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Whitehill Online Poll

Will the recent way NBC has handled the travellers situation impact who you vote for in future council elections?

Yes I will vote for a different party / councillor than our current lot in Kidsgrove - 91.8%
No I will vote for the party / councillor who represent Kidsgrove now. - 8.2%

Kidsgrove News

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wild Steps Project at Clough Hall Park

Staffordshire Wildlife Clough Hall ParkStaffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Wild Steps Project, which is funded by North Staffs NHS , is offering a free day of activities for families on Saturday September 22nd from 11 to 3pm at Clough Hall Park, Kidsgrove.

The 'Wild at Heart' event is aimed and getting families outside and engaging in some fun activities. Throughout the day Newcastle Borough Council will be offering football skills for children and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust will be creating an assault course for youngsters to have a go at, there will also be a chance for all to have a go at the very popular 'Vegetable Olympics' and 'Wild Play' . Craft activities will also be available. There will also be a free newspaper pots and vegetable seeds for young growers. Also present will be health related stalls offering free advice on lifestyle choices from health professionals including the British Heart Foundation.

Also the 'Friends of Clough Hall Park' will have their cafe open in the park's pavilion. Organiser Shaun Rimmer said: "This great free opportunity is linked to the Wild Steps project which is about people learning how to improve their own well being by taking positive steps to improve their health, the event will hopefully inspire families to look at different fun ways of keep fit and active, as well as getting advice from health professionals about healthy lifestyle choices. "

If you would like any further information please contact Shaun Rimmer , Community and Health Development Officer on 07772080254 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to keep track of forthcoming events being held by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, become a fan on Facebook (search for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust in pages) or follow the Trust on Twitter (search for StaffsWildlife). To join the Trust, call 01889 880100 or visit www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/page/membership

Whitehill Methodist Harvest Festival

whitehill methodist church harvest festivalWhitehill Methodist Church will be celebrating the harvest festival with a special weekend of events dedicated to the occasion.

Whitehill Methodist Church will be hosting events on both the 15th and 16th of September. On the 15ht of September at 7.30pm the Kidsgrove Community Choir will be singing, with admission, including light refreshments at just £3.

On Sunday 16th at 10.30am preacher Dennis Smith of Crewe leads the service and at 6pm preacher Ian White from Alsager leads the service. The church invites Kidsgrove residents to bring gifts of tins, bottles and dried goods which will be donated to the food bank at Swan Bank Church, Burslem.

Newchapel Club Housing Development Set to be Approved

newchapel club plans set for approvalNewchapel residents opposing plans to build houses on the site of the former Newchapel Working Mans Club look certain to lose their battle. Newcastle Borough Council planning officers have recommended that the plans be approved when Newcastle Borough Council meet next week.

The officers appear to believe that residential development would be in keeping with the local area and is something which would see the site brought back into use. These plans appear to be controversial with some residents who are upset and the prospect of another housing development in the local area.

Many Newchapel residents will be awaiting the decision from Newcastle Borough Council next week.

Celebrate End of London 2012

brampton park newcastleColdplay’s hit anthem “Viva La Vida” will ring out around a popular borough park as the London 2012 Games officially come to an end.

Frontman Chris Martin – whose rock band is set to perform at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games – has given the green light for the tune to be played as part of a national initiative to mark the end of the London 2012 Festival.

The Bandstand Marathon, staged by Superact and Making Music, features more than 500 simultaneous live music performances across the country on Sunday, 9 September – the last day of the Games.

The song – meaning “live life” or “long live life” – kicks off a performance at Brampton Park in Newcastle by the award winning Trentham Brass Band.

Home-grown musicians will play a variety of music from 2-5pm. Admission to the event, organised by the Friends of the Borough Museum and Art Gallery, is free.

Sonia Johnson, the group’s secretary and treasurer, said: “As a rapidly growing group we thought the Bandstand Marathon would be a wonderful way to join up with all visitors to the park.

“Brass band music is just the thing to get people moving – hopefully we will see lots of dancing in the park which is a great way to keep fit. It’s going to be a great afternoon.”

A Victorian magic lantern show and free children’s activities will be available at the Borough Museum and Art Gallery from 2pm thanks to the Heritage Open Days campaign.

Visitors will also be given exclusive access to areas not normally open to the public.

Brennans Pub to Re-open in Kidsgrove

brennans pub kidsgroveBrennans public house on Kidsgrove Bank is to re-open as a pub again after many Kidsgrove residents had suspected that it had served its last pint. Brennans which was once known as the Crown and Thistle shut some years ago and was sold to a property development company. The proposals at the time were to see the Kidsgrove pub become 3 houses, however following this company entering administration the Kidsgrove pub has been bought by a local pub chain who intend on opening Brennans once again.

