Gaff Prone NULBC Councillor Describes Church as a “ËœCult’

A gaff prone Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Councillor has once again put his foot it ““ this time on Facebook.

Ashley Howells, Conservative councillor for Loggerheads & Whitmore, previously described Stoke-on-Trent residents as idle and overweight on social networking site Twitter.

His latest gaff came courtesy of comments made by him on Facebook.

Councillor Howells used the world’s biggest social networking site to describe religion, in particular the Church of England, as a cult.

Councillor Howells commented on a link posted by a Facebook user to a story in the Telegraph newspaper that reports that CofE congregations have halved in the last 40 years.

He said that the demise of the Church of England would remove one more myth based cult.

“quite”¦..however it would remove one more myth based cult”

Cllr Howells comments drew this angry response form another Facebook user.

“Sorry to hijack your message, which I happen to agree with, but I fear that Ashley Howells however has given another reason by which his bigoted one sided views have been revealed.

You would think that a councillor wouldn’t cause offence to a good portion of his electorate and his comments on Twitter have caused him to make public apologies before.”

His previous comments about Stoke-on-Trent forced him to close down his Twitter account.

Will his latest gaff force him off the social networking site Facebook?

“Upon meeting many villagers, we found that the various priorities outlined by me matched their concerns and demands to a very great extent ““ for example, residents want to preserve the rural characteristic of the area whilst enhancing local services such as children/youth facilities and senior citizen activities; local folk see a police presence and rapid response rate as key in preventing crime and reducing the fear of crime; residents of all our villages are concerned about Wind Farm, Quarrying and Methane Gas Drilling threats; highway safety and speeding are worries for many ……

I know that Loggerheads Parish Council, responding to its parishioners via the Parish Plan, wants to plan for an improved village centre and I will continue to work with them and the Borough team to drive the initiative on.
I’ve met many from the various community and parish groups which do such important work for the communities of the rural area and I look forward to working with them to enhance our shared quality of life”.

It would appear that the important role played by churches in community life, especially in rural areas like Loggerheads & Whitmore, is being dismissed by Conservative Councillor Ashley Howells, despite what his blog comments say.

It is obvious that his blog article on the NULBC website misleads the electorate and his true beliefs are hidden behind the words written.

Cllr Howells Facebook comments fail to respect those members of society who a practise their faith and enjoy playing a part in church life.

Councillor Howells comments will offend some members of Loggerheads & Whitmore communities and may well affect his chances at the next election as well as seriously diminishing his chances of being invited to open any church fete in his council ward.

Terry Follows Denver as Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent

Popular Independent Councillor Terry Follows will be sworn in as the next Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent on 26th May.

Terry the newly elected Councillor for Hanford & Trentham will take the office vacated by the hugely successful Cllr Denver Tolley who retires from both the office of Lord Mayor and as a city councillor.

Denver’s year in office coincided with the celebrations to
mark the Centenary of the Federation of the 6 Towns.

Cllr Follows’s consort is to be his friend Jackie Pearson.

Terry is a true Stoke lad. Born in Fenton the son of a miner and a pottery worker, he was first elected to serve in Fenton. He has been a city councillor for a total of 15 years.

Terry was originally a Conservative Councillor and when he first stood for election in the ward of Trentham he actually defeated the sitting Independent councillor.

Following a disagreement over the future of Trentham High School, Terry left the Conservatives and joined the City Independent Group. He was Deputy Leader of the CIG until the recent election.

Speaking to Terry today, he said that he was extremely proud and honoured to be considered for the office of the First Citizen of the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

He is expected to be elected unopposed at the Annual Council Meeting on 26th May which can be viewed online at the city council website from 11am.

Labour councillor for the new ward of Etruria & Hanley Majid Khan will be elected as Deputy Lord Mayor and will take office in May 2012.

Terry Follows will take his easy going nature into the
role as Lord Mayor which will ensure his success in the ceremonial role. He will also adopt an easy going approach to his role as the Chairman of the City Council.

The Lord Mayor is the First Citizen of Stoke-on-Trent, and with this comes a high profile role in promoting and maintaining the interests of the city and its people.

The Lord Mayor attends a variety of engagements throughout his year in office, such as Civic Receptions, Parades and general visits.

Current Lord Mayor Cllr Denver Tolley has excelled at all aspects of the role and Terry Follows will be as equally successful for sure.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

I haven’t had a good old rant for a while and while life in Stoke-on-Trent isn’t that bad, some of the issues attracting national press coverage is getting me slightly hot under the collar.

