Are You Sleeping With Danger?

The annual electric blanket campaign will be kicking off in Stoke-on-Trent next month.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Stoke-on-Trent City Council will again be testing electric blankets free of charge at venues across the City.

Out of the 450 electric blankets tested last year, 180 were found to be unsafe!

Any electric blankets that fail the testing will not be handed back, but those aged over 60 and living in Stoke-on-Trent will be offered a brand new single or double under blanket as a replacement.

“Nationally hundreds of fires are caused every year by electric blankets, so ensuring yours is safe is really important. We find that a lot of people fold up their electric blankets when they’re not in use, however this damages the internal wiring, making them dangerous.

“We will be doing the testing in September, as people generally start pulling out their blankets towards the end of the month once the temperatures start to drop and the nights start drawing in.”

“Last year, 450 electric blankets were tested at the drop-in sessions, with 40 per cent of those failing the test. Any of the blankets that failed could potentially have caused a house fire.

“Council consumer protection officers are marking the start of the week of blanket testing by staging a “Ëœkeeping well, keeping safe’ information event at Hanley Town Hall on the first testing date. This will be attended by a variety of agencies involved with the care and safety of our elderly residents. They will be on hand for advice and information for visitors while they wait to have their blanket tested.”

Testing will take place at the following venues:

Hanley Town Hall ““ September 22nd
Kings Hall, Stoke-on-Trent ““ September 23rd (am)
Burslem Fire Station ““ September 23rd (pm)
Longton Market ““ September 24th

To book a free Home Fire Risk Check contact: 0800 0241 999. For all other non emergency enquiries contact: 08451 22 11 55 or log onto: or In an emergency dial 999.

Olympic Cyclist Comes To City For Tour Of Britain

Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins will lead Team Sky at this year’s Tour of Britain stage through Stoke-on-Trent.

Team Sky has a six man roster that also contains top British riders Russell Downing, Steve Cummings and National Road Race Champion Geraint Thomas.

Fellow Olympian and National Circuit Race Champion Ed Clancy will lead the Motorpoint ““ Marshalls Pasta team that also contains current Great Britain track cyclist Andy Tennant and double Halfords Tour Series winner and reigning British Cyclo-Cross Champion Ian Bibby.

Bradley Wiggins arrives in Stoke with a fine pedigree, having won three medals on the track at the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, and two gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. He came in fourth at the 2009 Tour de France.

”To welcome an athlete of Bradley’s calibre to the city fills me with pride. The Tour of Britain is a tremendous success every year it is held in the city, and it puts Stoke-on-Trent right up there with other cities when it comes to organising and hosting major events.

“We want people within the city to celebrate the importance of having such a huge event here and those who will travel here to see the Tour to want to come back and see more of our city.”

”We’re delighted to have Team Sky riding The Tour of Britain this year, particularly with such a strong line-up that shows they mean business for The Tour,”

The Tour of Britain is in Stoke-on-Trent for a third year running this September – with the start and finish of the West Midlands stage taking place in the city.

The race will form part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the six towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent. The route will be 100 miles long and will take in Burslem, Tunstall, Stoke, Longton, Fenton and Hanley, as well as some of Staffordshire’s most picturesque countryside.

The event takes place on 12 September, starting outside Ceramica in Burslem from 8:30, with an estimated finishing time of 2:30pm outside Hanley Town Hall in the city centre.

Register Office welcomes wedding planners

A Victorian town hall will throw open its doors to its biggest ever wedding fayre this weekend.

Wedding suppliers will stage a total of 26 displays ““ 10 more than last year ““ at the event at the Register Office in Hanley Town Hall on Saturday (27 February).

And wedding planners will also be able to sample facilities at the Stoke-on-Trent City Council venue, which is a listed building that boasts a traditionally decorated and furnished ceremony room with seats for 70 guests. The room is used for a number of events such as weddings, civil partnerships, citizenships, naming and renewal of vows ceremonies.

Councillor John Daniels, cabinet member for housing, environment and neighbourhood services, said:

“Last year’s event was such a success and so well attended that we have had to open an additional area for exhibitors this year. We will have displays from exhibitors including chauffeurs, cake suppliers, card shops, flower designers, photographers and a range of wedding venues.

“It is the chance to find out about everything you need to plan your special day. It is also the opportunity to view the Register Officer and learn more about the other services that we officer.”

The wedding fayre is being held by the city council’s registration service and will run between 10am and 2pm. Lord Mayor Jean Bowers will mark the launch of the event by releasing doves.

Councillor Daniels added:

“We do everything we can to make sure your ceremony is special. You have the option of making it more personal by adding extra words in the form of vows, poems or readings and choosing your own music.”

The registration service provides a range of other services including registration of births and deaths and providing copies of these certificates.

City council calls on consumers to “Ëœdrop in to drop them in it’

A nationwide “ËœScamnesty’ campaign by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) aiming to help end mass marketed scam mailings in the UK, is coming to Stoke-on-Trent next week.

“ËœScamnesty 2010′ calls on the people of Stoke-on-Trent to fight back against fraudsters by collecting any scam mailings they receive and dropping them into designated “ËœScamnesty’ bins located at Hanley Town Hall, The Civic Centre, and the City Centre library.

Trading Standards Officers will be raising awareness of the campaign at the city centre market in the Potteries Shopping Centre on Wednesday 10 February, and Longton Market on Friday 19 February.

Nearly half of the UK adult population has been targeted by a scam. Every year, 3.2 million adults ““ one in 15 people ““ across the country fall victim to a scam involving deceptive unsolicited mailings, phone calls, or emails, which are designed to con victims out of their cash. UK consumers lose around £3.5 billion to scams every year.

The Scamnesty bins will provide valuable new intelligence to Trading Standards Officers, and help inform future investigations which will prevent others from being scammed.

Examples of local scams include:-

* A recent prosecution against MM Publications. The scam involved setting up a bogus publishing business which alleged to produce leaflets for schoolchildren warning against the evils of illegal drugs. Very few, if any, of the nominated schools actually received the books. Trading Standards officers traced and spoke to hundreds of businesses and schools who were caught up in the scam. The court imposed a lengthy prison sentence of four and a half years to the main brain behind the operation.

* A local man was contacted by a company offering to recover over £7,000 worth of bank charges for him and requested payments up front to cover costs. Over £2,000 was paid in total, though this was done by bank transfer to India. Of course, no bank charges were recovered.

Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director, said: “Scamnesty 2010 promises to reveal a marked increased in scale and range of mass marketed scam mailings in the UK. Every day, people are at risk from unscrupulous fraudsters who want to con them out of their cash. By dropping your scam mailing into your local Scamnesty bin, you will help provide crucial intelligence to support us in stopping scams bringing misery to millions of people every year.”

Councillor John Daniels, cabinet member for housing, environment and neighbourhood services, added: “These scams are becoming more dangerous and sophisticated and so it is vital that we stop them as soon as possible. With the Scamnesty system everyone in the city can play a part helping to put an end to these potentially harmful scams that prey on people’s desperation and trusting nature.”

People who think they have been the victim of a scam, or suspect a scam, can call Consumer Direct for advice on 08454 04 05 06 or visit