No New Enterprise Zone For Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire

Despite the Prime Minister, David Cameron saying that the Government would ‘look favourably at any bids from the area for a Local Enterprise Zone’ during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April, this morning Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire woke to the news that it has missed on being granted a Local Enterprise Zone.

After the announcement of 11 Enterprise Zones in March it was announced that a second ‘competitive’ wave would be held in July. The 11 successful locations chosen from 29 applications for this second wave of Local Enterprise Zones announced this morning are

  • Alconbury Airfield in Cambridgeshire
  • Daresbury Science Campus in Runcorn
  • Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent & Enterprise West Essex in Harlow
  • Great Yarmouth in Norfolk & Lowestoft in Suffolk
  • Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster
  • MIRA Technology Park in Hinckley Leicestershire
  • Newquay AeroHub in Cornwall
  • Northampton Waterside
  • Rotherwas Enterprise Zone in Hereford
  • Science Vale UK in Oxfordshire
  • The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus Airfield in Gosport
We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Enterprise Zones are a major step towards delivering this; cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand.

These new Enterprise Zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country.

Too many of our towns and cities have been left behind, but the answer has never been to impose ineffective sprawling regional structures. It is local business and commerce that drive the private sector growth, jobs and wealth this country needs. This Government’s job is to foster local enterprise and create the conditions for businesses to thrive in. That is why low tax, low regulation Enterprise Zones are being planted across the country and will give businesses all the incentives they need to grow their local economy and create thousands of new local jobs.

The Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire Enterprise Zone was to be based at Etruria Valley, with specialised sites at Keele University Science Park and the Hadleigh Business Park at Blythe Bridge.

It was hoped that the LEZ would have delivered up to 115 hectares of prime development land ready to go for business, with capacity to create up to 10,000 jobs by 2015.

The first wave of Enterprise Zones saw

  • Leeds
  • Sheffield
  • Liverpool
  • Greater Manchester
  • West of England
  • Tees Valley
  • North East
  • The Black Country
  • Derbyshire
  • Nottinghamshire
  • London

being given Local Enterprise Zone status.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April this year,

You are not missing out on an enterprise zone. There will be an enterprise zone within the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area, and we will be advised by the LEP as to where it will go.


The Government Enterprise Zones will be a ‘shot in the arm for the British economy’
We have lost out and have to go it alone regardless of Cameron promising there would be one for this area.

North Staffordshire needs jobs and investment. I supported the LEZ bid as did many others- from the Chamber of Commerce to the voluntary sector and lobbied all government ministers on this.

It had full cross party support including all MPs and Staffs County council all backing the Local Enterprise Partnership’s bid.

This government has abolished the regional development agencies but put nothing adequate in their place. It has gone back on its word for Stoke on Trent.

Eric Pickles says previous Enterprise Zones “set up a load of retail parks” – something which will not be seen with current set.
We are extremely disappointed at this news.

Stoke-on-Trent needs jobs and private investments as we made that clear in our application to Government and our recently announced Mandate for Change. We will endeavour with or without Government help to make Stoke-on-Trent a ‘great working city’ to shout the message on the regional, national and global market we are very much open for business.

Of course this is a huge blow for us but we are determined to succeed.

We will be urgently asking for more details and feedback on this decision and exploring if there are any further opportunities for future Enterprize Zones or any other similar Government initiatives.

However the Enterprize Zone on its own was never going to be the solution. We need investment and expansion from the private sector and we are working hard to make this happen.

So Cameron lied. We’ll just have to work harder 2 bring new business to Nth Staffs despite no EZ. SoT has great assets to promote
Everyone in North Staffordshire will be disappointed and somewhat astonished this morning to find that the promises of the Prime Minister just before the local elections have been abandoned; we are not getting the promised Enterprise Zone. It is all the more frustrating that this announcement has been made while Parliament is in recess and so I must wait a couple more weeks before I can try to question the Prime Minister on his reasons for this u-turn. Given his usual form, I don’t expect any sort of proper answer from Cameron.

While this is indeed a setback I know that our city and North Staffs have so much to offer businesses, from land and building availability to a fantastic workforce, with excellent road, rail, and air links into the bargain. I will continue to work with the City Council to approach potential businesses and of course support the Local Enterprise Partnership and North Staffs Chamber of Commerce in all our efforts to promote Stoke-on-Trent as the best place to come to set up businesses.

