Election Campaign Launch – CV The Only Alternativ”‹e!

**PRESS RELEASE FROM THE COMMUNITY VOICE GROUP**

Today Community Voice launches its election campaign for the forthcoming local elections in Stoke-on-Trent.

Community Voice has 12 carefully chosen candidates across the City.

“I am so pleased and proud to be a part of Community Voice and our first local election campaign, especially in putting forward 12 quality, active, community candidates.

“We strongly believe we have made a significant contribution in the council over the last 12 months, both in terms of shaping policy and decisions, as well as effectively holding the council, Cabinet and officers, to account.

“Community Voice has clearly demonstrated the we are the only alternative to the council’s coalition, the only voice on the council in a sea of silence.

“Labour, Conservatives, City Independents, and Liberal Democrats are one and the same on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, putting party politics and their cosy coalition before ordinary people and their own residents.

CV has been the only group actively scrutinising and challenging decisions.

We make 5 cast iron and crystal clear promises, yes PROMISES, to our electors:

1. Our Communities Come First, and we promise that we will put them first
2. We promise to protect Adult Older Care

3. We promise to protect Children’s Social Care and Education including Children’s Centres

4. We promise to clean up the council, banish secrecy, route wrong-doing and fraud, and make it more open and transparent

5. We promise to give people more say and more power in their community.

We strongly believe that each councillor, whatever party or political persuasion should put the residents that elect them FIRST.

We look forward to the coming weeks, sharing our vision and passion with all residents of this great City.”

Every single one of Community Voice’s candidates has a track record of working hard in their community from all backgrounds.

“Our 12 candidates all have a solid background in the community. Each one has come to Community Voice, CV has not chased or canvassed anyone to stand.

“We have no “paper” candidates at all, unlike the other major parties such as Labour, Conservatives and the Lib Dems, and we have made the decision early on not to just accept anyone to build up the numbers. I can reveal we have turned down 8 approaches from individuals whom we felt it was not the right time for them to represent CV. This was for various reasons, most notably those that bear personal grudges against other parties or individuals.

“Residents and Communities need a real voice. One that put them FIRST without exception. CV will work with anybody in the interests on our residents from whatever political party, but we will not shy away from our responsibility to challenge bad proposals or decisions, or hold those that put party or self interest above this City and its citizens.”

New Years Commitment

2011 promised to be a challenging and momentus year for Stoke-on-Trent.

I have already said that I am standing as a candidate in the local elections in May which alone carries a heavy workload and that will be a judgement for those of the ward that I stand in. However, I want to convey a further message to those on PitsnPots, campaign groups etc.

I am deeply concerned about the governments cuts and our local councils compliance to this effect.

I am Community Voice and I will now be working 9-5 from the CV office in the Civic Centre and 24/7 from my mobile.

Democracy, equality and protecting vulnerable people are my priorities for the next 4 months that I am certain to be a councillor (and cetainly beyond if I am elected).

I am therefore, available to anybody, and I mean anybody from any area, ward, political persuasion (except BNP), for advice, for information, for election advice etc whether through the pages of PitsnPots, via email or phone. Make me work. Make a difference. Save our services.

I don’t pretend to be pefect. Far from it. But if I can help I will.

Its time to make Stoke-on-Trent punch its weight.

My email is: michael.barnes@stoke.gov.uk

My phone is: 07850939611

Reagrds

Mike Barnes

Stoke-on-Trent Councillor Roy Naylor Considers Legal Action Over Group Expulsion

Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor Roy Naylor is considering taking legal advice over his former Group Leader’s disclosure to the press that he has council tax and rent arrears.

Mr Naylor is now listed on the Council website as a “Ëœnon-aligned’ councillor.

Cllr Naylor broke the news of his expulsion from the City Independent Group over the weekend, but today he said that he was disgusted at how his former group leader Brian Ward and his colleagues had handled the issue.

He declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his expulsion but confirmed that he was taking legal advice about his group’s disclosure of his personal circumstances.

He was also angry about finding out that he had been kicked out of the CIG from member services instead of from his former group leader.

He also hit out at Cllr Brian Wards comments in the Sentinel that he had refused to attend the City Independent Group meeting last Wednesday to discuss a
range of issues relating to his situation.

“ i am incredibly upset at the accusation that I refused to attend our group meeting.

“I had already emailed the group leader well in advance of the meeting to advise him that I was unable to attend do to circumstances beyond my control.

