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Focus 24

PEOPLE have only a few days left to see a display of digital art which highlights the beauty, the unusual and the norm of everyday life in Tamworth.

The Focus 24: 24 Hours in Tamworth exhibition, which is running in a unit in Ankerside Shopping Centre, comes to an end on Tuesday, September 26.

Organised by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team, as part of the Arts in Unusual Spaces initiative, the project invited amateur and professional photographers and filmmakers to capture Tamworth, the place and its people, at all hours of the day.

From more than 100 submissions, a total of 24 images, taken by 24 different photographers were chosen to represent 24 hours in the life of the town. At the same time, filmmakers were invited to submit video clips and attend workshops to help make a film that captures Tamworth at this moment in time.

The selected 24 images and the resulting eight-minute movie have been on digital display since September 2’s We Love Tamworth event. When the exhibition closes on Tuesday, it will have been on display for 24 days.

Funded by Arts Council England, Tamworth Borough Council and community partners, Arts in Unusual Spaces is a series of initiatives designed to bring art in all its forms to new and unusual spaces across the town.

For the Focus 24: 24 Hours in Tamworth element, the council’s Arts & Events teamed up with production company acquismedia, which has held a number of photography and filmmaking workshops in the town over the past few months to help local people brush up on their digital media skills for the project.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment and Culture, said: “Focus 24: 24 Hours in Tamworth has been an amazing project and the resulting images and film do a great job at capturing how beautiful this town is. It also demonstrates just how many creative and talented people we have in the community, as some fantastic work was submitted. The film will hopefully act as a lasting legacy for future generations, giving them a taste of what everyday life was like in Tamworth at this time.

“The digital display comes to an end soon, so I would encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to make a point of having a look. If you’re in town at the weekend, make sure you stop at Ankerside and view the images and film before it’s too late.”

Ankerside Shopping Centre manager Jeff Wigley said he was delighted to be able to host a ‘brilliant exhibition of art and photography’ on behalf of Tamworth Borough Council. “Earlier this year the Focus 24 project came to the centre to encourage the people of Tamworth to get involved through photography workshops, Jeff said.

“Throughout September, the digital art display has been on show and, so far, it has been a huge success with shoppers stopping by to see the photos submitted by friends, family and even themselves,” he added.

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.

police cell

A Stoke-on-Trent man who preached extreme Islamist ideology at a mosque in the city has today (22 September) been found guilty.

Kamran Hussain, aged 40 and from Knightsbridge Way, Tunstall in Stoke-on-Trent was arrested as part of an intelligence-led operation by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) and Staffordshire Police on 14 February.

Hussain was charged with eight terrorism offences; six counts of giving a sermon which would encourage individuals to commit, prepare or instigate acts of Terrorism under section 1 (2) of the Terrorism Act 2006. He was also charged with encouraging support for a proscribed organisation (Daesh) under section 12(3) Terrorism Act 2000.

During his sermons at the High Street mosque, Hussain supported the virtues of killing, martyrdom and violent jihad and endorsed the efforts of those who had undertaken such acts.

From his position of trust and influence, his speeches glorified the efforts of fighters and encouraged terrorism, and in particular he invited support for Daesh.

An undercover operative attended the mosque in Tunstall on a number of occasions and recorded sermons between 24 June and 21 October 2016.

Hussain’s home address and the mosque were searched following his arrest. A phone was recovered which contained images of well-known radical preachers.

Today’s verdict follows a two week trial at the Central Criminal Court in London. Hussain will be sentenced on Thursday 28 September.


Kamran Hussain – Image courtesy of West Midlands Police

Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of WMCTU, said: “Hussain was espousing hatred and violence as well as clearly demonstrating his support for Daesh through the content in his sermons.

“During this investigation we used covert methods to record these sermons and present it as evidence during the trial. We will continue to use every lawful technique and power available to us to tackle terrorism.”

Chief Superintendent for Local Policing, Wayne Jones: “We are pleased with today’s guilty verdict and conviction of Kamran Hussain, a man who has supported terrorism and promoted extremist views within Stoke on Trent.