I am writing to the Business Secretary to see what other support government will make available but I think the message is a clear one – we must stand and fight alone, without the Tory-led government’s help. That means we must all now focus our efforts on singing the praises of Stoke-on-Trent and not allow anyone to talk down the area and those working to promote it.

We have a fight ahead but working together we can win and see North Staffordshire prosper.

Rob Flello MP

It is of course a huge disappointment that the government has let down Stoke on Trent. Despite the promises of manufacturing-led regeneration, David Cameron has decided to turn his back on one of the great industrial centres of Britain.

I was sceptical of the LEP going for a three site bid when the application would have been better focussed simply on the Etruria site.

This round looked like a party political fix, rather than a clear enterprise zone priority.

That said, when parliament reconvenes, together with the other Stoke-on-Trent MPs, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with Vince Cable to understand their decision making process.

It really is beyond ridiculous to prioritise Oxfordshire and Hampshire above Stoke-on-Trent. But Stoke-on-Trent is bigger than this: we must create our own enterprise zone in the Etruria valley.

Staffs Uni Hope To Avoid £9k Fees

Staffordshire University is the latest university to announce its plans for tuition fee rises from September 2012 onwards but is planning to avoid any £9,000 per year charges.

The government announced large cuts to the Higher Education budget last year, leaving Universities with a large blank in their income projections.

After a controversial vote sparking protests across the country, the government decided to allow universities to charge up to £9,000 per year to students to cover the costs.

Many universities have announced that they will be charging the full £9,000 per year – including neighbour university, Keele.

The plans must be approved by the Office of Fair Access before becoming official.

However, students will still be charged thousands of pounds more than current students who pay £3,290 per year.

The University has published the following proposals for its 2012 fees scheme:

 Full-time classroom-based degrees: £7,490 per year
 Full-time laboratory/studio-based and resource intensive degrees: £7,990 per year
 Nationally-leading degrees: £8,490 per year
 Two-year fast-track degrees: £8,890 per year
 Placement fee of £1,000 for the year spent in industry on a four-year sandwich course.

Nationally-leading degrees are ones for which Staffordshire University is recognised for its excellence. The examples the universities gives are Broadcast Journalism and Film and Technology courses.

Although the charges for the majority of courses may still be £7,490 or higher, the fees may help Staffordshire University appeal to more non-local students as a place to study, and Stoke-on-Trent as a place to live and possibly work during and after study.

According to The Sentinel, 80% of students will pay under £8,000 per year under the proposals.

“One of the strengths of this University is in providing courses which are relevant to a modern and rapidly changing world. Our graduates will leave us as knowledgeable, capable, skilled and highly employable individuals.”

LEP Backs Regional Growth Fund Bids

A business-led group striving to drive forward the economy in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has backed seven commercial projects which made bids for Government funding last week.

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has supported the applications to the Regional Growth Fund which could create hundreds of jobs in the area.

It is the first of three bidding rounds to the £1.4bn fund, created by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last year. The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP has been working closely with the project bids to help to ensure they are as robust as possible. The bids total £30m.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman Jim Rickard said it was essential that the supported bids met all the criteria to have any chance of success.

“We have been working closely with these seven projects as they were identified as being ready to undergo the tough scrutiny they will receive by the Government department.

“There are many more that we can consider for LEP support in the future but we must be realistic about focussing on those which have a chance of obtaining funding and which we believe will help to create and safeguard jobs in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area.

“This is a highly competitive national process and we understand that the bids may only be partially successful or not at all. However there are a further two rounds where potential bids can be submitted.

“A lot of hard work has gone into these bids and the LEP is pleased to have lent its support in aiming to make them a success.”

The projects are:

Keele University:
An expansion of the existing innovation centre to help the growth of high technology businesses

Development of processes to reduce energy consumption to maintain the UK’s competitive edge in the global market

Media Place (at Staffordshire University’s Stoke campus):
Creating a facility that provides business start up space for the digital media sector

The development of a world class research and development centre at Alstom in Stafford

Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE):
Development of a national centre for excellence in refurbishment of buildings

East West Centre Redevelopment:
Amajor city shopping and leisure development to complement the relocation and improvement of the bus station in Stoke-on-Trent

Central Business District(phase 1):
A mixed use development in Stoke-on-Trentcity centre designed to attract regional and national business and professional services firms

The Regional Growth Fund bidding process is highly competitive. Bidders understand that their applications may need to be reconsidered at a later stage, or that funding allocated may be less than they had applied for. Bids need to demonstrate that they meet the fund’s objectives, offer good value for money, be evidence based, attract additional private sector funding and fit well with the local economy.

