Welcome to my blog!

I am one of the three Tamworth Borough Councillors for the Mercian Ward, first 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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Could You be the Next Black Rod?

Lieutenant General David Leakey, the current Black Rod

Parliament is advertising for a new Black Rod to replace Lieutenant General David Leakey, who is retiring.

Black Rod is best known for a role in the State Opening of Parliament, knocking on the door of the House of Commons to summon MPs for the Queen’s Speech.

But the post-holder has year-round responsibilities for the security and maintenance of the House of Lords.

The successful applicant can expect to earn up to £93,000 per year.

As well as organising ceremonial events, Black Rod manages a team of 30 staff involved in the day-to-day running of the House of Lords.

The famous image of Black Rod has its origins in a tradition dating back to the Civil War…

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New Funding for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Grant funding of £600,000 has been awarded to four charities to help victims of child sexual abuse.

The funding, awarded to the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), Barnardo’s, Rape Crisis England & Wales, and Safeline Warwick, will help them provide vital services including developing services for boys impacted by child sexual abuse, boosting rape support centres, and expanding an online counselling service for victims of child sexual abuse.

NAPAC will use the funding (£314,360) for a telephone support line, training for professionals, boosting research capability, support and advocacy work targeted at adult victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

The funding awarded to Barnardo’s will go towards developing approaches for identifying, assessing and preventing the sexual abuse of boys.

Rape Crisis England & Wales will use the funding to support survivors by email and its website, to amplify survivors’ voices through an awareness-raising audio project, and to develop the capability of Rape Crisis Centres.

Safeline Warwick will extend a telephone and online counselling service to women aged 18 and over who have experienced child sexual abuse.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Sarah Newton, said, “Child sexual abuse is a devastating crime and we are determined to ensure every victim has the support they need, as we work to bring their abusers to justice.

“This government is committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and we have done more than any other to tackle these horrific offences.  We have increased support for victims of sexual abuse, invested in training and technology to improve law enforcement’s response to abuse both on and offline, and brought in a tougher inspection regime to ensure all front-line professions are meeting their child protection duties.

“But there is more to do, and this funding will ensure that charities who protect and support people who have suffered child sexual abuse are able to continue and develop the vital support they offer.”

The funding has been awarded through the Ministry of Justice Victims’ Fund, and was allocated by the Home Office to organisations providing a national service to victims of child sexual abuse.

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Cycle Safety to be Reviewed

Transport Minister Jesse Norman has announced an urgent review into cycle safety, following a series of high profile incidents involving cyclists.

The review will look at whether a new offence equivalent to causing death by careless or dangerous driving should be introduced for cyclists, as well as wider improvements for cycling road safety issues.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said, “Although the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, we are always looking to make them safer.  It’s great that cycling has become so popular in recent years but we need to make sure that our road safety rules keep pace with this change.

“We already have strict laws that ensure that drivers who put people’s lives at risk are punished but, given recent cases, it is only right for us to look at whether dangerous cyclists should face the same consequences.

“We’ve seen the devastation that reckless cycling and driving can cause, and this review will help safeguard both Britain’s cyclists and those who share the roads with them.”

Since the government trebled spending on cycling between 2010 and 2017, there has been a huge increase in the number of cyclists on our roads.  In 2015, 2 pedestrians were killed and 96 seriously injured after being hit by a bicycle.  Every year more than 100 cyclists are killed and more than 3,000 seriously injured on British roads.

The review, which will seek to improve all elements of cycle safety, will be in 2 phases.

The first phase will analyse the case for creating a new offence equivalent to causing death or serious injury by careless or dangerous driving to help protect both cyclists and pedestrians.  This will address a specific issue emerging from some of the most distressing cases seen recently and will be informed by independent legal advice.  The conclusions from this phase are expected to be reported in the New Year.

The second phase will be a wider consultation on road safety issues relating to cycling.  It will involve a range of road safety and cycling organisations, as well as the general public and will consider different ways in which safety can be further improved between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.  It will consider the rules of the road, public awareness, key safety risks and the guidance and signage for all road users.

