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Christopher Pincher MP

HELLO and welcome to my weekly View from the House for Tamworth Informed.

It was a busy week. Monday is always a hectic day and this one was no exception. My Mondays always start with an 8am meeting during which my team and I discuss the week’s plan and any news from the weekend. It’s then to Downing Street for a few hours to a meeting with the Chief Whip and others where we work on the Government’s agenda for the week.

On Monday Parliament begins sitting from 2.30pm so that MPs have time to get to London from their constituencies. Prayers are read at the beginning of each day and until the point which they have finished a few minutes later, those working within the House will say ‘good morning’ to each other no matter what the actual time of day. A tradition which still confuses me!

Tuesday I attended a statement by the Brexit secretary David Davis on the progress of the negotiations with the EU. The general feeling, despite what some headlines may say, is that of optimism. Both the EU and the Government feel that the negotiations are moving along and come March 2019 we will have a deal.

On Tuesday I also met the Minister with responsibility for HS2, Paul Maynard. I discussed with him numerous cases of constituents that are affected and having problems with HS2 within the Tamworth area. We have found that in a number of cases HS2 Ltd had, perhaps unintentionally, delayed compensation payments to constituents. This may seem like nothing to the HS2 organisation however to those affected it is often a significant amount of money. The meeting was positive and a series of steps had been agreed which HS2 Ltd will write back to me on.

Wednesday was PMQs and an Opposition Day. This happens every week where the opposition will choose a subject to debate with the Government. This week the debate was on the roll out of Universal Credit – a new, more efficient payment which will take six payments and turn them in to one. The Government has announced some important changes we continue to improve the system.

Every Thursday morning there is a session where MPs put questions to Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House of Commons. One of the roles of the Leader of the House is to set out the timeline of when individual bills will be debated in Parliament. There were some interesting announcements, such as when the important EU Withdrawal (formerly Great Repeal) Bill will be debated.

On Friday, as always, it’s back to Tamworth where I get the opportunity to catch up on casework and get out and about meeting various people. On Saturday I have a surgery in Hints late morning. If you live in the area, or would like me to hold a surgery in your area, please let me know on [email protected].

Have a good weekend!

Chris

Representatives from Tamworth Council, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue and Staffordshire Police at the stall.

A CAMPAIGN to encourage responsible and safe behaviour over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period will be launched again this year by the Tamworth Community Safety Partnership.

The Tamworth Community Safety Partnership (CSP) – made up of Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service, Tamworth Borough Council Community Wardens, Housing and Staffordshire County Council  have teamed up to launch another Spooks & Sparklers campaign to spread the ‘NO 2 ASB’ message over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.

One of the aims of this campaign is to educate youngsters on the dangers of Halloween and bonfire activities in order to reduce risky and anti-social behaviour. Both of these events are promoted as a night of fun however, many people are not fully aware of the dangers that are involved. By providing education on the negative factors or those elements that could go wrong combined with the fun factors, we aim to empower youngsters to stop and think of the effects of their actions.

The CSP will be visiting the High Schools this month to talk about safe trick or treating, firework safety and the dangers of setting off fireworks, the illegal purchasing of fireworks and reminding students about the Flames Aren’t Games message.

There will be evening patrols that will focus on areas which have experienced issues with ASB recently and where youngsters gather of an evening to educate and inform them about keeping safe and being aware of who they may scare and the consequences of their actions, as well as information on firework safety.

Eye-catching cards asking trick or treaters not to call at homes will be handed out for those residents not wishing to take part in the Halloween activities during the patrols and at the market stall. They will also be available free of charge from a number of venues, including Tamworth Borough Council’s reception in Lichfield Street, Tamworth Police Station, Tamworth Community Fire Station, Tamworth Mercia Fire Station and Tamworth Library.

In addition, all partners within the CSP will be in St Editha’s Square on Tuesday 24th October from 10am to 2pm where they will be speaking to parents and youngsters and handing out the No Trick or Treat cards, as well as leaflets and giving general advice.  Saxon the Tamworth Borough Council mascot for dog/pet related issues will be present as pet safety is a concern at this time of year.

The campaign is in its fourth year and has been credited with helping to reduce ASB and increase safety awareness. It also aims to create awareness of the Community Safety Partnership, with partners working together to protect their local communities from crime and anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Stephen Doyle, Cabinet member for Communities & Wellbeing, said: “Incidents of anti-social behaviour and the fear of anti-social behaviour always increase over the Halloween period, closely followed by bonfire and firework celebrations.

“The Spooks & Sparklers campaign aims to reduce the number of incidents of ASB during this period, offer reassurance to the public, educate younger children as to what is right and wrong and help to keep all sections of the community safe during this time.  For those who go out ‘trick or treating’, or have firework displays, the message must be stay safe.  This campaign is now in its fourth year and has been a real success. I have no doubt that the success will continue this year.”

