This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pictures by David Easen

Christmas cheer came to Tamworth town centre on Sunday when thousands of people enjoyed an afternoon of festive entertainment for the whole family.

The yuletide season was kicked off in style with a Christmas market, fairground rides, nativity, walkabout characters, balloon painting, craft activities, face painting and a variety of live performances from the Touch FM stage in St Editha’s Square.

An estimated 8,000 people flocked to the town centre to enjoy the free festive fun which culminated in the switching on of the lights at 5pm by winner of the Mayor’s Christmas card competition Daisy-Mae Baker from Dosthill Primary School, who did the honours with a little help from guest star Peppa Pig and the main man, Father Christmas.

Only in its second year, the festive market was a huge success with dozens of stalls lining George Street, offering a range of Christmas delights from seasonal local produce to gifts, novelties and crafts.

Shoppers shopped to the merry sounds of the Wilnecote St John Brass Band while children had their faces painted free of charge and enjoyed the nativity under the Town Hall by members of St Francis Church.

Children also took part in craft activities hosted by Tamworth Community Together CIC in Ankerside Shopping Centre and the former Buxton and Bonnet unit in Middle Entry, where hundreds of free glow sticks were handed out to youngsters who had made their own lanterns in sessions held throughout the community earlier this month.

Peppa Pig proved a huge hit with her appearances in the shopping centre before she was welcomed in St Editha’s Square by thousands of excitable children; many of whom had specially donned their Peppa Pig hats and scarves in preparation.

The square itself was buzzing with festive cheer – not to mention fake snow – as members of Tamworth Rotary Club handed out Christmas hats, while youngsters enjoyed a Christmas treasure hunt and fairground rides.

Entertainment was provided throughout with live performances from local acts including Urban Fusion Dance Company, Fired Up Theatre, Just Perform, Glen Chevannes and Dancers, The Jays Vintage Tribute, Matilda Pratt, musicians Brindley-Hunt, aka Barry Hunt and Bryan Brindley, the Positive Labels project represented by budding young stars Nathan Brookes and Jude Britton, Twin Cities and Tamworth Panto Company before Tamworth Voices ended the proceedings with a Christmas sing-along.

In St Editha’s Church more than 70 Christmas trees decorated by a range of groups, businesses and charities were on display in this year’s Christmas Tree Festival which raises much-needed funds for the Church. Prizes for the best trees will be presented during the Christmas Fayre at the Church Hall in College Lane on December 5.

People took to social media during and after the event with their comments. The Jays tweeted “Christmas begins in Tamworth, so glad for our lovely hats – we had great fun!” while Lee Bates of Tamworth Community Together CIC said: “Great time at Tamworth Christmas lights switch-on. Great atmosphere”.

Glen Chevannes tweeted: “Fab afternoon performing at the Christmas lights event with Jenny and my dancers Daisy and Annabelle.”

Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Maureen Gant, said: “The Christmas lights switch-on is yet another popular event in Tamworth’s busy programme of free entertainment and it is now even bigger and better, thanks to the addition of the festive market and a range of activities taking place throughout the town centre.

“Once again the committee of organisers did us proud with another fantastic and enjoyable afternoon of fun which really got everyone in the festive mood. I’m also really impressed with Daisy-Mae; she did a great job switching on the lights and has even decided to donate the £50 Hobbycraft voucher she won in my Christmas card competition, courtesy of Tamworth Community Together CIC, to her school.

“I love Christmas, it’s a wonderful time of year and the event was the perfect way to start the festive countdown.”                                                                

Layout 1Council tenants in Tamworth are being reminded to make sure they pay their rent on time over the Christmas period.

And they are being warned that they could lose their homes if they fail to pay and fall into arrears.

Here at Tamworth Borough Council, we’ve launched our ‘Rent First’ campaign, offering help and advice to people who may be facing difficulties paying their rent over the festive period and encouraging them to make payment of their rent their top priority.

A Christmas card reminding tenants about the Rent First message is being sent to tenants who are in arrears with their rent.

The message is also being displayed inside and on the back of buses running in Tamworth, where it will be seen by thousands of people.

The main aim of the Rent First campaign is to make sure tenants are aware of all the ways they can pay their rent and to ensure that it is paid up to date over the Christmas period. It forms part of a larger campaign by Tamworth Borough Council and the CAB to help people budget properly for Christmas, not overspend and to pay bills on time.

Cllr Michelle Thurgood, Cabinet member for Housing & Waste Management, said: “We want people to enjoy Christmas and the New Year but it is vital that they put their ‘rent first’. We’re not telling tenants to stop buying presents for their families and friends, but to make sure they budget for their rent payments as well. Sadly last year, 28 families in Tamworth were evicted because they did not pay their rent.

“Help is at hand for those who may be having difficulty paying their rent and we have dedicated staff on hand to offer advice. I would urge anyone who is having difficulties to call the Tenancy Sustainment team – please do not let your spending snowball out of control, because you could be risking court action or eviction. The message is clear – if you don’t pay your rent, you could end up losing your home.”

Anyone who is having difficulty in paying the rent is being urged to call the Tenancy Sustainment team on 01827 709514 or the Housing Solutions team on 01827 709459.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also help people who are in debt or struggling to budget. They can be contacted on 01827 305952.


MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe new pay and display machines which have been installed in six of Tamworth’s car parks are due to be switched on and up and running by the start of next month.

The new payment machines with alpha-numeric keypads will go live on Tuesday December 1 in the council-run car parks in Aldergate, Bolebridge Island, Church Lane, Holloway, Hospital Street and Mill Lane.

The pay and display machines will require motorists to input their full registration numbers into the new machines when buying a pay and display ticket. ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras installed at the entrance to the car parks will recognise the number plate of vehicles and log the time of entry and purchase of a ticket or cashless transaction. They will also link to the handheld machines used by the Community Wardens.

New signage has also been installed in the six car parks to help motorists understand the new system.

There will be no change to the current parking charges and Blue Badge holders will still be able to park for free, as long as the Blue Badge is displayed clearly and correctly. Disabled drivers, where practicable, will need to enter their registration number into the ticket machine and press a button for free parking.

This will mean a change to the current system for disabled drivers. However, providing a Blue Badge is clearly on display, enforcement officers will not issue any parking charge notices when checking vehicles.

Holders of a valid parking permit will have automatic exemption on entry to the car parks and will not need to enter their registration numbers.

The installation of the new machines – funded by a £50,000 government grant for town centre initiatives – will allow the council to obtain exact figures on car park usage. They will be used for a trial period of 18 months.

The technology will link to the Phone and Pay application – a more convenient parking solution to allow motorists to extend parking time automatically. The machines will also link to ANPR cameras which are being introduced to manage traffic flow and give a more accurate picture about the use of the car parks, peak times and car parking policies for the future development of the town centre.

The introduction of ANPR cameras will not mean that penalties will be automatically sent through the post. Officers will still only be able to issue penalties to cars parked in contravention of the parking orders when witnessed between 8am and 6pm Monday to Saturday.

The new machines are being installed in partnership with Bemrose Mobile and Creative Parking Solutions to update and improve efficiency and reliability for motorists using Tamworth Borough Council car parks.