Stoke-On-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council sign to support business growth

Stoke-On-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council have committed to support businesses through the planning process in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire by signing a Planning Charter Mark to commit to support businesses through the planning process.
 
The charter was signed infront of more than 130 business representatives at the New Vic yesterday. The event organised by the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry on behalf of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP was fully booked and saw all local authorities in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area sign up to the charter.
 
Councillor Mark Meredith, Stoke-On-Trent City Council cabinet member for economic development, said
 
The city council is committed to helping to support existing businesses and encourage new investment in the region. The charter is the council’s pledge to help businesses flourish by providing a red carpet service to guide firms through the process as quickly and effectively as possible.
 

The charter which aims to make development in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire flourish will focus on five main areas

 
  • clarity and consistency
  • effort and focus
  • competence and respect
  • accuracy and fairness
  • dialogue and understanding

to create clear advice for businesses looking to expand or develop.

County Councillor Ben Adams, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Enterprise, said
 
This valuable and unique Planning Charter Mark is part of the red carpet that authorities are rolling out to businesses looking to grow and thrive across Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire. The pledge demonstrates that pace, professionalism and good customer service underpin our planning processes and help us to all play our part in delivering jobs, growth and sustainable developments. This business friendly approach is one of the reasons that big names are investing in the area
 
Stephen Dixon, LEP board member and managing director of Johnson Tiles, was also be joined by fellow board member Sue Prince and founder of Beechenhill Rural Enterprise to talk about the work so far of the LEP and the support the partnership can provide.
 
As part of the commitment all of the councils are signing up to have their planning policies reviewed annually to check whether they fulfil the criteria and can keep the charter mark.
 
Sara Williams, North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the move was welcomed by businesses saying,
 
Businesses will welcome anything that makes the planning process easier and quicker. Enabling business to concentrate on growing and creating jobs, not bureaucracy, is something we all want to see.
 
Maitland Hyslop, chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said
 
The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP is committed to supporting businesses to grow and welcomes any move which helps to increase investment in the region. The key to this charter is the fact that all of the local authorities have joined together to pledge their commitment making Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire the place to invest.

City Apprenticeships Up Almost 25%

Stoke-on-Trent City Council are reporting record apprentice figures for young people saying that apprenticeships have grown by nearly 25 per cent in the last year.

All of the apprentices supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be at The Bridge Centre, in Birches Head, today to celebrate the team’s success.

Councillor Mark Meredith, Stoke-On-Trent City Council cabinet member for economic development, said

This is fantastic news for the city. The city council is committed to helping young people develop their potential. Apprenticeships give young people the chance to get on the job training with the opportunity of a long term placement at the end of the training. This year has seen record numbers of successes and we are looking forward to the program going from strength to strength in the summer as the new placements become available.

This year Stoke-On-Trent City Council has supported 77 young people through apprenticeship placements in the city compared to an average of 60 for past years. Placements range from sports development to childcare with Stoke-on-Trent City Council directly supporting 63 placements as well as supporting recruitment for external posts in companies including Brazilian Soccer Schools, 21st Century Gym, Stafford Borough Council, Stoke City Football Club and Tamworth Borough Council.

The city council, through organisations such as Learn4work and JET, work with young people and businesses in the city to match budding young workers with suitable placements.

Apprenticeships not only provide businesses with the opportunity to develop their staff of the future but give young people the opportunity to get real on the job training. New opportunities for apprenticeships are due to become available on Friday 1 June.

Jake King, has been studying an apprenticeship in exercise and fitness for the past three years, which is helping him to realise his dream of becoming a personal trainer. He said

The program is helping me achieve my aspirations and I am gaining a lot of qualifications and experiences.

In total Learn4work, the city council’s apprenticeship team, has directly supported 47 new apprenticeship in the council. A further 14 have been directly supported via training in external placements. In addition the city council also has 12 apprentices studying play and learning in Children’s Centres, two studying horticulture at Burslem Park and two working within the city council’s highways team.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council To Create Joint Investment Team

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council are funding a joint inward investment service with the aim of attracting in excess of 10,000 jobs over the next three to five years.

