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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Government Backs Clamp Down on Rogue Parking Firms

Drivers will receive new legal protections from unscrupulous private parking operators as Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, today confirmed that government will support new legislation aimed at raising standards in the industry.

Evidence shows that, in total, nearly 10,000 people approached the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for advice on private parking tickets last year and parking firms are issuing almost 13 times more tickets than decade ago.

Drivers are increasingly complaining of inconsistent practices, substandard signage, confusing appeals processes and intimidating payment letters.

That is why the government is supporting new legislation to regulate the private parking industry.

Under the plans, which will deliver on a manifesto commitment to tackle rogue parking operators, a stringent new Code of Practice will be developed by the Secretary of State in conjunction with motorists groups and other experts.

Those falling foul of the rules would then be blocked from accessing driver data and issuing fines, effectively forcing them out of the industry.

These measures, introduced in a Bill by Sir Greg Knight MP, build on action government has already taken to tackle rogue private parking operators, including banning wheel clamping and towing, and over-zealous parking enforcement by councils and parking wardens.

Secretary of State for Communities, Sajid Javid said, “For too long drivers have suffered from unjust fines at the hands of dodgy parking firms.  We need a fairer, clearer and more consistent system that brings the small minority of unscrupulous operators in line with those who are behaving appropriately.

“That is why government is putting the brakes on these rogue operators and backing new laws that will put a stop to aggressive behaviour and provide a simpler way for drivers to appeal fines.”

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Bayeux Tapestry to Return to the UK After More Than 900 Years

The unique 70-metre long tapestry that depicts the 1066 Norman Conquest of Britain will be put on public display in 2022.

The exhibition has been announced to coincide with the UK-France summit taking place this week.  The loan of the Tapestry will form part of a wider cultural exchange taking place between Britain and France over the next four years and marks a key milestone in the celebration of our shared history.

Prime Minister Theresa May said, “Our shared history is reflected in the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK in 2022, the first time it will be on British soil in more than 900 years.  The loan of the Tapestry will form part of a wider cultural exchange taking place between Britain and France over the next four years.

“I am honoured at the loan of such a precious piece of our shared history which yet again underscores the closeness of the UK-France relationship.

DCMS Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “France and Britain are global cultural leaders with a millennium long recorded history.  The Bayeux Tapestry is a fundamental symbol of our history as neighbours.  Its arrival in the UK is a tribute to the strength of our relationship now and in the future.

“We are committed to opening up the UK to the best culture and history the world has to offer.  This year Liverpool will welcome the Terracotta Warriors from ancient China and we look forward to hosting the Bayeux Tapestry.

“The UK is home to some of the leading museums in the world and by showcasing works of national and international interest we will ensure that the UK remains a go to destination for the arts and culture.

The tapestry was created in the UK in the eleventh century, shortly after the Battle of Hastings and has been on display in various locations in France since its completion.  The Tapestry is now part of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and depicts the Battle, which saw William the Conqueror take the English throne in 1066.

The Tapestry will come to the UK while its current home, the Bayeux Museum, undergoes refurbishment in 2022.  Further details of the exhibition, including exact dates and locations will be released in due course.

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HMRC Scam in the Tamworth Area

Staffordshire Police are receiving increasing calls in the Tamworth are regarding people ringing local residents posing as HMRC officials either stating residents are owed money by HMRC or they owe HMRC money.

This is a Scam and unfortunately, local residents are believing these calls to be genuine.  We are appealing to anyone who receives any call of this nature to report it either to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Staffordshire Police on 101.

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First MoT Remain at 3 Years to Protect Road Safety

Ministers put road safety first as they today decided to maintain the period before a car’s first MoT test at 3 years.

The move comes after a Department for Transport consultation last year to consider changing the wait before the first test to 4 years.

