Princess Royal to open new YMCA Youth Campus in Stoke-on-Trent

35 years after her father, the Duke of Edinburgh, opened the YMCA’s Edinburgh tower on Harding Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent the Princess Royal will will officially open North Staffordshire’s new YMCA campus on Friday.

The £9.5 million campus provides first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the YMCA hostel accommodation. Continue reading

From YMCA to FM to make voices heard

A new online community radio station, run voluntarily by young people from North Staffs YMCA, has been launched in Hanley.

Knot FM began broadcasting on March 4 this year, as part of the YMCA’s One Big Sunday, and is based at Edinburgh House, Harding Road.

The radio station is run predominantly by people living at North Staffs YMCA, whose responsibilities range from presenting radio programmes, to sound editing and organisational roles. Continue reading

New YMCA Youth Campus Opens

The new £9.5 million state of the art YMCA Youth Campus which represents the start of a new era for the YMCA and the people who use its facilities opens to the public this morning.

The complex provides first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the YMCA hostel accommodation. The sports centre and conference facilities are fully open to the public.

Danny Flynn, Chief Executive of YMCA North Staffordshire, said: 
For some years now the YMCA in Stoke-on-Trent has been moving from an accommodation service to a development service.
This new complex will change the whole feel of our service and allow us to bring hope to scores of young people who may have not had the best starts in life.”
The Youth Campus – next to the YMCA’s Edinburgh House tower block, in Harding Road, Hanley – will benefit city residents as well as people being looked after by the YMCA.
The youth Campus which has been designed to meet the highest environmental standards, with innovations such as rainwater harvesting to flush toilets and low energy lighting, was funded by the Government’s myplace programme following a bid by Stoke-on-Trent City Council on behalf of the YMCA.
The Youth Campus includes:
A library
A learning zone
Meeting facilities
A gym
Large sports hall
A climbing wall
Danny said
The facilities will be open to the public and we have had interest from sports teams who need facilities for winter training.
Members of the public will be able to enrol as gym members, so I am sure our facilities will be well used by residents living in Hanley and Shelton.
By inviting the public in, we aim to make the YMCA a hub for the whole community and to raise awareness of the work we do to help young people build a better future.
The new accommodation block has been built by Seddon Construction in partnership with Streif Sustainable Building Systems. All excavated materials have been reused on site and all timber has come from sustainable sources.

Stoke-on-Trent YMCA Complete Multi Million Pound Development

YMCA North Staffordshire is putting the finishing touches to its new £9.5 million Youth Campus complex in Harding Road, Hanley. The new YMCA development will provide sports and leisure facilities for Stoke-on-Trent residents including the area’s tallest climbing wall.

Danny Flynn, Chief Executive of the YMCA North Staffordshire, said

While many people see the YMCA as a place for young people to come seeking help they perhaps do not realise that the new complex will provide high quality sports facilities for all. There are three new developments – an apartment block, education and meeting facilities and an activity centre. “This includes a large sports hall, gym and a climbing wall. The 11 metre high wall has been built into the newly developed sports centre at the YMCA Youth Campus. Membership packages are available for the gym. People will also be able to pay to hire out facilities such as the sports hall and outdoor all weather pitch.


Adrian Tilstone, Activity Centre Manager, said

Features include fully equipped cricket nets, full sized courts for sports such as badminton and volleyball, and facilities for a wide range of activities such as dance classes, archery and indoor roller skating. The centre also hosts the YMCA boxing club which is fully affiliated with the ABA and is a very popular training facility for local young people. We have already had interest from sports teams who need facilities for winter training. Residents will be able to enrol as gym members, so I am sure our facilities will be well used by families living in Hanley and Shelton and workers looking for exercise facilities close to the city centre. Trained staff will be able to offer tuition on the climbing wall to groups of up to six people. Bookings should be made in advance for groups wanting to use the wall.

The indoor multi sports hall can host a range of activities including football, volleyball, badminton (up to four courts available), cricket nets and archery. The hall’s multi floor system means that it can be used for roller skating, skate boarding and BMX cycling.

The new complex is adjacent to the Edinburgh House tower which has been home to the YMCA since the 1970s. The former multi-sports hall in Edinburgh House has been renovated and is available for hire as a dance studio.

The Youth Campus development, including the sports facilities, is due to open at the beginning of January 2012. The complex provides first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the YMCA hostel accommodation.

The Youth Campus has been funded through the myplace programme which was run by the Government Department of Children, Schools and Families with support from the Big Lottery Fund. Housing And Communities Agency, Stoke City Council and Northstaffs YMCA.  

