Two Village Green Public Enquiries

On Tuesday 1st February 2011, the Registration of Town and Village Greens Panel of Stoke-on-Trent City Council met, for the first time since July 2007, to consider two village green applications, one at Hulme Road, Park Hall and the other at Anchor Road, Adderley Green.

An application for village green status had been submitted in both cases following council plans to site the Discovery Academy there. Not only did the communities not want a school sited in these locations, they also realized that open green space they had perhaps taken for granted for ongoing community use could be built upon and they wanted to protect it. Margaret Lowe for the Community Schools Action Group applied for Village Green Status for the Park Hall land and Ian Jenkin for the Adderley Green Residents Association applied for Village Green status for the Adderley Green land.

Both applicants attended to observe proceedings at the meeting, although they could not attend the first hour during which panel members were being briefed. Paul Hackney, the legal officer, recommended public enquiries on the basis that the council was the land owner and the decision maker and there were other legal complexities. All panel members supported the recommendation and confirmed with Margaret Lowe and Ian Jenkin that they did too. Ian asked about the financial implications, since an application for Penkhull had been withdrawn for fear of cost liability. However the committee stated that costs would be borne by the council and would be £10,000 for both applications, not each as reported in the Sentinel.

Margaret told the Sentinel afterwards that if a member of the public had objected to village green status the objection would have been thrown out and a decision made there and then, saving costs. But as the council had objected this was their way of being ‘open and transparent’, but also trying to get the public on their side by stating the use of public money.

Ian told the Sentinel that as the council are owners of the land, objectors to the application and have to make a decision on it, there was only really one decision they could have made. However he was pleased about this.

Paul Hackney and the panel chair Joy Garner will appoint an independent inspector. We could hear more about this in May. Following the public enquiry the inspector will make a recommendation to the council that they may be expected to adopt, although they do not have to. If village green status is obtained there would be total removal of any possible development, securing the open space for the community.

Fun Time At Children’s Centre

An afternoon of fun and frolics will take place this Friday June 11 at Treehouse Children’s Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Families, service providers and community members in the Bentilee, Berryhill, Eaton Park, Moss Green and the Bambury Street areas are all invited to attend the event, which takes place from 1:00pm until 4:00pm, at the centre on Dawlish Drive in Bentilee.

There will be indoor and outdoor games and entertainment from Charlie the Clown and Sam the Sure Start Bear throughout the afternoon, and gifts to take home.

Under fives can have fun with messy play, be energetic on a bouncy castle, and in the Playspace, support their country with World Cup face painting. They’ll also have the chance to taste healthy snacks, and enjoy a relaxing story-time session.

Adults will have the chance to meet the new management team, find out what services and activities Treehouse offers, and have a tour of the centre.

Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, Councillor Debra Gratton, said:

“Open days like this are not only great fun for younger children but an excellent way of helping to promote the wide range of services on offer at our children’s centres.”

The Children’s Centre has recently undergone an interior transformation, including the creation of a new family room. In this new room, designed to feel like a comfortable lounge and kitchen area, parents will be able to take part in “Ëœcook and eat’ sessions where they can learn how to create healthy, affordable meals.

In April this year Treehouse, The Crescent and The Grange Children’s Centres became part of one locality and this event marks the beginning of this exciting partnership.

Social Action: Conservatives clean up Berryhills pathway

Norsheen Press Release!

Local supporters in Eaton Park and Berryhill joined the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Norsheen Bhatti and the Conservative Council Candidate David Jones in picking up litter on the pathway from Berryhills to Eaton Park during their Social Action Day.

The pathway is well used amongst the local community and has been covered with litter.

Commenting David Jones, the Council candidate for Eaton Park and Berryhill said:

“This is an example of how strong our community spirit is and how the Conservatives can bring our community together. This shows I am a man of action and not just words. Voting Conservative and for me as your local Council candidate will get the changes this city needs.”

Commenting, Norsheen Bhatti, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke Central said:

“Only the Conservatives in Stoke Central are united, leading by example and willing to work hard for their community. We want to encourage individual responsibility and community spirit and it’s often the small things that local people can do such as looking after their surroundings that can make a big difference.

Just as I’ve cleaned up the pathway today I am going to lead the way in cleaning up politics in our City. Labour has let down the people of Stoke and only the Conservatives can give Stoke the fresh start it desperately need.”

Press Statement From The Community Schools Action Group

Community School Action Group Press Statement

Following an encouraging meeting with Education Minister, Vernon Coaker yesterday, five members of the Community School Action Group, Margaret Lowe(Chair), Pat Smith (Head of Governors, Mitchell High School), Terry Crowe (Head of Governors, Berry Hill High School), Mick Stone (parent of Mitchell High School) and Graham Lowe (member of the group)) met with Cllr Ross Irving and Cllr Ian Mitchell with a view to trying to resolve their differences over the siting of the 20:20 Discovery Academy.

The Community School Action Group offered the solution of an academy in the Longton area, to serve Longton, Adderley Green, Weston Coyney and Meir, whilst asking for a refurbishment of Mitchell High School to enable it to
merge with Berry Hill High School, only a mile away, instead of Edensor High School and Technology College.

