A Sad, Sad Day for Stoke-on-Trent – Action is Needed In London!

Today is a sad, sad day for our City and for everyone who lives and works here.

This is the day that we say goodbye and bid farewell to a number of much loved services and leisure facilities.

We have already seen the closure of the City Farm. By the end of play today we will lose Park Hall Golf Course, the Dial a Ride scheme, Stoke Recreation Centre, Fenton Library and the cafe at Gladstone Pottery Museum.

Communities are devastated by the closure of Shelton and Tunstall pools which will also close their doors today.

There is talk that a private investor is looking to keep these two amenities open but I know a number of councillors have concerns that this is a viable option.

Officers and certain councillors are desperate to further discussions with the individual concerned and to offer assistance where ever possible. I have seen an email in which the potential investor offers sincere thanks to councillors and officers as they try and present a credible business case and secure the necessary funding.

Only time and rigorous scrutiny will tell whether this offer can be taken seriously and until i’s are dotted and t’s crossed parties are trying to play the matter down for fear of wrongly building up the hopes of the action groups and communities concerned.

Politically, opponents are keen to blame the city council’s ruling coalition of Labour, Conservative & Independent Alliance, Liberal Democrats and the City Independent Group for these unprecedented cuts.

Out on the streets though it is a very different matter. The general public are in no doubt as to who is exactly to blame.

The electorate hold the national coalition 100% responsible, everyone I have talked to is angry at the level and speed of these cuts.

For me, it is way too much, way too soon. The fact that we are at the start of what can only be described as a public sector cull, puts our country’s recovery from the worst recession in modern history at risk.

Take out the disposable income of the vast number of people who are about to be thrown out onto the scrap heap with the only prospect of landing squarely on the dole queue, and the knock on effect on the economy could be disastrous.

Meanwhile back on the mean streets of Stoke-on-Trent, the effect of these cuts is biting at the very front end of our society. No one is left untouched, the elderly, children, the disabled and the most vulnerable are all to suffer for the indiscretions and downright financial mismanagement of a large number of bankers who thought that they had a god given right to play a game of poker with the worlds finances.

And what has been the effect on the very individuals that put us in this mess in the first place? They are to be rewarded with unbelievably high bonuses often paid out by near state owned financial institutions.

Action groups will carry on fighting for the services and
facilities that they want to save and I pray that there is some success to be had.

£35million pounds have been wiped out of the budget for the upcoming financial year with the inevitability that another £20million will follow next year.

Our elected representatives have faced up to their responsibilities; officers of the council have administrated the cuts based on the balance sheet in front of them. The objectives? To save, to cut, to reduce and to merge services and facilities knowing that their actions are going to hurt the very people they seek to serve.

There have been those both inside the chamber and out in the political scene at large, that have sought to make political gain from the fact that Stoke-on-Trent City Council has had to make cuts. Indeed I know that certain individuals have been told to stay away from the Tunstall Pool Action Group meetings because their number one priority was to make political gain from the fight.

As much as we pontificate locally, in reality we all know there is little we can do to influence the level of cuts metered out to the public of Stoke-on-Trent.

Direct action on a national level is the only sensible recourse to voice our discontent and complete bewilderment over these unprecedented and unnecessary cuts.

The public have to take the issue up with the organ grinder [the national coalition government] as opposed to the monkey [Stoke-on-Trent City councillors], for it is them that have decided to decimate the funding to our City.

The protests in London last weekend attracted in the region of 450,000 people and but for a few hundred anarchists and complete nut jobs they were hugely successful in delivering a very direct message to this government.

That message is very loud and very clear ““ There is an alternative!

Peaceful, direct and unwavering protests on the largest scale imaginable would send a clear concise warning and in my humble opinion is the only way to save the services and facilities we value in this city.

So, in summary to save Stoke, we must march via London and parliament square for it is there that the true perpetrators reside.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Approve £35million Cuts Budget

Stoke-on-Trent City Council set their budget today [Thursday] following a long and sometimes heated debate.

The motion in moving the budget, which includes cuts of some £35million and the closures of several key facilities, was eventually won by 40 votes in favour to 13 votes against.

In voting to accept the budget proposals, councillors have agreed to the closure of Shelton Pool, Burslem & Fenton Libraries, Park Hall Golf Course, 2 elderley care provisions and other valued services and public amenities.

