Terry Used To Lead – Now He Just Follows!

Back in the day Terry Follows was a very strong Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor. So just what has happened to that up and at ‘em revolutionary type of ‘El Tel’ kind of guy?

He was the darling of the Trentham Action Group, not the orchestrator you understand, but he lent them support when the other councillors were reluctant.

He was the chief protagonist of the Elected Mayors Board, at the forefront of every opposition v executive clash.

He was on hand to assist the TAG in their staged sit in during an EMB Meeting. He accused all members of the executive of being ‘nodding donkeys’ and for selling out for the EMB gravy Train.

He was one of the first names on the sheet [see below] when the City Independent Group called in the EMB decision to trial the Enhanced Recycling Scheme.

He was there when CIG Leader Cllr Brian Ward questioned the officers on the evidence base to move to a new system of Waste Management.

He agreed when the CIG criticised the lack of substance in the report on Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling.

Oh how times have changed… Our Tiger like Terry has become a tame pussy cat!

Just how did he go from the old Terry who called in the Waste Management and Enhanced Recycling because the report insulted members intelligence:

1. Inadequate consultation and communication with members and community interests including neighbourhood managers and police.
2. Lack of detail and analysis in to cost-benefit, risk assessment, recycling market, practicalities etc.
3. Proposed trial is unrepresentative and inadequate for extrapolation city wide long term.

To the new Terry who was responsible for this pathetic statement issued via the City Council’s Press and Communications Department:

We are very proud of the achievements we have made in increasing recycling rates in the city. In fact our recycling rates have doubled in the past four years and the feedback we get from members of the public is that the system is easy to use and that they feel more compelled to recycle as a result. The new recycling system has allowed us to reach the 40% recycling targets set down by the government in 2007. In choosing which system to adopt, we had to balance the ease of use for the residents, the level of recycling we would achieve and the cost which would best support both. Materials recycled in Stoke go to plants all over the country and the resultant products are used all over the world, and around 99% of what goes into the recycling bins is reused in some way.

What a pathetic load of spin! What has changed Terry?

Terry must have a load of new evidence that counters all of the investigation that Pits n Pots have put in over the past year.

He should, without any further delay, share this new found evidence with us and people like Cllr John Daniels who has a dossier on this debacle the size of War & Peace!

Tell us Terry, as the Cabinet Member with responsibility, how you can justify the comment:

“We are very proud of the achievements we have made in increasing recycling rates in the city. In fact our recycling rates have doubled in the past four years..”

You were apart of the call in in December 2008 that delayed the trial for one whole month. You had real concerns back then tell us what has changed to make you amend your views.

Did the officers want rid of Cllr John Daniels as Portfolio Holder because he was asking to many pertinent questions and ruffling too many feathers?

Is that why they wanted someone who would just go with the flow and would do as he was told?

Terry, please tell us categorically how you, as cabinet member with responsibility, will personally ensure that under the present system, the city will achieve the government target for recycling of 45% by 2015 and 50% by 2020?

I think that your change of heart is more to do with the fact that you have become the ‘nodding donkey’ you often accused former EMB members of becoming.

Is it because you now just follow the officers lead in exchange for the Cabinet dollar?

Has you complicity been brought Terry?

Will you share the evidence that has made you spout how good the council waste management and recycling system is now Terry?

Your comments contradict and seem to compromise the investigations carried out by Pits n Pots and others over the past year, so publish or be damned.

If you can prove to us that our work, investigations and concerns are unfounded then I promise that we will hold our hands up and apologise.

If you can’t do this Terry, will you back the calls for an inquiry? Or will you continue you silence and carry on nodding through officers wishes?

I am looking forward to Thursday Terry… Are you?

Discovery Academy – The Final Piece Of The Jigsaw?

The Building Schools for the Future [BSF]controversy has rumbled on and on in Stoke-on-Trent for some 6 years.

It should have been a good, good news story, a win win for every family in the 6 Towns.