“To suggest I refused is just untrue.

“I have no problem acknowledging that I have some financial issues but I don’t want to comment further because me and my wife are taking legal advice about how my issues were disclosed through the press.

“I would like to make it clear that I have every intention of standing for election in the Blurton West and Newstead ward. I am confident that the hard work that I have put into helping the residents and groups in the area in the absence of any support from a fellow councilor who is a cabinet member will stand me in good stead come election time.’

“I would not have made any comment about the matter had Cllr Naylor not have contacted the local newspaper.”

“The facts are that our group are more than aware of Roy’s circumstances and wanted to discuss the ward arrangement and who stands where.

The also wanted to hear from Roy why he had not showed up to chair the Overview & Scrutiny management committee the past two meetings, a role for which he gets paid.

” I feel that our group were left with no option but to expel him. He did not walk away like he said on Twitter”

On Thursday 25th November 2010, @Blurtoncllr said:
STATEMENT from CLLR ROY NAYLOR

I have today informed the Leader of the City Independent Group, that at the May Election in 2011 I will be standing for the New Ward, which consists of most parts of the Blurton Farm Estate and Newstead.

From there I also advised him I was not intending to stand this time as a City Independent Candidate, but as a stand alone Independent. His response to this was that he would stand Head to Head with me, as an opponent.

I have worked very hard in the last 3 years for the area, and feel that I have received very little support, so that has been the reason behind my decision (sic) to stand alone, as I believe I can if re-elected do just as much if not more for the area, and not being in a Group would leave me free to be in the Ward even more than I am now. As from May 2011 there will only be one Councillor for that area instead of the present three, I feel it would be better for residents to have someone that isn’t tied up in meetings at the Civic Centre most of the week.

Until May I will continue to work hard for all the present area’s that make up the Blurton & Newstead Ward.
The changes to the Ward is due to the decision (sic) to decrease the number of Councillors from 60 to 44 and the change of Ward Boundaries to make smaller wards.

Cllr Naylor’s expulsion has also been attacked from other members in the chamber.

“ Well the Independent Group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council have shown their true colours yesterday.
How many people out there are struggling to get a job, pay bills, or are struggling to pay mortgages or rent?

How sad it is then that when one of their own, Cllr Roy Naylor, suffers what many ordinary residents are having to cope with, they decide to turn their back on him.

I have alot of respect for Roy Naylor, if nothing else he has worked hard for the Independent Group over many, many years. But in his hour of need, he really found out who his friends are.

Roy has fell behind wit his council tax, and rent, not a crime, nor I suspect entirly unusual at this time for many in Stoke-on-Trent. The law does say a councillor can’t deal with financial matters when in arrears (a position I would question), so the Independents, led by Brian Ward, his fellow ward councillor in Blurton, have thrown him out of their “Party”.

If this is how they treat their own, what hope for the rest of us.

With friends like that who needs enemies.

Good Luck Roy. Hope things turn around for you and your family.

Cllr Roy Naylor may not be the only councillor taking a ride aboard the political roundabout, watch this space.

Stoke-on-Trent Council Coy About Redundancy Costs!

From Community Voice:

Local authorities are warning the government that its own rules mean some councils will struggle to pay for the redundancies that spending cuts are forcing them to make.

In Stoke-on-Trent, the City Council Cabinet were recently questioned by backbench councillors on redundancy costs. Cllr Debra Gratton responded that redundancy cost had been built into the budget proposals announced by Labour Council Leader, Mohammed Pervez. However, on closer inspection, the report put forward contains no reference to the source of the redundancy payments.

Yet, following investigations, Community Voice can exclusively reveal that the costs of redundancies have not been included in any figures or reports released by the council on the budget for 2011/12.

We can also reveal that the estimated bill for the proposed redundancies is estimated by the council at between £4m and £5m.

In normal circumstances Stoke-on-Trent like all other councils, would use its reserves or capital monies to fund redundancy payments, however, as with most councils, these sources are already stretched to the limits.

This leaves the City Council and many other Local Authorities with two options if it is to go ahead with redundancies:

1.Increase the cuts to cover payments
2.Borrow the money
This is made all the more difficult in that council need permission from Government to borrow and this has be all but stopped for the financial year 2011/12.

What we can now exclusively reveal is that Stoke-on-Trent City Council, to get round these restriction, has already requested the government to let them borrow £4m+ in THIS financial year. This has been done without any form of consultation with councillors or any publicly recorded decision being made.

