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

Stoke-on-Trent City Council December Meeting Details

The December meeting of Stoke-on-Trent City Council takes place this Thursday at 5:30pm in the council chamber.

Some interesting public questions for this meeting including ones relating to the offer to tender to run the now close City Farm.

Councillor Paul Breeze has put a motion forward to ask the council to Say No To The Name City Sentral, the motion is seconded by Councillor Lee Wanger

Meeting Agenda

1. Minutes of a previous meeting of the City Council held on 20/10/11
2.Apologies for absence
3.To welcome visitors (if any)
4.To receive official announcements (if any)
5.To transact business of a non-contentious and/or urgent nature specially brought forward by the Lord Mayor or Chairman
6.Declarations of Interest
Members to give notice of any personal or prejudicial interest and the nature of that interest relating to any item on the agenda in accordance with the adopted Code of Conduct.
7.Report of Petitions Received
8.Public Questions
To deal with any public questions received in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 8.
9.Members’ Questions
To consider any questions (notice of which have been given under Council Procedure Rule 9.02)
10.Appointment of City Council Representatives to Serve on School Governing Bodies in the City of Stoke-on-Trent
11.Council Tax Base 2012/13
12.Changes to the Council’s Constitution
13.Safer City Partnership Plan, 2011-2014
14.Local Development Framework – Joint Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Waste Core Strategy 2010-2026
15.Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority – Periodic Report of the Chairman
16.Staffordshire Police Authority – Periodic Report on Police Authority Matters
17.To consider the following Notice of Motion, moved by Councillor Breeze and seconded by Councillor Wanger SAY NO TO THE NAME CITY SENTRAL
18.Minutes of the Cabinet (27/10/11 and 3/11/11)
19.Report of the Chair of the Development Management Committee (26/10/11 and 23/11/11)
20.Minutes of the Audit Committee (10/11/11)
21.Minutes of the Human Resources Committee (4/11/11)
22.Minutes of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee (19/10/2011)
23.Minutes of the Standards Committee (12/10/2011)
24.Minutes of the Adult and Older People’s Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee (3/10/11 and 2/11/11)
25.Minutes of the Business Services and Chief Executive’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (5/10/11 and 16/11/11)
26.Minutes of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (17/10/11 and 9/11/11)
27.Minutes of the City Renewal Overview and Scrutiny Committee (26/10/11)

Labour Landslide In Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent is waking to to a very different political landscape this morning, the morning after the night Labour swept through the new slimmed down chamber taking 34 of the 44 available seats.

As well as the increased majority in the Labour camp we are in a city that is now only represented by 4 of the 10 different parties that stood.

The chamber as elected last night looks like:

Labour 34
Independent 7
Conservative 2
Unaffiliated 1

Gone are the BNP, in a city that was quoted by party chairman Nick Griffin as being the ‘Jewel In The BNPs Crown’ in 2010, we have seen their presence reduced from nine councillors before the May 2010 elections where they were reduced to 5, down to no councillors in last nights count. Michael Coleman the BNP Leader in Stoke-on-Trent had said in an interview with Pits n Pots earlier in the night that he wasn’t confident.

Community Voice, are also gone, taking with them the characters of Peter Kent-Baguley Mick Salih & Mike Barnes all of whom added some colour and interest to the full council meetings. Former BNP councillor Ellie Walker who moved to Community Voice after leaving the BNP in 2010 also lost her seat in Abbey Hulton & Townsend

The Liberal Democrats who fielded only 8.73% of the total vote are also gone taking the ever cheerful Kieran Clarke out of the chamber.

Other casualties are Conservative Group Leader Ross Irving, Hazel Lyth & John Daniels. Mark Wright who was voted in only last year also lost his seat.

Brian Ward the leader of the Independent Group also lost his seat in Blurton West & Newstead

We will be bringing you reaction and interviews from across the winners and losers during the day today.

You can read the archive of our Election Live Blog Here

500 Words From Roger Ibbs

There can be no doubt that the present government inherited an absolute mess made by Labour.