Most of those responding to the consultation were against the proposals on safety grounds, arguing that the savings to motorists were outweighed by the risk to road users and the test often highlights upcoming issues affecting the vehicle.  A public survey for DfT by Populus also showed fewer than half of people were in favour of the change.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said, “We have some of the safest roads in the world, and are always looking at ways of making them safer.

“Although modern cars are better built and safer than when the MoT test was last changed 50 years ago, there has been a clear public concern that any further changes don’t put people’s lives at risk.  We are looking at further research to ensure the MoT test evolves with the demands of modern motoring.”

By law, all vehicles must be roadworthy, regardless of whether they have passed an MoT, and the content of the tests will not be changed.

The test was introduced in 1960, requiring vehicles to undergo a first check after 10 years.  It was changed in 1967 to 3 years.

In 2016 (the most recent figures available), more than 2.4 million cars had their first MoT test, which costs owners a maximum of £54.85.  The pass rate was about 85% and the most common reasons for failure include lighting, tyres and braking faults.

Changing the time period until the first test would have saved motorists more than £100 million a year.

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Measles Outbreak in West Midlands and 4 Other Areas of England

Outbreaks of measles have been confirmed in the West Midlands and four other areas of England with a total of more than 120 cases.

Public Health England says the cases in the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Cheshire and Liverpool, Surrey and Greater Manchester are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe.

The overall risk in the UK is still low, but outbreaks can happen any time.

The MMR jab protects against measles and experts are urging parents to immunise their children.

Anyone unsure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP.
PHE says cases in England appear to be stabilising.

As of 9 January, there have been 32 confirmed cases in the West Midlands.

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Tax Free Childcare Scheme Now Available to Parents of Under 9s

In April 2017, HM Revenue and Customs started rolling out Tax-Free Childcare, which helps working parents with the cost of childcare with up to £2,000 of support per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children.

Tax-Free Childcare is now open to parents whose youngest child is under 9 and the scheme will open to all remaining eligible families with children under 12 on 14 February 2018.  This means all eligible parents will be able to apply for Tax-Free Childcare before the end of this financial year.

Parents, including the self-employed, can apply online for Tax-Free Childcare by visiting Childcare Choices.  Parents can also access the government’s childcare calculator through Childcare Choices, which helps parents to choose which government childcare support is best for them.

Since opening the childcare service, through which parents apply for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare, more than 325,000 customers have successfully applied and are now using the service.  Of these, more than 170,000 have a Tax-Free Childcare account.

The government is giving more help with the cost of childcare to working parents than ever before.  It introduced Tax-Free Childcare in April 2017, and has doubled the free childcare available to working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week for families in England.  In 2019/20, the government will be spending around £6bn on childcare support – a record amount of support.

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Beware of Courier Fraud

Staffordshire Police are reminding people to be aware of courier fraud where offenders are cold calling victims purporting to be police officers with the intention of obtaining personal and financial information.

In recent weeks, a number of victims have received a phone call from a fraudster who tells them they are speaking to a police officer and that they need them to assist in an undercover investigation.  They are then requested to withdraw cash from their bank accounts, which is then collected by a courier later that day.

The most recently reported case of courier fraud took place on Saxon Close, Burton, on 8 January, where a 75-year-old woman received a phone call from a man posing as a police officer.

He asked her to withdraw £8,000 from her bank account stating someone had put an overdraft on it without her knowledge and that the money was likely to be transferred elsewhere.  The victim withdrew £2,500 cash and paid £20 out of that for her taxi leaving £2,480 in a white envelope.

When she got home, the offender asked her to check the numbers of a few of the bank notes and claimed they were counterfeit and that he would send a courier round giving the password of ‘couch’.  Almost immediately, a female offender knocked on the door and asked for the money.

Please remember that the police or your bank would never ask you to aid an investigation by withdrawing or transferring money.

Never give out or confirm personal and/or financial information to anyone over the phone.

If you receive one of these calls, end it immediately and call us on 101 if they have stated they are coming to collect your money.  Alternatively, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Click here for the latest fraud alerts and advice.

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