Landsbanki make £1.5m payment to Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Stoke-on-Trent City Council announced today it was one of the 80 councils that has received its first repayment from money owed after the collapse of the Icelandic bank, Landsbanki.

The city council received £1.5m of its £5m owed and is expecting more installments in the future. Stoke-on-Trent City Council lost the money in the Icelandic banking crash after an email, sent by the council’s credit agency, which showed a downward review of Landsbanki’s credit rating, was not acted upon by one of the council’s officers.

Sarah Hill, cabinet member for finance, said this morning

This is excellent news for the city council and a well-deserved success for the Local Government Association (LGA) and its partners in the Supreme Court case. The way in which we have co-ordinated the legal action with the LGA, and other local authorities is an example of our effectiveness as a council, we have minimised legal costs and provided excellent value for money for the taxpayer.

This is very welcomed money for the council, £1.5m is a lot of money but it isn’t new money, it is money we were confident we would get back and is already committed for capital expenditure over the next few years.

So unfortunately it doesn’t change the budget proposals before the council later this week. However it is good that after four years we know for certain we will get most of our money back from Landsbanki.

The legal action was, coordinated by the Local Government Association, to secure priority creditor status for UK local authorities following the winding up of Landsbanki and another bank Glitnir. Local authority funds worth £413m were held by Landsbanki when it collapsed in 2008, and the LGA expects some 98% to be eventually recovered.

LGA chair Sir Merrick Cockell, said

This is the result of four years of hard work on behalf of the sector and we are absolutely delighted that we have been able to help more than 80 local authorities.

City Sentral – Who’s coming?

With just 6 months to go until the new Bus Station in Hanley opens in Autumn 2012, its time to get excited about what is soon to come.

The opening of the Bus Station will finally allow the old Bus Station and surrounding buildings to be demolished making way for City Sentral.

Consultation has now started on the Bus re-routing  and highway changes required to allow speedy clear access for Buses to the new Station

The City can then move on to the next phase of the development “City Sentral” we know that Marks & Spencers will be the main anchor retialer and the Vue will operator the Cinema. Travelodge are likely to be the Hotel operator due to there past partnerships with Realis, but what of the 70 retailers?

Little has so far been revealed of who these maybe, only one way to find out if you can’t wait, E-mail some retailers.

So I sent this email

When will Stoke-on-Trent get a ****** store, we have two new development centres one an expansion of the existing Potteries Shopping Centre and a brand new £350million shopping precinct City Sentral. Have you yet expressed an interest in either development?


  • YO Sushi
  • H&M
  • Nandos
  • Krispy Kreme
  • CULT
  • FatFace
  • Zara
  • Giraffe
  • Wagamama
  • Cafe Rouge

I have only had few replies so far, some the to be expected noncommittal while others more direct and honest.

Many people in Stoke on Trent have been crying out for a Nando’s they have even set up a Facebook Page to the cause, sadly I feel this is unlikly as Nandos reply was

We don’t currently have any plans for a restaurant in Stoke-on-Trent.

Krispy Kreme, CULT, and Zara all said

At this moment in time we are not yet planning on opening a store in Stoke

I have yet to hear from any of the others but I will be providing updates as I do.

Has anyone heard any rumours? Does anyone have inside information or have suggestions on other retailers who I should contact?

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Pancake Warning

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to take care when cooking their pancakes tomorrow for Shrove Tuesday.

More than half of accidental house fires are caused by accidents in the kitchen. Station Manager, Brian Griffiths said

Shrove Tuesday means fun in the kitchen for adults and children alike however the novelty and excitement of making pancakes often makes people less cautious with their cooking.

A common scenario involves families tucking into their delicious freshly made pancakes, forgetting that they have left their frying pan on the hob, burning away. If this does happen to you and the pan catches fire, switch off the heat, if it is safe to do so. Then get out, closing the door behind you and call 999.