We all know that large reductions are needed.

What cannot be accepted is the way in which the Conservative & Lib Dem Government has supported their own areas and attacked Stoke-on-Trent by massive and disproportionate reductions.

An 8% reduction for Stoke and yet only 1.8% for Staffordshire cannot, by anyone’s view, be fair and that surely is what we should expect from a Government that is supposed to govern for the whole country and not just their friends in Tory or Lib Dem areas.

There can also be no doubt that our Labour led council has cut essential services and not looked deeply enough to cut out waste and inefficiency, which is so obvious to you all.

This year cuts of £ 35 Million have had to be made but next year another £ 20 Million has to be saved.

WHERE WILL THOSE CUTS FALL NEXT YEAR.

Children’s Centres (already cut by 30% ) will be prime targets to be cut altogether. Remember that this action was proposed by Labour this year.

Community Centres could be next.

More Bus routes to be closed ? Who knows but it is essential that you have experienced people there to make those decisions.

I believe these issues are vital to the City’s improvement.

QUALITY JOBS we are known as a low paid area with the associated poor quality jobs that go with it. High fliers have to leave the City in order to find suitable employment. The council need to try harder to attract the right sort of jobs.

ENTERPRISE ZONES it cannot be right that the new zones announced by the Government do not yet include our City. Every effort must be made to convince them that we need the assistance to business by reduced rates and tax breaks that will encourage business’s to come here.

EDUCATION STANDARDS although things have been improving, the improvement is too slow. If we do manage to bring new and better jobs here then we need a highly skilled and qualified workforce.

THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR it is obvious that the council will depend more and more on the voluntary sector to deliver many of our services. There can be no doubt that this sector delivers better £ for £ than the council can. It is time to give them more support NOT LESS

These elections will be the last for 4 years and so the decision you make will be vital for our City.

500 Words From Paul Breeze

EXPERIENCE. INTEGRITY. DEDICATION.

INDEPENDENT. ACCESSIBLE.

ONLY CANDIDATE WHO LIVES IN, KNOWS, CARES ABOUT, HAS STAKE IN, AND PROVEN COMMITMENT TO THE AREA.

Since 1995, 15 years voluntary co-founder, driving force and continuing chairman of Hanley One Residents Association.

2003-2007, fully independent “Ëœno party’ city councillor (proud Deputy Elected Mayor, 2003-2005, to Mayor Mike Wolfe).

Terms as local High School, Junior School governor, also Hope Children’s Centre & Hope Centre board member.

2008, leader, city-wide “ËœPeople’s Choice’ campaign to champion and protect Stoke-on-Trent residents’ democratic rights to choose our own city council leader.

Establishing other local residents associations.

Working with Police & Council to obtain Alcohol Restriction Zone, CCTV & ASBOs, Job Centre & Central Forest Park.

Significant input bringing Central Forest Park improvements skatepark, children’s playground, lake.

Northwood Alleygating & Resurfacing of rear alleyways.

Instigating allotments improvements.

Introduction of local recycling facilities.

Introduction of local large items refuse collections.

Traffic calming and bus lane enforcement.

Puffin crossings adjacent to Grove Junior School.

Organiser Northwood Park Centenary 1907-2007 & return to Northwood Park of the ancient Roman Goddess statue “ËœTemperantia’.

Introduction of local Sports Court facilities.

Working with & supporting Citizens Advice Bureau to provide much needed help & advice for residents across our deprived area.

Working with residents, council and various agencies to draw up a neighbourhood delivery plan.

I am 58 years of age; have lived in the Northwood/Birches Head/Hanley area for almost forty years, the last thirty of which in the same multi-racial, multi-cultural terraced street. I have been a dedicated single parent to three sons since they were 4 years, 2 years, and four months old, respectively. Each attended our local schools: Broom Nursery, Northwood Infants, Grove Juniors, Birches Head High, then Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College; all have graduated through university.

I continue to believe that love, reasonable discipline, personal responsibility, social behaviour, education and citizenship should all begin in the home and be reinforced and supported by schools, police, council and local communities.

