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North Staffs News
North Staffs News
How’s your Easter break been? Hope you’ve had a great time, relaxing and recharging.
The editor’s inbox has been rather quiet, and that was expected. It’s been good to spend some time making plans, reflecting on what’s worked and what hasn’t over the last few months. Last week’s ‘Editor’s Blog’ led to some great feedback, all of which is appreciated. I do listen!
It must have been the spring sunlight tempting me away from my desk, but I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of people face-to-face in the last fortnight. Some great leads to follow up in the coming weeks, with fresh themes and issues to explore too.
All good.
J

This week, news of two initiatives from North Staffs’ two Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) hit the editor’s inbox. The first is an event, bringing a popular live music event back after a two-year lull. The second is an action plan to clean-up Hanley retail area - the ‘city centre’.
“A Business Improvement District is a defined area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers in addition to the business rates bill. This levy is used to develop projects which will benefit businesses in the local area.” Gov.uk
We’re pleased to support the work of the two BIDs, and will keep a watchful eye out for any developments to report on. Let us know your thoughts though.
Lymelight Festival Returns to Newcastle-under-Lyme for a Bank Holiday of Live Local Music
Following two years of cancellations, annual music event Lymelight Festival will be returning to the town centre for a weekend of free live local music on Saturday 30th April and Sunday 1st May.
Founded in 2018, Lymelight Festival has seen over 600 local bands perform in the town centre. Newcastle-under-Lyme BID, supported by local events company BID Events, are pleased to bring the event back and put local music on the map again, providing a weekend of free entertainment for people of all ages. 
Over 20 live performers will play the main stage (situated on the High Street outside the Guildhall), including: Stepping Lane, The Time Stealers, Behind the Moon, and Bathtub. There will also be acoustic sessions held at The Carlton, and further live music at nearby bars including Wellers, The Crossways, Ten Green Bottles, The Cask Bar, and Little Vic.
Music on the main stage will begin from 10:45am with headliners performing on both days at 7pm. The event will close at 8pm daily.
There will also be a small children’s fun fair on both the Saturday and Sunday, and hot street-food offerings and an onsite bar for those enjoying the live music.
The Lymelight Festival celebrations on Sunday 1st May tie in with the annual Staffordshire Day festivities that sees a packed programme of events and activities celebrating our beautiful, historic, and welcoming county.  
Castle Artisan Market will be bringing along the best in makers, bakers and creators on Sunday May 1st from 10am till 3pm, giving families plenty of time to check out all of the amazing trader stalls, enjoy a drink and bite to eat, as well as listening to the fantastic music line-up. To recognise our county’s heritage, there’ll be ‘have a go’ stations from the market stalls where you can throw pottery on a wheel or create slab-built items.
BID Manager Alex Taylor said: “The past two years have been a really difficult time for the hospitality industry and has meant two years of cancellations of Lymelight Festival. We’re delighted that the festival is to return to the town as it’s been a part of the local social calendar for over 8 years.  
"We really hope the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme and beyond will support the event this year as we get back on our feet and bring much needed revenue back into the local venues so that they can begin to rebuild their businesses.
"The festival is always such a vibrant weekend of live music and is all about community and celebrating the incredible music scene in our local area.”
Adam Gray of BID Events said: “We are proud to be working with the Newcastle-under-Lyme BID team to bring the much-loved Lymelight Festival back following the pandemic. We look forward to seeing you all for a weekend of fantastic live music and entertainment.”
For those driving into the town centre, all council owned car parks will be free of charge on Sunday 1st May allowing more visitors to enjoy the day without having to worry about parking costs. 
To find out more about Lymelight Festival, including listings for the main stage, acoustic and around the town, visit www.lymelightfestival.co.uk 
New fund from Stoke-on-Trent BID aims to help clean up and brighten the city centre
Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID are to continue with their major initiative Operation Sparkle, an important project to improve the city centre for visitors and those that work here.
BID Manager, Richard Buxton said: “After the success of Operation Sparkle in 2021, we look forward again to improving our city centre throughout 2022. Working with our key partners, Stoke-on-Trent City Council & The Potteries Centre, we have a programme of actions that will give our visitors and businesses alike a city centre to be proud of. Everyone can get involved in our Big Spring Clean weekend in May, and we will continue to deliver the city centre we all deserve.”
The BID Introduced Operation Sparkle in March 2021 with the aim of ensuring the city centre maintains a quality environment that will attract shoppers and visitors, and increase footfall.
To encourage local businesses to support the campaign, the BID has set aside funding that businesses can apply for.
The ‘Business Visual Improvement Fund’ will provide additional support for city centre businesses who wish to improve their premises’ frontage, aligning with the BID’s objective to clean up the city centre.
Examples of requests for funds could include:
•   New or improved shop signage
•    Painting - building, frames, doors, etc.
•    Boarding out or glass replacement of upstairs windows
•    Hanging Baskets
•    Deep cleaning (outside)
•    Window wraps for closed businesses
The BID will provide equipment where required to ensure businesses can carry out tasks with as much ease as possible, and the Street Ambassadors will continue to offer support.
