Eye Spy the By-election

So the by-election has finally been called for the vacancy for Office of Councillor for the Springfields and Trent Vale ward, it’s only taken since 27 April. So now the ballot boxes are being broken out and just in the nick of time… frustrated residents in Springfields & Trent Vale are already starting to petition the council over local issues, having begun to feel the effects of no local representation for the last few months.

Despite having more councillors than they know what to do with, Labour have not fallen over themselves to ensure residents have felt looked after, which is perhaps why there are rumblings that this by-election may see upwards of 8 candidates all vying to fix the numerous potholes and clear the litter on the yellow brick road from Trent Vale to Stoke. Hardly a ringing endorsement of previous incumbents…

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Our Moment To Shine or an Olympic cock up?

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past month or two you will probably know that the Olympic Torch Relay is coming to Stoke-on-Trent next week.

Having the Olympic Torch come in to your city is being billed as ‘Your Moment To Shine’ as you play your part in what is arguably the biggest sporting event in the world. On 30 May the eyes of the world will be on Stoke-on-Trent as the torch arrives in the city and heads up to Hanley park to light the cauldron after an afternoon of events and entertainment. Continue reading

Inside the civic

The big news this week, as hinted in my last column, was the resignation of Deputy Lord Mayor Khan as he prepares to once again face the Standards Committee. This is certainly an honourable decision, however why it took so long (and a Labour group meeting) to convince Khan to resign perhaps signifies how unaware certain councillors are about what the public think of their conduct. Continue reading

Double dip and Oatcakes

The news that Britain has slipped back into a recession should not be surprising. The economy experienced a 0.2 % fall following the decline in the figure of 0.3% in previous quarter which now puts the economy technically into a double dip recession- the first time since 1975. I would argue that the local economy has probably never recovered from the recession 4 years ago. As a guess the North Staffs economy has shrunken by about 8-10% since 2008. The signs of a turn down are everywhere most noticeably in the local jobs market. If we take the Sentinel as a guide the Wednesday section has been advertising around 300 jobs over recent weeks.

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Inside the Civic

Those who thought all out elections would bring some stability to our Council must be feeling embarrassed this week as Council Leader Mohammed Pervez took a scalpel to his cabinet, cutting out the disobedient Gratton and challenger Hill, and carving up the other portfolios in what is quite clearly more than the ‘tweaking’ he described it as.

The introduction of Platt and Dutton is seen as a nod to the left wingers in the group, who re-emerged in 2011 to rival the modernisers who were in danger of taking over Labour. Continue reading

The secretive world of Stoke-on-Trent Labour

I was interested to read Joanna Wright’s letter to the Sentinel 24 April, questioning whether Stoke’s labour council is “the traditional party of the people” or as she says, “Councillors of the ruling labour group, that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of.”

This council’s secretive behind closed doors decision-making; including the latest debacle regarding Port Vale is a disgrace. Continue reading

Why pennies do matter

The best way to start a blog is often with a cliche. Look after the pennies, we are told, however contrast this to the claim often thrown at those in opposition – you’re missing the big picture. Can you do both? Of course – anyone who decides to forgo their small indulgences in favour of saving for a house, a car, a holiday is doing just that. So why the brickbats when a councillor suggests a bit of care with small budgets?

One of the first blogs I ever wrote focused on my confusion as a new councillor at the amount of letters I get from in response to emails I’ve sent. Why can’t you email me back? I appreciate that some things have to be sent as a letter – but the ultimate snub surely to cost effectiveness is to say that one letter to one person won’t break the budget, as I have been told recently by one organisation in response to a Freedom of Information request I made. Continue reading

Ramblings Of An Idiot – An Introduction

Welcome to my first article here on Pits n Pots, I’ve been asked to write what I like. Which is tricky, as the option to discuss “anything” leaves me with, well, a lot of options. But I suppose I should begin with a bit of a foreward, an introduction, into my views and perhaps what to expect from any future articles. Ive lived on the outskirts of Stoke On Trent and the Staffordshire Moorlands my entire life, studied here, work here and continue to study Computer Science here. I wouldn’t particularly mind spending the rest of my life here, it’s home. A place with personality, history and community. Ive studied Law, worked since i was 15 and loved technology my entire life. Id class myself as in the “socially aware” category of person (if that is even a category?) I like to really know whats going on in the world around me, locally, nationally and internationally.

I watch the news, i read decent newspapers and the social sphere i try to keep up to date with whats going on in the world. I think technology improves peoples lives and love anything from SLR cameras, laptops, tablets, computers, tvs, smartphones, speakers, computer games, software. All sorts. I love films and documentaries, id probably say i prefer documentaries more than film if im being honest. Continue reading

Clinical Commissioning Groups- who guards the guardians?

I have been following the decisions made by the recently formed local Clinical Commissioning Groups with some interest. They seem to have something of the iconoclast about them. Firstly, the change a long established arrangement with the local drug and alcohol treatment provider ADSIS that has existed for many years for a Birmingham based service.

Shortly afterwards I read that the GP out of hours service in Basford is under review. The service which has been run as a not for profit organisation by local GPs fear that a large private health organisation will take over the contract and that a company with no local knowledge will have a detrimental impact on patient services. Continue reading