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

Posted in Andrew James

Killer Drivers to Face Life Sentences

accidentDangerous drivers who kill are set to face life sentences, under plans put forward by Government Ministers.

Dangerous drivers causing death by speeding, street racing or while on a mobile phone are among those now facing the same sentences as those charged with manslaughter.

Offenders who cause death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs could also be handed life sentences – an increase on the current 14 year upper limit.

New plans come as Ministers seek to deter dangerous, criminal behaviour on our roads, and make sure killer drivers face the toughest penalties.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said, “Killer drivers ruin lives.  Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families, who must endure tragic, unnecessary losses.

“While impossible to compensate for the death of a loved one, we are determined to make sure the punishment fits the crime. “  My message is clear – if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence.”

A consultation seeks views on whether the current maximum penalties available to the courts should be increased.  Proposals include:

  • increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life
  • increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life
  • creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, with a maximum sentence of 3 years
  • increasing minimum driving bans for those convicted of causing death

The announcement delivers on the Government’s pledge to consider the sentencing powers available to the courts for the most serious driving offences.

In 2015, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving, with a further 21 convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence.

It is hoped the measures will see custodial sentences for causing death by careless or dangerous driving increase, from an average of 45.8 months in 2015.

Posted in Community, Parliament, UK | Tagged , , , ,

Don’t Forget the Town Centre Free Parking on Two Saturdays in December

Free ParkingTraders, shoppers and visitors to Tamworth are being reminded that they can park for free on two Saturdays in December.

Parking will be free in all of Tamworth Borough Council’s car parks on two Saturdays leading up to Christmas – December 3 and Christmas Eve.  Ankerside is also offering free parking in its car park on those two Saturdays.

Free parking does not apply on the Gallen run temporary surface car park on the former Gungate precinct site.

The car parking fees are being waived on those two days in a bid to boost town centre trade by encouraging more people to come into Tamworth to shop.

The first free parking Saturday is on December 3, when the town centre takes part in the nationwide Small Business Saturday campaign to encourage people to shop with independent traders.  Shops throughout the town centre will take part in the event, which will be promoted across social media to encourage shoppers to support independent traders in Tamworth.

Small Business Saturday began in the USA six years ago and has grown to become a national event.  It aims to promote small independent traders and encourage people to support their local businesses.

The initiative is being supported in Tamworth by Tamworth Borough Council and Destination Tamworth.

Tamworth Borough Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Robert Pritchard, said, “We are keen to support the town centre, especially at important times like Christmas.  We made the decision to waive parking charges on these two very busy shopping days because we want to support traders and boost town centre trade.

“There has been a lot of support for Small Business Saturday in previous years, and I hope that a lot of people will support it again this year.  Please tell your family and friends so we can make this the busiest Christmas for the town centre ever.  Please come out and support YOUR town centre.”

Extra markets will also take place in the run-up to Christmas.  As well as the usual Tuesday, Friday and Saturday markets, there will be additional markets on Monday December 19, Wednesday December 21 and Thursday December 22.  The market will run as usual on Friday December 23 And Christmas Eve.

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

Public Consultation Starts to Help Shape Tamworth’s Historic Environment

tamworth-town-centreMembers of the public are being asked for their views on Tamworth’s seven Conservation Areas, including the opportunity to suggest actions to help preserve and protect historic features.

Tamworth’s seven Conservation Areas are Tamworth town centre, Victoria Road/Albert Road, Hospital Street, Amington Hall Estate, Amington Green, Dosthill and Wilnecote.  They are categorised as areas of special architectural or historic interest, which deserve careful management to protect that character.

Each of the seven Conservation Areas has its own detailed Management Plan, which defines special characters of the area, and the action needed to protect and enhance it.  The Management Plans were last reviewed in 2008 and are now being opened up for an eight-week period of public consultation to check they are still fulfilling their purpose and protecting the Conservation Areas.

The consultation runs from November 25th 2016 to January 20th 2017 and residents – whether or not they live in one of the Conservation Areas – are being invited to give their views on the management of the Conservation Areas for the next five years.

The consultation is running for eight weeks rather than the usual six due to the Christmas and New Year period, which falls during the consultation.

Members of the public are also being asked for their views on buildings of architectural and historic interest, which could potentially be added to the Local List or the National List.

The Conservation Area Management Plan Reviews are available online on Tamworth Borough Council’s Conservation webpage at www.tamworth.gov.uk/conservation-heritage where there is also the opportunity to complete a response form.

The documents can also be viewed at Tamworth Borough Council’s Marmion House office in Lichfield Street, Tamworth Library and Wilnecote Library.

Cllr Steve Claymore, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said, “The seven Conservation Areas in Tamworth help to preserve and enhance the borough’s heritage, which in turn helps to create a sense of place and community.

“This consultation will ensure that the Conservation Areas are safeguarding that heritage and will also help us to find out if there are buildings, features and structures which are in need of additional protection.

“I would encourage residents with an interest in the borough’s history and heritage to take part in the consultation and share their views with us.  They will be playing their part in helping to maintain a pleasant environment, which will benefit those who live in the Conservation Areas, those who visit them and the borough as a whole.”

