A large range of items handmade by Shropshire Council staff will go on sale next Thursday (12 December 2013) to help raise money for charity.
Items including jewellery, greetings cards, knitted toys, handbags, art, cakes, table decorations, teddy bears, scarfs and painted glass will be on sale at a Christmas Fayre at Shirehall in Shrewsbury, along with books, bric-a-brac and more.
The event runs from 12 midday to 2pm.
There will be more than 30 stalls at the fayre, and each stallholder is being asked to donate a minimum of £5 to the charity of their choice. People visiting the fayre will also be able to make a donation to each stallholder’s chosen charity.
Clive Wright, Shropshire Council’s chief executive, said:
“This will be a brilliant chance to help some worthy causes this Christmas, and the fantastic range of handmade items that are set to go on sale next week shows what a creative bunch of people we have working for the council. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the stalls, and to snapping up a few Christmas gifts.”
Today (Thursday 5 December 2013) is International Volunteers Day, and a new initiative is being launched in Shropshire to discover more about how volunteers make a difference in their communities and how this can be better co-ordinated in the future to achieve even more with more people.
Volunteers In Public Service (VIPS) wants to understand about the systems that are currently in place to enable people to volunteer for public services, whether it is with the council, police, fire and rescue, health or education.
The project also aims to investigate what motivates people to volunteer and get involved in doing the things that add huge value to the delivery of public services.
Activity planned for early next year includes lots of engagement with volunteers, the organisations which currently co-ordinate volunteers, and the different areas of the public sector where volunteers make an impact.
To help with bringing everyone together, there will be a workshop and a celebration of current “VIPS”. All the evidence and learning that is gathered will be used to inform how public service volunteer co-ordination is done in the future.
Superintendent James Tozer, of West Mercia Police, is championing the scheme and said it was important to make it as straightforward as possible for people to volunteer.
“International Volunteers Day seems a good time to start talking about the VIPS initiative. It’s very early days but I think it is vital that we actively coordinate all the different processes that are currently out there to make it easier for people to get involved.
“All of us in the public sector are saying we want people to be more active in their communities, so it’s down to us to make it as simple as possible for those people who feel able to volunteer.
“There are already thousands of amazing volunteers and volunteer groups in Shropshire and the VCSA, as well as other areas, and we are not looking to replace or change that. This initiative is specifically looking at coordinating activity between, and for, the public sector agencies.”
Councillor Gwilym Butler, whose Shropshire Council portfolio includes partnership working, said:
“This is a very positive initiative and it’s a great chance for people to get involved and help shape how volunteer recruitment and co-ordination for the council, police and others could work in the future. We don’t claim to have all the answers, so we will be talking to people on all sides of the volunteering fence about how it can be better for everyone.
“We would be delighted to hear from anyone who is interested in getting involved.”
Jackie Jeffrey, Chair of the VCS Assembly, added:
“It is encouraging to see public sector organisations in Shropshire not only valuing the important role that volunteers play in delivering local services but also working to support more public sector staff to volunteer. As the project develops, members of the VCS Assembly will be keen to work with public sector bodies to consider where volunteering is appropriate and how volunteer support can be provided through joint working.”
Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the work to help make VIPS a success can get in touch with Kate Garner, locality commissioning manager at Shropshire Council, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Plans which aim to give councillors more opportunities to get closer to changes being explored at Shropshire Council were agreed this week.
The Performance Management Scrutiny Committee, on Wednesday 4 December 2013, discussed and approved a new way of scrutinising services, including the setting up of Rapid Action Groups of councillors.
The groups will be able to get involved in how the council is changing, focusing on a chosen topic or area. They will be able to see first-hand how services are being redesigned and talk to frontline staff and customers, to better understand and contribute to the work.
The Leader of Shropshire Council, Councillor Keith Barrow, said:
“This is about scrutiny moving with the times.
“By rigidly focusing on meetings and documents, we have been putting a distance between us and what is happening on the ground, and making our challenges at a late stage.
“However, today’s decision means councillors – whether they sit on a scrutiny committee or not – can really get involved and be part of changes as they are taking place.
“This provides more options for looking at the quality and performance of services and questioning what’s happening from the beginning.
