Former Stoke-on-Trent Councillors Cleared of Wrongdoing

Former Stoke-on-Trent City Councillors Mark Davis and Hazel Lyth today welcomed the publication of the findings of a Stoke-on-Trent City Council investigation into their conduct which categorically cleared them of any wrong doing.

The allegations, which were made public by former Councillor Mike Barnes, centred on the relationship between Mr Davis and Ms Hazel Lyth and a company called PREM Management. It was alleged that both Mr Davis and Ms Lyth used their positions as city councillors to gain advantage for the company, and that they failed to publically declare interests in the firm.

After an investigation lasting over seven months, a committee of councillors and independent members has decided that neither Mr Davis nor Ms Lyth committed any breach of the council’s strict code of conduct. The investigation into the allegations involved extensive interviews, and research into the affairs of the company and was carried out by an independent legal officer of the City Council.

Mr Davis said

My honesty and integrity are massively important to me and I am very pleased that the Standards Committee have found me completely innocent of the allegations against me. Having this shadow hanging over me and my family for the last seven months has been very difficult and I am glad that the process has come to an end. Sadly, the whole thing was made a lot worse by the decision of a now former councillor to publish details of the confidential complaint on the internet.

Ms Lyth said

I am glad that the committee have finally cleared me and that I can move on with no stain on my character. The allegations against Mark and I were without foundation and I have maintained my innocence throughout the investigation. The damage inflicted by the unfounded accusations has taken a heavy toll on all innocent parties included in the complaint and lives, businesses and careers have been deeply affected. Whilst I appreciate that due diligence must take its’ course; it is sad that it has taken so many months to reach this conclusion and that Mark and I have had to suffer in silence, long after leaving the council.

It is understood that a separate investigation is being undertaken into former councillor Mike Barnes and his conduct in publicising the initial complaint.

This is a reposting of an article from 13 October that got lost in the server update

Inward Investment Team Launched For North Staffordshire

A new team who will work to attract inward investment and new jobs to North Staffordshire is launched today at MIPIM, the world’s leading property exhibition.

The marketing, investment and enterprise team in the North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership has been reorganised to create eight new posts. These officers will focus on attracting new business and helping existing businesses to grow.

The new team will work closely with InStaffs, the county-wide inward investment agency. InStaffs will move into Staffordshire County Council’s economic development service in April, but will continue to offer a county-wide service.

The new team which is already partly in place, while other officers will be recruited over the coming six months will focus exclusively on Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Staffordshire Moorlands, it will have more staff available and will offer a wider range of services than InStaffs.

Reorganisation of the department and access to external funding has meant the new service will be provided at no additional expense to the city council.

The new team will:

    Offer a welcome and support service to local, national and international investors in the private and public sectors, finding them land, property, staff and support in accessing grants
    Focus on North Staffordshire’s key sectors that offer economic growth – ceramics, medical technologies, environmental and low carbon technologies, business and professional services, creative industries, building technologies, logistics, tourism and leisure
    Provide support for tourism, place marketing, sector support, business development and accommodation

Councillor Hazel Lyth, said, ‘This new team will allow us to up our game and work much smarter in attracting new inward investment to North Staffordshire. We will play to our strengths and offer the red carpet treatment to local companies and to national and international investors. The team will take the message out that this is a great place to work and invest.’

Brian Ward, cabinet member for regeneration, who is at MIPIM, said, We are meeting developers, investors and property professionals this week to tell them about the fantastic opportunities in North Staffordshire. We are making good progress and redoubling our efforts now to attract new businesses into the new developments we are building.’

North Staffordshire’s annual reception at MIPIM was also shown two new tools that will be used by the team to help attract investment. They are the new website and a computer-generated DVD to show the planned redevelopment of Stoke-on-Trent city centre and the University Quarter.

The website offers information on working in, investing in or visiting North Staffordshire. The DVD is narrated by Andrew Marr, who is an honorary doctor of Staffordshire University.

Bryan Carnes, chair of the NSRP’s employment and skills group and chief executive of the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, ‘We know we need to work extremely hard to get companies to move here in a nationally and internationally competitive market. The new team will add to the good work already undertaken by InStaffs and provide the support we need to bring new businesses here.’

Staffordshire Hoard Returns!

A selection of 59 items from the Staffordshire Hoard will be displayed at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, including a delicate filigree gold horse’s head, a gold strip with a biblical inscription and a crumpled gold plaque with ornate fish and bird heads.

At the same time a similar number of items will be on display at Birmingham Museum, including helmet fragments with animal decorations and warriors. Other artefacts to be displayed include fragments of decoration of eagles and ducks, a crumpled gold cross and a red garnet stud.