My values and integrity have remained constant throughout all my adult life:
AGAINST all political and religious EXTREMISM.
AGAINST all criminal and anti-social behaviour.
FOR a culture of mutual respect, tolerance and harmony.
FOR individual, family, community and wider social responsibility.
FOR promoting opportunity and education for all.
HELPING everyone regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, disability or background.

I have no party political affiliations, no “Ëœsingle issue’ agenda, and no personal axes to grind. I am in continuing contact with all relevant council departments, local community police officers, PCSOs, schools, residents associations and community groups, as well as helping, whenever possible, with many local residents’ personal problems.

If elected, I will work conscientiously, realistically and responsibly with fellow elected councillors, police, local residents, and all agencies to serve our local communities and to strive to make Northwood, Birches Head, Hanley, and our City of Stoke-on-Trent a better place for us all to live. It would be an honour to be elected as a representative to serve our area and city.

500 Words From Peter Hayward

Thanks to the resources provided by Pits n Pots I see that the 500 plus words I put together in support of my 2010 campaign are still there for all to see “¦ and judge this years efforts by no doubt.

I wasn’t successful last year, but as promised I’ve made good use of the spare time to put together ideas for the future, and used these as a base for my campaign this year. One thing is for sure “¦ I haven’t lost faith in the fact that there is an enthusiasm and an ability in Hanford & Trentham to bring about improvements in our community.

I have produced an election leaflet in which, as promised last year I’ve detailed my Mini Manifesto for the next four years. My targets have been researched, and are doable if I get elected.

I’ve now completed posting these leaflets “¦ sharing a few days with Terry Fellows helping with his, so that all residents in Hanford and Trentham are now fully aware that they have 2 Independent candidates, both of whom have a genuine commitment to the future wellbeing of Hanford and Trentham. Two candidates they can trust and vote for with confidence.

Time now to “Ëœgo public’ on Pits n Pots.

Attached “¦ my election leaflet & mini manifesto

What the hell I’m playing at with that cup of tea that smells like a flower bed.

As some of you are well aware, I have been talking about running for the city council for a number of years now.

I was on the verge of running last year, but I did not think then that I had much to offer, that I needed to learn a few things about how the city ran. Not just in my area.

I looked at ways I could run as part of a party, looked at what it entailed, had the paperwork to join both the Labour and Libdems right in front of me one very confused night last May. I even picked up a pen, I was a second off starting to fill one of them in, Labours’ if you must know.

The only thing that stopped me was waiting to see what a new leadership would bring, I’m of the thinking that it brought more of the same. I think that they are the best party for this country, They will always have a problem with some, but I think they look after most people who want to get on and work and those who can’t work very well.

To me, that’s the only thing I ask of any government. The Libdem application went out of the office window in about a million bits when it become clear what their leadership were up to, they have sold out the very heart of that party, they don’t deserve any support at all.

I know grass root Libdems who are unhappy and who can blame them. They have lost any chance of any real local power for a very long time, and that’s a shame, they are good caring people.

The problem I would have being a member of any party or group is that very thing. Being a member will mean you know what the party wants you to do, not the people who, if you are on a council, think you should do.

The people put you there, put their hopes in you, and to me, that’s all important. I just could not keep a party whip, I’m a rebel, a lose cannon in the nicest possible way.

Now I’ll go off subject here a little bit. I understand that in the city we have a few Labour members who are unhappy with the way Labour have treated them. All I can say is Labour have changed, for whatever reason, they changed. They have changed the way they work, and they had the right to that. If you don’t like it, you say “Thanks for the ride people, it was good while it lasted”, and you walk away, without any malice.

If you want to run in the next election, you put your name down and you state your case, without any malice. A council chamber is not the place to, and I hate this, ‘nail’ anyone up, neither is the streets of any ward as voters decide who they wish to put their faith in, for the next four years.

