CoRE conference to bring big hitters to Stoke-on-Trent

Some of the most influential names in UK construction and green technology fields have been lined up for a major conference in Stoke on Trent.

Delegates at the 17 May event will be given a chance to debate a major new piece of research commissioned by CoRE on how the UK construction industry can respond to the need to make our homes greener and meet higher carbon reduction standards.   Continue reading

Two fires in Longton last weekend

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service BadgeFirefighters from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue spent over 20 hours dealing with two fires in Longton over the weekend.

Firefighters from Longton, Hanley and Cheadle plus the aerial ladder platform from Longton were called to the former Premier Hair & Beauty shop on Market Street in Longton in the early hours of Saturday morning where there was a fire on the second floor.

Firefighters tackled the fire using main and hose reel jets.

Once the fire was extinguished a fire investigation was due to commence however due to the damage caused by the blaze, fire investigation personnel were unable to carry out a full investigation. Continue reading

Building fire in Longton

Parts of Longton town centre are closed off this evening as Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service deal with a building fire on Caroline Street in the town.

The fire service received a call to attend the building used by printing company Times Square Limited just after 15:45 this afternoon. Continue reading

Jack Ashley

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Jack Ashley the former MP for Stoke South. He was a doughty fighter for the rights of the disabled and a very good constituency MP. I knew him best during the 1970s and 80s when I was active in the Labour Party in Stoke, for a short period between 1985-6 I was Vice Chairman of Stoke South Constituency Labour Party. His campaign on behalf of people effected by the thalidomide drug in the 70s which would be a fine record in its own right but added to that was his work around domestic violence and the need for a refuge for victims of violence later in the decade.

Continue reading

Bid for a share of £1m for your high street and become a Portas Pilot

Towns and cities across the UK are being given the opportunity to bid for a share of a £1million funding pot to help them to turn arond their unloved and unused High Streets. Stoke-on-Trent with its six towns has more than enough unloved High Streets to choose from to put bids in against.

Mary Portas and Grant Shapps the Local Government Minister have launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become ‘Portas Pilots’ and bid for up to £100,000 to help them. The cash has offered as an incentive to those towns that come up with the best High Street blueprints in a move that fulfils the first and last recommendations of Mary Portas’ High Streets Review, commissioned by the Prime Minister and published before Christmas.

Speaking on Friday Grant Shapps said:

Our high streets have faced stiff competition from Internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres – leaving them underused, unloved and under-valued. The Internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.

So today I’m offering a golden ticket to 12 town centres across the country to become ‘Portas Pilots’ – areas with the vision and enthusiasm to breathe new life into what should be the beating heart of their communities, and they will get Mary’s and my support as they try out the ideas in her recent review.

Taking forward the first recommendation from Mary Portas’s review, the 12 successful localities will create Town Teams, made up of the key players in their local community – such as the council, local landlords, shopkeepers and the local MP.

These teams will then benefit from the backing of the Minister, Whitehall and Mary Portas herself as they take forward the recommendations from the review and in their area. They will also receive a share of £1 million.

Mary Portas said

I am thrilled that now there is an opportunity to turn my recommendations into reality by giving communities across the country the opportunity to come forward with their vision for breathing new life into their locality. I hope my Review has inspired people with another vision of tomorrow where our high streets are re-imagined as destinations for socializing, culture, well being, learning as well as shopping. I want the first twelve Town Teams to challenge the old ways of working, experiment, take risks and reaffirm their place at the heart of a community. A place we all want to be and can be proud of.

Successful bidders will need to demonstrate how they have the energy, enthusiasm and vision to make a real difference to their town centres and make them the hubs of their communities.

Energy & enthusiasm is something that, dispite the best efforts of the council with their poorly implimented regeneration plans, Stoke-on-Trent still has lots of, this along with the creative flair  will be ideal when areas are asked to demonstrate how they plan to breathe new life into their high streets and shopping parades, but not just in a standard application form – Mr Shapps would also like to see their pitches to become Portas Pilots in short YouTube clips.

Use the links below to read more about how to bid to become one of the Portas Pilots.

Longton’s Central Hall Methodist Church gets heritage grant

The historic Central Hall Methodist Church, in The Strand, Longton is to be refurbished in as part of a project to improve the town’s heritage appeal.

The church will have its heritage features restored as part of the scheme to renovate the town’s architectural gems. As part of the works, which are due to start on Monday 16 January, the windows and canopies will be restored, the sandstone façade will be renovated and underused rooms will be brought back in to use to allow extra community classes and groups to take place at the community facility.

The work is part of a series of projects to restore heritage buildings in Longton through the Longton Heritage Partnership. Work has already started on the Victorian Market hall with shop fronts refurbished and a new illuminated metallic market sign installed.

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said

Longton has a strong architectural heritage and this project is helping to restore the exterior of some of the town’s most historical buildings. The Methodist Hall is well used by the community and has a long historic connection with the town. The work will repair the front stained glass windows and restore the intricate canopy designs which will bring the building back to its former glory.

Overall, around £750,000 is being invested in Longton through the Longton Heritage Partnership. The partnership is funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and English Heritage.