The two displays will run from 13 March to 18 April. During this time, 10 of the items will be shown at fundraising events in London. These will then return to be on display in Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham.

The Staffordshire Hoard attracted over 40,000 visitors to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery throughout its 19 day display in October last year. It attracted 52,500 visitors to The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent during a 23-day exhibition which ran until 7 March.

The display in Stoke-on-Trent raised over £152,000 towards the fundraising total to acquire the hoard. And The Art Fund, which is leading the fundraising campaign to acquire the treasure on behalf of Birmingham City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, has today revealed £1.5 million has been raised in public pledges. Other major funding bodies have also been approached, but the target of £3.3m needs to be reached by 17 April deadline.

Cllr Hazel Lyth, said, ‘The support from the public for this unique treasure has been incredible and we are thrilled by the response the hoard has had during its display in Stoke-on-Trent. It has been the most popular exhibition ever staged at our museum and to have raised so much money and attracted so many visitors is a real credit to the region.’

Hazel went on to say, ‘We are thrilled that this new exhibition will enable the hoard to continue to be on public display at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery right up until the fundraising deadline. The display will be in the museum’s archaeological gallery, in context with other Anglo-Saxon artefacts, and we will be staging lots of events and activities throughout the exhibition. We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to enjoy these incredible artefacts.’

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture said, ‘I am delighted that items from the Anglo-Saxon Hoard will be back in Birmingham. Our Museum and Art Gallery has some of the finest facilities and expertise in the country to care for this astonishing treasure. I have no doubt it will once again attract visitors from far and wide to our city.We know from the overwhelming public response to the first display that people feel very passionately that we must keep it in the West Midlands. Our fundraising efforts will continue to secure it for the benefit of the region and local people for generations to come.’

Off with your head

Visitors are being dared to confront Gilbert Savage, the Tudor executioner, during his visit to Ford Green Hall this Thursday (February 18).
 
Guests will be able to hear grisly tales of crime during the Tudor and Elizabethan periods and the extremely harsh punishments which often followed for many, including two of Henry VIII’s wives. The executioner will also detail the nature of hangings, mutilation, and decapitation commonplace for this age.
 
The executioner will be wearing his usual black leather tunic and equipped with his ‘Berlin’ axe, block, ropes, shackles, knives and other ‘tools’ of his gruesome trade. He will tell guests how he used these to bring justice for crimes against property, individuals, and against the crown.
 
Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said:
 
“This period of history was an extremely gruesome time for justice and I for one would not have liked to have met the executioner during his rounds. Our visitors will be able to get a real flavour of what life, and death, was like during Tudor times and see just how lucky we all are to have been born in this day and age.”
 
Ford Green Hall will also have on display reproduction costumes as worn by Henry VIII and his wives, before they were divorced or beheaded.
 
There will be extended opening at Ford Green Hall on Thursday day from 10am until 4pm. Normal Admission Price Applies
 

Dazzlingly Detailed Horse’s Head Is One Of New Staffordshire Hoard Displays

A dazzlingly detailed horse’s head will be one of a number of new items from The Staffordshire Hoard to be exhibited for the first time ever next month.

 

The intricate artefact is just a few inches in length, yet contains remarkably delicate filigree gold designs. It is the latest stunning item to emerge from the 1,500-piece collection of treasure – the largest and most valuable haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found.

 

It will be displayed at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent between 13 February and 7 March. The museum will exhibit around 80 artefacts from the hoard including gold crosses, a strip with a biblical inscription and sword pommels that date back to seventh century battlefields. The exhibition in Stoke-on-Trent will be the first time the treasure will be displayed in Staffordshire, the county in which it was found. It will also be one of the first events to mark centenary celebrations in the city – 2010 is the anniversary of the federation of Stoke-on-Trent’s six towns.

 

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said:

 

“This year is a special year for the city and we are holding lots of activities to mark the 100-year landmark. We are thrilled to be welcoming the hoard back to the region as part of our celebrations. This is the first time the horse’s head will be seen in public in 1,400 years. It’s an incredible, unique opportunity to marvel at our heritage. The quantity of the collection and craftsmanship involved is breathtaking.

 

“We want as many people as possible to visit the exhibition and see our nationally important museum – we already hold several significant Saxon metal finds, as well as a tonne-and-a-quarter of Saxo-Norman pottery made in Staffordshire. We hold the national post-medieval pottery reference collection.

 

“The exhibition will also help the economy of our city, it will bring in tourist spend and encourage visitors to our city centre. We will be making all visitors extremely welcome, and have a string of events lined up while the exhibition takes place, from Anglo-Saxon re-enactments and making Saxon-style jewellery, to creating Saxon-inspired manuscripts and talks from hoard experts.”

