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Cadets during the team building activity

STAFFORDSHIRE Police Cadets from the Tamworth unit have taken part in an activity day at the Tamworth and Lichfield Sea Cadet base to help them develop their team working skills.

The cadets took part in activities including raft building, sailing, rowing and power boating, as well as learning nautical skills such as knots. Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold accompanied them on the day.

Mrs Arnold said: ‘It was wonderful to see so many cadets come together to take part in the activity day. It was thoroughly enjoyable and gave the cadets the chance to get out and build their skills as a team in a new environment. As expected the cadets did themselves proud during the activity day.

‘The cadet scheme has had a positive influence to the lives of many young people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. It’s all about giving advantages to young people through allowing them to gain life skills such as responsibility and discipline.’

Graham Smout, Deputy Chief Officer of the Specials, said: ‘It was great to see the cadets come together and develop their skills and it was wonderful to see them all encouraging each other throughout the day.

‘A big thank you to the Tamworth Sea Cadets for hosting us and making it a thoroughly enjoyable day for our police cadets. I would also like to thank everyone who helped out on the day, including the cadet leaders and the volunteers who provided the catering and worked with the cadets in the kitchen, I know the cadets really enjoyed it.’

DPCC Sue Arnold with Staffs Police Cadets 1

DPCC Sue Arnold with Staffs Police Cadets 1

The Staffordshire Police Cadet Service was launched by Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis in 2013 to strengthen links between the police and young people and promote good citizenship. Successful cadet units have been launched in Stafford, Cannock, Burslem, Tamworth, Longton, Codsall and Burton with more planned for 2017.

The police cadets work towards several nationally recognised qualifications including team-working and citizenship. Many of the cadets have found that through the scheme they are becoming not only more confident and outgoing, but that they are also benefiting both socially and academically, all while helping to build links between the police and young people.

Businesses are invited to become patrons or sponsors to help fund uniforms and equipment for the cadets. In return for becoming a patron, businesses’ contributions are recognised through publicity, a framed certificate and other opportunities. More information is available at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/police-cadets

Cadets during the team building activity

Cadets during the team building activity

Young Poet Laureate Rebecca Lockwood

THE new young poet laureate for Staffordshire has been announced as 17-year-old Rebecca Lockwood, from Cannock.

Rebecca is the fifth person to hold the prestigious role which promotes a love of poetry and showcases the creative writing skills of young people across the county.

She performed her powerful poems alongside her fellow shortlisted poets, impressing the judges at a special poetry event at Church Lane Evangelical Church in Stafford.

Rebecca, currently a Year 13 pupil at Cannock Chase High School, said:

“I am delighted to have been appointed Young Poet Laureate of Staffordshire for 2017/18. I am especially excited for my year ahead, as I hope to create poetry events specifically for young people throughout Staffordshire where we can openly discuss and relate to each other in a time where things around us can appear daunting.

“I love poetry and also manage a blog dedicated to my poetry rebeccalockwoodblog.wordpress.com which I also hope to share with other young people.”

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member responsible for libraries at Staffordshire County Council who organise the Poets Laureate scheme, said:

“I’m delighted to welcome Rebecca to her new role. Rebecca is our fifth young poet laureate which has become an incredibly popular scheme for our county’s young writers and poets. I know the judges were very impressed with her poetry and we all wish her every success in her forthcoming role.

“I’d also like to thank our outgoing post holder Isobel Horsley who has done a marvellous job over the last year and I offer her our best wishes for the future.”

The judges were Current Staffordshire Poet Laureate Bert Flitcroft, Brenda Read-Brown, co-ordinator of Poetry on Loan for libraries in the West Midlands, Jane Seabourne, poet and partner in Offa’s Press and Lucy Cooksedge, a university student shadowing the judging process.

Bert commented:

“Rebecca’s poetry and her delivery were exceptional and showed great maturity. It’s important we attract young people to Poetry and I’m sure Rebecca will be a great advocate. I think she’s one to watch for the future.”

Rebecca will take up her tenure on National Poetry Day on Thursday 28 September.

Wherever Bar, Tamworth

A POPULAR Tamworth bar is the latest venue to close its doors for the final time in the Town Centre.

Wherever Bar, which is described as Tamworth’s Sophisticated Social Playground has closed it’s doors to the shock of many customers.

The much loved cocktail bar on Orchard Street, has been trading for six years and become popular for its cocktails and tapas in a more grown up setting.

Wherever achieved 4.5 stars out of 5 on trip advisor.

