President heads south for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

President Canal Boat steaming along a canal original picture from from Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire are being invited to see history in the making as President, one of the world’s only remaining steam powered vessels begins its journey to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June.

The boat ‘President’, commissioned to take part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire. People can take up this opportunity to see President at the Etruria Industrial Museum this afternoon  (20 April) from 12pm before she leaves at 1:30pm. Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Ian Dudson and The Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Councillor Terry Follows will also be in attendance. Continue reading

Stoke-on-Trent Tour stage sets TV viewing figures record

The Stoke-on-Trent stage of the 2011 Tour of Britain was easily the biggest hit with television viewers, recent audience figures have revealed.
Close to three quarters of a million people tuned in to ITV 4 to watch the hour-long highlights package of the 80 mile stage which began at Trentham Gardens and finished outside the Town Hall in the city centre.
The viewing figures were split over two days, with the initial programme shown on the night of the event on Tuesday September 13, with a repeat showing the following morning.
A record 592,000 watched Lars Boom power to victory up the hill on Albion Street, just hours after the event finished in the Stoke-on-Trent sunshine. A further 127,000 saw the repeat on Wednesday.
The closest stage to Stoke-on-Trent was Stage 4, when 649,000 tuned in over the two days to see the Welshpool to Caerphilly race.
The figures represent a record for the four-year period the event has been shown on ITV4 and was 250,000 more than watched the televised Stoke-on-Trent stage last year.
Organisers are delighted with the statistics, released by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, which indicate the UK’s growing fascination with cycling.

The figures all over the country were vastly up on last year, with Stoke-on-Trent breaking records. Nearly three quarters of a million is on a par with ITV4’s Tour De France figures. It is great news for everyone and shows that the event and the sport is growing rapidly in popularity.

This year’s event was the fourth time the Tour of Britain has come to Stoke-on-Trent, with more and more local people coming out to watch each year.
In September Mark Cavendish took part in the race, using it as a warm-up event for the World Championships a week later ““ which he duly won.
Since then Cavendish, a favourite for Olympic Gold next July in London, has joined Team Sky which increases the chances of the 20-time Tour De France Stage winner taking part in his home tour each year.
Initial reports suggest that the Tour resulted in a net economic impact of over £3.5 million for the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire region, with further results expected next week.
In further good news, the city council Event’s Team has won recognition after being awarded a runner’s up place in a competition run by sponsors Halfords for the Tour Series Event back in June.
The award was based on the supporting events, promotion and effort. Stoke-on-Trent were judged second out of eight venues which will result in a number of prizes for the council. 
Stoke-on-Trent engaged local schools and community cycling groups for the day’s activities with a great response. The team at Stoke-on-Trent also worked well during the planning process, making sure everyone was up-to-date with their plans and also open to suggestions and developments.

The city council’s Events Team were beaten into second place by Colchester, but were granted runner’s up ahead of other race hosts’ such as Oldham, Exeter and London. They will receive a certificate, a trophy and a framed winners’ jersey.
All of this is really good news. This year’s cycle events have been better than ever. That so many people tuned into our stage shows how popular cycling is in this region and how good a job our team do in putting it on with partners. It is great to see Stoke-on-Trent setting records.
That our Events team has also been recognised for their excellent work is fantastic. London has a stage of the Tour of Britain and also a leg of the Tour Series and more people watched on TV to see our city’s Tour of Britain stage than they did for the one in the Capital and our leg of the Tour Series has been judged a better event than the one in Canary Wharf by sponsors’. This shows exactly what the city is capable of and is reward for everyone’s good work.

This is brilliant news. It is fantastic that so many people watched the Stoke-on-Trent stage on television ““ and a record too! It was a wonderful day, it is a fantastic event and let’s hope we can bring it back next year.

New Engineering Base for County’s Fire Engines

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Services is set to officially open a brand new state of the art Maintenance Facility that will house its Transport and Engineering department.

The £3 million facility, built by St Modwen, at Trentham Lakes in Stoke-on-Trent will allow it to carry out repairs and servicing to all 208 of the Service’s vehicles and associated equipment in one location. This includes fire engines, response cars, specialist appliances and equipment.

The new facility will be officially opened by Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Len Bloomer during an event being held on 20th May. Attendees will include Chief Fire Officers, Fleet Engineers, from across the region, representatives from St Modwen and partners of the staff based at the new facility.

