Pervez’s Budget Sham!

Well, will the media and public fall for it?

PitsnPots already have, hook, line “¦”¦”¦..and sinker.

Pervez and Stoke-on-Trent City Council have released the budget cuts because of the Government and it equates to a devastating £33million.

REALLY?

I urge the media and the public to look at the figures very, very closely.

The actual savings that need to be made because of the government reduction in grants is £22million ““ this takes into account the £3million overspend this year that Pervez says will be achieved.

I will repeat this ““ The actual savings that need to be made because of the government reduction in grants is £22million ““ this takes into account the £3million overspend this year that Pervez says will be achieved.

So why put forward £33million of cuts. Is it political to make the government look even worse than it is?

Why announce 50% more cuts than you need?£11million more than is required!!!!

Why Pervez? Why worry people even more than they already are? Why scare more people about their jobs?

You and your Cabinet should be ashamed of yourselves.

Democracy Contempt In stoke-on-Trent

The District Auditor’s Report on the sale of the Britannia Stadium reveals, under independent scrutiny, why Elected Mayor’s are an attack on openess, transparency and our hard fought British democracy.

Even more shocking is the contempt with which officers, paid to serve in the public interest by the public purse, show to elected members and the public.

Make no mistake in thinking that this is a one off report. Secrecy, deceit and hidden agendas are par for the course in Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The new CEO has an enormous task in an organisation in which top heavy management is rotten to its absolute core, and colludes with equally rotten senior politicians, to cover their own arses, and pick up their salaries in shame. Many of them not even prepared to commit more tyhan a part time role but still picking up £20000-30000.

The governance commission tried to lay the chaos at the door of politics and the councillors. Yet the real source of the problems lie at a more fundamental level.

A culture driven by mistrust and now a cabinet determined to squash any debate or scrutiny, aided by an officer core scrambling to save its own skin.

Fortunately they will fail as a growing team presses them at every opportunity – the likes of PitsnPots, D4S and dedicated councillors. I urge anyone and everyone to use FOI and questions to the council meetings and help to free and restore democracy, scrutiny and honesty.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Full Council Meeting 30/06/10

On Wednesday night PitsnPots were in attendance of the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme Full Council Meeting.

In accordance with tradition Mayor Ann Heames entered the Chamber with all councillors and guests upstanding. After prayers the Mayor called the council to business.

Item 1
The Mayor asked for the minutes of the previous full council meeting on 19th May 2010 to be approved.

This was agreed.

Item 2

Mayor’s Announcements (none)

Item 3

Consideration of the Treasury Management Annual Report 2009/10

Cllr Helen Morris (Con) called for it to be received.

Cllr Nigel Jones (Lib Dem) questioned if there would be any changes made due to new government.

Cllr Helen Morris (Con) assured the council that she was confident no changes will need to be made.

The report is approved.

At this point, the Liberal Democrats presented a motion to the Council with regards to new legislation in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 which requires all councils operating executive arrangement to opt for a new leadership model. Local authorities now have to choose between one of two models of governance:
“¢ A directly elected mayor with a four-year term who then appoints the executive or
“¢ An indirectly elected leader, appointed for a four year term by the council, who then appoints councillors to the executive

The Liberal Democrat motion insisted both proposals were “Ëœun-democratic in that they place too much power in one person’. Cllr David Beckett (Lib Dem) presented this motion arguing that the proposals are not only un-democratic but also expensive. He drew attention to the failure of an Elected Mayor and Council Manager in Stoke-on-Trent to support his point. He suggested that a consultation article should be prepared for the Reporter (council newspaper) which will included a summary of the current system and will ask residents for responses in favour of one or the other proposals or in rejection of both.

Council Leader Simon Tagg (Con) then seconded this. Several other councillors from all parties also spoke out in agreement for example Cllr Andrew Fear (Con) said that the concentration of power in fewer hands leads to bad decision making and Cllr Robin Studd (Lib Dem) said it needs to be strongly argued against and again pointed to the failure of the system in Stoke which he called “Ëœour dysfunctional neighbour’.

The motion was put forward and agreed.

Item 4

Statement of the Leader of the Council to Full Council received

Firstly, Cllr Gareth Snell (Lab) asked the council leader if the Reporter would be kept when the Conservative government had spoken out against council newspapers and deemed them too costly.

