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clear head campaign

Revellers are being warned to “keep a clear head” around the rail network over the festive season.

The festive season should be a time of year when everyone can enjoy themselves and have fun. But partygoers are being advised to take extra care as newly-released data from Network Rail, British Transport Police (BTP) and RSSB reveal a sharp increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents across the rail network during the festive period.

Of the 7,419 recorded alcohol-related incidents on or around the railway in 2016/17, 16% of those took place over the festive period – between 24 November and 2 January 2017.

21 people have been killed due to alcohol-related incidents at the platform edge and a further 91 people seriously injured over the last 10 years. Passengers boarding and alighting trains were involved in 469 alcohol-related accidents in the last five years.

As a result Network Rail, BTP and RSSB have come together to launch their “keep a clear head” campaign warning the public to take extra care when travelling on or around the railway network, especially when they’ve been drinking alcohol.

Danger points for intoxicated passengers are:

  • not heeding the warnings at level crossings
  • trips and slips at the platform edge and on station stairs and escalators
  • straying onto the railway tracks

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explains: “Though trains are the safest way to get around, passengers and people living near the railway must always remember that it can be a dangerous place. That’s why we’re reminding the public to remain alert to those dangers whilst they’re having fun over the festive season.

“Taking a shortcut across the tracks, chancing it at level crossings or tripping at the platform edge can, at best cause delays to your journey; at worse it can result in serious harm.  Enjoy yourself but don’t let alcohol stop you or your fellow passengers from getting to where you need to be – keep a clear head.”

Tom Lee, Director of Standards at RSSB, said: “Travelling by train is very safe and we want everyone to have a harmless and punctual journey whilst enjoying the festive season.  However, with around 469 alcohol-related incidents at the platform edge over the past 5 years, passengers and level crossing users are reminded to take care so that they get to and from their destination safely.”

According to BTP, there is also a rise in violence at many of the busiest railway stations over the festive season, much of which is caused by excess alcohol. Between 24 November 2016 and 2 January 2017, the number of violent offences reported at railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales increased by 14% compared with the same period in 2015/16. Almost one in 10 of those offences involved alcohol.

In response, British Transport Police are stepping up patrols at railway stations across the country.

Chief Inspector John Loveless said: “Unfortunately, during the festive season, we see a rise in public order offences and antisocial behaviour. Much of this is down to the people involved drinking too much and behaving in a way that would shock them and their family and friends if they were sober.

“We want everyone to get to their destination safely. Our officers will be out on the network helping people to enjoy the festivities safely and encouraging them to think about how alcohol can affect the way they behave and the effect this has on their fellow passengers.

“If you’re using the railway to get around this Christmas, please keep a clear head. Think about what you would do and how you would behave if you were sober. There is no excuse for spoiling other people’s journeys or behaving any differently because you’ve drunk alcohol. We want you to have fun but it’s more important to get where you’re going safely.”

Mark Newton, Policing and Security Coordination Manager at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said:“Our railway is one of the safest in Europe but working together with the BTP, we want to make it even safer. Christmas is a time for fun and for some people, a drink or two, but we want everyone to get home to their family safely so after a festive trip to the pub, people need to remember to take extra care around the railway.”

In response to the seasonal surge in incidents, Network Rail and BTP will be holding alcohol awareness events at Britain’s busiest rail stations in the run-up to Christmas. Both organisations will also be targeting Christmas revellers in pubs and clubs near railway stations and level crossings with a reminder to ‘keep a clear head’.

PETER KAY

COMEDIAN Peter Kay has cancelled his first live tour in eight years over ‘unforeseen family circumstances’.

One of the most loved comedians in the UK had announced a tour to start in April 2018 in Birmingham and travel the country for over a year.

In a statement on Twitter, the Guinness World Record’s “most successful stand-up comedian of all time” said it was with “deep regret” he was forced to cancel the shows.

“Due to unforeseen family circumstances, I deeply regret that I am having to cancel all of my upcoming work projects. This, unfortunately, includes my upcoming stand-up tour, Dance For Life shows and any outstanding live work commitments,” he said.

“My sincerest apologies. This decision has not been taken lightly and I’m sure you’ll understand my family must always come first.

“I’ve always endeavoured to protect my family’s privacy from the media. I hope that the media and the public will continue to respect our privacy at this time.

