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

Posted in Andrew James

Council Urges Residents to Take up Free Flu Jab

self care week 2015Residents in Staffordshire are being encouraged to look after themselves and their loved ones by getting a flu jab this winter.

National Self-Care Week (November 16 – 22) encourages people to be actively involved in improving their own health and wellbeing, especially those with long-term conditions such as diabetes or chronic respiratory problems.

And, Staffordshire County Council is using this week to encourage as many people as possible to take up the flu vaccination, especially those who are eligible for a free one.

Across Staffordshire less than half of those adults and children who are eligible for a free annual flu jab have so far taken this up.

People eligible for a free flu vaccination include those with certain chronic health issues; people aged 65 or over, people living in a residential or nursing home and people who are the main carer for an older or disabled person.

County Councillor Alan White, Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing said, “Self-Care Week is an important reminder that we all have a responsibility for our own health.

“However, many people, such as those who care for an older or disabled person, may not know they are eligible for a free vaccination. The NHS website, http://www.nhs.uk has information on who is entitled to a free flu jab, and more information can also be found on our Staffordshire Cares website at http://www.staffordshirecares.info.

“Flu is an unpleasant illness, and for children, the elderly and those with existing health needs, it can be even more severe. This is why we are encouraging all of those eligible for a free flu vaccination to take up the offer and ensure they stay healthy throughout the winter months.

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

Prime Minister Praises Tamworth and Supports Great British High Street Bid

David Cameron and Christopher Pincher during a visit to Tamworth

David Cameron and Christopher Pincher during a visit to Tamworth

Tamworth’s bid to be crowned the best high street in Britain has received backing from Prime Minister David Cameron.

The PM was put in the picture about Tamworth’s campaign to take the top title in the Great British High Street awards by Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher, which prompted him to write a letter of support for the bid to Tamworth Borough Council Leader, Cllr Daniel Cook.

The letter reads, “Christopher Pincher MP has made me aware of the excellent work that Tamworth Borough Council has been doing to regenerate Tamworth town centre. I wanted to write personally to congratulate you and your colleagues on your efforts and, together with all the nominees, wish you the best of luck for the Great British High Street Award finals.”

Mr Cameron goes on to praise Tamworth’s plans for the new Creative Quarter and the restoration of Tamworth Assembly Rooms, which he described as ‘an exciting initiative for Tamworth that will create a significant number of new jobs and encourage private investment in the area’.

He signs off the letter saying: “This comes with my utmost thanks to your colleagues for your hard work, and my congratulations on being nominated for the Town Centre category in the Great British High Street Awards.”

Tamworth Borough Council Leader, Cllr Daniel Cook, said, “The Council welcomes the message from our Prime Minister, which I personally believe is thanks to the hard-working staff of the Council and the town centre businesses who all work hard all year round to ensure our historic town centre continues to outperform other towns.”

He added, “While we accept that we own very few premises in the town centre to allow us to directly influence the rents that shop keepers pay to their landlords, we can ensure that we help to create a positive environment around the town centre to ensure that it is attractive and welcoming to residents and visitors. The floral displays are not just about winning In Bloom competitions every year – they are part of a larger economic strategy to ensure the town centre is welcoming, bright and interesting, ensuring that visitors to the town enjoy the experience.

“Tamworth Borough Council remains committed to the town centre businesses and our heritage. We have invested more than £1 million in Tamworth Castle and soon work will begin on the Creative Quarter with much-needed works to Tamworth Assembly Rooms and the library giving the town centre another boost. The Gateways project continues to ensure the walkways into the town centre are inviting. With Ladybridge almost complete, we will look to start similar works on the routes from the railway station as part of the long-term economic plan for the town centre.

“For the government to credit Tamworth for these pieces of work to ensure the sustainability of the town centre is gratefully received.”

Cllr Steve Claymore, Cabinet member for Economy & Education said, “Raising the profile of Tamworth and breathing new life into the town centre is one of our priorities and a huge amount of work is taking place to achieve this aim.

“We have a lot to be proud of in Tamworth, including a growing number of independent and creative businesses, a thriving market, the £5.5million Creative Quarter plans, a rich heritage, beautiful town centre park, Heart of England in Bloom Gold status and one of the region’s busiest retail parks just a stone’s throw away.

“To have all this hard work and commitment to the regeneration of Tamworth town centre by the local businesses and Tamworth Borough Council recognised and endorsed by the Prime Minister is something which we should be hugely proud of.”

Tamworth now has to wait until November 30 to find out whether its campaign to lift the Great British High Street crown, ahead of its rivals Rotherham and Altrincham, has been successful, when the results are announced at a ceremony in London.

Competition judges spent two hours looking around the town centre earlier this month – and thousands of people went online to vote for the town to win.

A total of 21 finalists – chosen out of a record 230 entrants – are competing for the top title across seven different categories in this year’s Great British High Street awards.

