OPERATION NEMESIS – COMING TO A DEALER NEAR YOU!!

operation-nemesisGood news for the City, Operation Nemesis is set to continue in 2009. Â What a fantastic job they have done to rid the City’s streets of the scurge of drug dealers,  since its launch. Not only have they found Class A drugs with a street value of £400,000, but also firearms, stun guns,  items of stolen property and cash to the value of £120,000.  This operation is having the right affect, and is sending shockwaves through the criminal community.

Drug dealers have been issued warnings from the  police that they will continue to hunt them down in 2009. Â Lets face it, Â drugs have been brought in from outside the City for too long, and at last we are seeing the results from all the hard work that the police are putting in to stop this from happening.  510 search warrants have been executed, with 300 arrests being made.  That is what you call excellent results, and long may it continue.

The people of Stoke on Trent need to be alert, and provide the vital information so the police can act upon it.   Very often these crimes are going on right in front of your nose.   For example, a chap and his family moved into our street, and it wasn’t long before we got suspicious of what he was upto.  Cars parked up outside in the middle of the night, engine running for hours on end,  large amounts of money/packets definitely being exchanged.  Then one night, a van pulled up, furniture was loaded and he and his family were gone.  It didn’t end there.  He then moved a young couple in last summer.  Low and behold, curtains were upto every window, heat lamps on, fans on the go day and night, with suspicious plants waving around.  We the neighbours kept our eye on the activities, and waited for the car to turn up, so we could report it.  It turns out that the police were already one step ahead, and had been keeping watch on this house.  One morning house was raided, young student taken out, and he was prosecuted.

The responsibility of ridding the streets of these dealers does not just fall on the shoulders of the police, we can all play a part.  There are many ways that information can be passed to the police annonymously.

We at PitnPots commend and thank the police for their excellent work, and as a city we should be eternally grateful that this initiative exists.

As PitsnPots takes up more of a community champion role, and with the fact that there has been 15,000 separate hits on our site since 1st December 08, our readers can help to spread the word about this initiative.  We urge all our readers over the coming months to take more community responsibility and help the police and other organisations to help us.  Together we can make Stoke on Trent a great place to live!

For the full story see the link to The Sentinel http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/news/Police-vow-step-drugs-campaign/article-577787-detail/article.html.

I am sure you will agree that this is a great news story, and that you will give us your views.

THE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL OF NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE – THE HIGHS AND LOWS

uhns1The University of North Staffordshire has taken plenty of criticism, especially over recent months,  with waiting times at the A&E department causing major problems. Â Ã‚ Ã‚ No one can forget the pictures in the Sentinel, of  those desperately ill patients stuck on trolleys waiting to be admitted to beds that were virtually non existent.  To make matters worse, two weeks  ago,  13o beds were closed to new admissions due to the outbreak of the norovirus, thus having a big impact on the A&E Department. Â  To me one of the main problems is bed blocking.  Once you are in, treated and then diagnosed as being recovered, why does it take such a long time for you to be discharged. Â People are told they can go home the next day, but sometimes this simply does not happen.  Yes, there are obviously sometimes reasons for this, the Consultant/Doctor being called to an emergency, which prevents them from carrying on with their ward visits, preventing discharging  patients. It all has a knock on effect doesn’t  it.  There are some elderly patients who are unable to be discharged to their homes,  as they are no longer fit to look after themselves.    This can be a lengthy process finding them suitable accommodation, but it all results in a bed being taken up.

Delayed discharges shot up to record levels approaching 10 per cent in the late summer and autumn. Besides creating delays for patients desperately needing admission, the bottleneck meant hundreds of people had routine operations cancelled because the bed earmarked for their recovery was needed for an emergency case.

The squeeze on the emergency system also meant the trust regularly fell short of the Whitehall directive that 98 per cent of everyone brought into the accident unit is treated and sent home or admitted to a bed within four hours of their arrival.

On the otherhand, no one can criticise the treatment that you get from the staff working in the A&E department.  They are truly a team of dedicated professionals, working under immense pressure, who do not flap or show any signs of stress to the public.  They to me, are a credit to their profession. Â  That can be said for all the staff working in all wards and departments.

There was also the problem of patients not receiving letters for outpatient appointments.  Letters delayed or lost in the post, which  has got worse since the  mail has been sent to Wolverhampton ( another gripe of mine), or a total mix up within the department itself.   Whatever the reason, much needed appointments are missed.

