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 North MP Fights For Tunstall Pool.

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Joan Walley is backing the fight to save Tunstall Pool.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council have confirmed that the Pool is to be closed and the Victorian building, which is listed, mothballed if no trust or organisation offer to take over the running of the pool.

Joan Walley MP has written to the City Council asking for urgent action to preserve one of the few remaining Victorian public baths.

Her letter to the head of Adult Services also questions why the city Council have failed to act in the previous 12 months.

RE: Budget Development 2011/12-2012/13

Tunstall Pool – URGENT

I am writing further to my meeting with you last week to follow up what can be done even at this late
stage for a reconsideration of the City Council’s recommended decision to close Tunstall Pool.

I have raised this also with Tristram Hunt MP and Rob Flello, MP and they support me in wanting to
ensure a solution is found and there is no interruption to the facility.
Firstly, when we met you said that I could have a copy of the consultant’s report which the City
Council has commissioned in respect of swimming policy. I don’t appear to have received that yet and
would be grateful for an early copy in order that I can respond to you.

Secondly, I would like confirmation that the members of the City Council have had chance to
consider this report themselves prior to finalising any decision about the future of Tunstall Pool. In
earlier meetings with the City Council I was advised that the report it intended to commission on
wider aspects of swimming policy would be the background against which any proposals in respect
of the future of Tunstall Pool would be made. It is as important as ever that any decisions made by the
City Council are informed ones.

I wish to make you personally aware of my approaches to your department over the last 12 months
on this matter, including a meeting with the Cabinet member and sports officer on this matter. I have
been in contact with the City Council since March last year, and have asked for and attended meetings
from April onwards. Throughout all of this my approach was to ask the City Council to work up
options and different business case scenarios for all eventualities, including budget pressures. The
Leader of the City Council was aware of my approaches in this respect.

Having approached the Amateur Swimming Association almost a year ago, and received their offer of
help to assist the City Council to work with them to secure a £50,000 grant to kick-start discussions
as to a long term way forward, including seeking other funding, I had expected that the City Council
would have made firm progress by now. I also asked the City Council to consider all other options,
even if that meant considering alternative ways of running the pool should that become necessary.
I also envisaged an application to HLF for that part of the building which is listed and to the Big
Lottery/sport funding bodies to provide the refurbishment and repair costs. I expected that the City
Council would draw up detailed plans and business scenarios to seek ways of securing capital and
revenue funding. I repeat again that I forwarded to the City Council the confirmation I was given
from the Lottery bodies that should the City Council approach them with bids they would meet with
the City Council to set out what funding options could be open.

I understand from David Sparkes, CEO of the Amateur Swimming Association that they are still
committed to providing some funding towards keeping Tunstall Pool open and operational in some
form and that they were awaiting the outcome of the Consultant’s Report to enable them to construct
a strategy whereby this could happen. The Amateur Swimming Association was informed that this
would not be available until the 24th February 2011. It does not seem logical to make a decision
regarding the future of the swimming pool without giving the Amateur Swimming Association and
other interested groups the opportunity to assist.

The Amateur Swimming Association is prepared to consider the creation of a Trust to operate
the swimming pool in the short term assuming the economics are viable. I understand that you
have provided them with financial data relating to the operation of the pool but they are awaiting a
structural report before submitting a proposal to the City Council. Surely the City Council should give
this option serious consideration before making an arbitrary decision?

I have asked for information to be able to understand how much the pool costs to run, what
investment has/ has not been spent over the years, what benefits the pool being run by a Trust/non-
profit making organisation/ social enterprise/ alternative provider could bring in respect of reduced
VAT, tax costs etc, what scope there could be to include Tunstall pool in any reconfiguration of
swimming, and whether the City Council would approach the HLF and other Sport funding bodies to
secure the funds to update the building to ensure reduced running costs and a viable business plan.

On each occasion I have had meetings there has been no evidence that serious proposals to achieve
this have been followed up and there does not appear to have been a business case to explore options
to keep the pool open.

Tunstall Pool is used extensively by those learning to swim, for fitness and health and for leisure. It is
an English Heritage Grade 2 Listed Building and it is difficult to see what alternative use it will be put
to once the pool is closed or moth balled by the City Council. It is used extensively by older people
who rely on it for good health and well being. It is used by youngsters learning to swim. It fulfils
a substantial part of the Council’s responsibilities to provide water safety. It is used extensively by
young and old alike within the local population and is located in an area with considerable deprivation
and need for social cohesion initiatives. There is a small studio available for events. There is no limit
to the wider use that could be made of it.

Throughout the City Council’s consultation response to the government cuts, local people have
contacted the City Council to ask for Tunstall Pool to be saved, but the strength of local feeling does
not appear to have been fully recorded or reflected in the City Council’s response. On this I have been
asked to receive a further petition on Friday 18/2/2011 at 3.15pm and I intend to do this and pass it on
to the City Council.

I still maintain that it is not too late for the Council to accept in good faith not just the weight of
public opinion but also the support it and I have from the ASA to work together to find a solution. It
is difficult to see how if the City Council decides to close or mothball the pool with immediate effect
how such an option could remain on the table, and experience elsewhere bears this out.