Winners in each of the seven categories get a share of a prize pot worth £80,000, which includes expert training, and tailor-made tips from Google’s training taskforce for 100 of their shops, bars and restaurants.

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

Tamworth’s TIC Named Best in the County Again

TIC staff members Sue Beecham, Natalie Marson, Deb Lewis and Alison Dillon with their gold award

TIC staff members Sue Beecham, Natalie Marson, Deb Lewis and Alison Dillon with their gold award

Tamworth’s Tourist Information Centre is the best in Staffordshire, for the third year running.

Staff at the TIC, based at the Philip Dix Centre in Corporation Street, are celebrating after once again taking first prize at the Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards, organised by Destination Staffordshire.

Tamworth TIC won gold in the Visitor Information Provider of the Year category – beating tourist information centres from all over Staffordshire to be named the best in the county.  The win made it a golden hat-trick as Tamworth took the title last year and in 2013 as well.

The awards, which aim to promote excellence and boost tourism in Staffordshire, were independently judged and verified.  All entrants were judged on their commitment to delivering excellent customer service, training, sustainability and environmental issues, proactivity and the quality of service.

The assessment was carried out over a number of months, and included ‘mystery shoppers’ making a number of visits to Tamworth TIC and the other entrants.

Announcing the award, the judges praised Tamworth TIC for promoting excellence across a wealth of attractions, as well as helping to boost tourism and positioning Staffordshire as a leading short break destination.

The gold win means that Tamworth TIC will now go forward to represent Staffordshire in the prestigious National Tourism Awards.

It was also good news for Tamworth Castle, which was Highly Commended in the best Small Visitor Attraction category.  This is the first year that the Castle has entered, so staff were delighted to have been awarded Highly Commended as the category attracted its highest ever number of entries.

The award ceremony was held at Drayton Manor and had a 1950s theme, to mark the park’s 65th anniversary.

Tamworth Borough Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Rob Pritchard, said, “For the TIC to win this gold award for being the best visitor information provider in Staffordshire once is a great achievement – and to win it three years running is amazing.  We are overjoyed by the result, which supports the Council’s ongoing commitment to providing excellent customer service.

“Tamworth TIC has grown and gone from strength to strength.  The TIC and its teams have shown themselves to be true award-winners and officially the best in Staffordshire.  I am confident that this will not be the last award they bring back to Tamworth.

“It is also great news that Tamworth Castle has been recognised with a Highly Commended award – particularly as this is the first year they have entered and that there were a record number of entries in their category.  I would like to thank the team at Tamworth Castle for all their hard work and know that they will now build on that success to do even better next year.”




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

BBC to Announce Red Button Closure

red buttonThe BBC is expected to announce that it is to close its Red Button services as part of £150m of cuts.

Red Button replaced BBC Ceefax and offers extra channels during events such as Wimbledon and Glastonbury.

A £35m cut is also expected to be made to sports rights.

The BBC has already lost the rights to the Open Golf Tournament and while no event has been officially earmarked, it could throw doubt on the corporation’s coverage of sports such as F1 racing.

It is also understood £12m will be cut from TV but BBC drama and shows such as Strictly Come Dancing will be protected from the savings.

The cuts also include 1,000 job losses, which were announced in July.

The BBC says the savings are a consequence of a drop in the licence fee income because of what it calls the “iPlayer loophole”, that is people switching to watching BBC services only on “catch up” via the iPlayer which does not currently require payment of the licence fee.

The BBC says it has received assurances from the government that this “loophole” will be closed.

A further £550m of savings are due to be announced in spring 2016.

Posted in Entertainment, UK | Tagged ,

New Zealand Rugby Union Legend Jonah Lomu Dies Aged 40

Jonah LomuAll Blacks legend Jonah Lomu has died at the age of 40.

Nadene Lomu, the wife and manager of the rugby great, said in a statement, “It is with great sadness that I must announce my dear husband Jonah Lomu died overnight.  This is a devastating loss for our family and may I ask that our privacy, especially the privacy of our two very young boys, be respected as we take them through this traumatic time.”

A family spokesman told TV3, “I can confirm that Jonah Lomu died this morning … it was totally unexpected.  Jonah and his family arrived back from the UK last night.”

Lomu had dealt with the severe kidney ailment nephrotic syndrome since 1995 which forced his premature retirement from international rugby in 2002.  After having a kidney transplant in 2004 he tried unsuccessfully to resume his professional career in Wales and France.

While his health seemed to improve he could not regain his former dominance and eventually retired from all rugby in 2006.  Since Lomu’s transplant failed in 2011, he became reliant on dialysis.

He won 63 caps for the All Blacks during an impressive career which saw him regarded as rugby union’s first global superstar.

A tweet from New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew read: “We’re all shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Jonah Lomu.”

He added: “We’re lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah’s family.  Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world.”

Posted in Sport | Tagged , , , , ,

Politics of the Middle East Explained ……

Middle East political mapI came across this earlier and I thought it was worth sharing, as it’s a sort of simpleton’s guide to the Middle East.

