Okay, so the title may sound like I’m back at school in September writing about what I did on my summer holidays, but here you have a few of my thoughts on my experience of the first meeting of the new Stoke-on-Trent City Council Chamber.
It may have been a bit of a “Ëœrubber stamping’ affair, but the Annual City Council Meeting was perhaps the first chance to really see the new council in action.
For my first visit to the Council Chambers I was impressed by the broadcast equipment found around the chambers providing (what I hope was) excellent online coverage of the meeting. I say hope, because as sod’s law would have it, the City Council website doesn’t appear to be online this evening so I haven’t been able to watch it back.
For those readers unaware of the business of the annual council meeting ““ it was to set the council’s affairs in order ready for the next year of government.
One of the first speeches was perhaps one of the most interesting ““ a Christian prayer by the outgoing Lord Mayors pastor ““ Paul Lockett. In this incredibly diverse city, I find it very interesting that such a traditional Christian custom is still continued today in the council chambers.
A CofE member myself, I suddenly found myself back in first school, quietly mumbling 90% of the Lord’s Prayer ““ it’s always those last few lines that get me!
Official proceedings soon kicked off with the emotional farewell to Denver Tolley, outgoing Lord Mayor and retiring councillor who joked that he would be spending his days skiing. Not in the sporting sense, but Spending the Kids’ Inheritance.
Mr Tolley shared memories, thanks and a couple of tears with the chamber and handed over to newly elected Lord Mayor Cllr Terry Follows and his deputy, Cllr Majid Khan to continue chairing the rest of the meeting.
Cllr Pervez was re-elected as Council Leader but wasn’t the only nomination. Non-alligned Cllr Paul Breeze offered his own name followed by an energetic speech which was granted extra time by the Lord Mayor. He launched an attack on Labour who, according to him, aren’t the popular majority with the public.
His speech was met by cheers from the public gallery but failed to convince the chamber as he only received one vote, followed by 3 abstentions and 37 votes for Pervez. 3 councillors were absent for the vote.
Cllr Pervez declined to respond directly to Cllr Breeze but gave a long post-election speech outlining his plans for the next four years in charge with his Labour majority ““ although he didn’t quite manage to find the same energy as Cllr Breeze.
The afternoon saw the approval of committee placements meaning that the political machine of Stoke-on-Trent City Council now has all of its cogs in place.
How long they stay in place is down to our city’s elected representatives.
Here’s to the next four years of Potteries Politics!