In a statement on their Facebook page, Andrew Webb, the owner has said:

“A big thank you to everyone that has supported wherever over the last 6 years. It’s definitely been an experience mostly great. I’ve met some fantastic people but with everything great it must come to an end. Wherever closed it’s doors this week yes I’m a little sad but we all need to move our lives forward. Good luck to my team as they go their separate ways. I’ve got your backs if you need me. Thank you”

PCC Matthew Ellis with new ETAP members.

AN independent panel established by Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis to strengthen public scrutiny of policing has had an injection of new blood.

The Ethics, Transparency and Audit Panel (ETAP) was established by the Commissioner in 2013 under his ‘New Dawn of Transparency’ agenda. It is made up of members of the public, drawn from across the county, who have become expert citizens.

ETAP has received national recognition for its scrutiny of the police use of Taser, stop and search and crime recording in Staffordshire.

Elford resident Clare Cowley is one of five new members who have joined ETAP.

Clare is a former Detective Superintendent from West Midlands Police Force, retiring in 2014 after completing her 30 years in the service.

During her time at West Midlands Police, Clare worked in the Public Protection Unit where she took part in multi-agency panels for case reviews and was a Senior Investigation Officer for Rape and Serious Sexual Offences, Domestic Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Abuse.

Clare said: ‘Working with ETAP is an opportunity for me to continue working in public service and I very much look forward to working with the team.’

PCC Matthew Ellis with new ETAP members.

PCC Matthew Ellis with new ETAP members.

Mr Ellis added: ‘It was good to meet and welcome the new panel members who I am sure will strengthen ETAP’s vital work. Honest and independent scrutiny by the public is crucial as we strive to set the bar higher and create a new dawn of transparency in policing.

‘This panel has used its wide-ranging and rigorous powers to scrutinise crime recording, forensics, Taser use, and stop and search to make sure decisions made by the police are correct and in the best interests of the public. It’s about being open and transparent, so that public confidence across policing and criminal justice is improved.’

Staffordshire people interested in becoming an ETAP member – who must be aged 18 or above – should visit www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/eta

Following ETAP’s success, local Safer Neighbourhood Panels have been launched across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. It gives people the chance to influence policing in their communities and help hold local police commanders to account at the most local level. They are made up of local residents who meet regularly with their area’s local policing commander.

The panels influence local policing and community safety, scrutinise the work done by police in the area, give feedback to their community and examine the impact of community resolutions and restorative justice where they live.

To find out more visit http://www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/safer-neighbourhood-panels/


Bolehall By Election Candidates

A by-election will be held in the Bolehall Ward next month to fill the vacant seat left following the recent resignation of Cllr Peter Seekings.

Cllr Seekings stood down from his role on Tamworth Borough Council on August 31 due to sudden ill health. Regrettably Cllr Seekings passed away on September 9. It was a seat he had held since 1997.

Two electors triggered a by-election which will be held on Thursday, October 12.

Here you can see our EXCLUSIVE interviews with the candidates for the Bolehall ward; Thomas Christopher Jay, the Conservative Party Candidate and Sheree Peaple, the Labour Party Candidate.

Both videos were recorded separately between 17:00 and 18:00, Thursday 21st September 2017 at Bolehall Manor Club.  Both Candidates were given up to 120 seconds (2 Minutes).   Nether candidate saw their own video or the other candidates video prior to publication.   Both Videos are the unedited second run of the Candidates speech.

Vauxhall Astra

POLICE investigating a hit-and-run in Sheldon want to trace a light coloured Vauxhall Astra in connection with the collision.

Officers believe the vehicle will have suffered significant front end damage after hitting pedestrian Chris Hood as he crossed Brays Road at around 10.10pm on Monday (18 September).

Mr Hood, aged 26, suffered serious injuries and has been forced to have part of his leg amputated. He remains in a critical condition in hospital.

stock image

Officers are keen to speak to anyone who has seen or knows the current whereabouts of the Astra (pictured) – which is believed to be a 2004-2010 model.

Detective Sergeant Paul Hughes, from the regional Collision Investigation Unit, said: “Following our initial enquiries we believe the vehicle involved is a light coloured Vauxhall Astra and that it may have significant damage to its front end.

“I would ask people to think back over the last few days and whether they recall seeing such a damaged Astra. Has someone recently had one repaired, or a car they see regularly no longer there?

“I would also appeal directly to the driver of this vehicle on the night to do the right thing; come forward and speak to us now.”

Anyone with information can call the Collision Investigation Team on 101; quoting incident 2625 of 18/09/17.