The buildings provide first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the well established YMCA hostel accommodation provided in the Edinburgh House tower block on the Harding Road site. Work on the Youth Campus has been carried out by Stoke-on-Trent based Seddon Construction in partnership with Streif Sustainable Building Systems.

Both parts of the new development have been built to the highest environmental standards with innovations such as rainwater harvesting to flush toilets and low energy lighting. All excavated materials have been reused on site and all timber has come from sustainable sources.

I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the new facilities by Danny Flynn last week and have to say I was most impressed, this will be one of the best activity and community spaces in the city once it is launched in January.  As well as all the gym and activity space, there is a large IT suite which is being fitted out this week, meeting rooms and an on site café which will have WiFi and be open to the public, I can reccomend the home made chicken burger and chips!

Stoke-on-Trent Governance And Performance Transition Board Latest

According to the latest notes from the Stoke-on-Trent Governance And Performance Transition Board, it appears that they are expanding.

Reading the notes, (they don’t take minutes, they just publish notes), from the last meeting it appears that:

Councillor Ken Taylor, Leader Coventry City Council
Trudi Elliott, Regional Director ““ Government Office for West Midlands
Councillor Stephen Houghton, Leader Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Mr Paul Sheehan, Chief Executive Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
Chris Dawes, Chair Stoke PCT (formerly MD at Michelin UK)

have been appointed to a ‘Performance Sub-Group’.

Back in November 2008 there were 13 members of the board, it now seems that we have 17 members with our new arrivals.

Councillor Ken Taylor chairs the new Sub Group which he states ‘the members of the group had a wealth of experience within Local Authorities and in particular the performance agenda.’

The Sub group are ‘not to dictate what the Council should do but to act as a critical friend’

He also says ‘The Council Chief Executive and the Leader/Deputy Leader would be regularly invited to the Performance Sub-Group and the group would focus on an agenda that was key to supporting Stoke-on-Trent and not reporting on every performance issue.’

I wonder how our new Chief Exec feels about coming in to a new role, where he wants to turn the city around and maybe prove himself after moving from a smaller council, knowing that he will be having to go and sit in front of the Performance Sub Group who have been scrutinising his every move. This on top of a chamber of 60 councillors who will be doing the same.

The Communications Strategy Sub Group makes one interesting statement ‘It was also agreed that the Board would not at this stage participate in other discussions or blogs.’

So don’t expect to be seeing any comments from:
Professor Michael Clarke (Chair)
David Carr
Lloyd Cooke
Chris Dawes
Ian Dudson
Danny Flynn
Julie Grant
Professor Christine King
Michael Tappin
Ken Taylor
Clare-Marie White
Gerard Coyne
Trudi Elliott
Sajid Hashmi
Stephen Houghton
Sheikh Hanif Haqqani Kareemi
Paul Sheehan

on here or other websites in the near future.

SUNDAY DEBATE: Nice work – if you can get it!

We published this article a few days ago, but we thought we would push it up the page and use the contents as a topic for a good old fashioned debate.

Comment By - Tony Walley

Tony Walley

Comment By Tony Walley.

We published this article a few days ago, but we thought we would push it up the page and use the contents as a topic for a good old fashioned debate.

Something for the weekend -ahem!

Transition Board.

There has been some confusion as to whether the members of the Transition Board are being paid or not.

I can reveal that the answer is some are and some are not.

There is an allowance of £4000pa which has now been paid to those members who have filled the appropriate forms in. One person who has chosen not to take this allowance is former Labour Group Leader Mike Tappin. I think he should be applauded for this.

Now you either love or loathe Mike Tappin but as I have said on this site before, if the Transition Board were made up of Mike Tappins, I for one would have no issue with it.

I think politics to one side, Mike is probably on of the most experienced politicians ever to represent this city. A former MEP and councillor who was one of the few of his kind who truly understands local government finance. Mike has come in for a bit of criticism on this site particularly from the members of the far right and that is fine as long as we concentrate of political differences rather than the personal attacks. This is what often brings this site down, the meaningless, frankly boring personal stuff rather than focusing on the policies and political issues.

Never the less this £4000pa paid to those who have chosen to accept it. For a board that is not obliged to publish official minutes of their meetings [they publish notes]. The burning question about the TB is as before. How were these people selected? Did they apply and if they did, who did they apply to? What selection criteria was used to ensure the right people were appointed?

The board is made up of the following people:

As I say I have no issues will those on the Board with the experience of the Mike Tappin’s of the world but, I have yet to be convinced that some of the characters on there can make a real difference, or am I being unfair?