Council leader Simon Tagg (Con) insisted that the council had made savings in other areas, however, if guidance came from the government that council newspapers are not needed he said “Ëœit will be scrapped’. Although he also pointed out that Staffordshire Moorlands had previously stopped their newspaper and are now in the process of reinstating it.

At this point, Chief Executive Mark Barrow pointed out the success of the communication of Newcastle Borough Council nationally.

Secondly, Cllr John Williams (Lab) drew the council’s attention to the new Drivers and Vehicles Licensing Agency wheel clamping removal powers and asked if a person was to report a vehicle would this be confidential?

The council executive management team assured the council that in this case, and many others, the council has the ability to protect members of the public and names would not need to be given unless they were required by law.

Thirdly, Labour leader Eddie Bowden questioned the financial situation of the new Health and Wellbeing Centre as well as its popularity when free swimming is stopped for senior citizens.

Cllr Wenslie Naylon (Lib Dem) assured the council that the financial situation looked promising and that the centre was “Ëœmore than just swimming’ and would therefore bring in revenue from other activities. In addition, Chief Executive Mark barrow informed the council that the business plan did not take into account free swimming and was robustly tested.

Cllr Mick Clarke (Lab) then asked what steps were in place to ensure the project does not overrun in terms of time and budget.

Executive Director of Regeneration and Development Neale Clifton said he was confident that the centre would be on budget and on time. He informed the council that the cost is estimated at £12.2 million which is significantly less than the £14 million budget.

Cllr Gareth Snell then brought the councils attention to the Chesterton swimming facilities which are now run by the school and questioned how these swimmers are going to be attracted back?

In response Chief Executive Mark Barrow insisted the Chesterton facilities were never factored in and also that swimmers may still be using the facilities at Chesterton they are just now run by the school. Moreover, Cllr Wenslie Naylon (Lib Dem) assured Cllr Gareth Snell that the new centre will be “Ëœan absolute star’ for the borough.

Cllr George Cairns (Lab) then spoke out in support of the new centre, however, he also brought Cllr Wenslie Naylon’s attention to the Knutton Recreation Centre which is being closed.

In reply, Cllr Wenslie Naylon suggested the public may use the college facilities instead. However, Cllr George Cairns informed the council that the public was unable to do so as it was booked until late at night by semi-professional sports teams.

Cllr Derrick Huckfield (UKIP) then spoke out in support of the Knutton Recreation Centre asserting that it has “Ëœmassive demand’ and that it should remain.

To conclude this point, Labour leader Eddie Bowen that voiced his support the Health and Wellbeing Centre.

Fourthly, Cllr Nigel Jones (Lib Dem) then highlighted the council’s decision to pull out of the North Staffs regeneration plan as well as the impression given, particularly by The Sentinel, that Newcastle Borough Council does not want to be associated with Stoke. He asked for clarification on this and asserted that he thought it “Ëœfoolish to go it alone’.

In response, Council leader Simon Tagg (Con) said that some articles in The Sentinel perhaps border on sensationalism and that the council engages in “Ëœhigh level collaboration with all councils in this area.’

Item 5
The Mayor then asked for verbal reports from the Chairs of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees.

Several of the committees were yet to meet this municipal year. However, several Chairs raised some points. (UKIP) Cllr John Williams (Lab) Chair of the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee raised several points relating to Aspire housing and youth provisions. Cllr Christian Barber (Con) Chair of the Economic Development and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee insisted on the importance of the regeneration of Newcastle town, Kidsgrove and Audley. Cllr Eileen Braithwaite (UKIP) also questioned the usage and availability of blue badges.

Item 6
Consideration of the reports of the various Committees (none)

Item 7
The Mayor asked for any petitions to be presented (none)

Item 8
Consideration of any communications which of an urgent nature

The last item was a celebratory one as Council leader Simon Tagg (Con) presented a motion to recognise the achievement of Newcastle Town during the 2009/10 season (particularly after England’s defeat to Germany on Sunday) and to wish them good luck in their next season. If agreed he wishes a letter wishing the team all the best to be presented to the team during an awards evening on Friday 2nd July by the Mayor Ann Heames.