Further details of the review will be announced shortly.

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New Government Rules Could See Councillors and Mayors Removed from Office

New rules being laid out by the Government could see Councillors and Mayors found guilty of serious crimes removed from office and barred from restanding for election in England.

Local Government Minister Marcus Jones has set out plans to strengthen rules to prevent anyone found guilty of serious crimes from serving on local councils.  Under the planned changes to criteria, it would ensure those who represent their communities are held to the highest possible standards.

Current rules make clear that anyone convicted of an offence carrying a prison sentence of more than 3 months is banned from serving as a local councillor.  However, Mr Jones said that while this may have prevented criminals from becoming councillors, it does not reflect modern sentencing practices.

New rules could mean anyone given an Anti Social Behaviour Injunction, a Criminal Behaviour Order or added to the sex offenders’ register, would no longer be able to hold elected office in their communities.

Local Government Minister Marcus Jones said, “Councillors hold an important position of trust and authority in communities across England.  We need to hold them to the highest possible standards.  The current rules are letting residents and councils down by not preventing people who should never be considered for such roles from standing for election.

“The changes the Government is proposing would help make sure anyone convicted of a serious crime, regardless of whether it comes with a custodial sentence, will not be able to serve as a councillor.”

Changes to reflect modern-day sentencing

Current barriers to becoming a councillor include being employed by the authority, being subject to a bankruptcy order or being convicted of an offence resulting in a prison sentence.

These restrictions were implemented in 1972, before the sex offenders register or other non-custodial orders existed.  The new proposed measures would bring rules much more into the present day by including the alternatives to a prison sentence also becoming a barrier to being a councillor.

They would apply to councillors and mayors in parish, town, local, county and unitary councils, combined authorities and the Greater London Authority.

It would mean a ban on standing to be elected or if once elected a councillor was subsequently convicted of a serious offence, which resulted in an Anti Social Behaviour Injunction, a Criminal Behaviour Order or being on the sex offenders’ register, being forced to step down.

The changes would better reflect rules governing standards of MPs, where members face suspension from the House for anything that contravenes the parliamentary code of conduct.

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Appeal for Witnesses Following Serious Assault in Tamworth

Detectives in Tamworth are appealing for witnesses and information following a serious assault in Sorrel, Tamworth late last night.

An ambulance was called to the area at around 11pm on Friday 8 September to attend to a man who had received multiple stab wounds.

The 30-year-old man is currently in a critical condition in hospital. Staffordshire Police would urge anyone with any information to call them on 101 quoting incident number 955 of 8 September.

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Meet the Mercian Ward Councillors on Saturday

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1 in 10 Men Aged 50 Have a Heart Age 10 Years Older Than They Are

Heart Age Test is the only known way of measuring our heart age, which shows how many years we can expect to live healthily without a heart attack or stroke.

The higher our heart age, the higher our risk.

Analysis of 1.2 million tesr results shows the majority of people (64%) with a heart 10 years older than their actual age are male.

Every month, 7,400 people die from heart disease or stroke.  A quarter of deaths are of people under 75 and most of these can be prevented.

Public Health England’s (PHE) campaign is leading the way in addressing how people think about their heart health, encouraging them to be as familiar with their heart age as they are with their weight or height.

To help people find out their risk and get an immediate idea of their heart health, PHE is encouraging adults to take 3 minutes out of their day to take the Heart Age Test.  A new version of the test forms part of PHE’s One You campaign, which supports adults in making simple changes towards a longer, happier life.

People who take the test will be referred to apps, advice and resources to help them eat and drink better, get active, and quit smoking to improve their heart health.

The campaign runs throughout September in partnership with cardiovascular charities British Heart Foundation, Stroke Association and Blood Pressure UK.  For the first time, the test will direct users to their nearest blood pressure station if they do not know theirs, as those with high blood pressure are more at risk of heart disease or stroke…

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