Have Labour Got The Guts To Go It Alone?

Everyone seems to believe that a deal has already been done to form a coalition of the Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Independent Groups to run Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Although Labour are thrilled to have increased their numbers on the council they actually gained more than they thought and it has given them a big headache.

The last thing in the world they want is to be in sole control of the council because they know that savage cuts are bound to be imposed. Firstly the council have to find many millions just to stay on course for the present budget because the easy options were made for this years budget. They know the real pain is to come next year and the year after. Secondly because of the disastrous financial position of the country any new government is bound to put the squeeze on local government and make even more savings inevitable.

For these reasons Labour need other parties involved in the running of the council so that it is not them alone who are blamed for the cuts. I therefore believe that offering a coalition is not an olive branch but an act of attempted self preservation because of the all out elections next year.

The real question is will it happen?

If Labour, because of their numbers, only offer a few members of cabinet to the others it will not be acceptable.

Will the Conservatives accept only 1 or 2 members having been in “Ëœcontrol’ for the last 12 months.

Will the Lib Dems still accept only 1 member and in charge of the finances when they will then be blamed for cuts to come.

Will the Independents be happy to accept less than their present 3 members (4 originally with Ian Mitchell).

Will Labour find places for Paul, Mark, Tom, Merv, Adrian, Debra, Joy, etc.

If one of the “Ëœpolitical’ groups decides not to take part in the coalition then will the others play ““ I don’t think so. I cannot see a Labour/Con or a Labour/Lib Dem or Labour/independent coalition without the others.

Will Labour locally offer enough places in cabinet to bring the 3 other groups on board ““ I think not.

In a game of cards you can only play the hand you’ve got.

I believe that the idea of a “Ëœrainbow coalition’ will not happen.


Come and enjoy a family fun day in Blurton

A free family fun day to help to celebrate community cohesion will take place next month at Blurton Millpond.

The event, Millpond Family Funday, aims to pull community groups together and allow groups working in the area to engage with the residents. It will take place between 1pm and 4pm on Saturday June 5, 2010. Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be present to offer advice to visitors.

A variety of entertainment and activities will be on offer to guests including, facepainting, dandelion the clown, bungee run, balloon modeller, birds of prey, Staffordshire Wildlife, Bouncy Castle, Inflatable obstacle course, caricaturist, circus skills.

For further information please telephone either Kevin Hawkins on 233265 or Sue Williams on 234741.

Stoke Residents Asked For Views On ward Boundary Recommendations

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission has been carrying out an electoral review of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The review will decide on how many councillors should sit on the council, and the name, number and boundaries of each of the City’s local electoral wards.

Our consultation on our draft recommendations for Stoke ends on 11 June. We’ve got lots of information about the review on our website, www.lgbce.org.uk or at your local library. But we’ll also be out and about in Stoke so that we can hear more opinions and evidence about our recommendations.

We’ll have an information stand where you can ask us questions at the following dates and locations:

“¢ 12 May ““ information stand at Smallthorne Community Centre, 1pm-2.30pm
“¢ 12 May ““ information stand at Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre, 4pm-5.30pm
“¢ 13 May ““ information stand at Fenton Local Centre, 9am-11am
“¢ 13 May ““ information stand at Stoke Local Service Centre, 12pm-1:30pm
“¢ 14 May ““ information stand at Meir Local Centre, 9am-11am
“¢ 14 May ““ information stand at Longton Local Centre, Noon-1.30pm
“¢ 19 May ““ information stand at Central Library, 3.30pm-5.30pm
“¢ 20 May ““ information stand at Norton Co-op, 4pm-6pm
“¢ 21 May ““ information stand at Tunstall Market, 10am-Noon

And we’re also putting on some information events in Stoke if you want to ask more detailed questions:

“¢ 12 May ““ roundtable discussion at Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre, 7pm-9pm
“¢ 19 May ““ further roundtable discussion at a venue to be confirmed, please see our website for further details
“¢ 20 May ““ roundtable discussion at Longton Town Hall, 7pm-9pm

We see the views of local people as being vital to us coming up with final recommendations that are informed by as much evidence as we can get. That’s why, until 11 June, we’re encouraging people across Stoke to tell us not only what they think of our proposals, but why they think it.