The 22,400 sq ft property includes 12 vehicle servicing and repair bays alongside a machine workshop, small spray booth, storage areas for equipment and a training / meeting room. A team of 20, comprising of managers, technicians, storekeeper and admin personnel, who also deal with the design, purchase and allocation of new vehicles, will be based at the new facility. The Service has also taken on an apprentice vehicle technician who will be on a four year development programme.

Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, Peter Dartford said:

“We are absolutely thrilled with the new Transport and Engineering Maintenance Facility. It really is a top of the range facility that will be the envy of other fire and rescue services across the country!

“This is our first new building to open in 2010; we have three brand new community fire stations also opening this year so it really is an exciting and busy time for the Service.”

Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Len Bloomer added:

“Having a single centrally located site at which we can maintain all of our vehicles and operational equipment is a huge asset to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority and will enable us to continue to ensure all of our fire engines and equipment through out the County are maintained to the highest possible standards every single day of the year.”

Fleet Engineering Manager, Rob Mason said:

“The new location at Trentham Lakes is a big improvement for the department as the road network allows better and quicker access to all stations day and night. To have this purpose built facility to work from with all the relative equipment has taken the whole department forward into the 21st Century and future proofed the Service’s Transport and Engineering department.

“Delivering this project on budget and on schedule was not only vital to the Fire Service but also to the local community which requires a reliably and fit for purpose Fire and Rescue fleet 365 days of the year,” commented Andy Cox, development surveyor for St. Modwen (which manages the project for Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd).

“Our experience in working with the public sector and local authorities enabled us to project manage this development without an external lead contractor, ensuring a close working relationship with the client from start to finish.

“Built to specific requirements, the building will maximise the efficiencies of the Service while providing a pleasant working environment for employees who we hope will enjoy being part of the thriving commercial community here at Trentham Lakes. We are thrilled with the finished property and feel honoured to have provided the Service with a modern facility that will support all 30 fire stations across the county.”

Annual servicing and large repairs will be carried out within the premises with safety inspections, minor servicing and repairs undertaken at the various 30 fire stations located throughout the county of Staffordshire. The Service’s Transport and Engineering Maintenance Facility was previously located at Hanley Fire Station; however it was moved to make way for the brand new community fire station which will start being built later this year.

City and St Modwen come to the end of the road

UPDATED: St Modwen Statement Now Online!

By Tony Walley.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and developers St Modwen are to end their long standing partnership.

Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd was established in 1993 and was the first business joint venture agreement of it’s kind in this city.

The company’s mission was “Ëœto stimulate new development, investment and employment in Stoke-on-Trent with particular reference to
brownfield land’.

The brownfield sites in question are primarily former steel, coal and ceramic works.

The cessation of the partnership will mean that the company will also be dissolved.

Deputy Council Leader - Brian Ward

Deputy Council Leader - Brian Ward

Speaking to Pits’n’Pots today, the deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council Brian ward, who is also the portfolio holder for regeneration said: “The partnership between the city council and St Modwen has been a tremendous success”

” St Modwen took an interest in Stoke-on-Trent when other companies did not. The partnership has been mutually beneficial to both parties”

” It has been a joint agreement to end our venture and the details have yet to be finalised. We as a city council want to broaden our horizons now that more and more companies are interested in working in our city. It will benefit the city and it’s residents to have more partnership arrangements in the city’s portfolio.”

“St Modwen are still major land owners within the city and developments like Trentham Lakes will continue as before. The company have been very success in bringing companies into new development such as this”

St Modwens involvement goes as far back as 1988, when they were chosen following open competition, to be the development partner for the Festival Park development.

Former council leader Ted Smith was the driving force behind this partnership which has lasted some twenty years and seen the major regeneration of former industrial land within the city.

Mick Salih

Mick Salih

Councillor Mick Salih, a former Director of Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration Ltd, said: “When this partnership was first set up there is a no doubt that it was a good idea.”

” You only have to look at the number of jobs that have been created by the developments in the city. Brownfield site such as the Festival Park, the old Shelton Bar site, The Britannia Stadium have been transformed”

” Partnerships have a time span and I know at times there has been the odd St Modwen-on-Trent jibe, but by an large this venture has been a great success for our city. We must not forget that this company showed an interest where there was none from else where.”

