City Independents take Springfields and Trent Vale from Labour

In a shock result which rendered the previously vociferous Labour Twitterati silent last night, City Independent candidate Jackie Barnes won the Springfields and Trent Vale by-election.

The seat formerly held by Sarah Hill until her resignation from the cabinet & the city council was thought to be a safe Labour seat. Continue reading

500 words from Gary Elsby Independent candidate for Springfields & Trent Vale

I have lived and worked the whole of my life in Stoke-on-Trent and hopefully, this gives me some knowledge and understanding of what is either right or wrong with the City. It is here, I choose to live, work, raise a family, run a business, serve 20 years as a school governor and pay my taxes.

Like every candidate in any election, I hope to win and serve to the best of my ability. What is certain is that I am a man of my word and when I say I will speak out, nothing will stop me. Continue reading

Eye Spy Springfields and Trent Vale

Ever keen to promote democracy, Eye Spy feels it is his duty to bring residents’ attention to the candidates for the upcoming Springfields and Trent Vale byelection, seeing as the Council PR Department haven’t.

Anyone searching for the Statement of Persons Nominated at the end of last week could be forgiven for not finding it, tucked well away from the homepage (alongside the Masterplan for Stoke town centre no doubt…). Continue reading

Gary Elsby – Holiday Reflections

Taking a much deserved holiday in the Eastern Mediterranean gave me too much time to reflect on the daily goings on in my upside down Country back home.

The newspapers came through thick and fast thanks to new digital technology and what a revelation it brought.

As the West continued its bombing campaign on behalf of “Ëœdemocracy’ and the economic world of my host holiday home continued on its downward spiral of bankruptcy the one headline that grabbed my attention was: “Louis groped me!’ and then followed the next day by “ËœCowell backs Louis 100%”

Well that’s that settled then I thought, with calls probably costing 35p per minute and 10p going to charity. Is this the best the British newspapers can do? I further thought.

Then came the usual new Labour Leader speech rolled out every few years by the invisible opposition Leader wanting a headline. “We must reform and change if we want to win” pumped out the red tops on behalf of Ed Miliband (advisor of the last Leader who bankrupted us. Ho hum).

On the back of an Arab spring they die in their thousands in a people’s revolt all over Africa and the Middle-East for democracy and Ed Miliband goes the other way and wishes to remove democracy by stopping elections to his shadow Cabinet.

Oh, how I laughed out loud.

Ed uses the usual change and reform speech to get rid of party democracy to make Labour much better. If you say so Ed, but the rest of us will just laugh and laugh. Maybe Ed is secretly angry by the clumsy outburst by Ed Balls who wanted a £50bn VAT cut without telling anyone in Labour?

Not to be outdone, surely the best headline of my holiday came from the usual sensible and well respected Jack Straw MP.

Jack normally keeps his senses intact by not bringing his personal animosity to the arena and usually tells a good story, but this one was a corker of immense WMD sexed up stupidity.

“ËœThe Euro is doomed and will go soon’, came the hysterical story and given more credit than it deserved by the EU rabid press.

This is the headline that gave me the most curiosity considering it came from a man who is considered to be a well considered and thoughtful man.

If we were to shove our fingers into a light socket and get a shock, should we all blame the electric company, I thought?

In a “Ëœhit and run’ crime involving a child and car arises, should we blame the car producing company or the driver? I pondered.

So why did Jack Straw blame the Euro currency and not or Portugal or anyone else whose economy goes into freefall?

I came to the conclusion that Jack must be one of those hysterical antis that pop up now and again yelping out nonsense that they know to be nonsense.

This type of person rabbits on about how useless they all are (EU) and how great we are and that we should just pull out and have done.

Let us remember and go beyond the headlines that sell newspapers galore. The pound (Sterling) is as close to bankruptcy as any useless EU Country you can think of and austere measures are plentiful to see. The US economy is just as bad and both Countries give proof that it is the economy and not the currency that is at fault. After all, both the US and GB are non Euro zone Countries and have economic sanctuary within these long established currencies and are self protected from the Euro. Not true though is it and our currency offered us no protection save an alternative way out.

The Tories have loved Europe just as much as any Labour Leader you can think of and signed up to everything put before them, but not to that awful Euro currency being used by Germany, the Country doing very well indeed and bailing everyone out in the process. Again proof if any more is needed.

