Category Archives: Local News

Multi-million pound city development plans unveiled to international investors

Two multi-million pound regeneration schemes which will support the continued transformation of Stoke-on-Trent have been showcased to global investors at a major international property event.

The development opportunities on the former East-West Precinct in the city centre, and on land next to Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station, were unveiled on the first day of the Mipim property show in Cannes, which is expected to attract more than 20,000 people over the next four days.

Both schemes are being highlighted to potential investors as part of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s regeneration strategy, which is focused on ensuring the city continues to raise its profile nationally and internationally as a leading destination to live, visit, work, study and invest. The city council is part of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) delegation at Mipim and has formed part of the Midlands Engine Pavilion with the region’s nine other LEPs.

The city council bought the East-West Precinct at the end of last year after it had stood dormant for years under its previous owner. Demolition of buildings is already under way so the site can be marketed, presenting a once-in-a-generation development opportunity. The plans unveiled at Mipim show how the site could be transformed into a mixed-leisure use development, with a public square, the potential for a hotel and option for a 3,500 seat venue.

Investors at Mipim are also being shown how land in council ownership one-and-a-half miles away next to Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station could see construction of a mixed-use building with 76-bed hotel, student accommodation with 200 rooms and three restaurants. The Swift House development forms an important part of the wider Stoke-on-Trent rail gateway regeneration vision.

Outline proposals were unveiled at Mipim last year, with definitive plans for the site showcased today. Within easy walking distance of the Swift House site sits the newly transformed Spode Works and Staffordshire University’s campus, with its new £40 million Catalyst building.

The schemes represent an overall commitment to deliver development in the city with a development value in excess of £300 million over the next five years. The new developments would complement recently delivered city centre successes such at Smithfield which includes new office accommodation, build-to-rent apartments and a Hilton Hotel. The hotel and apartments are scheduled for completion later this year.

City council leader, Councillor Ann James, said: “The development plans unveiled today set out our long-term commitment as a council to continually transform this city – attracting multi-million-pound investment which ultimately leads to local job creation and greater prosperity. These developments offer significant opportunities for global investors. That is why are at MIPIM, to pitch Stoke-on-Trent’s potential at the highest level and make sure our name is out there at the forefront of development circles.

“These two sites present once in a lifetime development opportunities to create something special and improve the city for generations to come. It’s a very exciting time for the city right now.”

City council deputy leader, Councillor Abi Brown, said: “We are ensuring we build on our current successes to make Stoke-on-Trent an increasingly attractive place to live, work, visit and study. It is important therefore that together with our partners we are showcasing the city on an international stage. Working as part of the LEP and Midlands Engine gives us additional leverage. It demonstrates how effective cross sector working is essential to successful delivery.

“As a council we are a facilitator of economic growth and with both schemes our actions are directly providing prime city centre land for development as soon as possible. When we consider recent developments, our existing businesses, university and connectivity, we can be confident of the future success of the exciting schemes unveiled today.”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE commented: “The LEP and our key strategic partners will be working together at MIPIM to promote Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire on the world stage. The wide range of showpiece projects planned for Stoke-on-Trent is a great illustration of the ambition and forward-looking, can-do attitude of our region.

“Our prime location at the centre of the country makes this a great place to live, work, invest and do business, and we have a very impressive case to make to international investors.

“It is vital that we generate a continuing flow of new investment into Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire by promoting growth opportunities to a national and international audience, so that we can create more and better jobs for local people.”

Darren Horley, Head of Commercial (Operations & Station) for Virgin Trains said: “Record numbers of people are now choosing to travel by train. In the last year along over three million journeys were made to and from Stoke station reflecting the city’s excellent rail links. Our and Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s shared ambition is to place the station at the heart of the community, making it a destination in its own right. The regeneration plans for the area will bring new life to the surrounding area and give the city a station to be proud of, and its visitors a first-class welcome.”

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire delegation has attracted 17 sponsors – including developer St Modwen and Virgin Trains.

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Working together to tackle knife crime

Staffordshire Police is calling on partners, parents, schools and the wider community to come together in support of a national operation to tackle the issue of knife crime.

This week (11-17 March), under Operation Sceptre, the force will be rolling out a wide variety of enforcement and educational activities, with the support of partners, to help reduce the impact of knife crime in the communities of Staffordshire.

Superintendent Ricky Fields, strategic lead for knife crime at Staffordshire Police, said: “Staffordshire Police continues to see increases in recorded crime involving the possession or use of knives alongside increases in overall violent crime. Knife crime is unfortunately a visible part of communities in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and not an issue we can tackle on our own.

“We are doing lots to tackle knife crime and we are actively pursuing those who intend to cause harm within Staffordshire’s communities. We will do all we can to bring offenders to justice, however enforcement is just one element of the response needed. Knife crime cannot and must not be treated in isolation.

“The threat of knife crime increases when considered with street gangs or drugs activity. Our approach is not to criminalise young people but to safeguard them and protect them. With partners, parents and schools we need to understand why young people choose to carry knives, because we have seen a marked increase in recent years in Staffordshire.”

Staffordshire Police’s neighbourhood policing teams will be visiting schools and colleges to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying knives, setting up proactive knife operations in busy town centres to detect and deter habitual knife carriers, and organising knife sweeps in knife crime hotspots to discover any knives concealed in public areas. The force will also be continuing in its efforts to deter offenders through the use of stop and search.

To complement this activity, a targeted social media campaign aimed at those most likely to commit offences with a knife will be rolled out. This hard-hitting campaign will shine a light on the stark realities of knife crime and youth violence.

Supt Fields added: “We must encourage young people, parents, schools and other public bodies to have conversations about knife crime. This week of targeted activity will hopefully help to raise the profile of this important topic and help us to prevent the terrible events that have been seen recently in other areas of the country.”

