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

More Than 6,000 Reports of Hate Crime since Brexit Vote

Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP

Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP

Britain’s new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, has announced plans to tackle hate crime in England and Wales.

The announcement comes after figures showed there have been more than 6,000 reports of hate crime to police since mid June.

Ms Rudd has commissioned HMIC to carry out a “scoping study” into forces’ understanding of and response to hate crime of all types, including crimes against the disabled.

The Home Secretary said, “That will help to give confidence, to give reassurance, and also to make sure communities who feel they’re experiencing too much hate crime are able to get that confidence back from the police that it’s being addressed.”

The government’s action plan includes:

  • an assessment of the level of anti-Muslim, anti-semitic, homophobic, racist and other bullying in schools.  This will be used to “inform further action” against such bullying
  • action to tackle hate crime online, on public transport and around the “night-time economy”
  • a £2.4m fund for security measures at places of worship
  • £300,000 to establish three projects to “explore innovative new ways” of tacking hate crime in local communities
Posted in Community, England, Parliament, Wales | Tagged , , , , , ,

A5 Mile Oak Exit Slip Road to Close on Friday Night

roadworks signHighways England have announced the eastbound slip road of the A5 at Mile Oak will be closed overnight, between 8pm and 6am, on Friday 29 July for barrier repairs.

A spokesman for Highways England said a diversion route will be clearly signposted.

Anybody who requires more information contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Posted in Community, Enviroment, Staffordshire | Tagged , ,

Star Wars Producers Plead Guilty over Harrison Ford’s Broken Leg

Star Wars the Force Awakens Harrison FordFoodles Production (UK) Ltd has today pleaded guilty to failing to protect actors and workers following an incident in which actor Harrison Ford was seriously injured during the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Foodles Production (UK) Ltd is based in Queen Caroline Street, London, and appeared at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court today, 26 July, pleading guilty to two charges.  The case has now been transferred to Aylesbury Crown Court, date to be confirmed.

Mr Ford suffered a broken leg and other injuries when he was struck by a metal door on the set of the Millennium Falcon.  The incident happened on 12 June 2014 at Pinewood Studios.

A spokesman for HSE said, “During the filming of Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens, the actor Harrison Ford was badly injured after he became trapped under a rapidly closing metal-framed door.  The power of the door’s drive system was comparable to the weight of a small car.

“This was a foreseeable incident.  Foodles Production (UK) Ltd has accepted it failed to protect actors and staff and HSE welcomes the firm’s guilty plea.

“Every employer in every industry has a legal duty to manage risks in the workplace.  Risks are part and parcel of everyday life, and this is acknowledged by health and safety law – but they still need to be identified and managed in a proportionate way

“The British film industry has a world renowned reputation for making exceptional films.  Managing on-set risks in a sensible and proportionate way for all actors and staff – regardless of their celebrity status – is vital to protecting both on-screen and off-screen talent, as well as protecting the reputation of the industry.”

Posted in Entertainment, Health & Safety | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Business People Wanted for Safer Neighbourhood Panels

Safer Neighbourhood panelBusiness people across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are being offered the chance to play a pivotal role in local policing in their community.

They are being invited to join their Safer Neighbourhood Panels to hold the Local Policing Team Commander to account and look at wider criminal justice and community safety issues in their area.

Application forms are available now for people who are interested in joining including those who work in business or the voluntary sector.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire Matthew Ellis, who launched the Safer Neighbourhood Panels said, “This is a real opportunity for business people to play a part in holding those responsible for policing in their area to account and I’d urge them to get involved.

“I make no apology for believing that truly local policing, and the public playing a part in influencing that, is vital.

“You can shape policing at the most local level in your community by joining a Safer Neighbourhood Panel.

“The spotlight on local policing performance that these panels brings is invaluable in adding to the rigour I have introduced to overseeing policing.”

The Safer Neighbourhood Panels have been launched in places including Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent, Cannock, Lichfield and South Staffordshire.  Soon every local policing area in Staffordshire will have one.

Local residents and councillors sit on the panels, but in some areas the business sector is currently under-represented.  The Safer Neighbourhood Panels will influence local policing and community safety, scrutinise the work done by police in their area, give feedback to communities and examine the impact of community resolutions and restorative justice.

The PCC is interested in attracting people from all walks of life who are able to represent the views from a business perspective, irrespective of age, disability and ethnic background.  Expenses will be paid.

Anyone interested in applying to join their local Safer Neighbourhood panel should register their interest here.

Posted in Business, Community, Staffordshire | Tagged , , ,

Wigginton Park hoping to take Gold in Regional in Bloom Competition

Wigginton Park in Bloom judging 01One of Tamworth’s best-loved parks is hoping to claim gold in a brand-new Heart of England in Bloom category.

Wigginton Park is competing in the parks & open spaces category of the Heart of England in Bloom campaign, a new category that is being judged for the first time this year.

The award is open to parks and open spaces of all kinds, from pockets parks and gardens to country parks, taking in churchyards and cemeteries.  It is judged on three aspects; community & engagement, maintenance & development and environment.

Wigginton Park entered the awards as a large park of more than 20 hectares.  Its entry has been led by the Friends of Wigginton Park, with the support of Tamworth Borough Council.

On Thursday, judges Lyn Hammant and Kevin Yates from Heart of England in Bloom toured Wigginton Park with the Friends and council staff.

