Cameron’s use of the Veto did Britain Proud

If you have read Bill Cawley’s article on the site about David Cameron’s
use of the veto at EU negotiations last week, you’d be forgiven for
thinking that the city might cease to exist as a viable entity at any
moment solely as a result of Mr Cameron’s actions. I’m afraid that Bill’s
piece was of course entirely wrong, biased and misleading-and deliberately
so, as he openly admits in the first paragraph, he has been an apologist
for the EU since the project was first devised in the backrooms by
politicians with a plan to create a new superstate all those many years
ago.

It’s not going to do anyone any good for me to start having a go at Bill
for his support of the EU project because we all know the arguments, we
all have out views and I doubt anything we say here will change them on
either side of the debate. Neither am going to get into his absurd talk
about the dangers of withdrawal because-much as many of us might like it,
and much as we know it would benefit the country-that was not on the
agenda at this summit.

So what does it boil down to? EU nations-excluding Britain-will be able to
hold secret meetings on how to prop up their all or nothing Euro project.
Not exactly the biggest disaster to have befallen our country I’d have
thought, since as one of the few country’s to have taken the very wise
decision to stay OUTSIDE the Euro we had little or no real influence on
the development of that particular folly anyway.

Second, EU countries-excluding Britain-will now have to submit their
budgets to the approval of unelected EU beaurocrats and face tough
controls on their debt and public spending plans. As was pointed out in
the House of Commons on Monday, if Britain had signed up to such an
arrangement it would actually render the policies of the Labour Party here
in the UK completely illegal as the bonkers plans of Miliband and Balls is
to further increase the debt and spend even more public money to boost the
economy. Presumably, Bill Cawley and all the other socialists that have
cheered him would think such an arrangement intolerable. Indeed,
Stoke-on-Trent would have been very hard and very directly hit if David
Cameron HAD signed up to such an agreement last week. perhaps that’s why
behind the public protests, even Mr Miliband is now accepting that he
would have done precisely the same thing and used the veto in Mr Cameron’s
place.

Third, the EU wanted to put regulations and restrictions onto financial
transactions 80% of which take place in the City of London. It would
effectively have been a special City of London tax designed to EXPORT jobs
and business from the UK to the continent, propping up their Eurozone
project but hitting the UK economy very hard indeed. Bill Cawley gives us
all the usual socialist propaganda about banker bashing and City of London
spivs receiving unfair protection, but lets be quite clear that the City
of London creates jobs and creates wealth that all of us mere mortals rely
upon for our country’s economic stability and well-being. Cameron would
have been an absolute fool to have agreed to the sort of regulations that
the EU were proposing.

Bill talks a good talk about the plight of the ordinary person who is
already hurting thanks to the economic catastrophe that we inherited from
Gordon Brown. But will Bill do more than offer tea and sympathy to those
people who would be made unemployed here in Stoke-on-Trent if the very
regulations he has written in defence of had been agreed by David Cameron
last week? I think not.

At the end of the day, the most important thing that a British Prime
Minister is charged with is defending the British national interest and
security. We must not allow swivel-eyed Euro obsessive’s across all
parties and none to mesmerize us into agreeing to everything the EU
demands even if it is against our own national interest. To be honest, not
many of us give a damn about the well-being of France and Germany when it
is our own people who are hurting. They look after themselves and so must
we.

We cannot sacrifice our national interest on the alter of Europeanism just
so that our leaders can say that they are at the heart of the EU project
and exercise some mythical ‘influence’ that cannot really be defined. And
ANY politician or activist who says otherwise should condemn themselves.

The Cameron Veto on Europe is a disaster for North Staffs.

What will the British veto in Europe mean for North Staffs?

I have spent a great deal of my adult life believing in the European project. In 1975 I was a young member of the Labour party and one few who was an enthusiast for Europe in referendum year. I helped to run a Yes to Europe shop in Lamb Street in Hanley and was naturally pleased when North Staffs like most of the country supported the Yes vote. 36 years later the whole project is under jeopardy after David Cameron’s veto will undoubtedly lead to Britain’s isolation.

