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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Custody Cells Should Not Be Mental Health Places of Safety

Matthew Ellis 04Responding to this week’s Care Quality Commission map of health based places of safety, Staffordshire’s PCC Matthew Ellis has said police custody cells are fundamentally the wrong place for people suffering mental health crisis.

The CQC map shows that over a third of NHS and other mental health ‘places of safety’ in England do not admit under 16s – potentially forcing them into police custody instead.

Although the restrictions on under-16s are not in place in Staffordshire, the research reflects ongoing work to stop police cells being used as a place of safety for individuals with a mental health condition to be held unless they have committed a crime.

In February, at a meeting instigated by the PCC, senior representatives from Health, Social Care, Local Authorities and Police in Staffordshire signed up to a series of principles which make it a ‘serious action’ for police custody cells to be used in this way, automatically triggering a multi-agency review to confirm the appropriateness or otherwise of use.

The principles, which have been formally adopted and will be realised in the next year are:

  • All detentions under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act in police custody will have triggered a multi-agency review to see whether they are ‘exceptional’
  • All frontline police officers will have clearly defined access to mental health advice, support and information
  • The total number of Section 136 detentions managed in the NHS and on an ‘exceptional basis’ in police custody will have fallen
  • The proportion of Section 136 detentions requiring an immediate intervention from mental health services will have increased

Mr Ellis said, “The findings from the CQC reinforce the fact that police custody cells are fundamentally the wrong place for individuals with a mental health condition to be held unless they have committed an offence.”

107 people with suspected mental health conditions were held in police cells over a nine month period ending December 2013 and a report commissioned by Mr Ellis showed that nearly 20 per cent of total policing time across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is spent dealing with mental health related incidents.

The ‘Staffordshire Report’ was instigated and published following two months’ of meetings the Commissioner held with frontline police officers and others to discuss the issues that affected policing most.

Mr Ellis said what he was told provided serious cause for concern not only for policing but primarily because individuals who are simply ill find themselves locked in a cell because the right services aren’t available in the right way.

He continued, “The report highlighted the scale of the problem and made it clear that a lack of joined-up services and a lack of the right support at the right time for people in mental health crisis are key reasons why individuals end up in police cells instead of more appropriate facilities.

“It’s right that the problem has risen high on the national agenda and it was helpful that the Home Secretary used the Staffordshire Report to reinforce the scale of the problem. Nearly all the agencies across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent that can make change happen are now working together at the highest level to make sure change actually does happen.

“What I am certain is that the determination and genuine ambition that is being shown will result in more effective support and a better, fairer system.”

Posted in Community, Health, Staffordshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Labour Controlled Council Spends Taxpayers Money on Florida Theme Park Trip

Universal Studios Orlando FloridaNine council bosses are flying to the US to research theme parks in Florida at the cost of £15,441 to local taxpayers.

The team from Labour controlled Gravesham District Council said the trip would help the authority prepare for a £2bn Paramount theme park in Swanscombe, Kent.

Regeneration director Kevin Burbidge said the costs had come from the council and the purpose of the trip was research and not “to go on the rides”.

The group, including five councillors and four officers, are flying to Orlando today, Saturday, and are due to return on Wednesday and the trip will include visits to Disney World, Universal Studios and Island of Adventure.

Posted in Borough / County Council, England, Entertainment, Political | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is There Any Lamb In Your Takeaway Lamb Curry or Lamb Kebab?

lamb curryTakeaway owners are to face a new testing programme, after a watchdog found nearly a third of lamb takeaways it checked contained a different meat.

The Foods Standards Agency (FSA) found that 43 out of 145 samples of lamb takeaways, usually curries or kebabs, were wrongly described.  The FSA said 25 of the samples were found to contain only beef, which is cheaper than lamb and chicken and turkey were also found, but no samples contained horsemeat.

As a priority, local authorities are now being asked to test 300 samples of lamb from takeaways, starting at the beginning of May.  Takeaway owners are also being warned that they can be fined up to £5,000 for mislabelling food.

