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Woodshutts Park helps buyers get on the housing ladder

Example: New affordable homes development at Woodshutts Park, Butt Lane, Kidsrove.

Residents have begun moving in to new affordable homes in Kidsgrove thanks to a £2m Aspire Housing regeneration scheme.

The former Woodshutts Inn pub in Lower Ash Road, Butt Lane, was demolished to make way for 22 quality homes, ready for rent and shared ownership sale.

The flats, houses and bungalows in Woodshutts Park have transformed the neighbourhood, providing much needed housing at an affordable price. The shared ownership homes are priced of between £115k and £125k for two-bed houses or bungalows, where the buyer purchases a 40 per cent share.

The development was financed by Aspire Housing with £616,000 of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency. Contractor, Novus Property Solutions completed the construction.

Sinéad Butters, Aspire Housing Chief Executive, said: “We are committed to providing new affordable homes, both for rent and to buy, to meet local housing needs. “I feel proud to see the transformation of this site. In the past, the derelict pub attracted interest for all the wrong reasons, it was an eyesore and a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

“But we have turned it around and created housing which is in high demand. Four of the seven shared ownership homes were reserved before the site had been completed. “They are proving very popular and we know this type of housing is helping people get that first step on the property ladder.”

Novus Director, Alan Nixon, said: “We’re proud to have played our part in the transformation of this site, which had become something of an eyesore after years of neglect. “It’s a perfect example of our partnership with Aspire Housing to deliver attractive high quality new homes, which it is hoped will improve the wider area for the benefit of the whole community.

“I’m sure that the residents moving in will enjoy living in this stunning new development.”

Councillor Kyle Robinson said: “For many years this site was blighted with anti-social behaviour, arson and drug dealing.  “Residents in the surrounding area were fed up with the abandoned pub and the state it had been left in and that is why we led a campaign to see something done.  “I am absolutely thrilled to see the development of affordable homes on this land to finally give something back to local people.  “The investment that Aspire has made along with the Home and Communities Agency is very much welcomed.  “This is an example of what we can deliver for our communities when we work together.

“I would like to wish the new residents well in their lovely new homes.”

Staffordshire Mental Health Motion Wins Unanimous Support

Staffordshire County Council accepted the challenge of playing a crucial role in improving the mental health of everyone in our community following a motion from the Labour opposition group (below) at its Full Council meeting on May 25th. The motion was carried unanimously by the Council.

Moving the motion, Labour Opposition Leader Councillor Sue Woodward (Burntwood North Lichfield) said:

‘The Mental Health Challenge is a call for councils across the country to promote mental health in the terms set out in the motion. As councillors, leaders in our communities, we collectively and individually have a role in ensuring services are there for our residents, promoting mental health and parity of esteem with physical health and removing the stigma of mental health problems.

‘We must be proactive and I hope it won’t just be left to a mental health champion but all of us. One in four experience a mental health problem every year – about 15 members here in this council chamber; about 2000 residents in each County Council Division and I am mindful of staff too,’ said Councillor Woodward.

Supporting the motion, Labour Deputy Opposition Leader Councillor Charlotte Atkins (Leek South) said:

‘It is clear that we are nowhere near achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health services. Although half of all lifetime mental health problems emerge before the age of 14 years, we are not investing enough in early detection and treatment of mental health in schools – only 16 per cent of expenditure on child mental health services goes on early intervention. With local schools now making staff redundancies, mental health is often the first area to lose out.

‘There is also an alarming rise in young mental health patients treated far from home – nearly 70 per cent of child and adolescent admissions were out of area. So they are deprived of family support when they need it most. That situation would not be tolerated for physical illness – so much for parity of esteem!

‘The decision by North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group to withdraw free NHS hearing aids last year demonstrates that even the CCG discounted the implications for mental health. To save a measly £110,000 a year, the CCG has jeopardised the mental well being of hundreds of elderly people denying them the social interaction that guards against isolation and depression. Yet they are responsible for commissioning all our health services’, said Councillor Atkins.