I am therefore asking if in the light of the interest of the ASA and in the best interests of swimming
across the City if you will look again at the costs of keeping it open until such time as talks with the
Amateur Swimming Association and others could establish whether a realistic proposal could be
put forward to keep the pool open, and in the medium and longer term secure the refurbishment that
would cut costs and secure a business plan that would ensure its future viability. I would also want
this to be considered in the light of the public health and social cohesion agenda.

This is a well used and loved historic pool. I am asking again if you will respond to me not in general
terms but with details of what has actually been done, or could now be done to set out options that

could preserve Tunstall Pool short, medium and long term at what I know is a challenging time for all
concerned.

I confirm again that I am willing to give what support I can and would like Stoke-on-Trent City
Council to explore a grant application, and approach other providers even at this late stage to get a
stay of execution to enable a robust Plan B to be drawn up.

I am copying this to cabinet members and to those who have contacted me about this so that they are
aware of my further request that the City Council makes informed decisions in respect of 4-ASCO6
ANS Tunstall Pool Closure.

Thank you for your attention to this. I would welcome an early meeting with yourself and with the
ASA and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Joan Walley MP
Stoke-on-Trent North

A community group has now been formed and they are seeking a stay of execution from the council while they explore the possibility of forming a trust.

A public meeting has been arranged for 7.30pm tomorrow 22nd February at Christchurch, Tunstall.

The organisers are hoping that a number of councillors and cabinet members will be in attendance and urge everyone to support their community group in the fight to save Tunstall Pool.

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

 

SOS- Save Our Services Launch!

D4S launch our SOS campaign ““ “Save Our Services”, as Stoke-on-Trent City Council and other local public service providers warn of massive cuts in spending.

Whilst D4S recognizes the economic climate means difficult times ahead, we are not convinced local democracy is capable of maintaining the services that local people want and need.

As we have seen over recent years ““ Dimensions, Tunstall Pool, Stoke Recreation Centre, City Farm, Community Halls, Care Homes ““ all these and others have already been proposed but put on hold because of public anger and disquiet. But they have not gone away and we must presume still high on the list as the bigger axe threatens to fall, with consultants now being brought in to sharpen its blade.

So through these pages, we aim to highlight the cuts, the evidence, and where necessary assist other in any campaigns that may result.

D4S aims to support and help those that chose to defend their services. Through our members we have experience in many successful campaigns, raising funds, exploiting the media, Websites etc.

So if you need help contact us at:sos@democracy4stoke.co.uk

Difficult times lay ahead ““ only through hard work and determination, and exercising our democratic rights to protest will the services we cherish be saved.

Join our Twitter account: Democracy4Stoke

Centres of merit like Burslem Gymnastic Centre should be cherished – not destroyed

Another controversial pool-shutting idea has caused the latest in-fighting down at the Civic.

After it was apparently agreed to shelve the idea of closing Tunstall pool and Burslem Gymnastics Centre, it has now emerged that in “secret” talks which remained private to avoid the matter becoming a “political issue”, cabinet councillors have continued talks to go ahead with the unpopular idea.

Leaving aside the fact that this is the kind of civil Civic war that has led to so many mistakes in the past, with councillors spending more time battling each other and attempting to achieve political gain than serving the electorate, it worries me that the authority is considering taking away long-standing instituions to balance the short-term books.

I find it very difficult to believe that the facilities at the Burslem gym could be replicated easily within the Dimensions, which ironically itself, of course, not long ago faced closure under ‘cost-cutting’ plans.

For the many who probably were unaware of what on the outside looks a bit like the house from a Halloween film, the Burslem Gymnastics centre is actually a great facility for budding gymnasts and contains the equipment that you may only have previously seen on TV screenings of the olympics. Yes, on the outskirts of Burslem there is actually the apparatus associated with the kind of awe-inspiring athletes that you see swinging around the high bar, performing eye-wateringly painful-looking manoeuvres whilst holding onto a pair of rings, attempting somersaults and multiple backflips along a beam a matter of inches wide, and leaping along the floor to music amid twisting flights over a piece of stuffed leather they call the vault.

I know this because I was once one of the young things with the aspirations of becoming a world-class gymnast. Unfortunately, though, doing the splits didn’t agree with me and I had to admit that my body just wasn’t made for such feats of suppleness, despite the fun I had swinging around the bars.

But the point is, the setup at the centre is one of few in the country, and is something that should be being preserved as a treasure of Stoke’s sporting facilities, and invested in, rather than being destroyed and moved to a room in another sports centre. It is not just a few bits of equipment that can be set up again somewhere else. There is a fully-sprung gymnastics floor, a pit of sponge into which practising gymnasts can fall after plummeting from a missed high bar-swing-catch, the pommel-horse, beams, vaulting equipment, parallel bars, the list goes on. Such an organisation needs the space of its own building to exist.

Because the likes of this centre are few and far between, it also means that some of the country’s medal-winning gymnasts have actually learned their trade at this centre in Burslem, and without it, may never have taken up the sport.

I understand that we have to tighten the purse strings right now, but for God’s sake, hands off little treasures like this of which we can be proud.