The Commission wants to hear as much clear and well-argued evidence as possible in order to develop final recommendations for the Stoke-on-Trent City Council area. If you would like to make a submission to the Commission, please write by 11 June 2010 to:

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (Stoke-on-Trent review)
Layden House, 76-86 Turnmill Street
London EC1M 5LG
Or email: reviews@lgbce.org.uk

Destina’s Pledge To Be A Clean Air Superhero

The winner of a clean air pledge competition will be presented with a new bike by Clean Air Superheroes Travis the Time Traveller and Fiona Freeze.

Destina Mandala, 5, won the competition held by Stoke-on-Trent City Council with her pledge to “Get more exercise on bikes”. Pledges were entered at the Clean Air Superheroes exhibition in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and also online. When the competition closed on 17 April a total of 305 pledges had been received.

The Superhero characters have been created along with the evil “Professor Pollutant”, to highlight the issues of air pollution within the city and get people to try and find better greener ways to travel.

The campaign has been funded using money provided by DEFRA to improve the air quality in the city.

Councillor John Daniels, cabinet member for housing, environment and neighbourhood services, said: “Poor air quality affects your health, especially if you have breathing difficulties or suffer with heart trouble. It’s great that Destina, and the other participants who took part in the competition, are helping to make people aware of how they can help to improve air quality in Stoke-on-Trent.”

More information about this campaign is available online at www.stoke.gov.uk/cleanair.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council – How The Chamber Has Changed And The Way Forward

On Thursday the City of Stoke-on-Trent turned to the Labour Party big time.

Many people were predicting Labour losses as a result of the poll performances of the Labour Government. This did not turn out to be the case however as the party locally made 12 gains.

This has got the politicians thinking on the run up to the Annual Meeting on 27th May.

With 26 seats, the Labour Party could well be thinking about making a play for the leadership.

But, with some difficult decisions to be made along with some inevitable cuts to services over the next year or so, it may well be a time to stay in opposition.

Council Chief Executive John van de Laarschott wants support for his plans to spend around £400,000 over the next year to implement stage 1 of his ‘Delivering Efficient Corporate and Transactional Change’ programme. The final cost of this programme could rise to around £3million over the coming years.

Mr van de Laarschott could count on the support of Council Leader Ross Irving and the Conservative members of his Cabinet.

City Independent Leader Brian Ward is known to be under pressure form his own group not to support the use of external consultants to deliver this Transformational Change. There are rumours circulating the Civic Centre that Cllr Ward may well resign if the Cabinet vote to accept this proposals.

The Cabinet are set to discuss the report on ‘Delivering Efficient Corporate and Transactional Change’, this coming week on a closed agenda item.

If the Labour party do make a bid for the leadership of the council they may have a problem supporting the use of external consultants given that their current Group Leader has spoken against this in the council chamber in the past and has already publicly stated that it is his priority to protect front line services.

We have spoken to some councillors to gauge their opinions on the immediate future and make up of the Council Chamber.

The consensus of opinion seems to be that Labour are mandated to go for the Leadership.

The vital question is, will the Labour Group support the Chief Executive in his quest to reduce the size of the council workforce and improve efficiency?

Listen to the Audio Interviews below…

Election Special: Joan Walley Labour PPC for Stoke-on-Trent North

For the first time in this the 2010 General Election Campaign, we managed to catch up with Joan Walley the sitting Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North.

Joan was incredibly busy and when I visited her at home she was a little late, breezing in with an air of determined commitment.

She ordered a quick chicken sarnie and we settled down to record the interview.

Phones were ringing and the doorbell was sounding with people arriving to help post leaflets, it was a hive of activity.

It is said that she is the safest of the three Labour MPs, but you wouldn’t get that impression. Joan Walley is taking nothing, especially the electorate of Stoke-on-Trent North for granted.

Watch the videos below:

Election Special: Norsheen Bhatti Conservative PPC for Stoke-on-Trent Central Clashes with the BNP

Norsheen Bhatti the Conservative Party Candidate for Stoke-on-Trent Central is one determined lady.