I need another holiday fast.

Labour Party Stalwart Barry Stockley Placed Under Administratative Suspension

The Labour Party have placed party stalwart and Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent CLP under administrative suspension.

The move comes after a series of high profile bust ups in the months leading up to the Local & General Elections.

A number of leading Stoke Central Labour Party activists have since walked out of the party.

The trouble began with the controversial selection of candidates for the local elections, There were then a series of bust ups between officers of Stoke Central CLP and the Labour Party Regional Office West Midlands which included declaring an AGM null and void and the selection of Mick Williams as a “Ëœcandidate in principle’ for the Hartshill & Penkull ward.

The selection was later overturned by the ROWM and a candidate was selection from 2 names chosen by them.

The selection of Tristram Hunt as the Labour Party PPC was also shrouded in controversy.

Gary Elsby, the Secretary of the Stoke Central CLP, left the party in protest at the selection of Mr Hunt and stood against him in the General Election.

The Labour Party appeared to be somewhat vindicated by the results of the Party both locally and nationally.

Locally the Labour Party made 12 gains on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, taking 17 out of the 20 available seats.

In the General Election Tristram Hunt defeated the Lib Dems into 2nd place, the Conservatives into 3rd and the BNP into 4th place. Gary Elsby finished in 7th place with 399 votes.

Barry Stockley today confirmed that he had been suspended and that the party were holding an investigation that could result in a disciplinary hearing. He also said that he has the support of new Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Tristram Hunt and his predecessor Mark Fisher.

Mr Stockley has also been praised for the amount of work he put into the General Election campaign and several ex and current members have appealed that the Regional Office take this into consideration when imposing any punishment or sanctions upon him.

While the suspension is in force Mr Stockley is prevented from holding any office within the Labour Party which could mean he will be unable to put himself forward for the Chair of the CLP at their upcoming AGM.

A spokesperson for the City of Stoke-on-Trent Labour Party confirmed that Mr Stockley was under administrative suspension and that the AGM would take “Ëœplace as soon as possible’ and that it was important to get all members of Stoke-on-Trent CLP to attend the meeting to have their say on the direction that the CLP takes in the future.

It was also confirmed that several CLP members had expressed an interest in standing for office within the party.

Wol’s Election Analysis – The BNP’s Bubble Bursts As Labour Rise to The Top

Stoke-on-Trent’s electorate went to the polls on Thursday 6th May to vote in both the local and General Elections.

There had been a lot of hype about the General Election.

The BNP claimed that they were targeting the seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central and would surely benefit from the alleged imposition of Labour Party PPC Tristram Hunt and the very public departure of Gary Elsby from the Party he supported for 27 years.

It so did not work out that way. Elsby lost his deposit with a humiliating 399 votes. He must surely be now contemplating life after the Labour Party and giving his wounds a serious licking.

BNP Deputy Leader Simon Darby gave his campaign a serious amount of time and effort. His blog site was getting a massive amount of hits and his video diaries told the viewers everything that is wrong with parts of Stoke-on-Trent, but were void of any positive ideas on how to improve the lives of the people of Stoke-on-Trent Central.

Stoke BNP Group Leader Mike Coleman’s campaign never really took off. I kind of get the impression that Mike knew it was going to be an uphill struggle bordering on mission impossible to get the electorate switched on to the BNP message.

Melanie Baddeley was no more than a paper candidate for the British National Party and any minute chance she had was wiped out the moment her husband was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis. He was later charged with the offence and will appear before magistrates on 14th May.

All three of the BNP PPC’s were effected by the revelation that there was a vein of holocaust deniers in the far right party.

The revelation came from former Stoke BNP Group Leader Alby Walker after he quit the party. He was quickly followed across the council chamber by his wife Ellie.

These actions angered some of the party supporters, but effectively killed any chance the BNP had in returning a BNP MP in this City.

Locally, the BNP lost two of their sitting councillors. They failed to get any of their candidates elected, often finishing in 3rd place or lower. They have the embarrassing record of never successfully defending a council seat in this City.

Nationally the BNP were mauled. The nations electorate turned their backs on the policies of the far right. They lost all of their 12 seats on east London’s Barking and Dagenham Council.

Nick Griffin was pasted in his attempt to get elected as an MP for Barking. He came 3rd with just 6620 votes in a result that saw sitting Labour MP Margaret Hodge double her vote.

