8 www.expressandstar.com Saturday, April 2, 2011, Express & Star ES Councillor’s defection is unfair on the local voters FROM THE FILES of the EXPRESS & STAR 30 years ago A BITTER row broke out over the future of one of Wolverhampton’s oldest and most famous buildings. The timber-framed Lindy Lou building in Victoria Street had just been renovated by Wolverhampton Council at a cost of £158,000, and the authority went out to tender to find a tenant. The highest offer was £13,000-year, for an old-world tea shop. But the council’s controlling group chose to let it to a wholefood co-operative, community gallery and community newspaper which would pay only £10,000. Tory councillors threatened to report their Labour colleagues to the district auditor, saying they should be made to pay the extra £3,000. But council leader Councillor John Bird said the co-operative was more in keeping with the authority’s view of community use. ★★★★ WOLVERHAMPTON was to get £3.2 million from the Government to fund improvements to rundown areas of the town. Resources were to be concentrated on the Bilston area, with landscaping in the town centre and the old steelworks site, two industrial improvement areas, and improvements to sports centres. ★★★★ THE previous month had been the wettest March on record for 100 years, according to the Met Office. But it was also the mildest since 1959. ★★★★ A COMBINATION of the recession and bad weather had taken its toll on Dudley Zoo, with visitor numbers falling by 50,000, it was revealed. Chairman Clifton Smith-Cox resigned as chairman, handing over control to Councillor Joe Rowley, who had campaigned to save the zoo. 20 years ago CLASSIC cars worth hundreds of thousands of pounds were destroyed in a suspected arson attack at a Walsall garage. A 1956 Rolls-Royce Phantom, a WestBromwich built Jensen, two MGB GTs and a Triumph Vitesse convertible were among the vehicles wrecked by the blaze at Europa Motors in Littleton Street West. ★★★★ LABOUR leader Neil Kinnock fell through a hedge after a row with a group of youths, it was reported. It was claimed that the MP gave chase after one of the young men taunted him and his daughter. ★★★★ SLADE fans Di Daley and Dave Sewell showed their heroes they were all crazee by dressing up in glam rock gear. Di, aged 32, from Manchester, and Dave, 35, from Cardiff, won a competition for the most outrageous 70s gear at Walsall Museum and Art Gallery. The pair, who had travelled to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary, were singled out for the best costume by Slade guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell. They received backstage passes for a party with all four members of the band at Walsall Town Hall. 10 years ago A HALESOWEN gardener who had six valuable bonsai trees stolen was resorting to military tactics to stop the thefts. Geoffrey Smith, of Stourbridge Road, had trees worth about £600 stolen over the weekend. Three years earlier £2,500 worth of trees were stolen. Mr Smith was now using Ministry of Defence wire to keep the remain 600 trees and plotted pants in his garden out of the clutches of thieves. ★★★★ LOCAL elections which had been due to take place on May 3 were postponed due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease which had closed great swathes of the countryside. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s announcement that the local elections would now be held on June 7 sparked speculation that a General Election would be held on the same day. ★★★★ A 450-name petition calling for closedcircuit television cameras at a crime hotspot in Wolverhampton was rejected by the city’s community safety partnership. Resident Paul Hodson said people in Whitmore Reans felt very vulnerable following a spate of crimes in the area. But the partnership said it had never accepted petitions in the past, and could not start doing so now. Brewery easing the W pub industry blues Brewer Bob Grew checks the fermentation process Paul Cox and Jim Durkin load a van Enville’s head brewer Tony Garrington hard at work Local government editor DANIEL WAINWRIGHT rounds up the week in the corridors of power HEN Claire Darke withdrew support for a ConservativeLiberal Democrat coalition, she tipped the balance of power in favour of Labour winning back control of Wolverhampton City Council. F OR those of us working in the brewery industry, it is alarming how many pubs have disappeared in the last three years. As a result, sales have grown and Enville Ale and other speciality brands like Enville Ginger, Cherry Blonde, Enville White and Old Porter can now be sampled in more than 180 pubs, clubs and restaurants around the region. During the last three and a half years Enville has won more than 20 CAMRA and other awards for our beers and recently the brewery was chosen by Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory owner Peter Towler to brew his famous Lump Hammer Bitter. We are proud to be brewing for this legendary Tipton landmark. Back at the brewery, cutting back on our use of energy has been high on our agenda. Enville is an authentic steam brewery and uses its own natural well water to make its ever expanding range of ales. New cask cleaning equipment saves around 50 per cent on water usage and a new eco-friendly effluent plant has been built to process waste. If you drive around the Black Country and surrounding areas you can’t fail to notice the number of pubs being boarded, sold or demolished every week. Many of those outlets have historically