14 editorial jobs at risk as The Sentinel restructures

The Sentinel LogoFourteen jobs are at risk of redundancy at Northcliffe subsidiary Staffordshire Sentinel News and Media.

The Stoke Sentinel publisher has announced a newsroom restructure that will see a shakeup of its photographic, sport, design and features departments and the scrapping of its monthly standalone magazine North Staffordshire with immediate effect. Continue reading

Redundancies expected in North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry

North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced plans to restructure.

The Chamber, which is the support network for hundreds of local businesses in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire is reorganising services to create a stronger, more member-focused organisation.

The reorganisation is expected to result in a number of redundancies for staff at the Festival Park and Stafford offices which currently employs 39 people. Continue reading

The Cameron Veto on Europe is a disaster for North Staffs.

What will the British veto in Europe mean for North Staffs?

I have spent a great deal of my adult life believing in the European project. In 1975 I was a young member of the Labour party and one few who was an enthusiast for Europe in referendum year. I helped to run a Yes to Europe shop in Lamb Street in Hanley and was naturally pleased when North Staffs like most of the country supported the Yes vote. 36 years later the whole project is under jeopardy after David Cameron’s veto will undoubtedly lead to Britain’s isolation.

What will happen to the area should the vote lead to Britain leaving the EU?

David Cameron is the Prime Minister for the City of London. And his veto was essentially to protect their interests over the prospect of a Tobin tax on financial transactions. Anyone in N Staffs should be wary of any policy whose aim is to protect the interests of the City

This is the same City of London, which is primarily responsible for the financial crisis. And the same City of London which contributes 11% of tax revenues each year but which is instrumental in facilitating $3trillion of tax funnelled to tax havens every year.

The City has become disproportionately dominant over the last 30 years, a period in which the wealth gap in the UK has widened massively, a period in which we have all become massively indebted as real incomes for ordinary people have stagnated. All this should concern the people of North Staffs.

The political classes whether it is Labour or Tory have bent the knee at the City to the detriment of places like Stoke. The withering of our manufacturing sector is largely the consequence of short termism and the pursuit of the quick buck. The security of the manufacturing parts of the British economy depends on long term investment especially in areas such as the Green economy. The financial structures in the EU are more likely to guarantee this long-term investment rather than the drivers in the city based on rapid returns.

It’s extraordinary that Cameron thinks that his priority is to defend the interests of the City regardless of the impact of EU isolationism on the UK manufacturing sector?
Cameron’s stupidity has cheered the swivel-eyed bigots on the Right of his party and his sponsors in the City, but it was not done in the national interest and it will tear the coalition apart. After which it will tear the Tory Party apart and possibly with more pro European Scots ultimately into a breakdown of the Act of Union.

The most momentous foreign policy decision in decades, and one which he and the Europhobes will come to rue in the coming years.

Stoke-on-Trent To Be Split In Boundary Shifts

Parts of Stoke-on-Trent could be merged with Newcastle-under-Lyme under government proposals change parliamentary boundary.

The review, an outcome of the 2010 election seeks to cut down the total number of MPs in the country and make more balanced constituencies.

New constituencies must be within 5% difference of the average voting population split across the constituencies, i.e. between72,810 and 80,473.

In North Staffordshire, Stoke will be losing it’s exclusive trio of city constituencies, and Staffordshire will lose one MP as constituencies are morphed together.
In the overhaul, the existing South constituency will adopt parts of Stoke and Trent Vale.

The Stoke Central constituency will include various new wards from the existing North constituency which is where the biggest changes are felt.

Tunstall, Chell and Packmoor and Burslem North will be merged with 12 Kidsgrove and Newcastle wards, in the cross-town Kidsgrove&Tunstall constituency.

The immediate reaction is that Stoke residents will be 1/5th of a constituency and so in effect won’t be voting for their City MP.

The boundary proposals are now open for discussion and for the next 12 weeks, the Boundary Commission will be accepting comments, complaints and suggestions about their proposals.

Although these merges wouldn’t directly affect council elections and services, there is a fear that Newcastle/Kidsgrove/Stoke-on-Trent could be losing their historic identities.

In a recent lecture, former Elected Mayor, Mike Wolfe said that a merge made financial sense and that it was the obvious thing to do.

Across the country, both Prime Minister David Cameron’s and Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband’s constituencues will remain unchanged ““ 2 of only 77 MPs whose boundaries remain.

Nick Clegg’s constituency will be changed, however.

With a reduction of 50 MPs across the country, inner-party squabbling is expected to break out as politicians scramble for seats.

Below is a list of the proposed new parliamentary wards for Stoke-on-Trent.