Calmore Taverns purchased Brennans for around £87,000 and is spending about £150,000 on the refurbishment, with the aim of opening the Kidsgrove venue in November. It appears that becoming a community pub is the focus of the new owners and they will not be serving food at this current point in time.

It appears to be good news that Brennans will be reopening in Kidsgrove, as had been reported online in our Forum many months ago. Clearly the news of the pub re-opening will not please everyone, as some local residents were still under the impression that the building would be turned into houses. Some councillors could have some difficult decisions on which side of the fence to sit on, given some past comments on the future use of the venue.

Kidsgrove Town Bus Service Improved Service

kidsgrove town bus timetableKidsgrove Town Bus Service which currently operates on Tuesday’s and Friday’s, will from next week (3rd September) operate 5 days a week (Monday – Friday). The Kidsgrove Town Bus Service which is operated by Stanway Coaches and is funded by Staffordshire Country Council is the vital link for many local residents.

Staffordshire County Council which is Conservative controlled appears to be going against the national trend of Councils, who have in recent years being cutting back on public subsidised bus services. This will be a relief for many Kidsgrove bus users who have come to depend on the Kidsgrove Town bus service.

Funding this service will of course have controversial elements. Many critics will question the cost per user of the Kidsgrove Town service. Some of the existing Tuesday and Friday services are acceptably used, however others will see few people taking advantage of the service. It will be remained to be seen if the increased frequency will improve the use of the service overall.

The Kidsgrove Town bus service timetable can be found by clicking here.

Kidsgrove Suffers Flooding from Blocked Drains

flooding kidsgrove blocked drainsThe recent rainfall in Kidsgrove has caused some localised flooding, which has been put down in some cases to blocked drains. Kidsgrove residents have been reporting flooding problems, due to poor drainage on numerous occasions, yet still despite this nothing appears to be done to alleviate the problem by Staffordshire County Council.

Woodstock Road in Kidsgrove, which has recently been resurfaced in Staffordshire, is one such road which is suffering flooding. Local residents on the road have made numerous reports to Clarence (Staffordshire Highways reporting system) but despite this the problems with flooding still exist. It appears that only when residents persist in complaining to Clarence does anything get done about the flooding, even then it appears that cleaning one blocked drain appears to be the solution. It is unknown if Staffordshire Highways have even bothered to investigate the underlying cause of the problem in this situation.

It also appears that Harriseahead Lane in Kidsgrove is another road which suffers from localised flooding problems. Councillor Mary Maxfield reports that this is being caused by debris washing down the road, which in turn causes drains to be blocked and flooding to take place.

Councillor Maxfield suggests that blocked drains are a real pain in Staffordshire to get sorted to the standard that many expect. The North of the county only has 1 drain cleansing vehicle which is used to clean drains at least once a year. There are questions how successful this is though when reports come in of trees growing from the edges and inside the drains. This is something that has been observed in Kidsgrove.

If you have observed flooding in a particular part of Kidsgrove, please feel free to share it with us. You can post your problems with flooding in Kidsgrove or join in the discussion on flooding in our Forum.

Kidsgrove Should Have Done More to Celebrate Jubilee

Kidsgrove Town Council JubileeKidsgrove residents have overwhelmingly said that they felt that Kidsgrove should have done more to celebrate the Jubilee. The online poll which we ran overwhelmingly shows that the majority of Kidsgrove residents feel let down by the efforts made in Kidsgrove Town Centre to mark the Jubilee, in a year which has seen people take real pride in their national identity.

When we asked residents in Kidsgrove Town Centre about the effort shown in Kidsgrove, comments were less than complementary about the effort shown by Kidsgrove Town Council, with many pointing the finger of blame at them for the lack of effort in Kidsgrove. One resident commented “They took the time to decorate the Town Hall (Kidsgrove), but what about the rest of Kidsgrove? If it wasn’t for some of the shops decorating their windows you wouldn’t know anything special is happening”. This sort of comment has been echoed many times locally in Kidsgrove and online.

Kidsgrove Town Council was shrouded in controversy in the build-up to the Jubilee celebrations after confusing statements were made by members of Kidsgrove Council regarding plans to mark the event at Clough Hall Park. The Sentinel printed comments from members of Kidsgrove Town Council which were rebuffed by members of The Friends of Clough Hall Park. Clough Hall Park is still waiting for these plans which Kidsgrove Town Council talked about to come to fruition to mark the Jubilee of 2012.

Whitehill Methodist Church Community Café

Whitehill Methodist Church CafeWhitehill Methodist Church in Whitehill, Kidsgrove is setting up a community café which will be operating weekly each Monday from 10am until 12pm. The Footsteps Café will initially operate only on Mondays within Whitehill Methodist Church, however it is hoped, if successful that the café opening hours could be extended to include other days within the week.