“We can be more open and constructive, giving the public a better insight, by sharing with them our work, what we find, and any alternatives we suggest.”
Clive Wright, Shropshire Council Chief Executive, said:
“The council is radically changing the way it works; we have to make better use of the money, resources and expertise available, to meet our customers’ needs.
“It is critical that we involve elected members as we make these changes; they need to be at the forefront as our business plan develops.
“I look forward to working with the Rapid Action Groups and all members in continuing to ensure we are meeting our customers’ needs and the challenges we face in the best way possible.”
Councillor Martin Bennett, chair of the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee, added:
“This new approach allows us to be more proactive in reviewing, challenging, calling the council to account and bringing forward ideas.
“We will be at the heart of council activities, and while there will still be meetings, to report back, we will not be constrained by bureaucracy.”
The Young People’s Scrutiny Committee recently agreed to setting up a specialised Task and Finish Group to take on the challenge of childhood obesity in the county.
Recommendations to develop the group which will begin in the New Year, were agreed by the committee following a presentation from Shropshire Council’s Public Health on obesity in young people.
Obesity poses a major threat to population health and is placing an increasing burden on health and social care services. Rates of obesity have trebled in the past 30 years and the trend continues upwards.
In Shropshire, one quarter of adults is clinically obese, and two thirds are overweight.
Nationally, obesity is also occurring at a younger age and this is also reflected locally with more than 9% of Shropshire children obese by the time they enter reception class at school, rising to over 17% by the time they reach Year 6 (10-11 years old).
The presentation highlighted four key areas in Shropshire to be addressed;
Councillor Joyce Barrow, chair of the Young People’s Scrutiny Committee said;
“We cannot ignore the impact obesity has on the health and mental well-being of our children and young people.”
“Obesity puts children at greater risk of developing diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Other health risks include early puberty, developing eating disorders, asthma, teasing and discrimination by peers, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.”
“The facts show we have a growing problem with childhood obesity in the county and this is an ideal opportunity to see what’s being done to address it.”
Children who are a healthy weight are more likely to grow into healthy adults. In Shropshire, Public health programmes are designed to reduce inequalities in health and to help families of overweight children through early intervention, using family centred approaches that support healthier lifestyle behaviours.
Councillor Barrow continued;
“We are absolutely committed to tackling these issues and to ensure we develop the right support and incentives to encourage those positive behavioural changes in families with overweight children as early as possible.”
Public Health led programmes include:
A Healthy Weight Partnership Event was held on 26 November 2013 at the Lord Hill Hotel where key issues including causes of obesity, impact on health and opportunities for tackling obesity locally were discussed in more detail.
Professor Rod Thomson, Director of Public Health at Shropshire Council said;
“The recent Healthy Weight Partnership Event highlighted how important an issue tackling obesity in adults and children is to Shropshire Council and its partners. The event brought together a wide range of local stakeholders to build commitment for a healthy weight strategy for Shropshire.”
Anyone in Shropshire who would like information and advice on living a healthy lifestyle can visit www.healthyshropshire.co.uk or call the Healthy Shropshire helpline on 0345 678 9025. This number has been set up to provide a single point for people to go to for support with improving their health. Advisers can help people looking to find out more about how they can be healthier, and prevent themselves or others from getting ill.
For more information about the Young People’s Scrutiny Committee, click here.
Shropshire’s Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership have again secured funding to enable the taxi marshall scheme in Oswestry and Shrewsbury to continue through to the New Year.
The scheme aims to help reduce alcohol related crime and disorder in Shrewsbury and Oswestry Town Centre’s over the Christmas period by providing a high visibility presence in the towns at key times.
Taxi marshalling has been a great success in improving public safety and significantly reducing anti-social behaviour in the town centres late at night. Marshalls offer assistance to customers and provide a safe environment for people to wait for taxis.
Taxi Marshalls will be deployed in both Shrewsbury and Oswestry from the 6th December and will work every weekend in the run up to Christmas as well as New Years Eve and the first weekend in January 2014. The marshals will be on hand in Shrewsbury and Oswestry town centres’ to monitor queues at the taxi ranks and help reduce incidents of alcohol related disorder.