What will happen to the area should the vote lead to Britain leaving the EU?

David Cameron is the Prime Minister for the City of London. And his veto was essentially to protect their interests over the prospect of a Tobin tax on financial transactions. Anyone in N Staffs should be wary of any policy whose aim is to protect the interests of the City

This is the same City of London, which is primarily responsible for the financial crisis. And the same City of London which contributes 11% of tax revenues each year but which is instrumental in facilitating $3trillion of tax funnelled to tax havens every year.

The City has become disproportionately dominant over the last 30 years, a period in which the wealth gap in the UK has widened massively, a period in which we have all become massively indebted as real incomes for ordinary people have stagnated. All this should concern the people of North Staffs.

The political classes whether it is Labour or Tory have bent the knee at the City to the detriment of places like Stoke. The withering of our manufacturing sector is largely the consequence of short termism and the pursuit of the quick buck. The security of the manufacturing parts of the British economy depends on long term investment especially in areas such as the Green economy. The financial structures in the EU are more likely to guarantee this long-term investment rather than the drivers in the city based on rapid returns.

It’s extraordinary that Cameron thinks that his priority is to defend the interests of the City regardless of the impact of EU isolationism on the UK manufacturing sector?
Cameron’s stupidity has cheered the swivel-eyed bigots on the Right of his party and his sponsors in the City, but it was not done in the national interest and it will tear the coalition apart. After which it will tear the Tory Party apart and possibly with more pro European Scots ultimately into a breakdown of the Act of Union.

The most momentous foreign policy decision in decades, and one which he and the Europhobes will come to rue in the coming years.

Stoke-on-Trent To Be Split In Boundary Shifts

Parts of Stoke-on-Trent could be merged with Newcastle-under-Lyme under government proposals change parliamentary boundary.

The review, an outcome of the 2010 election seeks to cut down the total number of MPs in the country and make more balanced constituencies.

New constituencies must be within 5% difference of the average voting population split across the constituencies, i.e. between72,810 and 80,473.

In North Staffordshire, Stoke will be losing it’s exclusive trio of city constituencies, and Staffordshire will lose one MP as constituencies are morphed together.
In the overhaul, the existing South constituency will adopt parts of Stoke and Trent Vale.

The Stoke Central constituency will include various new wards from the existing North constituency which is where the biggest changes are felt.

Tunstall, Chell and Packmoor and Burslem North will be merged with 12 Kidsgrove and Newcastle wards, in the cross-town Kidsgrove&Tunstall constituency.

The immediate reaction is that Stoke residents will be 1/5th of a constituency and so in effect won’t be voting for their City MP.

The boundary proposals are now open for discussion and for the next 12 weeks, the Boundary Commission will be accepting comments, complaints and suggestions about their proposals.

Although these merges wouldn’t directly affect council elections and services, there is a fear that Newcastle/Kidsgrove/Stoke-on-Trent could be losing their historic identities.

In a recent lecture, former Elected Mayor, Mike Wolfe said that a merge made financial sense and that it was the obvious thing to do.

Across the country, both Prime Minister David Cameron’s and Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband’s constituencues will remain unchanged ““ 2 of only 77 MPs whose boundaries remain.

Nick Clegg’s constituency will be changed, however.

With a reduction of 50 MPs across the country, inner-party squabbling is expected to break out as politicians scramble for seats.

Below is a list of the proposed new parliamentary wards for Stoke-on-Trent.

