Just before the summer holidays in 2022, my friend Manny Abbeyquaye, founder of Centre Spot sports charity that runs children’s football teams, rang me in a panic.
Wednesbury Pulse - the gym and football pitches where his teams play on Friar Park Road - was being suddenly closed with just days’ notice because of a dispute between the landowner and the company that runs the sports centre.
Children’s football camps which provided free nutritious lunches were due to take place there all summer, and local teams like Bustlehome rely on the pitches too.
Together with local Councillors Simon Hackett, Luke Giles and Cabinet Member Laura Rollins we raised the issue at the highest level of the council, met with the Wednesbury Pulse management and wrote to the landowner to protest in strongest terms about what had happened.
We secured media coverage of the scandal of children’s pitches being closed during the same summer that the 2022 Commonwealth games had come to the West Mids, and local Facebook groups launched campaigns too.
While the community rose up in protest at children in Friar Park having their football pitches taken away, the current Tory MP was nowhere to be seen.
In the late summer we got good news - the campaign had been successful and the pitches were to be reopened in time for the autumn football season!
Under a new contract with Leisure United, the pitches are now safe for the children of Friar Park and beyond for years to come.