Chief Inspector Farrington from Tamworth Local Policing Team, said: “Both Halloween and Bonfire Night can be busy periods for everyone, in particular the emergency services.  This campaign aims to prevent the fun side of the season’s activities crossing the line into becoming a nuisance within Tamworth. I’m pleased to say that due to the success of the previous campaigns we have made the decision to continue this year.  By having a targeted approach and working together with partners we hope to build on the success of previous years.

cigarettes

OPERATIONS aimed at preventing and disrupting the sale of counterfeit tobacco are taking place throughout October in Staffordshire.

As well as encouraging people to quit smoking during ‘Stoptober’, Staffordshire County Council will be cracking down on fake fags and reminding retailers of their duties when selling legitimate cigarettes.

Trading Standards officers will be carrying out test purchases in an effort to prevent fake cigarettes being sold, as well as stopping irresponsible retailers selling to people who are under 18.

The operation is part of a government-wide tobacco control plan, which aims to reduce the about of 15 year olds who regularly smoke, reduce smoking in adults to 12 per cent or less, and reduce smoking in pregnancy.

Over a quarter of a million counterfeit and illicit cigarettes and 56kg hand rolling tobacco with street value of around £150,000 were seized in Staffordshire in 2016/17 by the county council’s trading standards team.

Although all tobacco is harmful, there is often no control on the content or quality of illicit tobacco. Fake cigarettes have been found to contain many dangerous chemicals, dust, asbestos and high tar levels. The illegal trade in tobacco also has strong links to organised crime.

County Councillor Gill Heath, cabinet lead for trading standards said:  “Stoptober is the perfect time for us to raise awareness not only of the dangers of smoking, but the dangers of illicit tobacco.  Counterfeit and illicit tobacco is damaging to people’s health and can undermine smoking cessation efforts as it is usually sold at a cheaper price. In addition, they can be a fire risk as they do not self-extinguish when left to burn as legitimate cigarettes do.

“The county council has worked hard to combat the sale of illicit tobacco in recent years—and we will continue to keep raising awareness of the public health dangers posed by illicit and counterfeit cigarettes.”

Modern Slavery

ON Anti-Slavery Day, which happened on 18 October, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire called on the Staffordshire business community to help stop the appalling trafficking and enslavement of humans.

Worldwide, an estimated 40,300,000 people live in slavery today and UK estimates are around 13,000.

In the 14 month period between January 2016 and March 2017, 17 victims of Modern Slavery in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent were taken to safety under the National Referral Mechanism run by the National Crime Agency

Modern slavery victims can be men, women and children but it is most common amongst the vulnerable, and within minority or socially excluded groups. Approximately two-thirds of victims are women, and a third are men. Every fourth victim of modern slavery is a child.

Currently only businesses with a turnover of over £36 million are required by law to assure that their supply chain is free from slavery but a call is going out to all businesses regardless of size to play their ethical and transparent part.

Sue Arnold, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said: ‘Victims may not be in chains but they are scared and helpless. I’m calling on all businesses to sign a Modern Day Slavery Ethical Business Pledge and play an active role in wiping out this terrible crime . We can all play a part by being vigilant and reporting our suspicions.’

Any business wishing to sign the pledge can access it via the Staffs PCC web site at staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/modern-slavery/

Slavery encompasses forced labour, domestic servitude, child labour, forced marriage and sex trafficking.

Slavery is closer than you think. It happens all over the world including the UK. Find out more at www.modernslavery.co.uk or call the helpline on 0800 0121 700.

Police officers force entry to a property during the execution of a warrant

A POLICEf operation to disrupt drug supply lines across the West Midlands region has resulted in more than 50 arrests and the seizure of cocaine, heroin, stolen cars, and weapons including Samurai swords.

A police operation to disrupt drug supply lines across the West Midlands region has resulted in more than 50 arrests and the seizure of cocaine, heroin, stolen cars, and weapons including Samurai swords.

Operation Yarrow was launched to disrupt the supply line of class-A drugs – known as ‘County Lines’ – across the region, with properties targeted and arrests made in Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Leamington Spa, Stafford and Burton.

This type of criminal activity involves groups operating from large urban areas to smaller towns and using force or coercion on vulnerable members of the community to take over their properties and to distribute drugs.

Officers from West Midlands Police, Staffordshire Police, West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police, Central Motorways Policing Group (CMPG) and the British Transport Police worked together, sharing intelligence and coordinating the two-week long operation which was led by the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU).

Officers executed 14 warrants at properties across the region, which led to 54 arrests to date and the seizure of class A and B drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis. Cash and weapons were also seized including knives and Samurai swords.