Unless viable business proposals are submitted by community groups or social enterprises the city could also lose Ford Green Hall, the City Farm, Etruria Industrial Museum and the much publicised Tunstall Pool.

It was not all doom and gloom however as the council have confirmed that it is to retain all the City’s Children Centres, Stoke Speaks Out, Shopmobility and all Local Centres.

In moving the motion to commend the Budget, Council Leader Mohammed Pervez said that it was imperative that the council set a legal and balanced budget. He also confirmed that there is to be no Council Tax rise in the next municipal year.

Cllr Pervez told the chamber that it had been a long and hard road to get to the point where the cabinet were able to recommend this budget. He reminded the chamber that the council could not allow petty arguments to derail the process of agreeing this budget.

He said that the cabinet and the officers of the council had been composed, collected and considered as well as open and transparent during the consultation and the budget setting process.

Cllr Pervez reminded the chamber that Stoke-on-Trent City Council had been the 8th hardest hit authority in the country and that those councillors who had accused the cabinet of scaremongering should be glad that they had prepared for the worse case scenario.

The Community Voice group moved an amendment calling for a postponement in setting the budget as they believed that there had been insufficient Equality Impact Assessments carried out on all the budget proposals.

Community Voice spokesman Cllr Mike Barnes, said that the council needed to minimise risk and should heed the legal challenges relating to Equality Impact across other authorities across the country.

Cllr Barnes urged the cabinet to accept the need to dot every I and cross every “Ëœt’.

He condemned the documentation produced to support the budget proposals for failing to mention Equality.

Fellow Community Voice Councillor Mick Salih criticised the cabinet and council officers for not handing round the printed amendment to the substantive motion before the meeting.

He also stated that he was unable to support the budget because there were a number of proposals in it that were still under negotiation. He said that it would be wrong to pass an holistic budget when a large amount of the fine detail was not known.

Deputy Council Leader Ross Irving [Conservative] said that legal clarification was necessary and suggested that the legal officer should address the chamber and give his opinion on whether there was an issue with regards to Equality Impact.

Paul Hackney gave a long and detailed assessment of the situation and concluded that in his opinion the Council had carried out the necessary assessments with regard to Equality and that they has shown due regard during the budget consultations, overview and scrutiny processes and in the final proposals.

Community Voice’s amendment was defeated heavily.

There was a long, passionate, heated and sometimes angry debate in the chamber on the substantive motion of adopting the budget proposals.

The debate was divided between primarily those councillors in the four-way coalition parties of Labour, Conservative and Independent Allliance, Liberal Democrat and City Independent Group [apart from Cllr Dave Conway who refused to support the budget] and those councillors in opposition.

The coalition councillors condemned the opposition councillors, especially the Community Voice group, for playing to the public gallery and for not providing an alternative to the budget proposals.

The opposition councillors especially Community Voice criticised the coalition for not listening to the residents of the city.

Cllr Peter Kent-Baguley accused the cabinet of lacking political judgement and of having no clear criteria in setting this budget.

Cabinet Councillors rebuked the accusations by saying that the criteria was always to protect the most vulnerable and needy in the city.

This meeting was one of the longest in recent times. Passions and emotions were running high. Coalition councillors constantly referred to the need to accept the financial situation imposed on the city by the National Coalition Government.
Coalition Councillors also spoke about taking political responsibility and demonstrating clear leadership in formulating this budget.

Opposition Councillors spoke of the hardship that the citizens and residents of the city will have to endure as a result of these levels of cuts.

No matter what the political persuasion it was evident that the burden of public duty was wearing hard on all the councillors within the chamber.

The opposition councillors gave it heir best shot and the coalition councillors stood firm in the face of adversity and backed their cabinet colleagues.

We have a series of Audio Interviews to bring you.

First one is with Cllr Mike Barnes from the Community Voice group who explains why they were seeking a postponement of a budget decision. This was recorded before the meeting.

Then we hear from Matt Wright from the Socialist Party who explains why his North Staffs Against Cuts group were urging councillors to reject the budget proposals.

A member of the Socialist Workers Party was ejected from the council chamber during the meeting for causing a disturbance.

