Ideas flowing in the Old Post Office

With a new exhibition being put up around us, around 15 people gathered for this first experimental meeting. 10 ideas were presented with discussion inbetween. While some were ideas that fit the category of “would be great if enough people got behind it”, many more were already active pieces of work that can inspire other people.

All the ideas will be developed into individual posts and in the meantime here’s a brief summary of the discussion. We think we’ll get together again in a month to continue the discussions.

Many thanks to Rob and the Old Post Office for hosting. This space will be open all weekend for a sales exhibition of pottery and also hosts a Social Media Surgery on September 1st – this is a chance for anybody in the community to come and get free advice about helpful ways you can use the internet. More information here.

These are just notes covering the ideas and discussions. Links and more information will be added – any mistakes or omissions are mine.
Rob (Old Post Office):
Lunchtime walks: inspired by the Arts Trail – could this be developed this into a lunchtime worker’s walk? Showing permanent venues and places that will be open during lunchtime. This touches on health and creates footfall, potentially a good PR story.
Farmers Market – not sure how to get this off the ground but was wondering if people would come to a farmers market? Stone’s monthly market is heaving. Not sure of any details. Addition of coffee shops would help this to be successful.
Discussion: Already have the Heritage Cafe & one just starting out at the Post Office. Maybe the Park is a potential venue? So big question is how it would be publicised, how it stalls would be provided, would we get footfall? Needs to be affordable, could be based on the thriving allotments? Starting small. People growing produce might want to sell excess. Could be a test trading space, mixed and unique – needs to be different from the other markets. May be an issue with how many market stalls.
Ladies evenings to raise funds for charity: Mal and Kevin (Options Jewellery) have had special evenings with people travelling in from other places, particularly for very successful fundraising nights. Visitors from outside really enjoy seeing the buildings in the evening. Another successful draw tot he town was a craft weekend run by Michelle Saxon, very much enjoyed by all its visitors and the traders who opened did very well.

Clare (WEA / Talk About Local):
Race Online is a campaign that everybody here can get involved in. The ambition is to make Stoke-on-Trent the first city, Staffordshire the first county and the UK the first nation where everybody is connected. That means that everybody has the skills and confidence to be able to access the internet for information, work or socialising.

Carolyn (Bizfizz):
Could Burslem form a parish council?
These are the most local elected bosy within the English system of local government, and any community at village, neighbourhood, town or similar level beneath a district or borough council has the right to set one up.
Some of their powers:
– provide parking for vehicles
– road agreements
– vire land or dispose of it and accept gifts
– host buildings
– provide and equip community buildings
– provide Christmas lights
– spend money on crime prevention
Considerations: time, boundaries, need 10% of electorate, shadow council can be set up.
They can be useful tools for towns to have a voice that might be useful.
Could it bring people together?
Finances come from a proportion of the rates (council tax or business)
The Tour of Britain is coming to Burslem on 12 September. It is the biggest free-to-view event in Britain. 4am Sunday morning, starts – will be some disturbance – Swan Bank will have a presence, art exhibition at Post Office. Hope shops and cafes open. Last year they got 3-4,000 people – spectacular show. Port Vale will be involved. Hoping lots of people get involved. The Burslem show will last until about 12 and then will end in Hanley about 2pm. Map of route.
Will be on ITV4, will be broadcast in 127 countries
People can speak to Richard about any activities they want to include to make sure they get some spaces. Bouncy castle, Honda cars, exhibitions, Pro vision a local firm have got one of the main contracts for merchandise, bike maintenance, amateur rides, exhibition. Jo is delivering information to traders tomorrow. Free parking at Port Vale and Coop, many roads will be closed and parking unavailable  in town centre.
An economic impact study from last year showed that 42% of visitors to the Tour came from from outside the city – a great opportunity.
Start: 8am – 10.15 official start
The Burslem Port Project is based in Middleport. Have been working on it for many years as a voluntary group. There is an existing wharf on a one acre site with an old warehouse which they wish to restore. They are looking for potential uses. One idea is to turn part of the warehouse as a village hall. The branch closed 50 years ago and they want to reopen it. There are around 7,000 boats coming through the city each year 25-30,000 people with spending power. Aims: to aid the regeneration of Middleport and Burslem town centre. The project is working in partnership with the council, RENEW, it is still a very long slog. Anything that happens will be in the future: 5-10 years plus. One part is to incorporate Rogersons Meadow between Middleport and Grange Park. Very few people have been there because is it currently a dead end but it was a peninsula of land and this will take it back to that. Visitor and employment zone – focussing interest on canalboat-building industry, North Staffordshire is a leader in this field. They have done a lot of work clearing the sites and doing digs, doing detailed engineering studies and will be forming a formal charitable trust – in the early stages of recruiting trustees.