“The level of cuts and the uncertainty that this government has placed on Councils at the moment is making things really difficult, but it baffles me that the government should impliment cuts to deal with our level of debt and we have to borrow more to deal with the consequences. We are trying to work as hard as we can with the officers, cabinet and other councillors to deal with the issues, but I have to say I am very disappointed that the Cabinet could not be as open as it should be about the potential redundancy costs.

It not good enough for Cllr Gratton to say that redundancy is covered in the budget proposals, as clearly someone is making decisions without proper discussions, which could have an enormous impact on the outcome of the final budget. There is a risk that the government says “no” ““ what then?

I appreciate that many councils are in the same situation but how can all councillors get their heads around all of the issues so that any cuts are fair and proper if we only get half the facts? Why not just be upfront about it all?”

In summary, the city council like all councils are struggling with the government’s spending review, and has to consider many unpalatible options and decisions. However, with the issue of redundancies it has been far from open and transparent, about decisions it appear to have already made in requests to government, and giving all councillors and the public a heads up on what this could mean should it go one way or another.

Barnes Mistake Has Follows Thinking ‘Standards’ [UPDATED]

Two Stoke-on-Trent City Councillors were today embroiled in a war of words when one accused the other of not turning up to a council consultation meeting.

Community Voice Councillor Mike Barnes published a story on the official Community Voice website accusing Councillor Terry Follows, the cabinet member for Environment, Waste Management and Neighbourhood Services, of not showing up to a public meeting to discuss the imminent Council Cuts.

Cllr Barnes also accused Labour Councillor and cabinet member for Transformation Cllr Sarah Hill of a no show at the event at Hanley Market. The executive councillors were due to be in attendance between 3pm and 5.30pm.

Cllr Terry Follows reacted angrily to the accusation and in a statement issued today he threatened to report Cllr Barnes to the Standards Board if he did not receive a full and frank apology.

Councillor Barnes

I am amazed at you complaining that I was not present at the consultation event in Hanley Market, without full knowledge of the facts, and also placing disparaging remarks on your website. Had you have bothered to check with the press office or contact me personally you would have found that I was there present in the market from 2..00 – 5.00 as promised.

Due to this I would expect a full apology and a retraction on all websites published, at this stage I am considering whether this is an issue for the standards board.

Cllr Barnes has since amended the original story and removed all references to Cllr Follows.

The story still criticises Cllr Hill for her non attendance at the event which is designed to engage members of the public and to gauge their reaction about the upcoming council cuts which will be implemented as a result of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Cabinet Member Cllr Sarah Hill, yesterday failed to turn up and talk to the public about their proposed cuts to public services.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council Website clearly stated that she would be at Hanley Market between 3pm and 5.30pm 19 November 2010, yet those that turned up to meet them found her not in attendance.
Why tell people you are going to be there and not turn up ““ are they too embarrassed following the revelations of the £600,000 spend spree proposed for floor 1 for them and their cronies?
However, it does not surprise me as many of the Cabinet don’t bother to turn up to half the meetings they are suposed (sic) too like Overview and Scrutiny.

Sources have informed Pits n Pots that Cllr Hill’s attendance was published on the Council website by mistake. The Press & Communications Department were fully aware that she was not available due to work commitments well in advance of the meeting.

We have been contacted by several sources to inform us that Cllr Barnes has now emailed a brief apology to Cllr Terry Follows for his mistake.

“This is typical of the gutter political tactics that we have come to expect from Cllr Barnes”.

“I fear it is just a matter of time before he goes way over the top in his bid for fame and ends up in front of the Standards Committee on some indefensible action that could spell the end of a political career that has been on the slide for a considerable length of time!”.

“I for one would not lose any sleep if his immature brand of politics is lost to the chamber at the next elections and the Mike Barnes PR machine is derailed for good”.

This episode is sure to fuel the arguments of some councillors across the chamber that Cllr Barnes is playing petty political games and is concentrating on personalities rather than formulating constructive political debate.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

More On The Cuts and The Apparent Insensitivity of The Council.

On Saturday, I was invited to hitch a ride aboard the Council’s Cuts Bus.

We met in Stoke, talked to some people, moved on to Fenton Manor and talked a deal more and the bus then headed up to Hanley [City Centre].

I was the only media there apart from a Sentinel photographer. Most of BBC Radio Stoke was on-strike over pensions. That’s the good thing about Pits n Pots and the hyper-local sites across the country, as we do our thing for nothing apart from the love of our City, we would turn up to the opening of an envelope!