The funding for paying this allowance comes from the West Midlands Regional Efficiency Partnership and as such does not come out of the city council budget.


Stoke-on-Trent Governance Transition Board

NSRP Chair.

Another post that would be attractive to those who are seeking maximum return for minimum commitment is the creation of a paid Chairman for the North Staffs Regeneration Partnership [NSRP] It seems that this is to go before the cabinet at their next meeting.

This successful applicant is to be paid £24,000 per year for just 4 days work per month!

Now I know that Cllr Mick Salih raised this issue several times in the council chamber. He mentioned that this post could pay £20000 per year, well I can’t imagine that he is too happy to learn that this paid position will carry a salary of some £4000 above that!

Mick has always argued that the chair of the NSRP should be the political leader of our council chamber and that it should not be a paid position as it should come under the responsibility of the council leader’s remit.

The report going before the cabinet will recommend that:

The Cabinet is asked to note the arrangements for the recruitment and appointment of an independent Chair of the North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership (NSRP), and (acting in its capacity as Accountable Body for the NSRP) to endorse the following
NSRP Boards decisions:-

a) That the Chair will be appointed for a term of between 3 and 6 years;

b) That a stipend of £24,000 per annum will be payable provided that the successful candidate is not an elected Member or an Officer of a Local Authority;

c) That the partners share the recruitment costs and the annual cost of the stipend as set out in the report, and;

d) That an appointments panel be established to oversee the recruitment process, to conduct interviews and to appoint the Chair of the NSRP for such term and upon such conditions as it considers appropriate (having regard to recommendations (a) and (b) above) . Such appointments panel shall comprise the Interim NSRP Chair, Mr Ian Dudson, and representatives of the following partner organisations – Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Staffordshire County
Council, Advantage West Midlands, and the Homes and Community’s Agency.

It would appear that the recruitment process will cost in the region of £30,000 and will be carried out by Penna [the company that handled the appointment of the chief executive]. The position will be advertised in the Sunday Times and Regeneration and Renewal, [so it’s no good looking in the Sentinel on a Wednesday]. The job is advertised on the Penna Executive Recruitment  website but with no publicly available details

It is suggested that the cost of recruitment is borne by the City Council [from NSRP budget] and that the stipend is shared between key partners, on a third each basis between the City Council, HCA, and AWM as set out in the report.

I have a couple of questions, who came up with the salary level for this position? And did it take into account that the commitment in relation of time is just four days a month?

You can bet that this will cause a stir at the next full council meeting.

Interim Chief Executive.

Now a lot has been made of the fact that out-going Interim Chief Executive Chris Harman is not at his desk holding the reigns while the new CE John van de Laarschot’s release from Torridge is being negotiated. Indeed a source has informed me that Chris is actually away on leave in Dubai.

There has been an outcry at the fact that he is looking for a pay off to go. This all comes down to what is written in the contract that covered Chris whilst he was Interim CE. Contracts of this nature normally have a clause built into them that would stipulate a notice period and I would guess that could be in the region of 3 months.

Chris will also have a contract as the deputy CE and again, depending on what this contract requires there will be a clause which will allow either the authority or the individual to leave with some period of notice.

Now, I’m not saying it is right or wrong whether Chris gets a pay off, I am saying that whatever members of the public and indeed elected members of the chamber feel Chris will be remunerated inline with the terms and conditions of his contract[s].

It is common place for people in executive positions not to work their notice period and then to negotiate a severance package based on their contracts.

When a company and an individual decide that the position of a person is untenable there may be what is called a ‘Compromise Agreement’, which is normally drawn up between lawyers and often contains a ‘gagging order’ to protect both parties.

The Sentinel article and the comments posted to it may well strengthen Chris Harman’s case that his position is untenable in my opinion. Not that I disagree with the article or think that it should not have been written.

When people take their salaries from the public purse, they are to some extent accountable to every man and woman in the city. I am no lover of reading personal criticisms and in my opinion it has got personal in the case of Chris Harman, some members of the public want to hit out and to be fair maybe that’s what the extortionate salary levels attract.

I am not saying this to be controversial, far from it but I do think that this matter needs bringing to a close as soon as possible. If I were at the civic and negotiating this I would pay a reasonable sum to secure a positive outcome for both parties.

There is no advantage in keeping someone in place who doesn’t want to be there and has lost the confidence of those who are around him and indeed the public at large.

Pay out as little as we can get away with and let’s move on.