Several councillors spoke out in support of this. Cllr Andrew Fear (Con) said that what Newcastle Town had achieved was remarkable and the council should very much send a message of congratulations. Furthermore, Labour leader Eddie Bowden expressed his agreement as he has been a supporter of Newcastle Town for many years. In addition, Cllr George Cairns (Lab) commended Newcastle Town and expressed his support for any letter.

The motion was carried.

PitsnPots would like to thank Simone Bridgewater and all at Newcastle-under-Lyme Press Office for their kind assistance in helping us to bring you this report.

Stoke-on-Trent BNP Councillor responds to Nazi Salute Photo

Yesterday evening I met with controversial Stoke-on-Trent BNP Councillor Steven Batkin. I had wanted to discuss the photograph in which he had been pictured with three men who were giving a Nazi salute.

Nothing British about the BNP broke the story on their website on May the 5th. I managed to get in touch with Mr Batkin to ask him about the photograph and to give him the opportunity to respond to the reaction. He arranged to meet me at the BNP party office in Stoke’s Civic Centre.Cllr Batkin made some interesting statements during the interview.

When asked about his experience as being the first BNP Councillor in Stoke.

“It wasn’t very nice, all the existing parties, Labour Tory, Lib Dem and Independent, all ganged up on me”.

When asked about what drove him into politics Mr Batkin stated that he noticed changes in society whilst at work and it became obvious to him that..
“It was the Banking Industry that was running the Country and not Political Parties”

Commenting on BNP voters, and the impact of Multicultural society, Batkn told of BNP voters who had mixed race, family members.

” I get people say to me, We all voted BNP, and yet on their sideboard, they have photographs of their coloured grandchildren”

On immigration Batkin said,
” We need to stop any more immigration to make sure we don’t get a situation like the Balkans”

Mr Batkin then went on to talk about the National Fronts stance on repatriation;
” This concept of repatriation and turning the clock back, there’s no way it can happen in British history and if any one ever tried that, there’d be civil war.”

when questioned about the photograph in which he appears with men who are giving a Nazi Salute, he stated that;
“The people in the Photograph, although they are genuine patriotic people, I believe their strategy is wrong”

I asked him why he had appeared in the Photograph at all, he Said “It was a risk, which has certainly backfired on me”.

He also said that he didn’t think the men in the photo saw it as a Nazi salute but a “Fascist salute”.

When asked how people would feel about the photo, given that Britain lost thousands of people in WW2 fighting Fascism, he replied that he thought people “wont be very happy about it”

The photograph was supplied to the antifascist website Nothing British about the BNP by former BNP group leader Alby Walker. Walker recently left the party stating one of his reasons for leaving that there was a vein of Holocaust denial in the party. When Mr asked if he was a Holocaust denier, Mr Batkin had this to say.

” I’ve always believed about 300,000 people died in the Jewish holocaust, not 6 million.” “there’s no way , there was that many Jews in Europe at that time who could have sustained that amount of deaths.”

Mr Batkin serves as a School Governor in two Stoke on Trent Schools, Edensor Technical College and Mitchel High School.

A representative from Edensor High told BBC Midlands today that Mr Batkin should resign, not only from the board of Governors at Edensor, but from the city council. When asked if he would be stepping down from those positions in light of the controversy, Mr Batkin replied ” I expect left wing people to say that, they feel they need to impress the establishment, they are always on the lookout for more money, and if they can use the BNP or me personally to elevate their selves, the will do that.”

He said he wouldn’t be stepping down as it needed someone to speak out about the “birthrate of 1-5 yr old Muslims which has doubled”. He stated that this could “turn into a conflict at some point of culture and ideology”.

Pits n Pots warns anyone listening to this interview that they may be offended by some of views expressed by Cllr Batkin, particularly about the holocaust.

The sound levels fluctuate in the interview. It is best listened to with your PC’s speakers turned to a high volume, or through headphones. We will be uploading the high quality version soon.

PitsnPots Meets – Nothing British about the BNP

<strong>With the Elections looming, Pitsnpots have invited lots of local councilors to have their say on the website, irrespective of which political party they represent. Some have taken us up on the offer, others remain notably absent.<strong/>

We heard that the organisation "Nothing British About The BNP" were coming to Stoke to talk with a number of key political and social activists. We managed to organise an interview with James Bethell and Maurice Cousins. You can hear the interview below.