I was keen to gauge the opinion of the public, not the politicians so much as I’m pretty sure I know where they are coming from.

The public really surprised me. They did not hit out at our local council, they did however, take a massive swipe at the coalition government.

Their opinions only served to reinforce my view that the Conservatives will face a backlash over these upcoming cuts. The Liberal Democrats face oblivion!

The council are saying that they need to realise budget savings of £33million, yet in an audio interview I did with the Cabinet Member for Resources Kieran Clarke he revealed that the cuts were likely to be in the region of £25million, and could be as much as £28million.

It begs the question and has prompted some scrutiny of why the council executive is advocating cuts £5-8million more than is actually required.

One answer could be; worst case scenario, the more politically astute among the city would suggest that this could be a PR exercise on behalf of the council executive.

If you listen to the audio with the members of the public it is obvious that there are some proposed closures that are simply not palatable to the folk in this city.

We are a caring city, Stokies look after the elderly, the young and the most vulnerable in our society. It’s inbuilt in every one of us [apart from people like Craig Pond and his ilk who only care if you are white!] It’s who we are!

So when the council save some of the Children’s Centre’s and protect some of the elderly care services earmarked for a reduction or possible closure, we have to be mindful that it is not an attempt to deflect our attention away from causes like Shelton & Tunstall pools, the closure of libraries or the City Farm.

It will be marketed as the “Ëœwe have listened’ budget but if we are not careful that £25-28million worth of cuts will be made by cutting the very things that give people of the city real enjoyment.

When it is put like “Ëœwhat do you prefer to see closed ““ The City Farm or a Sure Start Centre’? There is only one sensible answer.

But, on the other hand if there was no real need to close a Sure Start Centre as an example then that is a smokescreen and a very different matter indeed.

To some Potteye [Cllr Mike Barnes] and Community Voice are described as a “Ëœpain in the arse’ ““ they are often portrayed as troublemakers. But if they did not keep bringing these issues out into the fore we, the public would be none the wiser.

The question needs asking why there aren’t more councillors of all political persuasions asking pertinent questions and investigating those potential banana skins.

Then we have the massive own goal of the refurbishment of the first floor of the Civic Centre.

In the week where the council staff were told that up to 700 of them may lose their livelihoods, decking is laid to tart up an open space for the enjoyment of senior officers. It beggars belief!

Along with the need for biting cuts, the executive should and could have announced a moratorium of all unnecessary spend, whatever the project.

I have no doubts that some refurbishment and improvements are needed to certain sections of the Civic Centre, but are they really that desperate that even in these times of austerity, the CEO and senior politicians press ahead with the spending of a large amount of money to improve the working environment of the elite within the council.

I call on all group leaders to call for a halt in the refurbishment of the 1st floor to show the public of this city that cuts bite even at the top.

But more importantly it is essential out of respect to those workers who face the loss of their jobs that our council put a stop to all un-necessary spending.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Staff Settlements and Disputes Soar!

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s costs for departing staff who agree a settlement, sometimes used to stop a claim or for the council to buy their silence has already exceeded last year’s total figure by over £30,000 in the first six months of this fanancial year.

The figure already stands at £551,394.14 covering 49 former staff compared to £517,226.93 for 71 staff in 2009/10, my investigations have brought to light.

These costs are soaring at a time when the council is considering the Cabinet’s proposals to cut £33m from its budget and 700 staff, and it does not include the imminent legal claim being brought by the former Director of Neighbourhood Services, Jeanette MaGarry, for unfair dismissal, which could see this figure rise substantially in the near future should the claim be successful.

Cost of Staff Leaving the Authority are highlighted below.

The figures also reveal redundancy and early retirement cost the City Council £7m last year for 300 staff leaving giving some indications of the costs of losing a further 700.

Claims for Injuries at work at the city Council have already double last year’s total figure of £200,000 where 2211 days of work were also lost, adding to the cost.

