Everyone was taken by surprise and happy when the Government announced their gigantic plan to build 28000 new homes across North Staffordshire, but later it was put on hold. Once the plan was announced both Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Newcastle Borough City Council were supposed to work on a draft version of the plan blueprint. Unfortunately, this blueprint has been delayed now by more than 12 months due to the change in the Government’s planning policy.
There is a sudden change in the National Planning Policy Framework(NPFF) which could change the number of planned houses. It is due to this uncertainty the joint City Council work has been put on the back burner, but now we have good news. We now have the official confirmation that the proposed draft plan will happen in autumn 2019 and the submission of the final plan will happen by 2020.
In a joint statement, the City Councils said they are working on a sound and robust plan which will be accepted by the NPFF. They also assured that all the factors pertaining to the housing needs and supplies will be taken into consideration while arriving at the plan. The revision in NPFF recommends a standard formula to be applied for calculating the number of houses.
Before this revision in the formula was announced the previous calculation was at 199 hectares of land and 27800 homes to be constructed between 2013 and 2033. The previous plan also had some controversial proposals which were opposed by few stakeholders and public. Those objections were brought to the notice of the City Council and they are giving it their due consideration. Hopefully, the new plan, whenever it is ready, won’t have any problems.
There is a new section in the NPFF which suggests people should have access to free open space and recreational facilities which were ignored in the previous proposal. Dave Brugess of Save Berryhill Fields Action Group has communicated this issue to the joint Council and they will be making amends to accommodate the new rules and recommendations of the NPFF.
Right now the joint City Council has not tasted success in forming the planning committee but they will be able to confirm this by December 7th. They are hopeful to arrive at a revised number of houses using the new formula at the earliest and they are fully committed to the new housing policy.
Once the blueprint is ready for the new housing proposal it will not only increase the real estate market of the locality but also bring in a lot of direct and indirect employment.
Ceramics made by the potters are well known for their quality all over the world. It is a symbol of Stoke’s cultural heritage and a huge industry which employees 1000s of people in Stoke alone. During the recent years, cheaply imported ceramics have become a threat to the domestic makers. There is an increased demand to take measures which will protect the pottery business in the UK. A new bill was recently introduced by Stoke-on-Trent MP Ruth Smeeth to save the local pottery makers.
About the bill
Ceramics Marking bill introduced by Ms. Smeet will ensure that all the local made potteries sold in the UK to have ‘country of origin’ backstamp. If this bill is passed as a law and enforced, it will not only improve transparency but also enhance customer choice. People who wish to buy only the UK made potteries will have the choice to do so. According to Ms. Smeeth, this is not a bill which promotes protectionism but a bill which will provide a level playing field for the reputed UK pottery makers. Stoke-on-Trent which is the biggest pottery maker in England will benefit the most. Some of the reputed pottery makers in Stoke already use the “Made in England” stamp which showcases their authenticity.
About the industry
Stoke has been historically known for their pottery making skills and is also called the Potters. Ceramics in Stoke is not a cultural heritage but also one of the biggest industry which employees 8000+ people in North Staffordshire. The total number of people employed in ceramics business all over UK is more than 22000. Pottery business in UK is huge and its economic contribution is £3 billion. The annual export revenue of potteries alone crosses £500 million which is a testament to their quality.
Problem with the imports
The biggest threat for the domestic pottery makers is the bogus backstamping. Ceramics imported from other countries and finished in UK are backstamped as “Made in England”. This is undermining the local producers and is also a threat for the domestic employment. The practice of stamping based on the country of finishing rather than the country of origin is created a unfair competition for the local manufacturers. This is why the bill introduced by Ms Smeeth ensures that the stamping should be done in the country where the potteries are first made and not where they are finished.
Right now, tableware sold in UK either doesn’t have a backstamp or have a backstamp of the country where it is finished. This is creating a false impression among the customers as they are not aware which was originally manufactured in England. Most of these products are actually made elsewhere and imported here. Stamps are made while finishing or decorating the product locally.
This bill has received welcome from many corners of the country and is even backed by British Ceramics Confederation, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and the GMB trade union.