There are a number of far right websites that are calling for Griffin to go, they are demanding a change in leadership.

The BNP leadership [Darby & Griffin] polled just over 9000 votes between them which is no where enough to get them elected anywhere in the country.

Their total number of votes across the country amounts to 563,743, which equates to just 1.9% of the total number of votes cast at the election.

The fact that the mainstream parties are now willing to talk about immigration issues may well be the reason that people are turning their backs on the far right.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have tabled policies to deal with the concerns of people who are worried about the impact the number of people who are coming into this country is having on the economy, jobs, housing, and public services.

The Labour Party nationally has been rejected and it would seem that Gordon Brown’s days are numbered.

Locally the Labour Party are resurgent.

They have taken 17 of the 20 available council seats. They have smashed the BNP and critically injured the Independents.

Labour have made a mockery of those who moaned and hit out at the candidate selection process. There were a number of people that left the party in protest. Is the Labour Party vindicated now?

Two candidates Mick Williams locally and Gary Elsby nationally, stood against their party and were unanimously rejected at the ballot box.

Stoke Central CLP needs to re-group and re-build and elected new officers who will take the constituency forward and ensure it becomes progressive. There may be a way back into the party for some it would seem. Tristram Hunt MP is committed to uniting the party and bringing ex members back to the fold. Somehow I can’t see that happening in Gary Elsby and Mick Williams’s case.

Our own Nicky Davis urged people to reject Labour at the ballot box, She wrote:

Mark Meredith’s Labour, continuing after he was kicked out, do not deserve to win an election in the city. They will do the city no good, their track record says it all.

And:

The council’s Labour group screw over communities then just before an election pathetically say they have not listened enough but will now. No ““ LABOUR CAN NOT BE TRUSTED!

Well, It seems our Nicky got it wrong. This election saw the voters turn to mainstream parties and reject the Independents that Nicky favours so much. She has hailed the work of some of the BNP councillors and yet the electorate has shown them the door.

As one prominent Party politician put it: ‘Is there any such thing as an Independent?’

But, the Labour Party in Stoke-on-Trent need to to tread very carefully now. They need to understand that they have been given an opportunity by the electorate. If they get it wrong this time it could well lead to another rise in the BNP’s popularity.

Why? – simple, the Labour Party started to go down hill faster than Franz Klammer when they formed a three party coalition with the Conservatives and the Lib Dem’s. This robbed our City of the individual party voices. We were robbed of the inter-party debates. The electorate were unhappy that they had voted Labour and got Conservatives and visa versa.

Yes, there is a need for all the parties to work together for the good of the City but the different parties MUST retain their individual party voices. Nothing else is acceptable.

The Labour Party hold 26 seats in the chamber, just 5 short of the 31 they need for an outright majority. If they were to form an alliance with the 4 ex Labour members, PKB, Mick Salih, Mike Barnes & Pauline Joynson, they would be just 1 short of the required majority.

Would the Party turn towards Ellie Walker, or maybe Gavin Webb? The City Independents are known to have a growing number of members who are discontented with the direction of the Groups Leadership. Could Dave Conway be enticed back?

There will be interesting times ahead of the Annual Council meeting on May 27th.

I am proud of the coverage that PnP have given both the General and Local Elections. All the 500 word articles went on unedited. Video and Audio interviews went on untampered with.

Every candidate and Party got equal treatment, including the BNP. That is the way this site will continue. We want to work with all parties to get their message out but we will continue to scrutinise every council decision and will never shy away from reporting what is going on, no matter how uncomfortable that makes certain individuals.

We wish every success to those candidates who were successful and commiserations to those who were not.

A politician text me yesterday [Friday] and congratulated me on our coverage. He said that we had helped some people to make up their minds which way to vote and that we provide an essential service to the politically interested in our City.

If that’s the case I’m more proud of that that anything else…..

SOT Central Parliamentary Candidates Speak to CSAG

Stoke-on-Trent Central parliamentary candidates attended an open Community Schools Action Group Meeting at Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre on the evening of April 28th.