Andrew Rhodes, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA, said, “Prosecutions have taken place against business owners for mislabelling lamb dishes, but the recurring nature of the problem shows there needs to be a renewed effort to tackle this problem.  Clearly the message isn’t getting through to some businesses.”

The consumer organisation Which? found an even higher instance of contamination, after a series of tests in London and Birmingham, it found 40% of lamb takeaways contained other types of meat, with some containing no lamb at all.  Of 30 samples tested in Birmingham, 16, more than half, contained other meat and in a similar experiment in London, meat in eight of the samples was not pure lamb.

As part of its campaign to “Stop Food Fraud”, Which? is now calling on the government to take further action to restore customer confidence in the origins of meat.

Richard Lloyd, the Executive Director of Which? said, “The government, local authorities and the FSA need to make tackling food fraud a priority and take tougher action to crack down on the offenders.”

Which? also wants the government to implement some of the recommendations in the Elliott Review, which followed last year’s horsemeat scandal.  In the UK, 17 different beef products were found to contain traces of horsemeat, while supermarkets including Tesco and Asda were forced to withdraw products.

Among Professor Elliott’s 48 interim recommendations, he suggested setting up a food crime unit, to police food standards better.

Earlier this week, the FSA also announced a new round of testing on beef products, to check for horsemeat, the tests have been ordered by the European Commission following last year’s scandal.

Posted in Business, Community, England, Health, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get Set for St George’s Day Extravaganza

St George's Day - Tamworth Castle Grounds

St George’s Day – Tamworth Castle Grounds

Excitement is growing for this year’s spectacular St George’s Day celebrations in Tamworth Castle and the Castle Grounds, complete with a medieval joust, archery and sword swallower.

The St George’s Day extravaganza is always one of the highlights in Tamworth’s events calendar. Last year’s celebrations attracted more than 10,000 people – and was even held up in Parliament as a shining example of how to celebrate England’s patron saint when it was hailed as ‘renowned throughout the country, if not the world’.

Sword swallowing, children’s medieval workshops, have-a-go archery and Morris dancing are just some of the events taking place during the free celebrations, which this year are being held on Saturday April 26 from 10am until 5pm.

The hugely popular Medieval Joust returns again this year, when the Black Knight and Sir Robert Marmion will once again do battle for the honour of Tamworth.

The event is completely free and will feature displays and activities including:

  • Children’s workshops
  • ‘Have a go’ archery (for which there will be a small charge)
  • Sword swallower
  • Foot tournament
  • Medieval encampment displays
  • Walkabout characters

Admission to the Castle will be reduced on the day of the extravaganza to £5 for adults, £3 for children, free for children under two. Admission to the Castle Grounds is free.

Click here for more information and find out about other events at Tamworth Castle

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

Trust Announces Further Review of Day Care Services and Car Parking at Sir Robert Peel Hospital

Sir Robert Peel Hospital

Sir Robert Peel Hospital

At last Thursday’s Tamworth Borough Council meeting of the Healthier and Safer scrutiny committee, the Chief Executive of Burton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust announced a further review of the day care theatre and surgical ward and the management of the car parking at Sir Robert Peel hospital will take place.

The meeting with Burton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the scrutiny committee was originally called to discuss car parking at Sir Robert Peel hospital, however, following the announcements of changes to services Helen Ashley agreed to give an update on the proposed changes and answer questions from the members.

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Helen Ashley, attended the meeting along with the Director of Operations, Mark Powell, and they answered questions on both current and future services at the hospital and the current car parking scheme.

Mrs Ashley, who attended with the Trust’s Director of Operations, Mark Powell, informed the committee that the Trust will be carrying out a further review of the day care theatre and surgical ward despite previously announcing both facilities would close.  Cllr Andrew James, committee Chairman, told the Trust that a meeting is being arranged with South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsular CCG to discuss future services at Sir Robert Peel hospital and Helen Ashley said that the Trust will attend the meeting to ensure all questions put from elected members are answered.