Alternatively email Fl_COLLISION_INVEST@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

You can also report crime by contacting the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

TAMWORTH’S landmark ‘Warrior Queen’ statue is taking shape, with latest images of the work in progress revealing a little glimpse of just how impressive and magnificent the new sculpture will be.

After several weeks of back-breaking labour by artist and sculptor Luke Perry, work to create a steel statue of the iconic Lady Aethelflaed has reached the halfway point.

Once complete, the Saxon Queen will rise six metres above the ground on the Offa Drive/Saxon Drive roundabout, outside Tamworth Railway Station, where she will greet visitors as they step off the train, and point them towards the town centre.

The ‘Roundabout Art’ project is one element of the Arts in Unusual Spaces initiative, funded by Arts Council England, which will see art in all its forms popping up in a variety of locations across the borough.

The sculpture is being funded jointly by Tamworth Borough Council, Arts Council England and Tamworth Gateways Project – a partnership between Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council.

For the past few months, Luke has been hidden away in a workshop outside Birmingham, welding, hammering and literally hand-sculpting the magnificent ‘iron maiden’ as he has affectionately named her.

The internal structure, or ‘skeleton’, is now complete, as is the breast plate, back plate and shield – which itself stands taller than Luke. The chainmail is nearing completion and her sword – which is a work of art in itself – is also around 50 per cent of the way there.

Luke said: “I don’t do anything with machines because I don’t like the aesthetic that produces. It’s all hand-sculpted, which means I’m a bit broken as it’s physically quite abusing. It’s great to see her starting to take shape though.

“The internal shell was key to the build. We are working from a life-sized model and everything has to be scaled up 3.5 times. Once we had the shell this was covered in chicken wire so the form could be easily manipulated – getting the form right has been the hardest part so far.

“Once all the angles and dimensions are right, you wrap it all in steel banding and take all the chicken wire out.”

As well as making sure everything is in proportion, there’s also the important job of making sure everything is correct for the period. For this, Luke has called in the services of a fellow artist and 9th century historian, who has travelled over from Berlin to assist on the project.

“We’re making sure all the details are authentic,” Luke said. “It’s not exactly how Aethelflaed would have looked as women of the time would usually be almost completely covered in fabric, but the interpretation is more in keeping with the Romantic, symbolic representation of women depicted back then.”

The progress to the Lady Aethelflaed sculpture

The progress to the Lady Aethelflaed sculpture

Members of the community have been involved in the design of the sculpture during consultations, workshops and live clay modelling sessions.

The final model was the result of consultations with more than 100 people who spoke to Luke about what they are most proud of about Tamworth. She has been designed to reflect the town’s Saxon history, but with an ‘alternative, modern twist’ that places it firmly in the 21st century. The project also represents quite an ambitious feat of engineering to bring the historical figure to life.

Also known as Tamworth’s ‘Lady of the Mercians’, Queen Aethelflaed, played a pivotal role in English history by building a chain of fortifications against Viking invaders throughout the Kingdom of Mercia. Her fortification of Tamworth in 913 AD became the forerunner to Tamworth Castle. Daughter of Alfred the Great, Aethelflaed’s accession as a female ruler has been described as one of the most unique events in early medieval history. 

Cllr Joy Goodall, Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “These images provide a sneak peek at Lady Aethelflaed and give a real feel for how large and impressive the finished article is going to be. This is an exciting project celebrating an important element of the town’s history, which will hopefully serve as a lasting legacy for years to come, as well as encouraging more visitors to the area.”

school bloom banners

SCHOOLS across the borough have been contributing to the Tamworth in Bloom celebrations by designing their own ‘Mercian 10 – the Heart of England’s Infantry’ themed banners.

Pupils have complemented the work going on in the town over the past few months by entering a school competition. The winning banners were displayed proudly in the town during the ‘in Bloom’ judging day and other events celebrating the Mercian Regiment’s 10th Anniversary.

It has recently been revealed that Tamworth has successfully received a GOLD award for the eighth year in a row in the Heart of England in Bloom competition. The borough’s accolade in the ‘Small City’ category was revealed at a ceremony at Warwick Castle on the evening of September 14, where Tamworth also picked up two additional special awards for the community cabinet.

Birds Bush Primary School, Flaxhill Junior School and Hanbury’s Farm Community School are the winning schools that now have their banners on show at Tamworth Library.

Each school that entered was given a length of calico canvas by the in Bloom committee measuring one metre by five metres in size, to be painted or drawn on with waterproof materials. Pupils could decorate it with images, words, symbols or flowers. Green, red and buff are the regimental colours and their symbol is a crowned double headed eagle; as shown on the Mercian Crest floral display on Moor Street traffic island at the end of Lichfield Street.