Santa Highways England Check

WITH just 13 days to go before Christmas, Highways England has called on the main man to help remind drivers to check their vehicles before travelling this festive season.

Santa Claus checks his sleigh to make sure it doesn’t break down as he prepares to deliver presents to children the world over.

And the company responsible for motorways and main A-roads is urging people driving this Christmas to make sure their vehicles are also ready for seasonal travel.

Santa can be seen carrying out the vital checks on his sleigh in a special fun animation below – and he’s got a little help from his festive friends including Rudolph!

These checks include:

  • checking that Santa has plenty of grip on his sledge – motorists should check their tyre tread to make sure it is within the legal limit
  • making sure Rudolph’s nose is shining bright – always make sure lights on the vehicle are working correctly before setting off
  • making sure he feeds his reindeer before travelling – make sure that you always keep your tank at least one quarter full to avoid running out of fuel on your journey

Highways England’s customer service director, Melanie Clarke, said:  “This is a timely reminder from Santa and his festive friends that you should always check your vehicle before setting off.

“But there is a serious point to this, too. Safety is our top imperative and we know from experience that almost half of breakdowns are avoidable and these can easily be averted with simple checks.

“Christmas is always a busy period on the road network and we’d urge all motorists to make sure they do their bit to check their vehicle is roadworthy before setting off over the festive period.”

She also highlighted that 99 per cent of motorways and strategic A roads will be roadworks-free in time for Christmas, meaning hauliers and motorists alike can enjoy last-minute shopping and delivery journeys with as little disruption as possible.

Latest statistics from Highways England show almost half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided with basic checks. Nearly a quarter are caused by tyre problems; meanwhile, 450 people were injured in incidents involving vehicles that weren’t roadworthy over the course of a year.

And around 20 motorists break down every day because they have run out of fuel. There were 7,419 cases nationwide of vehicle breakdowns on the strategic road network due to lack of fuel.

The RAC is also backing the campaign and says that motorists should check their vehicle this Christmas, even if they journey is likely to be a short one.

RAC spokesman, Rod Dennis, said: “Just like Santa, millions of drivers can’t afford a breakdown getting in the way of them reaching their destinations this Christmas.

“So we’re backing Highways England’s call for drivers to give their vehicles a bit of ‘TLC’ before they set out on any long journey. Simply checking things like the condition of tyres could be the key to not wasting valuable time in the cold and wet this December, broken down at the side of the road.

“Then, should the unexpected happen, motorists can be reassured by the fact that our patrols will be working tirelessly throughout the festive period to get them back on the move again as quickly as possible.”

To help keep people moving this Christmas, Highways England has also produced a handy pdf showing people how to conduct basic vehicle checks before setting off this Christmas.

Those travelling over Christmas are also being reminded to make sure that they are prepared for an emergency by:

  • charging a mobile phone and taking it with them in case they run into difficulty and need to use it in emergency circumstances
  • taking warm clothing in the car with them in case of breakdowns
  • taking food and drink in the car in case of any extreme weather

Motorists can head online to the Think website where they can watch bespoke videos showing how to carry out basic vehicle checks. Alternatively, follow Highways England on social media channels for more information.

roosters southern fried poppin chicken

ALDI have recalled their Roosters Southern Fried Poppin’ Chicken as a precautionary measure as it may contain plastic and they are asking customers to not consume the product.

They are now asking anyone who has purchased the product to return it to their nearest store for a full refund.

Only products with a best-before date of 09.04.2019 and a batch of 10101701 are affected.

Aldi have said: “As a precautionary measure, we have initiated a recall of this product as it may contain small pieces of hard plastic material. Please do not consume this product.

“Customers are asked to return the product to the nearest store, where a full refund will be given. We apologise for any inconvenience and thank you for your co-operation.”

Christopher Pincher MP

A NEW railcard for 26-30 year olds, stamp duty abolished for first time buyers, increase in the living wage and all taxpayers will earn £350 more before tax.

£44bn for housing, an extra £2.8bn on top of the £124bn this year for the NHS, fuel duty frozen and the beginning of a ‘Blue Planet Tax’ on single-use plastics.

These are just some of the many policies announced in the Budget which was delivered on Wednesday by the Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The Budget is one of the most important announcements in any Government’s calendar. It updates Parliament and the country on the economy but is also a chance to announce tweaks to certain areas such as tax and deliver new policies altogether.