However, it has not all been doom and gloom!!  Reports reveal that other aspects of care have improved radically over the past 12 months.  Levels of the hospital-acquired bugs, C-Diff and MRSA, have been slashed to record lows, waiting times for routine operations and cancer care have fallen dramatically to exceed national standards, and queues for specialist help for sexually transmitted diseases have been wiped out with the arrival of a new walk-in service.

Survival rates from cardiac operations are higher than average and deaths among old people who have broken their thighs have been halved in the past five years.

A major breakthrough has also been the transformation of delays for diagnosis of illnesses, with patients waiting weeks instead of years for investigations such as MRI scan hearing tests.

In the spring and summer, a new £60 million cancer and maternity unit will open on the City General site.

One of my main concerns is that the newly built hospital once opened,  is reported to have less beds.  That seems crazy to me. Â There aren’t enough beds now, so how will this solve the proplem? Some GP’s across the city have also raised their concerns on this.

Despite the progress the Trust has made, there has been casualties (pardon the pun) along the way, with the resignation this month of senior official Val Doyle, who had months earlier publicly staked her career on bringing improvements.  This was certainly never going to be  easy for the people at the top to get every single department of the hospital to run smoothly.  Yes, you may say they are paid highly to do their jobs, but that is easier said than done.  There is also the Â enormous cost of running all departments.

Trust chief executive Julia Bridgewater said: “This has been a challenging but successful year for the hospital. Over recent weeks we have seen an unprecedented demand on our services, and we are now in the middle of what is turning out to be one the most challenging winters we have faced. Our survival rates are some of the best in the country and we are reporting our lowest-ever infection rates. All of this is very important to maintaining public confidence in our hospital, and despite the pressure we have continued to provide excellent standards of care for our patients”.

So what do you think of the services and levels of health care at our hospital?  You can read the full story on the Sentinel Website http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/news/Beds-crisis-holds-good-2008-hospital/article-575822-detail/article.html


PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE PART 2 – THE PARK AND RIDE!

adrian2Following on from his article yesterday, Cllr Adrian Knapper shares his vision on the future for the City ‘Park and Ride’ scheme.

City Centre Park and Ride

Need for a better service.

“Hinde Street is the location for the City Centre Park and Ride site.  It is well signposted as you approach the city centre – Hanley.

There is no dedicated service, but a number of different bus services provide a frequent link to the city centre. All services through the site operate direct to the city centre.

All services return to the Park and Ride site from Stop A at Albion Square in the city centre (next to Hanley Town Hall).

Councillor Adrian Knapper points out that the problem with current scheme is that it’s located to near the City Centre with no direct bus services.

If you drive to the current location, you might as well just drive a bit further to one of the surface or multi-storey car parks that serve the City Centre.

In the past the question was raised to locate a new Park and Ride site at Bucknall, located off the planned Bentilee Link Road.

Being a local ward Councillor for this area, Adrian Knapper is on public record that this location would also prove to be the wrong location because of the fact that it’s far to near the City Centre and to get to the planned location you will have to drive to it via Lime Kiln or Joiner Square traffic junctions, two of the most congested junctions within the City.

The other problem is that in order for the land to become available the Bentilee Link Road needs to be open and it would cost the city council a small fortune to buy the land.

In fact if this land was made available, Councillor Adrian Knapper would prefer the site to be turned into an open public space with selective executive homes being built within the heart of the City, allowing people more leisure access to the River Trent and homes being built within a greener environment.

With regards the future of any park and ride scheme in the City, the first thing is to determine who will use it. The clear answer is people who travel into the City Centre who live outside the local authority boundaries.

A park and ride must be located to intercept travelers prior to hitting the cities roads.

Councillor Knapper would prefer these to be located at Festival Park and/or Trentham Lakes being integrated into the planned new “ËœSTREETCAR’ service that will provide dedicated express routes for public transport across North Staffordshire.

The problem is that a park and ride system will not be developed until after 2014, due to the lack of funding.

When it arrives the City Councillors at that time need to look beyond just a means of transport, but link it to a possible tourist attraction.

Councillor Adrian Knapper personal private view is that the City would benefit from a cable car linking a park and ride site at Festive Park to the City Centre with maybe the potential of a steam train link back down using the old loop line via Etruria.