Kidsgrove and Tunstall 75,352
Audley and Bignall End Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,694
Bradwell Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,970
Butt Lane Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,349
Chesterton Newcastle-under-Lyme 5,475
Halmerend Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,038
Holditch Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,366
Kidsgrove Newcastle-under-Lyme 5,255
Madeley Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,419
Newchapel Newcastle-under-Lyme 2,801
Porthill Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,229
Ravenscliffe Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,372
Talke Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,206
Burslem North Stoke-on-Trent 9,131
Chell and Packmoor Stoke-on-Trent 9,211
Tunstall Stoke-on-Trent 9,836

Stoke-on-Trent Central BC 79,980
Abbey Green Stoke-on-Trent 8,962
Bentilee and Townsend Stoke-on-Trent 9,008
Berryhill and Hanley East Stoke-on-Trent 7,71 7
Burslem South Stoke-on-Trent 8,730
East Valley Stoke-on-Trent 10,226
Hanley West and Shelton Stoke-on-Trent 8,434
Hartshill and Penkhull Stoke-on-Trent 9,045
Northwood and Birches Head Stoke-on-Trent 8,949
Norton and Bradeley Stoke-on-Trent 8,909

Stoke-on-Trent South 78,283
Blurton Stoke-on-Trent 9,550
Fenton Stoke-on-Trent 9,225
Longton North Stoke-on-Trent 10,660
Longton South Stoke-on-Trent 10,274
Meir Park and Sandon Stoke-on-Trent 10,082
Stoke and Trent Vale Stoke-on-Trent 9,659
Trentham and Hanford Stoke-on-Trent 9,769
Weston and Meir North Stoke-on-Trent 9,064

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.

NSAC Challenge Councillors To Oppose Sackings & Cuts

A community protest group is calling on local councillors in North Staffordshire to voice their opposition to cuts of around £40million which will ultimately lead to hundreds of public sector jobs cuts.

North Staffs Against Cuts is working in conjunction with North Staffs Trade Union Council.

Together they are campaigning against any cut, or the loss of a single job and the withdrawal of any benefit. They believe that the banking industry should be held accountable for the financial crisis that brought the severest recession in living history.

They are calling for all elected representatives in the area to acknowledge their duty to protect the interests of the people who they serve.

”Instead of councillors sitting in rooms planning out who they can sack and what they can cut, close or privatise, shouldn’t they be spending their time building opposition to these cuts which will have a devastating impact on ordinary people across our area?

North Staffs Against Cuts will be planning how to build massive opposition against all cuts at our conference on Wednesday 26 January.”

The conference is organised by North Staffs Against Cuts (NSAC)and will be held at the Forum Theatre, Hanley Museum, on Wednesday 26th January commencing at 7pm.

The organisers have invited speakers from various local anti-cuts groups and trade unions and invite everyone who is opposed to the cuts, job losses and alterations to the benefit system to attend.

Members Fund Plush Makeover For Historic Club

North Staffordshire’s most prestigious private club is celebrating its 60th anniversary by undergoing a design transformation thanks to the generosity of loyal members.

The British Pottery Manufacturers Federation Club ““ fondly known as “ËœThe Potters Club’ – based at Federation House, Station Road, Stoke has attracted approximately a £90,000 investment from its members to fund a glittering makeover.

And members hope the high-class refurb will attract even more local people ““ professionals and families alike – to join and enjoy the club’s unparalleled dining and entertaining facilities.

The new club will be unveiled at a gala reception on January 18th when members will see the spectacular transformation of this historic venue and be treated to a gourmet dining experience prepared by internationally renowned chef Anton Edelmann.

The makeover has encompassed every room of the club, which spans the entire third floor of Federation House, and gives it a new, modern influence while retaining its air of opulence and traditional grace.

Leather seating with a modern twist now creates a warm welcoming atmosphere in the cocktail bar, while the lounge has a stylish country club air featuring sofas and comfy chairs.

A deep blue bespoke carpet has been commissioned by the club to run throughout with different colour schemes in each room, while swags and tail curtains will dress the tall imposing windows.

Examples of the city’s finest pottery will still adorn the club, with pride of place taken by the priceless Queen’s Vase which was a collaboration of all the city’s famous potters to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Over the years the club has been a favoured venue for visiting dignitaries and royalty ““ having played host to Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1973 as well as HRH The Princess Margaret on two occasions in 1958 and 1992.

Said club chairman Mike Jones: “The refurbishment of The Potters Club marks a new era in its long and distinguished history. We invited members to invest £1,000 each* to fund the makeover, and it is a measure of people’s love of the club that so many individuals were keen to invest.

“The club’s origins lie within the pottery industry when it was used as the principal venue to entertain and impress overseas pottery buyers. However, today membership is open to professional people from all walks of business from solicitors and bank managers to accountants and architects ““ and we believe the refurbishment of the club will attract many new members.

“The refurbishment is undoubtedly the most extensive and exciting in the club’s sixty year history. We have shut our doors for two weeks to achieve what will be an amazing transformation.

“The Potters Club offers a truly fine dining experience, and is used to entertain clients, hold meetings, seminars, exhibitions and private dining, as well as for wedding receptions and dinner parties.

“It retains that air of exclusivity that cannot be found anywhere else in North Staffordshire and we would encourage business people and individuals who are interested in becoming members to get in touch.”

