Comment By 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!Ã‚ 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………….