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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Sir Roger Moore – 40 Great James Bond Quotes

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RIP Sir Roger Moore

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We Stand with Manchester

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Security Level Raised to Critical: Keeping Staffordshire’s Communities Safe and Reassured

Following the announcement last night (Tuesday May 23rd) by the Prime Minster Theresa May to raise the national security level to Critical, Staffordshire Police want to reassure their communities that they are working hard to keep us safe.

Moving to the Critical level means the Police will be increasing the presence of both armed and unarmed police officers at popular locations including tourist spots, transport hubs and busy town centres across Staffordshire.

Staffordshire Police will also be reviewing key events over the coming days and weeks and providing security advice where practical.  These are precautionary measures that aim to keep you feeling safe and reassured whilst not affecting your daily life.

Chief Constable Jane Sawyers said, “Our first priority is ensuring the safety of our local communities, so we will be working closely with community partners and key stakeholders to inform them of our plans and provide support where it is needed.

“Officers train for and rehearse situations like these on a regular basis and a plan is in place to provide reassurance to local communities across the country.

“As a precautionary measure, you will see more police officers on the streets of Staffordshire in the coming days.  Please do not be alarmed, this highly visible approach is there to ensure you feel safe and reassured as we assist with the wider response to the tragic and horrific events of this week.

“Please remember acts of terrorism and hate crimes are committed by a small minority of people and are not representative of the general public.  We must respond to this attack by uniting with members of our community to demonstrate that we do not welcome extremist and violent behaviour to intimidate or cause fear.”

Chief Constable Sawyers added, “We continue to work closely with our Regional Counter Terrorism Unit and the National Security Service to do everything possible to prevent further attacks.

“At this time we continue to ask the public to remain calm but alert.  If you see anything that causes you concern, then let us know immediately.  I’m sure you can appreciate it is an extremely busy time for our control room, so please remember to focus reports on anything genuinely suspicious.  If you see or hear anything that you think could be terrorist-related, trust your instinct no matter how small, then ACT and call 999.”

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Drayton Manor Theme Park Ride Closed in Major Incident

A ride at Drayton Manor theme park has been closed following a major incident.

The park said Splash Canyon was shut on Tuesday due to reports of someone falling into the water.

Staffordshire Police said a girl, believed to be 11 years old and from the Leicester area, was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to the park at 14:18 BST.  The Health and Safety Executive has been informed of the incident.

A ride at Drayton Manor theme park has been closed following a major incident.

The park said Splash Canyon, which opened in 1993, was shut today due to reports of someone falling into the water.

Staffordshire Police said a girl, believed to be 11 years old and from the Leicester area, was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to the park at 14:18 BST.  The Health and Safety Executive has been informed of the incident.

The theme park added, “The Splash Canyon ride has been closed following an incident this afternoon.  Emergency services are at the scene and our fully trained park staff are assisting.”

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Tamworth is 200th Dementia Friendly Community

Tamworth is now a dementia friendly town – and that’s official!

Just over a year after beginning its journey towards the ambitious goal, Tamworth has become the 200th area to be granted Dementia Friendly Community status by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Although the achievement marks the culmination of months of hard work by the borough council, community groups, local organisations and businesses, the designation is only the beginning.

The ultimate aim of Dementia Friendly Communities is to help people living with dementia, and their carers, to feel safe, supported and involved in community life.  This includes raised awareness and understanding, and improved services across all sectors.

A great deal of progress has already been made as part of the process to achieve dementia friendly status.

This includes:

  • The creation of the Tamworth Dementia Action Alliance (TDAA) – a partnership of stakeholders working together to improve the lives of local people with dementia.  The TDAA now boasts 17 member organisations including Tamworth Borough Council, the police, fire service, health care services and providers, community groups and businesses.  The aim is to increase membership further over the coming months.
  • The roll out of Dementia Friends training to Tamworth councillors, Tamworth Borough Council staff members, businesses, organisations and community groups in the area.  Training has been delivered by local Dementia Champions and Tamworth’s Community Together CIC.  The number of Dementia Friends has increased by more than 750 since the TDAA was established in January this year – there are now more than 1,800 Dementia Friends in Tamworth.
  • More work to engage with people living with dementia and their carers to find out how their lives could be improved locally.  This could include access to services or the creation of social groups and activities.  Funding has been granted by the ‘Silver Social Action Fund’ to train 15 volunteers aged over 50 to work towards this goal.
  • The formation of a new ‘Memory Café’, led by TDAA member Home Instead Senior Care.  The café opened at St John’s Church, in conjunction with the Heart of Tamworth Community Project, on May 2, for people with dementia and their carers.
  • Ensuring that all Tamworth Borough Council services are accessible to people with dementia, from paying a bill to attending a show.  This includes text reminders for payments, appointments and bin collections.
  • The inclusion of National Dementia Awareness Week into the town’s Events Calendar.  The first such event takes place from Sunday, May 14 to Saturday, May 20 and includes a number of workshops and events to raise awareness about dementia.  It is being led by the TDAA, with support from Tamworth Borough Council’s leading dementia officers.  A market stall ‘promotions hub’ will be set up in the town centre on the Tuesday.  All events taking place as part of the town’s first National Dementia Awareness Week are listed on the Tamworth Dementia Action Alliance web page.