2009/2010    
     
Detail TOTAL
Cost No. of Staff
  £  
QUESTION 1    
a) Ill Health Retirement - 21
b) Agreed Settlements & c) disputed settlements 517,226.93 71
d) tribunal or court awards - -
e) early retirement 4,818,513.63 116
f) redundancy 2,183,572.33 184
     
     
QUESTION 2    
Injury or Ill Health Claims 214,695.02  
     
     
QUESTION 3    
Days lost due to works related ill health NOT AVAILABLE   -
Days lost due to injury   2,211
     
     
     
2010/2011 to Date    
     
Detail TOTAL
Cost No. of
  £  
QUESTION 1    
a) Ill Health Retirement - 1
b) Agreed Settlements & c) disputed settlements 551,394.14 49
d) tribunal or court awards - -
e) early retirement 194,397.45 15
f) redundancy 464,847.81 101
     
     
QUESTION 2    
Injury or Ill Health Claims 502,836.89  
     
     
QUESTION 3    
Days lost due to works related ill health NOT AVAILABLE   -
Days lost due to injury   278
     

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Meeting 21/10 – Lidice, Loans and Battles!

The Full Council Meeting opened with the sad news that Cllr Randy Conteh has had to step down as Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s representative on the Police Authority due to health reasons.

Randy is facing a very serious operation on his brain in the not too distant future and has been advised to slow his pace of life down. Anyone who knows Randy would confirm that he gives 100% as a councillor and as a member of the Police Authority.

I have spoken to Randy today [Friday] and he has asked me to pass on his thanks to all who have contacted him with messages of support which include fellow members of the Police Authority, high ranking Police Officers, Council Colleagues and members of the public.

Randy wants everyone to join him for the Soul Night that he has organised in aid of The Firefighters charity and the Lodge Road Park play area on October 30th. There are still tickets available for the event which includes a host of top DJ’s and as is typical for Randy he was more concerned about pushing this event than talking about the difficulties he will face in the future.

I’m sure that you will join with Pits n Pots and send your best wishes to a top bloke and fine servant of our city. We look forward to speedy recovery and to seeing Cllr Conteh back on the beat as soon as is possible.

The City Council has voted Cllr Brian Ward as their replacement for Cllr Conteh which came as a surprise to me given the tremendous amount of collaborative work with the Police undertaken by Cllr Roy Naylor.

Councillor Ward will have to juggle his cabinet work with his group leaders and ward work which makes his proposal even stranger.

For once there was some good news to come out of the meeting yesterday.

The City Council voted unanimously to accept a recommendation to explore links with the Czech Republic town of Lidice.

The Council accepted the following recommendations:

1. Members agree to work with the Lidice Gallery to explore the feasibility of an exhibition
and associated programme of work and an EU funding bid to support this.
2. That Members approve a commitment of £10,000 as seed funding towards such a
funding bid to be made from existing resources.

The historic links between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice were brought into the public arena by Alan & Cheryl Gerrard of the Art Bay Gallery in Fenton.
Alan & Cheryl put a massive amount of effort into bring the story of Sir Barnett Stross to the current Stoke-on-Trent public and in particular the youngsters of our city.
Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic just north-west of Prague. It is built on the site
of a previous village of the same name which was completely destroyed by German
forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in the spring of 1942. All
192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the
Germans and the rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where
many women and nearly all the children were killed.
In September 1942, coal miners in Stoke-on-Trent, led by local Councillor Barnett
Stross, founded the organisation Lidice Shall Live to raise funds for the rebuilding of the
village after the war.
Barnett Stross was elected to Stoke-on-Trent City Council in 1937 and served until
1952 (during the later part of this period he was an Alderman). At the 1945 general
election Barnett Stross was elected as Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent’s Hanley division.
He received a Knighthood in the New Years’ Honours list of 1964.
Sir Barnett Stross KBE was honoured by the Czechoslovak government for this work
with the White Lion of Czechoslovakia, and became Chair of the British-Czechoslovakia
Society. He stood down at the 1966 general election, and died just over a year later.

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] moved the motion to accept the recommendations and in doing so he said that it was a pleasure to move what was a positive story for the city. He said that it was vital to explore cultural and economic links with towns across Europe as it put our city on the map. He told the chamber that out of the tragedy of what one group of people could do to another back in 1942 some good could come from it with this linking arrangement.

Cllr Mike Barnes [Community Voice] said that he supported this motion whole-heartedly. He told the chamber that the story of Lidice highlighted that even out of extreme adversity success can be born. He hit out at Cllr Hazel Lyth[CIA] for doing nothing until the deadline for acceptance had nearly passed and only then did she act when he had made phone calls to the officers. He said that Cabinet members had to be more motivated than that.

Cllr Joy Garner [Labour] said that she was happy to support this motion and that it was important to remember the past and to never forget. She informed the chamber that there are 2 street in her ward that were named after Sir Barnett Stross. She said that through the Art side of this link he would never be forgotten.