The Footsteps Café at Whitehill Methodist Church launches on Monday the 3rd of September. Please go along and sample the large selection of refreshments available.

Additionally at Whitehill Methodist Church the Girls Brigade are celebrating 100 years in Whitehill. As a result they are hosting a fund raising day on the 6th October 2012 between 10am and 3pm. All Children aged 5+ (under 5’s must be accompanied by an adult) are welcome to come and join in the various activities on offer which include a bouncing castle, face painting, Wii games and craft projects. An entrance fee of 50p will cover all these activities. Refreshments will be on offer throughout the day at a small charge including tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes.

Hopefully you can go along and support some of these local events taking place at Whitehill Methodist Church.

Kidsgrove Broadband Speed Test

kidsgrove broadband speed testKidsgrove residents and visitors to Whitehill Online will do doubt be aware of the discussion regarding broadband provision in Kidsgrove. The UK Government has also been discussing broadband provision for the whole of the UK, with a recent report suggesting that the UK’s average broadband speed is now 9Mb . This got us thinking how this compares to the broadband speeds experienced by Kidsgrove internet users.

Today we are launching the Kidsgrove Broadband Speed Test. The whole idea of this is to collect the broadband speeds from Kidsgrove residents and compare these to the UK average. The UK Government is suggesting that by 2015 we should all have an average speed of 30Mb, which seems like it could be possible on the whole if fibre optic connections are rolled out all over the UK.

Taking part in the Kidsgrove Broadband Test is really simple, just follow the steps below:

  1. 1.Visit http://www.speedtest.net/
  2. 2.Click the “Begin Test” button. This will now test the speed of your broadband connection.
  3. 3.Once complete you will see a box containing your Download and Upload speeds
  4. 4.Click the “comments” link below and share your Download and Upload speed.
  5. 5.Your done, thank you for taking part in the Kidsgrove Broadband Speed Test

Further Online Interaction for Kidsgrove

Kidsgrove OnlineKidsgrove residents can now comment on news stories which are featured on Whitehill Online. This new facility is allowing Kidsgrove residents and online users the chance to interact further with the content included on Whitehill Online.

All Kidsgrove news articles will now feature an option which allows the user to comment on the story. Here Kidsgrove residents can write a comment which will be displayed underneath the article on the main website. Kidsgrove residents will only need a valid email address to comment on Kidsgrove news articles, which will have to be verified before any comment can be published online. This is new article comments feature is in addition to the current Kidsgrove Forum section, which will remain the place for Kidsgrove residents to discuss, issues online.

We are delighted to be able to continue to press ahead and continue to deliver new features for Kidsgrove’s independent website, a feature which we hope many users and Kidsgrove residents will come to enjoy in the future months and years.

Kidsgrove Heathcote Street Traffic Opinions Flying In

Kidsgrove Town Centre Roundabout IdeaKidsgrove residents and road users of the A50 in Kidsgrove have made some good positive suggestions for improving the traffic situation which occurs between the two sets of traffic lights in Kidsgrove. Staffordshire County Councillors Mary Maxfield and Geoff Locke were both keen to gage public opinion on what could be done in this area, with suggestions and comments being fed back to Staffordshire County Council.

Initial feedback from the poll suggests that most Kidsgrove residents and road users are opposed to the suggestion from Geoff Locke of preventing people from turning right into Heathcote Street from the A50. It appears from initial comments made in the forum that people are concerned on the impact this will have on other roads within the Kidsgrove area.

Box Junction Proposed KidsgroveAnother suggestion which appears to be simple and popular would be for the council to better enforce the traffic regulations and deal with the issue of illegally parked cars on Liverpool Road, Kidsgrove. These cars can narrow the carriageway and thus in turn cause delays, especially when large vehicles are trying to use the road. This option seems fairly simple to enforce and should surly be done alongside any other options.

There has also been the suggestion to impose a box junction system at the main bottle neck points on the road layout. This would prevent cars from blocking the exit points for vehicles turning right and could improve the overall traffic flow. This again seems like a fairly simple change that could be made to the current road layout.

Our personal favourite at the moment and one which we feel could really improve the traffic flow in Kidsgrove is the removal of the traffic lights and replace them with a roundabout. This would not only enable increased traffic flow, but also take Heathcote Street out of the traffic controlled system. This could really improve the traffic flow in Kidsgrove, however questions have been raised how this fits in with current transport planning policy.

As you can see we have created some very basic drawings to suggest how some of the current ideas suggested may look.