been the very heart of our local communities; providing entertainment, friendship, a game of darts, crib or dominoes, a place to meet, a base for a sports team or society as well as the chance to relax from the stresses of modern life with a decent pint, a glass of wine or a soft drink and all within walking distance of ordinary people’s front doors. Everyone knows the pub trade has suffered from a string of financial body blows including successive duty increases over the past few years, a second January rise in VAT, increased competition from cheap supermarket alcohol, rising overheads including energy, the effect of minimum wage legislation and, to some extent, social changes triggered by the smoking ban. Expansion Abandon Following the Chancellor’s inflation busting 7.2 per cent increase in beer duty in the Budget the directors of Enville Ales, decided enough was enough and scrapped plans to try and recoup our own increased costs from rising energy and material prices during the past 12 months. Instead we have announced that we will abandon our annual price increase and absorb additional costs at least until March next year. Enville Ales is just a little South Staffordshire brewery, a very small cog in a large industry, but we wanted to find a way to express our support and solidarity with the local licensees that are still in business and give them the opportunity of making a little more margin on our range of cask ales. The same applies to the solid support we have received from local wholesalers and national pub companies who are all feeling the pinch in these difficult times. Enville has a large debt of gratitude to all the local licensees who Enville Brewery’s company directors, back left, Lynn Garrington and Jerry Hedges. Front left, Owen Lawson and Peter Isherwood A West Midlands brewery is freezing the price of its beer to local landlords in an effort to support the beleaguered pub industry. Enville Brewery director JERRY HEDGES explains have helped us survive through some difficult times in the past three years and this is our chance to give something back to them, our distributors and hopefully some of the loyal drinkers who enjoy our ales. The current directors and myself took control of Enville Ales in 2007 and in the years since then have concentrated our efforts on improving quality, consistency and service as well as coming to terms with the financial overheads caused in the main by inherited borrowings. We have invested our own money into the business to clear borrowings, a large bank overdraft and overdue trade creditors so we can concentrate on product quality, brand choice and service. With all this going on, it was no small matter to decide to freeze our prices, and before making the decision we met with our local MP for South Staffordshire, Gavin Williamson. He was clearly sincere in his understanding of our concerns and was most supportive with a couple of issues hampering the brewery’s expansion plans. Mr Williamson kindly wrote to George Osborne on our behalf, expressing our views on the damage being caused to the pub trade by successive duty increases and the fact that these had been made worse by the increase in VAT from 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the past 15 months. The response from the Chancellor’s office was predictable but nevertheless disappointing, basically stating that the increase in duty was unavoidable given the state of the nation’s economy. While that may be so, we at Enville all agreed it was time to make our own contribution – which is likely to cost us around £50,000 from the bottom line over the next 12 months. With a Royal Wedding on the horizon we will be making our own special celebratory ale. Hopefully it will go some way towards chasing away those duty increase blues. How to enjoy Mother’s Day in perfect harmony A SK many mothers what the expression ‘me time’ means, and you will be met with a very loud laugh, says Jane James. “It can be somewhat of a mystery, especially for new mums or mums with very young children,” adds Jane, a counsellor at the Wolverhampton and Dudley branch of the charity Relate. As families across Britain prepare to mark Mothering Sunday tomorrow, Jane says the modern day pressures for many mothers leave them feeling exhausted and wiped out. “Mothers across the country are busy balancing bringing up their children while developing successful careers and nurturing relationships with partners and friends,” she says. “It’s so important to strike that balance to keep yourself sane.” Relate is the modern name for the old Marriage Guidance Council, and these days the charity offers advice on all aspects of harmonious relationships and family life. A study by the Relate found that 76 per cent have a good or very good relationship with their mothers, and they came third in a list of our most important relationships, after spouses and children. “But we’re all too aware that in today’s fast paced society, parenting can feel like a juggling act,” she says. To mark Mother’s Day, the charity has come up with some tips to mothers on how to As thoughts turn to Mothering Sunday tomorrow, Relate counsellor tells MARK ANDREWS why mothers need to make time for themselves create the balance that leaves them, their families and their children feeling a lot happier. Deal with the guilt “The guilt complex is nothing new,” says Jane. “Mothers are pulled in every direction and often that takes them away from their children and can bring on the pangs of guilt.” She