Make Your Child A “Little Striker”

Future football stars can get their first taste of the beautiful game by taking part in a 10 week skills course.

Little Strikers is a basic football course for children aged 3 to 6 years. It is designed to help improve a child’s football skills with a range of agility, balance and co-ordination activities. The session will be run by two highly qualified sports coaches.

The course will be held at Trentham High School from the July 15 to September 16 and will cost £30 for the 10 weeks. Courses will take place between 5pm and 5:45pm every Thursday.

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for adult social care, sport, leisure and culture, said:

“It’s important we get youngsters involved in sport at a young age, and the popularity of football always gives us a good uptake on courses like these. They’re designed to improve balance co-ordination and skill at a young age.

“We might be helping to create the new Stoke City and Port Vale players of the future, and it should be a lot of fun for everyone taking part too.”

Parents are asked to provide their child with a bottle of water and sports kit. There are only 14 places available on the course. To book call 01782 235030 or email kate.beer@stoke.gov.uk.

LibDem propaganda in Trentham & Hanford

We have in Trentham received our first leaflet for the local election in May, from Alan Alcock the Libdem candidate.

What spin with regard to the Libdems view of Trentham High School!

“Alan Alcock is a local businessman and community activist, for Cockster Brook. He feels very strongly about the inequalities in our area, schools for one, Trentham High School,should never have been under threat. Stoke-on-Trent City Council wanted to close this school, how wrong could they be?.If elected Alan promises to support the interests of the people of Trentham and Hanford before all other interests.”

(Sloppy punctuation as printed, not mine.)

You could easily read this, if you didn’t know better, as the Libdems being on our side through the whole Trentham High School saga. They were so not!

Let us instead look at the facts and the track record.

To be fair, back on 9/7/08 at the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Dave Sutton was on our side when he voted with the City Independents and British National Party and Jean Edwards from Labour

That this Committee recommends to the City Council that it supports the soft statutory federation between St Joseph’s College and Trentham High School and that, as a consequence, Trentham High School be removed from any school closure list and placed upon the upgrade and renovation programme.

Other Labour and Tory were against us but the recommendation was carried. That was of course before Dave Sutton did an about turn and decided he thought we were snobs.

On 2/10/08 at Full Council a motion

“This City Council has no confidence in SERCO or the recent building schools for the future consultation exercise and calls upon the City Council to:
(i) instruct the Executive to reconsider all the building schools for the future
proposals and in particular give a commitment to keep open Trentham High
School.
(ii) instruct the Executive to consider, despite the potential financial costs,
termination of the SERCO contract and awarding a new contract for the
remainder of the period of Government intervention.
(iii) instruct the Executive to reconsider the proposed site (Park Hall) for the Academy
planned to replace Edensor High School, in the light of the representations made
by parents and others”.

supported by a group of City Independents was defeated by Libdems, Labour and Tories. The Libdems also voted against some amendments to the motion that commanded support from other City Independent, British National Party, Potteries Independent, Libertarian and non-aligned councillors.

On 4/12/08 at Full Council a motion

“ËœThis Council notes the widespread and deep disquiet amongst a number of communities across the City concerning the proposed sites, proposed catchment areas and proposed forms of governance, associated with parts of the restructure of the City’s High Schools. This Council further notes that it believes the disquiet, upset and controversy around these issues is having an increasingly unsettling and debilitating effect both within the schools and the wider communities.
Therefore this Council resolves that: “The Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee sets up a Task and Finish Group under the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee to research the views of parents, pupils, governors, teachers, councillors and relevant officials with regard to the restructure as it concerns Trentham High, Blurton High, Mitchell High, Berryhill High, Edensor High and Longton High Schools and to present their findings and evaluations to the Executive for debate and resolution”.

supported by Potteries Independent, non-aligned, British National Party, City Independent and Libertarian councillors was defeated by Libdems, Labour and Tories.