There have been many other ideas suggested, maybe you have ideas of your own. Please don’t be afraid to post your ideas in the forum, its free and easy to setup a fourm user account if you don’t already have one.

Football Returns to Clough Hall Park

Clough Hall Park KidsgroveSunday League football is making a return to Clough Hall Park in Kidsgrove after many years of being forced to play elsewhere. Newcastle Borough Council have decided to allow Clough Hall Park, Kidsgrove to be used for Sunday League football once again, enabling the footballers to make use of the excellent changing facilities which exist at the venue.

Clough Hall Park used to be the venue regularly of Sunday League football, however Newcastle Borough Council made the decision to withdraw the use of the park for such services, claiming that this would open it up to greater use for Kidsgrove residents. This was a controversial decision at the time as it also led to the Cricket team been removed from the park on a Saturday afternoon for the same reasons. It is fair to say that since this move Clough Hall Park has not benefited, in fact it had led to reduced interest in the park by Kidsgrove residents and became an increased focus for anti-social behaviour.

The Friends of Clough Hall Park group have worked exceptionally hard to improve the perception in Kidsgrove of Clough Hall Park over the last few years. They are hopeful that as well as football returning to the park, cricket may also return in the summer. The rental income from this sort of use goes to Newcastle Borough Council, no doubt all the more import in times when the council claims to have reduced funds.

The Friends of Clough Hall Park are operating a café in the pavilion at Clough Hall every Sunday morning between the hours of 10am and 12pm. This will no doubt be exceptionally popular with football players and supporters. All income raised will go towards continuing to support the continued improvements in Clough Hall Park.

Latest Kidsgrove News Journal Online

Kidsgrove NewsThe latest edition of Kidsgrove News is now available online to read. Kidsgrove News is the local bi-monthly publication for Kidsgrove and is delivered to every home in the Kidsgrove area.

Kidsgrove News is an independent publication with no connection to Whitehill Online, however we like many Kidsgrove residents recognise the excellent contribution which it makes to the Kidsgrove community. Last months online editon of Kidsgrove News proved to be exceptionally popular, something we anticipate will be the case with this latest edition.

You can view the latest edition of Kidsgrove News along with previous editions of Kidsgrove News by clicking the “Kidsgrove News Journal” link in our Kidsgrove News menu or by simply clicking the link here.

 

Kidsgrove Under Renewed Threat from Land Sale

newchapel road kidsgrove housing developmentOnly a few months after the Labour Controlled Newcastle Borough Council made the bold claim to remove proposed sites for new housing, Kidsgrove is once again under threat from new proposals from Newcastle Borough Council. This time though as there is no election to be fought it appears the issue is of little interest of the Kidsgrove Labour Borough Councillors.

The original proposal would have seen Coal Pitt Hill in Talke turned back into housing and for greenfield land just off Pennyfields Road being a site for housing. However after fighting an election campaign on the issue, the original sites were been removed and replaced with a new collection of sites. These sites are even more controversial in the Kidsgrove area than those originally proposed.

Under the new plans Kidsgrove will see the recreational Greenfield land at Newchapel Road turned into 90 new homes, as well as 140 new homes built on land at Slacken Lane in Kidsgrove and a further 30 homes built at the rear of Stone Bank Road in Kidsgrove.

There will be many Kidsgrove residents fearing that the destruction of Greenfield site and the removal of recreational area will lead to increased anti-social behaviour in the area. Removing the facilities available to young people, especially those which keep them fit and active goes against all we have recently seen in the hugely successful Olympic Games. This increase in housing will also put an increased demand on the local services in the area, thus making it more difficult to get an appointment with your doctor / dentist, harder to get into your chosen local school, etc. This is not forgetting the impact on the local transport infrastructure, reducing the air quality as more traffic is sat on congested roads.

Kidsgrove Heathcote Street Traffic Opinions Wanted

heathcote street kidsgroveMany Kidsgrove residents and commuters who use the A50 in Kidsgrove will no doubt be fully aware of the potential backlog of traffic which can build up between the two sets of traffic lights (Kidsgrove Police Station Lights and Kidsgrove Britannia Lights) at peak traffic periods.

Staffordshire County Councillors Geoff Locke and Mary Maxfield are both aware of this issue and have been in meetings and discussions with representatives from Staffordshire County Council highways department. It appears that our Kidsgrove councillors have differing opinions on what action should be taken, if any, with Councillor Geoff Locke wanting a “No right turn into Heathcote Street” when approaching Kidsgrove from down past Kidsgrove Town Hall.

Councillor Mary Maxfield does not agree with this idea as she is concerned about the effect that this will have on other parts of Kidsgrove. Mary Maxfield made a suggestion that Kidsgrove residents should have the chance to share any thoughts they have on the current situation, something which Kidsgrove residents can do by clicking here (you will need to create a free forum account, if you don’t already have one).