“We and our partners are fully committed to working with our communities to identify and target those individuals who would seek to instil hatred or fear into others. The actions of this man, who was supporting radical and violent extremist behaviour have no place in our society, and we will continue to be relentless in our efforts to keep you safe by taking appropriate action whenever we are provided with information about any form of extremism.

“I would ask that you remain vigilant and act on your instincts. If you see or hear something that you think may be related to extremism of any kind call the police on confidence on 0800 789 321. In an emergency, always dial 999.”

Visit gov.uk/ACT for more information, including how to report extremist or terrorist content that you come across online.

Flame-Bellied Zonures

DRAYTON Manor Zoo’s worldwide breeding programme has recently delivered a group of baby Flame-Bellied Zonures, making it the only zoological institution in Europe to do so.

The diminutive group, who grow no longer than 30cm long, were born at the end of June and have settled in at the 15-acre attraction with no fuss: very much enjoying life in Staffordshire!

Flame-Bellied Zonures are a small, brightly coloured species of rock lizard from areas of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. They are currently suffering from habitat loss and are affected by the pet trade so it is an important species to conserve.

Chris Mitchell, Zoo Manager at Drayton Manor Park, said: “We’re very proud of our breeding and conservation programmes and arrivals like this definitely make the hard work worthwhile. Few establishments home Flame-Bellied Zonures and we’re only one of two worldwide to have bred this species in the last year.

“Of course, with animals of this size, the first three months are crucial for health and development so I’m very happy to say that everything is going well and we very much look forward to seeing the group grow up here.”

Flame-bellied Zonures at Drayton Manor Zoo

Flame-bellied Zonures at Drayton Manor Zoo

Animal lovers can meet over 750 animals of 130 different species from all over the world at a visit to Drayton Manor Park Zoo.

The Zoo is a full member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), which means it focuses closely on animal welfare, conservation, research and education, with conservation particularly being at the heart of everything the Zoo does.

The babies are currently doing well in an off-show area and families can come and see these lizards in the reptile house.

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/


staffordshire and stoke on trent growth hub

AN event at Tamworth Snow Dome today, Thursday 21 September, saw local business gain advice on digital marketing at the Digital Marketing Growth Hub Roadshow.

The free event which was organised by the Stoke and Staffordshire Growth Hub was designed to support local businesses; evaluate their website and social media status; and advice on setting up these vital tools for business.

Growth Hub partners were on hand exhibiting and expert guest speakers were there too cover Digital Marketing topics such as Social Media and Website Awareness, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Grants and Funding Available and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Here you can see Nichola Kent from Stoke and Staffordshire Growth Hub talk about the event.

Staffordshire police crest with batternberg

A NATIONWIDE investigation led by detectives from Staffordshire Police, which resulted in eight men being jailed for 55 years for jewellery raids, is the subject of a television programme this evening.

‘Jewel Raiders’ from ITV Tonight will be shown (Sept 21) at 7.30pm on ITV1.

An organised crime group (OCG) of Romanian men struck at 11 jewellers’ shops between November 2015 and September 2016 spanning nine force areas from Kent to Lancashire and netting more than £3m worth of stock, including jewellery and watches.

They came to our attention as a force when they smashed their way into Beaverbrooks, Hanley, in the early hours of March 10 last year. They took £400,000 of watches after smashing their way into the Potteries centre store with sledgehammers and setting a fire to distract emergency services.

The documentary features interviews with senior investigating officer DCI Ricky Fields, and DI Phil Bryan, of Staffordshire Police’s Force Safeguarding and Investigations (North).

The group received training and had to comply with a strict code. They had an interesting way of working which included camping a few miles from their target and cycling to the site to avoid detection.

They would block roads using tape or rope and set fires to hamper police response. They were forensically aware and adopted tactics to store their waste and remove traces to avoid detection.

Assistant Chief Constable, Emma Barnett, said: “These sentences are the result of the support from our communities and the hard work and attention to detail of our staff and officers. Our detectives took the lead in a major nationwide investigation and secured convictions

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.”

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