Housing was the clear theme of this year’s Budget which is good news for young people and first-time buyers who are increasingly being priced out of buying their own home. The average age of a first-time buyer is now 30, with £33k being the average deposit required. This is quite frankly unacceptable and the fact is that we simply haven’t built enough houses each year for at least the last two decades.

I was very pleased to see the Chancellor announce an ambitious £44bn to spend on housing. He has taken a carrot and stick approach to housebuilders. On the one hand, he has announced a review in to ‘land banking’ by developers; the process by which house builders ‘sit’ on land which often has planning permission and not actually deliver the homes they promised. He also announced more support for Councils looking to build homes, for smaller and medium sized developers and money to train workers in the construction industry.

The Chancellor announced that stamp duty would be scrapped for first time buyers on properties up to £300k which, it is hoped, will mean more people will have the cash to buy their first property sooner. Councils will also now have the freedom to double council tax on owners that leave their property empty; ending the ‘buy to leave’ culture that takes place in some areas.

Aside from the Budget, this week has been another few days of debates late at night. On Tuesday another stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill was debated. I have received a number of messages from constituents following an article that was published in The Independent about Conservatives voting against ‘animal sentience’ because they ‘don’t feel pain’. This is fake news and could not be further from the truth. The Government has no intention of reducing animal rights once we leave the EU. On the contrary, the United Kingdom has one of the highest regards for animals in Europe if not the world and it will continue to work on the rights of animals. CCTV in slaughterhouses, ivory bans, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty increased five-fold and potentially a tax on single-use plastics. These are all policies brought in under the Conservatives and to suggest, as some have, that this is going to allow fox hunting through the back door is absolute nonsense.

On more cheerful notes, at the weekend I’ll be knocking around Tamworth and the nearby villages meeting constituents and hearing their thoughts on the Budget and wider issues. On Saturday morning I’m popping into a very successful business in Tamworth in preparation for Small Business Saturday which is on 2nd December, and on the Sunday I’ll be tree planting in Streetly Wood!

As ever if you have any issues don’t hesitate to contact me on [email protected] or 01827 312778.

Have a great weekend.

white ribbon

TAMWORTH men are being encouraged to help put a stop to violence against women by pledging their support to this year’s White Ribbon Campaign.

The White Ribbon Campaign is a worldwide movement calling on men to stand together and say no to domestic abuse and violence against women.  Its key focus is on educating and engaging with men on these issues.  Although this is a minority of men, this violence impacts on thousands of others every year, in all walks of life.

Now the men of Tamworth are being called on to do their bit once more for the White Ribbon Campaign.

Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. Each year, the campaign urges men and boys to wear a ribbon for one or two weeks, starting from November 20 and including the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women on November 25. Women often wear them as well.

Tamworth Borough Council’s Community Safety team, staff at the council, police, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service staff and other agencies will be wearing the ribbon in support the campaign. Tamworth Rugby team will also be wearing the ribbons and sharing the anti-violence message.

Tamworth Rugby team wearing the ribbons and sharing the anti-violence message.

Tamworth Rugby team wearing the ribbons and sharing the anti-violence message.

Ribbons can be collected from the community safety team at Marmion House.

Cllr Daniel Cook, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “As men, we need to stand up against violence to women and make a pledge that we will never commit, condone or stay silent about this crime.

“White Ribbon UK was founded in 2007 and the aim of the campaign is to encourage men to stand up against violence to women, to end a culture which accepts violent behaviour towards women, and we would encourage all men in Tamworth to once more join us in this.”

More information on White Ribbon can be found on their website: www.whiteribbon.org.uk/

syria map overlaid with flag

STAFFORDSHIRE is to welcome Syrian refugee families to the county as part of the UK Government’s commitment to help the troubled country.

Staffordshire County Council is working with district and borough councils to prepare for the arrival of 50 Syrians, all in family groups, in 2018.

The agreement follows the successful resettlement of 51 Syrians in Staffordshire in 2016/17.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said: “All the refugee families are fleeing a terrible civil war which has shattered their country’s economy, education system and healthcare infrastructure.

“We pledged to help those refugees requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of torture, and some of the women and children who are most at risk.

“Several Syrian families have already found peace in Staffordshire, thanks to the help from our district and borough councils, Refugee Action and other partners, who have been working with the families to settle them over the past 18 months.”

