The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) are working with Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council to educate residents on safe borrowing and the dangers of using loan sharks.
Together with Staffordshire North & Stoke-on-Trent Citizens Advice, officers from the IMLT will be present on Miners’ Estate in Kidsgrove this week to deliver illegal money lending training to local tenants and debt advocates.
On Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 November, a representative from the IMLT will be speaking to local organisations and residents about the impact of loan sharks and how to spot the signs of illegal money lending.
Residents will be offered free benefit checks at the sessions to ensure they are receiving the money they are entitled to.
The training events form part of a wider financial inclusion project that Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council are delivering over the course of the coming months. The IMLT are commissioning the project using £1,500 of proceeds of crime money; cash that’s been confiscated from convicted loan sharks through the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002).
The aim of the project is to find financial inclusion champions in the community who will help spread the message about loan sharks and support struggling residents to access debt advice and safe credit.
The Illegal Money Lending training sessions will take place at the following locations:
Tuesday 7 November
Galley Centre, Whitehall Avenue, Kidsgrove
10am – 11.30am – Illegal money lending training for residents and agencies
11.45am – 1.45pm – Financial capability training for residents and agencies
Wednesday 8 November
Tesco Superstore, Liverpool Road, Kidsgrove, ST7 1DX
3pm – 5pm – Loan shark information stand and speaking to Tesco shoppers
5pm – 6.30pm – Illegal money lending training session for residents and agencies
Councillor Kyle Robinson, Butt Lane Councillor and Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing, said:
“I am so pleased that Newcastle Borough Council has been able to secure external funding for these awareness raising and training sessions in the Kidsgrove community. Loan sharks and illegal money lending practices exist in most communities and so the local council is working hard to make sure we do all we can to stamp it out. I welcome positive partnership working with the Illegal Money Lending Team England and other local organisations to ensure our local residents are protected from criminals preying on vulnerable people.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“Loan sharks are unscrupulous criminals who prey on the most vulnerable in our society. We are pleased to be working with our partners to raise awareness of illegal money lending and the help and support that’s available to victims of this crime.
“If you or someone you know has borrowed from a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch on 0300 555 2222. We will take information anonymously and in confidence. For more information on how our team can help you, visit www.stoploansharks.uk.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
A petition of 1379 names against cuts in bus subsidies was presented to Staffordshire County Council by Councillor Charlotte Atkins on behalf of the Staffordshire Labour Group on Thursday October 12th.
Councillor Charlotte Atkins (Leek South Division) said,
“I am presenting this petition on behalf of all those who will be devastated by these cuts in bus subsidies – the most disadvantaged: the old, the young, the sick, the disabled and those on low incomes.
“Buses are a lifeline in a rural county like Staffordshire – providing access to employment, education, healthcare, shopping and leisure opportunities. These are all vital to the quality of people’s lives.
“Without these buses, we will be adding to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. That will add to the mental health problems which are already high within Staffordshire and have huge consequences for rural communities.
“These swingeing cuts – a 70% reduction to the bus subsidies’ budget – are being proposed without any alternatives being planned. Why isn’t the County Council exploring innovative solutions to address the transport needs of our most vulnerable citizens – working with taxi services, health organisations, supermarkets, leisure outlets, and communities to develop sustainable alternatives? This must be done in advance of the axe falling.
“For once, we need not just to consider the bottom line but the needs of our most vulnerable residents – whose voice is rarely heard. We need to focus on the human and social outcomes of these ill thought out plans.”
Talke and Red Street County Councillor, Kyle Robinson said,
“Many people in our local community will feel trapped if more bus routes are axed. I will continue to raise concerns of those residents who are worried about the future of their local bus services. Many residents in my division who use public transport are worried that they may not be able to reach Royal Stoke Hospital without having to use taxis or walk miles. Perhaps it is time for the Government to consider renationalising bus companies before the whole system fails.”
Chesterton Borough Councillor and campaigner, Cllr Allison Gardner said,
“We have been campaigning and collecting signatures for our petition over the summer. These cuts have already resulted in bus companies removing routes altogether. Audley have lost their Saturday bus service to Newcastle and the number 17 Hanley bus has been cut. Cuts to public transport means isolation of people who cannot afford cars or are unable to drive. This means our elderly, disabled, young and poor residents will be adversely affected – the very people we need to be supporting the most. They, and whole communities, will become increasingly isolated and their access to work, training, health services and shops will be reduced. In turn this will have a detrimental effect on our local economy as well as the health, well being and opportunities of our residents. This is a further example of the appalling cuts forced on local government by the Conservative government and it is time we all spoke up, whatever our political persuasion, and said enough!”
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.”