Full Steam Ahead For Titanic Charity Challenge

Customers will drink to their local’s favourite charities during a Cider Festival across five Staffordshire pubs.

Licensees at the Titanic Brewery pubs in Stoke-on-Trent, Stone and Stafford have each chosen a favourite charity to support during the festival this weekend.

Customers will be asked to support the good causes and the Potteries based brewery has agreed to match the money raised.

Landlady Cherryl Poppit of the Royal Exchange, Stone, has chosen to support a fund set up in the memory of a teenager from the town.

Joe Gilligan, a friend of a Royal Exchange employee, died last year at the age of 20 after suffering a brain tumour.

The Joe Gilligan Trust (www.joegilligantrust.com) has been set up in honour of the former pupil of St Joseph’s College, Trent Vale, to support and raise funds for children and young adults suffering cancer.

Other charities being supported are the RNLI (the Bulls Head, Burslem), the Douglas Macmillan Hospice (the Greyhound, Hartshill Road, Newcastle), Animal Lifeline (the White Star, Stoke) and the Katharine House Hospice, Stafford (the Sun Inn, Stafford).

“I will also be taking part in a series of fund raising challenges against my co-manager Steve, such as pork pie eating, bar billiards and blind beer tasting.”
“The pub has had a long association with the RNLI and will once again raise money for this vital cause this weekend.

“Port Vale are at home to Accrington Stanley on Friday and I am hoping supporters will come in on their way to and from the match to help us become the most charitable Titanic pub.”

The festival begins on Friday night and runs throughout Saturday and Sunday. A range of craft brewed ciders will be available alongside Titanic’s range of award winning real ale.

Push the Button!

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to check their smoke alarms on Thursday October 21st, on the day they have re-named: “ËœPush the Button Day.’

The Push the Button campaign is being driven by the fact that although nine out of ten household have smoke alarms a shocking seven out of ten don’t test them.

To raise awareness of the campaign the Service has recorded their own version of the Sugababes, number one hit single “ËœPush the Button.’ The new version by the “ËœSugaflames’ has an accompanying music video in which firefighters from across the County star.

“Want your family and home for keeps? You better push your button, check it bleeps, before you get a fire, through it creeps, takes your family while you sleep.”

The Service is confident the video will become a massive Internet hit and it can now be viewed on the Service’s website at: www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk.

“We’re continually trying new and innovative ways to get the message out there, about the importance of having smoke alarms and checking them on a regular basis, but a lot of people still aren’t listening. Hopefully they will now after hearing this song and watching the video – you just can’t help but listen to the words and laugh at the video. If the message gets across as we hope, thousands of people across Staffordshire will be testing their smoke alarms this Push the Button Day.

“It doesn’t stop there though we’ll be continuing to promote this campaign in the coming months in an attempt to get people to make it a part of their weekly routine.”

Members of the public who need a reminder can sign up to the “ËœPush the Button Pledge’ which will send them a weekly email alert. To sign up visit Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s website, www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk .

Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle firefighters will be out and about promoting the campaign around the City. The fist stop for Stoke firefighters is the Union Court Residents Association in Union Street, Hanley at 6.30pm on October 18th.

Newcastle firefighters will be in Newcastle on October 21st to promote Push The Button day, alongside Risk Reduction personnel, Newcastle Fire Station volunteers and the Targeted Response Vehicle from Newcastle. They will be the Roebuck Shopping Centre and The Guildhall in the town centre from 9.00am to 4.30pm.

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: www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk or www.direct.gov.uk/firekills. In an emergency dial 999.

Fire at Shelton Florist

Crews from Hanley, Newcastle and Longton were called to a fire at a florist on Snow Hill in Shelton at 4.30am this morning.

The shop was well alight on arrival and firefighters used main and hose reel jets as well as the aerial ladder platform from Longton to tackle the blaze.

A joint fire and police investigation has been carried out and the incident has now been left with the police. A cause has yet to be established.

The blaze has caused considerable traffic disruption in the area particulalry around the Snow Hill/Stoke Road area.

Teens Take On Musical For The My Spacers

Talented teenagers are telling their story on stage this month for the Midlands premiere of a new musical.

Youngsters aged 14-19 from the New Vic’s acclaimed Youth Theatre are learning their OMG’s from their LOL’s for Don’t Turn My Life Into a Musical: The Musical, a new show based on the experiences of real teenagers.

Composed by award-winning film and TV composer, James Atherton, the production has been written specifically for young people and with their input.