Kidsgrove and Tunstall 75,352
Audley and Bignall End Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,694
Bradwell Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,970
Butt Lane Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,349
Chesterton Newcastle-under-Lyme 5,475
Halmerend Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,038
Holditch Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,366
Kidsgrove Newcastle-under-Lyme 5,255
Madeley Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,419
Newchapel Newcastle-under-Lyme 2,801
Porthill Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,229
Ravenscliffe Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,372
Talke Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,206
Burslem North Stoke-on-Trent 9,131
Chell and Packmoor Stoke-on-Trent 9,211
Tunstall Stoke-on-Trent 9,836

Stoke-on-Trent Central BC 79,980
Abbey Green Stoke-on-Trent 8,962
Bentilee and Townsend Stoke-on-Trent 9,008
Berryhill and Hanley East Stoke-on-Trent 7,71 7
Burslem South Stoke-on-Trent 8,730
East Valley Stoke-on-Trent 10,226
Hanley West and Shelton Stoke-on-Trent 8,434
Hartshill and Penkhull Stoke-on-Trent 9,045
Northwood and Birches Head Stoke-on-Trent 8,949
Norton and Bradeley Stoke-on-Trent 8,909

Stoke-on-Trent South 78,283
Blurton Stoke-on-Trent 9,550
Fenton Stoke-on-Trent 9,225
Longton North Stoke-on-Trent 10,660
Longton South Stoke-on-Trent 10,274
Meir Park and Sandon Stoke-on-Trent 10,082
Stoke and Trent Vale Stoke-on-Trent 9,659
Trentham and Hanford Stoke-on-Trent 9,769
Weston and Meir North Stoke-on-Trent 9,064

No New Enterprise Zone For Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire

Despite the Prime Minister, David Cameron saying that the Government would ‘look favourably at any bids from the area for a Local Enterprise Zone’ during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April, this morning Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire woke to the news that it has missed on being granted a Local Enterprise Zone.

After the announcement of 11 Enterprise Zones in March it was announced that a second ‘competitive’ wave would be held in July. The 11 successful locations chosen from 29 applications for this second wave of Local Enterprise Zones announced this morning are

  • Alconbury Airfield in Cambridgeshire
  • Daresbury Science Campus in Runcorn
  • Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent & Enterprise West Essex in Harlow
  • Great Yarmouth in Norfolk & Lowestoft in Suffolk
  • Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster
  • MIRA Technology Park in Hinckley Leicestershire
  • Newquay AeroHub in Cornwall
  • Northampton Waterside
  • Rotherwas Enterprise Zone in Hereford
  • Science Vale UK in Oxfordshire
  • The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus Airfield in Gosport
We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Enterprise Zones are a major step towards delivering this; cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand.

These new Enterprise Zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country.

Too many of our towns and cities have been left behind, but the answer has never been to impose ineffective sprawling regional structures. It is local business and commerce that drive the private sector growth, jobs and wealth this country needs. This Government’s job is to foster local enterprise and create the conditions for businesses to thrive in. That is why low tax, low regulation Enterprise Zones are being planted across the country and will give businesses all the incentives they need to grow their local economy and create thousands of new local jobs.

The Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire Enterprise Zone was to be based at Etruria Valley, with specialised sites at Keele University Science Park and the Hadleigh Business Park at Blythe Bridge.

It was hoped that the LEZ would have delivered up to 115 hectares of prime development land ready to go for business, with capacity to create up to 10,000 jobs by 2015.

The first wave of Enterprise Zones saw

  • Leeds
  • Sheffield
  • Liverpool
  • Greater Manchester
  • West of England
  • Tees Valley
  • North East
  • The Black Country
  • Derbyshire
  • Nottinghamshire
  • London

being given Local Enterprise Zone status.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April this year,

You are not missing out on an enterprise zone. There will be an enterprise zone within the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area, and we will be advised by the LEP as to where it will go.

Reaction

The Government Enterprise Zones will be a ‘shot in the arm for the British economy’
We have lost out and have to go it alone regardless of Cameron promising there would be one for this area.

North Staffordshire needs jobs and investment. I supported the LEZ bid as did many others- from the Chamber of Commerce to the voluntary sector and lobbied all government ministers on this.

It had full cross party support including all MPs and Staffs County council all backing the Local Enterprise Partnership’s bid.