Next up we hear from Liz from Trent Vale who was also asked to leave the chamber for trying [very peacefully] to address the councillors in the chamber to get support for Shelton Pool and from a member of the action group fighting to save Shelton Pool.

And finally we hear from the four leaders of the coalition groups on the City Council, Cllr Mohammed Pervez [Labour], Cllr Ross Irving [Conservative & IA], Cllr Kieran Clarke [Lib Dem] and Cllr Brian Ward [City Independents] who give their reaction to winning the vote on the budget.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cabinet Propose Retention of All Children’s Centres

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Cabinet are proposing the retention of all 16 Children’s Centres after listening to public concerns and the 6000 strong petition organised by the Save Our Children Centre’s group headed by Millissa Beydilli.

Whilst the Cabinet are proposing to save the Children’s Centres, the award winning Stoke Speaks Out service, short breaks for the disabled and carers, the Merit Pupil referral service and 24/7 CCTV coverage, they have also confirmed their intention to close several key facilities.

Although the Children’s Centres have been saved Council Leader Mohammed Pervez would give no guarantee that staff jobs would be saved. He also gave an indication that there may be a reorganisation of the Children’s Centres management structure.

The decision to close Shelton and Tunstall pools, Fenton and Burslem Libraries and the Heathside and Eardley Care Homes was also announced.

There is a six month stay of execution for education establishments Ford Green Hall, Etruria Industrial Museum and Stanley Head whilst the council explores the possibility of the transferring them to a community trust or social enterprise.

The future also looks brighter for Meir Community and Education Centre and for Northwood Stadium.

The Meir looks set to retain their community centre after the council leader announced that the council was looking to transfer more services into the popular facility.

The popular service Shopmobility, located at the Potteries Shopping Centre, will also be saved.

Mohammed Pervez confirmed that users have offered to pay for the service and the council are happy to go along with that proposal.

Northwood Stadium is not closing at this stage.

The Future of the City Farm looks bleak however. The Council Leader, Mohammed Pervez confirmed that the council did not consider the farm as a priority and indicated that the council had no statutory obligation to deliver such a service.

The tender to transfer the farm to an independent operator was suspended amidst a dispute over the ownership of the land. Whist the tender is likely to be re-instated at some stage, the feeling is that there would be a lack of interested parties coming forward to take over what was consider by the Guardian Newspaper a top 10 free attraction in the country just a few years ago.

There was also good news for every household in the City.
The Council Leader announced that Council Tax will be frozen for the next year.

The City Council will take up the governments offer a 2.5% grant which will realise £2million to the local authority.

Mohammed Pervez said that this decision was taken because the Cabinet considered that families were already under pressure following the impact of the recent VAT rise to 20%.

In presenting these proposals, the council leader said that he and his cabinet, along with the CEO John van de Laarschot and his officers, had listened to feedback from the public, elected members and members of the City Council’s staff.

Despite today’s announcements it is still expected that 700 staff will leave the employment of the City Council over the next few months through voluntary or compulsory redundancies.

The City Council are facing a gap in funding of £35.6million for the next financial year.

The national coalition government implemented cuts of 8.1% upon the City of Stoke-on-Trent which when the council factored in the reductions in area based and other grant funding, actually resulted in a bigger percentage cut.

Mohammed Pervez was keen to point out that he had pleaded the case that Stoke-on-Trent was a special case with the government but in his words “Ëœthose pleas fell on deaf ears’.

Pervez said that he had written to government on numerous occasions, he had visited London and held talks with a junior minister working in Local Government and Communities Minister Eric Pickles’s team and had joined forces with other authorities namely Blackpool, Blackburn, Hull and Torbay, but to no avail. Stoke-on-Trent was still one of the worse hit areas for cuts in funding.

The council leader also said that this budget consultation had been the most thorough than any before. He and his cabinet claim that they had taken into consideration the feedback from the “ËœLet’s Talk’ consultations and the comments made during his live web debate exclusively on Pits n Pots when making these difficult decisions.

Members of the City council staff had also been given the opportunity to have their say as a part of the “ËœTell John’ exercise held by the CEO John van de Laarschot.

These proposals will now be put in front of all the political groups and presented to all elected members ahead of the Budget Meeting of the Full City Council to be held on the 24th February.

The meeting will be webcast on the Council Website.