says work can be a big culprit, with mothers wanting to continue developing their career but struggling to balance conflicting demands. “The automatic reaction I often see is for mums to then try and spend every waking second with their children to make up for the time that they’re not there,” she says. “But it’s important to remember that might not be the healthiest thing to do – if you are stressed and uptight, the chances are you’re not going to be much fun to be around.” Make time for yourself “In the whirlwind that is motherhood, it can be difficult to find time for yourself. This can some- times leave mums feeling like machines on automatic pilot,” she says. “However, taking regular breaks can make a huge difference This doesn’t necessarily mean a whole day out with friends or a weekend alone, just block out five minutes for you. “Forget the chores and enjoy a cup of tea and relax. Moments like this are really important and will keep you going. And don’t forget that children don’t need you all the time, it’s easy to smother them, but they need space to grow.” Make time for relationships Jane says is is important that mothers – and fathers – don’t neglect their own relationships. “Parents can be so busy that their own relationships are often the first to be put on the back burner. It’s an easy mistake to make, but children need strong, happy parents, not ones that are stressed and spend too much time arguing. “If you can afford to get a babysitter – fantastic, or perhaps grandparents can help out. “But if not, don’t worry. Try to put aside some time for you and your partner, perhaps a romantic meal at home. Turn your phones off, turn off the TV and spend some intimate time together. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but it will make such a difference and will benefit the whole family.” ● More advice and support can be found at www.relate-wolverhampton.org.uk or by calling Relate Wolverhampton & Dudley on 01902 428447 or 07545 697926. Almost four months later the Lib Dem kicked the coalition again by crossing the floor and joining Labour, wearing a bright red suit to mark the occasion. No wonder then that council leader Roger Lawrence warmly welcomed his newest recruit. He had a lot to be thankful for – first for giving his party a way back into power after two and a half years in opposition and secondly for giving them a majority after several months of tense debates where a crucial vote could be lost if just one person was off or nipped out of the council chamber for a comfort break at the wrong time. Control of the council passed without an election and Labour’s new majority was gained in the same way. Councillor Darke is not up for re-election until next year so as long as Labour can hang on to all its seats in May the party is sitting pretty. Critics have called for Councillor Darke to face a by-election. The Lib Dems and some Tories say it is not fair that people who elected a Lib Dem should end up with a Labour councillor. Their point carries extra weight given that Councillor Darke unseated the sitting Labour councillor Jennifer Cromie in 2008. The choice of Councillor Darke was a rejection of the Labour party at the time. However, Councillor Darke stresses that she is still the same person that they elected, that it is the Lib Dems who changed by abandoning core pledges like opposing tuition fees as part of the coalition government. For her new friends this defection is like an aggregate goal, one more seat in the bag before the election has even kicked off. T ★★★★ HERE’S a story about Winston Churchill which goes something like this: Recommended to cut funding for the arts during the Second World War he allegedly replied: “Then what are we fighting for?” But the cuts have come and the Arts Council has withdrawn funding altogether from 20 different groups across the West Midlands after 2012. Other funding streams such as VInspired, which supported the youth radio KicFM also ran out at the end of the financial year on Thursday. What impressed me this week was the response from people like Kenny Mach, the 24-year-old controller of KicFM who led the celebrations of 13 years of work as it broadcast for the final time. He and many others in the voluntary groups who are losing out were still grateful for the help they had had. They just wish they’d had a bit more time to try to find alternative sources. And while KicFM is off the air the campaign goes on to find some other way to pay the bills. The Arts Council’s announcement this week and the decision not to fund some groups after 2012 is a humane one under the circumstances - 12 months to get it together and seek support from someone else. But we should never forget the disaster of The Public in West Bromwich, finally cut loose from the apron strings of the Arts Council this week after getting £32m of support and running £49m over budget. The Arts Council astonishingly described The Public as “old news” when MPs damned it as a “gross waste of public money”. It was the Arts Council who demanded the building be “iconic”, a demand that set the debable in motion in the first place. What a shame then that so much money was spent getting the building up and open in the boom years, only for so much funding for the very types of event it is meant to showcase to be slashed now. One can’t help but think that if the Arts Council had not crowed so much for the “icon” there might have been a lot left in the kitty for the artists.
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