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Palace of Westminster from across the Thames

WELCOME back to my regular View from the House for Tamworth Informed; however this time covering the last fortnight.

There was a short recess at the end of last week. I’ve heard that this is a traditional recess which comes from when the State Opening of Parliament would take place in November and ‘appropriate’ time was required to make sure the Palace of Westminster is in its best shape for the ceremony. We’re British. We enjoy unique and age-old tradition.

Although there was a recess in Parliament, it was back to Tamworth for me to crack on with constituency work as per usual. Last week saw the build up to the various remembrance ceremonies which took place around Tamworth. I was fortunate enough to attend three ceremonies this year at the Hall of Memory on Hospital Street, the Aldergate Club and the Prince of Wales on Hockley Road as well as the main service at St Editha’s. It is always moving to see so many people, year on year, turning out in support of our Armed Forces.  In fact the numbers seems to grow every year and last weekend outside St Editha’s the square was packed.  And inside every pew, kneeler and spare in of space was take up.  It was the most powerful reminder that our veterans and the service personnel today are never forgotten.

November generally is a solemn time to remember those in our Armed Forces both past and present. Recently I have been investigating how we can develop a suitable memorial in Tamworth for those that have died on active service post-1945. If this is possible, and I believe it is, this will become a most fitting tribute to the brave men and women of our forces. I am talking to local services and veterans groups about it as well as the Ministry of Defence. If you have a view, or would like to help, please contact my office on 01827 312778 or email [email protected].

At one of my recent surgery days a gentleman brought to my attention the issue of leaflet/mailing spam to the elderly. In this instance his mother had unfortunately been scammed by a fake raffle letter which looked relatively official and even stated her address. This is quite shocking and even more disgraceful that the organisation was registered in France so currently it is impossible to have your address removed from overseas registers. I’ve written to the Advertising Standards Authority and the Minister with responsibility for this area to see what more the Government could be doing about this deceitful behaviour. If you receive spam leaflets with ‘to the occupier’ etc. and would rather not, then make sure you register with the Mail Preference Service to ensure your details are removed from any UK register https://www.mpsonline.org.uk/.

Brexit, if you hadn’t guessed already, continues to play a big role in the debate. This week we had the Committee Stage (where amendments are debated on legislation) on the EU Withdrawal Bill. The Bill seeks to remove and replace certain pieces of EU law that affect us today so that come 1st April 2019 there won’t suddenly be a big black hole in our legal system. The two days proved to be long but thoughtful debates. Most of us left the Parliamentary Estate around midnight on both nights. There will be six more days of debate on this Bill. As long winded as it may seem to some, it is only right that our Parliament has its say in a democratic way and I am confident that the right outcome will prevail at the end – a strong Act of Parliament that withdraws us from the EU but which preserves the rights of our community intact

On Friday I took some students from Landau Forte Sixth From for a tour of Parliament. I very much enjoy giving constituents tours around our Parliament – most for their first time – and believe it to be a crucial part of making the place feel more connected to Tamworth and local people. If you would like a tour please do not hesitate to contact my office on the details above and we can make sure I show you around.  The whole tour takes about two hours after which you can have a wander around historic central London, or do a bit of shopping, or both!

As ever, have a great weekend.

Chris

AN eight week public consultation on how best to spend Staffordshire County Council’s £1.3m annual bus subsidy has resulted in the option which safeguards most journeys.

Approving the plan, the County Council’s Cabinet also agreed to work with bus operators, district and borough councils, parish councils and local community groups to explore options for supporting some of the journeys which will no longer be funded by the authority from April 2018.

More than 96 per cent of all bus journeys currently made in Staffordshire will still be able to be made.

Mark Deaville, Cabinet Member for Commercial, said “While the vast majority of bus journeys in Staffordshire are made without any subsidy from the county council, some journeys are still costing taxpayers more than £10 every time someone gets on board and this is certainly not the best use of the public purse.

“Like all councils we do have to live within our means and when we need to spend a record £300m on care this year alone, it is important that we work with the budget we have available.

“The option we have chosen means the most trips can still be made at the lowest average cost to taxpayers.

“It is the case that 96 per cent of all bus journeys will still be able to be made. In cases where journeys will no longer be subsidised, such as the Dial-A-Ride, we want to work with local bus operators, local councils and communities to see which are the most important to them and look at helping them explore other options for funding.”

Any changes to bus timetables, due to the decision made today, will be implemented by bus operators from April 2018 and details of any changes will be finalised and published once known.

you're hired

STAFFORDSHIRE is continuing to see near full employment with just one per cent of the local population claiming out of work benefits, figures released today show.

This is the same as last month, though with slightly fewer claimants, and is lower than both regional (2.3 per cent) and national (1.9 per cent) figures.