Cllr Brian Ward [CIG] said that he too was happy to support this kinking arrangement. He said that £10,000 was a small price to pay.

I’m really pleased that Alan & Cheryl were present in the chamber to hear the debate and to see the motion passed with no one voting against. I was disappointed that no councillor mentioned the hard work that they put into this linking arrangement as I know it was not plain sailing.

Message to Councillors: Members of the public who work tirelessly for the city in which they live in and love, deserve your support and praise occasionally and is something that doesn’t cost any money!

Cllr Mervin Smith [Labour] moved the following motion in relation to a loan from the City Council to Galmor Investment SA:

That, subject as hereinafter provided, Stoke-on-Trent City Council provides a Term Loan
Facility of up to £1.2 million to Galmor Investment SA repayable over 10 years for the
refurbishment of the Angel Business Centre, Westport Road, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
That the Director of Regeneration (in consultation with the Director of Central Services) is
authorised to negotiate and agree the final terms of the loan. Such terms to be
substantially in the form of the draft Provisional Offer of Loan Facilities attached.

Cllr Smith said this loan would enable the company to redevelop to former Wade Pottery site in Burslem. Upon completion it is expected that 168 new jobs would be created for the city. He gave assurances to all sides of the chamber that there would be a comprehensive period in which thorough Due Diligence would take place.

This process would cost in the region of £20,000 which would be paid by the company even if the loan arrangement did not commence should the due diligence highlight something untoward.

Cllr Smith reassured elected members that this loan agreement was viable and that Galmor had undertaken work for companies such as HSBC, NHS North Staffs & The Highways Agency.

The details of the loan are as follows:

4.1. A copy of the proposed Provisional Offer of Loan Facilities is attached to this report.
The key terms of which are set out below:-
Purpose of Loan development of a mixed use scheme
Facility Amount £1,000,000
Repayment Term 120 months from practical completion of the building works
Drawdown in instalments of not less than £250,000 against agreed
drawdown profile and on satisfactory completion of agreed
milestones. Final drawdown on practical completion of the
building works.
Security a charge will be required against the development and a
floating charge will be required over Dransfield’s remaining
assets
Interest Fixed at 6% above the base lending rate for the time being
of the Co-operative Bank Plc
Default Interest Rate Lending Rate plus 5%
4.2. Drawdown of the loan would be in instalments of not less than £250,000 against an
agreed drawdown profile and on satisfactory completion of agreed milestones, with the
final drawdown being made on practical completion of the building works.
4.3. If Stoke-on-Trent City Council agree to provide the required loan facility, the loan will be
repayable by Dransfield over 10 years in 120 monthly instalments in accordance with a
repayment profile which reflects Dransfield’s cash flow forecast.
4.4. Interest will be applied to the loan at 6% per annum above base rate (i.e., a commercial
rate). The rate will be fixed at the date the loan agreement is signed. Therefore State
Aid will not be an issue. In addition, a monthly monitoring fee would be charged to this
facility.
4.5. In advance of the emerging City Council policy for providing assistance to private
companies and due to the absence of a dedicated budget this matter is required to be
considered by full Council Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s role in providing this loan
would be as a “Ëœlender of last resort’ as all opportunities for securing borrowing from a
commercial bank and other external funding opportunities have been exhausted.

The report detail and the assurances given by officers were commended by Cllrs Salih & Kent-Baguley [Community Voice] and that they were happy to support the motion.

Cllr Kent ““Baguley said that he celebrated this king of initiative by the City Council as it sent out a different message to that of the banks that we as a city are open for business unlike them.

Cllr Pervez [Labour] said that it was important that this deal go ahead. He said that this showed that the council was demonstrating that it could go forward with complete member involvement. He reminded the chamber that the government were relying on private sector jobs in the wake of the announcement that 500,000 public sector job losses over the coming few years. He said that Stoke-on-Trent City Council could lead the way and that this arrangement showed that it was serious about regenerating the city and the Mother Town of Burslem.

Cllrs Barnes, Ward and Shotton all spoke in favour of the motion.

Cllr Shotton [Labour] suggested that 50% of the cost of the Due Diligence should be paid up front by the company as it would be a devil of a job to get the whole amount if the agreement collapsed as a result. He said that the 168 jobs that this development created would help to support around 700 children of the families employed.

The vote was carried unanimously.

