The meeting came about by a chance conversation at the Netherton Boat Festival last year between Mark Robinson and the Mayor when he went to visit the Trust stand. The Mayor indicated his interest in speedway and even had his photo taken on the Trust bike! When the new Trust board was founded, Mark took the opportunity to contact the Mayor (who had already commented on what a wonderful job the Trust were doing keeping the hopes alive of finding a new home for Cradley Heathens) via email and to his immense surprise, received an instant reply inviting the Trust to visit him at the Council House. Not all board members were able to attend but they were well represented by the ones who could make it; some of whom had taken unpaid time off work to attend.
Upon arriving at Dudley Council House they were met in the foyer by the Mayor and shown the room where the council meetings are held and where decisions are made. There is a roll of honour board showing the names of former dignitaries and an amazing display of gifts given to the borough over the years including cut glass items and furniture that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the Antiques Road Show. Of course no visit would be complete without seeing the famous balcony where the Cradley Heathens greeted their ecstatic fans after winning the British League in 1981 when they had their civic reception at Dudley Council House.
Tea and biscuits were served before the Trust sat down to chat to the Mayor. They were eager to get advice on which direction the Trust could take in view of looking for land for a new home for the Heathens. The Mayor was very open with his answers, he gave some good advice and imparted some information they weren’t expecting and really didn’t want to hear! Dudley Council have no land to give the Heathens (which they already knew) but didn’t realise the reasons for this are because Dudley Council own very little land in the borough that they can actually give away.
The Mayor’s term of office is up in May when he will return to being a councillor but he has pledged that after his return to being a councillor he will support the Trust by endeavouring to point the Trust in the right direction in terms of contacting the right people and the council assisting the Trust in any way possible.
The Trust members came away from the meeting taking the positives with them to move forward and with a feeling of determination to keep fighting on. They would like to send a big thank you to the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor David Tyler for giving up his valuable time and being so open with them.
Pictured (Left to Right) Mark Robinson, Gill Mumford, Mayor of Dudley, David Tyler, Kim Guest, Neil Saunders and Jacky McNaney.