The service, which is launching a new website outlining the city and county offer, is aimed at attracting investment and assisting existing major companies to expand in the region.

The Make it Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Investment Development Team will operate across the city and county and will incorporate the existing inward investment support in both areas.

The service aims to introduce innovative ways of marketing Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to potential investors. The team will target companies in growth sectors in which Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have a key selling point such as advanced manufacturing and medical technologies.

The move has been backed by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and is supported through a program of European Funding.

Councillor Mark Meredith, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for economic development, said

The Mandate for Change is dedicated to supporting existing businesses and encouraging investment opportunities. By working together we will be able to maximise resources in order to promote Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire as open for business. The team will be focusing on key growth sectors to target investment and provide a red carpet service to potential investors.

The team, which will have an office in Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford, will see both councils working side by side to target and drive investment in the region. It will be responsible for

  • marketing Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
  • supporting companies considering relocating or expanding to the area
  • de-risking the investment process for companies committed to investing in the area

Maitland Hyslop, chair of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, said

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is a prime location for investment and it is important that we work together to maximise this potential. I look forward to supporting the team in their delivery of a prestigious red carpet service for the region.

 

Staffordshire County Councillor Ben Adams, cabinet member for economic growth and enterprise, said

Creating jobs and prosperity for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in this tough economic climate must be – and is – our top priority.

Staffordshire has a brilliant offer in terms of its support, environment and skills and our work across the regions is already paying off, which is why world-class companies such as Amazon and Jaguar land Rover have chosen Staffordshire for major operations.  

But in a highly competitive global market we have to make the most of our potential. Through this new service, and by working in partnership across the region, we are better placed than ever to bring thousands of jobs to the county and city.

 

The service will be a one stop shop for businesses looking to grow or relocate to the region and will provide a red carpet service to make every step of the process as easy as possible. The service aims to build on the success for 2011 whereby Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire created in excess of 2,000 new jobs through inward investment.   

More information on the team is available at www.makeitstokestaffs.co.uk or by calling the team’s one number on 0300 111 8005.

 

 

Name the Diamond Woods

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is inviting entries to name the two Diamond Wood sites to be planted in the city later this year. Backed by B&Q and Kier Stoke, the council is running a competition in conjunction with The Sentinel, to name the two Stoke-on-Trent woods.

In December 2011 two sites, Fenpark and off Biddulph Road near Packmoor were awarded £220,000 from the Forestry Commission to create the woodlands.

The two sites are part of The Woodland Trust’s Jubilee Woods project which is planting 6 million trees across the UK to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Sixty woodlands of 60 acres will be created with hundreds of smaller woods also being created, along with thousands of communities and schools planting free schools packs. 

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for city services said

 

We want really creative and imaginative entries that bring to mind the occasion and the city’s heritage. 

We’re looking for names that will evoke the spirit and essence of Stoke-on-Trent, and make these woodlands unique to our city.

They will leave a lasting legacy for future generations and we’re looking for something that people can look back on in years to come to make them proud of our city and what it has achieved.

 

The aim of the competition is to create historic names that will commemorate the event and also form part of the city’s heritage for years to come. A judging panel made up of sponsors and organisers will make the decision and two prizes of £100 gift vouchers are on offer for each of the two successful entries.

 

Georgina McLeod, project head at the Woodland Trust, said

It’s great that local people are getting the chance to connect with these new woods. In just 10 years the trees will be taller than the average person and the woodland will be full of wildlife for many people to enjoy, hopefully the naming is just the start of their relationship with the woods.  Not only is this a chance to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but it’s also a chance for people to improve their local environment and create somewhere for residents to enjoy and be part of.

 

 

All trees planted in the two woods will be native broadleaf trees that grow naturally in Stoke-on-Trent and that will do best in the soils at each site. Species will include silver birch, ash, oak, rowan, and hawthorn. 

Details on how to enter and terms and conditions can be found using the Diamond Wood Competition link below.

 

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.