Staffordshire Police arrested six people in the operation, four were arrested as part of dawn raids which took place at three addresses in the town Thursday morning (Oct 19).

A 51-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman, both from Burton, were arrested at a property in Victoria Crescent, Burton, for possession of class A drugs.

At another address in Waterloo Road an 18-year-old woman from Birmingham and a 31-year-old man from Burton were arrested for possession with intent to supply class A drugs.

Heroin and cocaine was seized along with cash and a knife. All four remain in custody at Burton.

Wenesday evening (Oct 18) officers arrested two Birmingham men, aged 19 and 20, at an address in Ordish Street for possession with intent to supply class-A drugs.

The operation is on-going today with Central Motorways Policing Group (CMPG) patrolling the road network and officers working alongside the British Transport Police at Burton railway station.

Chief Inspector Jason Nadin, of East Staffordshire Local Policing Team, said: “We’ve made arrests overnight and four more arrests this morning as our work continues to tackle organised criminal activity and the supply of illegal drugs within our community.

“We will act fast and decisively to take drugs off Staffordshire streets to keep our communities safe from harm and to protect the vulnerable. We would welcome information members of the public can share with us.”

Superintendent Scott Jones, of the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), led the operation, he said: “This operation was all about working together across the region for maximum effect to disrupt the dealers and to protect the vulnerable in our communities,” he said.

“Adult drug users, vulnerable women and younger members of the community are exploited for their properties, which is sometimes referred to as cuckooing, or to store or deal class-A drugs. They are also used for the transportation of the drugs across the country. We won’t tolerate this activity in our communities and will do everything we can to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people.”

Supt Jones said that as well as making arrests the operation had ensured support and advice was in place for drug-users or any identified vulnerable victims.

 

If you would like to report concerns about drug activity in your area please call 101. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Talk to Frank is a national drug advice service. They can be contacted in the following way:

  • Tel – 0300 123 6600
  • SMS – 82111

For more information go to www.talktofrank.com

Monster Mash

SPOOKS and ghouls where are you? Scooby Doo and his crew are solving a creepy mystery at Landau Forte Academy from October 25 to October 28, when Tamworth Arts Club presents a dark Halloween themed show – Monster Mash Up.

This original production is a spooky comedy and loose parody of the classic 1970s Scooby Doo featuring all the memorable catchphrases and cheesy plot lines from the much-loved TV series, but re-imagined for modern day Tamworth.

In keeping with the ghoulish theme, this darkly funny show includes musical theatre favourites from Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Spamalot and Jekyll & Hyde, alongside pop hits such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics.

Guaranteed to scare and make audiences roar with laughter, this unique show offers something different as it culminates in a monstrous finale which mashes up crowd pleasers from across the decades.

Tamworth Assembly Rooms is back ‘on tour’ this season with a number of performances being taken out into the community to ensure audiences and theatre groups continue to benefit from live entertainment during the refurbishment of the historic theatre.

The show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £12.50 adults, £10 concession. Family ticket (two adults, two concessions) £40. Buy 10 tickets and get 10% off the price.

All event tickets are available via the box office: www.tamworthartsandevents.co.uk  or 01827 709618 or in person at Marmion House. A transaction fee of £1 is payable on all online and telephone bookings.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “Tamworth Arts Club always provide great entertainment. This dark production is a unique compilation and offers comedy laughter for all ages. If you remember the classic Scooby Doo, you will love this.

“The Arts and Events team has been working hard to support local groups to find alternative venues until the new-look Assembly Rooms are ready to welcome them back.

“We hope that people will support and continue to enjoy these special events.”

Staffordshire Police Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis meets the Staffordshire Search and Rescue volunteers, including rescue dog Jake.

STAFFORDSHIRE Search and Rescue – helping to keep the region’s residents safe and sound – is a crucial hub to the region’s emergency service network.

That’s the view of the Police Crime Commissioner, who was incredibly impressed by its work during his visit to the group’s headquarters, having handed over £3000 towards its up-keep last year.

Situated just a couple of miles from Stafford town centre, few would know the rescue team even exists, let alone the crucial role it has in the county.

Made up of 72 volunteers – aged between 18 and post-retirement age – the Staffordshire Search and Rescue team works in partnership with police in helping to find missing people, mainly those who are vulnerable and high risk.

There were 3000 ‘missing person’ calls to Staffordshire Police last year. Most were dealt with by the police and ended well. In some cases, often across more hazardous terrains, the Staffordshire Search and Rescue team was called out.

This year along, the rescue team has assisted 30 times. It is frequently required to tackle rough terrain, including water-bank searches.

