Ward; and that Pheasey Ward was a
self-contained estate with medical services, education and community
In answer to my question, he said there was not likely to be
any large scale development in the Pheasey area, perhaps there would
be some additional accommodation for nurses at the hospital and there
was a small area comprising mobile homes, although it was doubtful
that the use of land for mobile homes would be extended. I then –
referred to the joint political parties proposal that Pheasey Ward
should be amalgamated with the whole of Aldridge to form a big
6-member ward and I mentioned the petition of 8,000 signatures
supporting this proposal. Councillor Compton said that he was sure
that there were no “Pheasey” signatures among the 8,000 petitioners
and”there was certainly.no support in Pheasey for this proposal.
Pheasey would be overwhelmed by the larger electorate of Aldridge
and in such a ward there could be 6 Aldridge; Councillors and no
Pheasey Councillors. Finally, Councillor Compton pressed for a .
separate Pheasey Ward comprising only the Pheasey area (albeit
that it had an electorate total smaller than the mathematical
requirement of 10,000)and I said that I hoped Pheasey would not
become too isolated, it was part of Walsall and surely it looked
to the Walsall Borough for its various services, including education
and social services.
And then this snippet from a future councillor for Pheasey
From Mr. F..O?. Ingram, a resident of the Pheasey area, objecting
to the proposed Pheasey Ward including part of Aldridge
and enclosing a petition signed by some 228 electors of
the present Phessey Ward objecting to the proposal to
include part of Aldridge with Pheasey, as the proposed
additional area had no natural affinity with the Pheasey
area and.was divided from it by natural boundaries, green
belt and open space.
John Aldridge the Aldridge Liberal Party member said
As to the Pheasey area, the Association felt at one time that some part of the Paddock Ward might be added in to make the new Pheasey Ward, but perhaps it would be preferable to make a smaller ward comprising the Pheasey area only.
At this point I should mention the Conservative party made no direct reference to Pheasey but agreed with the MP’s view as above.
The final recommendation as it always was until 2002 was
Pheasey area – (revised projected electorate 8192) presented
particular difficulty for this, too, is a self-contained
area – so”widely separated from all other areas of the
Borough by green ;belt land that it appears impossible
to form any reasonable link with other residential areas.
With an aim for 10,000 plus electors per ward, it is
somewhat small,to form a ward on its own but I believe
that this is the most reasonable solution – -certainly
much more reasonable than trying to add to this area
some other small’area not linked in any way with it.
As you can see the debate remains the same. I have no ill will against residents of Orchard Hills but they are not Pheasey and we are not them and we should not be joined together. In the near future there will be another review and my points would be –
– Residents in Pheasey should be questioned on what we want, stay the same, move to Birmingham, split from Orchard Hills
– My personal view is that we should go back to how we we were but become a two councillor ward, plenty of examples of this. This would mean the average voter per councillor fits in with the rest of Walsall
– I would prefer to go to Birmingham but it is difficult to make the numbers as Oscott is fairly well balanced to move into
I say bring on the debate !!