After the briefing Council Leader Mohammed Pervez and CEO John van de Laarschot gave their views.

Listen to the audio below.

Stoke-on-Trent’s Let’s Talk Consultation Results Published

The residents of Stoke-on-Trent are most concerned about the future of children’s centres, according to the city council’s Let’s Talk consultation.

Other areas of concern were the shop mobility service, Shelton pool, Meir community centre and Tunstall pool.
Almost 1,000 comments were received during the six week campaign which was launched by council leader Councillor Mohammed Pervez on November 1. The comments will be considered by the Cabinet before final decisions are made about the budget next year.

It included sending a leaflet to all homes; many community meetings; an Ask the Leader day and a live web question and answer session with the Leader.

[Cllr Mohammed Pervez said]“This extensive consultation has given our residents the chance to tell us what they consider to be most important to them”
“We will look carefully at all the comments but we need to be perfectly clear: the government’s financial settlement for the city is the worst in living memory. Tough choices will need to be made. We have very little room to manoeuvre given the extent of these government cuts “[/quote]

The top eight results are:

1 Children’s Centres (141 responses/15pc)
2 Shopmobility (76/8pc)
3 Meir Community Centre (66/7pc)
4 Shelton Pool (48/5pc):
5 Tunstall Pool (36/4pc)
5 Keep Library Services (36/4pc):
5 Etruria Ind Museum/Ford Green Hall (36/4pc)
8 Stanley Head (30/3pc).

Further details on the consultation are available at www.stoke.gov.uk/letstalk.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

More On The Cuts and The Apparent Insensitivity of The Council.

On Saturday, I was invited to hitch a ride aboard the Council’s Cuts Bus.

We met in Stoke, talked to some people, moved on to Fenton Manor and talked a deal more and the bus then headed up to Hanley [City Centre].

I was the only media there apart from a Sentinel photographer. Most of BBC Radio Stoke was on-strike over pensions. That’s the good thing about Pits n Pots and the hyper-local sites across the country, as we do our thing for nothing apart from the love of our City, we would turn up to the opening of an envelope!

I was keen to gauge the opinion of the public, not the politicians so much as I’m pretty sure I know where they are coming from.

The public really surprised me. They did not hit out at our local council, they did however, take a massive swipe at the coalition government.

Their opinions only served to reinforce my view that the Conservatives will face a backlash over these upcoming cuts. The Liberal Democrats face oblivion!

The council are saying that they need to realise budget savings of £33million, yet in an audio interview I did with the Cabinet Member for Resources Kieran Clarke he revealed that the cuts were likely to be in the region of £25million, and could be as much as £28million.

It begs the question and has prompted some scrutiny of why the council executive is advocating cuts £5-8million more than is actually required.

One answer could be; worst case scenario, the more politically astute among the city would suggest that this could be a PR exercise on behalf of the council executive.

If you listen to the audio with the members of the public it is obvious that there are some proposed closures that are simply not palatable to the folk in this city.

We are a caring city, Stokies look after the elderly, the young and the most vulnerable in our society. It’s inbuilt in every one of us [apart from people like Craig Pond and his ilk who only care if you are white!] It’s who we are!

So when the council save some of the Children’s Centre’s and protect some of the elderly care services earmarked for a reduction or possible closure, we have to be mindful that it is not an attempt to deflect our attention away from causes like Shelton & Tunstall pools, the closure of libraries or the City Farm.

It will be marketed as the “Ëœwe have listened’ budget but if we are not careful that £25-28million worth of cuts will be made by cutting the very things that give people of the city real enjoyment.

When it is put like “Ëœwhat do you prefer to see closed ““ The City Farm or a Sure Start Centre’? There is only one sensible answer.

But, on the other hand if there was no real need to close a Sure Start Centre as an example then that is a smokescreen and a very different matter indeed.

To some Potteye [Cllr Mike Barnes] and Community Voice are described as a “Ëœpain in the arse’ ““ they are often portrayed as troublemakers. But if they did not keep bringing these issues out into the fore we, the public would be none the wiser.

The question needs asking why there aren’t more councillors of all political persuasions asking pertinent questions and investigating those potential banana skins.

Then we have the massive own goal of the refurbishment of the first floor of the Civic Centre.