Last but by no means least , as the meeting was drawing to a close a political argument broke out between members of the Community Voice group and Council Leader Mohammed Pervez [Labour] and Deputy Leader Ross Irving [CIA].

Cllr Pervez was questioned by Cllr Barnes abouyt what he was doing to oppose the government cuts imposed on LA’s as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday.

Cllr Pervez said that he was working very hard and had written to Local Goverment Minister Eric Pickles to make a special case for the City of Stoke-on-Trent. He also said that he would be consulting with unions and he would carry on talking to residents to gauge their concerns about unavoidable cuts. He did confirm that there would be some loss of service and that his job was now more difficult as the government announced cuts of 28.4% over the next 4 years as opposed to the expected 25% cut.

Cllr Salih rounded on the Council Leader and said that he needed to do more than just write letters. He said that
Cllr Pervez ought to join up with other Labour led authorities and to take direct action as they had in France.

Cllr Barnes entered the debate and remonstrated with the Council Leader and said that the cuts were a devastating attack on the poor and most vulnerable in our city.

Cllr Pervez argued that he was already talking with other Labour led authorities and that they were working together to reduce the impact of the cuts and to maximise any opportunity that may arise to gain extra funding. He went on to attack the Community Voice for petty headline grabbing and he said that he would not take advice from former disgruntled Labour members.

Cllr Irving [CIA] defended his party’s position of implementing widespread cuts and said that to do nothing would almost certainly confine the country to bankruptcy. He said that the opposition remarks were a throwback to 1984. He attacked the Community Voice councillors for having nothing positive to contribute and he said that the public would not support the type of action that we have seen in France.

Cllr Pervez said that he would try his best to bring private sector jobs by working with businesses like Galmor which would get people off benefits an into work.
He finished by attacking the negativity of the Community Voice councillors and their endless search for cheap headlines.

“We will show you how it’s done” ““ he said in his closing statement.

Well Pervez let’s hope you are right ““ your city awaits…..

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Waste Management ““ The Saga Continues

When I interviewed Jane Forshaw, the Head of Environmental Services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on behalf of Pits n Pots, I was impressed by her straight talking and her willingness to be “Ëœopen and transparent’.

My optimism grew further when she confirmed that she would be willing to answer any follow up or supplementary questions.

My optimism was snuffed out however when I supplied a list of questions to the Council’s press and Communication Department to be forwarded on to Jane Forshaw. They replied that the request was too “Ëœresource heavy’ and we were guided down the Freedom of Information route. This came as quite a surprise given Jane’s comments in her interview ““ that questions asked under FOI tend to be one dimensional and as such can be answered in a one dimensional fashion.

So much for openness and transparency!

Today Pits n Pots submitted the following questions under

FOI through “ËœWhat Do They Know’:

Dear Stoke on Trent City Council,

I am being asked by your Press & Communications Department to make
FOI requests to gain answers to the following questions.

1] Why was a ‘collection only’ remit given to WRAP for their report
[dated 4/3/08 ref ROT019] and not ‘collection and disposal’

2] Is the remit given to WRAP the reason that, in Jane’s view, it
was flawed?

3] The report gave various solutions, one of which was option j.
This option recommended a solution close to the process adopted by
Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council who are now achieving a
recycling rate of 50% as opposed to the current rate of 40% in
Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Were all the options put forward to
the EMB, the rest of the elected members, or appropriate overview
and scrutiny committee, for consideration?

4] In the absence of any EMB/Councillor involvement, who took the
decision to adopt the current enhanced system of recycling? Please
supply documentary evidence to support your response.

5] The composting was put out for tender twice, the first time the
tender was pulled, why was this?

6] Can I have the exact date that the ‘Blue’ Bins were ordered?
Please back this up with documentary evidence such as purchase
orders or order forms.

7] Can I have the name of the supplier of the ‘Blue Bins’?

8] Can you supply the date that the EMB gave its approval for the
scheme along with copies of the briefing pack, meeting minutes and
any documents which are pertinent to this action.

9] Did the NSRP commission an Independent report into suitable
composting sites in the City of Stoke-on-Trent?

10] If a report was commissioned please supply a copy of the
report.

11] If a report was commissioned was it taken into consideration
before placing the contract with a company from outside of the
area? Please supply evidence

12] Our current system for collecting food waste means that
potentially only 50% is collected. [once fortnightly in brown bin]

That 50% potential success rate will be further affect by the number of households that do not have the 3 bin system. Will this prevent the city achieving the government target of 45% for 2015 and the 50% target for 2020?