But from the moment that the then Elected Mayor and Serco decided to stand in front of secondary pupils, their parents, their teachers and their headteachers and tell them what they were getting instead of asking them what they want, it all went belly-up!

The Elected Mayors Board and Serco described this process as ‘Consultation’ – Oh how the communities laughed.

Citizens and schools staff united and turned into community action groups and gave birth to Hands off Haywood and the Trentham Action Group and the battle lines were duly drawn.

Just like the old Max Boyce sketch, ‘I Was There’! I witnessed the on-going fight that the Head of Heywood had with the leaders of Serco.

I watched with interest the walks to London, Bike Rides to Europe, the sit in in an EMB meeting – yes the Trentham lot were a feisty bunch.

Eventually those two action groups won the day for their communities and the BSF process seemed back on track – or did it?

The last ‘Academy’ site to be finalised was that of the Discovery Academy.

The lead school going into the Academy was to be Edensor High School largely down to the fact that the Head at the time, broke from the ranks of a very united group of ALL the secondary heads in the city and reached an agreement with Serco to move his staff a few miles to the other side of Longton to a new build that would eventually be known as the Discovery Academy.

The council then started looking for suitable sites to house this project. The original ‘preferred’ site was the old Gasometer, this was doomed to failure due to the costs of decommissioning the structre and stabilising the ground.

The site of the old Willfield High was always on the scene but there seemed a reluctance to recognise it as viable option.

Berryhill Fields and Mossfield Road were also contenders.

The Longton High School site was proposed by Rob Flello MP, some suggested that this was politically motivated as it was on the run up to the General Election.

But of the blue, the council announced that their preferred site was now Springfield. ‘Where is Springfield?’ – the residents of Adderley Green asked. ‘Just look out of your kitchen windows!’ – the council replied. The battles lines were drawn once again.

The Springfield Action Group were formed and they took on the council with a little help from PnP’s Nicky Davis who had been an integral part of TAG.

They lobbied, protested, held meetings and lobbied some more and eventually managed to convince a planning meeting that the land was to contaminated to build on and would pose a health risk.

All the time that the BSF proposals were being discussed, objected to, welcomed by some and hated by others, Mitchell High School fought for survival.

They wanted to be merged with Berryhill and a school for both communities built on the current Mitchell site. The school results were phenomenal, one of the most improved in the country. Their arguments however fell on deaf ears.

The Community Schools Action Group have fought a hard campaign, but it’s message has always struggled to be heard.

Finally last week, the decision was made to build the Discovery Academy on the land currently occupied by the Willfield Community Centre.

The decision did not shock me at all. It was a case of damage limitation in my opinion and if I’m honest, I was shocked that this conclusion was not reached a lot sooner.

Yes, it means that Edensor pupils will have further to travel, but many at that end of the City have always believed that the current Edensor catchment area will opt for alternative schools anyway.

Mitchell High have failed in their bid to get a school on their existing site, but have managed to get the new school location closer to their community.

The decision is probably in part due to finance as the City Council own the land that Willfield stands on.

The focus now is that the swimming pool and the City Learning Centre located on the Longton High site is retained and maintained for community use.

Let’s hope that this can be done without the need for yet another Community Action Group.

In the audio interviews below you will hear the relief, tinged with some sympathy from the Springfield Action Group and the disappointment of the Community Schools Action Group.

Meadow Lane Estate ““ the residents speak out on ward boundaries

The Meadow Lane estate is in Trentham, just North of Longton Road, at the border with the current Blurton ward, separated from it by the railway line.

On 4th January 2010 a public meeting was held at Trentham High School, organised by ordinary residents in the Meadow Lane area of Trentham, about the council’s views on new ward boundaries.

I was so heartened to see this happen, an issue crops up in the community and I counted about 70 of us who were concerned enough to turn out on a very cold evening to discuss it. Many were from the Meadow Lane estate most affected but I noticed a fair few of us there from other parts of Trentham.

Dan Jordan, chair of the Save Trentham High Action Group, spoke first and said that after saving our high school, local residents remain concerned about the whole community.