As a dementia friendly town, there will also be more information and signposting, including leaflet stands in major outlets such as Marmion House, greater online resources, and widespread use of the new Dementia Friendly Community logo.  This will include the creation of a sensory garden to be planted in the colours of the Dementia Friendly Community logo.

David Barnes, Chairman of Tamworth Dementia Action Alliance, said, “Being granted this status is a really marvellous achievement for the town.  According to the Alzheimer’s Society, dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer.  It devastates lives and so many people are facing it alone.  In Tamworth, we are trying to ease that burden.

“The fact that we have got so many organisations working together – and working together so energetically – towards that aim, is a real credit to the community.  We want Tamworth to become a place where people with dementia can feel included and understood, wherever they go in the town.  This Dementia Friendly Community status is not just for today, it’s forever.”

Tamworth started its journey to becoming a Dementia Friendly Community early in 2016, after the proposal received cross-party support from Tamworth Borough Council’s Healthier and Safer Scrutiny Committee.

Members of the Cabinet then approved the authority’s role in joining with local partner organisations and stakeholders to help facilitate the work needed to achieve the status.  This included appointing a member champion, a lead officer and a project sponsor and working closely with the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friendly Communities Officer for the West Midlands, Kat Horner.

Cllr Simon Goodall, Vice Chairman of the Healthier and Safer Scrutiny Committee, first raised the proposal.  He said, “When I first learned about Dementia Friendly Community status I was determined to bring this framework to Tamworth.  Working together with the Chairman of the Healthier and Safer Scrutiny Committee, we pushed this through as a policy that could and should be pursued.

“It is now a proud moment to see Tamworth achieve this status and I hope it brings help and assistance to all those affected directly and indirectly by this disease.”

Cllr Andrew James, Chairman of the Healthier and Safer Scrutiny Committee, added, “This is fantastic news for Tamworth and is down to the hard work of a lot of people from across the town.”

The role of project sponsor was taken on by Tamworth Borough Council’s Chief Executive, Tony Goodwin.

He said, “Since the idea to become a dementia friendly town was first proposed, it has been hugely supported across all sectors of the community.  It usually takes a number of years to achieve, but thanks to the hard work of members, officers and the wider community, the target has been reached in just over 12 months.

“There is clear evidence that the number of people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is increasing and we all have a responsibility to ensure people living with dementia feel included, engaged and valued.

“This includes Tamworth Borough Council’s responsibilities as an employer.  Recent studies show that councils which invest in early intervention and prevention techniques can have a positive impact upon their employees, their communities and individuals, both in terms of those living with dementia and those who care for them.”

Tamworth will now report back to the Alzheimer’s Society after six months and one year to update the charity on its progress as a dementia friendly town.

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Smartphone Orders Body to Treat Diabetes

Scientists have used a Smartphone to control the activity of the living cells inside an animal.

The fusion of biology and technology was used to control blood sugar levels in mice with diabetes.

The idea, described in Science Translational Medicine, could be applied to a wide range of diseases and drug treatments.  And the Chinese researchers say the approach could pave the way for a “new era” in medicine.

The first step was to turn normal cells into living factories.  They were genetically engineered to manufacture drugs that control blood sugar levels such as insulin – but only in response to light.

The technology is called optogenetics and these cells would kick into gear when exposed to specific wavelengths of red light.  Then comes the tech – a set of wirelessly powered LEDs and a Smartphone app to control them.

Researchers at East China Normal University in Shanghai implanted the system into mice and were able to control diabetes with the tap of a touchscreen.  The team said the findings “could pave the way for a new era of personalised, digitalised and globalised precision medicine.”

The scientists needed to take tiny drops of blood to know how high the blood sugar levels were so they could calculate how much drug to release inside the animal.  Their ultimate goal is a fully automated system that both detects sugar levels and then releases the right amount of therapeutic chemicals.

This idea is clearly at an early stage, but it is not limited to diabetes.  Cells could be engineered to manufacture a wide range of drugs.

Prof Mark Gomelsky, a molecular biologist from the University of Wyoming, said the study was an “exciting accomplishment.”

He added, “How soon should we expect to see people on the street wearing fashionable LED wristbands that irradiate implanted cells engineered to produce genetically encoded drugs under the control of a Smartphone?

“Not just yet, but the work provides us with an exciting glimpse into the future of smart cell-based therapeutics.”

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