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NEWS

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THE SENTINEL Thursday January 19, 2012

Boyfriend hit partner ‘to stop her shoplifting’ A THIRTY-SEVEN-YEAR-OLD man who slapped his partner outside a supermarket has had a suspended sentence order extended. Richard Ollerhead slapped Joanna Ochwat at Asda, Tunstall, on May 24. Prosecutor Steve Knowles told North Staffordshire magistrates he also kicked and punched his victim. And on August 7 he was involved in an incident with a security guard at Lidl, Tunstall. Ollerhead, of Hodnet Grove, Hanley, pleaded guilty to using threatening abusive words or behaviour on May 24. He denied a similar charge in relation to the August 7 incident but was convicted after a trial. Peter Howland, mitigating, said in the May incident Ollerhead was restricting his partner from shoplifting. He said in the August incident a security guard had allegedly recognised Ollerhead from the Lidl store in Newcastle where he believed he had handed him a banning order. But Ollerhead said he had never been in Lidl, Newcastle, and was not issued with a banning order. Ollerhead was sentenced to a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 28 days, for breaching the previous suspended sentence order. He was also made the subject of an 18-month community order with 18 months’ supervision and a six-month alcohol treatment requirement. He must also pay £385 costs.

Review of M6 noise levels NOISE problems on part of the M6 are to be investigated. The Government review will look at noise levels from the road surface between junctions 14 and 13 at Stafford. Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy had called for action during a Westminster Hall debate. Mr Lefroy said: “The resurfacing of the M6 between junctions 12 and 13 has greatly improved the lives of people in the area who were plagued by noise from the old surface. Can improving sound insulation between junctions 13 and 14 now be looked at for the benefit of residents who live near the motorway?” Roads Minister Mike Penning responded: “I will look specifically at junctions 13 and 14.”

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ON THE ROPES: Firefighters swapped ladders for ropes as part of a “sponsored drop”. The charity abseil took place at the fire tower at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue’s headquarters in Pirehill, Stone. Members of the public also took part in the event, which was held to raise money for the Fire Fighters Charity. Chief fire officer Peter Dartford said: “The charity is close to the hearts of many of the staff here, a number of whom have benefited from the services they provide.” The charity provides support to thousands of firefighters, but has to meet £9 million running costs. Firefighter Mick Williams tests out the ropes watched by, from left, Angela Leigh, Stephanie Griffiths, Gary Fox, Emma Evans and Peter Dartford. Picture: Steve Bould

City council set to cut rise in tax...

... by 0.01%, or 7p a year if you’re in a Band A home BY ALEX CAMPBELL alex.campbell@thesentinel.co.uk

CITY council leaders are poised to slash a controversial council tax hike – by 0.01 per cent to avoid Government intervention. The authority wants to snub a Government cash incentive to freeze rates for another year by increasing bills by 3.5 per cent, or £26.68, for Band A properties. But it is now considering making the increase 3.49 per cent. If the new idea is adopted, residents in Band A homes will save 7p a year less than first intended. Campaigners today called the move “patronising” and “an insult”. The council task group, which recommended the 3.5 per cent rise, said it wanted to avoid any lingering threat of Government intervention. It follows an announcement by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles that councils will be forced to hold a referendum if they impose “excessive” increases of more than 3.5 per cent. Councillor Andy Lilley, pictured, chairman of the task group, said: “Our understanding at this stage is that we would be

OK at 3.5 per cent, but it would be better to come in underneath if we do increase council tax. “The recommended rise is being amended to 3.49 per cent.” Jim Gibson, chairman of the Chell Heath residents’ association, said: “It is patronising. John van de Laarschot needs to realise people, including his own staff, are losing their jobs. “The price of everything is going up. I don’t know where they think the money will keep coming from.” The council said it needs to increase tax to fund its “invest to save” strategy. Cuts of £24 million are planned for 2012/13, but £5 million could be reinvested to boost the local economy. The Government’s tax freeze incentive would provide about £2 million, equivalent to a 2.5 per cent increase. But unlike last year’s incentive, the cash is only guaranteed for one year. That means the council would not be compensated for the knock-on loss of income in future years. Increasing tax by 3.5 per cent this year will raise £800,000 more than the Government’s offer would

Number of job seekers hits new high THE number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Stoke-on-Trent has risen above 8,000 for the first time in eight months. Latest Government figures show 8,059 residents were claiming JSA in December, up from 7,890 the month before, the first time the figure has

jumped above 8,000 since April. In Newcastle, the claimant count rose from 2,290 in November to 2,366 last month, while in the Staffordshire Moorlands it increased from 1,306 to 1,324. But in Crewe and Nantwich, the number of people claiming

JSA fell slightly from 2,583 to 2,532, and in Congleton it was also down from 1,317 to 1,290. Nationally the claimant count increased by 1,200 to 1.6 million. Total unemployment reached a 17-year high in the three months to November, jumping by 118,000 to 2.68 million.

provide, but it would mean future annual percentage increases would raise much more because the starting point is higher. Councillor Sarah Hill, cabinet member for finance, said many residents had struggled to understand the authority’s thinking. She said: “When I speak to people, their automatic reaction is that they don’t want to pay any more at all. It’s complex and difficult to explain.” Rent for council tenants is also set to rise by 6.91 per cent, based on a Government formula, which will see the average weekly rent bill rise from £60.65 to £64.84; an extra £218 in a year.

Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents, said: “It is an insult. People won’t be fooled by it. Everything is going up except the family budget.” Robert Oxley, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “The hollow gesture of reducing a planned council tax rise by 0.01 per cent is nearly as insulting to residents as the original rise.” Tax is to be frozen by Staffordshire County Council for another two years, and Newcastle Borough Council plans to freeze it in 2012/11.

What do you think of the proposed cut? Email us at letters@thesentinel.co.uk

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In brief SNEYD GREEN: Police are appealing for witnesses following the theft of an 18ft trailer. The Tilton drop trailer, which had no wheels, was stolen from outside a property in Sneyd Street, Sneyd Green, between 10am and 3.30pm last Friday. It is blue and valued at about £500. It is believed thieves may have used their own spare wheels to remove the twin axle trailer, registration number R878 JDF. Anyone with information is asked to call PC Les Bertolone on 101 quoting incident number 450 of January 13. NEWCASTLE: A warrant has been issued for Christopher Steele after the 32-year-old, of Woodberry Avenue, Newcastle, failed to turn up at North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court. He has previously pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine, possessing cannabis and failing to remain for an initial assessment following a drug test. Steele will be remanded in custody when arrested. HANLEY: Wayne Clarke, aged 40, of Matthews Walk, Hanley, has denied going equipped for theft with a glass cutter, gloves, a towel and a mini torch at Northwood on October 20. North Staffordshire Magistrates adjourned the case for a trial on March 24. He was unconditionally bailed. HANLEY: Mark Stokes, aged 39, of Eaton Street, Hanley, is charged with a burglary at a house in Harley Street, Hanley, on December 12 in which two phones, a camera and a pair of boots, together worth £450, were taken. North Staffordshire Magistrates have now sent him to Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court to appear there on January 23. He was unconditionally bailed. CLAYTON: The case of Craig Need, aged 29, of Severn Drive, Clayton, has been adjourned. The defendant has previously pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and failing to answer bail. He will be sentenced at North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court on January 31.

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