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Future of Talke Library Looking Bright

Lesley and Jill at Talke Library.

The future of Talke Library is looking more positive as a community organisation sets up base there.

Local voluntary and community sector support and development organisation, Support Staffordshire, now has a base locally at Talke Library. As local manager, Jill Norman, explains: “We have been looking for a base in Newcastle and Kidsgrove for a while and have decided to try using Talke Library which gives us a great place to access all parts of Newcastle Borough and also allows us to support the community library and its volunteers. We are keen to take the opportunity to encourage more community use of the library and its resources. It’s a great facility and has a lovely meeting room as well as flexible space in the main library.”

Talke County Councillor Kyle Robinson said: “Since I was elected to Staffordshire County Council I have held meetings with senior officers, pressured the Leader of the County Council and fought hard to ensure Talke Library has a future.  I have also raised my concerns about cuts to Library opening times, but hopefully this situation will improve as the ‘Support Staffordshire’ team begin to work more closely with the community.  I am hoping that a firmer arrangement can be sealed in the New Year and I will continue to be part of any negotiations to secure a positive future for this vital community facility. I shall look forward to working with Jill and her team.”

Support Staffordshire has already held one of its quarterly voluntary sector forum meetings and also a training session at Talke Library. Lots of different activities already take place at the library, including monthly Monday evening talks organised by The Friends of Talke Library and a craft group which meets every Monday afternoon. However, there are opportunities for other activities and Support Staffordshire is keen to attract people who would like to run new activities, or to volunteer to support existing activities, at Talke Library.

The base at Talke Library gives Support Staffordshire a chance to offer face-to-face advice and support to individuals who may be interested in volunteering through its Volunteer Centre services, and to those running a voluntary or community group who may need help on governance, funding, finding volunteers, or any other aspect of running an effective group. Staff will be available during the normal library opening hours of 1pm to 5pm on Mondays and 2pm to 5pm on Wednesdays (Talke Library is also open on Fridays 2pm to 5pm, run by Staffordshire County Council staff and volunteers).

You can just drop in to see us, although it is best to ring in advance to book at appointment to be sure. To book please ring 01538 381356 or, for volunteering advice email kathryn.bentham@supportstaffordshire.org.uk and for organisation advice email Natalie.shields@supportstaffordshire.org.uk

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

Developer pushes to slash affordable Butt Lane homes

Taylor Wimpey Butt Lane Homes

New Taylor Wimpey Mitchell Gardens offices on West Avenue.

Taylor Wimpey has applied to reduce its affordable housing contribution from 25% to just 16% on its Mitchell Gardens development in Butt Lane. The developer has claimed that it’s controversial development of over 170 homes would not be financially viable if the company had to build the recommended quota of affordable homes. Residents have been left reeling after discovering the new plans submitted by Taylor Wimpey to Newcastle Borough Councils Planning Department two weeks ago.

Cllr Kyle Robinson said: “Taylor Wimpey have made a mockery of the residents in this town. Recent figures suggested that Taylor Wimpey’s order books for new homes is up 12 per cent from the same time last year to £1.9bn. This will equate to millions in profit for the company. How dare this company move into our Town, take up our green space and then plead poverty to wriggle out of its obligations to the people. The real victims of this scandal are the young families trying to get on the property ladder, but have no way of putting down a deposit on the majority of these luxury homes. There is a local and national affordable housing crisis and yet again the Government is letting developers walk all over communities. I strongly believe this latest move is a form of social cleansing in the making. If local land is to be developed for housing then local people should be given the opportunity to buy these homes at affordable rates.  I have asked Newcastle Borough Council to implement an independent review of Taylor Wimpey’s claims that the development is not viable with 25% affordable properties included.”

Newly elected Butt Lane Councillor, Sylvia Dymond said: “There have been concerns for years that Taylor Wimpey would try and pull the wool over the eyes of local residents. We now see their true colours. The people of Butt Lane have been forced to sacrifice a huge amount of green space used by local people for many recreational activities. One of the criteria for approval of planning permission was that 25% of the development was affordable housing.  We have accepted that housing is needed in the Borough and around the country, but this whole saga is a slap in the face for those locals looking to buy an affordable home on Mitchell Gardens. I don’t know how much more of this we can take as a community.”

You can object to the Taylor Wimpey proposals by using the reference 15/00441/DOAHR and visiting: http://publicaccess.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/online-applications/