 

The exhibition will support a huge fundraising effort to acquire The Staffordshire Hoard. The city council is working with Birmingham City Council to raise the £3.3m needed to buy the treasure. The money needs to be raised by 17 April. The Art Fund is leading a public fundraising campaign, and donations can be made via: www.artfund.org/hoard or by calling 0844 415 4004.

 

A partnership of authorities, including Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Birmingham City Council, Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire County Council and Tamworth Borough Council, is working together to help research and interpret the hoard, and celebrate the heritage of the ancient Kingdom of Mercia in which it was found.

 

Dr Kevin Leahy is the national adviser for early medieval metalwork at The Portable Antiquities Scheme. He is says research into the treasure will begin fully once the treasure has been acquired, and that there are many intriguing questions to be answered. He Said:

 

“We have been looking into the context of the find, examining other finds from the same period to see where the hoard fits in. To me the most intriguing feature of the hoard is its unbalanced nature; it is almost entirely war-gear, mainly sword fittings. Where are all the feminine dress fittings? Why are there no fittings from the decorated belts that would have accompanied the swords? So many questions, examining the hoard will be a challenge and a privilege.”

 

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will be open between 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday, and 2pm – 5pm on Sundays during the exhibition. For more information about events during the exhibition visit www.stoke.gov.uk/museum.

Regional Minister praises speedy Staffordshire Hoard valuation agreement

West Midlands Regional Minister Ian Austin has praised the valuation process over the £3,285,000 Staffordshire Hoard.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Birmingham City Council are to raise funds to jointly acquire the Anglo-Saxon gold and silver, which was yesterday announced as the most valuable treasure find ever made.

The two authorities approved the valuation ““ made by the Treasure Valuation Committee at the British Museum ““ and finder Terry Herbert and landowner Fred Johnson also agreed the value and will split the sum equally.

Ian Austin said: “This is excellent news; I am delighted that everyone has come to such a speedy agreement. Now the real work starts to raise the funds to ensure that this unique treasure is displayed in its natural home of the West Midlands.

“The region as a whole must get behind this; and given the outpouring of feelings and emotions so far shown I know that we will be able to achieve this together.

“The Staffordshire Hoard is unique and the positive impact a West Midlands home for the hoard will have on tourism, education and heritage is way beyond the treasure’s price tag.”

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent is now preparing to display the seventh century artefacts from 13 February to 7 March.

The museum will exclusively exhibit items that have never been seen before, along with a selection of the most significant artefacts including folded gold crosses, sword pommels, intricately designed helmet parts and a gold strip bearing a biblical inscription.

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: “Experts believe that the outstanding quality of the treasure means it was owned by royalty ““ we’ll be pulling out all the stops to make sure this breathtaking collection has a home fit for a king.

“We are creating a dedicated gallery space and will have six display cases to accommodate the artefacts.

“It will be the first time this unique find has been displayed in Staffordshire, the county in which it was found, and we are making plans so that as many people as possible can come to see it.

“Next year, 2010, is the hundredth anniversary of the federation of Stoke-on-Trent, and this will really help to kick-start our celebrations. It will bring huge economic benefits to our city and we are thrilled to be able to display it.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Birmingham City Council have four months to raise the funds to acquire the 1,800 Staffordshire Hoard artefacts. At a temporary exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in September, a selection of around 80 items of the treasure attracted over 40,000 visitors in just 20 days.

One of six towns ““ an historical perspective – part 1 of 2 ““ Fenton

Comment by Nicky Davis

It’s a busy weekend.  As well as the many things which need to be done and the habitual swim and a quick visit to the stand for the community school action group (well done to them) at the Abbey Hulton carnival, I decided to go on a couple of the “Ëœsix towns tours‘ mentioned on pits’n’pots.  Because of work I could only go on these history walks for Fenton and Longton, the weekend ones.

Now history is not my strong point and I issue a disclaimer as there may be inaccuracies in my recollection, but the great thing about blogging is I can recount some of the things I learned and you can take it or leave it as you wish.

For a better description with dates and pictures, visit:

http://www.thepotteries.org/six_towns/fenton.htm

The Fenton tour on Saturday commenced at the war memorial in Albert Square.  There is a crest there with the town motto “Ëœonward and upward’, which also features in the modern sculpture on the main road.