This government has abolished the regional development agencies but put nothing adequate in their place. It has gone back on its word for Stoke on Trent.

Eric Pickles says previous Enterprise Zones “set up a load of retail parks” – something which will not be seen with current set.
We are extremely disappointed at this news.

Stoke-on-Trent needs jobs and private investments as we made that clear in our application to Government and our recently announced Mandate for Change. We will endeavour with or without Government help to make Stoke-on-Trent a ‘great working city’ to shout the message on the regional, national and global market we are very much open for business.

Of course this is a huge blow for us but we are determined to succeed.

We will be urgently asking for more details and feedback on this decision and exploring if there are any further opportunities for future Enterprize Zones or any other similar Government initiatives.

However the Enterprize Zone on its own was never going to be the solution. We need investment and expansion from the private sector and we are working hard to make this happen.

So Cameron lied. We’ll just have to work harder 2 bring new business to Nth Staffs despite no EZ. SoT has great assets to promote
Everyone in North Staffordshire will be disappointed and somewhat astonished this morning to find that the promises of the Prime Minister just before the local elections have been abandoned; we are not getting the promised Enterprise Zone. It is all the more frustrating that this announcement has been made while Parliament is in recess and so I must wait a couple more weeks before I can try to question the Prime Minister on his reasons for this u-turn. Given his usual form, I don’t expect any sort of proper answer from Cameron.

While this is indeed a setback I know that our city and North Staffs have so much to offer businesses, from land and building availability to a fantastic workforce, with excellent road, rail, and air links into the bargain. I will continue to work with the City Council to approach potential businesses and of course support the Local Enterprise Partnership and North Staffs Chamber of Commerce in all our efforts to promote Stoke-on-Trent as the best place to come to set up businesses.

I am writing to the Business Secretary to see what other support government will make available but I think the message is a clear one – we must stand and fight alone, without the Tory-led government’s help. That means we must all now focus our efforts on singing the praises of Stoke-on-Trent and not allow anyone to talk down the area and those working to promote it.

We have a fight ahead but working together we can win and see North Staffordshire prosper.

Rob Flello MP

It is of course a huge disappointment that the government has let down Stoke on Trent. Despite the promises of manufacturing-led regeneration, David Cameron has decided to turn his back on one of the great industrial centres of Britain.

I was sceptical of the LEP going for a three site bid when the application would have been better focussed simply on the Etruria site.

This round looked like a party political fix, rather than a clear enterprise zone priority.

That said, when parliament reconvenes, together with the other Stoke-on-Trent MPs, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with Vince Cable to understand their decision making process.

It really is beyond ridiculous to prioritise Oxfordshire and Hampshire above Stoke-on-Trent. But Stoke-on-Trent is bigger than this: we must create our own enterprise zone in the Etruria valley.

Bashing the Bishop ““ But was the “ËœArch’ Right

I have loved the continuous coverage of the war of words between the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the Prime Minister David Cameron ably supported by a legion of right wing press reporters and bloggers. It’s true to say that there has been a fair amount of bishop bashing today.

Some say that religion is the cause of many a conflict, this one was started by an article the Archbishop wrote for the left leaning New Statesman magazine.

In it he questions the Conservative, Liberal Democrat coalition government, saying quite rightly, that no individuals voted for the policies that have been adopted.

Dr Williams wrote that the coalition was causing “Ëœwidespread suspicion’ and was creating “Ëœanxiety and anger’ in the country by introducing reforms without sufficient debate.

He accused the coalition of imposing their health and education policies at “Ëœremarkable speed’.

I don’t think anyone who has read the article can be in any doubt that the Archbishop has little time for David Cameron & Nick Cleggs policies and is perhaps a little left leaning in his political outlook.

Not since Robert Runcie’s numerous sparring contests with Margret Thatcher has an Archbishop dived head first into the politics of the country.

When you look back in history, there is a long tradition of the church commenting on political issues. Indeed some Archbishops have played key roles in not just politics but the monarchy before parliament was formed.

