The Political Potteries Circa 6th May 2011 Part 2

The council chamber has lost some big characters as a result of the elections, one of the biggest losses was political heavyweight and City Independent Group Leader Brian Ward.

Brian knew that he and his group would have a mammoth task to overcome a resurgent Labour Party. He has put his defeat down to two factors:

1] The Governance Commission who wanted the three mainstream parties to “Ëœman up’ and become more accessible to a wider cross section of the electorate.

2] The recent Boundary Review which Brian felt was all designed to favour the mainstream parties and to rid the political arena of the BNP and Independent politicians.

He was also concerned that the emergence of another Independent candidate in the form of Cllr Roy Naylor’s mother-in-law, Nina Hulse would dilute the independent voters and allow Labour to romp home.

Labour did romp home and if you add the 104 votes Nina Hulse received to Brian Wards total, he would have still been 44 short of a victory.

The City Independents are now in limbo, they have a possible group of 6, but can they swell their numbers to be an effective opposition? Paul Breeze has made it clear that he will plough a lonely furrow, he was elected as a un-aligned councillor and it appears that his mind is made up to go it alone.

The more interesting quandary is whether Lee Wanger will be welcomed to the CIG bosom? Lee has a past conviction and has had to sign the child sex offenders register. Many people are amazed that Lee has been re-elected to the council chamber. The people of Tunstall have had their say and they have chosen Lee, as is their democratic right.

The CIG will be meeting soon to choose a new leader; the favourites are Dave Conway and Terry Follows. Randy Conteh is very able but has health issues that need sorting before he can plan his next political moves.

The Conservatives have been reduced to 2 councillors from the 8 they had under the old Conservative & Independent Alliance.

Abi Brown has confirmed that she and new guy 19 year old Jack Brereton will not enter into any formal agreement with the Independents. Neither will she welcome Lee Wanger into the fold. She has her reasons and she will no doubt receive plaudits for the stance she has taken and rightly so.

Abi has been one of the rising stars of the past 12 months. She has forged a strong reputation for being a hardworking and dedicated ward councillor who is not afraid to speak her mind in the chamber. I know that she felt constricted at times and was unable to speak out against some of the anti Conservative rhetoric spouted from the Labour benches. Coalition was not an easy place for a character like Abi, she is forthright in her views and now she has the opportunity to speak out and spread her proud Conservative values, whilst nurturing a new, fresh, group member.

The chamber also lost one of its true gentlemen.

Ross Irving has served this city for 4 decades. His demise came at the hands of a team of activists from the remnants of the Trentham Action Group.

They delivered leaflets that “Ëœreminded’ the electorate in Trentham that Ross backed a new Academy for Trentham and Blurton.

To cut a long story short, Trentham High was eventually saved. But it wasn’t saved due to the support of TAG darling Terry Follows; it was saved after intervention from Stoke-on-Trent South MP Rob Flello. He was the reason that the school will now be refurbished and will remain open.

Had he not got involved and convinced the schools minister to review the case and to write to Stoke-on-Trent City Council, make no mistake, TAG campaign or not – that school would have closed.

The anti Ross Irving leaflet that was put out in Trentham was wrong in my opinion because although it did not favour any candidates it seemed to suggest that Ross was to blame and it urged folk not to vote for him. What it blatantly omits to inform people of was that their precious school was saved because of the actions of a Labour politician.

The anti Ross leaflet was orchestrated by Nick Davis, who uses every opportunity to criticise and project her hatred for the Labour Party. Not once have I ever seen her reference the work that Labour MP Rob Flello put in to save Trentham High. Yet she champions Terry Follows who was aboard the TAG wagon train, but went on the vote to close Mitchell High school.

Ross’s crime warranted a leaflet delivered to every household in Trentham apparently, to remind folk of what he did.

Yet even though Terry was a part of the process that spelled the end For Mitchell, he is the darling of Nicky Davis and the TAG. No mention of the fact that Mr Follows had done exactly the same as Ross but to another school, in another part of the City.

This whole episode is distasteful, selective, hypocritical and reeks of NIMBYism.

Apparently it is OK for Terry to back Trentham High but then a year later vote to close a wonderful school like Mitchell.

I wish Ross a happy retirement and I for one would like to put on record my thanks for the service he has given to the City over the past 4 decades. He never ducked a question or refused an interview and he is a guy who I have a tremendous amount of respect for.

I hope that Ross’s long service and dedication is recognised officially in some way.

The Trentham issue was not the council’s finest hour and was not down to the actions of just Ross, but no one will convince me that without Rob Flello’s intervention ““ the school would remained open.