There are many other projects put forward by business, education and public sector organisations which the LEP will be reviewing for future rounds.

Concert performance for “Moving Painting” Illustrating Changing Face of Stoke-on-Trent

An audiovisual work exploring the changing landscape of Stoke-on-Trent is to be screened as part of concert presented by Keele University’s Music Technology Group.

Outsourced, by postgraduate student Steve Bird, was filmed during 2006 on the sites where the big name pottery factories once stood. Much of the audio was recorded in Spode’s 200-year-old factory in Stoke.

“I think of my works very much as moving paintings and my subject matter frequently reflects the changing face of my surroundings.

“This video is dedicated to all those men, women and children who made The Potteries a unique place ““ a city with a soot-blackened pride in its existence ““ a place you were proud to come from.”

Other works by Keele staff to be performed include: Penumbra by Sohrab Uduman, Embodiments 1 by Miroslav Spasov, In Memoriam”¦ (layer 2) by Mike Vaughan and ¡A Que No Me Quemas! by Rajmil Fischman ““ all for bass clarinet and electronics, with Keele PhD student and professional bass clarinettist Sarah Watts ““ and the audiovisual work Patah by Diego Garro.

The concert, eMBODYments, will take place on Friday, February 25, at 7:30pm at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Bethesda Street, Hanley. Admission is free. It kicks off DATFEST, Stoke-on-Trent’s first digital arts and social media festival, which takes place across the city from February 25 to 27.

Students can study Music Technology at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Keele and have access to seven studio areas equipped with a wide range of equipment, hardware and software.

Fat Cats

We have a situation where the Chief Executive of Staffs Moorlands District Council is paid £151,000 a higher rate than does the Prime Minister. I would have thought that there was a considerable difference between the responsibilities between someone who has the key to our nuclear deterrent and a CEO who runs a middling local authority even if you throw High Peak Council in?

But what of fairness? Fairness is a phrase that it banded around nowadays. We live in a town where lack of fairness is evident all around us. I was talking at a local supermarket to a woman who works in catering at the local Council serving refreshments to officers and Councillors and it is likely that her job will go. She bemoaning that it is always this on the lowest incomes who take the bullet when the cuts take place. She told me her husband lost his job last year.

I should note that one of the objectives of the SMDC of which Mr Baker is the head is to secure a strong economy I am not sure a policy of job losses and cuts does anything to achieve that objective. Beside does anyone walking around the streets of our Moorland towns believe that we are going through a boom time?

The truth of the matter that we live in a time where the rate of senior officers pay is escalating and I am unconvinced that we are getting a bang for our buck. The example of Stoke Council illustrates this where the pay of the Chief Executive in the course of a few years has increased from £120,000 to £198,000. I wish I could say that in paying executives a salary that dwarfs the average pay of North Staffordshire that we get quality. The Chief Executive of the local regeneration agency was paid a huge amount and yet the impact of RENEW on the local area has been nothing short of disastrous as anyone who travels through Hanley and Middleport will testify.

Similarly both the Vice Chancellors of the local Universities get salaries of over £240,000 despite the difference in size.

Pay in the public sector is now in the spotlight following the recent publication of a report by economist Will Hutton recommends a ratio of 20:1 between the highest paid and the lowest paid in a local authority.

So why choose 20:1? According to Hutton, because that’s the ratio that David Cameron suggested to him which might explain why, while appearing to do something about the obscenely excessive pay at the top, it actually achieves little. The national minimum wage is currently £5.93 an hour, so assuming a 37-hour week a 20:1 ratio works out at £228,186 or £4,388 a week, as opposed to bottom pay at £219 a week. If public sector top pay is widely resented as already much too high, we should lower the bar substantially below current excesses.

A reasonable compromise might be 12:1. That would still give a top executive £136,912 a year, or £2,633 a week, which most people would think more than adequate.

Any advances?

Geologist Vicky To Analyse Hoard Garnets in Paris

Geology expert Vicky Tunstall is set to fulfil a professional “Ëœchance of a lifetime’ when she travels to Paris to analyse artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard next week.