Work on the Longton church hall is also supported by Staffordshire Environmental Fund via the Landfill Communities Fund and a variety of other partners including the Joseph Rank Trust.

Other works completed in the town through the scheme include work on Goslings Butchers on The Strand and the reinstatement of new cobbles along the historic route of Handcart Lane.

During 2012 around 10 further buildings are expected to benefit from the scheme.

Tim Johnston, Planning Director for the West Midlands at English Heritage, said

The start of grant-aided work on Longton’s Central Hall Methodist Church is great news. It is an outstanding building at the heart of the local community. This is a key moment in the continuing success of the Longton Heritage Partnership.

John Dutton, chief executive of Staffordshire Environmental Fund, said

The project clearly meets the prime objectives of the Staffordshire Environmental Fund in that it will give benefit to the community and the environment as well as being sustainable.

Central Hall Methodist Church, in Longton conservation area, dates back to the mid 19th century with extensions added in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Longton Has A Bright Future At Its CoRE

Stoke-on-Trent is set be the key player in the future of refurbishing homes to 21st century standards.

The Centre of Refurbishing Excellence in Longton was opened today with a round of speeches from senior figures from Stoke-on-Trent and the government.

“Three quarters of the homes that will stand in 2050 are already built” said Andrew Stunell MP, junior minister from the Department of Communities and Local Government. The CoRE will be a hub for training the next generation of home improvers.

The CoRE is a venture sponsored chiefly by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Stoke-on-Trent College and the Building Research Establishment (a construction industry organisation).

Hundreds of existing workers will join new students in January to develop skills in the trade.

There were positive whispers at the event noting that CoRE will put Stoke-on-Trent on the map not only nationally, but across Europe.

Next door, a conference centre is being built around historic bottle kilns which will host business events, product launches and organisation conferences, due for completion in Autumn 2012.

Speakers were (in order):
Peter Bounds (Chair of CoRE)
Cllr Ruth Rosenau (Cabinet Member for Regeneration)
Don Leiper (Director of New Business at E.ON)
Cllr Mohammed Pervez (Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council)
Andrew Stunell OBE MP (Junior Communities and Local Government Minister)

Present also were Rob Flello MP, John van der Laarschot (Stoke-on-Trent City Council Chief Executive), Cllr Paul Shotton (Deputy council leader) and Cllr Gwen Hassall (cabinet member for housing and neighbourhoods).

Security Van Held Up At Lightwood Stoke-on-Trent

We are getting reports that a security van delivering cash to the Co-op store on Lightwood Road in Longton was held up just after 8AM this morning.

Staffordshire Police have released the following news update.

Detectives in Stoke-on-Trent are appealing for witnesses following an armed robbery in the Florence area of the city.

Two male offenders entered the Co-op, on Sussex Place, at approximately 8am this morning, Friday.

They threatened two security men delivering cash to the premises with a weapon, believed to be a crowbar. Fortunately no one was injured.

The offenders stole a cashbox, containing a quantity of cash, and fled the scene in a silver Vauxhall Zafira.

They were both wearing balaclavas and dark-coloured clothing.

An investigation into the incident is now underway by detectives, who are carrying out inquiries at the scene.

Officers will be talking to witnesses, taking statements and gathering CCTV footage from the locality.

Anyone with information, or witnessed the men and/or vehicle in the area prior to the robbery, is asked to call DS Dave Alcock at Staffordshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 127 of November 18, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Reinventing Stoke-on-Trent

Last night saw the newly refurbished Mitchell Arts Centre packed out with people from all over North of Staffordshire, residents, business people, community groups, activists, local politicians and the media for a evening lecture given the former Mayor, Mike Wolfe.

Mike gave his vision of a united city based around ‘Stanley Square’, names after one of the city’s most famous sons, with Stoke-on-Trent is one City, not 6 towns which he refused to name during the lecture.

Matt from My Tunstall has done a long article on the lecture which you can read by following the link below.

Should we lose the identity of our six towns and just become Stoke-on-Trent?

Free Electric Blanket Testing

Stoke-on-Trent residents are being urged to make sure their electric blanket is safe to use this autumn and winter by bringing it to a free testing session.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service annually carry out one of the largest testing programmes in the country.

Any blankets that fail the testing will be disposed of but anyone over 60 and living in Staffordshire will be offered a brand new single or double under-blanket as a replacement.

Testing will take place at the following venues

  • Thursday 6 October ““ Sandyford Community Fire Station, Marlborough Road, Off Reginald Mitchell Way, Stoke-on-Trent ST6 5NZ between 10am and 12:30pm, and 2pm and 4pm.
  • Friday 7 October ““ Hanley Community Fire Station, Lower Bethesda Street, Hanley ST1 3RP between 10am and 12:30pm, and 2pm and 4pm.

Alternatively, people can take their blankets to a drop off point at Longton Market on Friday 30 September between 10am and 4pm and collect them on Friday 14 October between 10am and 4pm.

Nationally, thousands of electric blankets are found to be faulty which could lead to a fire, 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 throughout September and early October as people generally start pulling out their blankets towards the end of September, once the temperatures start to drop and the nights start drawing in.

If you are unable to take your blanket to any of these venues or if you want to make enquiries about electric blanket testing, please contact the Fire Service on 0800 0241 999