But in a modern day society, should the head of the Church of England be wading into party politics criticising the government of the day.

Leaders of minority religions aren’t afraid of speaking out. Muslim leaders are often in the news giving their opinions on a wide range of topics, so for me it was good to see the leader of the Church of England give his two penneth.

I was heartened by David Cameron’s response though, the dummy didn’t fly out, he came back with exactly the right comments when he said that the archbishop was entirely free to express “political views” and make “political interventions”. But he added: “I profoundly disagree with many of the views that he has expressed, particularly on issues like debt and welfare and education.”

Whether we agree with his point of view, or like David Cameron, profoundly disagree with it, there has been a precedent set now so I expect it will not be the last time Dr Williams speaks out and criticises the government of the day.

Other CofE leaders have leapt to the defence in the wake of today’s [Friday] public Bishop bashing.

The Bishop of Guildford said Dr Williams’s comments were “Ëœentirely reasonable’ – he said: “Government cannot at any stage simply abrogate its responsibility. One of the prime, core functions of government is the care of all in society, especially those at the bottom.”

I think the tone of the Archbishop’s article took government ministers by surprise. They have responded to Dr Williams’s comments with Liam Fox and Vince Cable defending the claims that the government do not have a mandate to impose sever austerity measures.

I also think that Dr Williams, as a left wing sympathiser, is struggling with the concept that the Lib Dem’s went into the last general election even further to the left than the Labour Party and then jumped into bed with a party way to the right of the Labour Party.

Mind you, they say that opposites attract don’t they?

I admit to being quite surprised by the Archbishops political intervention.

When he has made a speech I’ve always thought that he was a bit wishy washy and as assertive as a field mouse.

He has hardly set the world alight with his insights into the moral’s of a modern day society.

In a society where there is often a breakdown in family values, communities that are blighted by anti-social behaviour and a monumental surge toward materialism, I can’t remember seeing one single hard hitting interview either broadcast or written where he has spoken out on the challenges that meet a progressive society.

He saved his biggest and harshest dig at the “ËœBig Society’ and yet if done correctly, this could restore some of the values that have been lost over recent generations. I think we could do with some of the good old fashioned “ËœDunkirk Spirit’ in a nation that is being ravaged by cuts and many normal Joe and Joanne’s are being left jobless. And a culture shift where the public sector is being disseminated like a game of Jenga.

It looks like politics could be his new game. Maybe he has given up the traditional role as being our moral compass?

So, in summary, I’m saying to Dr Williams yes get involved in the political scene. Represent the views of your flock, be the voice of those that are the most vulnerable in our society, here I do believe that there is a cross over between religion and the state.

But have a go at putting your own house in order first eh? The Church of England is still stuck in the dark ages. There is a bloody battle being fought in an organisation that is institutional sexist, women are fighting for equality. And where gay people are afraid to declare their sexuality.

Churches are losing their flocks in large numbers. The only churches that are booming are those with an ethos like the Breathe City Church here in Stoke-on-Trent.

They are supporting, helping and fixing communities. They are inclusive of gender and sexual orientation. They have progressive and moral leaders. Their numbers are shooting through the roof mostly at the expense of the traditional churches.

So you have a bit of a job on there Dr Williams, there is work to be done in your own palaces, cathedrals and churches before you march upon Westminster.

Prime Minister David Cameron in Stoke-on-Trent

Prime Minister David Cameron was in Stoke-on-Trent yesterday [Thursday] to celebrate Portmerion Potteries fantastic performance and to help boost the Conservative Party local election campaign.

Mr Cameron also gave assurances that Stoke-on-Trent would have the benefit of being in an enterprise zone, which could bring thousands of jobs to the city.

The Prime Minister also rejected the suggestion that Stoke-on-Trent had been treated unfairly despite having government funding cut by 8.1%.

He gave hope to the S.O.C.C campaign by insisting that the local authority did not have to cut the funding to Sure Start centres in order to make savings and that other areas had been successful in protecting this vital service.