Mike Herbert, North Staffordshire regional director, St. Modwen says:

Established 16 years ago, the partnership – like any other – has always had a finite life and although nothing has yet been finalised with the Council, should both sides agree to draw it to a close, we would simply buy out the Council’s 19% holding and Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration would become a wholly owned subsidiary of St. Modwen.

In no way would this diminish St. Modwen’s commitment to Stoke-on-Trent and the North Staffordshire region where, for the last 21 years, we have progressed many successful regeneration projects. We will continue to advance many more opportunities in the region, the latest being the development of a 80,000 sq ft call centre for Vodafone at Etruria Valley.

Over the last 21 years, St. Modwen’s North Staffordshire office has achieved the following in the region:

- Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  Reclaimed/ developed over 900 acres of land

- Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  Created over £650 million of value for the region via commercial and residential development

- Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  Provided opportunities for over 11,000 jobs

- Â Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚ Ã‚  Prepared, reclaimed and serviced land for 1,650 new homes.

A sign…?

By Mike Rawlins

“We weren’t even allowed to use the toilet because of the building works,” complains Nick Freeman from Fenton, while his wife explains, “We do this walk once a week, now just to keep active since we retired. But we were not told that this was going to happen.”

So I feel a little better that it wasn’t just me and my wife that went for a walk around Trentham Lake only to find that it wasn’t possible to do the full circuit because of the new boat house being built near the lakeside cafe.  I spoke to a number of people who had walked the ‘back way’ around the lake and not one of them was aware that the circular lake walk was closed.

John Darby from Hanford said: “It is poor that a company the size of Trentham Estate can’t get this right. I know they are not charging for the walk [yet] but even so, a lot of people I know do this walk regularly, a lot of the older ones, might not be able to make it all the way back easily.” He went on to say: “If this is a sign of things to come when the charging starts I won’t be bothering again.”

My wife and I walk around the lake three or four times a week, we know it takes us an hour and we plan it in to our work schedule as we both work at home.  On Monday we did the walk with no problem. On Thursday however, we fell foul of the building work around the new boat house.  We got to the Lakeside Cafe, to find that it was all fenced off and they were digging what looks like will be a boat access ramp to the lake.  Even here there we no signs to say how long the walk was closed for or where any alternative toilet facilities were.

We asked if there was any way around the building works to get us all on to the other side of the lake so we at least had a shorter walk back, to be told that we can go back the way we came or walk up to the car park for the Monkey Forest and out to the A34!  I asked if there was anyone we could speak to about this as there was a group of us now wanting to continue the walk or use the toilet.  We were ever so helpfully directed back to the estate office at the retail village either by walking back the way we came or the A34 route.

We asked the question why were there not any signs up anywhere to say that the walk was effectively closed, to be told that there were signs up all the way from the garden centre.  We had a quick check with the people who were around and strangely not one of us had seen a sign anywhere from the Garden Centre through the stables or on the gate where you go back in to Trentham Estate from the park.

I called the Estate Office to ask if there was any way our ever increasing party could get around the building works to continue our walk, as it was evident that there was nobody on the site who was empowered to make a decision, not even the Trentham Estate security guard, who had been phoned by somebody to come and talk to us.  He decided that helping his mate dig a sign up was more fun than talking to us!

I spoke to a young lady about our situation and she admitted that there was nothing she could do but Mike Herbert was in the office and I could speak to him.  Fair play to Mr Herbert, he took the call which is far more than a lot of company directors would do.

I explained the situation to Mr Herbert who told me that signs were put up, “I saw them being printed off at the beginning of the week ready.” I explained that they may have been printed but there were no signs anywhere to be seen if you walked around the lake the way that we and several other people did.  Mr Herbert apologised and said that he would make sure that signs were put up to inform people.

Mr Herbert went on to explain about the work being carried out around the new boat house should be completed in a week or so and added that  the  the lakeside Cafe is being closed next week (23 March) for a week while they refurbish it  and all the work being done is to improve the facilities around the lake for when the charging comes in to force.

Mr Herbert wasn’t lying when he said signs had been put up, after some investigation we did find them, one inside the visitor centre and one on the wall outside.

I have heard that signs have been put up now, but just in case, be warned you might not be able to walk around the lake and you can’t get a cup of coffee next week..