We would urge people to check that they have turned appliances off when they have finished using them and never leave cooking unattended – stay in the kitchen until you are finished and then switch off the appliance you have used.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is launching its annual cooking campaign this month to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving cooking unattended. The campaign is supported by hard-hitting posters bearing the message ‘Look When You Cook.’

In Defence Of The Young

In 1899 they were accused of blocking the pavement forcing decent people into the road in Derby St, swearing and playing cards on the Pickwood Rec.

In 1954 they were accused of intimidating passengers on the Cheddleton Bus, vandalising municipal flowerbeds and engaging in a mass punch up in Haywood St over the Easter weekend.

In 2011 they are accused of laziness, lacking a work ethic, according to local businessman, drunkenness, illiteracy and being ignorant.

In the three instances the accused are young people as portrayed by older people.
Its time for a defence to be launched.

I work with young people; I know of them and in the course of an ordinary day will come in contact with young people. Most I know in these settings are perfectly fine, courteous, hard working, amusing and to use the jargon of the time” customer focused”. I am sure that some young people behave badly as I know that there are some old people act outrageously. The old man last summer who swore vilely at a bus driver and thumped the side of the bus in Longsdon is one side of the equation as is the skinhead who helped me with a buggy in which lay my sleeping baby daughter in Lime St the other.

Could it be that young people today, as they were yesterday, are being deliberately misunderstood by politicians and journalists who wish to use them to suit their own ends? Do the young serve a useful function as a scapegoat for the inadequacies of their elders?

I am sure that if we consider the question of the alleged uselessness of the British teenager we can all think of individual acts of kindness carried out by them. I don’t envy the young today in a country which has burdened them with debt and in which over a million find themselves unemployed. And they are being written off. Yet they had nothing to do with this crisis and the young will picking up the bill for a long time. This crisis is caused by the uselessness of the old.

Ian Dudson appointed as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire

The Queen has been pleased to appoint Ian Dudson as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire to succeed Sir James Hawley when he retires on 28 March 2012.

Ian Dudson is an industrialist, whose family ceramics business has been based in Stoke-on-Trent for many generations. A recent High Sheriff, he is also a Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Keele University Council, Honorary President of the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, and a former trustee of Lichfield Cathedral. He is Chair of the Trustees of The Dudson Centre, which acts as a resource centre for voluntary groups.He was also a founding member of the local Enterprise Partnership Board. He has served as a Deputy Lieutenant for the last decade and was awarded a CBE for services to the ceramics industry in 2002.

Ian lives near Stoke-on-Trent with his wife, Jane, and has two daughters.

Speaking about his appointment, Mr. Dudson said

I am deeply honoured to have been appointed as Her Majesty The Queen’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire. I look forward to representing The Queen in the County of Staffordshire and in the City of Stoke-on-Trent

The modern responsibilities of Lord-Lieutenants include representing The Queen in the County, arranging visits of members of the Royal family, advising on honours nominations, promoting Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service and also Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and participating in civic, voluntary and social activities.

Sir James Hawley was appointed Lord-Lieutenant in 1993 and became a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in The Queen’s birthday honours in 2010. Sir James said

I am delighted that Ian Dudson is to be the next Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire. I am sure that Ian will represent The Queen in the County well, he is an active member of the community and has an extensive knowledge of the local commercial sector.

Staffordshire County Council Chief Executive and Clerk to the Lieutenancy Nick Bell said, 

We are delighted that Ian Dudson is to succeed Sir James Hawley, he will be an excellent ambassador for the County

Protest Against Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cuts

North Staffs Against Cuts (NSAC) are calling a protest against the Stoke-on-Trent council budget cuts on Thursday 23rd February 2012 outside the council chamber on Kingsway, Stoke, starting at 1645.

NSAC strongly oppose the £24m cuts the council are pushing through this year. This second round of cuts will affect all sections of the community: children, pensioners, disabled people and council workers. Last year saw the closure of two local swimming pools, childrens’ centres, libraries alongside huge budget cuts to hundreds of other services. This year’s budget includes unfair contract changes to refuse workers, closure of a recently-built specialist dementia care home, closure of the Wedgwood College and the sacking of three hundred council workers.

