More Problems With Stoke-on-Trent Ward Boundaries Emerge

With less than 24 hours until the polling stations open, a further ward boundary issue has been highlighted to Pits n pots.

It has already been reported that a number of houses on London Road were placed in Springfields and Trent Vale instead of the Boothen and Oakhill ward, while properties on Leek Road are mixed up between Birches Head and Central Forest Park and Abbey Hulton and Townsend wards.

A number of properties on High Lane have been incorrectly placed in to Burslem Park ward when they should actually be in Little Chell and Stanfield ward.

In Blurton properties on Finstock Avenue should be in Blurton East ward but have been placed in the have mistakenly been registered in Blurton West and Newstead ward.

Now it appears that Wileman Street in Fenton has been placed in to the Mount Pleasant and Fenton West Ward when it is actually part of the Fenton East Ward. Victoria Road in Fenton forms part of the boundary between the two wards with Wileman Street being to the east but has been placed in to the ward on the west of the road.

This is yet another mess left by the Electoral Review which the citizens of Stoke-on-Trent are going to have to live with.

It is unfortunate these anomalies have happened but they are a very small percentage amounting to 3 or 4 streets out of over 6,000. I need to emphasise everyone entitled to a vote can still vote, no one has been deprived of a vote, and I would encourage them to use their vote tomorrow (Thursday).

The Boundary Commission decision on wards was very late, the end of January, these anomalies are a result of not having enough time to check everything before this election. After 5 May we will start to check the register thoroughly.

Do you know of any other streets or properties which have been placed in the wrong ward?

500 Words From Abi Brown

It doesn’t seem like 12 months ago that I was last writing about why I would
like to be a City Councillor – and being elected last year was one of the
proudest moments of my life. Over 2200 people put their faith in me, and I
hope I have done my best to fulfil the pledges I made.

Being a visible councillor in my ward is important to me – I’ve held regular
surgeries, kept in touch through newsletters and by attending Residents
Associations and other events, and generally getting out and about. I’ve
blogged about my experiences, many of which have been republished on
Pits&Pots. I’ve also worked hard to find solutions to problems, such as anti
social behaviour and road safety, and although I can’t claim to have solved
all these issues, I’ve certainly helped to improve the situation.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to be visible and ensure residents’ needs are
put first.

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’ the saying goes, and alongside every councillor is
a team of Council officers and operatives, representatives from partner
organisations such as the Police, Fire Service and NHS, residents, community
groups, and also when looking at bigger strategic issues locally, other
councillors. As the Council reorganises itself, the role of councillor will
change to be more hands on, which has always been my approach anyway. One of
the best things about being a councillor in the Meir area is the fantastic
people I’ve been able to work with, and the successes we’ve achieved
together, such as the flowers in Meir, the focus on street cleaning and the
reduction in anti social behaviour. So much is achievable when people work
together.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to work with residents, community group and
partners to get the best for my ward and area.

Councillors have many roles – however one of the most challenging is trying
to be both a good local councillor but also willing to stick your head above
the parapet for the City. Perhaps because I’m a Conservative, I’m used to
taking a bit of flack, but we need as a collective of councillors to be both
proud and pushy for our City. I’m not prepared to sit back and be a
passenger – the Council Chamber is a pretty scary place, but I view it like
a stage, and I know residents don’t elect councillors to be part of the
background scenery. I quickly decided to dismiss the voices that said I
should sit and watch for a while, and instead I got up and spoke. I don’t
have all the answers, but I want to be part of the debate and contribute
what I can.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to speak up for both my ward and my City, and
contribute to the debate on how we can make Stoke-on-Trent a place we can
all be proud of.

Last year, I asked residents who would not normally vote Conservative to
lend me their vote so I could show them what I could do, as a local person
sincere in wanting to do the right thing and get the best deal for the area.
I hope that over the last year I have proved this to be the case.

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.

500 Words From Brian Ward

Why should anyone vote for us as councillors and why should you read my 500 words?