It’s clear that if the City is to prosper, the City needs to be creative to encourage more people to visit North Staffordshire.

Integral to any regeneration or transformation must be a vision to improve transport and make Stoke a better place for all.”

Adrian Knapper

Labour & Co-operative Party Councillor

Berryhill & Hanley East Ward

Pitsnpots again thanks Adrian for using this forum to communicate with the electorate in our city.
Pitsnpots is committed to publishing any article, by any councillor, of any political party. All you need to do is email our site at pitsnpots@gmail.com
This site, quite rightly, will carry the views from all sides of the political divide. We will not edit any article sent to our site and remain true to our quote “no post will be removed unless it is personal, threatening or insulting.
Remember “YOUR SITE, YOUR CITY, YOUR SAY!

RECYCLING TRIAL REVIEWED BY OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – WHAT FOR?

Following on from my previous post about the Enhanced Recycling and fortnightly bin collection trial which the Council announced would be introduced in Bentilee and Meir Park, with a view to full roll out across the city in Summer 2009, it now seems that the trial has been postponed.

Pitsnpots have details of the Improving Communities Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting which took place on 24th December, whereby the decision was called in by a group of 6 councillors, led by Cllr Brian Ward. The other 5 are: Cllrs Terry Follows, Mick Bell, John Davis, Derek hall and Alan Rigby.

The result of this call in is, according to a press release on the city council’s website, that the scheme will be reviewed.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t this just supposed to be a trial anyway? Why do we need to review a trial? The reasons given for the review are as follows:

The call in had said that the decision had not:

“¢ Given adequate consultation and communication with members and community interests including neighbourhood managers and police.
“¢ Given detail and analysis into cost-benefit, risk assessment, recycling market and other practicalities.
“¢ Considered that the proposed trial is unrepresentative and inadequate for extrapolation city wide long term.

The Committee then decided to recommend:

“¢ That when any trial takes place, and before a citywide implementation, a detailed, evidence-based report is produced to highlight any possible problems and provide solutions.
“¢ That all councillors are kept informed of the decision making process, and are involved via meetings and reports, and their feedback is considered in any final decision on introducing the scheme across the city.

It seems to me that this committee are simply holding up a process, and personally I see no reason why this trial could not have gone ahead. Following the trial period (say 3 months?), the Council should then have consulted fully with those residents involved, to obtain feedback about how the system operates, what is good/bad about it, how it can be improved etc. Surely this is the way forward with a trial?

I can’t help wondering whether decisions are now being called in just because they can be, and because someone, somewhere is trying to prove a point, at the expense of anything good happening in the city during this period of uncertainty in terms of leadership.

Are certain councillors trying to flex their political muscle by calling in decisions like these, which, let’s face it, are just a trial and there is nothing set in stone.

As many Pitspnots commenters posted on the previous article, Stoke on Trent is way behind in terms of its recycling contribution, and we need to do something about it now. All this “review” will do is hold up a long overdue process.

What do you think? Am I right to suggest that decisions may now be being called in unnecessarily? Are certain councillors trying to flex their muscle? And if so, does this mean that NOTHING is going to get done to move Stoke forward over the next few months? Perhaps this is why the Transition Board is being forced upon us, because our councillors can’t be trusted to do their job? Councillors, please feel free to correct my view! Pitsnpots commenters, what do you think?

ADRIAN KNAPPER IN A “STREETCAR” NAMED DESIRE! SET IN STOKE ON TRENT.

adrian1As promised, another prominent City Councillor Adrian Knapper joins the growing number of political figures contributing to the No1 debating blog in our city, pitsnpots!

Here Adrian tells us about the revolutionary plans to overhaul the Public Transport Infrastructure in our City!…………………………..

STREETCAR ““ Better Public Transport Planned

“North Staffordshire needs an improved public transport network to encourage more people to use cleaner greener methods of travel.

It’s recognised that a tram or light rail system would not provide flexibility or cost effectiveness to respond to the emerging transformation and regeneration of the region.

Analysis of transport needs has led the potential for two new bus rapid transit (BRT) routes that would serve the City Centre and reach out linking residential areas. The concept will become recognised as “ËœSTREETCAR’

Planned route will improve links by public transport from locations in which people live to areas in which new jobs and regeneration are planed for the region.