Staffordshire County Council are have met and are not keen on the “no right turn” option, however this plan is still supported by Councillor Geoff Locke. Mary Maxfield and Staffordshire County Council would like your views on this matter, which is why we have created an area on the forum to share your comments and a special online poll.

Kidsgrove Man Convicted of Murder

Thomas Dalton KidsgroveA Kidsgrove man has been found guilty of the murder of his former girlfriend.

Thomas Dalton, aged 19, of Attwood Street, Kidsgrove, has been on trial for the murder of Samantha Laney at Stafford Crown Court.

Dalton had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Samantha and attempted murder of her father Stephen.

But he was today found guilty of the murder of Samantha. He was found not guilty of the attempted murder of Mr Laney.

Dalton will be sentenced at Stafford Crown Court this afternoon, Thursday.

At approximately 5.30pm on Tuesday 21 February police were called to an address in Kentmere Place, Clayton, following a report that Samantha had been stabbed.

The 19-year-old had recently returned to her father’s home having split up with Dalton and had moved out of the Kidsgrove flat they shared.

The court heard that Dalton had travelled from Kidsgrove to Clayton on a pedal cycle, which has never been found, armed with a knife.

When Samantha returned to the Clayton address with her father and a friend, Dalton burst into the property and fatally stabbed her. He then fled the scene.

Despite the best efforts of emergency services staff, Samantha was pronounced dead at the scene. A Home Office post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death was a single stab wound.

Dalton was arrested and detained by officers within an hour of committing the offence and subsequently charged.

An inquiry into the incident was carried out by detectives from the force’s Major Investigations Department and Samantha’s family continue to receive support from specially-trained officers.

Tesco Parking Restrictions

Kidsgrove TescoKidsgrove Tesco is to implementing car parking restrictions in Kidsgrove in a move which is sure to be controversial with some Kidsgrove residents.

Tesco in Kidsgrove is planning to install an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system which will restrict Kidsgrove users to just 3 hours on the stores car park. This move has been brought about because the Kidsgrove store claims that car parking has become difficult for some customers at peak times, due to Kidsgrove train station users leaving their cars on Tesco’s car park, rather than paying the car parking charge at Kidsgrove station.

This move by Kidsgrove Tesco could have a massive knock on effect on Kidsgrove as a whole. Some Kidsgrove residents complain already that roads such as The Avenue are suffering from Kidsgrove Station users parking their cars, so this issue is sure to get worse if Kidsgrove Tesco is to take this action.

It is clearly more evidence of the popularity of Kidsgrove Station, something which Kidsgrove could use as an excellent selling point to new businesses and residents.

Sunflowers Celebrate Year of Growth

Sunflower Home Care Logo

A new social enterprise trading in support of the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, is celebrating its first birthday.

Sunflower Home Care Limited, provides domiciliary care for around 25 clients each week throughout North Staffordshire, and was launched last year with funding by local authorities.

A celebration event will take place at the Blurton based Hospice on Wednesday 19th September, with invitations sent to GP’s, social services and an eclectic mix of support groups.

Care Assistants for Sunflower Home Care follow a client’s unique care plan, written by social service officers. The number of home visits, the time and duration of a visit as well as the fees the company will receive are all prescribed.

Angela Hodges, Business Development Manager said,

“Sunflower Home Care strives to offer the highest quality of care, being as efficient, effective and considerate as you would expect from anything associated with Douglas Macmillan Hospice; preserving, for those we care for, the right to choice, values, dignity and independence.

“Although it is primarily older people, coping with debilitating conditions who are in need of home care from us, we can and do provide care to people of all ages; and also, although most home care packages are paid for by the local authority, we do accept private clients too.

“Recent changes in the rules for the funding of social care packages, mean the public can now choose which care company they would like to come into their home to care for them or their loved ones.”

For more information on Sunflower Home Care, please call 01782 344344 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Newcastle Borough Councillor Attendance

Kidsgrove Councillors Newcastle Borough CouncilIn May the residents of Kidsgrove went to the polls to elect members to Newcastle Borough Council. It has now been a few months since this date and Newcastle Borough Council is getting into full swing under the control of Labour. In Kidsgrove all of the wards are represented by Labour members, which should give Kidsgrove a strong voice on Newcastle Borough Council.

We thought we would investigate the attendance figures of Kidsgrove councillors and the figures make interesting reading. We have listed the attendance percentage to meetings, which does make interesting reading. It should be remembered that these councillors do get a four figure "basic allowance" and others can claim additional allowances for the roles they have in the council.

