Cycle Stoke To Launch New Bike Rack In Time For Museum Opening

Pupils from Waterside Primary School will be the first to chain their bikes to Cycle Stoke’s new bike storage facilities at Etruria Industrial Museum at their official opening next Tuesday (March 30).

The six new storage spaces have been created by the museum’s resident blacksmith Charis Jones. Pupils will be present at the official unveiling of the six new stands on Tuesday in time for the museums reopening the next day (March 31) after the winter break. The opening will be followed by a range of cycling activities which will be supervised by Cyclist Training Ltd. Safety equipment will also be provided.

The six hoops are designed to provide space for an additional 12 bikes. This is an increase from a maximum of eight spaces to 20. The new hoops incorporate the Cycle Stoke logo in ironwork frame.

Councillor Derek Capey, cabinet member for sport, leisure, parks and open spaces, said:

“This city has continued to see the benefits of having cycling city status with the opening of new cycle paths and storage facilities like this. We are in the fortunate position to have someone as skilled as Charis to forge these unique cycle racks for visitors to use and w e must now continue to push the importance of cycling in Stoke-on-Trent.”

The aim of the spaces is to increase the number of visitors to the museum who arrive in a healthy and environmentally friendly way.

Major new cycle path to be launched in Cobridge

A new cycle path in Grange Park will be officially opened this Saturday (March 20) at a launch event as part of a Cycle Stoke initiative.

The completed £500,000 project saw improvements made to Grange Park Greenway in Cobridge. Improvements include enhanced existing footpaths and links between Cobridge and Festival Park which then connect on to the national cycle route. The path will be opened by the Lord Mayor.

The initial work on the Grange Park Greenway started with the creation of a 2.5m wide path between Pleasant Street and Festival Park. Once completed work began on a key route between Stonor Street and Festival Way.

The scheme forms one part of Stoke-on-Trent’s Cycling City status which has resulted in nearly £10million being made available for a programme of improvements and projects over a three year period.

Councillor Derek Capey, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for sport, leisure, parks and open spaces, said:

“This is more great news for cyclists in Stoke-on-Trent. There are now approximately 130km of cycling networks across the city and the Grange Park Greenway will provide another great opportunity for people of all ages to get on a bike and cycle safely throughout the city. I hope the launch gets a great turnout for what should be a fun filled day.”

Councillor Mohammed Pervez, ward councillor for Burslem South, said:

“This is fantastic news for the Grange Park. The state of the paths have been poor for a long time and this investment has really improved their condition. We as the ward councillors have, with the help of the community and council officers, been able to help deliver these fantastic cycling paths which can now be enjoyed by all the community.”

Families attending the free event at the Cobridge Community Centre can take part in a number of activities including wild play, where children will be encouraged will make things out of natural materials found in the surrounding countryside, face painting and listening to Britains only professional cycling historian on his Penny Farthing. People can also bring their bikes along and take part in free cycle rides led by the CycleStoke team.

The CycleStoke team have worked together with the St John’s and Grange Residents’ Associations to organise the event. The event will last between 11am and 2pm.

New Director of Children and Young People’s Services for Stoke-on-Trent

Sharon Menghini has been appointed as the new Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Sharon was appointed after a meeting of the city council’s Human Resources Committee on Thursday 18 February.

She will join the city council from her current role as Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Herefordshire County Council.

Sharon has worked as Director of Children’s Services at Herefordshire Council since April 2007. Her previous roles include Chief Education Officer at Newport City Council.

Sharon will take charge of the directorate after the city council was given the go ahead to bring children’s services back “in house” in 2009, after the contract with Serco expires.

Councillor Derek Capey, Vice Chair of the Committee said: “This was an exceptionally strong field, but it was vital we appoint the right candidate to continue to take the directorate forward, given the fact it will now once again be part of the city council.

“I have every confidence she will be able to bring strong leadership and positive ideas to the role.”

Councillor Ian Mitchell, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “Bringing the directorate back in house will take forward the good work the Serco team has done over the last three years.

“Sharon brings a wealth of experience to this challenging role and I look forward to working with her as we move management of the department towards a new era and continue to make improvements which will touch the lives of young people and their families across the city.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ged Rowney and his team for putting into place a robust system on which we can now build.”

Sharon added: “I am really pleased and excited that I am going to be working in Stoke-on-Trent. Serco have given the city a good platform to build on in Children and Young People’s Services and I’m looking forward to continuing that good work.”

Will Councillors Empathise With The Public Sector Pay Freeze?

It was announced today that the Leader of Staffordshire County Council is recommending that all County Councillors accept a freeze in allowances for the coming year.

I think this is a very noble gesture given the recent news that public sector workers pay is to be frozen this year.

Many private sector workers are also facing the prospect of no pay rises and some are even facing pay cuts or worse still reduced time working as the Country struggles it’s way out of one of the worse recessions in global history.