Also supporting the motion, Councillor Kyle Robinson (Talke and Red Street Newcastle) said:

‘I have seen how suicide has affected the community I represent. The problem is on the increase in Newcastle-under-Lyme and in other parts of Staffordshire. Men in the UK aged 20-49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death. This is more than cancer, road accidents and even heart disease.

‘These figures are absolutely tragic and yet we fail to discuss this issue enough. Our County Council can do much more to reach out to our local communities and to make sure people have the information they need to access mental health services and support groups. We can all play a part in tackling mental health by sharing information and talking to each other. People must know they are not alone in their struggles.’ said Councillor Robinson.

Labour’s motion to Staffordshire County Council Full Council 25 May 2017

This council notes:

  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • The World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second most common health condition worldwide by 2020.
  • Mental ill health costs some £105 billion each year in England alone.
  • People with a severe mental illness die up to 20 years younger than their peers in the UK.
  • There is often a circular relationship between mental health and issues such as housing, employment, family problems or debt.

This council believes:

  • As a local authority we have a crucial role to play in improving the mental health of everyone in our community and tackling some of the widest and most entrenched inequalities in health.
  • Mental health should be a priority across all the local authority’s areas of responsibility, including housing, community safety and planning.
  • All councillors, whether members of the Executive or Scrutiny and in our community and casework roles, can play a positive role in championing mental health on an individual and strategic basis.

This council resolves:

  • To sign the Local Authorities’ Mental Health Challenge run by Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Providers Forum, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Psychiatrists and YoungMinds.
  • We commit to appoint an elected member as ‘mental health champion’ across the council.
  • We will seek to identify a member of staff within the council to act as ‘lead officer’ for mental health.
  • The council will also:
  • Support positive mental health in our community, including in local schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces.
  • Work to reduce inequalities in mental health in our community.
  • Work with local partners to offer effective support for people with mental health needs.
  • Tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health in our community.
  • Proactively listen to people of all ages and backgrounds about what they need for better mental health.
  • Sign up to the Time to Change pledge

Labour Group wins Citizens Advice Service Reprieve

cablogo-11The Staffordshire Labour Group’s call in of the Conservative Cabinet decision to cut funding to Staffordshire CABs by £439,000 has resulted in a rethink. Cabinet member Councillor Alan White agreed at yesterday’s Corporate Review Committee to reconsider his decision.

The proposed cuts in funding would have resulted in many smaller bureaux closing and a much reduced service in other bureaux which provide free, confidential and quality marked advice on a wide range of issues including debt, benefits and consumer information.

Leading the call in on behalf of the Labour Group, Councillor Shree Peaple said:

“The CABs provide real value for money. In the first six months of the year, for an investment of less than 59 pence per resident per year the financial return was £14.7 million, on average £17 per resident. That is in addition to helping residents deal with over £11 million worth of debt. That benefits not only local families but also local shops and businesses.  I am delighted that we have won a reprieve for Staffordshire CABs but they are not out of the woods yet as there are still hard decisions to be made”

Kyle Robinson , Labour County Council Candidate for Talke and Red Street said:

“The CAB offers expert advice to help people tackle their debt problems.  Many residents, young and old in Butt Lane, Talke Pits and Chesterton Red Street access CAB services in a time of need.  People are really struggling to make ends meet and to take away this vital service would be another blow for the local community.  People assume that only people on benefits use CAB services, but this is simply not true.  A large proportion of people who use the service are in work.  I am also aware that many disabled people turn to the CAB for support, especially when seeking work.  The County Council must think again and ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community get the support they need and deserve.  You never know when you might need to access this service yourself.”

Councillor Sue Woodward, Leader of the Labour Group said,

“With the petition in favour of saving our CABs already running at over 11,500, this reflects the real value Staffordshire residents put on these services. We must now find a fairer and more positive solution. I am pleased that our call in was so successful.”

Please sign the petition if you haven’t already: https://www.change.org/p/staffordshire-county-council-help-protect-local-citizens-advice-services-across-staffordshire