New Vic Youth Theatre Director, Cathryn Baker, says: “The show is unique in that it has been written as a result of real testimonies from real teenagers. It’s trying to get to the truth of how young people feel and examine the issues that affect them. So storylines have been based on true stories.”

The piece uses real issues affecting young people to attack the “Ëœbitch culture’ that, through blogging and the media, is increasingly becoming part of teenage life.

Explains Cathryn: “Appetite for gossip has always been around, but social networking and the likes of Heat magazine mean that it is fashionable. It means that, as in the showbiz world, young people’s problems are often trivialised.

“Don’t Turn My Life”¦ acknowledges and questions that. But it also validates the views and real problems of teenagers as people in their own right, not just grownups in training.”

The New Vic Youth Theatre production not only heralds a regional premiere for the musical, which has only been performed once before, but will also see many local teenagers make their musical debut on stage.

On board for the production is James Atherton, the show’s co-writer and artistic director of the company who staged its premiere, Oldham Theatre Workshop. The Musical Director said, “It’s been a real privilege to work with these young people from the region. Many of them didn’t turn up at the auditions as seasoned musical theatre performers, but they now sound as good as the professionals.

“It’s the story of their generation, so it’s really from the heart. It will be an unbelievable show.”

Don’t Turn My Life Into a Musical: The Musical runs from Fri 3 ““ Sat 4 September. Tickets costing £6.00 (concessions available) can be booked by calling the Box Office on 01782 717962 or online at www.newvictheatre.org.uk

North Staffs Green Party Relaunch.

North Staffs Green Party is set to relaunch itself following a meeting in Hanley today. The Greens who have fought local elections in the past in the area have decided to organise on the basis of the three district’s that make up North Staffordshire.

It was agreed that the Greens would on campaign on two main issues in the coming months. Firstly to work with others to organise against the coming cutbacks in public expenditure and especially the introduction of Workfare into the area. Secondly, to build alliances with environmental groups, community associations, and the trade union movement to push the idea of a Green New Deal to ensure that the area does not miss out on the potential for green jobs.

The Greens also want to develop a base amongst young people whao are often the most enthusiastic and receptive to the positive messages from the Green Party. It will attempt to build a membership base in local Universities, Colleges and Schools.

It is the intention of the Green party to put up candidates in Stoke, Staffordshire Moorlands and Newcastle in local elections next year.

The Green Party acting Co-ordiantor for North Staffs Bill Cawley said

” It is our intention to be a progressive force in local politics. These last weeks both nationally and locally have seen the emergence of a cosy consensual mush which has taken without any critical thought the need to make cuts that will have the most direst impact on the poor and vulnerable in society. We want to work with a range of groups especially the trade union movement to challenge this conventional wisdom. We think that the area needs a new approach which the Green party can bring to politics in North Staffs”

All Our Daughters? – National Forced Marriage Conference

The New Vic Theatre ‘Borderlines’ has teamed up with the Home Office to launch “Ëœhonour’ violence project in Staffordshire schools.

A best-selling author, a Director of the Crown Prosecution Service and one of Scotland Yard’s top detectives are kick-starting a groundbreaking tour that will, for the first time, bring the issues of forced marriage and so-called “Ëœhonour’ violence to the attention of children.

Jasvinder Sanghera, author of Shame and founder of charity Karma Nirvana, Crown Prosecution Service Director, Nazir Afzal OBE, and expert in “Ëœhonour’ crimes Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector Brent Hyatt will be keynote speakers at a conference in North Staffordshire, launching newly commissioned theatre piece, All Our Daughters?

Based on the testimonies of real women, the drama and accompanying workshops will travel to schools, colleges and community venues across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire over the next five weeks in a bid to raise awareness of forced marriage and end the secrecy surrounding “Ëœhonour’ violence.

The project aims to increase understanding of the problem so that children, teachers and other professionals are more prepared to spot tell-tale signs and help those who may be vulnerable.

Supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Home Office’s Forced Marriage Unit and the Department for Children, Families and Schools, the event and tour are being hosted and devised by Staffordshire’s award-winning community initiative, New Vic Borderlines.

Said Borderlines Director Sue Moffat:

“Honour-related crime is different from other forms of violence because of its collective nature ““ actions are often condoned and kept secret by the family and community. Young people are particularly vulnerable.

“Children can literally disappear from schools and people assume it is part of the culture to go abroad and get married. It is often a school friend, or a teacher who can play an enormous part in spotting a problem.