In the week where the council staff were told that up to 700 of them may lose their livelihoods, decking is laid to tart up an open space for the enjoyment of senior officers. It beggars belief!

Along with the need for biting cuts, the executive should and could have announced a moratorium of all unnecessary spend, whatever the project.

I have no doubts that some refurbishment and improvements are needed to certain sections of the Civic Centre, but are they really that desperate that even in these times of austerity, the CEO and senior politicians press ahead with the spending of a large amount of money to improve the working environment of the elite within the council.

I call on all group leaders to call for a halt in the refurbishment of the 1st floor to show the public of this city that cuts bite even at the top.

But more importantly it is essential out of respect to those workers who face the loss of their jobs that our council put a stop to all un-necessary spending.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cut £33million from Budget ““ 700 Jobs Could Go As A Result

Following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, the size of the task facing Stoke-on-Trent City Council to produce a balanced budget has been revealed.

Council Leader Mohammed Pervez and Chief Executive Officer John van de Laarschot have today unveiled proposal which could result in £33 million in budget cuts and up to 700 Stoke-on-Trent City Council job losses. The announcement also means the loss of many key services and the closure or transferral of many public amenities.

The Governments change to the BSF funding also means that Stoke-on-Trent may lose 40% of the money needed to carry out their academy building programme. The Council Executive stress that the Vanguard & DECATS programme will identify areas where rationalisation can be achieved and the duplication of services and tasks can be minimised.

Each directorate will lose employees,

  • Children & Young People Services, there will be savings of £12.6million and 240 job losses.
  • Adult Services there will be savings of £4.5million and 160 jobs losses.
  • Housing, Environment & Neighbourhood Services there will be savings of £2.5million and 100 job losses.
  • The Chief Executives Directorate will make savings of £2.3million and there will be 30 job losses, some of which will be in the Press & Communications Department.
  • Central Services, there will be £7million savings and 110 job losses.
  • Regeneration will be expected to make £4.2million of savings and 70 jobs will be lost.

There is sure to be a public backlash against the closure of popular facilities and the loss in some services. There are some very contentious proposed closures including, Shelton & Tunstall pools, Stoke Recreation Centre and the Willfield Community Centre. The City Farm, Park Hall Golf Course will be closed or transferred and Etruria Industrial Museum has been earmarked for closure.

The will be a realistic rise for services provided by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and entrance fees to leisure services will be raised to market rates. The public will have to bear the brunt of the loss of some valued council provided services including the loss of the Mobile Library Service, the closure of Fenton & Burslem Libraries, the loss of 7 of the 16 Children’s Centres, the cessation of short breaks for disabled children, and the closure of ‘Stoke Speaks Out’.

All bus subsidies will be stopped along with the subsidy for Ceramica, there will be a reduction to the ground maintenance programme and there will be a reduction in the number of Audit Inspections.

To continue the ‘Bah Humbug’ theme for the upcoming festive period, there will be no more Christmas illuminations after this year. This applies to the whole of the 6 Towns.

Council Leader Mohammed Pervez has laid the blame for these cuts and job losses firmly at the door of the Coalition Government. He urged the public to understand the full impact that government cuts will have upon the City Of Stoke-on-Trent. He reassured the public that he and his cabinet had lobbied Government against the cuts and had urged them to make a special case for our City. Pervez announced that he had joined forces with other authorities such as Blackpool, Blackburn, Hull and Torbay in asking for equality in the allocation of the Formula Grant. The Council Leader also issued a warning that to take no action was not an option. Government cuts of 28.4% over 4 years could realise a £100million gap in funding in Stoke-on-Trent if left unchallenged.

Map Of Services Earmarked For Closure Or Cuts


View Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cuts in a larger map

 

Stoke-on-Trent Full Council Meeting – Shelton Pool & Canada Geese!

At the start of Thursday’s Stoke-on-Trent City Council Meeting, there were two very interesting questions asked.

The first question was in relation to the proposed closure of the hugely popular Shelton Pool.