Jason Hill, president of North Staffs Trades Union Council (NSTUC) says

The council says they are mandated to cut services in the city because of the Tory government policy. The people of Stoke-on-Trent did not vote for these cuts nor did we elect councillors to cut vital services, such as youth centres and nursing homes. We believe the council should refuse to make any budget cuts and fight to defend the services and people of Stoke-on-Trent against the savage Tory cuts agenda.

NSAC encourage all individuals and organisations that are against the cuts to come along to the protest, bring their banners and placards and show their opposition to the devastating slashing of services that will affect the city for many years to come.

Collection For Ruby Owen At The Britannia Stadium Tonight

Family and friends of four-year-old Ruby Owen from Kidsgrove are asking
Stoke City supporters attending Thursday’s Europa Cup match to help their
appeal to pay for life-saving cancer treatment in the United States.

Fundraising has been taking place across the City since the Owen family told
people the devastating news that Ruby’s cancer had returned, 18 months
after undergoing Proton Therapy Treatment in Indiana.

Upon hearing the news, local logistics company, Barry Proctor Services
Limited based in Talke stepped in to make arrangements for a collection in
aid of Ruby at the Stoke City match at The Britannia on Thursday 16th

And now a team of fundraisers, known as “ËœRuby’s Army’ will be
collecting around the ground before the match and are calling for fans to
give whatever they can for this potentially life-saving treatment.

Stoke-based charity, Caudwell Children, are helping co-ordinate the
fundraising campaign. Chief Executive, Trudi Beswick, said: “It is great to
see such wide-spread support for little Ruby’s campaign. It is thanks to
Barry Proctor and Stoke City that we have this opportunity to boost the
appeal but we really need all the Potters fans to raid their piggy banks and
give whatever they can.

There is only a very limited time period that this treatment is available to
little Ruby so it is crucial we raise the money they need as quickly as

Ruby’s Army will be collecting outside of the ground from 6:30pm on
Thursday night.

Anyone interesting in supporting Ruby’s appeal is asked to visit or contact Ben Sutcliffe at Caudwell Children on
01782 600114.

Working Men Clubs in the 70s

During the 70s I went to a couple of Working Men’s Clubs in Stoke. The Suburban on the Abbey, Baddeley Green and later in the decade I had a job behind the bar at Berryhill. My principal memories of them was how ordered and dignified they were. Saturday was the highlight of the week and people would make an effort to look their best. The Committee officers ran them with a grip of iron and membership were as tightly controlled as any freemasons. Instant silence followed the command ” Give order please” and quiet was demanded- and got- when Bingo started. Bingo was a ritual with its language and actions especially when certain numbers were called out ” Ted’s den- Number Ten, Two fat ladies 88, Leg’s eleven” followed by wolf whistles and the clinking of glasses as pens were banging against them. Sometimes a frustrated gamester would call out to the elderly lady caller ” Shake them up, Elsie” if his numbers were not coming up.

Then there were the turns.
Peter Kay is not far out when portrays the strange acts at the Phoenix. I recall vividly the Pakistani stand up comedian who told racist jokes against himself, the asthmatic country and western act from Cleverley who stopped for breath half way through his act.” I’ll be with you in a moment “, or the overloud ear-ringing rock bands. Sometimes there were special events like a boxing tournament at the Suburban where one competitor eschewing the basic defensive stance advanced with arms flaying like a windmill to be quickly demolished by punishing jabs that opened his nose up in a crimson torrent. For the turns themselves there was recognition that there efforts were taken with proper regard. As local act Gerry Stephens writing of the time reported

“You’d arrive outside the Club, grab your gear, and go in. The room would be completely empty. Then people start coming in; the room is packed, and it’s your job to entertain them for the night. You’ve only got your guitar, your voice and your patter, to get them going, gets them laughing.

It was quite a thing to be an artist in the 70s, there was a lot of respect shown; the audience wasn’t allowed to come in or go out during a bracket”.