Below you can see how your Kidsgrove councillor is performing on attendance to Newcastle Borough Council meetings.

Butt Lane Ward

Councillor Silvia Burgess 67%
Councillor Kyle Robinson 80%
Councillor John Taylor 25%
 
Kidsgrove Ward
Councillor Margaret Astle 100%
Councillor Reg Bailey 80%
Councillor Terry Turner 100%
 
Newchapel Ward
Councillor Elsie Bates 56%
Councillor Paul Waring 86%
 
Ravenscliffe Ward
Councillor Gillian Burnett 50%
Councillor David Stringer 100%
 
Talke
Councillor David Allport 73%
Councillor Mike Stubbs 100%

Catering Helps Hospice Care

Catering to Care

A catering venture that gifts its profits to the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, has released its latest menu.

The eight page document showcases the latest seasonal menus, which include; Mediterranean, rustic and eclectic.

Download your Catering to Care Menu HERE

Catering to Care is run by DMH Staffs Enterprises Ltd., and offers catering for all occasions such as corporate, weddings, funerals and birthday parties.

This follows the success of catering ventures at Carmountside Tea Rooms and theMeir Superstore.

 Guy Clarke, Business Development Manager said,

 "We are delighted to offer this service to businesses and families across North Staffordshire. The profits generated from this venture, will allow

Douglas Macmillan Hospice to continue to care for local people."

If you would like to discuss your catering requirements, please get in touch at least 48 hours in advance of the occasion.

Please call Guy Clarke, Business Development Manager on 01782 344304 - 07917220117 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Kidgrove Residents Art Work Framed

Kidsgrove Art Competition at Brampton ParkKidsgrove residents, artists and craftspeople of all ages from Staffordshire are being encouraged to showcase their masterpieces in a special exhibition.

Officers at the Borough Museum and Art Gallery are inviting applications from professional and amateur artists for the Open Art and Craft event.

The exhibition, which runs from Saturday, 15 September to Sunday, 4 November, will shine the spotlight on local creative talent.

People who live, work or study in the county can submit an application form with up to three pieces of work from Saturday, 1 September to Tuesday, 4 September.

Cash prizes of £250, £100 and £50 will be awarded to the three best chosen entries from 2pm on 15 September and a £50 prize will be presented by the Friends of the Borough Museum and Art Gallery. Visitors can also vote for their favourite artist whose prize will be an exhibition in 2013.

There is also an under 16s category where youngsters are in with a chance of winning art materials.

Kidsgrove Town Councillor and Newcastle Borough Councillor Cllr. Elsie Bates, Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “I’m delighted we’re giving people of all ages the opportunity to reach new audiences with their work. Staffordshire is known as the creative county so I’m sure the selectors will have a difficult task.”

Application forms are available from the Borough Museum and Art Gallery.

Kidsgrove Police Station Move Date Set

Kidsgrove Police StationThe long awaited move of Kidsgrove Police Station is going to take place in October. Kidsgrove Police Station will move from its current site to a new one in Kidsgrove Town Hall. This move has long been on the cards as it is anticipated that this will save Staffordshire Police £88,000 in repairs to the existing Kidsgrove Police Station and reduce the running costs of Kidsgrove Police Station from the current £54,000.

Kidsgrove residents will be aware that the relocation of Kidsgrove Police Station has been a topic of much debate in Kidsgrove. During the last election the Kidsgrove Labour Party spent a great deal of time campaigning on preventing the closure of Kidsgrove Police Station, even though it was relocation and not closure that was planned. An online poll by Whitehill Online showed that most Kidsgrove residents were not too bothered where Kidsgrove Police Station was located, so long as it remained in Kidsgrove.

There have been many questions asked about what will happen to the existing Kidsgrove Police Station site. Some Kidsgrove residents believe that the site will be eventually sold for housing, however how will such an empty building look in a prominent Kidsgrove position? Staffordshire Police have gone as far as saying they will maintain the building until it is sold, which does bring into question some of the proposed savings that have been suggested. If Staffordshire Police is spending money on two buildings in Kidsgrove, is this actually saving any money? There is every chance the old station in Kidsgrove could remain empty for a long period of time.

The move should ensure that Kidsgrove retains its current Policing levels and Kidsgrove Police Station will continue to operate the same enquiry desk hours.

Kidsgrove Business Directory

Kidsgrove Business DirectoryWith all the recent talk in Kidsgrove about appointing a Kidsgrove Town Centre Manager on £30,000 per year, it has got us thinking at Whitehill Online what we could do to help promote Kidsgrove businesses, without asking for a single Pound.