Fenton started out as an area of waste ground.  It was bought by William Baker from Audlem but much of the development of the town was done by his second son, also William Baker.  I don’t know about the first son so I blatantly make this bit up.  I figure when someone calls their child after themselves they do this for the first child of that sex.  So I conclude the first son was also William Baker but died young before the second son was born, so the second son was also given the name.  Anyway back to what I recall being said, the nephew of the son, also William Baker (William Meath Baker) did a great deal of development too.  But out of the William Bakers it was the son who lived in the town for the longest time.  The Bakers had potteries and there were also other potteries and coal mines in the area.

The walk took in some splendid buildings.  The original Fenton town hall is now a magistrates court.  Because of some fairly fierce competitiveness between the six towns, some have had several town halls due to wanting to get bigger and better ones, but Fenton only had the one.  The William Bakers commissioned some rather impressive buildings which were convenient for them, showed what they could accomplish, but also provided for the community.  There was a Lloyds bank which is now an art gallery, some other shops, a fire station, a library, a doctor’s house and some other terraces of housing.  I can’t sound knowledgeable about architecture because, well, I’m not.  There are examples of a common arrangement of windows in groups of three, sometimes the middle one is bigger.  The buildings by the son are quite grand but I prefer the ones done by the nephew, which seem a bit “Ëœfriendlier’, lighter brickwork in general and more ornate features and plaques with dates and his initials WMB. Â  The terraces of housing were interesting.  For some, small plots had been sold to different developers with different styles, so each terrace has different design features over the top of the windows and along the roof line.

There had been a tram system, convenient for people in general but also for the Bakers as it led straight into their pottery works.  Three old kilns which some call “Ëœsalt, pepper and vinegar’ have been preserved and were visible from the gates.  These had been calcining kilns used to prepare bone and flint used in the pottery.

There was a religious class division.  The wealthier went to the large Anglican church, Christchurch.  The working class went to the Methodist chapel, which had been built by converting some houses at the end of a terrace.  I think more people tended to be religious years ago but the chapel was very small, they must have been crammed in,  although there was another church, baptist, down the road.  There were hardly any Catholics at the time.  The local people were very good at producing quality functional items but less good at art work.  So people were brought in from France who had more experience in that.  They tended to be the Catholics.

In the early days of the town there was a great need for a cemetery, the potteries and mines were not healthy places to work so people died fairly young.  Most towns, such as Fenton, got cemeteries before parks, so these were also places to go and walk and socialise.  Cemeteries were strictly laid out with graves for the wealthier at one end to the paupers at the other and religions were also separated.

People wanted parks as well as cemeteries so Fenton park was created, we walked through it, very nice indeed.  This leads to the edge of Berryhill fields which of course used to be coal mines but is now nice grassland with horses on it.  There is now a covenant on the land which does not allow any further mining.  Building is probably also somewhat restricted but there would be problems with subsidence into the mine workings and cleaning up the land in any case.

Down the road from the cemetery is the Angel Inn where Oswald Moseley, who married a local MP Cynthia Curzon, held some of his fascist rallies.

At King Street we came to Lane Delph.  The word “ËœDelph’ means “Ëœmuddy hole’, which was descriptive of how the lane used to be.  It was the main lane out of Fenton leading to Longton, which is Sunday’s tour.

What a fascinating morning this was.

Well done to the council’s parks department for their excellent work done in Fenton park; grass well trimmed, rock gardens colourfully planted and very tidy all round.

Thanks to the tour guides Steve Birks and Dave Proudlove and to the woman from the council who’s name escapes me and isn’t on the leaflet.  Hazel Lyth is 100% accurate in her description quoted in the previous article.  Well done to all of them and to everyone else in the council and other organisations who were involved in putting this event on.

Six towns guided tours for Heritage Open Days

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

2010 Elections

2010 Elections

Guided tours of Stoke-on-Trent’s six towns will be available this September as part of the Heritage Open Days.

Stoke on Trent City Council has teamed up with Urban Vision North Staffordshire and the Potteries Heritage Society to provide residents and visitors with the “ËœSix Towns Tours’. The free guided tours will be led by local heritage specialists and will explore the heritage, culture, and changes in our built environment.