Vicky, who works as a regional geologist at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, will join a team of international experts to carry out tests on garneted items from the seventh century treasure, to try and determine which regions of the world they are likely to have come from.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to be this close to research that is so early in its development and which will draw together different scientific strands in order to better interpret the Staffordshire Hoard for a world wide audience.

“I am honoured to represent Stoke-on-Trent Museums in the research team and to be able to use world-leading technologies to analyse these wonderful treasures.”

The research will take place at the Louvre Museum, using money from a European CHARISMA research grant. Items from the hoard will be in Paris until 3 December, and the French experts in the team have undertaken similar research work on French gold and garnet artefacts from the same time period as the hoard.

Gold and garnet artefacts will be tested using three cutting-edge non-destructive methods ““ Particle Induced X-ray Emissions (PIXE), Raman spectroscopy and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy.

“The research is a very complex process and it will take a good deal of time to analyse the results, but we hope it will provide crucial information as to the geological areas of the earth these items may have come from.”

Vicky’s role at the museum sees her travel across the West Midlands to advise and assist in caring for geological collections, particularly for museums which do not have geology specialists.

“This is a chance of a lifetime research opportunity and I am delighted that Vicky is able to apply her knowledge on such an important project.

“There is so much we simply don’t know about the Staffordshire Hoard ““ where it came from, why it was buried in Staffordshire soil, even what some of the artefacts actually are. It is a unique and stunning treasure, and we hope that by careful expert analysis we can begin to tell the story of this unparalleled collection.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has jointly acquired the Anglo-Saxon treasure with Birmingham City Council. It is valued at £3.3million ““ the most valuable treasure ever found.

A fundraising campaign has been launched to raise £1.7million needed to tell the story of the hoard through research, conservation and interpretation.

People can give money to support the Staffordshire Hoard via collection boxes at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, or online at

New Sponsor For The James Brindley Academy

NHS Stoke-on-Trent has stepped down as lead sponsor for the proposed James Brindley Academy and is to be replaced by the Ormiston Trust.

Following the publication of the Department of Health White Paper which proposes to abolish Primary Care Trusts by April 2013 Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust (NHS Stoke-on-Trent) has decided to step down as lead sponsor on the proposed James Brindley Academy project in Stoke-on-Trent.

NHS Stoke-on-Trent made this difficult decision to ensure the project can continue forward without any doubts about the sponsorship and so that business could continue as normal for everyone involved.

The Department for Education has agreed that the Ormiston Trust already the sponsor of the Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy which replaced Blurton High School this September, can become the lead sponsor. Ormiston Trust will work with NHS Stoke-on-Trent and Keele University as strategic partners to deliver the new academy to the current timescales.

A non-profit organisation, Ormiston Trust first sponsored Gateway Academy in Thurrock in 2006, and now sponsors eleven academies across the UK, four of which opened this September in East Anglia, Stoke-on-Trent and Cheshire.

Ormiston Trust’s Managing Director Joyce Hodgetts commented: “We are delighted to become the sponsor of the proposed James Brindley Academy. Ormiston is committed to improving the life chances of young people as demonstrated by the excellent recent results of our 7 existing academies. We are very proud of the sustained success of the work we do and look forward to the staff, students and parents being a part of this.”

Chris Dawes, Chairman of NHS Stoke-on-Trent, stated: “Despite the change in status following the Health White Paper everybody at NHS Stoke-on-Trent remains committed to the vision of the new academy at James Brindley and are eager to work with Ormiston Trust and Keele University to make the vision a reality.”

The Academy will continue to have Science and Health as specialisms, and Clive Rigby will continue to be Principal Designate.

In addition, the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) funding for the new academy was secured last month and the work to translate the education vision into an early design has been progressing throughout the summer.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for children and youing people’s services, Cllr. Debra Gratton, said: “Obviously we’re disappointed the NHS Stoke-on-Trent won’t be able to continue as the lead sponsor but they will still have involvement with the new academy and we’re delighted that Ormiston Trust have agreed to take over. I would like to assure pupils, staff and the local community that this will in no way affect the timetable for the building of the new academy.”

Building work on the new academy is due to begin in September 2011 with pupils moving into the new school two years later. However, the Academy is still on course to open in existing buildings in September 2011.

Stoke-on-Trent In Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership Agreement Announced

Mohammed Pervez, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council have today (Thursday) announced that Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire County Council and private sector partners have agreed a new framework for the future development of the economy of the city and Staffordshire.