CSAG chair MARGARET LOWE opened the meeting and introduced the candidates. Active CSAG campaigner WENDY BOOTH sent apologies for absence. BARRY STOCKLEY (CSAG) chaired the meeting. He outlined the background to the CSAG campaign. In 2007 there were surplus high school places. Mitchell High School and Berry Hill High School showed cooperation by volunteering to close on condition that there would be a new build school on the Mitchell site to accommodate pupils from both these schools. The city council then appointed SERCO which was a most disastrous decision for education. The SERCO proposal was to merge Michell with Edensor and Berry Hill with St. Peter’s. The proposals were rejected totally by parents at Mitchell, Berry Hill, St. Peter’s and many from Edensor. Reports from consultation meetings had been grossly distorted. At a meeting for Berry Hill and St. Peter’s a motion was proposed to reject the merger. Every parent and governor voted to reject the merger but this was not reported. Barry, together with Mark Fisher MP, had challenged Ged Rowney, SERCO director of children and young people’s services and Tracey Penrose, project manager for BSF, over this. Tracey said she must have overlooked this. Many councillors are supportive of the CSAG campaign for a school on the Mitchell site but those appointed to cabinet do an about turn. Mark Fisher always supported the campaign. Each candidate was then given 3 minutes to introduce themselves and express their views as follows:

GARY ELSBY (Independent) explained he had been a member of the Labour party but had walked out because of what had happened. He had produced 20,000 leaflets in the 2008 local election campaign, but then the persecution started for standing up for Mitchell High School and Dimensions swimming pool. He had been removed from the membership list. Council leader Ross Irving had made fun of CSAG and of Pat Smith, Mitchell chair of governors. He had been condescending. Gary said councillor Peter Kent-Baguley is right because he says if we keep up the pressure we will win.

SIMON DARBY (British National Party) introduced himself as the deputy leader of the British National Party and said some might think that means he is wicked but he is not a bad man, he is just a normal guy. He does not believe in the BSF social engineering agenda to create an academy with only two parent governors. Schools should not be run by private companies which profit at our expense. He declared himself fully on our side.

NORSHEEN BHATTI (Conservative Party) said Labour had not been consulting with parents and teachers, which is important for schools. She has visited Mitchell High and congratulates the school for winning an award for the most improved school. She was touched by the children and how much they loved their school. There was passion from the teachers. She said there should be social responsibility and parents and teachers should be given the power to set up their own schools. She also said she was there to listen and wants to put people’s views first.

MATT WRIGHT (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) said what we are seeing is the systematic privatisation of the education system. Academies will be a disaster with worse travel to school. The sponsors choose the governing body and are in charge of ethos. It would not be good to have religious fanatics or companies in charge of schools. Tens of thousands of building workers are out of work. We need to rebuild or refurbish community schools. There should be no cuts to pay or conditions of staff and no compulsory redundancies. There should be no private finance initiatives because these result in the tax payer footing 300% of the building cost. He advocates a joint campaign of all schools under threat.

BRIAN WARD (City Independent) introduced himself as leader of the City Independent group on the council. City Independent councillors Rita Dale and John Davis had backed this campaign the whole time and talk about it every day. He said this is not an MP decision, the city council will make the decision. The protest should be directed to the council. He said Labour councillor Adrian Knapper had also backed the campaign at times. Brian said he had first heard of the fight to save the school at a meeting at Mitchell High. He is in cabinet now having previously been in opposition but nothing had been said at cabinet about this issue. Officers have been sent to check the sites and numbers to see if they are right. Brian said he bases his whole ethos on community issues. He said the public wants a school on Mitchell, not on ‘Springfield’ and to know why they should vote for one parliamentary candidate rather than another. He would have liked to ask Tristram Hunt the Labour candidate about the Labour government. Deals had been handed down from a Labour government which underfunds the council by £300 per child.

Margaret Lowe then read statements from the parliamentary candidates who were unable to be present:

PAUL BREEZE (Independent) said it was evident CSAG hearts are in the right place and we have passion. CSAG has a strong and logical case with evidence for the merger and site we want. Paul said he is fully independent and if elected will back CSAG 100%

ALBY WALKER (Independent) said there should be a new school on the Mitchell site and another on an appropriate site near Edensor. He opposed the Park Hall site and had organised the call in of this decision when he was a British National Party councillor. He is now an independent councillor.

JOHN REDFERN (Liberal Democrat) does not want to share a platform with the BNP. He is not happy with a new academy on Park Hall because of fears about safety and busy roads. He does not think it would improve education standards.