On 26/3/09 Full Council approved the motion:

“ËœThe City Council is requested to ask the Executive to reconsider the future of Blurton and Trentham High Schools. Following the recent public meeting about Blurton and Trentham High Schools the Executive are asked to consider:
1. rebuilding the Blurton High School on the existing site and keeping a school in the
community
2. remove Trentham High School from the Building Schools for the Future programme
3. consider the refurbishment of Trentham High school
The City Council is also asked to note that Trentham High School would continue to seek foundation and co-operative trust status through the Department for Schools and Families’

thanks to the City Independents, British National Party, Potteries Independent, Libertarian an non-aligned councillors. No thanks to Libdems, Labour and Tories who tried to defeat this.

So what did the Libdems ever do for Trentham High? Nothing! Because of that, is it any surprise that I am sceptical when Alan Alcock says he will support the interests of the people before other interests? What I think is he will do what his party tells him and past experience shows that they will put the wishes of any coalition they are in before the wishes of the people.

No, we don’t need a Libdem for Trentham and Hanford, we need an independent who can truly put us first.

Carols and lights at “ËœChristingle’ celebration

School children will provide music and song to help celebrate a carol concert and lights switch on event in Shelton.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council officers and representatives from RENEW North Staffordshire will also join Signal Radio presenter Doug Wood for an afternoon of “ËœChristingle’ festivities from 4pm on Saturday (5 December) which has been organised by Upper Shelton Residents Association, Reverend Keith Haywood and the Shelton Ward Councillors.

The carol concert will take place in St Mark’s Church, and activities will continue outside in the churchyard where Doug will switch on the Christmas tree lights.

Councillor John Daniels, cabinet member for housing, environment and neighbourhood services, said: “Children from St Mark’s Primary School will sing carols, and pupils from Trentham High School will also attend with their brass band.

“It promises to be an event for all the family and will kick-start Christmas festivities in Shelton.

“I’d like to thank the residents association and Reverend Haywood, as well as council officers for organising this event. In recent years the residents association has sought funding to purchase the Christmas tree and lights.

“Their efforts have helped pave the way for these festivities to take place. The event is all about bringing the community together and I’d like as many local people as possible to attend.”

Trentham High seeks Foundation Status

By Matt Taylor

Following their long-fought battle against plans to demolish their school, the governors of Trentham High School are now applying to become a Foundation Trust.

When parents, teachers and governors managed to save the community school from closure, they vowed to make it the start of something which would make Trentham a top-achieving school, having been brought much closer together through the fight to keep the doors open to future pupils.

On that triumphant day back in April this year, the Trentham Action Group agreed to stay together and continue its meetings to consider ways to improve facilities and subsequent achievement at the school.

Today, the governors have published a notice in The Sentinel declaring their intention to attain Trust status, which reads in part:

“The proposed alteration is to Change School Category from Community to Foundation from 22 February 2010.

“The Governing Body believe that becoming a Foundation School secures the best future prospects for our school, a Specialist Science College. It will allow us to develop with confidence our vision of cooperative learning. Through accountability to our supportive local community, the Governing Body will use its new autonomy to raise standards and improve the educational and other experiences of our pupils.”

It is hoped that if the new status is achieved, this will provide Trentham’s best chances for long-term success and sustainability, as well of its chances for investment.

The move would mean that the school would be able to choose cooperative partners to help support its vision for learning, in this case, as a specialist Science College. But the school would remain under the jurisdiction of the local education authority and be inspected by OFSTED just like any other council-owned school.

However, it would differ in the following ways:

·Â Ã‚   The governing body will be the employer of staff rather than the local authority; and
·Â Ã‚   The governing body will be responsible for setting admissions arrangements (in accordance with the law and the Admissions Code).
·Â Ã‚   The governing body would continue to have day to day control of the school’s land and buildings (which the Trust would hold on trust for the school).

This means that fundamentally the Trust school would have more independence than previously as a Community High School.

Birches Head High School has also published its intention to follow the same path and become a Foundation Trust in today’s Sentinel.

Ibbs lifts the lid: the future for a councillor smeared by corruption claims [Video]

By Pits’n’Pots Team in association with Stoke’s number one film company, Junction 15 Video Productions.

Roger Ibbs

Roger Ibbs

An ‘In Conversation’ Special – Tony Walley Speaks exclusively to Roger Ibbs

We are pleased to introduce the first of our video interviews produced with Junction15 video productions.

