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.