Next week sees the Annual Budget meeting of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and there have been murmurings of the Labour Group tabling an alternative budget.

It would seem that the Labour Group are against cuts to front line services and I think they should be applauded for this. But will they be tempted to do the really socialist thing and propose a freeze for councillors allowances in empathy of all those whom they serve?

Now, I have often said that I have thought that the pay of our councillors excludes a wide range of society and I still stand by that 100%. But, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Cllr Joy Garner reacted angrily to the then BNP Group Leader Alby Walkers suggestion the Councillors ought not vote themselves an increase last time round.

Perhaps that isn’t surprising considering the fact that Cllr Garner pulled a healthy sum of over £26000 for her duties in her ward and the Council chamber in the previous financial year. Which is a whole not more than some of those public sector workers who will not see a salary increase this coming year and a damn site more than many private sector workers who live everyday in fear for their jobs.

The Labour group have made quite a lot of the possible closure of Tunstall pool and in a Sentinel article today Cllr Garner and Cllr Gratton hit out at the Cabinet member for Sport and Leisure Derek Capey, for holding ‘private’ meetings about the Pool and the transfer of Burlem Gymnastic Centre to Dimensions.

It has already been announced that the Pool is safe for this year and in all probability the discussions were centred around the long term viability and the options available in the future.

How interesting though that these two councillors in particular should be so vociferous in their objections to the closure of a pool that is in desperate need of refurbishment. I would think that they understand that is is right and proper that the Cabinet look at all the options for providing provisions such as these and assessing the long term viability. The possibility that the council may look to provide better swimming facilities at Dimensions to cater for all the existing users of Tunstall Pool should not be dismissed out of hand.

What a pity that these two particular councillors did not make more of a fuss when they voted for the closure of Dimensions just two years ago when they were part of the EMB. Where were the loud calls then ladies eh?

Everyone knows that the true Dimensions heroes were Cllr Jean Edwards and of course Cllr Dave Conway. Dave so so dismayed by the actions and behaviour of the then Labour Group that he ultimately left to join the CIG.

I can’t help wondering whether their silence was more down to the fact that they were drawing a healthy remuneration package from the Elected Mayor for their compliance in one of the most misjudged and ill-conceived decisions ever to be attempted in this City.

I for one will look to next weeks Annual Budget meeting of the Full Council for an example that true socialist principles are not dead in this City.

I hope Mohammed Pervez and his Labour Group show some empathy with those public and private sector employees who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and their kids clothed and fed.

Take part in sport this half term with city Multi Sport Camps

Children from across Stoke-on-Trent will have the chance to take part in two Multi Sport Camps over the half term holiday next week.
The camps, taking place at Trentham High School and Sandon High School, are designed for children of all abilities, and take place at both sites between 10am and 3pm throughout the week.
Sports on offer include:

    • Football
    • Cricket
    • Athletics
    • Basketball
    • Swimming
    • Dodgeball
    • Rounders

There will also be activities on offer to help celebrate the city’s Festival of Sport, including golf, swimming and boxing skills.
Councillor Derek Capey, cabinet member for sport and leisure, said:
“The Multi Sport Camps are an ideal way for young people to keep themselves occupied, and get fitter and healthier over the half term break.
“It’s not all about being a competitive sportsperson though. The important thing is that people learn the value of teamwork, and sport as a way to improve their lifestyle.

Young stars of the future bring table tennis to Stoke-on-Trent

The Junior British Table Tennis League returns to Fenton Manor Sport Complex on 13-14 February – with a Stoke-on-Trent based player leading the chase for the championship.
James Ward is from Burton-on-Trent, but plays at Penkhull Table Tennis Club in the Potteries Table Tennis League. He also plays for Staffordshire and England and receives coaching with Desmond Douglas MBE, who was a former European Champion and won eleven National Table Tennis Championships.
The Junior British League was launched in 1993 it is the premier club competition for juniors both boys and girls in the country.
72 teams will battle it out at Fenton Manor this Saturday and Sunday. The event is expected to attract around 200 supporters and is free of charge. 
Fenton Manor Sports Complex has built an excellent reputation both regionally and nationally for providing quality sports and leisure facilities. The centre receives around 700,000 guests each year and offers a diverse and exciting programme of activities.
The centre has been also been the host for a number of major sporting competitions including Badminton England’s Regional Youth Competition, the National British Youth Fencing Championships, the FA’s Regional Youth and Girls Football Competition and the British Amateur Gymnastics Association’s Regional Floor and Vault Gymnastics Competition.
Councillor Derek Capey, cabinet member for sport and leisure, said:
“Fenton Manor has an excellent track record of hosting major events, and we hope that will continue with the Junior British League Championship.
“The city will be backing both James and wishing him every success. It also shows that Stoke-on-Trent can produce promising young athletes with bright futures ahead of them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the first of many to come.”