TRISTRAM HUNT (Labour Party) said it was already clear the only way forward is to have two local schools and he would fight tooth and nail for a school in the heart of the community. He had attended a previous CSAG meeting and visited Margaret Lowe at home. He is 100% behind us.

CAROL LOVATT (UKIP) had not responded at all.

The meeting was then opened for questions to the candidates.

MIKE COLEMAN (British National Party councillor and parliamentary candidate for SOT South) asked Brian Ward if he was in favour of Mitchell staying or going. Brian replied that it had never been discussed in cabinet and that the decision had been made previously by the mayor. Brian stated that he is supportive of a school on Mitchell.

PAT SMITH (Chair of governors at Mitchell) said she should put Gary Elsby right on his quotation. City Independent councillor Ian Mitchell was the one who was nasty and wanted a bulldozer through Mitchell High School. Ross Irving and Ian Mitchell had been invited to visit Mitchell High School four times, but each time the personal assistant had rang to cancel. It seems they dare not come anywhere near. In trying to speak to them she had just got insults. Stoke-on-Trent College, the intended academy sponsor, want a 1300 feeder school for the college. Pat said the experience with Stoke-on-Trent College is not wonderful. Nobody has spoken about the wonderful results for adults at Mitchell High. 1500 adults have learned in the community learning centre there, the learn direct there works because it is in the community. Mitchell and Berry Hill are happy to merge because they can form a natural community hub.

TERRY CROWE (Chair of governors at Berry Hill) said Ross Irving and his cabinet are trying to destroy education at the two schools. Terry said he had opposed the independent and Labour elected mayors and the Conservative council leader. This is not party political, it is a fight for the children out there. Terry asked Brian Ward to come off the fence because he has the power but has not faced up to his responsibility. He said Mike Coleman had brought up the issues in the council but they had tried to ridicule him. He asked Norsheen Bhatti if she would speak to Ross Irving and tell him to get off his backside and do something. He asked her if she was prepared to tell Ross he has got it wrong.

NORSHEEN BHATTI said if she were elected she would make representations everywhere.

TERRY CROWE asked Brian Ward to speak to Ross Irving.

BRIAN WARD said we must go though a process, we still have Mitchell High today and can not guess what happens after the election.

GRAHAM WALLACE (CSAG) asked Norsheen Bhatti why she said the Labour party had done this. Her Conservative party had been in charge of the council cabinet for 9 months now.

MICK STONE (CSAG) said to Brian Ward that he was sorry it appeared he was being given a hammering but his question was simply that as leader of the City Independents which have a majority of councillors, he should have influence, so what has he actually done since becoming leader of that group for this campaign? Mick put forward his theory that the area is seen as a hotbed of support or the extreme right and the establishment don’t like that. The area is seen as a poor working class area full of thickos on crack. So taking two lumps of the community and sending them in opposite directions was a ploy to water down support for the extreme right. But Mick thinks this could create the reaction they are trying to stop.

BRIAN WARD said there had been umpteen meetings with SERCO and the new chief executive of the council and there are issues so he did not want to give false promises. There was a desire to move the school because education was poor. Brian said he had backed Trentham who ran a good campaign. As he is not the ward councillor he does not know Mitchell High School. The independents have made more waves in the city than anyone.

GARY ELSBY said he had heard all sorts of stories about wanting the land, he didn’t accept the point about the far right, this area is underprivileged so why not build a school here?

SIMON DARBY said they are doing this in Burnley too, trying to mix muslim and white children. They are busing them around and they don’t like it. This government enforced bullying shouldn’t be happening. He said it is good to see support to fight this here, if we fight it he will back us.

NORSHEEN BHATTI said there is nothing British about the BNP.

SIMON DARBY said he was more British than Norsheen.

NORSHEEN BHATTI said if she were elected she would be supportive because children matter.

MATT WRIGHT said this would rip the heart out of the community and with the scale of public sector cuts to come we need unity in communities, not division.

ADRIAN KNAPPER (Labour councillor) said to Norsheen Bhatti that this is a council decision and if the two schools option were put to the council, Labour and the British National Party and others would support a school on the Mitchell site and another in Longton. He said the only thing in the way is the executive; Brian Ward, Ross Irving and Liberal Democrat support. Norsheen should go to Ross and get him to go ahead with what we want.