The BID has also outlined a number of other city-centre improvements and tasks it aims to complete in 2022. These include:
  • A new peace garden will be created to replace the waste land on Marsh Street, creating a space for people to reflect, unwind or meet with friends.
  • Operation Sparkle Weekend where businesses, their staff and the public are invited to ‘do their bit for the community’, and help clean up and improve their city centre.
  • Planters & benches to be added to Parliament Square, creating a more welcoming space for visitors.
  • Groundwork repairs on Piccadilly, with replacement paving to damaged areas.
  • Road repairs, building work and planters introduced on Stafford Street, creating a safer cleaner environment.
  • Hanging baskets & planters to be installed across several areas within the city centre, including Piccadilly, Cheapside, Parliament Square & around the indoor market.
  • Replacement of lockable trade bins on Pall Mall.
  • City centre litter picking across various areas during Operation Sparkle Weekend.
  • Dustbin replacement on Lamb Street.
  • The Face of Hanley mosaic artwork on Albion Square to be repaired.
  • Installation of ‘ballot bins’ for cigarette butts throughout the city centre.
  • Installation of fences and gates in various locations, to ensure more derelict lower-lit areas or alleys are locked and closed off as part of Safer Streets 2.
  • Blue Clock repair work to be completed following new paintwork.
  • Paving repairs and barrier removal at the Victoria Hall.
  • Cleaning of the ‘Old Meat Market’ exterior now occupied by Wetherspoons & Waterstones.
  • Removal of damaged fascias and overgrowth on Harvey’s Building, Parliament Square.
Following the success of the Operation Sparkle weekend 2021, Stoke-on-Trent BID will again work in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and The Potteries Centre to host a major clean up weekend for 2022 ‘The Big Spring Clean’.
The event will take place over the 21st & 22nd May. The BID is appealing for all local businesses and residents to take part. Tasks across the weekend include graffiti removal, litter picking, and general cleaning of target areas throughout the city centre.
Amy Whittaker, General Manager of The Potteries Centre said: “We’re pleased to have had the opportunity to support Stoke-on-Trent BID’s Operation Sparkle back in 2021. There was a fantastic atmosphere as we all rolled up our sleeves to give Stoke a big spring clean.
“We are excited to be taking part in the project again this year. We are proud to play our part in making our great city centre the best it can be and look forward to seeing many Stokies getting involved again, making it a real team effort.
“It is important for us all to consider the part we have to play in keeping the city centre a clean and welcoming environment for everyone.”
For more information regarding Operation Sparkle, The Business Visual Improvement Fund, and how to volunteer during ‘The Big Spring Clean’ weekend, please visit the Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID website: www.stokeontrentcitycentre.co.uk/operation-sparkle
PODCAST: Can our town centres be green?
Jerome met up with Chloe, Appetite’s exhibition duty manager, for a chat and stroll around items on display at ‘Green Town’.
The Green Town exhibition, at Appetite’s Newcastle Common arts space, takes ‘an optimistic look at how the climate crisis might shape the future of our town centres’.
The Appetite website explains: “The big issue of climate collapse becomes local with Green Town, which looks at the role of our town centre in saving the environment. From the impact of food wasted by supermarket chains, to the carbon cost of demolishing buildings that could be repurposed. We’ve brought together artists, writers, performers, and thinkers who invite you to look again at Newcastle-under-Lyme’s streets, shops, and public spaces, and to decide whether you’re part of the problem or part of the solution.”
Chloe was an engaging guide. I enjoyed our chat.
The exhibition isn’t overly provocative. The artworks are a gentle exploration of how making even small lifestyle changes can be beneficial, like growing a bit of veg at home instead of buying it in a supermarket.
There’s plenty of space at Newcastle Common to sit back and reflect on what the exhibits are saying.
Chloe said: “Part of this is to remind people to come and learn something, but also take a moment to relax, and not feel burdened individually. Because it is about the collective response to climate change, not the individual.”
The exhibition runs until 30th April, and there are numerous activities, talks, and events running alongside too.
Full details here: Appetite, Green Town.
Jerome (www.photomoments.news) has been commissioned to report on activities at Appetite’s Newcastle Common arts space.
In Other Reads
A little round-up of other news that caught the editor’s attention this week…
St. Modwen Logistics invests £65.5 million in warehousing in Stoke-on-Trent | Logistics Manager
Boss gives staff £1,000 bonus to help with cost of living crisis
PM promises crack down on smelly Walleys Quarry | ITV News Central
Jerome Whittingham
Have you got 5 minutes? I have, and I want to pilot a new short-form podcast rolling news series for North Staffs News. I’ll give you strictly 5 minutes of my time to listen, chat & record a 5 minute local news item with you. Fancy giving it a go? DM me. J :o) #NorthStaffs https://t.co/Y3SEdFWuXO
About North Staffs News
We’re a friendly email news bulletin for North Staffordshire. Constructive and solutions-focused, we share news-in-brief of positive things happening locally.
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Email: editor@northstaffs.news.
Jerome - The Editor
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