Councillor Steve Charmley, Portfolio Holder and member of the Safer Stronger Communities Partnership said:
“We want people to enjoy the nightlife in Shrewsbury and Oswestry over the festive period, but we also want them to feel safe. We want to prevent a small minority from spoiling other people’s enjoyment. The taxi marshals will prevent disorder in and around the taxi ranks ensuring people can get home safely at the end of the evening.”
This is the third year that the Safer Stronger Communities Partnership has funded this initiative which has been welcome by West Mercia Police, taxi operators and members of the public.
Shropshire Council’s public protection service is reminding Housing and Council Tax Benefit claimants of their statutory duty to correctly declare information that might affect their entitlement to these benefits.
The advice follows a successful prosecution on 29 November 2013 where Shropshire Council brought a case under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 against a benefits claimant.
Tracey Robinson, 48, from Whitchurch, claimed Housing Benefit but failed to give prompt notification to Shropshire Council knowing her change in liability to pay rent would affect her entitlement to benefit. This meant that between 13 February 2012 and 10 March 2013 she benefited from over £3,700 to which she was not entitled.
Mrs Robinson entered a guilty plea and due to her early guilty plea and previous good character, the Magistrates sentenced her to a Conditional Discharge and ordered her to pay costs of £50 to Shropshire Council. She will also be liable to pay back the £3,765.33 that she was not entitled to.
Shropshire Council’s public protection investigation officers are reminding benefit claimants that they must declare the correct information at the time of their application and notify any subsequent changes in circumstances at the time they occur to avoid breaches of benefit legislation.
Frances Darling, service manager for safer and stronger communities, said:
“It is the responsibility of people claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to declare any income or capital to the council plus any changes to their circumstances. Where people fail to do this, the council will investigate the matter and will require the money to be repaid. In addition, we will not hesitate to prosecute where this is appropriate.”
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for Public Protection added:
“Claimants need to be aware that benefit fraud will not be tolerated in Shropshire. We have a duty to protect the public purse and to ensure that those members of our community who genuinely need financial assistance through the benefit system have the help and support they need. Claimants who obtain benefits that they are not entitled to undermine the efficiency and effectiveness of the welfare benefit system.
“I strongly urge all claimants to provide the benefits service with accurate claim information at all times and to promptly provide any changes to their circumstances that may affect their entitlement to benefits.”
Shropshire Council encourages individuals and businesses to contact its public protection service on 0345 678 9000 if they have any suspicions that offences may be being committed. Information can be given anonymously and will always be treated in line with the council’s information governance policies.
Benefits advice can be obtained from Shropshire Council’s benefits options team on 01743 258922, or general advice can be found on our website.
Shropshire’s Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership is joining the Safer Roads Partnership in urging motorists across Shropshire to stay drink free if driving over the Christmas and New Year period.
The partnership is supporting Warwickshire and West Mercia Police ‘Over the limit’ campaign which was launched this weekend (Sunday 1 December 2013), to raise awareness of the issues around drink driving.
Over the past 3 years*, 50 people were either killed or seriously injured in Shropshire following collisions where drink or drugs were recorded as a contributory factor. An additional 207 suffered slight injuries.
The Over the Limit campaign aims to educate road users of the risks they take when mixing any alcohol with driving, encouraging safer behaviour to ultimately reduce the number of people killed and injured on our roads every year. The campaign is asking motorists to consider if they could be ‘over the limit?’ before they get in their car to drive.
Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for public protection, said:
“We want everyone in Shropshire to have a safe and enjoyable time over the festive period, but want to stress to those who consider driving after a drink, not to put themselves and the lives of others at risk.
“Alcohol and drugs both can affect driving in numerous ways including slower reaction times and erratic and aggressive behaviour. There is no fool proof way of calculating how much you can drink and remain under the limit, or knowing how much an individual person can drink and still drive safely. Importantly, you do not know how long any alcohol may be in your body.
“We want people to think hard about the consequences that a collision could lead to, and urge people to really stop and think before they get into a car after drinking.”
Shropshire’s Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership are advising those going out over the festive season to make alternative arrangements such as:
Superintendent James Tozer, West Mercia’s Shropshire commander, added;
“Driving and drinking just don’t mix. This campaign is intended to highlight the dangers of alcohol for drivers. Sadly this time of year usually sees an increase in serious injury and death and many ruined lives. Together we are trying to prevent that. . Please heed the advice and just don’t do it.”