Kidsgrove Councillor Margaret Astle posted online that the Kidsgrove Town Centre Manager would be responsible for promoting Kidsgrove and encouraging business growth in Kidsgrove. There have been many questions asked about the role of a Kidsgrove Town Centre Manager and if this job is really as valid use of £30,000. Should Newcastle Borough Council be spending £30,000 of tax payers’ money on a job which could be done by existing businesses forming a Kidsgrove Chamber of Trade?

So we have got the ball rolling in promoting Kidsgrove business. We are launching a Kidsgrove Business Directory, which will be totally free for any Kidsgrove business to get listed on. Hopefully by promoting businesses in Kidsgrove in an online area where Kidsgrove residents visit, we can encourage some local business growth in Kidsgrove.

We have listed a few Kidsgrove businesses to start with, who we could find online, however we are aware this is only a starting point. If you have or know someone who has a business in Kidsgrove and would like a free listing, please contact us with the business name, full address and contact details. As a Kidsgrove business directory we are only going to promote businesses which are based in the Kidsgrove area.

Who needs £30,000 of tax payers money to promote Kidsgrove?

Newchapel Club Housing Development Debate

Newchapel Club in NewchapelThe proposed development of housing on the former Newchapel Club site is causing increased debate amongst residents of Newchapel and Kidsgrove. The Newchapel Club site which has been purchased by a Biddulph Moor based builders has submitted revised plans for 9 homes and not the original 10 as was planned.

It appears that residents of The Jasmine Crescent Estate are concerned about the plans and the impact this will have on the value of the homes which they purchased only a few years ago. The main areas of objection appear to be the increased level of traffic in the Newchapel area and the visual impact this new development will have on their homes.

This has already caused debate amongst residents in our forum, with one resident commenting “How overlooked are they already from the Pennyfields Rd?” and also highlighting the face that the current Newchapel Club site has 50 car parking spaces, far less than what would be created by any new homes.

Staffordshire County Councillor Mary Maxfield commented “When the Jasmine estate was being planned I was on the Planning Committee and voted against the development on the grounds submitted by the residents of Pennyfields Road. These included loss of wildlife, loss of privacy and the fact that Pennyfields Road residents would be able to see straight into the properties which were lower. This is what actually happened. Also the top end of the estate was so planned so that there could be no access to the Club cark park from Jasmine Crescent allowing an access for any future development. The original application was very acrimonious and caused great distress to so many. They employed a barrister to fight the case to no avail.”

It appears this will be only the first of many development debates with the development plans by Newcastle Borough Council in the Kidsgrove area.

High Speed Rail (HS2) in Kidsgrove?

Kidsgrove High Speed Railway HS2Kidsgrove could benefit from a new High Speed Railway Station (HS2) in the future. It appears that Newcastle Borough Council supports the plans for HS2, however it also wants to ensure that North Staffordshire benefits from the new high speed rail link. This could possibly leave the door open to Kidsgrove benefiting from being the location of a new HS2 station.

Gareth Snell, Leader of the council, said, “One of our key aims is to secure investment and jobs. We believe that the HS2 proposals could underpin future economic regeneration and employment opportunities as well as providing a solution to the growing transport congestion issues.

"We will support the principle of high speed rail so long as there are clear economic benefits for North Staffordshire and we will be pushing for a station to realise those benefits.”

In July 2011, the council registered a holding objection to the proposals and supported the county council’s view that the development could adversely affect the Staffordshire economy and environment.

At that stage it was also doubtful that a new station for North Staffordshire would be included in the plans.

However, the Government has since decided to go ahead with the HS2 proposals and will undertake a consultation exercise to gauge local support during the next few months.

Government plans for HS2 involves two phases – the first will connect London to Birmingham and then Phase two will connect Manchester to the West Coast mainline and East Midlands and South Yorkshire – with interchange stations in both areas – before connecting to the East Coast Mainline north of Leeds.

Olympic Legacy in Kidsgrove?

London olympic legacy in KidsgroveYou will have to have been on another planet not to have noticed that the Olympic Games have taken place in London over the past 2 weeks. The whole purpose of the Olympic Games was to create a legacy of sport, encouraging competitiveness and promoting hard work.

How will Kidsgrove benefit from the Olympics and what could Kidsgrove residents expect to see in Kidsgrove?

Let’s be reasonable about this - Kidsgrove is not going to see a new Olympic swimming pool or velodrome built, however some sporting improvements could easily be evident in Kidsgrove. The most obvious improvement in Kidsgrove would be the long awaited reopening of Kidsgrove Swimming Pool. This has been closed ever since storm damage to the roof and without the funding from Staffordshire County Council we have learnt Kidsgrove pool would not have opened again. It is now proposed to open sometime in the Autumn, which lets hope will not mean that some of the Olympic legacy is not lost already.