The new Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) would be the main vehicle for driving forward the regeneration of the city and county.

“More work is needed on the detail and we will continue throughout August and September to consult with businesses in the city and Staffordshire. However, this is a landmark agreement that will herald a new focus on delivery and development using all our collective efforts.

“The new LEP, if our bid is accepted, will bring together the knowledge, expertise and leadership of the private sector, the skills and knowledge of universities and colleges with local democratic accountability and the resources of the public sector. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work together to get the future of regeneration right and make a real impact on the quality of life of the people in the city and across Staffordshire. The partnership needs to work to achieve our aspirational economic goals against the background of a difficult financial situation in the country.”

said: “Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent now have a unique opportunity to establish ourselves as an economic player on the regional, national and international stage placed as we are in the centre of the country.

“We have a joint commitment to promote and develop our economies jointly.

“We will work closely with leading figures from our business community. We will also look to forge closer links with the academic community where universities undertake cutting edge work in developing new technologies, and our colleges to provide excellent skills training.

“We will look to develop an approach that is dynamic, ambitious, pragmatic and flexible. This is an exciting opportunity and we must look to make the most of it.”

The move to form a LEP follows the government’s decision to abolish Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) ““ which will be closed down by 2012 ““ and to invite businesses and councils to propose local partnerships to take over many of the RDAs’ functions.

“We need to work in partnership, and quickly, to ensure that the Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire LEP bid is successful and that the area can benefit from the Government’s new Regional Growth Fund. It’s a time to put aside divisions and mobilise resources ““ private and public, city and county ““ to secure employment and future prosperity for our sub-region.”

“This is an exciting prospect for the area, giving us the chance to improve or reinvent our community’s economy. The main thrust of activity for the new partnership will inevitably be the creation of jobs – in current circumstances it is only the private sector that can create these jobs, so it is fitting that the business community will be an equal partner in this venture.”

“The University is a key part of the economy of Staffordshire and Stoke-on ““
Trent and we are therefore looking forward to playing a full part in the establishment and operation of the LEP.

Professor Nick Foskett, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University said, “Keele University is deeply committed to the regeneration agenda for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Our Science and Business Park is a market leader and its expansion will create high quality jobs for the region. We look forward to playing a full role as a partner in the new LEP.”

Looking for a more rewarding career? – Train To Become An Osteopath At Keele University

On Sunday (June 13th) there is an opportunity for adults of all ages to find out about changing to a more rewarding career.

If you study to be an osteopath at Keele University then you don’t have to give up your current job and income whilst you are re-training. The BSc (Hons) Osteopathy is a part-time programme specifically designed for people with work and family commitments. It is the only fully part-time pathway into the osteopathic profession in the UK. And it is right on your doorstep in Staffordshire.

School and college-leavers with two A Levels will also find the programme appealing because it allows students to take a job during the week to help with course fees. This means that students can avoid being saddled with a big loan to pay off at the end of the programme.

If you are good with your hands, good with people, and good at thinking clearly to find solutions to complex problems, then you might be well suited to osteopathy. It provides a flexible job pattern in a variety of settings, and carries a high level of responsibility as an independent professional practitioner.

Come to the Keele campus on Sunday 13 June to find out more. The Programme Leader, Elizabeth Elander, will be in the MacKay Building between 12-2pm for informal talks.

Further information about the osteopathy programme can be found on the prospectus pages of the University website or email for an information pack:

Parliamentary hustings to be held at Keele University

Members of the public and university students will have the opportunity to question candidates for the Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency at parliamentary hustings at Keele University.

The event, organised by Keele University Students’ Union, will be held on Friday, April 30, at 7:30pm. It will focus on the future of higher education, but there will also be an opportunity to debate local and national political issues.

Prospective parliamentary candidates Paul Farrelly (Labour), Robert Jenrick (Conservative) and Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrat) have already confirmed their attendance. UKIP candidate David Nixon declined to attend.

The hustings, which will be held in a Question Time format, will be the last time the candidates will meet in open discussion before the election on May 6.

The event organiser, Students’ Union Vice-President Democracy & Communications Nick Heath, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity to see politics in action and for students and local residents to directly question their future parliamentary representative.”

The event will be held in the Westminster Theatre and will be open to all members of the public. Questions and topic for debate can be submitted before the event by emailing, joining the Facebook group “ËœNewcastle-Under-Lyme Parliamentary Hustings’ or tweeting @keelesu