Asylum Seekers ““ A Home From Home?

Birmingham City Council, the country’s largest Local Authority, has decided that it will not house anymore Asylum Seekers in the future.

Birmingham City Council will not renew its five-year contract with the UK Border Agency, meaning not a single immigrant will be granted asylum there by the public sector after June next year.

The Councillor in charge of housing, Cllr John Lines, said that the move was not to save money, neither was it racist or political. He said it was designed to protect Brummies.

“Hundreds of Brummies, hundreds of my people are in B&Bs instead of council-provided homes. Why should that be? My people have got to come first.

“The asylum seekers arrive here, they have a blooming family and they keep having children – it’s a burden on the system.

“If people say I’m racist then I’d say we’ve got Brummies of all colours here, third or fourth generation Asians and blacks, but if you say I’m putting Birmingham people first, then, yes, I am.”

Cllr Lines is a Conservative Councillor and is the Cabinet Member for Housing and it seems that his concerns are spreading.

Wolverhampton are also considering ending their agreement with the UK Border Agency.

In the past year, some 1000 Asylum Seekers have been settled in Birmingham but the Agency has only paid for the housing of 200 of them.

Britain’s second city has an estimated 6500 homeless, some living rough on the streets.

To me it is refreshing for a mainstream politician to come out and make his city’s sons and daughters his No 1 priority. It matters not about creed or colour, it’s about looking after your own in times of need.

In Stoke-on-Trent , at the end of December 2009, there were 515 Asylum Seekers [not including their dependents] housed in the City. Most were living in accommodation not supplied by our City Council.

In a progressive society, we should give asylum to the most needy cases. All civil societies across the world should help shoulder the burden.

Asylum and Immigration are inevitable but must be kept to levels where the native population do not feel second best.

The Politics of the far right have prospered on the lies and myths their supporters have perpetrated that have gone unchallenged by our mainstream political parties.

At the last general election, immigration was forced to the top of the agenda. Politicians actually started to recognise [not that they didn't know, they just chose to ignore it] that the issue was a real concern to Joe & Josie Public. It doesn’t make our society racist, it just means that our population have genuine concerns for theirs, and their children’s future.

If there is an ongoing debate on asylum and immigration, with our mainstream politicians taking the lead [Ed Miliband didn't shy away from the issue during the Labour Leadership Contest], the move to the far right will become a distant memory of the past.

The politics of hate, division and intolerance can be put to bed once and for all!

Tuition Fees

My son voted for Nick Clegg’s “Ëœlets rid the country of tuition fees’ Lib Dems at the last election ““ Oh how we laughed!

The LibDem u-turn on this policy has to be one of the most shameful political episodes in our history.
How many voters [particularly the young ones voting for the very first time] were duped by this promise?

An independent review of student finance, which is due to come out tomorrow, is expected to recommend removing the cap on university fees altogether, which could see some “Ëœhigh performing’ universities charge up to £10,000 per year.

The report will recommend a fee of around £7000 from as early as 2012. Graduates that go on to earn high salaries will repay their student loans at a higher rate of interest.

The government says it can no longer afford the system: for every £100 a student borrows to defer the payment of tuition fees until after graduation, the government pays about £35. This, it says, is unsustainable.

Added to this, there has been a 16% year-on-year rise in applications for university.

If there is no revolt among the Liberal Democrats over this issue it will prove just what levels Clegg and his ilk will sink to, to get a modicum of power and to hold on to it at any cost.

My other concern is one of unfairness.

It is unfair that Scotland were allowed to abolish tuition fees back in 2000. This has created a division across the UK that can not be justified.

How can it be right for families in Scotland to benefit massively at the expense of every other young person across the United Kingdom.

Cameron should lead on his “Ëœwe’re all in this together’ mandate and force the Scottish Parliament to re-introduce tuition fees as a matter of urgency.

The other real danger in all this is that there will be a real possibility of creating a “Ëœclass’ mentality among the students of our nation.

The richest and most affable young men and women rather than the most able and talented will be able to fund the £10k for the Oxbridge courses.

Education has all been about inclusiveness for the past god knows how many years and that “Ëœevery child matters’ ““ That is of course until they are old enough to be forced to enter into a university culture that is built upon the ability to pay.

Isn’t it bad enough that we saddle our young graduates with massive debt before they have earned a penny? Now they will have to pay double for that privilege along with being ostracised from courses where the next band of politicians may come from.