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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Fazeley Remembers The Fallen

This gallery contains 8 photos.

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No Trick or Treat Leaflet

Halloween is tonight and whilst many enjoy Halloween, there are plenty who do not like having their doors knocked on at night and “No Trick or Treat” signs displayed in windows and on doors are polite reminders that not everybody wants to take part.

If you not have a “No Trick or Treat” leaflet and would like to have one to display in your property, you can click on the the one below and print it off.

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Eight Months in Prison for Company Director after 2010 ‘Death Trap’ Waste Baler Fatality

The managing director of a waste and recycling company in Liverpool has been sentenced to eight months in prison for breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act after a worker was fatally crushed by a baling machine’s hydraulic ram in 2010.

Jonathan Gaskell, his company, Gaskells (North West) and its maintenance manager Michael Cunliffe had all been convicted of health and safety failings after pleading guilty to charges in January 2016.

At a sentencing hearing at Liverpool Crown Court last week, Gaskell was given a custodial sentence while the business was also fined £700,000.

Cunliffe had previously been given a four month sentence, suspended for two years, for his role in the fatal accident.

Another defendant, operations and health and safety manager Paul Jukes, had maintained his innocence, but was found guilty of a Section 7 breach after a trial in September 2016, and subsequently sentenced to nine months in jail.

Jukes appealed against his conviction, which rested on arguments around “litigation privilege”, but his appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in January 2018.

The fatal accident took place on 23 December 2010 at the Gaskells Waste Services site in Foster Street, Bootle.

Polish national Zbigniew Galka, 39, was operating a baling machine which fed waste or recyclable material into a compaction chamber when it became blocked.

See the full article.

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Government Launches New National Hate Crime Awareness Campaign

A new nationwide hate crime campaign aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of what constitutes a hate crime has been launched by the Government.

The campaign has been developed in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime and other organisations, to help the public understand hate crime, particularly offences which often people do not recognise as criminal, such as some forms of online and verbal abuse.

This includes educating perpetrators who have been motivated by hostility towards the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability that they have committed a hate crime.

The strapline of the campaign sends a clear message about what hate crime is:

‘If you target anyone with verbal, online or physical abuse because of their religion, race, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity – you may be committing a hate crime. It’s not just offensive. It’s an offence.’

See the full article.

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Diabetic Eye Screening Changes Announced

Changes to the Diabetic Eye Screening Programme delivered by Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) have been announced.

Diabetic eye screening is a key part of diabetes care.  People with diabetes are at risk of damage from diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to sight loss if it is not treated.  Screening is a way of detecting the condition early before a person notices any changes to their vision.

The demand for diabetic eye screening in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has increased by more than 100% since it started in 2005.  There are now 72,400 patients and the Trust are expecting this to increase by a further 6,000 each year.

To meet increased demand, a screening model, which has more flexibility to change location and clinic capacity, is needed.

The local programme has also had an uptake rate that is lower than the national average despite a growing diabetes population.

To tackle these issues the Trust have remodelled the service by transferring diabetic eye screening from high street opticians into a number of dedicated NHS screening clinics across the county.  This has been rolled out in a phased manner, and will include the entire county by 1 January 2019.

Patients who require additional optical services such as sight tests and spectacles will continue to receive these from their high street opticians, and so will need to make two separate appointments.

They appreciate this is less convenient for patients, however the service change has been made for the following reasons:

  • A fairer spread of screening venues, regularly reviewed, which have been chosen to improve access for all people with diabetes across Staffordshire, with good transport links and availability
  • In house staff training ensures that there is consistency in every aspect of screening for all people with diabetes across the county, and local and national requirements are monitored on a regular basis
  • Patients will receive one-to-one support when attending screening and the dedicated screening staff can answer any questions they may have regarding their diabetic eye care
  • In house grading allows quick decisions to be made in the case of urgent referrals and direct referrals can be made where necessary, meaning safer care pathways

Patients will be offered an appointment at a local clinic but will be able to change this to a more convenient screening site if preferred.  The Trust will be continually assessing uptake and capacity rates.

They will also actively target patients and areas of greatest need by including regular ad hoc clinics to areas where our screening locations are some distance for the local population.  These will be held in places such as GP Practices, local supermarkets and mosques.  The Trust will specifically target patients in communities where screening uptake is lower and will provide interpreter services where required in order to encourage uptake from non-English speaking communities.

Following the changes from 1st October 2018, diabetic eye screening in Tamworth will only take place at Tamworth Health Centre in Upper Gungate.

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Tesco Fined after Employee Fractured Pelvis

Tesco has been fined £160,000 after a member of staff at a store in Thurrock was seriously injured when a cage full of goods fell onto them as they were unloading it from a lorry.

The employee suffered severe injuries, including a fractured pelvis, as a result of the incident at the Chadwell St Mary branch and had to be rushed to hospital.

Thurrock Council’s Health and Safety and Legal teams brought the action because the roll cage, which is used to deliver goods to shops, should only ever be moved by two people.  Tesco had a previous health and safety conviction for allowing a lone worker to move a cage at their branch in Waverley.

Tesco pleaded guilty to a charge under section two of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Cllr Rob Gledhill, Leader of Thurrock Council commented, “It is vital that workers are properly protected and safe when they are doing their jobs.  We will always take action to ensure that proper standards are maintained by the borough’s employers.

“The size of the fine should serve as a deterrent and a signal to employers that we take the health and safety or our residents and others who work in Thurrock very seriously.”

Tesco was also ordered to pay £18,118 in costs to Thurrock Council and a victim surcharge of £120.

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Jail Terms for Gross Negligence Manslaughter to Increase

Employers or managers convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after a workplace fatality are likely to face longer prison sentences under a new guideline published by the Sentencing Council.

Applying to sentences delivered in England or Wales on or after 1 November, the new guideline is an attempt to bring consistent sentencing to sentences for all forms of manslaughter, but the Sentencing Council says it is likely to have the effect of increasing sentences in gross negligence cases.

When the Sentencing Council analysed sentences for the 16 offenders convicted in 2014, it found custodial terms ranging from nine months to 12 years, with four suspended sentences.

Giving the example of an employer where “long-standing and serious disregard for the safety of employees, motivated by cost-cutting, has led to someone being killed”, it states that “current sentencing practice in these sorts of cases is [currently] lower in the context of overall sentence levels for manslaughter than for other types”.

The new guideline sets out four levels of culpability for those convicted, with the sentence range for “very high culpability” offences starting at 12 years’ in prison, with a range of ten to 18 years.

The “high culpability” category, with a starting point of eight years’ custody and a range of six to 12, would occur if there was a “blatant disregard for a very high risk of death” or the negligent conduct was motivated by financial gain, or the avoidance of cost.

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