Criticism and negative press constantly points out how the council gets everything wrong.
When I stood for council eight years ago I wanted to get elected because I thought exactly the same as many others, and that you would be hard pushed to do any worse. I believed the constant voting in of the same old Labour people, time and time again had made them complacent.

There seemed to be no vision for the city and no urgency in replacing the lost jobs and businesses.

There seemed to be no interest in banging on the governments door for funding to bring inward investment to our city, even though we had three Labour MPs.

I was elected twice in 2003 & 2007 and hope to be re-elected again in 2011 even though the Governance Commission and Boundary Commission have, in my opinion, tried their best to eliminate all but Mainstream parties by going against their own guidelines and dividing established communities and ignoring natural boundaries. We can only hope that it doesn’t decrease people’s choice in this election.

When I was newly elected, I was constantly frustrated at the time it took to get anything done.

This was something I was not used to in my past life when running my own businesses.
I learned how to use the council system to my best advantage, to achieve the best possible.
I have been able to get lots of benefits for my local area of Blurton with new jobs, new shops, new housing, Parking bays and numerous other things to improve the Blurton area.

I have highlighted problem issues and fought for what I believed to be right,

not only for my area, but our city. I have highlighted them on Pits n Pots and have been quoted in the Sentinel now fewer than 368 times in the last two and a half years alone.

I have persevered,

even when I felt that I was getting nowhere on certain issues, but, I never give up and always see things through to make sure I get the best deal available, like setting up the working group that reduced consultants, which has saved us a fortune.

I have been involved in several meetings in London and Birmingham banging the drum for Stoke, which I believe has been neglected in the past. There needs to be more done.

Regeneration will be the key to putting our city back on the map

although I have voiced my views several times where I think that Regeneration has been too slow.
The council needs to push the Government even harder to make sure Stoke-on-Trent gets Enterprise Zone status to improve our situation.

Although this year’s budget settlement has been severe and difficult to manage,

we were able to save Children’s centres, Respite care for disabled children along with many front line services that other councils have reduced. Also put a freeze on council tax.

Incoming councillors will be faced with the stark reality of finding next years £20million savings. This will need some skill and a lot of hard work and I hope I am there to help get the best deal available.

Don’t forget I am a resident and taxpayer and what affects you affects me.

Brian Ward
Leader of the City Independents
Blurton Ward Councillor

500 Words from Matt Wright

I can remember saying during my stint as a TUSC candidate in the general election last year that no matter which of the 3 main pro-capitalist, pro-big business parties won the election, we would be paying for the bail out of the banking system with our jobs, services and living standards.

Fast-forward 12 months and we have the spectacle of a Labour council- a Labour council (!) passing on Tory cuts with only token resistance. It’s a scene that is being repeated across the country.

A week after Stoke council voted through £36m in cuts it came to light that the council had, in fact, over £60m stashed away in reserves. Instead of using some of this money to stop cuts in jobs and services they are using over £20m of it in redundancy pay outs to staff. It’s true that Community Voice and the BNP voted against the cuts, but where was their alternative budget?

So what would I do?

I will be fighting cuts and privatisation tooth and nail. But opposition in words is not enough, neither is simply voting against cuts. What I will do is propose alternatives to cuts and privatisation.

I would propose that we -

* Set a ‘needs budget’ that would take in to account what we NEED as a city, not just what we can afford from the measly government handouts.

* Use a combination of council reserves and prudential borrowing powers to stop, and even reverse the spending cuts inflicted on the city.

* Launch a massive campaign across the city to demand more money from the government, that links up with trade unions, community groups and communities.

I will also be demanding that the council -

* Embarks on a huge program of building council houses to relieve our massive social housing waiting lists and create jobs.

* Call in any decision by local NHS trusts to make redundancies as a result of ‘over spending’ or funding cuts.

* Bring as many of the privatised council services back ‘in house’ to stop our council tax lining the pockets of big business.

Say it can’t be done?