Mrs Ashley then informed the committee that elected members from Tamworth Borough Council would be invited to sit on the stakeholders panel which will carry out the review of future services at the hospital.

The committee was also told that the current car parking scheme in place at the hospital is to be reviewed, although, there are no plans to remove the charges from the car park.

Mrs Ashley also admitted that the Trust had made mistakes with its communication process over the plans which had led to concerns over the future of the hospital.

After the meeting committee Chairman, Cllr Andrew James, said, “I am delighted with the outcome of our meeting with the Trust, it was to good hear that the day care services will be reviewed and it was pleasing to be told that our members will be taking part directly in the review of future services at hospital.

“I am looking forward to Tamworth’s elected Borough Councillors working closely with the Trust and local clinical commissioning group on the future services at the hospital, we use the hospital and it important that our voice is heard along with the County Council, Staffordshire Health and Wellbeing Board and the CCG.”

Tamworth’s MP, Christopher Pincher, who has raised the issue of Burton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Sir Robert Peel hospital in Parliament and is due to meet both the Health Minister and local CCG added, “I am pleased that the Burton hospitals trust has promised to look again at it’s original proposals.  It is important that they consult as widely and as fully with the local community as possible.

“It is not right that changes are “done to” our local community without their involvement.  I am still determined to press ahead with my meetings with our local clinical commissioning group, and with Health Minister Daniel Poulter MP to discuss my wider concerns for the Burton hospitals Trust and I will report back to my constituents.”

Posted in Borough / County Council, Health, Staffordshire, Tamworth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Walking Challenge Set to Get Underway

keep walkingBusinesses in Tamworth have already signed up to take part in a health challenge – and more are being urged to take the plunge and get involved.

The Healthy Tamworth Workplace Walking Challenge is aimed at encouraging people to take steps to improve their health and fitness levels while at work.

The challenge, which runs over an eight-week period, is being run by Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council’s Public Health Team and kicks off on May 5th.

To date, the Holiday Inn Express, Roasters town centre, Roasters Ventura, Tamworth Borough Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group have all signed up and are getting ready to put their best foot forward.

The challenge is for each employee signed up to take as many steps as possible each day. The borough council will provide pedometers to everyone taking part and the steps taken each day will then be logged via a step log.

The average amount of steps a person usually takes is 3,000-4000 per day and any increase would be considered good, but the aim is to do 10,000 steps a day, which would significantly improve an individual’s health. While the Workplace Walking Challenge takes place at work, steps taken outside work also count towards the total.

Strolling for half an hour burns 75 calories, walking for the same period of time would burn 99 calories and a fast walk burns 150 calories.

At the end of the challenge, each business will submit its logs and the average number of steps per employer will be worked out. A trophy for the winning businesses will be provided and everyone who took part will be entered into a prize draw.

As well as boosting health and well-being, promoting physical active can significantly improve health among employees. This, in turn, can increase productivity, lower rates of absenteeism, improve the working atmosphere and have a positive impact on stress, back pain and mental health.

Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. It’s underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active.

Funding has been provided through Staffordshire County Council’s Workplace Health Programme and Tamworth Borough Council.

The challenge starts on Monday 5th May 2014 and finish on Sunday 29th June 2014. Businesses who would like more information or would like to take part in the challenge, please contact Charlotte Green on 07854415865. Alternatively register online at www.healthytamworth.co.uk.

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

Police for Witnesses Following Assault in Tamworth

Tamworth ArchesStaffordshire Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault in the early hours on Sunday morning in Tamworth.

The victim, a 38-year-old woman local women, was assaulted by a lone male on grassland adjacent to the Amington Arch, Bolehall at 3.35am, while she was walking alone.

The victim was wearing pink ¾ length jeans and a purple coat. She suffered injuries to her head and face and was taken to the Good Hope hospital for treatment and later released.

The offender is described as White male aged in his 20’s, around 5’7” tall with an eastern European accent. The offender ran off onto the Amington Road.

Anyone with information should call Staffordshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 193 of 13/4/2014. Alternatively, they can ring independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Posted in Community, Health, Staffordshire, Tamworth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,