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Zoo could add to tourism economy of Staffordshire

A zoo in Staffordshire, which is looking for new owners, could add to the tourism economy in the county, according to a councillor.

Cllr Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure at Staffordshire County Council says the area already has a growing tourism trade, so a thriving zoo could also become popular with visitors.

Staffordshire has a booming tourism economy, up around 35 per cent over the last four years and I’m sure with some good investment and clever marketing the zoo could become a real hit with visitors.

We have a rich tapestry of visitor attractions here in Staffordshire with Alton Towers, one of the country's leading theme parks just down the road, and a host of other exciting places including Cannock Chase and the majestic Shugborough Estate near Stafford – and Blackbrook is certainly one of the quirkier attractions.

Staffordshire zoo still looking for new owners

The entrance to the park Credit: Staffordshire County Councl

A zoo in Staffordshire, which is in administration, is still looking for new owners.

Meerkats at the zoo Credit: Staffordshire County Council

Blackbrook Zoological Park, near Leek, has more than 200 types of animals including penguins, flamingos, Emus, tortoises and meerkats.

It is thought the zoo would be available to buy for about £350,000.

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Police chiefs pay tribute to 'exceptional' colleague

Police chiefs in Staffordshire have paid tribute to an “exceptional” police officer who died in a house fire in Stoke-on-Trent.

Thirty-year-old PC David Beech was found dead at his home in Wyreley Way along with his two pet dogs on Sunday morning.

Ch Cons Mike Cunningham said PC Beech had been awarded a number commendations for his work with the force.

His family were immensely proud of Dave and his exceptional service in our police family, and we all share this great loss of a valued friend and colleague.

He had been awarded a number of commendations during his time with the force and we know he was extremely proud to be a police officer.

He will be a great loss to us all.

– Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, Staffordshire Police

Ch Insp Clare Riley, commander at Newcastle Local Policing Team where PC Beech was based, added:

Dave was a well respected police officer who loved his job and serving the community.

He was also one of the most genuine people that you would care to know and his friends and colleagues will miss him dearly.

– Chief Inspector Clare Riley, Newcastle LPT commander

Tributes to tragic PC killed in house fire

Tributes have been paid to a popular local policing officer, who tragically died in a house fire in Staffordshire along with his two pet dogs.

PC David Beech, aged 30, was discovered at his home in Wyreley Way, Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent over the weekend.

PC David Beech was found dead at his home in Stoke on Sunday
PC David Beech was found dead at his home in Stoke on Sunday Credit: Staffordshire Police

The local policing officer had joined Staffordshire Police in November 2008, having previously served as a special constable.

Neighbours raised the alarm at around 11.30am on Sunday morning.

His death is not being treated as suspicious.

Birmingham business welcome faster HS2 build

Sir David Higgins, chairman of HS2 Ltd, is calling for the building of Phase 2 of the project to be brought forward by six years Credit: HS2 Ltd

Business leaders in Birmingham have welcomed calls by the chairman of HS2 to speed up construction of the line northwards from Birmingham through Staffordshire to Manchester.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said:

“I welcome Sir David’s comments on the potential of HS2 to drive transformational regeneration. “HS2 has always been about increased rail capacity and the potential to use the station investment in particular as a catalyst for a far-reaching programme of physical and skills-led transformation.”

“Sir David is right to highlight the cost advantages of building quickly. There are also huge commercial benefits to be had from connecting, for example, the great cities in the North as soon as possible so that we can reap the rewards of the new business that will be created.

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Campaigners: HS2 costs an 'attempt to con the public'

Campaign manager for Stop HS2 campaign has said any "pretence" that costs of the High Speed rail network are under control are a "con".

Joe Rukin said: "David Higgins has spent three months looking for cost savings for HS2 and he hasn't found a single bean. Any pretence that the costs of HS2 are under control are a fraudulent attempt to con the public."

An anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

He added that the £50 billion cost was "always too low, and represents the cost if the whole project was built in one year and that year was 2011".

"We know that these costs will continue to escalate. The only answer is to cancel the project and go back to the drawing board right now," he said.

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high speed rail project

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Sir David Higgins: HS2 'vital for the future' of UK

HS2 boss Sir David Higgins has said the project was "vital for the future of the country".He added: "The cost and impact have to be recognised and acknowledged, but so too do the cost and impact of doing nothing.

Sir David Higgins. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

"Without HS2, the people of this country will continue to face the failures of our transport system on a daily basis.

"This contingency has pushed the price of phase one, from London to Birmingham, up to £21.4 billion with £3 billion for the trains, while the cost of the second phase, taking the line in a Y-shape to north west and north east England is put at £21.2 billion with around £4.5 billion for the trains."

Read: HS2 boss wants to fast-track high speed rail project

National

HS2 boss to say he would like to start second phase

Launching his report in Manchester, Sir David Higgins, HS2's recently appointed chairman, will say that he would like work to start on the second phase at the same time as the first phase.

An anti HS2 sign in Whittington, Staffordshire. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The second phase, taking the line in a Y-shape to north west and north east England is set for completion around 2032/33. He is also expected to recommend a completely new station at Euston - the site for the line's London terminus.

Sir David, the former London Olympics supremo who has joined HS2 Ltd after being Network Rail chief executive, is also expected to recommend scrapping plans to link HS2 with HS1, the London to Kent coast Channel Tunnel high-speed line.

World famous pianist returns to Midlands - to thank the Staffordshire people who made it all happen

by Keith Wilkinson

A young Palestinian has never forgotten the generosity of the people of Staffordshire who helped to launch his career as a classical pianist. When he was just 11-years-old they clubbed together £10,000 to buy him a grand piano so he could develop his talents.

Tomorrow, to say thank you, Bishara Haroni, is playing a special concert. And he'll be meeting some of the people who had faith that one day he'd do well.

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