We all know who I’m talking about here, these people need to move on, drop the axe and grinding stones and put a good case to be on council without malice. Let’s face it, some have had their chance, and in no uncertain way, failed. I say “grow up, get over it, have the guts to step up and state your case or stay bitter and move nowhere”.

So, I have put my name of the paper, I’ll step up to the plate for the city I was born and bred in. The city I love and will always live in. I “Ëœm proud to call Stoke-on-Trent home. I have, in my time, had the chance to move out of the city, I would not feel right living anywhere other then here and I would not want to.

I’m running in South Meir, it’s the area I live in. I understand the problems we have here, and if lucky to be voted onto the council, my main job I think will be done in this area. it’s a large ward and a mixed bag too, little private homes like I’m use to, larger private family homes, old peoples homes, council estates, large posh homes as the wife calls them (she’s my election agent), even a few farms mixed in. It’s interesting and I would think challenging ward that I would love to be involved in.

What I’m finding as I start my run is people think that I’m bothered about who’s running ‘against me’, I’m not. I don’t see it as anyone running against me or me running against anyone. We all have a right to run, as long as you are a voter, live or work in the city of Stoke on Trent and can get 10 people from that ward to nominate you, you’re off and running as a independent.

Then you can sit back and hope for the best, or you can get out, and try a make a difference by telling people what the hell your up to, that it’s important to vote, not for me, but for someone. It’s no good saying “ËœThey never do anything for me’ or “ËœIt’s no good voting, they are just in it for the money.’

This is something I hearing a lot, the pay. Now, as I understand it, a basic council member on Stoke on Trent City Council pockets £12,000 a year, and there are now no expenses paid, and that’s fine by me.

I have put myself forward to the council, its my job to ensure that I can afford any out of pockets incurred by me to do my job.

Bottom line, 100% truth, I’m not in the least bit bothered about pay, I fully intend to keep my other job. Many know what I do, I’m proud of it, I work as hard as my health allows me to. Many know who I work for, and some might think it might pose a problem, it will not.

I’ll take the money, of course I will, I’ll make dammed sure I’m not left out of pocket, and that I’ll be at lest a bit better off for using my time I spend messing around, sampling fruit and herb teas, watching too many DVDs, walking the dog, messing about with the wife’s motorbike for no good reason, mowing the grass, looking up and paying for to much music on I-tunes (the wife will be very happy), watching monthly meetings of Stoke on Trent city council on the internet because I’ll be there, cooking the tea and every important thing I do on the last Thursday afternoon of the mouth.

I’ll also knock many of these things on the head, all bar the fruit and herb tea, if I have something to do within my job with the council. So long as there is boiling water, I’ll bring my own cup and a few tea bags and we can all have a go. Might even be able to afford a bit more of it with a few more quid in my sky rocket.

Some of the money, and I’m not joking here, will be filtered back to the ward, in the form of a good brew of Green Jasmine by Good Earth for all, no I’m joking again. I’ll ensure that little things that mean so much to people get done, I’ll pay for a few flowers around the place, the odd new bin, the stuff for some kid on the council estate. do a bit of painting, I’ll have no problem doing that, its not political, its me.

This is not my 500 words, this is my blog telling you what I’m up to at the moment. I’ll put what I feel is important to this city in my 500 words when asked for it. If anyone as any questions I’ll try to answer them hear for you.

I don’t expect myself to make it, I tried at least. Whatever happens, if I make it or not, I’ll still be here.

Pits n Pots as been good to me and for me, I’ve been though a lot, just before I signed up and while I have been a member here. it’s a part of what I do, it’s a part of me. So is 6towns Radio, and when all this gets done, I look forward to using that music I pay too much for. Now, if you’ll excuse me I fell a Rooibos and Harvest Berries cuppa coming on.

OHHHHHH! THAT HIT THE MARK.

2011 Election Coverage

It is just over a month until the polls open for one of the most important local elections in Stoke-on-Trent for many years, with changes to the ward boundaries, a reduction in councillors and moving to whole elections.

This year we are going to build on our coverage of the 2010 local & general elections and provide even better coverage of the candidates, campaigns and the election.