Hanley Firestation bids Farewell..for now

Hanley Fire Station was open to the public today with a farewell open day. Fire Fighters put on various displays including, rescue demonstrations, using cherry pickers and harnesses, and how to put out a chip pan fire. The public were able to sit in a fire trucks which were displaying their equipment such as hoses and winching gear.

In addition there were a variety of stalls laid out giving away freebies for children such as colouring sheets, armbands and water bottles. Inside the main fire bay, old uniforms, and fire engines from years gone by were on display alongside a model of the New Hanley fire station which will be built on the current site with work beginning later this year.

The new-build Fire Station is just one of nine new build Community Stations across the county. The new look stations will be designed to accommodate the general public with seminar rooms and lecture theatres to enable community use of the brand new state of the art facilities.

48,000 view Pits n Pots Rally Coverage

UPDATED STATS.

48,000 people have viewed our You Tube channel footage of the EDL & UAF rallies in Hanley this weekend.

The video interviews on our YouTube Channel and rally footage recorded by the Pits n Pots team over the weekend have been viewed by over 48,000 people in just two days. One video alone has attracted over 22,000 views.

Today [Monday] our YouTube Channel is second to ITN as the most watched news/politics channel, with just under 50% less views than the National News Agency. We are also the 16th most watched channel over all categories.

Our photo gallery of the day has had over 10,000 views and the live coverage on the day had 1000 people watching our aggregated feeds at one point.

The site had over 5000 unique visitors on Saturday afternoon as people hit us to get the latest information from the rallies.

Tony Walley, founder of Pits n Pots said, ‘this is fantastic news for us as a local news site, to see that people are hitting us to get the latest information. We have been working with Staffordshire Police and the Stoke-on-Trent City Council to get information out to our readers on the run up to the rallies and did our best to cover the days events as they happened. Being able to use our site and technology to be able to report on the events almost live was a challenge and an experience to say the least. We had planned on covering things such as council meetings live not running around the streets of Hanley covering rallies!’

He went on to say, ‘we were able to use our local network of regular readers and commenter’s to help provide information and feeds from around the town on the day. We know the press office in Hanley Police station were monitoring our feed during the day on Saturday as well as a number of other news organisations.’

Website Blog

Things seem to have settled down in the three weeks since we launched this build of Pits n Pots.

There are a few bugs here and there that we are working through but on the whole the feed back we have had has been positive. A few people have criticised the new site but generally everyone seems to be getting along ok with it.

User Comments
One of the new features we have added to the site this week is the ability to list all comments from a particular user.

If you click on the user name above any comment they have made on the site you will be taken to their profile page, if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the profile you will see 2 links:

To view all comments by Mike Rawlins click here
To view all posts by Mike Rawlins click here

Click on either of these links and it will return all the comments or posts by a particular user.

Comments
You may have noticed that the number of comments has dropped slightly since we launched this version of the site. This is because of the new spam filters we have in place, a lot of the ‘rubbish’ comments have now gone away, on the whole the comments are better and relevant to the posts. The numbers of visitors to the site have remained the same.

Bookmarks
Don’t forget that you can also bookmark posts by using the ‘bookmark this’ link at the foot of each post on the site. Bookmarks are stored in your profile and can be accessed by clicking on my account in the sidebar then clicking on the bookmarks tab.

Links
A few people have asked us where all the links have gone that used to be in the sidebar of the old site. We have removed a lot of them as they were rarely / never used.

I am going to archive all the old links over the next few weeks so they are still accessible if you really want to use them but don’t clutter the site up.

Any Stoke-on-Trent councillor who has a blog is listed on the right and we have added contextual links to the site. Contextual links appear in the text of a post that has relevant content. So if a story is about Stoke-on-Trent City Council you will see that the name has been turned in to a link, likewise with Staffordshire Police or Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. This will allow us to provide the links but in a more user friendly way.

Eric and I are still working away in the background so if you spot any bugs or have anything you would like to suggest to us then please send an e-mail to webteam[at]pitsnpots.co.uk