You will hear about the effect that the period after being arerested in relation to the council corruption case had on Roger’s life both professionally and privately. And we learn about the day of his arrest, who supported him but more importantly who did not.

We hear his thoughts about the way the council executive and communications department handled the affair.

Also, Roger tells us about his plans for the future, his reflections on Trentham High and lifts the lid on those on the ‘EMB2′.

We welcome your opinions.

Leader speaks out – The half term report!

Audio Interview Now Online!

By Tony Walley & Mike Rawlins.

On Friday Mike Rawlins and myself went to interview Council Leader Ross Irving, it is a little over 3 months since Ross was voted in to the position of Council Leader.  We wanted to ask him  how he thought things were going and what the future holds.

Council Leader Ross Irving being interviewed by Tony Walley

Council Leader Ross Irving being interviewed by Tony Walley

Since the council chamber reconvened after the summer recess, two very big stories have hit the news.

Earlier this week the news broke that Interim Chief Executive Chris Harman and his officers are to recommend that the responsibility for Children & Young Peoples Services, be taken back in house.

This would mean an end to Serco’s involvement in education and the care of the vulnerable children in our city.

In this special audio interview, council leader Ross Irving pays tribute to the work of Ged Rowney and his team reveals the councils plans to build on the success of the Serco team.

Ross also gives us his thoughts on the location of the new Parkhall Academy which will give hope to the Springfield Action Group, but will also bring despair the the campaigners fighting to save Mitchell High School.

In the second part of the audio interview, Ross describes the difficult task ahead to balance the books after the revelation that our council faces a budget deficit of some £17million. We also get his thoughts on possible council jobs cuts, outsourcing and the prospect of a near 5% rise in next years council tax.

Ross also give us his assessment as we enter into his first winter as council leader.

As usual, your thoughts and comments on Ross’s answers are welcome………..

As we were leaving the leaders office with Ross he told us how the office used to be the Treasury Department and showed us the safe where the money used to be kept.  This is now used as the stationery cupboard, so when they say the are looking at cost savings in the council you can rest assured that even the pens are kept locked away to help save money.

Council Leader Ross Irving, the keeper of the stationary!

Council Leader Ross Irving, the keeper of the stationery!

We thank Ross for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us.

Wol on the week!

Comment By Tony Walley.

Tony Walley

Tony Walley

Well let me start by saying something that some of you will not like!

I like Ross Irving and I think if he is given a chance, he will make a very good council leader.

I also like and have respect for Roger Ibbs and I’m sorry that he isn’t able to be considered for a cabinet position.

Now, that may go down as well as a fart in a space suit to the people of Trentham, but it’s time to look to the future and what’s best for our city and an administration with Irving and Ibbs is no bad thing.

I don’t base this judgement on politics, I base it on their capabilities and their years of experience. If as expected Ibbs is given the all clear I fully expect him to return to a full and active role in the council and I would not at all be surprised to see him in the cabinet very shortly after.

Irving and Ibbs are very unpopular in the ward they were elected to represent, there is no doubt about that! There is very little hope of them being elected the next time there is a local election but they have a chance of repairing some of the collateral damage to their careers in the next two years before the public have the chance to have their say via the ballot box.

There are many calls for an election next year. Some people are feeling robbed at being denied their chance of having their say in who does or does not represent them.

I can truly understand this stance, and I have every sympathy with this view. But equally I can see the other side of the argument.

We have just seen the dawn of a new political system for our city and 1 year is absolutely no time to make a difference to the way this city has been run. For that reason alone I support the 2011 elections. Boundary changes aside, this city needs a period of calm, and when we chose to rid this city of the mayoral system we have to accept that no new administration would have the chance of sowing the seeds of regeneration and recovery and then watching the seeds flourish.

For the most part I like the make up of the new cabinet and I think Ross chose wisely.

John Daniels [Housing] is a great choice. I have known John for a few years and anyone who has seen him in the council chamber can see the intelligence and charisma he possesses. He is also humorous, a characteristic he will need when he comes up against some of the clowns down at the civic.