We are putting the finishing touches to our 2011 Election Section and will be publishing it very soon.

Candidates
This year each and every candidate will have their own page here on Pits n Pots where we will link to news stories about each candidate both on PnP and other local media, link to copies of any election leaflets that they produce.

Tony Walley will be going out on the road and speaking to any candidates who take up our open offer which is:

Pits n Pots will allow you to publish 500 words about your campaign and give you the option of a 5 minute audio interview both of which will be published unedited in return you will be asked a number of questions which have been suggested by Pits n Pots readers, each candidate will be asked the same questions.

If you decline the offer of an interview with Pits n Pots that is fine but a candidate page will still be created with any publicly available information.

Questions
What questions do you think we should be asking the candidates in this election? Use the comments below to come up with suggestions, we will sort them and then put the best up for vote to be included in our candidate interviews. Keep the questions generic as they need to be asked of each & every candidate.

We will include 1 or possibly 2, depending on interest, ward questions, so if there is a particular issue in your ward then feel free to add this in the comments below but make sure you say it is a ward question and provide the name of the ward it should be asked in.

Crowd Sourcing
We will be asking you, our readers, to help us with our election coverage when it comes to Election Leaflets.

This year we are working with the Election Leaflets website. What we would like you to do is, scan or photograph any election leaflets you get delivered and add them to the Election Leaflets site, all you need to do is upload your images and fill in a simple form, you don’t need to create any accounts just follow the instructions.

If you do upload any leaflets, please tag them with:

  • Candidates Name
  • Ward
  • Party
  • pitsnpots
  • Any other tags you think are suitable

If you could then drop an E-mail to le2011 at pitsnpots.co.uk with a link to your uploads, we will add the link to the candidates page. Please check the spelling of the candidates name as this is the most important tag that will be used by Election Leaflets to group the information see Shazad Hussain as an example.

Don’t worry about the site not having wards only general election constituencies on it, the Election Leaflets site will still accept local election leaflets.

If you don’t want to upload the leaflets yourself then you can E-mail the files to le2011 at pitsnpots.co.uk and we will do it for you. If you don’t have the ability to scan or photograph the leaflets then you can send them by post to or drop them off at:

PnP Election Leaflets
6 Towns Radio
Shop 26 Queen Street
Burslem
Stoke-on-Trent
ST6 3EG

and we will sort them out for you.

Lets make this the best Local Election coverage we can and let’s get as much information about our candidates as we can so we can hold them accountable for their promises & pledges for the next four years.

Alternative Vote

There is a lot in the news already about Alternative Vote or AV and a lot more to come in the coming weeks as parties lobby for a change in the way we vote here in the UK.

What Is AV?
In short Alternative Voting is where, rather than voting for the person you want to elect and putting your paper in the ballot box, you put a 1 by the person you would most like to elect then grade the other candidates by putting 2, 3, 4 etc after their names.

If no candidate gets a majority of all the votes cast in the constituancy, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is removed and their ballot papers are then recounted and redistributed across the remaining candidates based on second preference. This continues, removing the lowest candidate each time until a majority is reached. See the links to the Electoral Reform Society & Wikipedia at the bottom of the page for a more in-depth description.

So How Would things Be Different In Stoke Under AV?
It isn’t possible to tell exactly how things would have played out in Stoke-on-Trent if AV was being used in the 2010 General Election, but by making some basic assumptions you can see how the vote could have been counted to come to a majority in each of the wards.

Stoke-on-Trent North
Round 1

Candidate Party Vote %
Joan Walley Labour 17,815 44.3
Andy Large Conservative 9,580 23.8
John Fisher Liberal Democrat 7,120 17.7
Melanie Baddeley BNP 3,169 8
Geoffrey Locke UK Independence Party 2,485 6.2

Stoke-on-Trent North didn’t have a clear majority in the 2010 General Election so Geoffrey Locke would have been removed from the count, his votes would be redistributed based on second preference in Round 2

Round 2

Candidate Party Vote %
Joan Walley Labour 18,916 47.6
Andy Large Conservative 10,171 25.3
John Fisher Liberal Democrat 7,560 18.8
Melanie Baddeley BNP 3,395 8

Still no clear majority so now Melanie Baddeley is removed from the count and her votes are redistibuted based on second preference.