Routes will link the City Centre, Staffordshire University, Stoke Railway Station and Stoke Town Centre to Keel University, Newcastle town centre and the University Hospital in the West, with links from the City Centre to Burslem, Tunstall and Kidsgrove in the North. Another route will link Festival Park to Longton and the Meir, with potential connections to the new employment opportunities at Trentham lakes.

Councillor Knapper points out that this new network of high quality improved transport public transport (BRT) is at an early stage of planning, but it’s important that the area has quality transport that runs smoothly.

Central to the transformation of North Staffordshire and its regeneration is an Integrated Transport Package that includes the Streetcar project, a new City Centre Public Transport Interchange (Bus Station) and Trunk Road Improvements that are hoped will help  the objective of reducing traffic congestion and encouraging more people to use reliable public transport.”

Adrian Knapper

Labour & Co-operative Party Councillor

Berryhill & Hanley East Ward
Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Pitsnpots thanks Cllr Knapper for sharing this information with us. It is refreshing to highlight some of the good practise that goes on in our City for a change.

Over to you….. What do you think about the “Streetcar” idea?……………..

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS! – WOL’S CHRISTMAS COMMENT!

tonywalley27week2Hey! Hope you all had a peaceful Christmas and Santa brought you everything you wished for. I know that all Roger Ibbs wanted was a Christmas card off the TAG…. I wonder if he got one?

Mark Meredith was hoping for a one way ticket back to the West Midlands (well the electorate did their bit!)

Joy Garner was hoping for a gift voucher for the “Beer Emporium” in Burslem…. Don’t hold your breath Joy!

Alby Walker was hoping for some more “Nice ‘n’ Easy” baby blonde hair colour!

Terry Follows was hoping for a book called “How To Speak In Public”….. Terry read it well!

Terry Crowe and Barry Stockley were hoping for a non christian Christmas to go with the non christian education for the kids at Berryhill High School!

Now, I have had a go at the Labour Party recently and it’s vision for our city. I have spoke to many sources from the Labour Group and it seems that Cllr Mike Barnes was not facing disciplinary action for submitting an article to pitsnpots, it appears he was being called in by the Whip, Tom Reynolds and Group Leader Joy Garner for “a little chat”. It seems it was in relation to a piece in the Sentinel and nothing to do with his pitsnpots article. I’m glad about that as I have a lot of time for both Joy and Tom and have always enjoyed their contributions to our blog……. We haven’t heard off them for a while, I wonder why?……….

Talking of Joy Garner, I read with interest her letter in the Sentinel in response to the proprietor of the Beer Emporium in the centre of Burslem regarding a Taxi rank outside his shop. Now I know that Joy has been at the forefront of a campaign to encourage taxi drivers to become “Hackney Carriages” which should stop private hire drivers illegally touting for trade. You would think this shop owner would encourage that, but alas no! It seems that this shop owner is an active member of the BNP and his gripe is obviously racially motivated. He has kept his membership of the BNP out of his campaign against this taxi rank and Cllr Garner quite rightly, made the public aware of the true facts. It made me think about a post to the site by Labour candidate Gary Elsby when he was canvassing for the election in the Abbey Green ward and was confronted by a BNP activist who said that all immigrants should be evicted from our Country immediately. When Gary asked him where the immigrants were in Abbey Hulton, the man could not give Gary an answerand became rather angry! Surely it is better that we the people of this great city know who is amongst us and what they believe in, if these people are motivated by far right politics and are affiliated to the BNP (as is their right) they should go public on that basis and not masquerade behind a campaign with false intentions.

On the 23rd December an email was forwarded to pitsnpots. This email was from Cllr Adrian Knapper and was sent to all the Labour Group members. In it Adrian urged caution and restraint from contributing to pitsnpots because he felt that pitsnpots is dangerous to the interest of Labour in this city. He went on to state “Further contributions to such sites as the Pit “ËœN’ Pots web/blog can only lead to the opposition using it to create un-necessary infighting within the group and causing damaging news coverage of Labour within the wider community”