Its equipment includes kayaks, canoes, a power boat, a 4×4 response vehicle, an ambulance, a control vehicle – to help coordinate searches with police – mountain bikes, medical provisions and other first aid equipment.

The volunteer ‘family’ also includes three dogs, specially-trained to detect missing individuals using airborne scent.

Matthew Ellis was moved by the group’s dedication and diligence to what can often be traumatic work.

‘These search and rescue volunteers are the little known heroes of Staffordshire –the emergency service you might have never heard of – and more people need to know about its work.

‘These are unpaid volunteers who give up their spare time and pass up the comfort of their own homes to help those caught up in life-threatening situations across our region.

‘We forget that Staffordshire has vast areas of open space, moorlands and rivers – all are potentially hazardous areas.

‘Staffordshire Search and Rescue saves lives, helps others and its personnel are ready to drop everything to tackle, quite often, the most unforgiving and treacherous places.

‘I am delighted to support this cause.’

Staffordshire Search and Rescue estimates that it costs in the region of £25,000 to support its service – mainly for the maintenance of equipment, insurance, fuel for vehicles and general costs.

Apart from OPCC assistance, its upkeep is reliant on fund-raising and public goodwill.

PR officer Rachel Good said: ‘We are extremely grateful to the OPCC for its financial commitment to Staffordshire Search and Rescue.

‘We are often called out to the most vulnerable people or those who are in the grips of the most distressing period of their lives.

‘Every penny we receive is crucial to our existence – it really is the lifeblood of our service. Without it we wouldn’t exist.’

Police officers at the scene.

FOUR youths have been arrested in connection with an incident in Tamworth shortly after midnight on October 19.

During the incident an 18-year-old man suffered serious head injuries. He is currently being treated in hospital where he remains in a critical condition.

A 15-year-old boy from Stafford was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

Two 16-year-old boys from Tamworth were both arrested on suspicion of assault causing grievous bodily harm and possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

A 17-year-old boy from Tamworth was also arrested on suspicion of assault causing grievous bodily harm.

All four remain in custody.

Police a the scene of the incident

Police a the scene of the incident

Staffordshire Police received a call from the ambulance service at 12.12am reporting an unconscious male near to the McDonald’s restaurant on Beauchamp Industrial Park.

The crime scene has been closed down and access to the estate is now fully restored.

Earlier today, uniformed police officers could be seen at the scene with plain clothe detectives, scenes of crime officers and traffic officers from the Collision Investigation Unit.

Although there have been reports in other media outlets of a person being stabbed in the head, Staffordshire Police have stated that a male has a serious head injury and have not stated that this is a knife-crime related incident.

A Staffordshire Police spokesperson has told Tamworth Infomred:

“The exact nature of the victim’s injuries and how they were caused are still under investigation.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information that could help with our investigation is asked to call 101 and quote incident number 0005 of 19 October.

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.

tar fm logo tamworth informed

TAMWORTH community radio station, TCR FM is to cease broadcasting after nearly 8 years on the air.

The radio station is being forced to close down and cut transmission mainly due to a lack of available funding and number of voluntary presenters.

106.8 TCR FM won a full time community radio licence for Tamworth in 2009 with the aim of providing opportunities for young people to be trained in how to be radio broadcasters. Several presenters have gone on to work in both local and national radio including Alex Farrell who now produces the TalkRadio breakfast show for Paul Ross.

Last year, TCR FM was nominated in the community group of the year category at the Tamworth Business and Community Awards.

The final shows on TCR FM will be broadcast this Sunday (22 October) before the station’s transmitter is turned off.

Director Mike Thomas said “It’s really sad to be closing the station but we all consider TCR FM to be a great success story. I believe TCR FM offered a fantastic local radio service to provide people with regular news and information about what was happening in the local area.

“I would like to thank everybody involved in TCR FM since it first went on the air – that includes all of the fantastic volunteers who have given up their precious time during the past eight years to present programmes and keep the radio station afloat. It’s been a real pleasure being involved with such a wonderful team.

“I would also like to thank Tamworth Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council, local businesses and other community organisations in Tamworth for all of their valuable support over the past eight years.

“But most of all I would like to thank all of our loyal listeners, many of whom have been tuning in since day one.”

Mike Thomas Saturday Live Roadshow

Mike Thomas at one of the TCR ‘Saturday live roadshows’

Police cars

POLICE are in attendance at a Tamworth Industrial Estate this morning and workers in the units have been turned away as Police have taped off the area.

Beauchamp Industrial Estate, off Watling Street (old A5) at Wilnecote is currenly cordened off following an incident. The adjacent McDonalds drive thru is still accessible.

At this time, no information has been released by the police as to the reason for the estate to be closed.

Staffordshire Police are not releasing information at this time.

We will bring you more information as we get it.

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