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Young people to celebrate top read in teen fiction award, Council step in to secure fire-hit building

Written by on 24 June 2024

Young readers from across Staffordshire will gather in force at a top Midlands venue on Tuesday 2 July for the grand finale of their annual book award.

The Young Teen Fiction Award, now in its nineteenth year is being organised by Staffordshire County Council’s Libraries and Arts service. The initiative encourages the county’s young people to enjoy reading books and share their enthusiasm with others.

Pupils have been voting for their favourite book from a shortlist of 6 titles.  The winning read will be announced at the celebration day at the RAF Museum Midlands.

Joining pupils on the day and signing copies of their books are established children’s authors Alastair Chisholm and Sophie Anderson. Staffordshire’s Young Poet Laureate Trinity Davis and Staffordshire Poet Laureate Dawn Jutton will also be at the event sharing poetry inspired by teenage fiction and reading for pleasure.

Catherine Mann, Assistant Director for Culture, Rural and Safer Communities at Staffordshire County Council said: “Our libraries service has always recognised the importance of encouraging young people to read for pleasure.

“Our Young Teen Fiction award is a great opportunity for us to engage with young readers while promoting all the amazing things available at local libraries. It’s always a fantastic event and we’re very grateful to the museum for welcoming us back for the eighth time.  I know the youngsters will be truly inspired by their illustrious surroundings.”

Shortlisted books for the awards include:

  • Postcards from Valhalla by Danny Weston
  • Twelve Bones by Rosie Talbot
  • Secret Sister by Sophie McKenzie
  • Scare Me by Teri Terry
  • Bite Risk by S J Wills
  • A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar

For more information visit the Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction Award webpage.

authors Alastair Chisholm and Sophie Anderson


City council contractors have worked to stabilise the fire-hit buildings on Newcastle Street to allow the road to be re-opened early this week.

Newcastle Street in Middleport has been closed since April 2024 due to a building fire. The council first engaged with the owners of the building who have been unresponsive and failed to take appropriate action.

Having engaged specialist engineers to see if it could avoid demolishing the building, the city council will now undertake emergency works to make the building safe to allow the road to re-open to traffic.

Over the weekend the council and Unitas staff will be on site to secure the foundations of the building and erect scaffolding. This will allow at least one lane of the road to re-open (with two-way temporary signals).

Alongside the works to allow the road to re-open, the city council are carrying out an independent review. The review will look into each stage of the process both from the council and legal aspects, allowing the council to prevent anything similar from happening again.

A spokesperson for Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “We are disappointed that the owners of the building on Newcastle Street did not take responsibility for the building, delaying the re-opening of the road.

“With thanks to the specialist engineers, we now have works planned in throughout the weekend which will allow the road to be opened from next week. Once the work is completed, we will be seeking recompense from the owners.

“We understand residents and businesses have been frustrated with the delay. There have been a number of challenges which we have had to take into account and which we are working towards resolving. We will also use this as a learning experience. We obviously hope nothing like this happens again but, if it does, we’ll be in a better position to reduce congestion in the city as much as we possibly can. The review being carried out will mean we can ensure we don’t see a repeat of this.

“We remain committed to preserving and protecting historic buildings in the city, and will take action against owners who neglect their responsibilities.”