As you can imagine I was incensed! And I set about trying to contact Cllr Knapper. Whilst I was waiting for his call back I researched his own site and I have to say I am impressed by his website. It’s informative, interesting and states clearly what he is working on and the success that has been achieved. I was still angry though! when he did call me back I did have a right old go at him and we ended up having a good, long, friendly (when I’d calmed down!) chat. I told him the aims of our site and what we wanted to achieve,which is to be a debating platform where the supporters of all the political parties can come together to put over their points of view on the issues that face our city. People with no political persuasion could also read and contribute which will give them an idea whose policies and stances best represent their own beliefs and ideas. I told Adrian that the contributions of councillors is vital and whilst there is sometimes criticism there is also a desire to get the good news of what is happening in our city out in the public domain. I’m glad to say that after this long friendly chat, Adrian was better informed of what pitsnpots is all about and I’m happy to say that I now know what Adrian stands for and what he is trying to achieve. There is no doubt in my mind that Adrian is one of life’s “cup half full” types of people as opposed to the “cup half empty” type of politician that this city is often exposed to! I wish him well and I am delighted  that he emailed the Labour Group to say that after our chat he was now more aware and supportive of the pitsnpots site and he has promised to get involved and use this site to highlight the vital, excellent work being carried out through the regeneration project of which he is in charge.

I appeal to all the cities elected representatives to get involved and CONTRIBUTE to this totally independent site, use us to get your message out to the public. Mike Barnes, Roger Ibbs, Alan Rigby, Tom Reynolds and others are already contributing to the site and in the case of Mike and Roger they have gained support by posting their thoughts to this site (un edited!) We the electorate deserve this!

Now the Libdems, many might say “Libdems – what’s that all about?” Well now with the likes of David Jack (PPC for Stoke North) and Gavin Webb contributing and posting to pitsnpots we are starting to find out what they are all about and I admit to being more than interested in finding out more about their policies. Could they be the alternative that our city crave for? When people are dissalusioned with Labour and Conservative we are seeing people use so called Independents and the BNP as a protest. The Libdems have been AWOL in this city apart from the smattering of Libdem Councillors in the chamber and they very rarely attempt to get their message out there do they? This is a point I put to Cllr Paul Billington and PPC David Jack and they both admitted that they had work to do to connect with the electorate and I look forward to their contributions in the future. Surely it is better to vote for a party that publicly states what their policies are rather than the BNP who try to dupe people into voting for them whilst they hide behind their true beliefs that are purely based on the colour of a persons skin. There is no doubt in my mind that if you happen to have skin that is not white you will be prejudiced against by this far right party. We live in a multi cultural city and I for one am proud of that fact. I do admit that more work needs to be done to bring the communities closer together and this is not a one way street, the Asian community must make moves to integrate also.

The Independents worry me greatly and I am glad to see the policy that the coalition parties are adopting in forcing a named vote at every opportunity so that we the public can see which way they lean and as the evidence so far would lead us to believe that they lean very much to the right. Brian Ward wrote a letter to the Sentinel in which he could not decide whether it was Irving or Irvine, so he tried both covered all angles (nothing new there then!). The Independents to me are nothing but imposter’s! You either support the BNP or you don’t. The Independents will support them to wheel and deal. Offering cabinet seats if the BNP support an Independent leader. The dictionary meaning of and Independent politician should read: ” under the counter politics, not really Independent, willing to do deals to secure power, won’t have a scooby doo what to do if they led the city!” I make it my aim for 2009 to drill into the “independent” group and to make public what they really stand for!

Any way I’m off to Focal Radio to present the sport, three consecutive days on air and i’ve really enjoyed myself!

As usual please post your thoughts and comments on the above I look forward to reading them as always. To all that read and don’t post, break that habit and have your say!

This is my Sunday/Christmas Comment (RANT) and I commend it to the Blog!

SHAUN BENNETT DOES HIS OWN MARKET RESEARCH!

Here at Pitsnpots we always publish articles written by our elected representatives and those who would wish to represent us. Shaun Bennett has been a regular contributor to our site and judging by the reaction his articles have created, we know that readers appreciate his thoughts, vision and comments. In this article Shaun raises some valuable points and shares with us the results of his recent communication with all our city councillors…………………

“Almost a month ago, I used the site to argue for a full council electionshaun-bennett_thumbnail1
to be held in 2009. Naturally the debate became tangled up in all sorts of
other issues surrounding single member wards, elections by thirds and the
governance commission. At the same time, I also contacted every single one
of the city’s sixty councillors (except for the elected mayor, but of
course, he doesn’t really count anymore does he :-)) So nearly a month on,
and with the New Year rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good
idea to keep you all updated as to my results. I know that Santa’s coming,
and that Christmas is the time for light-hearted debates, but stick with
me, and I will try to be unusually brief”¦

When I wrote to each of the councillors, I outlined all of the arguments
for a full council election to be held before the appointment of the new
council Leader in 2009. Without this, I said that the new Leader would
have no democratic mandate for up to two years, would not be able to show
public support for their decisions and would in effect have no moral
authority to support their decisions with. The full rehersal of the
arguments can be found in the ‘older posts’ section of this site.

