willow-catkins-Mar15The award-winning Alvecote Wood/Betty’s Wood is holding its first open day of the season this Sunday, March 29.

The wood is opening to the public after a busy winter of work from owners Stephen Briggs and Sarah Walters, along with their team of volunteers. The works saw the thinning of some large holly trees as part of the coppicing programme, to allow more light in to rejuvenate a dark area of the woods.

An extra 100 trees were also planted to establish much better habitat there. Visitors to Sunday’s open day can also buy some large holly logs.

A couple of oak trees which had suffered storm damage were pollarded by Arborcare tree surgeons. Removing the tops of these trees should avoid them falling and being lost completely and will hopefully encourage regrowth.

Masses of brambles have been cleared from the bluebell area, where the flowers are already starting to grow and work has been carried out on the paths through the site.

The wood is bursting with a number of signs of spring, including catkins on hazel, alder and willow trees (pictured), as well as the usual spectacular doffodils.

The wood is open from 10am to 4pm on Sunday and admission is free. Guided tours are available during the day, so visitors can see what’s been going on to conserve and improve the habitat.

Several hand-made items from Sarah’s pole lathe work will be available for sale, as well as chainsaw-carved items, craft products associated with the woods, and Grown in Britain firewood.

More information is available on the Alvecote Wood website.

Voters living in part of Dosthill will be casting their ballots at a new venue in May’s elections, after it was agreed to relocate the polling station to more suitable premises.

The polling station, currently based at Dosthill Primary School, will move to the Dosthill Boys Club in Cadogan Road after members approved the relocation at Tuesday night’s meeting of the full Council.

The polling station is being moved as the facilities at Dosthill Primary School were considered unsuitable for voters with disabilities, as there is no disabled parking or disabled access.

The new location for the polling station at the Dosthill Boys Club in Cadogan Road has disabled parking, level access and can accommodate motorised wheelchairs.

In approving the relocation, members from all parties agreed that the move was a positive step for democracy in that it would potentially enable more residents to vote.

Layout 1The bid for more than £900,000 in funding towards the restoration of Tamworth Assembly Rooms and the development of a Creative Quarter in the town centre has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The revised funding bid follows January’s announcement that the ambitious £5.5 million project – led by Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council – had been awarded £2.95 million from the Single Local Growth Fund. The confirmation of match funding strengthens the bid to the HLF.

The development of the Creative Quarter will include the refurbishment and extension of Tamworth Assembly Rooms, the transformation of the Philip Dix Centre into a Business and Enterprise Centre, the redevelopment of the Carnegie Centre as a restaurant and improvements to the library and surrounding area.

The project will create around 100 jobs and attract in additional private investment. In independent economic impact assessment which was carried out ahead of the funding bid showed that the development of a Creative Quarter could potentially add £13 million to the town’s economy.

The outcome of the HLF bid is expected to be known in June or July and the £900,000 is the final external bid needed to deliver the full scheme. It is proposed that Tamworth Borough Council will allocate a total of £900,000 in match funding, with Staffordshire County Council contributing £550,000 on top of the £903,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. If the funding bid is successful, work is expected to start in early 2016.

A provisional timetable includes:

  • Tamworth Assembly Rooms due to close for refurbishment in February 2016. Groups which use the building will continue to be supported and the arts & events programme will continue at other venues in the borough. The refurbishment is expected to be completed by 2017/18
  • The creation of a Business Enterprise Centre at the Philip Dix Centre will take place in 2018/19. These works will include the demolition of the former toilet block in Aldergate to create additional parking, as well as the demolition of the kiosk.
  • The Carnegie Centre will be converted into a restaurant, with work expected to start in 2017.
  • Tamworth Borough Council will continue to work with and support the tenants and hirers of the Philip Dix and Carnegie Centres, keeping them informed of the progress of the project and helping them to secure alternative accommodation.
  • Alterations to Tamworth Library and the creation of a new public open space (to be led by Staffordshire County Council). A planning application is expected to be submitted later this year, to dovetail with the works to Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

Cllr Steve Claymore, Cabinet member for Economy & Education, said: “This latest funding bid is the final piece in the jigsaw to allow us to move forward with this exciting project which will completely transform this part of Tamworth.”