Shelton Swimming Pool is the only ‘Public’ disabled swimming pool in Staffordshire. This is a much needed venue for the community. The pool entrance ramp, handrail and warm water are important features for wheelchairs, the elderly and therapeutic swimmers. No other local pools have these requirements. The pool is an ideal location for local primary schools’ tight schedule.Swimmers travel from far and wide. The petition papers show, over a one week period, more than 1600 people used Shelton Pool. My Question – what is your reason to close this much needed public swimming pool?
The City Council is sympathetic to those members of the community who make regular use of Shelton Pool. The Pool is indeed used by schools and is particularly popular with older bathers and those with a disability. This is because of the modifications made on site to facilitate easy access and the comparatively high water temperature.

No firm decision has been made on the future of Shelton Pool, but it is the case that it has been proposed for closure.

Whilst the benefits of swimming are widely recognised and the City Council acknowledges these, it is the case that swimming pools are not a statutory service and there is therefore no legal duty on the council to provide them.

The current financial situation means that the City Council – like all local authorities – will have to make difficult decisions in order to reduce expenditure. Swimming pools are expensive facilities to manage and Shelton Pool runs at a net operating cost in excess of £155,000 per year – in other words in costs the city council £155,000 each year after income at the Pool has been taken into account.

The situation at Shelton Pool is complicated by the fact that there are significant maintenance issues on site. Pools require a high level of maintenance support to ensure they continue to run effectively. It is known that the boilers at Shelton are coming to the end of their working life and there are also maintenance issues with areas of the pool building, notably the pool promenade. All told the cost of rectifying these is likely to be in the region of £750,000. In the current climate this represents a major challenge – especially as external funding for work of this nature is not available.

The City Council is currently exploring other options so that to see if more specialised facilities, such as those currently available at Shelton, could continue to be available – albeit on a limited scale – at other locations in the city, in the event that Shelton Pool does indeed close. This work is currently ongoing.

Cllr Hazel Lyth asked a member of the Save Shelton Pool group to tell the council what the impact of the closure of the pool would be.

It was pointed out to the council that for many people who have long term health issues and those who are rehabilitating from injury or illness use this pool for it’s therapeutic benefits.

Cllr Mike Barnes moved a motion that this be referred to the Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee for urgent action on the matter.

This motion was carried with no one voting against it.

The second interesting item brought before the City Council by concerned residents of the city was in relation to a question asked by Cllr Mike Barnes regarding the number and methods of controlling the population of Canada Geese across the city.

How many Geese have been culled in the Stoke-on-Trent Local Authority Area over the last 5 years, where and by what method?
All wild birds, their eggs and nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, the legislative framework recognises that some common pest species, such as Canada Geese, may frequently cause problems and therefore provision is made to allow authorised persons to take appropriate action. Natural England issue a number of general licences and can issue specific, one-off licences that allow authorised persons to cull or take pest species, such as Canada Geese. Birds may be culled by means of a number of accepted humane methods, including shooting.
Canada Geese within the City’s Parks
Most Canada Geese remain faithful to their home area for life even if apparently suitable water bodies with no geese are available nearby. They can produce sixteen young per year and are willing to tolerate other pairs nesting nearby.
The City’s parks provide lots of nesting territories and abundant grass and vegetation on which the geese graze and hence provide the potential for very large colonies of geese to become resident, producing a wide range of problems.
As a general rule of thumb, the larger the goose population, the greater the problem they present:
“¢ Canada Geese are large and aggressive non native birds. The Government body Natural England encourages and licences culling of these birds as Canada Geese numbers are reaching a point where the population is threatening our native geese and ducks. The City Council considers the protection of the range of wildlife as a top priority ““ it is a question of getting the balance right.
“¢ Being aggressive birds they will act in defence of their nests and will attack other waterfowl and even humans who approach too closely. The greater the number of breeding pairs on any City Council lake the greater the potential for attack.
“¢ Canada Geese are vegetarians, grazing on both land and water plants. Large numbers of geese can quickly strip large areas of grass and other vegetation, leaving unsightly bare patches of soil. The greater the number of Canada Gees on any City Council lake the greater the amount of damage caused to grassland and other vegetation.
“¢ Because of the low nutrient value of their food and their poor digestive system, Canada Geese need to eat large quantities of vegetation and as a consequence produce droppings at a rate of one every 6 minutes. These droppings contain bacteria, are unsightly and make paths and other areas of hard-standing slippery. If the droppings are passed into water bodies they may cause increased nutrient loadings leading to possible toxic algal blooms and low oxygen levels in the water. The greater the number of geese within a City Council park, the greater the amount of faeces, the greater the associated problems.
Hence, it is clear that in the light of its duty of care for all park visitors the City Council must be proactive in its management of geese populations within its parks. Logic dictates that the objective should be to ensure that populations remain at a level where the benefits they present in providing an added attraction to park visitors outweigh the problems they bring.
The City Councils licenced expert contractor is Staffordshire Wildlife Management, this company is used by several Councils and private firms and detailed below are the total figures for geese culled within Stoke -on-Trent over the last 5 years.