President Assad ( who is bad ) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels ( who are good ) started winning ( Hurrah! ).  But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State ( who are definitely bad! ) and some continued to support democracy ( who are still good. )

So the Americans ( who are good ) started bombing Islamic State ( who are bad ) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels ( who are good ) so they could fight Assad ( who is still bad ) which was good.

By the way, there is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they’re good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.

Getting back to Syria.  So President Putin ( who is bad, cos he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium poisoned sushi ) has decided to back Assad ( who is still bad ) by attacking IS ( who are also bad ) which is sort of a good thing?

But Putin ( still bad ) thinks the Syrian Rebels ( who are good ) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans ( who are good ) who are busy backing and arming the rebels ( who are also good).

Now Iran ( who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel are now good ) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad ( still bad ) as are the Russians ( bad ) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.

So a Coalition of Assad ( still bad ) Putin ( extra bad ) and the Iranians ( good, but in a bad sort of way ) are going to attack IS ( who are bad ) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels ( who are good ) which is bad.

Now the British ( obviously good, except that nice Mr Corbyn in the corduroy jacket, who is probably bad ) and the Americans ( also good ) cannot attack Assad ( still bad ) for fear of upsetting Putin ( bad ) and Iran ( good / bad) and now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS ( who are super bad).

So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS (but lets face it, drinking your own wee is better than IS so no real choice there) and since Putin and Iran are also fighting IS that may now make them Good.  America ( still Good ) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr Putin ( now good ) and that nice mad Ayatollah in Iran ( also Good ) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now Bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate.  This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and on to Europe or join IS (still the only constantly bad group).

To Sunni Muslims, an attack by Shia Muslims ( Assad and Iran ) backed by Russians will be seen as something of a Holy War, and the ranks of IS will now be seen by the Sunnis as the only Jihadis fighting in the Holy War and hence many Muslims will now see IS as Good ( Doha!.)

Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal ( mmm…might have a point…) and hence we will be seen as Bad.

So now we have America ( now bad ) and Britain ( also bad ) providing limited support to Sunni Rebels ( bad ) many of whom are looking to IS ( Good / bad ) for support against Assad ( now good ) who, along with Iran ( also Good) and Putin ( also, now, unbelievably, Good ) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started?

I hope that clears all this up for you

Posted in Political | Tagged ,

6 Days to Tamworth’s Christmas Lights Switch-on Event

christmas lights 2011 a1There’s now only a week to go until the switch is thrown on Tamworth’s festive season with the town centre being turned into a winter wonderland to mark the start of the Christmas countdown.

A cracker of an afternoon has been planned on Sunday November 22 with festive fun for the whole family taking place from 1pm, ahead of the main event at 5pm when the lights will be switched on, bathing the town in Christmas cheer.

The 2014 switch-on was hailed the biggest and best to date, with estimated crowds of more than 9,000 people flocking to the town centre for new-look festivities, which were held on a Sunday for the first time.

This year’s free extravaganza hopes to build on that success with festivities including live music, fairground rides, a festive market, treasure hunt, craft activities in Ankerside Shopping Centre led by Tamworth Community CIC, a nativity under the Town Hall, the St Editha’s Church Christmas Tree Festival, walkabout characters, dance performances and face painting.

Last year’s new addition of the Christmas market will return this year, lining George Street with stalls selling a range of Christmas gifts, crafts, novelties, local produce and festive food.

Wilnecote St John’s Band will be adding to the atmosphere in George Street by performing traditional Christmas songs throughout the afternoon and St Francis Church will be leading the nativity under the Town Hall.

Entertainment will again centre around the Touch FM stage in St Editha’s Square, which will feature performances from a range of acts performing 15-minute slots from 2pm.

The line-up includes Urban Fusion Dance Company (2pm), Fired Up Theatre (2.15pm), Just Perform (2.45pm), Glen Chevannes and Dancers (3pm), Twin Cities (3.15pm), musicians Brindley-Hunt, aka Barry Hunt and Bryan Brindley (3.30pm), The Jays (3.45pm), Matilda Pratt (4pm), Tamworth Panto Company (4.15pm) and Tamworth Voices (4.30pm).

Young visitors will also enjoy guest appearances from Peppa Pig at intervals throughout the afternoon in Ankerside Shopping Centre and the cheeky piggy will be at the lights switch on from around 4.50pm alongside Father Christmas.

This year the honour of officially launching the festive season by switching on the lights will be performed by winner of the Mayor’s Christmas card competition Daisy-Mae Baker from Dosthill Primary School.

Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Maureen Gant, said, “The Christmas lights switch-on is yet another popular event in Tamworth’s busy programme of free entertainment and it is now even bigger and better, thanks to the addition of the festive market and a range of activities taking place throughout the town centre.

“It has all the makings of a lovely afternoon out for the whole family and is a great way to start the countdown to Christmas.  I look forward to seeing everyone there.”

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