In September 2015 the then Prime Minister David Cameron announced the UK would expand the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement scheme to accept 20,000 refugees by 2020.

The scheme prioritises those who are most at risk and cannot be supported in their own country. The Home Office checks their eligibility, conducts thorough security checks and works with the International Organisation for Migration to ensure that a full medical assessment is carried out prior to arrival in the UK.

Gill Heath said: “The people of Staffordshire have helped those in need many times over the years and I’m proud of how communities have worked closely together so far.

“The borough and district councils, Stafford & Rural Homes, local schools and local health services have all worked very hard, with Refugee Action, to make this stressful time a success.”

 

Colin Bryan receiving his OBE

DRAYTON Manor Park’s Chairman and son of the founders, Mr Colin Bryan is awarded an OBE at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his charity work and ongoing contribution to tourism.

On receiving his OBE, Colin said: “I couldn’t be prouder to be presented with this award and to have my family with me on such a special day. I follow in the footsteps of my parents who inspired me to put my heart and soul into Drayton Manor Park and to give back to the local community as they did. It’s our family’s life work and it’s such an honour to be recognised in this way.”

During more than 52 years of commitment and dedication to the leisure industry, Colin has been an inspiration to those around him.

He has made a significant contribution to numerous local charities and community initiatives, including his involvement as patron of the park’s main charity KidsOut, continuing the work his father began in 1989 with the Rotary club.  A national charity providing fun for young people living in difficult circumstances, Colin hosts two free fun days out at Drayton Manor Park every year, for over 5,000 disadvantaged, disabled and special needs children.

Mr. Colin Bryan is made an OBE by the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace. Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Other charities include the RNLI, which his late mother was hugely involved in, as well as the Midlands Air Ambulance, JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), St Giles Hospice, National Autistic Society, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Tamworth Round Table and Tamworth Rotary to name a few.

Today, Drayton Manor Park is one of the UK’s leading family attractions with over one million people a year visiting the theme park, home of Europe’s only Thomas Land™, a 15-acre Zoo, and a 4 star Hotel.

HERE you can see a selection of images from the Tamworth Remembrance Parade in Tamworth Town Centre today, Sunday 12 November.

If you have any imaged you would like included, please email them to [email protected]

their name liveth for evermore

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM; the important words that we must ensure we stand by.  This is a plea to ensure the memories live on.

Sadly there are no longer any known surviving veterans of the first World War and each year, the number of surviving veterans from the Second World War dwindles.

These of course are the wars that we traditionally think of when we think of Armistice Day; but we must also remember those that have served their country and sadly lost their lives since the end of the Second World War.

A visit to the National Memorial Arboretum will allow you to see the Armed Forces Memorial; the UK’s tribute to over 16,000 men and women who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since 1948 to the present day.  The unfortunate thing about the memorial is to see that names are added annually to the giant Portland stone walls.

I have not seen active service myself; but family members have served in both world wars and I hold those that have served with the upmost respect. I do what I can each year to ensure that their memory lives on and I have travelled around France and Belgium to pay my respects; this is something I will personally ensure I maintain with my own child.

Menin Gate. Credit: Johan Bakker

Menin Gate. Credit: Johan Bakker

Standing at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, where at 8pm each evening as the bugle plays the Last Post, I defy anyone to not have a tear in their eye as they think of those that have died.

Especially as your eyes scan the names of the 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Ypres Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found.  Finding a relatives name on the memorial makes it all the more poignant.

 

 


Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, near Passchendale

Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, near Passchendale

Walking in to Tyne Cot War Graves Cemetery near Passchendale, Belgium and seeing almost 12,000 uniformed headstones, where rank does not distinguish, is nothing short of breath taking.  It is an unbelievable sight that you cannot imagine unless you see it with your own eyes.

Row upon row of head stones as far as the eye can see, which are surrounded by a stone wall which makes up the Tyne Cot Memorial of the Missing, one of several Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorials to the Missing along the Western Front.  It’s tragic to think that so many died and never had their bodies found that upon completion of the Menin Gate, builders discovered it was not large enough to contain all the names as originally planned.  The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces.  

You don’t however, have to travel around Europe to pay your respects, I just ask that each year, you continue to make the effort.  This is a personal plea to ask that you also ensure that the memories live on, and are passed on to your future generations. Please don’t let them forget.

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