Professor Rod Thomson, Director for Public Health at Shropshire Council, said;
“Local Accident and Emergency Departments are under pressure at this time of the year treating seriously ill patients. Adding to that pressure by drinking ‘over the limit’ is inconsiderate to those patients and the health care staff who are caring for them. Enjoy the festive season and show some good will by not drinking and driving.”
The Over the Limit campaign will involve posters, beermats and other material targeted at local pubs and clubs throughout the county designed to make people think about the consequences of drink or drug driving.
For more information about the campaign visit www.over-the-limit.co.uk
To find out more about the Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership visit: Safer Shropshire Together
For other information on how to remain safe and well over the winter period, visit our Get Ready for Winter pages here.
*Individual county stats are as follows:
If you drive at twice the legal alcohol limit you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a collision than a driver who hasn’t been drinking. Taking drugs will impair driving skills. Driving whilst under the influence of drugs is extremely dangerous and can affect driving in numerous ways including slower reaction times and erratic and aggressive behaviour.
The legal alcohol limit for drivers in Great Britain is:
The current penalties for exceeding the legal alcohol limit for drivers are:
Each person’s tolerance to alcohol depends on a range of factors including:
New signs have gone up in and around Albrighton in Shropshire, to encourage people to visit the village – which is located approximately halfway between Telford and Wolverhampton – and to help them get the most out of their visit.
Under Shropshire Council’s Market Towns Revitalisation Programme, Albrighton’s Traders’ Association were awarded £31,300 to manufacture and install a range of strategic and directional interpretive signs in and around Albrighton. This was added to further grants from Albrighton Parish Council, and Donington with Boscobel Parish Council, to make a project total of £42,000.
Under the project a range of signs have been developed to include welcome and tourism signs at key entrances to the town, plus interpretation panels in the town centre, and additional direction and interpretation signs at the exits of David Austin Roses, Boscobel House, Albrighton Railway Station and RAF Cosford Museum.
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for business growth, said:
“The Market Towns Revitalisation Programme aims to provide a real boost to the economy of our market towns and rural areas. This is a fantastic project that I hope will do exactly that for Albrighton, and I’m delighted that we have been able to award such a significant amount of funding to make it possible.”
Malcolm Pate, Shropshire Councillor for Albrighton, said:
“Albrighton is a quaint village with a lovely high street and some quality local independent shops. However, its proximity to Telford and the Black Country has resulted in a situation where the village has been bypassed by several major roads and is now off the beaten track.
“This project should help to increase the number of tourists and shoppers visiting Albrighton, and help them to find their way around, and learn more about our village.”
Vicky Hyde, current Chairman of Albrighton Traders’ Association, said:
“This scheme was a priority for the traders and was driven forward by the determination of Gaynor Richards, our past Chairman, who worked tirelessly for over a year to bring this project to a successful conclusion.
“We thank Shropshire, Albrighton and Donington councils for both their financial and officer support on this important scheme. It’s a tough time for businesses during these difficult financial times, and we are hopeful that the improved signage will help the village to pick itself up and begin to thrive again. Thank you to all involved for their hard work.”
The Shropshire Health and Wellbeing Board have fully backed the proposal to make 2014 in Shropshire the year of dementia training and awareness. The decision was taken at the full board meeting on 22 November.
The idea behind the proposal took hold in October at a workshop to see how to improve care and awareness and to see if the Dementia Implementation Plan was on the right track.
Dementia occurs because of any one of a number of diseases that affect the brain, the most common being Alzheimer’s. Other diseases include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Pick’s disease. A series of small strokes can also cause dementia.
There are about 800,000 people in the UK with dementia.
Karen Calder, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for health, said:
“Raising awareness and understanding of dementia is a very worthy aim and I’m proud to support this plan. Improving public knowledge of dementia and how people can help affected loved ones is increasingly important.”
Evidence indicates that a healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia. Increasing public understanding how to live with dementia and care for those who suffer from it is a key aim of the plan for 2014.
News from our partners Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia and Warwickshire
Motorists across West Mercia and Warwickshire are today being reminded of the dangers of drink-driving during the festive period.