Graham Wallace

Pits n Pots is sad to report that former Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor Graham Wallace passed away on Saturday after a short battle with cancer.

Mr Wallace was a much respected across the city, as a councillor in the former Abbey Green ward, where he lived for over 60 years and as a member of the Stoke Central Labour Party.

The Wallace Sports & Education Centre in Abbey Hulton was named after Mr Wallace when it opened in 2004.

£7,741,247 for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership have been awarded £7,741,247 out of a £50m pot shared between Local Enterprise Partnerships across the West Midlands.

The £50m of Government funding is to help with key infrastructure projects.

Examples of eligible projects include new infrastructure for development sites and access improvements to unlock the potential of new commercial space and homes.

The money has been awarded as part of the £500m Growing Places Fund, which is designed to kick-start local economies by stimulating stalled projects and in turn, creating new jobs.

The breakdown of awards across the region is

  • Black Country – £9,786,886
  • Coventry and Warwickshire – £8,671,398
  • Greater Birmingham and Solihull – £15,211,198
  • Stoke and Staffordshire – £7,741,247
  • The Marches ““ Shropshire, Herefordshire, Telford and Wrekin – £5,531,035
  • Worcestershire – £3,727,486

Business Support Number Goes Live

The single number helpline to give businesses in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire the support and advice they need to develop and prosper has launched today.

The new number 0300 111 8002 which was first announced at the beginning of the year, will act as one point of contact and make it easier for businesses, big or small, to get the advice they need with minimum fuss.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Mohamed Pervez said 

This one point of contact will make it easier for entrepreneurs, big or small, to get the information and advice they need with the minimum of fuss. With the business support line we will have one voice when helping businesses to cut through the bureaucracy and simplify things for them

The number is part of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s drive to lay out the red carpet for business, making it easier for existing and new business to grow in the area. Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire County Council and the Chambers of Commerce have all backed the project.

 

LEP Business Development Chairman Stephen Dixon said the partners were working together to put business interests first. 

What business wants is a clear route to information and support. At the moment there are several sources of information and it can be confusing. We are determined to break down barriers to enterprise. The one number will be the single simple gateway to business expertise.

 

 North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Sara Williams said

In a survey conducted by the Chambers of Commerce (on behalf of the LEP), businesses were asked what would be of value to their business. The majority of respondents asked for a single point of contact for business advice.  It is really exciting that the LEP is able to respond so quickly to businesses needs.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth and enterprise leader Ben Adams said the business support line would be a building block of the red carpet treatment for business in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. 

Our focus on business, jobs and prosperity is really paying off. Big international names like Jaguar Land Rover, Amazon and Nestle are choosing Staffordshire. We are leading the way nationally for job creation. That’s because the joint team is dedicated to doing everything we can to help businesses thrive – whatever their size

The number which is on a six month trial will operate from 8am – 8pm Monday – Friday and 9am – 6pm on Saturdays.

Potteries Shopping Centre Expansion Gets Approval

Capital Shopping Centres (CSC) today announced that its plans to invest £14m in The Potteries Shopping Centre have been granted planning approval by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The shopping centre which attracts around 14 million visitors each year will build a multi-screen cinema complex, new family-friendly restaurants and a pedestrian boulevard at the centre. The £14m investment will re-develop an underused brownfield site, will harmonise with the surrounding area through landscaping and will promote sustainable transport through a Green Travel Plan.

Paul Francis, General Manager of The Potteries Shopping Centre, said

Stoke-on-Trent is crying out for investment of this nature and the Council’s decision will be welcomed by residents and the millions of people who shop in Hanley every year. 

Our plans will create much needed new jobs and provide a real boost to the city’s economy, not to mention offering a great place for families to come and enjoy.  As a long-term partner to this great city, we’re proud to invest in its future and can’t wait to start delivering this plan.

It is hoped that construction will start on site later this year and open the leisure extension at The Potteries Shopping Centre in early 2014.  Later this year, CSC will announce the operators who will be opening new restaurants in the leisure extension at The Potteries Shopping Centre.

The planning application was approved without the need for it to go to the planning committee.

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.