Ward councillor Terry Follows attended the meeting and conveyed apologies for absence from the other ward councillors Ross Irving and Roger Ibbs.

The council’s initial proposal had been for the Meadow Lane estate to become part of the new Blurton Farm, Newstead & Trentham Lakes ward, in order to get the right number of electorate in each single member ward. The council would have then recommended that the rest of the current Trentham & Hanford Ward be split into two; Hanford & Trentham Ley and Trentham South. Terry reported that the transition board had been brought in to gerrymander the wards and that he and our other ward councillors all agreed on not wanting the Meadow Lane Estate left out. Following consultation the current council recommendation is to keep the Trentham & Hanford boundaries as they are now but have it as a two member ward rather than a three member ward.

Grace Jordan explained that we should all submit our views direct to the Boundary Committee by January 11th, because they look at all the submissions they receive, including the council’s and ours, deliberate for 14 weeks, then publish their proposal. They may visit. At that stage we can comment again on their proposals. Tim Bowden from the Boundary Committee is aware of our discussions. The Boundary Committee will make the final decision in October.

A resident stressed the importance of individual letters to the Boundary Committee.

Terry suggested that the Meadow Lane area may wish to form a residents’ association and could contact him if they would like to.

A resident complained that he had requested maps from the council but these had not been provided.

Dan, despite “not trying to get too political about it” said that we need to be careful about our future, the transition board including Mike Tappin had wanted to socially engineer us by trying to combine two schools. Dan also said though that under the council’s proposal we would get double the number of councillors we currently have in the ward, given what Ibbs and Irving are like.

An individual in the know who shall not be named said that only 170 people had responded to the council consultation, consultations tend to be run over the holidays for very short time periods. He pointed out that officers run Stoke-on-Trent council and that Roger Ibbs and Ross Irving had been instrumental in devolving council powers to the officers.

The meeting voted on the council proposal for a two member ward retaining the current Trentham & Hanford boundaries. A large majority voted for this, nobody voted against.

The council will consider and vote on their submission to the Boundary Committee, which includes this recommendation, at the meeting at the Civic Centre at 2.30pm on Thursday 7th January. I pointed out that the public may observe this meeting if they are available at that time.

A show of hands indicated that about 60 of us intend writing individual submissions to the Boundary Committee.

Protest Walk ““ Sunday 15th March

By Nicky Davis

The Trentham Action Group are planning a protest walk this Sunday against the plans to close our school, amongst others in the city, to replace it with an academy.

We will start from Primrose Hill in Hanford at 1pm and walk, via New Inn Lane and Longton Road, to the proposed academy site on Stanley Matthews Way in Blurton.

ALL supporters from anywhere in the city and beyond are welcome to join us, for all or just a part of the walk or to meet with us at the end.

The route of our walk focuses on the route we do not wish the children of Trentham and Hanford to have to take in their walk to the planned school.  It is also an expression of our disgust at the plans to rip our school out of our community, despite EMB and government statements that schools should be at the heart of communities.  This walk was first done about a year ago and the current one celebrates our determination to fight for justice one year on.  Unfortunately I was unable to take part in the first one so I am especially glad of this one as I can make it this time.

We will have banners and placards at the walk, but it will be a silent and peaceful protest.  Utmost respect is to be paid at all times to all residents not walking with us, their property and their right to a peaceful Sunday.

We want to keep our school in the heart of our community in Trentham, with a little refurbishment.  We support the wish of the Blurton community to have a rebuilt school in their own area.  Government will support both schools but the council have to make the decision.  For a little political comment, naming names, see the Save Trentham High web site:

http://www.savetrenthamhigh.co.uk/

To sign the Stoke Against Academies petition see:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/StokeAA/

To see a classic example of ultimate serco-babble go to:

http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=1703701

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oux52UpttOc

OUR CHOICE - THEIR FUTURE - SAVE TRENTHAM HIGH SCHOOL!