Go batty over box making

Residents can make a bird or bat box for their garden this weekend at Burslem Park.
Visitors to the park can build a box with the help of local expert Dave Butler who will be available to give tips and advice on the animals.
Guests taking part will get the chance to take a guided walk around the park and hear about what birds they are likely to come across in their gardens. Information will also be provided about what to feed to the birds and where their nest box can be best positioned after they have made it
Councillor Derek Capey, cabinet member for sport, leisure, parks and open spaces, said:
“Making these boxes for some of our local wildlife to use is a fantastic way to experience the wonderful wildlife alive in the city. We have a large population of birds and bats here in Stoke-on-Trent who, will not only be able to get great use from these boxes, but also allow local people to see these lovely animals in their natural environments.”
The event will take place on Sunday February 14, 2010 between 10am and 12:30pm. All the equipment and tools will be provided. Contact Mike Watson on 07890966290 for a place. Booking is essential. The event is run by the city council and the Burslem Park partnership.

Uni cycling with CycleStoke

Staffordshire University students and staff will be able to pick up new skills and increase their cycling confidence as part of a CycleStoke initiative.
The ‘bike to basics’ programme commences at Staffordshire University next Monday (February 15) and forms part of a six week long schedule of free activities. The activities, developed by CycleStoke, include training for basic cycling skills, maintenance and road safety. 
The programme for staff has been developed so they can drop their bikes off for maintenance in the morning, and come to a training course in their lunch hour before having an accompanied ride home after work.
Students can also enjoy free maintenance and have an afternoon skills sessions and rides providing an introduction to the off road greenway network or to road cycling.
Councilor Derek Capey, cabinet member for sport, leisure, parks and open spaces, said:
“For many students running a car is just too expensive. Therefore it’s superb that we’re able to tap into the university community to further promote the benefits of cycling in and around Stoke-on-Trent. As a cycling city we are in great position to offer a wide range of cycling services like this to our local communities which will not only save some money in your pockets but also improve your fitness.”
For more information or to book your place please contact Emily Robinson on 01782 238699 or email

Cycle ride to bring love this Valentines Day

Share that loving feeling this Valentines Day with a free cycle ride around Westport Lake.
The ride will allow couples and singles to enjoy a romantic journey around the lake. A number of tandems will be available upon request. No cycle experience is required and the ride is suitable for all cyclists including families and people with limited or no cycle experience.
The ride is suitable for all ages and will be marshalled by local experienced cyclists. Additionally Dr Bike will be in attendance to fix punctures and help people with other bicycle problems. No booking is required.
Councillor Derek Capey, cabinet member for sport, leisure, parks and open spaces, said:
“Cycling can be a great way to share quality time with a loved one and taking that ride on Valentines Day will make the trip all the more special. I hope that as many people as possible take advantage of the ride that we see a good number happy couples on tandems making their way around the lake.”
People wishing to take part should arrive on Sunday February 14, 2010 at 1pm. For more information contact Phil Chatterley on 01782 236665.

Launch of 2010k race for city

The 2010k, a 10k race through the City of Stoke-on-Trent, will be officially launched next week (Monday).

A major event in the city’s Festival of Sport, the 2010k is one of several mass participation events to celebrate the centenary of the city’s federation status. The race will be open to everyone, and will also feature a 2k fun run.

The route will start and finish in Stoke Town Centre, will travel around the town before moving up through Shelton, the city centre, Central Forest Park before coming back to Stoke.

Monday’s launch will officially announce the route and mark the start of entries being accepted. Among those attending include the city council leader Ross Irving, cabinet member for sport and leisure Derek Capey, former seven time winner of the Potteries Marathon Mark Roberts, and local athlete and Great Britain international Mark Dalkins, who recently finished third in the Lisbon Marathon.

Councillor Irving said: “This is a great way for everyone to get involved with celebrating the city’s federation status. In the past, events like the Potteries Marathon have really brought people together and encouraged a fantastic community spirit.

“It’s something a little different to the rest of the events taking place throughout the year and hopefully it will encourage more people to take up running. We have an aspiration to be a healthy city, and this should drive us on towards that goal.”

Councillor Capey added: “Anyone can take part in the 2010k and it would be fantastic if as many people as possible took part. You don’t need to be a professional runner and if you want to take your family along the fun run is ideal.

“It’s about enjoying the day, feeling that you’ve taken part in something that will go down in the city’s history, and getting fitter and healthier into the bargain.”

The event is being sponsored by Staffordshire University and sports shoe company Brooks Running.

Staffordshire University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Paul Richards said: “We are proud to be sponsoring this event which is helping to boost fitness and wellbeing of the wider community at the same time as celebrating Stoke’s rich cultural heritage.”

“We’re delighted too that the route of the 2010k takes in part of the University Quarter which will play a significant role in raising achievement levels and realising the aspirations of local people as we look forward to the next 100 years.”