50,000 missed appointments cost Walsall Manor millions

Almost 50,000 appointments were missed by patients in just 12 months costing millions of pounds according to cash-strapped bosses at Walsall Manor.

Thousands of outpatients failed to turn up at the hospital and sessions at community clinics wasting time and resources at the under-pressure trust.

Hospital chiefs have admitted though that some of those who didn’t arrive hadn’t been able to get through on an outpatients appointment line to cancel.

Ian Baines, director of finance and performance at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: “It is always frustrating when patients do not arrive for their scheduled appointments.

“Obviously, this does have financial implications for the trust but more importantly, the appointment could have been used by another patient, had notice of cancellation been given.

“However, we are also aware that patients have been experiencing problems getting through on our outpatients appointments line and we are currently working hard to fix this.

“We hope that this will help to alleviate some the missed appointments which could have been avoided”

Full story here via Express & Star

Revamped Red Lion to become The Keymaster

Around 60 new jobs are being created over the coming months as a landmark pub is transformed into part of the Hungry Horse chain.

The 20th Century Willenhall pub, formerly known as the Red Lion, is currently undergoing a major refurbishment before it re-opens in December – in time for the Christmas season – as The Keymaster, renamed in tribute to Willenhall’s ties to the lock-making industry.

“We have made changes to the property itself and are now in the process of building a new team from people in the local community. We pride ourselves in creating a welcoming and atmospheric environment in all of our pubs and I am sure the Keymaster will be no different.”

Matt Brown, business unit director for Hungry Horse, said: “We are very excited about this addition to Hungry Horse and to be bringing our fun, great value and family friendly pub to Willenhall.

“Changing the name was not just to show that this is a fresh start for the pub but also because being part of the local community is important to us, so it is vital the name reflects this.

Work inside the pub, which began a month ago, includes knocking through the old function room to create a spacious open plan area offering a contemporary look throughout and will include HD TVs, leather booth seating areas complete with their own TVs and a play area for children.

The company says the pub will aim to offer ‘great value’ on its range of soft drinks, wines, lagers and real ales and on the Hungry Horse food menu, renowned for its sizeable Big Plate Specials.

Also inside the pub will be a pool table and darts board and there are plans for regular quiz nights and light entertainment.
Full E & S story here

Developing drivers for the future

Willenhall-based Blakemore Logistics has opened the door to a career in LGV driving for several young people by hosting a driver apprenticeship scheme.

Willenhall-based Blakemore Logistics has opened the door to a career in LGV driving for several young people by hosting a driver apprenticeship scheme.

Working in partnership with the Logistics Apprenticeship Training Academy (LATA), Blakemore Logistics has provided a series of work placements that have helped apprentices to gain the qualifications and experience required for a career in professional LGV driving.

In August the company celebrated its first apprenticeship success when one of the candidates on its programme, 22-year-old Ben Hilton, gained full-time employment at AF Blakemore & Son Ltd after qualifying as an LGV Class 2 driver.

Blakemore Logistics’ transport manager, Dave Higgs, said: “The driver apprenticeship scheme provides trainees with the opportunity to earn while they learn as well as acquire vital experience in the logistics sector, hands-on training and nationally recognised qualifications. Meanwhile the company is developing potential future employees who have been provided with training tailored to suit the individual needs of the business.”

Full Express and Star story here

Willenhall Police station to shut as West Midlands force cuts costs

A police station is to shut and six sites are to be sold off or handed back to landlords under plans to save West Midlands Police hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Willenhall Police Station has been earmarked for closure by the force while others currently left vacant are to be sold off to raise £500,000 and cut £170,000 a year in running costs.

Under the plans most operations at Willenhall’s John Street station will be transferred to Darlaston. A ‘neighbourhood policing team’ will be retained at a new drop-in facility in Willenhall.

Critics opposed to the strategy claim it would be a backward step for policing in the borough.

Willenhall North’s councillor Ian Shires said: “I oppose these plans. People in some parts of the town are already feeling remote from the police because of ongoing issues with anti-social behaviour now they’re talking about closing the station. If that happens it will be a retrograde step.

“It might look good on paper for the force, but our experience in the Short Heath and New Invention areas is that we have just built up a good relationship with the new neighbourhood sergeant who has made a massive difference to tackling some of the issues. We are concerned that all this good work will be undone.”

Full Story here Express and Star

Under plans,Willenhall Police Station will close and services will be reprovided. The station, in John Street, has an open front office.

In an estates update report to the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, it is noted that the Willenhall and Darlaston neighbourhood policing teams will parade from Darlaston Police Station.

Police are in conversation with Walsall Housing Group (whg) to provide a small drop-in facility in Beechdale House, in New Road, which is close to the town centre.

Read full Walsall Advertiser story here

27 homes to be built on Willenhall wasteland

Homes are to be built on the site of an historic manufacturing firm after fresh regeneration plans were backed by the council.

Land which used to be the old offices of George Carter (Pressings) Ltd in Willenhall will be transformed for a mix of 27 homes and flats.

There were previous plans for just over 20 properties at the old office site of the 179 year-old firm in Clothier Street.

But they failed to get off the ground and new proposals have been approved by Walsall Council under delegated powers.

The long-standing George Carter firm shut in 2009 and the nearby main production site in Park Road was taken over by Aspray as part of its expansion.

Full Express & Star story here

Black Country town in bid to get its own flag – BILSTON

Willenhall has its own flag and other towns are following suit – Its all about keeping our own identity within the ‘Black Country’

It has always been about putting Willenhall on the map and we continue to do so. The latest town to follow according to the Express and Star is our neighbour’s Bilston.

A Black Country town is to begin a campaign to get its very own flag.

Councillors in Bilston will write to schools and Wolverhampton College to get students to design a flag that will represent the town.

It comes after neighbouring Willenhall launched its own symbol following a competition.

Now, councillor for Bilston East Bert Turner has revealed he wants the community to create a flag that will put Bilston on the map.

He said: “Bilston is a unique Black Country town and it deserves its own flag and it deserves to be recognised as something different.

“Willenhall, or ‘Umpshire’ as it’s called around here, has its own history and rightly has a flag to recognise that.

Full Express and Star story here

Poundland founder opens his country estate to public

The founder of the Poundland empire is preparing to throw open the doors of his Jacobean mansion to give visitors a glimpse of the stunning country estate.

The grounds of Ludstone Hall, near Claverley, will be open to the public tomorrow. Owned by Keith Smith, who founded the Poundland empire with his son, Steve, the site is home to a kitchen garden, lawns and flower beds and three pools – all surrounded by a moat.

There is also a museum in an outbuilding next to the 400-year-old hall, which features artefacts relating to its history, as well as items collected by Mr Smith during his 50-year business career.

Mr Smith, who bought the hall and its 190-acre estate in the 1990s, said he was looking forward to offering a rare glimpse into its history.

“We only open up once a year, but it is always a special day for people of all ages,” said the 72-year-old, who grew up in Willenhall. “It gives me a lot of pleasure to invite people into the grounds, and with plenty of different stalls and entertainment planned I hope this year’s event will be a great success.”

Full Express & Star story here

Poundland opens first Spanish store as it celebrates record year

Poundland has opened its first store in Spain in the holiday resort of Torremolinos, it revealed today as it also took the wraps off full-year sales figures of nearly £1 billion.

Sales are still rising, said chief executive Jim McCarthy, and Poundland plans another 70 stores this year, creating 1,000 more jobs.

Meanwhile, around 2,700 customers flocked through the tills of its new Spanish store yesterday, with water and soft drinks among the big sellers on a hot day with the temperatures up around 28C on the Costa del Sol.

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