“It’s not about who’s dominant politically, but one of the reasons I wanted to come is because I think Stoke-on-Trent has faced particular challenges.

“Obviously economic challenges with the demise of some of the pottery industry and great political challenges with the fact that the BNP has done well here.

“I think that makes it very important that mainstream politicians come here for themselves.

“How can we help economically, how can we help politically and how can we help regenerate Stoke-on-Trent?

“It’s an area I care about a great deal.

“I cut my political teeth in Stafford and it’s good to see a business here at Portmeirion that’s doing very well, that has brought some of the great pottery brands together and that is expanding, investing, exporting and actually currently bringing production back onshore, making more things in Stoke-on-Trent.

“So to those people who say Britain doesn’t make anything any more ““ actually we do and we do better than that. Manufacturing is up and exports are up. We need to rebalance the economy and we need businesses that make things.”

“We made sure that nobody had to reduce their budget by more than 8.8 per cent, so Stoke-on-Trent came in below that level. Obviously there are difficult decisions that have to be made.

“But when you look at the funding that comes in per head in Stoke-on-Trent it still comes in at £555, more than twice the amount in some other areas, so the money is coming in. And there is also additional backing coming from the Government for things like social care, which has benefits for Council Tax rates.”

Mr Cameron added: “I have visited councils up and down the country and the Conservative-led councils have been able to cut back on these back office costs and not cut front line services.

“And they are doing that in different ways. Things like sharing the chief executive with the neighbouring council and removing layers of senior management.

“These are the sorts of changes that can be made without cutting things like Sure Start services and many councils are doing this successfully.”

“I accept it’s difficult and hard work, but we are all in this situation because of the deficit left by Labour.”

Mindful of the fact that Pits n Pots have reported and interview four shadow ministerial visits to Stoke-on-Trent, every effort was made to get an interview with the Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron’s press team tried to make time for us to do a quick audio interview with him but due to the pressure of his schedule, this was not possible.

Although we appreciate that No10′s press team know of and respect this site and made every effort to facilitate our request, it was disappointing that we did not get the opportunity to put a couple of questions about the upcoming elections to the Prime Minister given the Conservative’s endorsement of new media.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was due in the city yesterday but was cancelled because of the ministerial visit.

Arrangements had been made for us to interview her about the local elections.

Party Political Broadcasts For The May 5 Election

We are slowly finding out what the local candidates are saying for the 5 May Local Elections but what is being said by the party leaders?

How does what the party is saying fit in with what the local candidates are saying in their campaigns?

Have a look at the videos below from the Tories, Labour & Lib Dems and tell us what you think.

If you know of any more PPB videos please let us know so we can add.

500 Words From Tom Reynolds

I’d like to thank Pits’n’Pots for the opportunity to share with readers why I want to continue to be a City Councillor in Stoke-on-Trent and why I want to represent the people of Broadway and Longton East Ward.

It has been a privilege to serve as a councillor for the past three years, but the last 12 months have been an enormously difficult and unpleasant time to be in local politics. The unprecedented shortfall in funding which faced the council in the run up to the budget has meant that, in balancing the books some distasteful decisions have had to be taken. No body gets involved in the Labour Movement to reduce provision in public services. It makes many of us sick to the pit of our stomachs to see the reduction in the size of the public sector which Whitehall is forcing on Town Halls like ours in Glebe Street.

The Coalition Cabinet talk about of localism a lot. My only experience of it since they got in is a shift in the blame for service reductions to the local level as they remove ring-fences and reduce overall funding to local authorities. Councils like ours up and down the land are backed into a corner.

Deprived areas like Stoke-on-Trent have been disproportionately hit by the reduction in funding. Stoke has lost £90 per person compared with an average of £30 per person in the leafier districts of Staffordshire. This local election provides the first opportunity for the public to show the coalition how they feel about the castration of local government and the effect it’s having on cities like Stoke.