More information on the consultation is available by contacting the Development Plan Team on 01827 709279 or emailing developmentplan@tamworth.gov.uk.

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

Tenants Reminded to Pay Rent on Time this Christmas

2014 Xmas rentCouncil tenants in Tamworth are being reminded to make sure they pay their rent on time over the Christmas period.

And they are being warned that they could lose their homes if they fail to pay and fall into arrears.

Tamworth Borough Council is once again running its ‘Rent First’ campaign, offering help and advice to people who may be facing difficulties paying their rent over the festive period and encouraging them to make payment of their rent their top priority.

A Christmas card bearing the Rent First message – ‘Pay your rent before the pennies are spent’ – is being sent to tenants who are in arrears.

The main aim of the Rent First campaign is to make sure that rent is paid up to date over the Christmas period, by reminding tenants of all the ways they can pay their rent.  It forms part of a larger campaign by Tamworth Borough Council and the CAB to help people budget properly for Christmas, not overspend and to pay bills on time.

Cllr Michelle Thurgood, Cabinet member for Housing Services, said, “We want people to enjoy Christmas and the New Year but it is vital that they put their ‘rent first’.  Sadly, in the last year, eight families in Tamworth were evicted because they didn’t pay their rent.

“So while we are not telling tenants how to enjoy the festive season, we do want to make sure that everyone budgets for their rent payments as well.  Help and advice is available for tenants who may be having difficulty paying their rent and we have dedicated staff on hand all year round.

“I would urge anyone who is having difficulties to call the Tenancy Sustainment team.  Our message is clear – if you do not pay your rent, you could face court action or end up losing your home.”

The Tenancy Sustainment and Housing Solutions teams can be contacted on 01827 709709.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also help people who are in debt or struggling to budget.  They can be contacted on 01827 305952.

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

2016 on Course to be World’s Warmest Year

hot-weather2016 looks poised to be the warmest year on record globally, according to preliminary data.

With data from just the first nine months, scientists are 90% certain that 2016 will pass the mark set by 2015.

Temperatures from January to September were 1.2C above pre-industrial levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The body says temperatures should remain high enough for the rest of the year to break the previous record.

El Nino has had an impact, but the most significant factor driving temperatures up continues to be CO2 emissions.

The provisional statement on the status of the global climate in 2016 has been released early this year to help inform negotiators meeting in Morocco, who are trying to push forward with the Paris Climate Agreement.

The document says the year to September was 0.88 above the average for the period between 1961-90, which the WMO uses at its baseline.

The whole of 2015, which broke the previous record by a significant amount, was 0.77 above the 1961-90 average.

Posted in Enviroment | Tagged , , , , , ,

Dementia is the Leading Cause of Death in England and Wales

dementiaDementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, latest figures reveal.

Last year, more than 61,000 people died of dementia – 11.6% of all recorded deaths.

The Office for National Statistics says the change is largely due to an ageing population.

People are living for longer and deaths from some other causes, including heart disease, have gone down.  Also, doctors have got better at diagnosing dementia and the condition is now given more weight on death certificates.

The bulk of the dementia deaths seen were among women – 41,283, compared to 20,403 dementia deaths in men in 2015.

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, accounted for 15.2% of all female deaths, up from 13.4% in 2014.

For men, however, heart disease remained the leading cause of death in 2015.

Hilary Evans of Alzheimer’s Research UK said, “These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently, no-one survives a diagnosis of dementia.

“Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge.”

Martina Kane of the Alzheimer’s Society said, “It is essential that people have access to the right support and services to help them live well with dementia and that research into better care, treatments and eventually a cure remain high on the agenda.”

There are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.

Warning signs of dementia

Seek medical advice if your memory loss is affecting daily life and especially if you:

  • struggle to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things that happened in the past
  • find it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
  • forget the names of friends or everyday objects
  • cannot recall things you have heard, seen or read
  • lose the thread of what you are saying
  • have problems thinking and reasoning
  • feel anxious, depressed or angry
  • feel confused even when in a familiar environment or get lost on familiar journeys
  • find that other people start to notice or comment on your memory loss
Posted in England, Health, Wales | Tagged , , , , ,

Meet the Mercian Ward Councillors on Saturday

mercian-ward-surgery-novemberTamworth Borough Council’s Mercian ward councillors will be holding their next residents surgery on Saturday 12th November.

The monthly surgery will take place at Tamworth Rugby Club in Wigginton Park from 11am until noon. The meetings are well attended by the three Mercian ward councillors and residents alike.

If you have a concern affecting the North side of Tamworth or just want to meet your elected representatives then why not pop into the rugby club. Michael Greatorex, Andrew James and Richard Kingstone to support residents with their concerns.

Cllr Greatorex said, “If you live in Mercian ward and have any concerns, questions or comments about the area you would like to raise with your local councillors, please come along and meet us on Saturday.

“If residents cannot make the surgery we can be contacted by telephone, in writing or via email. Our contact details can be found on the Borough Council website or by calling Tamworth Borough Council on 01827 709709.”

Mercian ward covers Lichfield Road, Riverside, Coton Lane, Coton Green, Leyfields, Comberford Road, Coton Lane Estate, Ludd Lane and Freville Close.

Posted in Andrew James, Borough / County Council, Community, Tamworth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,