The exciting proposals to rebuild Clough Hall School could also see sporting improvements in Kidsgrove. Kidsgrove could see new facilities to promote sporting excellence, however once again the time frame on these proposals are more long than short term.

Bathpool Park and Birchenwood could all be focal points for future improvements and investment in sporting resources. A mountain biking / BMX track could be installed at Bathpool Park to replace the old site which is beyond repair, whilst Birchenwood would make an excellent sporting recreational centre which could host events based around athletics.

What is more of a worry for Kidsgrove residents are the new proposals from Labour Controlled Newcastle Borough Council to sell off recreational land in Kidsgrove for housing. This land is listed on the new proposals which none of our Labour councillors seem to be talking about surprisingly. If Kidsgrove is to lose open recreational space to housing, what does this say about encouraging a sporting legacy? If Kidsgrove is to benefit from the Olympics then it needs sporting investment and not a reduction in open space available to all.

Kidsgrove and Newcastle not included on Portas' Regeneration List

market street kidsgroveKidsgrove and Newcastle could have missed out on funding to regenerate the High Street as part of the Mary Portas scheme. The Government announced the towns which have been provided funding today and Kidsgrove and Newcastle are not featured on this list. This would be in addition to the failed application for Newcastle to be part of the Portas’ Pilot schemes which were announced earlier in the year.

Kidsgrove Councillor Margaret Astle writing on the internetwas happy to highlight the failure of the previous management of Newcastle Borough Council for failing with a Portas’ bid. If a bid has been made again, then it looks like she can also add such a failure to the list once again.

Meanwhile Newcastle Borough Council have decided to create a new Town Centre Manager position with a reported £30,000 a year salary. It was a interesting decision by the ruling Labour Party in Newcastle to create such a well-paid position, in a time when many residents across the Borough will be cutting back and may even face the possibility of job losses.

It has not been reported how the council will fund this position yet, however any addional expenditure by Newcastle Borough Council usually gets passed on to the tax payer in the way that councils know best.

Kidsgrove High Street to Benefit from Relaxed Planning Regulations

Kidsgrove Market StreetCould Kidsgrove be a town which is able to take advantage of the proposed idea from the Government to relax the planning regulations, allowing new businesses to open up in empty Kidsgrove shops without the current detailed planning regulations?

Under the proposals from the Government Kidsgrove could see “pop up” shops opening on a temporary basis (maximum 2 years) which would not only encourage business and investment in Kidsgrove but also make use of the currently empty stores.

This new legislation is a plan from the Government to encourage new businesses into town centres like Kidsgrove. It has caused debate thought as some people are fearful that this regulation will make it easier for more bookmarkers and takeaways to open in town centres like Kidsgrove. If it was to encourage more businesses in Kidsgrove then is would sure to be topical as some Kidsgrove residents feel the town centre is currently over populated by such businesses.

This could be a good positive move for town centres like Kidsgrove. We shall wait in anticipation should anything come of these proposals.

Kidsgrove Internet Usage Statistics Revealed

Whitehill Online StatisticsAs Kidsgrove basks in the summer sunshine, here at Whitehill Online we did what every website does in the sunshine, analyse some statistics. The way and frequency in which Kidsgrove residents access Whitehill Online has dramatically changed over the last four years, so much so that we would share some of the finds online.

The major change which has been observed over the last four years is the way in which Kidsgrove residents access Whitehill Online. The mobile phone and tablet (iPad) appear to have surged in popularity in 2012, with now 40% of all visits being made to Whitehill Online via one of these devices. The most popular device is the iPhone, however it is now closely followed by Android devices.

This major shift in the way in which Kidsgrove residents are accessing Whitehill Online also appears to have a massive effect on the number of times that the average user visits the site each day. This has now increased by 300% over the past year, with the number of pages viewed on Whitehill Online increasing by over 5000%. This statistic has no doubt been helped by the redesign of the website to make it more mobile friendly, allowing greater access to all features of Whitehill Online.

The browser which Kidsgrove residents are using to access Whitehill Online has also dramatically changed over the last 4 years. In 2009 Internet Explorer was the dominant browser - however in 2012 Internet Explorer is still JUST the most popular browser used by Kidsgrove residents however Chrome, Firefox and Safari are all now exceptionally popular with Kidsgrove residents visiting Whitehill Online.

The overall statistics on visits to Whitehill Online also make exceptional reading. They are still continuing to increase, month on month, year on year. We were expecting these to peek earlier in the year, however once again the popularity of Whitehill Online on the internet continues to grow.

It is really interesting to reflect on how the site is used, something that allows for better planning for the future. We hope that this short insight in to how the way we use in the internet in Kidsgrove has changed has interested you as much as it interests us.