But sending a message to Clegg and Cameron is not a good enough reason to vote Labour. I believe that Labour’s priorities for the City Council to focus on over the next four years present the best opportunity for Stoke-on-Trent to thrive. Those priorities are:

As the number of jobs in the Public Sector shrinks because of the Coalition’s spending policy, we need to attract in as many private sector jobs as possible. That means pushing developments like the retail and business precincts in Hanley, helping people develop new skills through an expanded JET service, aggressively pursuing inward investment and eradicating the barriers to investment & work (like our poor public transport).
Educational attainment in our city is still below the national benchmark and we need to do everything we can to address that. BSF needs to be delivered ASAP to provide our young people with the inspirational learning environment that will encourage aspiration. Early years provision like Stoke-Speaks-Out must continue to be safeguarded and we need to do everything possible to help the Children’s Centres (our Government’s proudest achievement) to continue to be viable.
We have to acknowledge that Stoke-on-Trent City Council has let people down in the not distant past. The authority needs to provide lean services that are delivered well to citizens. That involves being tougher on wasteful processes and giving all of our hard working employees the correct tools to do a good job. Giving credit to some tenacious opposition members – the council needs to be more receptive to scrutiny and share information more openly. Trust needs to be earned back.

I want to represent Longton East and Broadway for a couple of reasons. The majority of the ward is in the current area I represent so I have build up a number of good partnerships and I can hit the ground running on behalf of residents. I also live smack bang in the middle of the ward and have the natural desire to want to make my home a better place to live. I’ll continue to assist all residents to the best of my abilities, and will hold a surgery and ward-walkabout every month.

As polling day looms, I hope the public feel able to put their support behind Labour.

Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Suffers For His Tory Principles

Outspoken Conservative Shaun Bennett may well be de-selected as a Conservative Candidate for the Stoke-on-Trent all out local council elections at a hastily arranged meeting this coming Wednesday [23rd March]

It appears that some of his comments opposing the Conservatives coalition agreement locally with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and The City Independent Group, have angered members of the Conservative group on the City Council.

Sources have revealed that Shaun has also upset members including Cllr Hazel Lyth and Cllr John Daniels over comments he has made on Pits n Pots.

The Special Executive Committee of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association will meet at the civic centre to discuss the following motion:


“The Conservative Group ask the Executive to reconsider the adoption of Shaun Bennett as a Conservative Party candidate in the local elections 2011, as we have concerns he will not abide by the Group’s rules on Collective Responsibility, based on comments made recently on the internet about both the Group and individual members.”

A letter obtained by Pits n Pots suggests that Shaun Bennett is un-repentant for his comments and hits right back at those who would deny him his opinion.

Dear Members of the Executive,

It seems that members of the Conservative Group have now achieved their long held plans and initiated a special meeting of the executive to discuss my de-selection as a Conservative candidate at this election. Since the decision has effectively already been made, I have little desire to humiliate myself by coming before you personally to oppose this spurious case. Instead, I am writing this letter to you all as a defence against the charges that I now find levelled against me.

It appears that the group’s decision to call this meeting and recommend my de-selection rests upon just a single charge: that I have spoken out against Conservative involvement in the Labour led coalition and specifically that I have said that I would not have supported the budget imposing Labour’s programme of cuts upon this city.

Let me be quite clear from the start and say that I do not oppose the principle that cuts must be made. I am not an oppositionist for the sake of opposition. I am prepared to support tough choices, and I supported every tough choice that Conservatives made when we were leading the coalition just over 12 months ago.

What I do NOT support however, and will not support is LABOUR’S programme of cuts which has been designed specifically to hit the most vulnerable in our city the hardest; deliberately and calculatedly as a means of putting a noose around the neck of the Conservative government at Westminster and ensuring the election of a Labour majority on the city council in May. That the ‘so called’ Conservative group has chosen to go along with Labour’s cuts really does speak volumes about how our council group has now lost its way and abandoned the people and the principles upon which they were elected.