Chair of the Friends of Wigginton Park, Cllr Richard Kingstone, said, “It’s a great honour to be able to enter the Heart of England in Bloom parks category.  Anyone who has visited Wigginton Park will know just how amazing it is.  The park is unique not just in Tamworth but in the country.

“Where else can you walk though well-maintained, outstanding Georgian parkland surrounded by Giant Redwoods, Holme Oaks and other well-established specimen trees, enjoy a healthy game of rugby, have a pint or two in a listed manor house and then visit a spectacular wildlife meadow rich in natural English plant species?  We really do have a special place right here in the heart of Tamworth.”

He added, “The Friends of Wigginton Park was formed by students from The Rawlett School along with local residents and members of Tamworth Rugby Club coming together to attempt to make our park even better.

Cllr Robert Pritchard and Cllr Andrew James planting daffodil bulbs in Wigginton Park

Cllr Robert Pritchard and Cllr Andrew James planting daffodil bulbs in Wigginton Park

“Over the years we have developed a management plan with the support of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and Tamworth Borough Council.  We meet on the second Sunday of every month and carry out a variety of activities.  Since the start of the year we have planted a further 200 saplings, planted more than 500 bluebell bulbs, carried out maintenance in the wetlands area and started to plant out our community orchard as well as building two rustic benches in our meadow!”

The assessment of Wigginton Park comes just a week after Heart of England in Bloom judges Nicola Clarke and Roger Tait visited Tamworth to cast their eyes over the borough’s entry for this year’s Small City category in the regional campaign.

Tamworth in Bloom Champion, Cllr Joy Goodall, said, “Once again, Tamworth has impressed with its commitment to high standards of environmental works and community involvement.

“The huge amount of hard work and dedication from the volunteers who make up the Friends of Wigginton Park was very much emphasised and we are all now keeping our fingers crossed this will be acknowledged when the results are announced in September.”

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

New Gorilla Glass helps Prevent Phone Smashes

Gorilla GlassDropping your smartphone when taking a selfie could soon be less risky, says specialist glass maker Corning.

It has launched its next generation of Gorilla Glass – the material used in more than 70% of smartphone screens, including on Samsung and Apple devices.  Corning said Gorilla Glass 5 could survive more than 80% of drops from as high as 1.6 metres.

Shattered or cracked screens are the number one cause of smartphone repairs and customer complaints globally.

The new glass was tested on rough surfaces – a demo for journalists showed dummy phones being dropped from a height of 1.6 meters onto a sheet of sandpaper.

Some of the phones tested survived over 20 hard drops in the lab.  Typically, most phone drops are from between waist and shoulder height.

As well as drops, the company said it was twice at good at resisting scratches and other damage compared to what’s currently on the market.

Device manufacturers are expected to unveil products with the new glass within the next few months.

Posted in Community, UK | Tagged , ,

A38(M) Aston Expressway and M6 Junction 6 Closed this Weekend

roadworks signCommuters and shoppers heading to central Birmingham this weekend may face delays, as the A38(M) Aston Expressway and M6 junction 6 are closed for repairs and will not reopen until 6am on Monday.

From Monday morning, and for the next six weeks, the A38(M) out of Birmingham will be limited to two lanes, with a 30mph speed limit for safety.  All three lanes into the city will still be available, but with the same speed restrictions.

Highways England project manager, Jess Kenny, said, “From Monday (25 July), the lane restrictions on the Aston Expressway out of Birmingham may affect people driving home after work.  We’re urging drivers to plan ahead, consider alternative arrangements and check live traffic before setting off to help avoid queues.

“Throughout this project, Birmingham remains open for business.  It will still be possible to drive into and out of the city, and Birmingham City Council  is encouraging drivers to take public transport or alter their journeys where possible.”

The Aston Expressway needs traffic management to allow Highways England to safely close M6 junction 6, where road crews will work to replace waterproofing, repair damaged concrete, and resurface the road for smoother journeys.

Highways England has worked closely with Birmingham City Council to plan the roadworks to minimise disruption.  The weekend closures are taking place during the summer holidays as the roads around Birmingham are much quieter.

It is hoped that the project will be complete by the end of the year, but Highways England has stressed that engineers cannot tell the scale of concrete damage to be repaired until the carriageway is closed and the road surface removed.

Jess Kenny added, “We need to work now to ensure this part of Spaghetti Junction is protected for years to come.  Waterproofing is very important as it protects the concrete from damage, and the reinforcing steel bars from corrosion.

“If we don’t act now, water will cause more and more damage to the viaduct, meaning bigger and more disruptive roadworks in future.

“The weekend closures have been planned closely with the city council, which has represented the views of local residents and businesses, which we have taken into account while planning these works.

“We would like to thank drivers for their patience as we complete this vital scheme.”

Closures will be introduced on the Aston Expressway (tidal flow lane), Park Circus and Salford Circus to complete essential work over a 24 week period.

Highways England has invited the council to use its traffic management to complete its own essential maintenance tasks, which would otherwise need separate roadworks in future.

Motorists travelling into Birmingham city centre can find out more information about trains, buses and trams online at www.networkwestmidlands.

Information on the scheme, including a map of diversion routes and closure details, is available on the scheme website.

Drivers can get live traffic updates via the Traffic England website or by following @HighwaysWMIDS on Twitter and the Highways England Customer Contact Centre is also available 24-hours-a-day on 0300 123 5000.

Posted in Business, Community, England, Enviroment | Tagged , , , ,