Her selection was not without controversy when it was revealed that Norsheen was a part-time belly dancer.

She has taken her campaign to the people of Stoke-on-Trent Central and she is encouraged by the positive reaction and the support she has received whilst out canvassing.

Last night [Wednesday] Norsheen crossed swords with British National Party PPC & Deputy Chairman Simon Darby at a hustings organised by the Community Schools Action Group.

In response to a comment made by a member of the audience Norsheen said: “there is nothing British about the BNP”

Simon Darby replied: “well I’m more British than you”

Norsheen demand an explanation from Mr Darby for the remark and he responded by saying that she had made a personal attack on him and she had got one back.

On a day of political gaffe’s, Mr Darby’s comment was misguided to say the least and he gave this explanation on his blog: “Previously she had stated she didn’t want to be photographed next to me, then referring directly to me she stated “there’s nothing British about the BNP”.

Having spent the last twenty years virtually dedicating my life to my nation and my people, that wasn’t exactly the best thing to say to me. Instantly I responded, “well I am more British than you are”, which, despite her subsequent attempts for victimhood, effectively sealed her fate”.

Norsheen Bhatti is quite a tenacious debater and rarely ducks an issue.

We managed to catch up with her today for an exclusive interview.

She revealed that even when out canvassing in areas of the City that are represented solely by the BNP she had never had a racist or derogatory comment aimed at her.

Watch the video below.

500 Words – James Whitehurst the Conservative Candidate for Longton North

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

I have lived and worked in the city all my life and I am standing for election because I want to put something back into the local community where I grew up.

Contrary to many peoples perceptions of Conservative’s in general, I have never been well off or well to do. After leaving school (Edensor High) I went straight into the world of work and was an agency worker for a while at a number of short-term, low pay contracts. I studied at Newcastle College for a qualification in computing and later took work in administrative duties, catering and warehousing.

Unfortunately, I suffered a serious road accident several years ago and have since been off work. However, I have been keeping busy by giving my time voluntarily for the City Conservative’s. I want to help to make the city a better place to live for everyone. I have the time and the ability to be an excellent ward councillor given the opportunity to serve. I will not be one of those who are only ever seen at election time, I want to be a representative of the people of Longton North and Meir Hay all year round.

My main priorities are to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime by working closely with the police and making the streets safer for our children. I am also very concerned about the lack of facilities for elderly and young people-the two groups of society that are too often ignored by government.

I have also been appalled by the state of our roads, particularly following the bad winter that we have just had. It is no good simply papering over the cracks, we need a radical overhaul in the mindset at the Town Hall to invest for the future.

I believe that the local authority has a duty to deliver value for money and excellent public service. Unfortunately, I think that we are being badly let down because we are trying to do too much and we are doing it badly. If other Conservative local authorities can deliver better services than us and still cut their council tax, then why can’t we?

I am also encouraged by the Conservative commitment to address the asylum and immigration fiasco that Labour has perpetuated in office for far too long. It is not racist to say that the system is failing; neither is it racist to say that there must be greater control on who can come into the country and settle or work here. I will lobby government for greater controls as a priority. But neither must we-as some parties do-seek to exaggerate the problems that DO exist and play on them for electoral purposes. Immigration is a big issue for the people of Meir Hay and Longton North. I have listened and I agree with peoples concerns that something must be done.

It is also an opportunity to send a message to government that we will no longer be taken for granted on the issue of Europe. I am encouraged by the Conservative commitment to introduce a Sovereignty Act that would force future governments to ask the people before giving more powers away. But this is not in my view enough. It is time for people to have a say on whether or not to remain in the EU. I believe that Britain can flourish outside the EU by making the most of our relationship with all parts of the globe and not just with the European continent.

Not everything Labour has done has been bad. To pretend that it is would be childish and irresponsible. For example, I have long supported the minimum wage and I am delighted that the Conservative Party supports it too. But it is now time for a change. We need a new broom through the town hall to rejuvenate our local government. Its time to look forward to what we can achieve together.