Tours will include:-

  • Tunstall – Thursday September 10, 9:30am ““ 11:30am. Meeting at the Clock Tower in Tunstall for a guided tour around the town centre that will focus on the heritage, details and changes in the built environment.
  • Hanley – Thursday September 10, 2pm ““ 4pm. Meeting at The Regent Theatre in the city centre for a guided tour around the Town Centre that will focus on the heritage, details and changes in the built environment.
  • Burslem – Friday September 11: 9:30am ““ 11:30am. Meeting at The Queen’s Theatre for a free guided tour around the Town Centre that will focus on the heritage, details and changes in the built environment.
  • Stoke Town – Friday September 11, 2pm ““ 4pm. 60-90 minute walking tour exploring the local history of the town including access to some local historic buildings.
  • Fenton – Saturday September 12, 9:30am ““ 11:30am. 60-90 minute walking tour exploring the local history of the town including access to some local historic buildings.
  • Longton ““ Sunday September 13, 2pm ““ 4pm. meet at the Gladstone Pottery Museum and also get free entry into the Victorian Factory, Tile Gallery and Flushed with Pride.
Hazel Lyth

Hazel Lyth

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: “The walks will provide our residents with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the history of the city. There has been a great deal of work done by the city council, Urban Vision North Staffordshire and the Potteries Heritage Society to make sure that each of the walks engages and excites the imaginations of visitors.

“People may not realise just how much history there is behind some of our buildings in the city, and these tours will allow our residents to explore and take pride in the culture and heritage on our doorsteps.”

Heritage Open Days are a nationwide event supported by English Heritage. The event is England’s part of the European Heritage Open Days in which 49 countries now participate.

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive for English Heritage, said: “Heritage Open Days are about people and places. It celebrates community and reflects the importance of the built environment in our lives and to our quality of life.

“It is organised by local people who dedicate their spare time to opening properties and staging activities, and it is their knowledge and enthusiasm that makes Heritage Open Days happen”

The Heritage Open Days will run between September 10 and 14 2009. For details of the “ËœSix Towns Tours’ please visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk or www.stoke.gov.uk or www.unvs.org.

Raising aspirations with pioneering project

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

The first people to complete a pioneering project to raise career aspirations will graduate at a ceremony this Thursday (July 23) at Vale Park.

The nine successful graduates of the creative arts programme will be recognised at the event for completing the six week course, named Tyro, and will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their new skills.

The scheme is aimed at helping people back into work by giving them confidence through working in the creative arts.

The aim is to re-connect 200 young people from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods with education, training and employment over the next three years.

People taking part included:

“¢Ã‚ Aspiring singer and vocal coach Amy Henderson, will be singing two songs live at the event. Before becoming involved with the course Amy was unemployed. She has since enrolled in a psychology degree at Staffordshire University and hopes to use her singing talents to train others.

“¢Ã‚ Author Becky Woodcock, is writing a book about her experiences of abuse. Before becoming involved with Tyro through the Hope Children’s Centre, Becky was diagnosed with agoraphobia. Since completing the course she is training to become a mentor in the community and is helping to set up a support group for people who complete the Tyro programme.

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: “The results that these nine

Hazel Lyth

Hazel Lyth

individuals have achieved over the six weeks is nothing short of remarkable.

“We have so many talented people living it Stoke-on-Trent who may not have the confidence to really push forward in what they want to do with their lives. Tyro is about making people aware of their unlimited potential and not letting negative emotions stop them from improving their standard of life.

“The residents of Stoke-on-Trent have long had a creative gene and we must encourage and engage with them to make sure that this trend continues for many years to come.”

Tyro aims to challenge Staffordshire’s lack of enterprise culture and tackle the reasons why people to stay out of work. The programme allows individuals the time to look on their previous experiences, plan for the future and focus on what they are trying to achieve.

The course gives people not in employment, education or training the opportunity to work with Staffordshire’s creative sector and explore areas of work that promote other training opportunities, career pathways and increased income.

Tyro aims include:

“¢Ã‚ Supporting and driving the development of people though engagement in the arts and a personal development programme.
“¢Ã‚ Building self esteem, creating personal self belief and raising aspirations.
“¢Ã‚ Breaking down barriers to creativity and creative thinking.
“¢Ã‚ Developing the skills needed to access training and development.
“¢Ã‚ Creating and develops opportunities and routes to success.

It is envisaged that Tyro will offer further programmes such as dance, drama and performing arts in the future which will be delivered by a range of professionals.

Illustrate your creativeness at city libraries

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

Children will have the opportunity to try their hand at creating their own illustrations this month at two of the city’s libraries.

Author and illustrator Lynne Chapman will be at The Fantasy Story Fest at the City Centre Library and Stoke Library on Saturday (July 25) helping children aged between seven and 14 with their drawing skills. Lynne will also be reading from a selection of her books and talking about her work as an illustrator.

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: “It’s great to have someone of

Hazel Lyth

Hazel Lyth

Lynne’s calibre helping our children to develop their creative qualities.

“Stoke-on-Trent has a rich heritage in the creative industries and events like this can really engage and inspire young people to value their own talents and aim high.”

The family event will take place at City Central Library between 10:30am and 12:00pm and at Stoke Library between 2:00pm and 3:30pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult.