Welcome to my blog!

 I am one of the three Tamworth Borough Councillors for the Mercian Ward, elected in May 2011.  Do you have an issue I or any of my colleagues on Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council can help with?

Contact me by phone, e-mail or post

mobile: 07958 155 863
e-mail: Andrew-James@tamworth.gov.uk
post: c/o T.C.A., 23 Albert Road, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79 7JS

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Assembly Rooms Redevelopment Plans Given the Go-Ahead

Assembly RoomsAn ambitious project to restore and improve Tamworth Assembly Rooms took a step forward this week when Tamworth Borough Council’s planning committee gave the plans their unanimous approval.

The improvements – which were given the go-ahead at Tuesday night’s meeting – include the creation of a café bar and exhibition space, a multi-use area, studios, restoration and improvement of existing windows, a new box office and new glazed double doors at the front of the building to help open up the front façade.

There will also be the addition of a striking extension to the building – a large translucent glass box on the side currently occupied by the car park, which would act as a studio space and would be lit up at night.

The aim of the project is not only to restore and conserve the 125-year-old building but also to improve access to visitors and make Tamworth Assembly Rooms a top-class venue to attract bigger and better acts.

Tamworth Assembly Rooms currently welcomes more than 22,000 visitors a year and hosts more than 70 community and civic events, alongside music, dance, theatre and other cultural events. It is hoped that the redevelopment project will allow the building to be used to its full potential – with a café area open throughout the day and a studio space providing a more flexible space to complement the existing auditorium.

The windows, which have been covered over for a number of years, will be opened up to allow natural light into the auditorium, and the front doors will be replaced with glass to open up the front of the building and make it more welcoming.

The plans have received the endorsement of English Heritage, which said it would not raise any objections. Cllr Steve Claymore, vice-chairman of the planning committee, said, “Tamworth Assembly Rooms is a fabulous facility, but in order for it to be able to welcome and serve the people of Tamworth for years to come, it needs to change and develop.

“The worse thing that could happen to the Assembly Rooms is for us to do nothing and to let it get to the point when it cannot be used. This plan is a great way of saving the building and improving it for the future, and I am happy to support it.”

The redevelopment of Tamworth Assembly Rooms is part of a wider town centre regeneration project, which includes the development of a Creative Quarter. This aims to provide a busier and more vibrant town centre, while capitalising on Tamworth’s culture and heritage sites.

The Creative Quarter project suffered a setback last month, with the news that a bid for £3 million from the Single Local Growth Fund had been turned down. But the project is still very much alive, with further potential sources of external funding identified. The approval of the development plans represents a step forward, as external funding is much easier to secure for projects, which are ‘shovel-ready’.

Further sources of available funding for the Assembly Rooms redevelopment and Creative Quarter project are now being looked at and applications drawn up.

Cllr Claymore added, “The approval for the works to Tamworth Assembly Rooms will now open up the doors to attract funding and make it easier to secure. There is a range of funding opportunities available, which we are currently exploring. Funding is still a challenge, but the plans for the Creative Quarter are still very much alive – and the redevelopment of Tamworth Assembly Rooms is at the heart of that project.”

Posted in Borough / County Council, Community, Entertainment, Tamworth | Tagged , , , , ,

Anker Valley Housing Development Plans Passed

house buildingUp to 535 new homes and a new primary school are to be built in the Anker Valley off Ashby Road, after the council’s planning committee approved an outline application.

The application was submitted by developers Bellway Homes for the 33-hectare site, which is currently farmland and which has been allocated for housing in the Tamworth Local Plan for around 15 years.

Members of the planning committee approved the plans at its meeting on Tuesday night, providing the developer abides by the following conditions:

  • 20% affordable homes (107 out of a total of 535)
  • £402,000 contribution towards the Tamworth Integrated Transport Strategy
  • Land for a primary school and £3,750,000 to finance the building of the school
  • £1,702,707 contribution towards secondary and sixth form school places
  • £440,000 contribution towards the provision of sports facilities within the Borough
  • Management of the on-site open space and sustainable drainage system in perpetuity
  • The provision of a pedestrian/cycle bridge across the Derby to Birmingham railway line
  • Widening of the Coton Lane junction (identified within the Transport Assessment)

The initial permission is for outline development only, the developers need to come back and submit a further application giving details of homes, road layouts etc at a later date.

Permission was also granted for two access points from the development onto Ashby
Road. One access will take the form of a roundabout, while the second will be a road close to the existing railway bridge.

Planning committee vice-chairman, Cllr Steve Claymore, said, “When we first looked at developing Anker Valley, the original plan was for 2,500 homes, which would be far too many. I am relatively happy with this application for 535 houses, as I am confident that the package of road improvements will allow for the proposed increase in traffic.

“I am delighted that the application includes the provision of a new primary school, which will be of great benefit.

“We have to accept that there will be development on Anker Valley and if we do not allow this application, it could open the floodgates to much more intensive development. Approving this application will allow us to further defend our position against any more development in the north of Tamworth.”

A major road improvement programme which will create extra highway capacity to serve the Anker Valley site are already underway along Ashby Road, Fountain junction and Upper Gungate. The ‘pinch point’ works include road widening and the installation of new toucan crossings.

The works are being funded by the Government and Staffordshire County Council, with Anker Valley developer Bellway Homes also being asked for a contribution of £402,000 towards road projects in Tamworth.

The houses will be built at a rate of 50 per year, which will mean the development will take 10 years to complete. Subject to detailed consent being granted, developers Bellway are hoping to start building next summer.

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Meet The Mercian Ward Councillors on Saturday

Tamworth Rugby Club, Wigginton Park, Tamworth

Tamworth Rugby Club, Wigginton Park, Tamworth

Tamworth Borough Council’s Mercian ward councillors will be holding their latest ward surgery for all local residents on Saturday 13th September.

The surgery will be taking place at Tamworth Rugby Club in Wigginton Park between 11am and Noon.

If you have any issues that you want to raise with Cllr Michael Greatorex, Cllr Andrew James and Cllr Richard Kingstone or you would just like to chat with them about the local area, please come along.

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Tamworth’s Night Time Economy Under Scrutiny

Castle bonfire nightTamworth should be a first-choice destination for people to visit at night, for meals, cultural events and socialising, not just for pubs and clubs, according to Tamworth Borough Council’s Aspire & Prosper Scrutiny Committee.

A report to the committee, presented by Cllr Jeremy Oates, called for an in-depth look at the town centre’s night-time economy, including what it currently has to offer, how many people it employs, the number of people coming into Tamworth at night, where they go and the number of licensed premises.

Cllr Oates said, “The night-time economy plays a vital part in the prosperity of the town centre. We want to improve the reputation it has and get the message out that Tamworth has a lot more to offer at night than simply pubs and clubs.

“We also want to attract a wider variety of restaurants and places to bring people into the town at night and made it the destination of choice. To do that, we first need to look at what the issues are and how we can tackle them.”

It was agreed that a sub-group will be set up to look at the issues affecting Tamworth’s night-time economy and what can be done to improve what the town centre has to offer the night-time visitor.

The new sub-group is made up of Aspire & Prosper Scrutiny Committee chair Cllr Tina Clements, vice-chair Cllr Joy Goodall, Cllr Jeremy Oates, Cllr Tony Madge and Cllr Matthew McDermid. It was also agreed that the group will talk to businesses involved in the Tamworth night-time economy to get their views on how to address the issues.

Cllr Tina Clements, chair of the Aspire & Prosper Scrutiny Committee, said, “We want more businesses to invest in Tamworth, so that the town centre is a more attractive place for people to come for an evening out.”

Posted in Borough / County Council, Business, Community, Entertainment, Tamworth | Tagged , , , , ,

Local Conservative Leaves Borough Council Cabinet to Join County Council Cabinet

Cllr Michael Greatorex

Cllr Michael Greatorex

A change has been made to Tamworth’s Borough Council’s Cabinet following the promotion of one of the committee members to Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet.

Cllr Michael Greatorex, who held the portfolio for Public Housing and Vulnerable People, will take the role of a support cabinet member with Staffordshire County Council.

Cllr Greatorex represents the Mercian ward in Tamworth and is also Staffordshire County Councillor for Watling South Division (Dosthill, Two Gates and Wilnecote). He will continue to hold his position on Tamworth’s Planning Committee and all other duties associated with being a Tamworth councillor.

Announcing the change, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, Cllr Daniel Cook, said the portfolio for Housing and Vulnerable People will be split between the remaining five Cabinet members for an interim period, which would also result in a financial saving.

The role Cllr Greatorex has accepted at Staffordshire County Council is the Support Member for Wellbeing, Prevention and Public Health, which will see him working under Cabinet member Cllr Alan White.

Cllr Cook said; “Cllr Greatorex has proved a huge asset to Tamworth Borough Council, both as a Cabinet member and ward councillor. He has worked on projects including the regeneration of Kerria and Tinkers Green, changes to housing legislation and the scheme, which has seen garages, redeveloped into affordable homes.

“Unfortunately a councillor cannot hold a Cabinet position on both a county and district council, and Cllr Greatorex has taken the difficult decision to accept the new challenge offered to him at Stafford.

“We will still be working closely with Michael – both in his county capacity and also as a borough councillor for Tamworth. I would like to thank him for all his hard work during the last few years on Cabinet and wish him every success in his new role.”

Cllr Greatorex said; “I am sad to be leaving my cabinet role on Tamworth Borough Council. I have found the work to be both stimulating and rewarding. I shall miss the support and encouragement, which the Leader of the Council, my cabinet colleagues and all the officers of Tamworth Borough Council have given me.

“The new challenge for me on the County Council’s cabinet is an exciting one and gives me the opportunity to help shape policies to support county residents, including those of Tamworth where I have happily lived for 29 years and will continue to live.”

The full Cabinet and responsibilities is as follows:

  • Cllr Daniel Cook. Leader. Portfolio: Performance, financial planning, strategy and reputation
  • Cllr Rob Pritchard: Deputy Leader. Portfolio: Operations & Assets
  • Cllr Steve Claymore: Portfolio: Economy & Education
  • Cllr Stephen Doyle: Portfolio: Community Development & Voluntary Sector
  • Cllr Michelle Thurgood: Portfolio: Environment & Waste Management
Posted in Borough / County Council, Staffordshire, Tamworth | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Meet Your Mercian Ward Councillors

Mercian ward surgery

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Christopher Pincher’s 3rd Annual Jobs Fair

jobs fair

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