This was not accepted by the Council Leader, who insisted that this would ‘put the whole BSF programme back 18 months’ and they would have to “Ëœreconsult on the whole programme’.

Yet, Minister Vernon Coaker yesterday suggested that the council proceed without delay, with the academies which were unopposed. The Council Leader stated that this would not be possible without delaying the whole project.

The Council Leader also stated that the Minister had said during his talks with him, that the only issue yet to be resolved is the site for the 20:20 Discovery Academy and that he had stated that the suggestion of an extra
school would not be considered.

However, during talks with the Minister, the Community School Action Group felt that the Minister was very responsive to the idea of a new academy in the Longton area and a refurbishment of Mitchell High School. The Minister also stated in an interview with the “ËœSentinel’ that he “did not rule out the possibility of keeping an extra secondary school”.

The Council Leader did offer a glimmer of hope in that they would “Ëœat great expense’ carry out feasibility studies on all the sites being considered, namely: Springfield, Mossfield, Willfield, Park Hall and Mitchell High
School.

Mitchell High School has never been included in the feasibility study previously. The Community School Action Group, while feeling this was a step in the right direction, were disappointed to be told that the
feasibility study would be carried out by the Project Director of the Building Schools for the Future project, who has admitted to “Ëœforgetting’ to record the result of a vital vote in the minutes of a meeting, and not
carried out by an independent body, as they requested.

The Community School Action Group are now looking into further studies being undertaken to ensure that the feasibility study by the City Council is carried out and reported on fairly.

School’s Minister ‘Sympathetic’ To Mitchell & Springfield’s Cause.

AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH THE GOVERNMENT MINISTER FOR SCHOOLS NOW ONLINE

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker has met with members of the Community Action Group, the Springfield Action Group, Secondary Heads and Governors and MPs Rob Flello and Mark Fisher.

All parties left the meeting happy and were encouraged by the support the Minister offered to their campaigns.

But Mr Coaker stopped short of demanding a reprieve for Mitchell, Berryhill or Longton High Schools and he confirmed that the decision was still in the hands of the Local Authority.

Stoke South MP Rob Flello and Stoke Central MP Mark Fisher are demanding that the local authority locate schools in the communities in which they serve. They are calling on Council Leader Ross Irving to allow a refurbishment for the Mitchell High School which would serve the communities of Bucknall, Bentilee and Berryhill and for a smaller new build Academy type school to be built on the grounds of the present Longton High School.

This Academy would replace the proposed 2020 Academy which was to be sited on the green field site now known as ‘Springfield’. The school would cater for the Edensor High School, Normacott, Meir, Meir Hay, Parkhall, Weston Coyney and Sanford Hill communities.

The two MPs are hoping to present the local Authority with an official letter of support from Schools Minister Vernon Coaker and on behalf of the DCSF. They are then hoping that Ross Irving and his Cabinet, along with SERCO repeat their actions over Trentham High School and adapt the BSF proposals to fall in line with their plans for a refurbished school for Mitchell and a new build for Edensor on the Longton High site.

This Ministerial visit has given all members of the relevant action groups a massive boost and they are now hoping that the MPs can convince the City Council to implement the revised proposals.

We have four audio interviews to bring you.

The first is with the Government Minister for Schools Vernon Coaker.

The second is with the two MPs Rob Flello and Mark Fisher.

The third is with members of the Mitchell and Berryhill Community Action Group, Barry Stockley and Pat Smith.

The fourth interview is with the Chair of the Sprinfield Action Group, Andy Maskerey, who is cautiously optimistic.

We will bring you more reaction to this story tomorrow morning which will include an interview with Council Leader Ross Irving.

Save Finney Gardens City Farm

Within their Budget Plans for 2010/11 the Conservatives/Independent Lib/Dems who now run Stoke-on-Trent City Council want to close Finney Gardens City Farm, by moving it to Parkhall or transfer to a non-existent Trust.

This will bring around £80,000 saving to the City Council within the financial year 2010/11.

Councillor Adrian Knapper, Ward Member for Berryhill & Hanley East Ward is fighting to stop the closure and has organised an online petition that can be signed at www.adnap.co.uk

The aim of the petition is to ask the current administration that runs s Stoke-on-Trent City Council to keep open this much loved public attraction at its current location in Bucknall and invest money into it, in order to improve it.

Residents have to the end of this week to express their concerns over the future plans for the City Farm.

Councillor Knapper asks “Ëœthat residents sign the petition and/or write (email) direct to the Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Ross Irving (ross.irving@stoke.gov.uk) expressing their concerns over these plans.’

Over the years this much loved leisure retreat for animals and wildlife has been visited by many Parents, Grandparents and Children, Its future now needs to be protected for future generations.

The City Council is running a consultation exercise over its planned Budget proposal and it’s important that local resident express their concerns that the City Farm remains open at Finney Gardens. Otherwise this much loved leisure attraction could be lost. This maybe the public last chance to save the City Farm.