Staffordshire’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “It is of course good news that we’re seeing low claimant count figures month on month in Staffordshire and our real focus now is to ensure jobs being created here are better paid. A more prosperous and healthy county is good for everyone and means we can focus our resources where they are really needed.

“There are some real success stories in Staffordshire where we have a thriving economy and with even more business development taking place. Sites created by the county council such as i54 South Staffordshire, Redhill and Kingswood Lakeside are nearly fully occupied and projects to pave the way for future growth like the Stafford Western Access Route are progressing well.

“We have seen real investor confidence throughout 2017 while established business success continues.”

If you are out of work or looking for a change in direction you can visit www.tamworthinformed.co.uk/jobs where you will find lots of vacancies in and around Tamworth.

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/

Christmas Lights festival

TAMWORTH’S festive season officially gets underway in a week’s time with another magical Christmas lights switch-on event on Sunday November 26.

The countdown to Christmas will be launched in style with a jam-packed afternoon of festive fun for the whole family in Tamworth town centre, ahead of the main event in St Editha’s Square at 5pm, when the town will sparkle in Christmas cheer.

Festivities take place throughout the day from 1pm, including fairground rides, crafts, live music, Christmas market, walk about characters, dance performances, lantern parade, face painting and personal appearances at intervals from The Gruffalo in Ankerside Shopping Centre.

Throughout November, Tamworth Borough Council’s play leader has been visiting primary schools to deliver free lantern workshops. These lanterns will be used in a parade at the lights switch-on at 4pm.

The parade will start from the Castle Activity Centre in the Castle Grounds and lead to St Editha’s Square. Children can collect a free glow-stick from the Castle Activity Centre prior to the parade, to make their lanterns glow.

Primary schools involved with the workshops are:

  • Coton Green
  • Wilnecote
  • Florendine
  • St Leonards

 

The workshop leader will also be at the Activity Centre on the day to provide additional lantern making workshops for the public.  Everyone is welcome and the activity is FREE.

The parade will be completed with some very festive walk about characters for the children to meet; including a giant inflatable snowman, a large gingerbread man, stilt walkers and circus performers.

The main event will be at 5pm when the honour of switching on the lights will be given to the winner of a special Bake-Off competition –Amanda Little,  accompanied by the Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr John Chesworth; not forgetting Father Christmas and The Gruffalo who will make an appearance too.

The annual Christmas lights switch-on is organised with the Tamworth Christmas Lights Festival Committee and is another favourite in the Tamworth Arts & Events calendar which attracts thousands of people, who flock to the town to enjoy the celebrations each year.

Music will again centre round the Touch FM stage in St Editha’s Square, featuring live performances from a range of acts from 2pm.

Elsewhere, members of St Francis Church will stage a live nativity under the Town Hall in Market Street and the Christmas market will return to George Street.

The market will be enchanted with Christmas cheer offering festive sounds from Tamworth Wind Band and a range of stalls selling gifts, crafts, novelties, local produce, wood fired pizza and festive food – perfect for picking up some unique and personal Christmas presents.

Also returning is the annual Christmas Tree Festival in St Editha’s Church, which invites schools, businesses, local groups and individuals to decorate a tree to be displayed in the church.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “The Christmas lights switch-on event is another highlight in Tamworth’s free programme of arts and events which is run in partnership with Tamworth Christmas Lights Festival Committee. This year the committee along with the Arts and Events team has organised another great programme of entertainment, including The Lantern Parade. Don’t miss out on this free activity during the day at the Activity Centre and join the parade at 4pm. It should be the perfect start to the Christmas season.”

Visitors will also be able to meet The Gruffalo in Ankerside Shopping Centre.

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.”

 

Roadworks upper gungate

RESIDENTS from Riverside in Tamworth are to benefit from around £250,000 worth of investment to improve footpaths on the estate.

Staffordshire County Council’s highways crews will be carrying out resurfacing work on footpaths in Chartwell, Godolphin, Glyndebourne, Kentwell, Lorton and Gawsworth.  The work is expected to start on 20 November 2017 and take around 19 weeks to complete.

Helen Fisher, Cabinet Support Member for Highways and Transport at Staffordshire County Council said: “The investment and improvement work here is great news for people in the area and I am sure residents will notice a real difference in the condition of the footpaths once the work is complete. As always, I would like to thank people for their patience and co-operation during the works.”

Access to properties and businesses will be maintained as far as possible but may be restricted at times depending on works progress, residents will be notified of any temporary closures.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath (left) with Mark Wilson (centre) and Nigel Cotton from the county council’s trading standards team.

FIVE popular Staffordshire markets and two car boot sale events have now joined a national campaign to ensure goods sold at their events are legitimate and that visitors aren’t ripped off.

In the run-up to Christmas Staffordshire County council’s trading standards team, which coordinates the Real Deal campaign locally, is urging more to get on board and give customers peace of mind.