Antony (6 Towns Radio):

Is working with others to create 6 Towns Radio, a community radio station for the city of SOT, they want to promote the 6 towns and the city as a whole. The content will be solely aimed at the city and will include talk and specialist shows eg 20s-50s music, asian content, dance, Northern Soul with Mary Fox. They will also offer training to give people the chance to work in radio, use equipment and learn how to present. It is broadcasting online. Will officially launch on 7th September. Very open to ideas for content. It is based above the clothes shop by KFC. Local schools could have a section.
Social media will be used and message boards.
They are currently seeking advertising and sponsorship to cover the costs of the station.
Spence (Old Post Office / Tunstall worker):
The North Pole Endurance Race (Duck) – Discovered Burslem and is speaking as ‘the outsider’ – can offer opinions on what might make people want to stop. Aside: involved in a challenge to race to the North Pole in 2012. As ducks. In aid of UK charities: Help for Heroes, Marie Curie, [other]. Feels that the energy he’ll need to promote this and raise substantial amounts of money can be applied to Burslem – everything that has been spoken about needs support. Cycle Stoke is a big local project and one of the main cycling routes is in Burslem, but not many people know about it. People cycling down the paths don’t necessarily stop in Burslem. Is now trying to promote it and has other ideas eg signage at the cycle paths. Trying to inspire other people to change their route. Pass on ideas and look out for the yellow duck!
Discussion: Is there a local company that could produce the arctic outfits? Need all that support and more.

Tom (Burslem Park):

Burslem Park – he is the new Park Ranger working with Burslem Park Partnership. They have got £2 million for the park and work will start next January. He is restarting education work, developing users of the park and developing the volunteer programme. Call for volunteers.  Full details on the programme can be seen in the Pavilion building in the Park – all are welcome to go and talk to Tom and find out more.

Steven (John Baskeyfield School):

Volunteers Forum & Skills – Works at Baskeyfield School as parent coordinator, trying to get parents involved. Started bringing different groups into the school and ask them what they want. Maybe this is a model for people setting things up in Burslem? He has set up a database with all the skills that parents have – drawing on them and making use of the community. As a result initiatives are working well because the parents have ownership of them.
Discussion: Could create a common skills database in a public place. Will hold a culture day in the Autumn. Interested in sport, culture, food. Keen to form links and bring things out of the school – people could invite groups. Another idea is to have a ‘Changing Room’ event next year to connect the communities. 26 languages are spoken at the school.

Pat (FSC):

Closer to Home circular walks project. They train people to become healthy walk leaders and lead weekly walks. Accessible to everybody of all abilities. People don’t have to walk for miles – half and hour to 45 minutes. Training takes a day or two evenings and is free. First Aid is also included, vulnerable adults, disabilities etc – all valuable courses for trained people. The more volunteers they have, the more walks they can produce. All routes are on the website. A good way of feeling invigorated during the working day. Burslem to Hanley route is all flat. There’s a Wednesday walk from Duncalfe Street Midday.

Amanda: (Barewall)

Parking – they have tried to turn the parking debate on its head and offer funding for parking for their customers. This depends on what people are buying but for them it made sense – if a customer is willing to come and buy some artwork we will pay for the parking. Could the council put a refund slip on the tickets? Want to draw up a list of businesses that are willing to participate.

Discussion: Another idea is a loyalty bonus which does bring people back. There are empty spaces. Disabled spaces are not always available.
Parking remains a sticking point for the town and passions still run high about it. Visit Burslem could advertise places where free parking is available.

Julie (Artwaves)

Arts Trail – Burslem Festival has run twice a year for several years. This year it could not run as usual because of lack of funding so they tried a new approach of a trail. This put art into different businesses. It was successful, especially considering how quickly it was pulled together. Over 50 sites. They want to develop this for next year: how to make it bigger, more collaborations eg working with schools, develop the pigeon theme, develop community activities by groups and help them to develop their own strands of learning. It is a way of bringing isolated groups together. Discussion: Rhino mania festival in Chester is a good example. Council Tourism should get involved.
  1. #1 by Stephen Harvey on August 27, 2010 - 2:38 pm

    A very useful meeting I feel and hopefully it will expand as much as it can. The internet is useful as a tool, but these meetings face to face get the most results I find. John Baskeyfield Primary is keen to forge links with the community as much as possible. If you would like to be involved in school and the community please DO get in touch

    Ask for the learning mentor

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