Hazel Lyth is a safe pair of hands and has proved that she puts a lot into her duties.

The Silver Fox, Brian Ward will be excellent in Regeneration. He has a real passion to see the city develop. This came across in the interviews that I have done with him.

Ian Mitchell is an unknown quantity to me but as an ex teacher he will have a grip on Education and it will be interesting to see how he handles the Serco issue.

Terry Follows [Communities] is a quite brilliant choice. Terry has a rare skill in that he can converse to all people regardless of race or religion. He is well respected within the Asian community and to the good folk of Trentham he is quite simply their own peoples champion. I expect that we will see great work from Terry.
I admit the Joy Garner appointment completely threw me, never saw that one coming!

Neither did the Labour Group from what I hear. Some very, very unhappy people in that group I can tell you.

It will look to some that she has sold her party out for the leer of the cabinet dollar. I don’t actually believe that she defected and joined the cabinet for the money. Anyone who knows Joy will tell you that she is a very principled lady. It is no secret that she did not see eye to eye with Mike Barnes and this is probably the reason that she decided to leave the Labour Group. Once she was out and she was approached by Ross she must have thought well I have held that portfolio for 4 years so I may as well carry on doing the job. To be fair she did do a good job in the the role of portfolio holder for the environment.

Joy is out on a limb now, she will probably get suspended from the Labour Party. Above all though Joy has to learn how to deal with the public. Her PR skills need working on because they are a nightmare!  She must learn not to seem as if she is patronising members of the public.

I have had my issues with Joy and currently there is no dialogue between us, but I tell you this, she loves this city and it’s people. She does a tremendous amount of work in her ward and she is liked and respected by the people who come to her for assistance. I have always liked her as a person but sometimes she drives me mad how she rubs people up the wrong way. One to one she is lovely to talk to, but the sight of her addressing the public at the EMB used to make me cringe and shake my head in disbelief at what I was hearing.

One thing that does disturb me is that I have heard that Cabinet meeting are going to be more stage managed than the past EMB meetings.

Sources have told me that non cabinet councillors will not be allowed to verbally ask questions at the public cabinet meetings. It appears that councillors will have to submit questions in writing. Apparently this is to avoid the “bear pit” atmosphere of some of the past EMB meetings.

If this information is correct, it stinks of being an officer decision. I hope Ross does not go down this road. If he does all his hard work at appointing a diverse and unified cabinet could come undone. I wonder sometimes who is responsible for thinking these ‘no brain engaged’ ideas up. Whoever it is I hope he or she lands another job in another authority and follows the line of uncommitted officers OUT of Stoke-on-Trent!

I appeal to Ross to ignore this ludicrous idea and find another way of making sure these cabinet meetings don’t descend into chaos. A novel way of doing this is to actually listen and take on board the issues and ideas of the councillors who were elected to represent us the public. Of course no one expects you to agree with the normal councillors all the time, but being seen to ignore and to not listen and take on board suggestions is disrespectful and arrogant and I’m sure Ross and his new cabinet are neither of these……… are they?

This idea of written questions is divisive and inflammatory and would be an instant return to the same old, same old!

Just for once can we not have an ‘onwards and upwards’ approach to unity and each other?

Well I’m off to mow the lawn, weed the borders and to hit my golf ball round Leek Golf Club in the least amount of shots as possible!

Here’s hoping for a sunny weekend………….

In Conversation: PKB & Walley – The Leadership Special.

By Tony Walley & Mike Rawlins.

Tony Walley & Peter Kent-Baugley in conversation

Tony Walley & Peter Kent-Baguley in conversation

The final interview of this particular series, today we are ‘In Conversation’ with Peter Kent-Baguley.

PKB is widely recognised as one of the best orators in the council chamber.

Peter has been described by many as a ‘peoples champion’ of a councillor.

He is a former Labour Group Deputy Leader and he held that position until a well documented parting of the ways which saw Mick Salih and Reg Booth leave the Labour Party at the same time.

PKB is a self confessed left wing socialist politician, he also runs his own blogsite in which he gives his opinion on a wide range of topics.