The campaign aims to promote a fair and safe trading environment, including ensuring markets are free from counterfeit goods. The campaign brings together councils, market operators, traders, industry groups and copyright and trademark owners. Event organisers signing up to the Real Deal charter are demonstrating their commitment to tackling counterfeit goods sales and keeping visitors safe.

Markets in Tamworth, Cannock (indoor and outdoor), Penkridge, Lichfield and Burton are all signed up to the initiative in addition to car boot organiser at Ashwood near Kinver and Stourbridge Rugby Club.

Now the county council has received recognition from the national campaign organisers as a result of its successful running in Staffordshire.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath (left) with Mark Wilson (centre) and Nigel Cotton from the county council’s trading standards team.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath (left) with Mark Wilson (centre) and Nigel Cotton from the county council’s trading standards team.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said: “The Real Deal campaign has been a huge success in Staffordshire thanks to the hard work and commitment of event organisers and our trading standards team. This is undoubtedly creating a better business environment at these events, making them more attractive places to go and giving customers peace of mind when they shop. Event organisers are working hard to ensure theirs are fake free and are sending out a clear message that they will not tolerate irresponsible traders.

“Counterfeit goods can cause real harm, for example if they are cosmetic or electrical items and they also damage our economy. It is in everyone’s interests to combat the sale of such goods and it is important we all work together to do this. We’re now asking other market and car boot event organisers across the county to get on board and sign up.

Patricia Lennon, coordinator of the Real Deal scheme nationally said: “Staffordshire Country Council and the event organisers it is working with have demonstrated a long-term commitment to ensure these venues are fake-free. This means they can protect shoppers, traders and local businesses from the harm caused by counterfeit goods.”

Across the UK, around 500 markets and car boot fairs have signed the Real Deal charter. Anyone wanting more information should go to www.realdealmarkets.co.uk

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]

Christmas Food Gusto

TAMWORTH’S historic Ladybridge will come to life with the sights, smells and tastes of Christmas this year as the perfect setting for the first ever Tamworth Food Gusto Christmas Fair.

Event organisers, Food Gusto, will be bringing their unique festively-themed food, drink and craft fair to the town on December 9 and 10, after three successful summers in the Castle Grounds with the popular Tamworth Food Festival.

In keeping with the Food Gusto ethos, the Christmas Fair will be made up of the finest quality food and drink producers from across the region, each bringing a taste of something truly unique to the town, alongside a range of festive entertainment for the whole family, including live music and rides for children.

The quality food and drink on offer, as well as a range of selected handmade artisan crafts, will provide the perfect opportunity for people to pick up some special Christmas gifts, while enjoying the seasonal atmosphere.

Whether you’re aiming to buy a stand out gift for that special someone, or simply want to eat, drink and be merry, the Tamworth Food Gusto Christmas Fair will have plenty to offer, from beautifully spiced mulled wine to freshly-made mince pies.

Other offerings include award-winning Melton Mowbray pies, assorted home baked cakes, flavoured liquers, farm produced cider, handmade chocolates and fudge, pink gin and vodka, sparking gold bubbly, jams, chutneys and preserves, local honey, wood fired pizza, crepes, hog roast, Asian street food, cheeses, vegan food, sea food and much, much more.

Not only is this unique two-day event a first for Tamworth, it is also the first event to be held on the newly-refurbished historic Ladybridge.

The former roadway was recently given a complete overhaul with attractive York flagstones and a golden gravel flooring along its entire length to create a level surface. The improvements included the installation of six carved flagstones depicting scenes from Tamworth’s Saxon history, as well as new bollards and street lighting.

The work to the bridge was part of a major project between Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council to improve the links between Tamworth Town Centre and the Ventura retail parks.

Food Gusto event director, Wesley Ewing, said: “The September Tamworth Food Gusto Festival has really taken off and we wanted to build on that success by bringing something special to the town for Christmas.

“We’ve held our Christmas Fair in Ashby for the past six or seven years and I think it will be a great addition to the Christmas festivities in Tamworth. The fair will replicate the quality and provenance visitors have come to expect from Food Gusto, but with a special seasonal twist.

“Being able to hold the event on the historic Ladybridge is a real attraction. It’s taken a while to pull together, but it was worth the hard work and organisation involved. The bridge is the perfect setting for a Christmas Fair, ideally located between the town centre and the retail parks, and we’re delighted to be bringing back to life in this way.

“We’re hoping to fill the length of it with some wonderful seasonal produce and Christmas entertainment for all the family, which will include performances by our festival favourites Sincerely Yours on the Sunday. It’ll be the perfect way to start the festivities this year.”

The event runs between 10.30am and 4.30pm both days and is free to enter.

Stalls and exhibitors are carefully selected for quality and originality. Some pitches are still available – please email [email protected], call 01530 411337, or visit the Tamworth Food Gusto Facebook page, or the website at www.tamworthfoodgusto.co.uk, for more information.

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