NORSHEEN BHATTI said the reality is the decisions have been made and the council’s hands are tied.

ADRIAN KNAPPER stated that schools minister Vernon Coaker would not block the two school option.

NORSHEEN BHATTI said it was not a decision made by the Conservatives but if elected as MP she would do as Adrian Knapper had asked.

BRIAN WARD pointed out that it is a cabinet decision, not a full council decision.

BARRY STOCKLEY suggested a vote of no confidence in the council leader.

JOHN DAVIS (City Independent councillor) said he is a governor at Mitchell High School. He had never seen so many lies and distortions of the facts than on this issue. The first time the proposal was discussed was over two years ago. The council have said for many years that this is a government decision and we are not allowed to build on the Mitchell site. At that time there was a Labour elected mayor and Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat elected mayor’s board. Mark Fisher had been brilliant and talked to the minister who said the site of the school is up to the city council. The current minister says we could have two schools. Another lie is that if we don’t agree it will affect funding and other schools. They have tried to set schools against each other. John called this ‘insultation’ not consultation and said the dictatorial decisions are ludicrous. But John said he believes in people power and we can beat them on the arguments. John asked the candidates if they would, like Mark Fisher, ignore the party whip and stand up for the community even against their own party.

BRIAN WARD said he would do better than that because he would save the school.

MATT WRIGHT said he would stand shoulder to shoulder.

NORSHEEN BHATTI said she would put people first.

SIMON DARBY said he would be 100% behind the fight.

GARY ELSBY said for 27 years he had stood by Mark Fisher’s side and Mark had asked him if he would take on the role of MP. He said Rob Flello MP was taking all the credit for saving Trentham High School and yet the community themselves had put up signs all over the area saying Trentham High School not for sale.

ANDY BENTLEY said when SERCO put forward their proposal the socialist party got 5000 names on a petition for no closures, no loss of jobs and new buildings if needed. His suggestion is every councillor should adopt a different strategy, instead of planning cuts they should plan what is needed as sufficient government funding and launch a campaign to force the government to give us the money. This has been done in Liverpool in the 1980s and they even got money out of Margaret Thatcher. Andy asked who would support such a strategy instead of money going to rich bankers.

BRIAN WARD said every child in the city gets £300 less than the average for the country and where have the MPs been to rectify this?

MATT WRIGHT agrees with Andy because the money needed is like crumbs from the table compared to the richest people in the country.

NORSHEEN BHATTI said Labour had said education, education, education so it is scandalous we get less than others, due to the city’s Labour MPs.

SIMON DARBY said bailing out the bankers, gamblers, was a disgrace and we are paying the price. He would abolish investment banks, have no front line cuts, pull out of the war in Afghanistan, having had an illegal war in Iraq, pull out of the EU and stop foreign aid. Common sense is needed and we should look after ourselves more.

GARY ELSBY said laws should be reintroduced to stop the banking fiasco. He had fought all his life for what he believes in. Labour have done some good things. He said national insurance should not be increased. We should demand no special favours but just the same as everyone else has, which should be easily fundable.

NICKY DAVIS (CSAG) said that by the year 2020 the current SERCO plan will mean we will be short of high school pupil places by about 500 for the Discovery school, wherever it is built, 350 for the new St. Peter’s and 300 for Sandon. What is the best plan to deal with these shortages?

GARY ELSBY said an extra high school can be built in Longton. Caps on immigration will come. We must plan properly for the children and if necessary build more schools. He said the answer is simple, they should give us the money.

SIMON DARBY said it is despicable because it involves private companies so it is about profit and he knows the way these people work with their ethos of selling off public assets. He suggested what is needed is an investigation into the private companies involved and who has directorships involved with these companies. Immigration is problematic.

NORSHEEN BHATTI admitted she does not know, to be honest. We don’t have the funding, education is in crisis and we need to take control.

MATT WRIGHT said we should kick private companies out of schools, increase capacity and employ more teachers. Immigration would not be an issue if public services could cope with demand.

BRIAN WARD said the Labour government has done more privatising than Thatcher.

DAWN KELLY (CSAG) said it gets on parents nerves that they are told pupil numbers are going down at Berry Hill High School but the only reason for that is because of the threat to the school. People are sending their children elsewhere but if a school were to be kept on the Mitchell site they would come back.

KEN said there had been underfunding for years and asked if we should blame the MPs or the council.