Take a look at the example of Liverpool city council in the 80′s. They launched a similar campaign against Thatcher’s government and won the equivalent of £60m back and built over 5000 houses, 5 leisure centres and created 2000 jobs in the process.

More information here-

http://www.liverpool47.org/legacy/legacy.htm

I’ve been involved in many campaigns over the last 6 years or so. I’ve been fighting back against the low wages, privatisations, cuts and wars imposed on us by the last Labour government. I have also been supporting and building support for workers across the city who were taking strike action against these attacks. I’m also organiser for North Staffs Against Cuts which has been instrumental in building the anti-cuts movement in north Staffs. Whether I’m elected or not I will continue to fight in the interests of working class people across the city.

Pits n Pots Election Coverage More Than Doubles Site Traffic

Since we launched our Interactive Election Map last week our visitor numbers have more than doubled.

From our normal 5 – 6000 visitors and and average 20,000 page views each day, we have seen a marked increase in our visitor numbers to between 15 & 17,000 per day generating almost 63,000 page views.

We have also seen an increase in the number of new accounts and E-mail subscriptions over the past 7 days.

we had been planning our election coverage for some time before we actually published our interactive map. Our election pages have generated a massive amount of interest and lots of positive feedback.

We are sharing some of our content with other local sites who are covering the election in their own wards to make this election the most open and transparent we possibly can.

Mike and the guys who work away in the background on the site have done a fantastic job.

Remember we need your help to make this election transparent.

If you are tweeting about the election use the tag #le2011 & #sot
If you are writing about the election even if it is only about your own ward, then drop us a mail with a link to your site and we will include it in our coverage.

We are working with the Election Leaflets website during the 2011 elections and 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.

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.

Election Campaign Launch – CV The Only Alternativ”‹e!

**PRESS RELEASE FROM THE COMMUNITY VOICE GROUP**

Today Community Voice launches its election campaign for the forthcoming local elections in Stoke-on-Trent.

Community Voice has 12 carefully chosen candidates across the City.

“I am so pleased and proud to be a part of Community Voice and our first local election campaign, especially in putting forward 12 quality, active, community candidates.

“We strongly believe we have made a significant contribution in the council over the last 12 months, both in terms of shaping policy and decisions, as well as effectively holding the council, Cabinet and officers, to account.

“Community Voice has clearly demonstrated the we are the only alternative to the council’s coalition, the only voice on the council in a sea of silence.

“Labour, Conservatives, City Independents, and Liberal Democrats are one and the same on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, putting party politics and their cosy coalition before ordinary people and their own residents.

CV has been the only group actively scrutinising and challenging decisions.

We make 5 cast iron and crystal clear promises, yes PROMISES, to our electors:

1. Our Communities Come First, and we promise that we will put them first
2. We promise to protect Adult Older Care

3. We promise to protect Children’s Social Care and Education including Children’s Centres

4. We promise to clean up the council, banish secrecy, route wrong-doing and fraud, and make it more open and transparent

5. We promise to give people more say and more power in their community.

We strongly believe that each councillor, whatever party or political persuasion should put the residents that elect them FIRST.

We look forward to the coming weeks, sharing our vision and passion with all residents of this great City.”

Every single one of Community Voice’s candidates has a track record of working hard in their community from all backgrounds.

“Our 12 candidates all have a solid background in the community. Each one has come to Community Voice, CV has not chased or canvassed anyone to stand.

“We have no “paper” candidates at all, unlike the other major parties such as Labour, Conservatives and the Lib Dems, and we have made the decision early on not to just accept anyone to build up the numbers. I can reveal we have turned down 8 approaches from individuals whom we felt it was not the right time for them to represent CV. This was for various reasons, most notably those that bear personal grudges against other parties or individuals.

“Residents and Communities need a real voice. One that put them FIRST without exception. CV will work with anybody in the interests on our residents from whatever political party, but we will not shy away from our responsibility to challenge bad proposals or decisions, or hold those that put party or self interest above this City and its citizens.”

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.