But the knell- as it was for the working class- was already tolling for the clubs

Stoke-On-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council sign to support business growth

Stoke-On-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council have committed to support businesses through the planning process in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire by signing a Planning Charter Mark to commit to support businesses through the planning process.
The charter was signed infront of more than 130 business representatives at the New Vic yesterday. The event organised by the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP was fully booked and saw all local authorities in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area sign up to the charter.
Councillor Mark Meredith, Stoke-On-Trent City Council cabinet member for economic development, said
The city council is committed to helping to support existing businesses and encourage new investment in the region. The charter is the council’s pledge to help businesses flourish by providing a red carpet service to guide firms through the process as quickly and effectively as possible.

The charter which aims to make development in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire flourish will focus on five main areas

  • clarity and consistency
  • effort and focus
  • competence and respect
  • accuracy and fairness
  • dialogue and understanding

to create clear advice for businesses looking to expand or develop.

County Councillor Ben Adams, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Enterprise, said
This valuable and unique Planning Charter Mark is part of the red carpet that authorities are rolling out to businesses looking to grow and thrive across Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire. The pledge demonstrates that pace, professionalism and good customer service underpin our planning processes and help us to all play our part in delivering jobs, growth and sustainable developments. This business friendly approach is one of the reasons that big names are investing in the area
Stephen Dixon, LEP board member and managing director of Johnson Tiles, was also be joined by fellow board member Sue Prince and founder of Beechenhill Rural Enterprise to talk about the work so far of the LEP and the support the partnership can provide.
As part of the commitment all of the councils are signing up to have their planning policies reviewed annually to check whether they fulfil the criteria and can keep the charter mark.
Sara Williams, North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the move was welcomed by businesses saying,
Businesses will welcome anything that makes the planning process easier and quicker. Enabling business to concentrate on growing and creating jobs, not bureaucracy, is something we all want to see.
Maitland Hyslop, chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said
The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP is committed to supporting businesses to grow and welcomes any move which helps to increase investment in the region. The key to this charter is the fact that all of the local authorities have joined together to pledge their commitment making Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire the place to invest.

City Apprenticeships Up Almost 25%

Stoke-on-Trent City Council are reporting record apprentice figures for young people saying that apprenticeships have grown by nearly 25 per cent in the last year.

All of the apprentices supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be at The Bridge Centre, in Birches Head, today to celebrate the team’s success.

Councillor Mark Meredith, Stoke-On-Trent City Council cabinet member for economic development, said

This is fantastic news for the city. The city council is committed to helping young people develop their potential. Apprenticeships give young people the chance to get on the job training with the opportunity of a long term placement at the end of the training. This year has seen record numbers of successes and we are looking forward to the program going from strength to strength in the summer as the new placements become available.

This year Stoke-On-Trent City Council has supported 77 young people through apprenticeship placements in the city compared to an average of 60 for past years. Placements range from sports development to childcare with Stoke-on-Trent City Council directly supporting 63 placements as well as supporting recruitment for external posts in companies including Brazilian Soccer Schools, 21st Century Gym, Stafford Borough Council, Stoke City Football Club and Tamworth Borough Council.

The city council, through organisations such as Learn4work and JET, work with young people and businesses in the city to match budding young workers with suitable placements.

Apprenticeships not only provide businesses with the opportunity to develop their staff of the future but give young people the opportunity to get real on the job training. New opportunities for apprenticeships are due to become available on Friday 1 June.

Jake King, has been studying an apprenticeship in exercise and fitness for the past three years, which is helping him to realise his dream of becoming a personal trainer. He said

The program is helping me achieve my aspirations and I am gaining a lot of qualifications and experiences.

In total Learn4work, the city council’s apprenticeship team, has directly supported 47 new apprenticeship in the council. A further 14 have been directly supported via training in external placements. In addition the city council also has 12 apprentices studying play and learning in Children’s Centres, two studying horticulture at Burslem Park and two working within the city council’s highways team.