The regiment was first formed on 1st September 2007 at Tamworth Castle Grounds in the presence of The Colonel in Chief, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. The Mercian Regiment is the Heart of England’s Infantry making them one of the most experienced regiments in the British Army.

Tamworth in Bloom Champion, Cllr Joy Goodall, said: “It is exciting to see schools being involved with the ‘in Bloom’ work and celebrations of the Mercian Regiment.

“Mercian soldiers are renowned for their professionalism and courage, which is another reason for Tamworth to be very proud to display the pupils’ banner tributes. Residents and visitors to the town have been treated with such amazing floral displays and I’m sure will be delighted to view the school banners, on display in the library throughout September and October.”

A spokesperson for Hanbury’s Farm Primary School said: “Children of all ages have really enjoyed coming together as a school to create the banner in order to remember our brave  and  heroic soldiers.”

A spokesperson for Flaxhill School said: “Pupils thoroughly enjoyed completing the project. It was lovely to see how much pride they took in their work as well as the attention to detail they displayed while producing the banners. I know they were really enthused to be able to showcase their talents with the wider community.”

Firefighter operation

FIREFIGHTERS and staff have been involved in a multi-agency exercise to test emergency response and resilience plans for terrorism related incidents within Staffordshire.

For several months exercise co-ordinators from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have been formulating a sequence of scenarios designed to test the Service and partners across the board. On Thursday September 14, 190 firefighters along with 50 support staff were all called to action, 27 fire appliances were involved in the day.

The exercise included a range of terrorist related ‘incidents’ which unfolded within Staffordshire and communities may have noticed the presence of firefighters, fire appliances, and other emergency services in the Rugeley, Burton-upon-Trent and Alrewas areas. The Service used social media to reassure the public about the increased activity.

Multi Agency operation

Emergency vehicles taking part in the operation

Chief Fire Officer Becci Bryant said: “Firstly, we would like to acknowledge the awful incident that took place in London on Friday morning, our thoughts are very much with those involved and the emergency responders who attended.

“This terrible event really emphasises the importance of exercises such as the one we carried out last week. It is essential that we are prepared and equipped to act quickly and effectively with our partners to keep the community of Staffordshire safe.

“The exercise has been months in the making and has been well and truly kept under wraps so that firefighters, staff and partners could respond as spontaneously as possible. It proved to be a valuable day, with some exceptional team work but also some real development opportunities identified. Of course I hope that we never have to put our well-laid emergency plans into practice for real and I want to stress that there is absolutely nothing to indicate that there is a specific threat to Staffordshire.

“However, with the UK threat level remaining at severe it is important we and our partners are prepared as we possibly can be. Our communities can be reassured that we work closely with our colleagues at the police and ambulance service to ensure that our staff are appropriately trained and prepared to respond in the event of a localised incident.

“The recent events in London are an important reminder to remain alert but not alarmed, and to remember the important run, hide, tell advice. If you’re concerned about anything suspicious please report it via the anti-terrorism hotline on 0800 789 321 or ring 999 and ask for the Police.”

Ankerside Big Toddle 1

THE town’s shopping centre will be showing support for Macmillan next week as Stay & Play returns for free mug decorating.

Ankerside Shopping Centre’s monthly Stay & Play morning will return on Thursday, 28 September, where little ones will have the chance to decorate mugs to take home and donate to the centre’s Macmillan fundraising day on Saturday, 30 September.

Alongside all the drawing fun, children along with mums, dads and grandparents will also be able to enjoy inflatables, a bubble machine and a visit from Ankerside’s colourful monster between 9.30am and 11.30am.

Jeff Wigley, Ankerside Shopping Centre manager, said he is looking forward to starting the fundraising fun early at the centre’s monthly Stay & Play. “The response to our Macmillan fundraising day is fantastic each year, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to create something extra special to mark the annual event.

“Throughout the morning, little ones will be decorating mugs with their very own drawings,” he said. “These will then be donated and sold at our Macmillan fundraiser the following Saturday.

“Thursday is also a chance for children to fill in their learning books that they bring along to each event and it’s a great little memento for parents.

“We hope everyone has a lovely time at our Stay & Play morning next week and we can’t wait to see the children’s fabulous mug creations.”

The Stay & Play fun takes place from 9.30am to 11.30am in Druckers Café on the last Thursday of each month and is free for anyone looking after children to attend with the little ones.

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