Round 3

Candidate Party Vote
Joan Walley Labour 20,332 51
Andy Large Conservative 10,932 27
John Fisher Liberal Democrat 8,126 20

This is enough to give Joan Walley the 50% majority she needs to retain her seat.

Stoke-on-Trent Central
Round 1

Candidate Party Vote %
Tristram Hunt Labour 12,605 38.8
John Redfern Liberal Democrat  7,039  21.7
Norsheen Bhatti  Conservative  6.833  21
Simon Darby BNP   2,502  7.7
Carol Lovatt UK Independance Party  1,402 4.3 
Paul Breeze Independant  959  3
Gary Elsby Independant  399  1.2
Brian Ward City Independants 303   0.9
Alby Walker Independant  295  0.9
Matthew Wright Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition  133  0.4

As the bottom 6 candidates polled only 10.7% of the votes, we can safely skip rounds  2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 leaving just Hunt, Redfern Bhatti & Darby in the vote. At this point the voting would look something like

Round 8

Candidate Party Vote %
Tristram Hunt Labour 13,960 43
John Redfern Liberal Democrat  7,797  24
Norsheen Bhatti  Conservative  7,566  23
Simon Darby BNP   2,771  9

So after the removal of the bottom 6 candidates we are getting closer to a majority, Tristram Hunt has nearly double the number of votes of John Redfern but still not the 50% majority required. Now we take Simon Darbys votes and reallocate them.

Round 9

Candidate Party Vote %
Tristram Hunt Labour 14,930 46
John Redfern Liberal Democrat 8,339 26
Norsheen Bhatti  Conservative 8,092 25

Still no overall majority of 50% with just 3 of the 11 candidates still in the running, so now we have to take the votes from the third placed candidate and re allocate them.

 

Round 10

Candidate Party Vote %
Tristram Hunt Labour 17,581 54
John Redfern Liberal Democrat 9,822 30

and finally we have an elected Member of Parliament with a majority of 54% Tristram Hunt. So in Stoke-on-Trent Central.

Stoke-on-Trent South

Round 1

Candidate Party Vote %
Rob Flello Labour 15,446 38.8
James Rushton Conservative 11,316  28.4
Zulfiqar Ali Liberal Democrat  6.323  15.9
Michael Coleman BNP  3,762  3.4
Mark Barlow UK Independance Party  1,363 3.4
Terry Follows Staffordshire Independent Group 1,208  3
Mark Breeze Independent 434 1.1

Again in Stoke-on-Trent South, every candidate up to second placed James Rushton would have to be removed to give Rob Flello the majority required to hold his seat.

Round 6

Candidate Party Vote %
Rob Flello Labour 20,525 52
James Rushton Conservative 15,034 38

 

While the results (based on our assumptions) are not shocking they do show how much more work would need to go in to counting the votes.

Alternative Voting Is It Any Better Will It Make A Difference?
Well based on our totally unscientific rerun of the 2010 General Election, no it wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome of the election. Until details of how the counts would actually be carried out, it just looks like a lot more work and a far longer night before results are declared.

How Are The Parties Campaigning? 
BNP are campaigning against
Conservatives are campaigning against
English Democrats are are campaigning for
Labour have no official stance
Liberal Democrats are campaigning for
The Green Party are campaigning for
UKIP are campaigning for
 

Assumptions
I made the following assumptions while calculating the new results for each constituency in Stoke-on-Trent.

  • The votes from the lowest candidate in each round were reallocated using the same % as the original vote.
  • A number of votes were lost in each round due to:
    • people not giving second or third preference votes
    • second & thrid preference votes were for candidates already out of the running
    • spoilt papers

Photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ludens/4582962125/