Where Eggs removed Shot
Longton Park 2133 397
Westport Lake 6354 1328
Central Forest Park 3329 518
Tunstall Park 3190 599
Burslem Park 2085 487
Hanley Park 2470 474
Others 2100 324

The City Council has a robust wildlife management plan that extends far above the legal requirements and along with the above, we also educate the public regarding feeding, habitat management and erecting geese proof fencing.

Cassie Fletcher from Animal Lifeline presented the chamber with a 600 signature petition against what she described as a barbaric method of controlling these birds.

The said that this kind of brutality tarnished the reputation of the City Council and that using shooting as a method was inhumane.

She asked the councillors how the shooter could distinguish whether they were killing male, female or young birds whilst they were flying in fear of their lives.

She in formed elected members that several experts advocated more humane methods in dealing with the population control of Canada Geese.

Cassie asked the city council for action on this matter before more shame was brought on the City and it’s Council.

Once again Cllr Mike Barnes moved a motion that this be referred to the Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee for urgent action on the matter.

This motion was carried with no one voting against it.

PCF Idea To Save Shelton Pool

The city council gave to the muslim community a plot of building land in Hanley, somewhere to build their new mosque.

To the annoyance of a lot of people, the council only asked that in return for the land, a peppercorn rent be paid in the amount of £1 per year.

The Potteries Community Federation has come up with an idea based on this deal from the city council, and we’d like your opinions on it.

Shelton Baths are under threat of closure by what must be the most incompetent council in the country. First they get us into a massive financial mess here the city ends up requiring savings of £45 million over three years, and choose to do this through public frontline services,
like the libraries and swimming pools.

But the pools are not just their for entertainment, they play a large part in the fitness and regeneration of hospital patients and invalids, hundreds of whom use the facilities, including the Cossacks disabled swimming group.

Here’s the idea. If the city council can lease land to the muslims valued at £500,000, for £1, why don’t they lease out the swimming pools to the PCT in a similar deal.

There are hundreds of referrals made by the NHS every year for swimming and hydrotherapy,
and there is more than enough money within the PCT to budget for the running of these pools,
in the last 5 years alone they have granted more than £12 million.

They could safeguard the necessary exercise and rehabilitation of hundreds of infirm and disabled people from around the city, and at the same time they are saving important public services which the city would be much poorer without.

I was contacted by a disabled lady from Blurton who uses this facility regularly through the week. It has made a big difference to her, and the city council should not be allowed to this success away from her. She has MS, and she would just be stuck in the house without the use of this facility.

Something has to be done in order to save these services, and it’s pointless expecting this
atrocious council to do it, they’ve even banned people from signing a petition against the closure of Shelton baths!

Let us know what you think, or if you have any ideas of your own, but let’s not sit back and let the city council take away anoother of the citys dwindling services

Pool closes for maintenance works

By Pits’n'Pots Reporter

Swimmers are being informed Shelton Pool, in Shelton, will be closed this week following an unexpected pipe burst at the site.
Maintenance staff and management are onsite dealing with the problem. Customers are asked to use the council’s other swimming pools with sessions and activities at the Shelton centre cancelled until further notice. It is hoped that the pool will be back in use on Tuesday, May 26. More information on visiting other facilities is available at www.stoke.gov.uk and by calling Stoke on Call on 01782 234234.

Debra Gratton

Debra Gratton

Councillor Debra Gratton, Stoke-on-Trent City Council portfolio holder for sport and leisure, said: “Everything is being done to get the site back up and running for swimmers. In the mean time we are asking residents to listen out for updates on the local media and at www.stoke.gov.uk. It is anticipated the pool will be back up and running by Tuesday. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause but visitor safety is paramount.”