“We want to put forced marriage on the agenda so that young people know how to support each other, and help those who fear honour-based violence to have the confidence to come forward and report their concerns.”

The first scheme of its kind in the UK, All Our Daughters? will pilot in Staffordshire with the potential to tour nationally.

The conference, being held at the New Vic Theatre, will premiere the drama, as well as bring together those at the frontline of the drive including experts from the UK Forced Marriage Unit, police, health and local charities, and other key players.

The conference is to be held tomorrow the 4th March.

A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both partners do not consent to the marriage or consent is extracted under duress. This is not to be confused with an arranged marriage, where the marriage is entered into freely by both people.

Our Daughters? will tour to schools throughout Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Mon 8 March ““ Thurs 1 April.

Campaign is set to be launched to crack down on irresponsible parking

A campaign to encourage motorists to park responsibly and legally outside a Newcastle school is set to be launched.

Parents and teachers have joined forces to tackle the problems which have plagued the area around Langdale Primary School for some time.

Staffordshire County Council’s road safety unit already runs a successful walking bus at the Langdale Road school and is supporting the initiative.

The scheme aims to educate people who drop pupils off at the school about the dangers caused by irresponsible parking.

Motorists will also be handed leaflets which explain the impact of inconsiderate parking on people who live in the area who often find their driveways blocked by cars during school pick up and drop off times.

Campaigners are looking into a range of solutions to the problem including asking residents if they would mind parents using their driveways if they at work during the day.

An extra walking bus point is also being set up at the green, which is down the road from the school, to help ease congestion at the gate.

Teachers and parents will man a playground “Ëœbus stop’ from 8.40am every day to avoid a rush of cars arriving in the area just before the school starts.

Local Staffordshire County Councillor Simon Tagg said: “Like many schools, Langdale has an issue with some parents parking inconsiderately and irresponsibly when they are dropping off or collecting their children.

“This sort or behaviour can have a number of negative impacts, the most important being on the safety of children. We want to make sure that our young people can get to and from school without being put in danger ““ reducing the number of vehicles in the area will help to achieve this. It will also have a positive effect on local residents who are often left frustrated by people blocking their driveways. It is an excellent initiative and I hope that parents and the community will support it.”

Jessica Bonnard, whose child attends the school, is helping to lead the campaign.

She said: “Parking illegally can cause major problems including blocking the road so that emergency service vehicles can’t get past. This can have catastrophic consequences for people. This campaign is not asking people to do anything out of the ordinary, we are simply asking people to think about where they are parking. As a school we have achieved a lot and it is now time for us to pull together and put our children’s safety first. This is definitely a goal that we can reach.”

Headteacher Carol Richards added: “The safety of our pupils is a top priority and one that I am keen to back. The Parking with Pride scheme will have tremendous benefits for the whole community.”

Holocaust Survivors Help Future Generations Tackle Racism

Holocaust survivors are encouraging young people in Staffordshire to tackle racism and prejudice as part of an international event at the New Vic on Monday 1st February.

Hosted by the award-winning New Vic Borderlines team, the United Nations Holocaust Memorial Day is bringing together local schools and more than 200 young people as part of a global diary of events.

Commemorating the 65thanniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, 2010’s event will see people whose lives have been marked by more recent acts of genocide and prejudice in Iraq, Zimbabwe and Rwanda share the stage with pupils from 12 local schools. Children will perform their own responses to this year’s theme, A Legacy of Hope.

Holocaust survivors Ibi Ginsburg, herself held at Auschwitz, and her husband Waldemar, who was also imprisoned by the Nazis are supporting the event and have been sharing their unique experience with young people.

The couple, now in their 80s, have worked tirelessly with the Borderlines team over the past five years to help spread the message of tolerance. Said Ibi: “Wal and I decided to tell younger generations our stories to warn them about the human capacity for inhuman behaviour. Both of us feel it is important to speak to as many children as we can about prejudice and discrimination and hope they can learn from our experiences.”

Continued Ibi: “Our message is as relevant today as ever, we do not want people to give up their own strong beliefs all we have to do is to remember to respect the beliefs and rights of others.”

The New Vic Borderlines team is hoping to build on the success of previous events, which has seen Borderlines Director Sue Moffat awarded a prestigious Imperial War Museum Fellowship in Holocaust Education.

Says Sue: “Because of our work for United Nations Holocaust Memorial Day, it was suggested that I apply. It means that I can learn from leading academics and projects all over the world.