My main concern was that with the council consultation on the electoral
cycle still ongoing, councillors may try to ‘dodge’ the issue of a 2009
election by confusing the issues and claiming that they could not give an
opinion at this stage for fear of pre-judging the consultation (they do do
that sort of thing you know). So I sought to make it quite clear that the
arguments for a special, one-off 2009 full council election had absolutely
nothing to do with the consultation process, or what we chose to do in the
future. I also warned them that their responses (or lack of them) may be
publicised unless they requested confidentiality.

The question was: ‘Would you support a full council election to be held in
2009 if it were possible to have one?’ I accepted that this was not a
decision for the council, but I argued that if councillors came on board
and supported a special election, it would give weight to the arguments
for one, and could help us along to achieving one. So what were the
results? Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed by the response rate.

Out of 60 councillors, only a handful could be bothered to reply at all.
Cllr Ian Mitchell (Ind, Hartshill & Penkhull) takes the award for the most
speedy reply and he said that he would have no objection to an early
election. I remember standing against Ian in 2006; he is a true democrat
and it came as no surprise to me to find that we were of similar mind on
this. Next up was Cllr Janine Bridges (Ind, Chell and Packmoor), who
replied with similar speed and of similar opinion. I wasn’t sure whether
she addressed the 2009 issue, but she did make it quite clear that she was
opposed to cancelling the 2010 election, and I settled for that. It seemed
that she would want to see an election in 2010, and if that were to be
cancelled, then she would probably be favourable to a 2009 contest
instead.

So far, so good. Then came Cllr Brian Ward (Ind, Blurton). He did not
express an opinion on my preferred option of a 2009 contest, stating
instead that he was generally not in favour of all out elections. I found
myself in complete agreement with him on that point, and it would seem
that he was at least opposed to cancelling the scheduled 2010 contest. It
was beginning to look as though all of the Independent councillors would
either be in favour of a 2009 election, or at least would not be opposed
to one so long as the 2010 elections were to go ahead as planned. I
started to think that my replies may be able to be divided down party
lines.

Then my suspicions began to be confirmed. Cllr Joan Bell (Lab, Longton
South) said that she would be concerned that by having a 2009 all out
election, there may be a shortage of candidates because they may not want
to stand if the term of office was only going to be two years. It was an
interesting concern, but not one that I can accept. There are ALWAYS more
candidates than vacancies in local elections, and I really can’t see that
interested local people would be put off by a shorter term. Indeed, we
have experienced councillors terms cut short in the past due to boundary
changes. When Cllr Bell herself stood for election in 2000, she surely
gave no consideration to the fact that she would be up again in 2002 due
to boundary changes? And how many of the 155 candidates that stood in 2002
were put off by the fact that if they only won second or third place in
their ward, then they would be forced to fight the seat again in either
one or two years? Clearly, Cllr Bell was just trying to find a good excuse
to be against a 2009 election.

I then heard from Cllr Paul Billington (LD, Stoke and Trent Vale). Paul is
one of the very few Liberal Democrats either locally or nationally that I
think I could claim to have any sort of respect for. He is a very able and
thoughtful councillor who is quite clearly wasted in this city. If he were
Lib Dem leader instead of ‘Aunt Bessie’ Bowers his party may be more
formidable at a local level. True to form, Paul left no doubt as to his
answer: he would not be able to support a 2009 election. Furthermore,
copying the reply in to the party group leaders Garner, Bowers and Ibbs, I
would presume that Paul probably spoke for all of them.