With the season of festivities now underway, both forces have joined with councils and other organisations to launch a publicity campaign to raise awareness of the issues around drink-driving. Motorists are being asked to consider if they could be ‘over the limit?’ before they get in their car to drive this winter. Most people understand that driving whilst over the legal limit is a criminal offence, but how well do you know the limit? How many drinks is safe? How long after are you safe to drive?
Posters, beermats and other material will be targeted at local pubs and clubs throughout the region, designed to make people think about the consequences of drink- or drug-driving. There is no foolproof way of calculating how much you can drink and remain under the limit, or knowing how much an individual person can drink and still drive safely. Importantly, you do not know how long any alcohol may be in your body.
Figures indicate that, over the past 3 years*, 184 people were either killed or seriously injured in West Mercia and Warwickshire following collisions where drink or drugs were recorded as a contributory factor. An additional 881 suffered slight injuries. The campaign is designed to reach out to people to raise awareness of what could happen to them if they make the decision to drive after drinking.
The campaign supports the month-long winter anti-drinkdrive campaign (starting 1 December 2013) by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Police forces throughout the UK will be working hard throughout December to make sure the roads are safe for everyone this Christmas, and West Mercia and Warwickshire will certainly be no exception to this. This anti-drinkdrive campaign forms an important part of their overall Christmas Presence campaign, and more local officers will be out on the streets during this time. Checks will be made at random locations at any time of the day or night – early in the morning, at lunchtime or during the evening.
Vicki Bristow, Communications Manager at the Safer Roads Partnership, said:
“It’s great we are able to join forces with our colleagues across both force areas to highlight this important message, through outdoor advertising and social media. The campaign highlights the possible consequences of what could happen if a person decides to drive under the influence of drink or drugs.
“There are still people out there who feel they can gamble with drinking and driving, and think they know how much the limit is, but the simple fact is there is only one way of being sure that you are safe to drive, and that is not to drink at all. Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive. We would also ask people to consider other options when out drinking over the festive season: public transport, taxis and sharing nominated drivers are easy to arrange – drinking and driving simply isn’t worth the risk.”
Superintendent Lee Davenport for Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, commented:
“Cracking down on those who take drugs or drink and then drive is a year-round commitment for both forces. However, we are very aware the festive season can present opportunities where people are tempted to drive after taking drugs or drinking. To combat this, extra patrols will be conducted in the run up to and over Christmas and New Year, in a bid to tackle those who commit the unacceptable act of drink- or drug-driving.
“Worryingly, and despite many warnings over the years about the dangers of drink- and drug-driving, there are still far too many reckless drivers ignoring the devastating consequences. Alcohol and drugs both affect your ability to judge speed and distances accurately, and slow down your reaction time. We’re urging people to think hard about the consequences that a collision could lead to.”
The Safer Roads Partnership is part of Warwickshire and West Mercia Police and works in partnership with the four local highway authorities in West Mercia (Shropshire Council, Herefordshire Council, Telford and Wrekin Council and Worcestershire County Council); the Highways Agency; HM Courts Service – West Mercia; the two Fire and Rescue Services for Hereford & Worcester and Shropshire; and West Mercia Cluster of Primary Care Trusts.
* Data collected Nov 2010 – Dec 2012
For further details of the campaign visit www.over-the-limit.co.uk.
Come along to Shrewsbury’s historic Square on Wednesday 18 December 2013 for a magical start to the festive season. Filled with traditional Christmas music and songs, the town’s annual Carols in The Square is the perfect event to get you into the Christmas spirit. And, back by popular demand, there will be snow guaranteed.
Starting from 5.30pm, the town will come alive with festive merriment, music and songs for all the family to enjoy.
Organised by Shropshire Council and supported by Shrewsbury Town Council, the traditional festive singalong will be led by Wem Jubilee Band, and Halfway House Male Voice Choir. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words as carol sheets will be provided.
BBC Radio Shropshire presenters Eric Smith and Claire Ashford will be hosting the event, which will be broadcast live on the radio and online. Eric will once again be hotfooting it from the stage of Theatre Severn, where he’s appearing as The King in this year’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty.
To find out more about events held in The Square please visit www.shrewsburysquare.com, or contact Marian Crosland, The Square’s administrator, on 01743 256517, email: email@example.com.