These questions are supplementary questions which have come to light after an interview with Jane Forshaw about the enhanced recycling scheme.

Background information on why these questions are being asked can be found here

http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/news/2010/09/stok…

and here

http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/news/2010/10/wast…

If the work required to provide answers to these questions will take you over the prescribed limit of £450, please use the context of this request but treat each of the questions, numbered 1 – 12 inclusively, as a separate request.

If one part of this request can be answered before any of the others please respond to that part without further delay, waiting until the whole request has been dealt with is not necessary.

My preferred method of receiving your response is electronically, if all or any part of this request is not able to be responded to by my preferred method, please contact me to arrange alternative delivery methods.

If you need clarification on any of the points in this request or if anything is unclear please do not hesitate to contact me as soon as you require the clarification rather than waiting until the last date that this request is due to be answered by (12 November 2010).

Yours faithfully,

I am pleased to see that Councillors from Stoke-on-Trent’s newest political group have taken the initiative on this issue.

They, like us, want to see a complete, thorough and urgent independent inquiry into the whole system of Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling.

There have already been calls for the District Auditor to launch an investigation into the department and the methods used to inform elected members and the way contracts were awarded.

The issue is as clear as a muddy puddle on a black tarmac pavement.

The following motion will go before the next Full Council
Meeting on the 21st October:

“Stoke-on-Trent City Council expresses its deep concern into allegations regarding our waste management services.
In particular, the allegations that councillors have been misled, reports of consultants altered and circumvention of the City Council Procurement Policy and Tendering Processes.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, therefore, shall set up an urgent independent investigation into the carrying out of its Waste Management functions over the last 3 years, in particular:

“¢ The work undertaken by officers
“¢ Members’ Information and Reports
“¢ Procurement

The final report shall be submitted to the full Council meeting following completion of the report, subject to any legal/criminal proceedings that might arise being dealt with separately and according to due process.”

It has been suggested we are in collaboration with third parties over this issue.

I had been contacted by sources inside the council and external of it, to tip me off that there is a suspicion that we are being used to further a HR claim against the City Council by an ex employee.

I wish to make it absolutely clear that we are working with no other individuals in the investigation of this issue and most certainly not any ex employee who may, or may not hold a grudge against the City Council.

We have used other FOI requests alongside information given from a range of sources who have a real concern about the way this whole issue has been handled.

Pits n Pots sole motivation for bringing this into the public domain is that we have real concerns that elected members did not receive the information that would enable them to make a balanced judgement on the proposals for handling the City’s waste.

We are confident that NO elected member, EMB or Overview and Scrutiny had sight of the WRAP Report dated 4/3/08 [ROT019] before the decision was made to adopt the current system of Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling.

Some may say that this is all in the past and not on the present CEO’s watch but we feel strongly that our elected members were kept out of the loop by former executive officers of the council.

We appeal to elected members on all sides of the Chamber to back the calls for an independent inquiry, to leave party politics outside the chamber door, and to do the right thing to ensure the public are aware of the full facts surrounding an issue that has probably cost much, much more than the £1million worth of savings that had been claimed.

Community voice Call For An Independent Inquiry Into Waste Management

Today Community Voice Councillors have submitted a motion to the next full Council Meeting calling for a full, independent investigation in Stoke-on-Trent City Council Waste Management function over the last three years, and that the investigation report should be given to the full council, in public, to consider when it is complete.

Cllr Mike Barnes will move the motion and Cllr Mick Salih is seconding the motion calling for this action, following allegations and evidence put forward through the PitsnPots Community News Website that serious mismanagement has taken place including councillors and the public being given false or misleading information, officer misconduct and procurement and tendering irregularity amongst other issues.

Community Voice feel only a full, transparent and independent investigation will give elected members and the public confidence in any report dealing with the matter, particularly following the protracted and at times farcical investigation of the Britannia Stadium Shares Sale.

Cllr Barnes says his party’s primary concern is to restore and maintain confidence in Stoke-on-Trent City Council, its staff and its services.

“This can only be achieved if this matter is not brushed under the carpet, and that all the facts are laid out and issues dealt with, so that we can make sure, if true, that these actions are not repeated in the future.

We only hope that other councillors support this call for action which should be of great concern to us all.

Finally, thanks must be given for those that have pursued this matter, and those that have published it despite many hurdles I am certain were put in their way”.