TAG, SNOBS OR CRUSADERS? – YOU DECIDE!

tag2Well the cat is truly among the pigeons! I guessed it would happen at some point, well it seems that some have reached that point!…….

The Save Trentham High campaign is definitely back in the lime light once again. The EMB meeting last week where the decision to close THS and merge it with Blurton High on a site to be decided, was the catalyst and some may say the blue touch paper waiting to be lit!

Councillor Dave Sutton has come out and publicly stated that he thinks that the TAG are acting to save their school out of snobbery and a desire not to see the children of Trentham mix with the kids from the council estates of Blurton.

suttonCouncillor Sutton (pictured left)  made his comments following a meeting of the city councils Children & Young Peoples Overview & Scrutiny Meeting yesterday.

He said: “They just don’t want their kids to mix with Blurton kids. I think they are just a bunch of snobs.

“It really does annoy me that they just want to stay where they are and don’t want their kids to have a state-of-the-art school,” he added.

Labour councillor Mark Davis also voiced concerns over any further delay in delivering the BSF programme.

He said: “It would be interesting to see where we would be in the league tables now if those new schools had opened two or three years ago, because I think there would have been a change in performance and it is very sad that that hasn’t happened.”

But TAG member Jules Teed who is also a Pitsnpots contributor hit back.

He said: “I think it is a bit unfair and inflammatory to accuse us of holding up the BSF process or being snobs.

“There are already mixed classes of Trentham and Blurton pupils at both schools, and we haven’t held anything up yet because we have only just come to the end of the statutory consultation period.”

The CYPO&S meeting also heard that the delay is  having an effect on other schools across the city.

James Brindley High is in a state of disrepair and the school and it’s governors are desperate to have the school rebuilt as soon as possible. Wilf Stanforth, representing the school’s governing body also hit out at the Trentham campaign.

He said: “I could understand it if it just affected their own school, but it has held up the whole programme for two years now.

“Our school should have been demolished at least 10 years ago.

“We had some issues with the original plans for BSF and complained, but came up with a new business plan which has been accepted.

“These parents need to understand that the education of their children is more important than what happens to the school.”

Ged Rowney, Director of Childrens Services, called on councillors to push on with the plans for the transformation of secondary education.

He said: “I am still very bullish that we will deliver the plans, but as a city council you have a history of not delivering the BSF plans. The problem is that we have been talking for seven years now and it really needs to move on.”

The TAG had seemed to have cross city support, but in recent Sentinel articles some contributors (not me Truth Seller!) had questioned whether the reluctance to merge with Blurton was down to a question of snobbery.

For my part I have always supported the TAG’s right to fight for their school until that fight is over. I have however also encouraged the TAG to consider an alternative site should they fail in their legal battle to save the school on it’s present site.

To me it would be wrong for both communities if a merged school ended up on Blurton. Roger Ibbs has come out and expressed a desire to see the school on New Inn Lane with a road and foot bridge to make access from Blurton easy and acceptable. The TAG must pursue this plan as well as fight their legal plan. Much as been made of the New Inn Lane idea with many TAG members claiming that it is a “red herring” or un-deliverable. Well I say push Mr Ibbs and force him to either put up or shut up!

This was my intention in getting the TAG round the table with Mr Ibbs, this intention was met with suspicion and negativity and my integrity was called into question.

With my recent experience I can understand why people question the motives of the TAG, they certainly proved to me that they would use anyone or anything to get what they want.

I wonder if the city council/Roger Ibbs granted them their wish of becoming a co-operative trust school but insisted that this must include the pupils of Blurton, what the TAG reaction would be? If the Academy argument was taken from then would there then be another excuse put forward against the merger?

It is a priority for Mr Ibbs to put more “meat on the bones” regarding the New Inn Lane site. Equally it is a priority for the TAG to prove to this city that this is not a “snob” issue. Surely they need to support from across the city. If there are further delays to the BSF process they could face the wrath of parents from everywhere except Trentham!

The Sentinels article can be read by clicking HERE

Over to you………..