Peter is also a champion of ‘Fair Trade’ products.

In this interview Peter speaks on the pressing issues facing our city and why he has decided to stand for Council Leader.

As usual the interview is split into several parts to make it easier to listen to:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

In Conversation: Irving & Walley – The Leadership Special!

By Tony Walley & Mike Rawlins.

Ross Irving - Conservative & Independent Alliance Leader.

Ross Irving - Conservative & Independent Alliance Leader.

In the penultimate leadership interview of this series we have pleasure in bringing you this conversation with Councillor Ross Irving.

Ross has been a serving city councillor for 35 years and has served the residents of Trentham and Hanford for a good proportion of those years.

Ross is described by many as being one of the most experienced and skilled councillors in the council chamber. He is also widely acknowledged as an expert on council procedures.

Ross has served in the present EMB since Mayor Meredith was elected and currently holds the Portfolio for Partnerships and Transformation.

Ross’s popularity in Trentham has suffered over the ill fated BSF Proposals, which originally called for the closure of the secondary school in his ward Trentham High School. Following a concerted and steadfast campaign by the Trentham Action Group and fellow ward councillor Terry Follows, and with high level negotiating of MP Rob Flello the school earned a reprieve.

Ross knows he has a hard task ahead of him to win over the electorate that he has served for so many years.

In this ‘In Conversation’ special Ross gives us his honest opinions and visions on a wide range of issues like: BSF, Regeneration, Housing, Government Intervention and much more.

As usual the interview is completely un-edited and has been broken down into six parts to make it easier to listen to.

Part 1: Labour Control – A Tory Leader – Vision of Leadership – Jobs, Business & Enterprise.

Part 2: Delivering Services/Officers – Private Sector – Salaries/Allowances – Attracting New Councillors -

Part 3: BSF – THS – Electorate Unrest – Parkhall Academy -

Part 4: Housing – Council Tennants – Regeneration – Raising Aspirations

Part 5: Government Intervention – The BNP – Voter Apathy.

Part 6: Transition Board – The Coalition/BNP – Ross’s Cabinet/EMB – Public Consultation – And Finally…..

Pits’n’Pots would like to thank Ross for his time and his honest opinions.

Leave your comments in the usual way. If there is a specific question you would like an answe to, please post it and I will get ross to provide an answer.

Over to you……….

Reconsideration of BSF process – a breath of fresh air

By Matt Taylor

After Trentham High School won the right to keep its doors open for the forseeable future, there was a tiny fly in the ointment when it came to the celebrations.

When MP Rob Flello and Schools Minister Jim Knight announced the support of the Government for an extra high school for Stoke-on-Trent, and made it known that that school should be Trentham, everyone involved was ecstatic, and I was proud that, for once, people power did seem to make a difference.

But then, when the city council had its public meeting, with interested citizens amassing in the King’s Hall to watch the proceedings, the executive agreed that Trentham High’s closure notice should be revoked, but also, that it should be taken out of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme altogether, leaving parents and teachers and governors with doubts about future funding, as well as the prospect of an updating of the school’s facilities.

However, things are now looking up with local leaders as well as quango Serco recommending the rescued school be brought back into the broader plans to redevelop education in the city.

Stoke’s Director of Children and young people’s services, Ged Rowney, said that the expectation is that Trentham High will feature in the modified BSF agenda. And the scrutiny committee yesterday supported this position.

This is great news for the school, its parents and governors, and for the TAG (Trentham Action Group) which so valiantly campaigned to keep the doors open. Hopefully now, they can continue with the good work that was being done to keep the results going in the right direction, and at the same time improve their facilities.

It does appear that since the decision over Trentham, the council and the government is becoming more amenable to the public’s desires. Mr Rowney has even added that “there’s room for manoeuvre” over the proposed Park Hall Academy and there is discussion about the possibility of a new school at Blurton rather than the originally intended Academy.

Considering only a short time ago those complaining about the closure of Trentham High were dubbed troublemakers by a prominent local leader who has now gone decidedly quiet, this newfound consultation and deliberation over the BSF plans is a welcome breath of fresh air.