“For me, Holocaust projects are about understanding how fragile we are as human beings, how easily our humanity can be challenged, the ways people can be isolated and demonized, and the terrible damage that prejudice does to a community and to a nation.”

“We hope that young people can use projects like this to look at the events in the past and decide what kind of citizens they will be in the future.”

Families and invited guests including local councillors and other members of the community will have the opportunity to attach their own responses to a “ËœTree of Hope’ that will be constructed during the performance.

The project is in partnership with Staffordshire County Council and supported by Standards Funding. Tickets are free, however, places are limited and seats must be booked by calling the Box Office on 01782 717962.

Highways team is to provide around the clock Christmas cover

Dedicated gritting crews will be on call around the clock to fight the festive freeze which is expected to descend this Christmas.

Temperatures are predicted to plummet to as low as -10 degrees during the next few days and the team is on high alert to tackle any troubles.

Staffordshire County Council’s highways team has already faced a busy weekend, spreading 1,500 tonnes of salt. Crews visited each of the area’s 60 routes at 5am on Saturday and Sunday and again during the early evening. Some of the more affected routes were treated three times.

The team has access to a fleet of over 60 salting vehicles, 140 snow blades, and 20 tractor-mounted snow blowers. And 10 of the salting machines use pre-wetted salt, ensuring more immediate and effective action, stopping ice before it gets a grip.

In addition, gritters and snow ploughs are parked up on farms, with farmers contracted in if needed.

Across the county’s seven highways depots, 9,000 tonnes of grit is stockpiled ready to use and an extra delivery is expected before Christmas.

Staffordshire grits 43% of its roads ““ higher than the national average of 35%. However this does mean some will remain untreated. The message is that every driver should be extra careful on all roads during icy weather.

Councillor Mike Maryon, Cabinet member for Highways, said: “The weather has really taken a turn for the worse over the last few days and, with temperatures expected to drop to an icy -10 degrees by tomorrow, the highways team is ready to step up to the challenge.

“However, people need to remember that salt treatment is only effective down to about -7 degrees so they need to be aware that even treated roads will be icy when it gets this cold.

“Crews will be on call around the clock but there are roads which will be untreated and even on gritted roads people will still need to exercise extra caution. The message is a clear one to motorists ““ you must take extra care when driving in winter conditions and avoid travelling if possible when the weather’s really bad.”

The gritting teams have already been out on around 20 occasions across the county during December from depots in Gailey, Newcastle, Lichfield, Stone, Uttoxeter, Leek and Hemmingslow.

It is an expensive business ““ even in an average winter we use over £700,000 worth of salt. Including plant and labour that’s £30,000 every time the vehicles hit Staffordshire’s streets to spread salt.

Drivers urged to take extra care in winter conditions

Drivers are being urged to take extra care on Staffordshire’s roads this week as weather forecasts predict a cold snap is on the way.

Staffordshire County Council’s highways teams are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the roads network open for business.

A fleet of over 60 salting vehicles, 140 snow blades, and 20 tractor-mounted snow blowers is on hand. And ten of the salting machines use pre-wetted salt, ensuring more immediate and effective action, stopping ice before it gets a grip.

In addition, gritters and snow ploughs are parked up on farms, with farmers contracted in if needed.

Across the county’s seven highways depots, 13,500 tonnes of grit is stockpiled ready to use on more than 60 regular gritting routes.

Staffordshire grits 43% of its roads ““ higher than the national average of 35%. However this does mean some will remain untreated. The message is that every driver should be extra careful on all roads during icy weather.

Cabinet member for highways Mike Maryon said: “We’re obviously well prepared for the worst of the winter weather and are ready to act at short notice.

“Staffordshire is a large county with varying weather conditions. Our highways teams are continually monitoring the weather forecasts and will head out onto the roads whenever and wherever necessary.

“But the message is a clear one to motorists ““ you must take extra care when driving in winter conditions and avoid travelling if possible when the weather’s really bad.

“We will do our very best to make the roads safer and work round-the-clock if we need to. However there are roads which will be untreated and even on gritted roads people will still need to exercise extra caution.”

The gritting team has been out on around 75 occasions across the county since October. The teams at Gailey, Newcastle, Lichfield, Stone and Uttoxeter have been out approximately seven times each. The more severe weather in the north of the county has meant that the teams from Leek and Ladderage have been out around 20 times each.

It is an expensive business ““ even in an average winter we use over £700,000 worth of salt. Including plant and labour that’s £30,000 every time the vehicles hit Staffordshire’s streets to spread salt.