BARRY STOCKLEY said we are not underfunded in BSF capital funding, it is the way it is used that is the problem.

BRIAN WARD insisted there was underfunding.

TERRY CROWE had attended a meeting to make teachers and other staff redundant because Berry Hill was targeted for closure. Terry backed up Dawn Kelly’s point. He said as Brian Ward had made a statement he would keep a school on Mitchell if elected, then why not do it now?

BARRY STOCKLEY thanked the 5 parliamentary candidates who had attended.

The meeting finished with a video showing how Mitchell and Berry Hill pupils worked together.

Gary Elsby Independent PPC For Stoke-on-Trent Central Policy Statement

By Gary Elsby Independent PPC Stoke Central

It was a life-changing, but quick decision, to step out of the Labour Party at what I see as an intrusion into local Party democracy by Lord Mandelson with an intent not in the best interests of the City. As a consequence, I have been asked to state the differences between the policies of the National Labour Party and my own, which are long held but stifled under what goes for “Ëœagreement’ at the Annual Conference held each year by the Labour Party.

A future fair for all, (but this time, including the people of England and Great Britain)

* Pensioners:

The rise of annual increase in pensions is either linked to prices or inflation. We know that the lowest always wins and pensioners always come off worse. Pensions should therefore be determined on an annual basis, with the higher of the two references used to set the increase. Determined efforts should be made to end the tax system on pensions by people who have paid tax all of their working lives.

* Families:

Universal family allowance should be ended for people earning above £75,000 and redistributed to those on less than £30,000. This gives it to families needing it the most.

No family with school age children should be subject to an eviction order due to economic circumstances beyond their control and legislation must be forwarded to enforce such repulsive acts are outlawed.

* Housing:

At least 1 Million new Council/Social Housing homes should be built, which would ease the need of 5 Million people needing a home who cannot afford to enter the private market. This would create hundreds of Millions of paid working hours, hundreds of thousands of new construction jobs and tens of thousands of new apprenticeships. Rents should be ring-fenced and paid back into sustaining the housing stock for the future.

* Economy:

We should grow our economy and not return to a “Ëœcut and slash’ approach to repay National debt.

* Tax Increases:

The Universal approach to National Insurance increases is wholly wrong and must be stopped. We should remove the thresh-hold of the upper earnings limit and those that earn the most, should pay the most. A VAT increase claims all victims, regardless of how much or how little they earn and must not be introduced. A City such as Stoke is a regenerating area and it simply does not make sense to tax it. These measures remove that threat.

* Health Service:

Free prescriptions should be available for everyone in England requiring one, just like the rest of the UK. A freeze in NHS spending will be the severest CUT ever introduced in the NHS since inception and must not be introduced…

* Health care for the Elderly:

The dreadful £23,000 “ËœDeath Tax’ now dropped by Labour and the Tory “Ëœinvoice’ of £8,000 to pay for minimal care for the elderly was embarrassing. I would only support a “Ëœring fenced’ National Insurance increase solely to administer “Ëœfree care’ which would submit responsibility to the Country and give dignity and respect to the elderly.

* Schools:

Communities know what is best for their individual areas and not always the politician and should therefore have a more significant say in what happens in their local area. Community schools must be promoted as the best example of better education for all and the Academy system must be held to account.

* Trident and ID cards:

The Trident missile purchase must be dropped as an unnecessary expense in these times of social hardship considering we have more WMD now than we ever need or shall ever use. ID cards should be considered an expensive and irrelevant intrusion into our lives.

* Justice:

The right to remain free must be held uppermost in a society that will, if it is allowed, detain without charge beyond a time limit that is considered unjust by the majority.

* Immigration:

An end to mass immigration should be introduced and a cap on immigration of 50,000 nett per annum should be used to sustain a level of 70 million population at its highest.

* Energy:

A diverse and wide-ranging energy source should be arrived at that involves all kinds of material uses, including Clean Coal Technology for North Staffordshire Coal fields, nuclear, oil, gas and including greener methods of production to comply with EU guidelines.

* People:

Government must be made aware that ordinary people and business, now feel a shared burden of persecution by the State upon a weary public and a new approach must be made that lifts this burden in an effort to promote a more just and social society.

Gary Elsby

Prospective Parliamentary candidate

Born in Stoke Central.