The charge raised against me is that I have broken collective responsibility; that I have opposed the decision of the group to support Labour’s political budget of cuts. And the answer to that charge is very simple: as I am not a councillor at present I am not BOUND by the collective decisions of the Conservative group. I am not an officer of the party, I am not a councillor, at the moment until nominations close I am not even an official candidate. I can in fact speak as I like about whatever I like without penalty.

I am not bound by any rule of the party to support decisions made before my election and membership of the group comes into effect. By the time that occurs of course, Labour will have a huge overall majority on the city council and Conservatives will no longer be involved in any formal coalition. Indeed, following the elections in May, I suspect the then OPPOSITION Conservative councillors will be taking much the same view on many of these issues as I have taken today. At that time, coalition decisions will magically become ‘Labour decisions’; the coalition’s budget will transmogrify before our very eyes into ‘Labour’s budget’ as we try desperately to wash our group’s hands of the consequences of those ‘collective decisions’.

The group, by taking this extraordinary action against me today, are seeking to rewrite the rules of the party. Under their scheme, all Conservative members will be bound to support whatever they say whether it is in line with party policy or not. And as we all know from our experiences in the past-ordinary members will have no say whatsoever over what those decisions consist of.

I hope that as an executive you will vote to reject the group’s recommendation for de-selection. However, whatever the outcome, I do not apologise for what I have said. This case will determine whether we remain a true Conservative Party in this city, or whether we surrender to anti-conservative forces and abandon all those who want to support genuine Conservatism.

If the choice is to support the strategic errors of the local Conservative group or to line up alongside the Conservative government of David Cameron, I’m afraid my loyalty to the Conservative Party commits me to go to the defence of the government against labour’s frontline cuts agenda. I’m sorry that that is no longer compatible with the views of the Conservative Group in Stoke-on-Trent in the year 2011.

Yours Sincerely

Shaun Bennett BA(Hons), MA
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke South)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke Central)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke)
Former Treaurer (Stoke)

Shaun Bennett was unavailable for comment today.

Rob Flello Seeks Clarification on Stoke-on-Trent BSF Funding

Stoke-on-Trent South MP Rob Flello quizzed Prime Minister David Cameron on whether Stoke-on-Trent will receive enough Building Schools for the Future funding to complete the construction of the planned secondary schools.

Mr Flello took the opportunity during yesterday’s [Wednesday] Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister will be aware that by 7 July the Education Secretary would have already understood the financial situation and the “state of the books”, as the Prime Minister is so keen to keep stating, so why on 7 July, in this House, did the Education Secretary say:

“One announcement that I was able to make on Monday was that Stoke-on-Trent, as a local authority that has reached financial close, will see all the schools under Building Schools for the Future rebuilt”

Is there some confusion between the Prime Minister and the Education Secretary?

The Prime Minister was in no mood to reassure the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South.

We were left a complete mess in terms of Building Schools for the Future. Here was a programme that took up three years and hundreds of millions of pounds before a single brick was laid. The cost of building those schools was twice what it should have been, so we have scrapped that programme and made available £15 billion for the next four years. That means that school building will be higher under this Government than it was under the Labour Government starting in 1997.

The recent announcement by Michael Gove that those school building schemes spared, are now facing cuts in funding of 40%, despite their being given the green light when he reduced Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in July.

This will effect some 600 and will realise potential savings of £6bn. The announcement now throws the building of the so called “sample schools” specifically given the thumbs up by the Department for Education back in August.

Just how this latest announcement will impact on Stoke-on-Trent remains unclear.

It may well throw the future of the Discovery Academy into doubt.

The controversial school was to be sited on the Willfield Community Centre location.

The Community Schools Action Group, who are campaigning for a school to be retained on the Mitchell High School site, will be watching developments very closely indeed.
Joan Walley MP for Stoke-on-Trent North has also raised the issue about BSF funding in Parliament today.

She called for an urgent debate on the issue and was met with a noncommittal response.