His reply was a heartfelt defence of the cross party coalition and the
things that they have done. He also said that those who wanted a 2009
election would face a battle with the Secretary of State, and that it was
a battle that could not be won. I agreed. Certainly, with councillors
against a 2009 election, the battle would be VERY difficult to win. But
just because the odds are against you, is that reason not to try? Does
Paul and his colleagues not continue to argue for electoral reform at
Westminster even though they surely know that its never going to happen so
long as those of us who support FPTP still draw breath? Of course not.
They believe that their arguments are right, just as I am convinced that
the arguments for a 2009 election are overwhelming.

Nevertheless, Cllr Billington has the guts to stick to his guns,however
unpopular it may be. As I said to him in my reply: I do not support the
cross party coalition; I do not recognise it as a genuine coalition of the
parties; I am in opposition to this administration, and I have no issue
with continuing to oppose it when it is wrong (as I’m afraid it usually
is).

And that was that. I did have one other reply from the BNP’s Steve Batkin
(Bentilee & Townsend) but as he chose to completely ignore the question
and chose instead to use his reply to berate me for not speaking to him at
the last election count, I can’t take too much from it. Now I should make
it perfectly clear (and indeed I did) that if Cllr Batkin had spoken to me
I would not have ignored him. I’m not so petty as to refuse to talk to
someone just because I disagree with them. Clearly Cllr Batkin is a
sensitve soul…but as he also accused me of really being a secret
accomplice of Roger Ibbs, I have to call his political judgement into
question!

And that really was it. The VAST majority of our elected representatives
couldn’t be bothered to reply; and while I’m sure most of the Independents
are prepared to stand by democracy, it was clear that the other groups
were not. Perhaps the failure to reply is another example of how local
government is not working in this city? Do they also not reply to
residents after their assistance? Judging by what other people have told
me, some of them do not. Its another example of the servants and masters
mentality that many councillors slip into once they are elected: they
stand for election as the peoples servants, but they then choose to view
themselves as their masters.

So having taken up far more of your time than I promised I would, I will
end with a final thanks to all those councillors who took the time to
reply to my question (yes, even you Cllr Batkin. It is the season of
goodwill after all). Clearly the chances of getting a 2009 full council
election is absolutely zero so long as some of these counillors have any
say in the matter. But as the time approaches to appoint the new Leader,
we may well find the moral case becomming intense. There is still a chance
for them to give a democratic mandate to their choice of leader by
supporting an election first. However, given that they clearly will not,
and that they also plan to remove the peoples democratic right to pass
judgement in 2010, I really do fear what the peoples wrath may be.
Needless to say, there will be many a council career brought to an
untimely end in May 2011…”

Shaun

Councillors Christmas Party

With a budget running in to the 10′s of £, our sixty elected councillors and Ex Mayor Meredith headed off to the Queens at Basford last night for the Councillors bi annual Christmas knees up.  Apart from double booking the venue with the Birches Head Swingers Association, the night was a huge success.

As is tradition, the role of Santa Claus is played by a member of a different political party each year.  This year it was the turn of BNP and Councillor Burgess took on the role of Santa. To show the cultural diversity of the city it had been muted that the councillors would go for a more European feel and have Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet but this was changed at the eleventh hour..  Councillors Garner, Meredith, Powell-Beckett, Walker & Webb had their names drawn from the hat and dressed as elves helped Santa to hand out gifts from the councils ‘Secret Santa’.

Councillor Garner was given a voucher for pole dancing lessons while Alby Walker got a new pair of Speedos. One of the other councillors commented on how good the trunks were but the brand name had faded a bit on the pair he had and the S had come off altogether. Councillor Knapper got membership to the Crewe & Nantwich Labour Party..

The first half of the evenings entertainment was provided by Councillors Bowers, Dale, Edwards, Joynson, Matthews & Pyatt who had been rehearsing for weeks as a Nolans tribute act. They performed a medley of  the best of the Nolans 20+ singles. Â  As a finale they performed an acapella version of Ace of Spades by Motorhead in tribute to Stoke on Trents musical hero, Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister who will be 63 on Christmas Eve.

After an oatcake buffet provided by the hole in the wall , Councillor Kent-Baguley did his tribute to Professor Stanley Unwin followed by Councillors Iqbal & Lyth reading from May un mar Lady.

The remainder of the evening was a disco shared with the swingers party and finished with everyone throwing car keys on to the table. Councillor Tolley was reported to be most upset as he only got a MKII Cortina to go home in..

Pits n Pots have managed to acquire a short video from the party we hope you enjoy it!