For more information about The Potters Club visit www.thepottersclub.co.uk or call 01782 848869

Faith Leaders demonstrate unity after mosque arson attack

Faith leaders from across North Staffordshire will join together for a show of unity and solidarity following a failed attempt last week (Friday 3rd December) to cause an explosion at the new mosque being built in Regent Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

Leaders from different faith traditions will meet on Friday 10 December at 2.00pm at the Muslim Welfare & Community Association, Equality House, 75-77 Raymond Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 4DP. The leaders will then walk together to the site of the new mosque where the recent attack took place.

“We are deeply concerned at this recent event. We want to meet together as a sign of support and unity and to affirm that an attack on one faith is an attack on all.”

North Staffordshire Domestic Violence Conference

A conference highlighting domestic violence issues is to be held in Stoke-on-Trent this week to mark the International day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, through the Safer City Partnership, Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council, through their Safer Communities Partnership and ARCH North Staffordshire will be hosting the event today (Wednesday 24th November) at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, to give a better insight into how professionals can help victims.

Over 200 delegates are expected to attend the conference, which is titled “The Way Forward”. It is the second one for North Staffordshire following the success of last year’s event – the first one of its kind in the area.

The idea is that those who attend get a greater insight into the work that others do to help all individuals affected by domestic violence. It’s hoped through working together that each professional will be able to broaden their knowledge and be able to help those in need more effectively.

The morning session will concentrate on portraying people’s experiences of domestic violence through a series of films and presentations, while the afternoon will focus on key speakers from around the country currently involved in the fight against tackling domestic violence. Speakers include:

  • Anthony Wills – Standing Together Against DV – Greater London Project
  • Dr Claire Fox – Lecturer in Psychology – Keele University
  • Sue Penna – who has developed a recovery model for victim/survivors.

The conference will also launch two important pieces of work that have been developed locally: A film that has been made in partnership with victim survivors, perpetrators, Stoke-on-Trent based film company Junction 15 and other supporters which it’s hoped will challenge the stereotypes associated with this type of crime.

Also being launched is a book of poems and stories which is titled ‘Beaten Down, Rising Up, Standing Tall’ that has been written by local victim survivors who have formed their own group called “Voices of Experience” Many of the women in this group have been through Arch services and now have a level of confidence that drives them to speak out publicly and campaign against Domestic Violence.

The conference will hopefully give people the chance to get together and share their experiences about what they have learned.

We are working closely with other organisations such as the police and our community safety colleagues in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme to discuss how to provide the best possible services for those who need them.

The opportunity for people to get together and share what they know can only help the victims of domestic violence.

It’s reassuring to know that there are people who will have a breadth of knowledge about their field are available to help people when it’s required. Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of their race, age or gender and it’s important that there are dedicated professionals on hand to provide any assistance that is needed.

We are pleased to welcome some very authoritative speakers to the conference.

The event is also significant as our awareness raising film and book by victim survivors will be launched.

Big Conversation Set To Inspire Stoke-on-Trent Employers On Work Experience

Young people from Stoke-on-Trent schools are set to benefit from the wisdom and experience of local business leaders as part of Business in the Community’s national Work Inspiration campaign.

On Tuesday, 23 November, 50 pupils will be at the King’s Hall, in Kingsway, Stoke, to talk to more than 60 senior business representatives from across the city about the benefits of work experience.

The Work Inspiration campaign, which has seen Big Conversation events held across the country, has been developed to encourage businesses of all sizes and types, across all sectors, to commit to improving and expanding the work experience they offer in order to bridge the gap between the classroom and the world of work.

The Stoke-on-Trent event is being hosted by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Chief Executive John van de Laarschot, Sinead Butters, Chief Executive of Aspire Housing Group and David Darlaston, Regional Director of Business in the Community.

They will be joined by chief executives and senior officers from across North Staffordshire, including, Johnson Tiles, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue, Stoke City Football Club and Kier Group, to discuss with students about how to create worthwhile and beneficial work experience placements.

“The younger generation are the city’s future employees and employers so it is important we invest time and effort to help shape their career paths. The Big Conversation gives young people the chance to talk to business leaders about how they developed their careers. It also allows us to think as a business how we provide work experience opportunities and whether what we offer could be improved. It is a great opportunity for our city’s young people and business leaders to unite in shaping the students of this city’s future career paths.”

During the day long event young people, aged between 15 and 18, will be given the opportunity to talk on a one to one basis with chief executives and business leaders about their experiences and careers. It will provide students with the unique opportunity to quiz business leaders on how they got to where they are today while also giving both parties the opportunity to review the benefits of work experience in business.

“Work experience acts as a vital link between young people and the world of business, so it is my firm belief that employers should play their part to ensure young people’s first experience of work is both challenging and rewarding. The Big Conversation is the first step a of crucial dialogue between young people and business, and in doing so will help the business to better understand how they can meet the ambition of young people, and provide the best possible work experience.”
“I am delighted to be involved in such an inspirational campaign which helps us, as employers, understand what we can do to make young peoples first experiences of work more meaningful and relevant In terms of deciding what they want to do when they leave school . It is great that we can draw upon the experience of the members of the Employer Board, which is made up of representatives from companies within North Staffordshire to inspire young people.”