Staffordshire’s Commissioner Matthew Ellis, said: “We have seen in recent months the sickening violence involving knives in some parts of our country.  Police in Staffordshire have seen an increase in recorded crime involving the possession or the use of knives, although some of this can be attributed to an increase in stop/search and a more proactive approach to tackling violence. The tragedies we have seen elsewhere relating to knives are a timely reminder that this could happen here unless urgent and proactive action is taken.

“The knife crime summit we held in July 2018 has resulted in positive and proactive work with young people to educate and prevent the risk of involvement in this behaviour. I have this week written to strategic leaders from all key agencies to invite them to come together to develop and refresh strategies and actions that need to be taken. Policing must play a significant role in this issue but other public agencies also play a vital role in dealing with the scourge of knives and knife crime.”

Knife crime has increased in Staffordshire by 5% (32 crimes) over the past rolling 12 months (1 March 2018 – 28 February 2019) with personal robbery where a knife is used having increased by 20%. The top three neighbourhood policing teams in Staffordshire for knife crime are Stoke-on-Trent North, Stoke-on-Trent South and Tamworth.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council was recently awarded £226,000 following a bid to the national Supporting Families Against Youth Crime Fund. The money will be used to provide extra training and support to help children who might be vulnerable to criminal exploitation and their families. The council’s youth offending service is also working with schools and the charity Street Doctors to deliver targeted sessions to children who might be at risk of carrying knives and offensive weapons.

Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “Knife crime has no place in our city and communities and we are committed to working with partners to stamp it out. The majority of people do not carry knives and are generally safe within the city. We are putting a lot of work in with schools to educate children and young people about the risks and dangers of carrying knives and weapons, and the dire consequences doing so could have on their future.”

To support the Operation Sceptre campaign, you can share messages on social media using the hashtag #opsceptre.

Caudwell Children Launches ‘Time to Shine’ 2019 Singing Competition

Caudwell Children, the charity behind The Butterfly Ball, arguably the world’s most exclusive charity event, is looking for a new singing sensation to join them at this year’s Ball being held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Mayfair, London, on Thursday 13th June, 2019.

Launched in 2007, The Butterfly Ball has quickly established itself as the ‘must attend’ event in the calendar of London’s glitterati, and attracts worldwide media attention and a host of A List celebrity guests.

With intimate musical performances in the past from the likes of the late Whitney Houston, to living legends such as Sir Rod Stewart, Sir Elton John, Tina Turner and Gary Barlow, charity bosses say The Butterfly Ball is not simply a fundraising event, it’s an extraordinary show of outstanding quality.

And now the charity, which provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, is once again on the lookout for an exceptional singing talent to perform at the Ball.

The charity launched ‘Time to Shine’, a competition that rewards one lucky winner with a place on the bill at the much coveted event, at the 2018 Butterfly Ball. 

27-year-old Katharine Slater, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, in Staffordshire, was delighted to become the first ‘Time to Shine’ title holder after being selected by a prestigious judging panel comprising of singer, and TV personality, Peter Andre, Boyzone band member Mikey Graham, and the singer, actor and TV presenter Johnathan Wilkes.

“I was stunned to find out that I had won,” exclaimed Katharine. “It was a bit surreal and I couldn’t believe such a well-respected panel had chosen me, I was extremely flattered.”

And now Katharine, who works in Events at Keele University, is urging singers to enter the competition this year. She said: “If you’re thinking about it I’d say 100% do it. I almost didn’t! I saw it on Facebook on the day of the deadline and I thought, you know what I’ll just give it a go and if I don’t get it I haven’t lost anything.”

Katharine, who sang a cover version of Christina Perri’s hit song A Thousand Years, says that you don’t have to do anything fancy to enter the competition. As she explained: “Some of the other entrants last year had really professional videos, of them in a recording studio or live in concert, but I just did it in my living room, sat down on the floor, with the phone propped up on something so that it could get the shot of me.

“I uploaded that onto the charity’s website and that won me the competition, so you don’t need to worry and feel that you have to go all out with your performance, you just need to learn your song, and perform it well, and who knows it could be your time to shine!”

Peter Andre says it will be a memorable experience for the lucky winner. As he explained: “I’ve hosted The Butterfly Ball on a number of occasions and it’s a sensational evening.

“The acts are top draw and the audience of over 700 corporate, high net worth and celebrity attendees, from the world of sport, TV and film, are always highly appreciative of the musical performances. It will be a night that the winner will never forget.”

Last year’s celebrity judging panel will once again choose the winner from a shortlist of five top entrants. As Mikey Graham explained: “Obviously we’ll be looking for a great voice from the top five but we’ll also be hoping to hear some originality. It would be fantastic if we discovered a brilliant singer who doesn’t sound like everyone else.”

Johnathan Wilkes says those entering the competition should think seriously about the song that they choose to perform. He said: “You need to pick a great song but you may want to choose one that isn’t a classic. If people know a song really well they may find it difficult not to compare your performance to that of the original.

“You also need to make sure the song is in your range so that you can nail every note. And, just as importantly, you need to practice until you can sing the song perfectly, without any hesitation.”     

Once the winner has been chosen they will then be invited to a rehearsal, in May 2019, where they will perform their song in front of senior Caudwell Children staff.

“To perform the song of your choice at such a prestigious event, and in front of such a fantastic audience, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Trudi Beswick, CEO of Caudwell Children. “We can’t wait to welcome our ‘Time to Shine’ winner on to the stage at The Butterfly Ball, it’s sure to be one of the highlights of the evening.”

To enter the competition simply complete the online entry form by Friday 27th April, 2019.

Entrants must be 12 years of age or older and each person/group can only enter the competition once. Your entry must be the song that you would like to perform at the event.

You can enter Time to Shine at: