City Council to review City Centre night time economy

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Mohammed Pervez has asked for a task and finish group to be set up which will tasked with carrying out what is being call a comprehensive review of the city centre’s night-time economy.

The task and finish group will be made up of a number of city councillors who will work with businesses, visitors and licensees. They will collect information on the current night time economy of the city centre and make recommendations for future improvement. Continue reading

Lakesmere appointed to design and build bus station roof

lakesmere logoLeading building envelope specialist Lakesmere is set to make another journey into the transport sector following the contractor’s prestigious appointment to work on the new Stoke-on-Trent bus station.

The £1m contract will see Lakesmere design and install the new bus station’s dramatic sweeping roof that is in the form of a breaking wave. The impressive structure will be created using the innovative Kalzip XT aluminium system and a complex combination of straight and tapered sheets. As part of the building envelope package, Lakesmere will also complete the installation of the sweeping fascias, gutters, rainwater pipes, smoke vents, access hatches and mansafe system. Additionally the team will install a Sika Sarnafil roof, aluminium rainscreen cladding and secondary steelwork to the adjacent concrete frame bus drivers’ accommodation building. Continue reading

Stoke-on-Trent to host Halfords Tour Series 2012

Stoke-on-Trent has just been announced as the venue for the grand finale of the Halfords Tour Series 2012 cycling event.

Thursday 14th June will see the 10 leading british teams going head to head in a team trial event around the city centre circuit in Hanley in a spectacular final day of racing.

2012 will be the fourth time that the Halfords Tour Series has visited Stoke-on-Trent and the first time that it has hosted the grand finale.

In addition to the season closing circuit race, the unique televised, team based Series will also feature a team time trial for the first time ever on the final day of racing, named in honour of one of Stoke-on-Trent’s famous sons, cyclist Tommy Godwin. Continue reading

City Sentral Another Week

Another week on and another Council Budget agreed with pledge to spend £12million and complete Hanley Ring Road, after the last proposal for another Hotel and another Casino failed to materialise and increase our Council Tax by 3.49%

Oddly enough my first suggestion for a retailer to contact on their interest in our City came from a local Councillor, Cllr Rosenau suggested on twitter for her followers to contact Hotel Chocolat about coming to Hanley. Who I am to ignore Cabinet Member for Regeneration she must know a thing or two. So I send off my email hoping above hopes that this will be the first positive response ( I have insider information dont I ) but sadly no yet another negative reply Continue reading

Albion and Parliament Square Proposals Go On Display

Shoppers are being given a first glimpse of the next stage of a multi-million pound transformation of public spaces in the city centre.

Proposals for the Albion and Parliament Square areas of the city centre are going on display this week as residents and visitors are encouraged to have their say.

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-On-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said

The city centre will be transformed with new public spaces, seating, lighting and paving which will create a more visitor friendly atmosphere for shoppers. It is exciting to see the proposed designs for stage two unveiled and I hope that people take the time to have a look and comment on what they would like to see in the city centre.

The work is part of a multi-million pound refurbishment of city streets over the next few years to improve the city centre street scene creating a more inspiring outlook for visitors to the city and provide a strong link with the new bus station.

Work on the first phase of the project, which focuses on Tontine and Percy Street, is due to start in April.

The consultation for the second phase, which will run until Thursday 16 February, will look at proposals covering Albion Square outside the Town Hall and the small area outside Wetherspoons called Parliament Square.

Residents are being asked to comment on the proposals so that final designs can be drawn up for the scheme which is due to start in Autumn. The city centre improvements are designed to complement other major regeneration schemes in the city centre such as the Central Business District and £350million shopping and leisure complex City Sentral.

Information stands will be available in the city centre with questionnaires and design boards in the following locations

  • Victoria Hall – until Monday 13 February
  • Potteries Museum – until Thursday 16 February
  • The city centre indoor market – until Thursday 16 February

Representatives from the council will also be on hand in the city centre in Tontine Square between 10am and 2pm, Wednesday 15 February to help answer any questions.

Members of the public can get more information and leave their feedback on-line using the link below.

Diggers Move in For Next Phase Of The Hanley Bus Station Development

Following extensive and challenging ground stabilisation the work, today will see a team of excavators move on to the John Street site, where they will begin creating the foundations of the city’s new bus station – the first phase of the £350million new shopping and leisure complex in the city.

Over the next 10 weeks enough earth to cover a football pitch will be dug out of the new landmark bus station site in the city centre. The excavators are expected to move more than 3500m3 of earth to prepare the up to 8m deep foundations needed to support the iconic new building.

Once completed a further 3600m3 of concrete will be needed to prepare the ground for the complex 245 tonne of steelwork being fitted next as part of the build.

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said

Today is an important day in the construction of the city’s new bus station. The earth which is needed to be moved is no small feat and will create the foundations for the iconic bus station building.

 

The work is being carried out by principal contractor VINCI construction UK.

Mark Thomas, Regional Director, VINCI Construction UK Building Division – North, said

The ground breaking ceremony is an exciting event for Stoke-on-Trent and VINCI Construction UK. It represents the start of a challenging and significant redevelopment of the new city centre bus facility and will open the gates to the £350 million redevelopment of a new shopping and leisure complex in Stoke-on-Trent.

Once the foundations are complete work will start in Spring on creating the bus drivers accommodation building before work starts on erecting the station’s main bus concourse.

Attention to detail

I don’t often write blog posts on here, I generally keep my opinions away from the site other than in the odd comment here or there.

Today I am going to make an exception to my rule and ask why do Stoke-on-Trent City Council seem to have such a lack of attention to detail?

Earlier I published a piece on the consultation for bus re-routing in Hanley. The re-routing needs to be carried out to allow the new bus station to operate.

I have an issue with the way the documents are presented, when you click on the links to view the proposed inbound or outbound bus routes, the maps are presented to you sideways. Why? It takes literally seconds to rotate the files before they are uploaded.

I’m lucky that I am a reasonably technically competent person so for me to rotate the files so I can read them is not a big problem, but a lot of people have little or no technical skills when it comes to computers or the Internet and could struggle trying to do this. More importantly why should I or anyone have to rotate files so we can read them? I don’t think that it is an unreasonable expectation for documents to be orientated the right way on the council website.

Who actually checks the content once it has been published? Every time I publish content on here or on other sites I run, I immediately go and look at it on the site, just to check it and make sure that everything looks and works as it should.

I’m pretty sure that the City Council don’t plan to make things difficult for us to read, I think it is just a lack of attention to detail.

Now while I am talking attention to detail, have a look at the Proposed Traffic Management Measures map that is part of the consultation.

 

Attention to detail isn’t an issue here, everything is detailed, even things that won’t change, all on one map. This cacophony of colour covers every detail of the changes that are proposed to the roads in the city centre, but you can’t see the road names because they have been obliterated by the addition of various coloured arrows and markings.

Bizarrely whoever created the map saw fit to add large black arrows on all one way streets that remain unchanged. Surely the standard implication on a map such as this is, everything is the same unless we tell you otherwise? So why add all this extra confusing detail that isn’t needed, maybe a note on the map stating that, all one way streets will remain the same unless otherwise noted, but I see no need to make this important map even more difficult to read.

Why not make a simple interactive map on-line that shows what the changes are rather than just producing a flat PDF? Someone with half an hour or so to spare could make something like the one below.


View Hanley Proposed Traffic Management in a larger map

The hardest part of creating this map was trying to work out what the actual roads were on the council map! This isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and I’m sure it could be done a lot more elegantly but it proves a point and shows all the proposed changes.

The regeneration of Hanley as the ‘city centre’ for Stoke-on-Trent and the badly named City Sentral development is allegedly going to put us in the top 5 shopping cities in the UK I heard a few weeks ago. Well if this is the case then we need to be in the top 5 with everything else as well to support it, administration included.

200 years ago Stoke-on-Trent was at the forefront of the industrial revolution & manufacturing, world leaders in ceramics and known across the globe, now we can’t even get a PDF the right way around. Can you imagine Josiah Wedgwood allowing something to go out of his factory with the decoration on sideways?

Whinging about a couple of PDF’s that are not rotated may seem a bit petty, but I think the lack of attention to detail and the, that’ll do attitude, puts us in a bad light. When you see little things like those PDFs or the City Farm Tender document (remember that gem?), it makes you wonder why are we over looked for investment, why don’t we succeed with the bids we put in, is it the lack of attention to detail in the bid documents and presentations?

I want Stoke-on-Trent to improve, I want it to succeed, I want the council to be better. 

We deserve better.

Consultation for Bus Re-routing in Hanley begins

Public consultation on changes to the bus routing in Hanley appears to have begun.

Although there has been no official public announcement about this from Stoke-on-Trent City Council yet, the web page on the council website appears to have been updated on Monday.

It was proposed at the December Cabinet meeting, that public consultation should take place in January & February 2012, with the detailed design phase taking place between February & April in order for the final proposals to be presented to the April Cabinet meeting.

The consultation covers in-bound and out-bound bus routes for the new John Street bus station as well as substantial changes to the traffic flow on roads in the city centre.

According to the agenda pack for the December Cabinet meeting the public consultation will involve a leaflet drop to every address in and adjacent to the city centre as well as a public exhibition of the proposals.

You can view the councils consultation page and the Cabinet meeting agenda item using the links below.

Stoke-on-Trent House Prices Cheapest in England

The average house price in Stoke-on-Trent is the lowest in the country according to figures released by the Land Registry at the end of May 2011.

According to the latest figures the average price of a house in the city is £73,733.

This figure shows average price has reduced by 3.8% over the last month and contributes to an annual reduction of 4.7% to date.

Nationally the average house price is £163,083, a rise of 0.8% over the month but a year to date reduction of 1.3%.

Kingston upon Hull used to have the cheapest average house price but a monthly rise of 0.9%, which equates to an average price of £73,825, has lifted them above Stoke-on-Trent.

Wales has the lowest average house prices.

Merthyr Tydfil has an average of just £69,173 and in Blaenau Gwent it is £72,872.

For Stoke-on-Trent’s neighbours, house sellers have better news.

Staffordshire’s average house price is £134,460 whilst in Shropshire it is £164,347.

House sales are in decline across the country. Sales between November 2010 and February 2011 fell to an average of 46,818 units sold per month. The same period last year saw the number of units sold at 54,479.

There was good news for people who owned properties worth over £1million.

There was a rise of 14% for properties sold over the million pound bracket in England and Wales.

Those looking to sell properties at the lower end of the market were also fairing well with a rise of 22% in sales in units worth below £50,000.

The worse effected is the “Ëœsqueezed middle ground’, properties worth between £50,000 and £200,000 all witnessed reductions in the number of units sold of around 5-6%.

Sales of properties worth between £200,000 and £250,000 were the worse effected with a massive reduction of 18% in the number of units sold.

Stoke-on-Trent residents have been quick to criticise the lack of regeneration in the city for the low house prices.

Dan Heath, aged 34, who owns a property in the city said:

“The news that Stoke has the lowest average house price in the country comes as no surprise to me.

“I used to live in the centre of Burslem and when you look at areas like Middleport that have been blighted by the council’s bulldozers, it can only have a detrimental effect on house prices in the area”.

Paul Holmes, aged 39, owns a property in Bucknall.

“The area that I live is quite nice but the City has a bad reputation.

“There has been no regeneration. We have no decent amenities and the shopping centre in Hanley is less than useless”.

“If my family want to go shopping for the day we go to Trafford Centre or Cheshire Oaks because at least we can finish the day off in a family friendly chain restaurant like Nando’s, Pizza Express, Bella Italia or somewhere like that”.

“Until Stoke has something that attracts people in instead of encouraging them out, the house prices will only go one way – down!”.

Clare Martin, aged 36, lives with her partner Gary in Weston Coyney.

“The council need to start delivering on what they have promised for years.

“That East West project in Hanley is essential to Stoke becoming an attractive place to visit.

“We miss out on so much in this city it is untrue.

“The politicians and especially our MPs need to get their fingers out and work together to rebuild the run down areas in the City which do nothing but bring the house prices down.

“It’s no good folk moving here to take advantage of the low house prices when there is nothing to do in your spare time and the council are closing all the decent pools and the city farm.

John Street Car Park And Bus Station Development

On March 23, Council Leader Mohammed Pervez started work on the much talked about new bus station for Hanley.

Councillor Pervez started the work with the construction of a 2.4 meter high fence around the site and said

This is fantastic news for the city. We gave commitment to starting on the bus station by 28 March. We have managed this. This is a sign of our absolute commitment to making sure we deliver. The new bus station will become a lasting legacy for the city and will provide users with a quality, warm and safe facility.

If we rewind back to September 2010, the cabinet of the time, under the leadership of Councillor Pervez made a number of pledges that they were going to deliver by the end of March 2011 These pledges included

  • Delivery of 100 Extra Care housing units to support older people.
  • Building new homes in Coalville, Blurton and Fegg Hayes.
  • Working in partnership to provide 100 affordable homes.
  • Starting a new adult learning programme.
  • Starting work on the new REACH short stay school at Trent Vale.
  • Supporting 2,000 people with advice on training and employment.
  • Helping 500 people into permanent jobs through the city’s JET centres.
  • Introducing 11 more No Cold Calling zones
  • Completing the refurbishment of the Mitchell Memorial Theatre.
  • Starting work on the development of a new city centre bus station.

Amazingly just before the ‘Purdah‘ period for the 2011 local elections started, (during Purdah publicity, in any form, by public officials, of candidates and politicians is prohibited), Councillor Pervez was able to Start work on the development of a new city centre bus station and deliver one of his cabinets pledges from September.

After the work started, the car park remained open until 11 April when the fencing was complete and the gates were locked for the final time. If you were expecting work to be being carried out as a matter of urgency behind the fence, you will be sorely disappointed.

John Street Car Park

An empty John Street car park

John Street Car Park

No sign of any work being carried out

As you can see now almost 9 weeks on from the work starting and 6 weeks since the car park was closed, there is no work being carried out nor are there any signs of any work other than putting the fence up and removing the pay machines being carried out.

Can closing a car park, which it has been alleged generated over £9000 a week in parking revenue for the city, be classed as delivering the cabinet pledge to start work on the development of the new city centre bus station? Especially as the planning application for the new bus station is reserved with clauses which appear to mean that any construction above ground level is not to commence until certain conditions have been met.

It is possible that other pledges made by the cabinet have been delivered as promised, but this one looks like it was a last minute vanity project by Councillor Pervez to dupe people in to thinking that work was actually beginning on the bus station.

Pits n Pots have contacted Stoke-on-Trent City Council to ask them for a schedule of works currently being carried out, any completed works and any planned works, along with a statement from Councillor Pervez or Renew, so far they have not been able to supply this.

Updated 17:20 23 May Stoke-on-Trent City Council provided the following statement.

 

Since work began in March this year we have successfully secured the site, completed the site hoarding, commenced service disconnections, de-commisioning of ticket machines, tree removal and soft strip of shrubbery to the perimeter of the site. We have completed the tender for the enabling works package to stabilise the ground with the tenders now under review. This process has been slightly delayed due to the intensive bank holiday period which was unavoidable. We expect all reviews to be finished today (May 23) with a view to grouting works starting shortly; an eight to 10 week process. The tender for the principle contractor is also now issued with a closing date of June 24, 2011 and commencement on site following completion of the enabling works in early – mid August.  While a lot of the work has been in the background it is all vital to the project goes ahead as planned. We are working hard every day to get to make sure this process causes minimum disruption to people in and around the City Centre. Importantly we are still on track for completion in Autumn 2012.