People join political parties for a variety of reasons, usually because of political views or sometimes because family and friends are members.
However former councillor Ross Irving joined Stoke-on-Trent’s Conservative Party because the beer was better.
He had also been a member in Newcastle to help out in the 1966 General Election, before moving to Stoke. He then decided to stand for council.
As usual, people were short of candidates for seats which aren’t winnable and I fought six seats before winning Trentham and Hanford.
That was 1973, since then he served on most major committees, lost his seat in 1996, got reelected in 1998 before being defeated again in 2011.
In that time Stoke has changed dramatically.
When I first got elected to the council, there was still a hell of a lot of derelict land and thousands of acres have been cleared up and improved over the years
The road network has improved “substantially” as he puts it with the A50, Queensway and the Potteries Way being built.
Ross was born in Stoke, and attended Newcastle-under-Lyme school before taking over the family business R and A Irving Ltd, aged just 17, when his father died. The family tailor and outfitters continued until 1985, after which he became a post master for five years until 1990.
From then on he managed “to creep up the greasy pole of politics” with managing the Stoke Conservative club until 1999.
From then on it was politics full time
The workload of being a councillor was becoming onerous and it was getting increasingly difficult to balance the commitments to politics and full time employment, I was becoming much more involved in the planning side.
He certainly was busy, in his time he was cabinet member for education, partnerships and regeneration, vice-chairman later chairman for planning while progressing “through the ranks” to leader of the authority in 2009 then deputy in 2010.
He was also vice-chairman of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent combined Fire and Rescue Authority, which saw the rebuilding of Hanley fire station as well as ones at Goldenhill and Burslem, with Longton next year. Despite this he lost his seat last year. Due to boundary changes which saw a reduction of councillors from 60 to 44, and an anti Conservative swing, the party were only able to return two councillors compared to eight before.
The new boundaries didn’t do the Conservatives any favours and the council returned to Labour control following no overall control for quite a long time,
He might return to the council
A lot of water can go under the bridge in three years, I still feel I have quite a lot to contribute, that is a decision I shall take nearer to 2015.
The council has been going through a difficult phase, it had become overstaffed and inefficient, I think there is room for improvement.
He thinks the required reduction in expenditure will make the council a ‘different authority by the time of the next election.’ Though he thinks not taking the zero percent council tax increase was ‘a big mistake.’
Despite the face spending cuts are going to make things difficult in the city he insists they are necessary for the sake of the economy.
Difficult decisions have to be taken, they are in my view, necessary to stabilise the British economy and introduce growth and jobs in the future.
I believe that given the opportunity to produce goods in Stoke-on-Trent, there is no finer workforce available throughout the country.