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat At The Regent Theatre Hanley.

You learn something new every day don’t you. I didn’t know until I looked at the front of the programme on Monday night that Technicolor is a registered trademark. I thought it was one of the cool words some old hippy had use in the late 60’s, when this show was written and then ingrained itself into the way we use words.

I read somewhere once that Joseph had been written by Rice and Lloyd Webber as a show that would be easy to stage and perform in schools, braced on a story most people knew and basic. If that’s true, its come one hell of a long way.

Its not the first time I have seen the show in its new form, I went London a few years back to see it. Jason Donovan was in it at the time and the wife wanted to go. I tagged along to get a afternoon in the V&A, well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it anyway.

It’s the only time I have ever been in the London Palladium, and you would think that the little old Regent could not stage a show as well as The Palladium can. It can you know, this productions just as good.

Craig Chalmers, who plays Joseph in the touring show, came 5th in BBC Any Dream Will Do, but his dream came true in the shape of Bill Kenwright, one of the judging panel. He was putting together a touring show of Joseph and offered Chalmers the title role. So since mid 2007, he’s been up and down the country playing the part non-stop.

It show to, Chalmers as the part down to a tee, all he as to do is nail his big solo songs, Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do, with he can with ease. He spins around at the beginning of the show, gives the young girls a smile and a wink, its then easy for him.

He comes across as a nice lad, a few moments after the show ended he was about to get mobbed across from the box office giving out autographs as I made my way up, he didn’t seem to mind, just happy to be there.

The shows not just young Craig Chalmers though, Trina Hill who plays The Narrator as a stunting voice, in the background for much of the time adding to the show. When she steps forward she its rip, with out being overpowering.

Lachlan Scheuber hams it up in a nice way as Levi, or is that Elvis. He got an amazing reaction from the crowd, and rightly so.

Another one to watch is Daniel Jacob, who plays Issacher, he as a fine Calypso voice and takes the chance to use it with Benjamin Calypso.

In the background all the time are the young kids of the Jill Clewes School of Performing Arts. True stars this lot. They are given a few moments as a medley to recap the story at the start of Act 2, and boy, is that good.

The show has two of my own favouite show songs in it, the aforementioned Close Every Door, and the opening number, Jacob and Sons, with kicks the show off in on the right foot. The reprise at the end, explained in the program as the “ËœJoseph Mega mix’ rounds the show off well to.

Joseph is playing at the Regent until Saturday 1st of May. There are lots of shows in the afternoon, early evening and at 7.30pm (8pm Friday and Saturday). Craig Chalmers is not doing all the shows, so have a word with the box office if you want to see him.

And now, the booking info, I hate this bit, seats range from £9 for afternoon shows up to £23 on Saturday evening. You can get your mitts on them at the Regent box office, by ringing 0844 871 7649 or on-line at www.ambassadortickets.com/stoke.

Unmployment Levels Focus Attention In Stoke Central Election Campaign

Norsheen Press Release!

Unemployment figures published for February 2010 for Stoke Central show that the rate stands at 6.9 per cent. The unemployment figure for February 2008 was 3.8 per cent. Whilst unemployment nationally is at a 16 year high this demonstrates how things can only get worse (and not better) under Gordon Brown and Labour.

Commenting on these figures, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke Central Norsheen Bhatti said:

“These figures bring home just how serious this election is. For families in Stoke, the problems are felt, and it matters a great deal to them what kind of MP and government they’re going to have after the election.

In Stoke Central we simply can’t afford another five more years of Gordon Brown and Labour policies that have damaged our families and destroyed our local industry.

Only the Conservatives in Stoke have the energy, ideas and leadership to create jobs in Stoke and get our city back to work again.

Conservatives will take radical action to support people back into work. We will stop Labour’s jobs tax and overhaul our welfare system to provide professional, personal support into a job. To tackle youth unemployment we will create 200,000 new and pre apprenticeships, 100,000 Further Education college places and 100,000 work pairings.

Putting people first, I will fight for Stoke Central, encouraging industry and investment into the area and ensuring that local people are trained in the skills to do the jobs that are created.”