We also need to acknowledge the loss to the chamber of all those serving councillors who will not return following the election, either through defeat, retirement or de-selection.

Hazel Lyth, Joanne Powell-Becket, Clive Rigby, John Daniels, John Davis, Mark Davis and Alan Rigby among others will not return.

We should also spare a thought for Mohammed Matloob who lost out in Tunstall and will therefore miss out on being the City’s next Lord Mayor. Matty is a really good guy and is a sad loss to the council.

Finally what does the future hold for our fine City?

That is a question that I will be seeking the answers to from our new Labour administration.

Labour imploded a few years ago. They were torn apart by in-fighting, jealousy, bitterness and arrogance. They must not allow this to happen again or the city will once again suffer the consequences.

I want Pervez, his new deputy [my belief is that it will be between Sarah Hill and Paul Shotton] to be open to true public scrutiny.

The “Ëœnew’ Labour Group must engage with the public. Here at Pits n Pots, we want open access to the Labour councillors and particularly the cabinet members so that we can ask the questions that the public seek the answers to.

Pits n Pots have proved that we have dedicated our time energy and resources into this site so that the public have a portal into the council chamber.

Our stats have gone through the roof over the last few months. Me, Mike have resigned from the board of 6towns Radio to solely concentrate our efforts on making Pits n Pots a vital part of this City.

With the engagement and participation of the politicians of this city, over the coming months, we will be bringing you live Question Time broadcasts so that the public can ask politicians about the direction of the city. We will be interviewing Cabinet members in depth and then podcasting them on this site. We will also be hosting live events.

We have big ideas and ambitions. We have the audience; all we need now is the participation of the politicians that we have just elected to serve us.

Labour Group, Conservatives, City Independents, un-aligned councillors – Are you up for the challenge?

The Political Potteries Circa 6th May 2011 – Part 1

As the dust settles on yet another Stoke-on-Trent election, I find my mind accessing it’s “Ëœwhat happens now’ portal.

First and foremost, congratulations must go out to the entire team involved in the Stoke-on-Trent Labour Party campaigning team.

The 3 Labour MPs, united as one with the existing councillors, party organisers and candidates to get the Labour vote out. They were successful beyond their wildest dreams.

But they must ground themselves as soon as possible and get to work to minimise the impact of the recent £35million of cuts as well as ensuring that there is another open, honest and transparent round of consultations ahead of next year’s £20million cut in government funding.

It is imperative that they work with groups like Save Our Children Centres and others. They may have only 10 opposition voices inside the council chamber, but they may face thousands in opposition out on the streets of the City if they start to railroad unpopular cuts and service losses through whilst hiding behind their impressive majority.

The honeymoon period is a very short one in the political Potteries.

My pre-election predictions were pretty spot on actually. I had said that I could see Labour win around 34 seats. I also said that I believed that the Lib Dem’s would be wiped out by the elections. I was also right about the eradication of the BNP.

The one thing I did get spectacularly wrong was the demise of Community Voice councillors. Never saw that one coming at all.

Mick Salih has said that he is finished with politics now. We have probably also seen the last of Peter Kent-Baguley now too. Both are massive characters and skilled politicians and there will be a few council officers breathing a sigh of relief now that their scrutinising eyes will not been looking over reports and agenda’s.

Mike Barnes has gone too. Love or loathe him, he knows the system of local government better than most of the others put together. His work on the council constitution was invaluable. He made a few errors of judgements in his campaign in my humble opinion. But I firmly believe he will bounce back after a break and you never know, Community Voice could be re-invented with a new look and 4 years to get themselves organised. If other socialist minded individuals could just lose their anti Labour rhetoric and their bitter and twisted mindset and joined up with Barney, they could still be a major player on the local political scene yet.

Lib Dem leader Kieran Clarke is a loss to the chamber. He was always accommodating, willing to answer questions and is a genuinely nice guy. He suffered by association to Nick Cleggs disastrous and traitorous coalition with the Conservatives. The Lib Dems have been nothing short of battered at local elections right across the country. Kieran will find it hard to get back if his party’s national standing and reputation does not significantly improve.

The BNP were unceremoniously booted out of the Civic Centre. Once, not so long ago, they had 9 councillors. Today we can honestly say that the city has turned it’s back on the politics of the far right. The England First Party proved as welcome as a fart in a space suit! Craig Pond proved what a completely inept politician he is. He managed to do what he does best, which is to anger and insult people. I followed with amusement his rambling and preaching’s on the MY Tunstall website. He proved to be Labour’s Martin Garner’s best campaign tool [in every sense!]. Today he writes that we are all stupid in this city. Well I say there is nothing keeping him here. The electorate have sent the message that they do not want him at any price, best he hangs his keyboard up and joins the working masses methinks.

I never believed that we are a racist City. The BNP benefited by using a clever marketing strategy, no more than that. They capitalised on a definitely Labour Party lull a few years ago. They were opportunist; they were in the right place at the right time. Their success proved to be short lived. The Labour Party regrouped, re-organised, got rid of a few negatives, re-energised and fought back. Tristram Hunt started to campaign in Abbey Hulton & Bentilee the day after he was elected last May. His team get out and knock doors in those areas. People told them they had not seen a Labour campaigner for years. They see plenty now!

Slowly but surely Stoke Central’s Labour team won over the doubters and they have reclaimed the support they so spectacularly lost just a few years ago. They turned the Abbey and Bentilee red again and the BNP lost its strong hold.

Labour cannot be complacent here however, the work must go on or they will lose their grip on things again. One thing I’m certain of is that Michael Coleman will pick himself up and dust himself down and start to plan for the next four years. We will hear plenty from Mike, he won’t go away. He is a thoroughly hard working man and he put his heart and soul into being a successful councillor. He needs to find a new trick, his party needs to re-brand itself once again. Nick Griffin has taken the BNP to the brink of extinction. Like the Lib Dem’s, the BNP has suffered from mis-management. Disastrous leadership has disastrous consequences.

Part 2 of this article will be published tomorrow [Sunday]

500 Word From Mark Wright

My name is Mark Wright, I’m 24 and I’m currently a councillor in the Hanford
and Tentham ward, where I’m standing for re-election. I have always lived
in Trentham, I attended the local schools and am a member of the local Rugby
club. I have recently purchased a property in the area, and intend on
staying here as I enjoy living in Trentham so much, which is why I want to
help represent and further increase the development of our area. I have a
passion for this ward and want it to continue to be the flagship
neighbourhood.

In May 2010 I was elected for a one year term of office as councillor for
the Hanford and Trentham ward, and this year in the role has given me an
insight into how the Council functions and will allow me to represent you
with knowledge of the role and an understanding of how to get action in all
areas of the ward.

If re-elected for a full term I would continue the work already underway
around the ward, building greater relationships with Residents Associations,
action groups, learning and social groups, youth groups and of course you
the residents. There have been some great leaps forward in our ward with
regards to the reduction of anti social behaviour, it generally being a
cleaner and greener ward, and highways repairs. I will continue to fight for
services within the ward and push hard for a fair deal for our neighbourhood
as I have done in the past year.

I would love the chance and challenge of being re-elected on to Stoke on
Trent City Council and would be proud to represent the residents of the
Hanford and Trentham ward again.

500 Words From Paul Breeze

EXPERIENCE. INTEGRITY. DEDICATION.

INDEPENDENT. ACCESSIBLE.

ONLY CANDIDATE WHO LIVES IN, KNOWS, CARES ABOUT, HAS STAKE IN, AND PROVEN COMMITMENT TO THE AREA.

Since 1995, 15 years voluntary co-founder, driving force and continuing chairman of Hanley One Residents Association.

2003-2007, fully independent “Ëœno party’ city councillor (proud Deputy Elected Mayor, 2003-2005, to Mayor Mike Wolfe).

Terms as local High School, Junior School governor, also Hope Children’s Centre & Hope Centre board member.

2008, leader, city-wide “ËœPeople’s Choice’ campaign to champion and protect Stoke-on-Trent residents’ democratic rights to choose our own city council leader.

Establishing other local residents associations.

Working with Police & Council to obtain Alcohol Restriction Zone, CCTV & ASBOs, Job Centre & Central Forest Park.

Significant input bringing Central Forest Park improvements skatepark, children’s playground, lake.

Northwood Alleygating & Resurfacing of rear alleyways.

Instigating allotments improvements.

Introduction of local recycling facilities.

Introduction of local large items refuse collections.

Traffic calming and bus lane enforcement.

Puffin crossings adjacent to Grove Junior School.

Organiser Northwood Park Centenary 1907-2007 & return to Northwood Park of the ancient Roman Goddess statue “ËœTemperantia’.

Introduction of local Sports Court facilities.

Working with & supporting Citizens Advice Bureau to provide much needed help & advice for residents across our deprived area.

Working with residents, council and various agencies to draw up a neighbourhood delivery plan.

I am 58 years of age; have lived in the Northwood/Birches Head/Hanley area for almost forty years, the last thirty of which in the same multi-racial, multi-cultural terraced street. I have been a dedicated single parent to three sons since they were 4 years, 2 years, and four months old, respectively. Each attended our local schools: Broom Nursery, Northwood Infants, Grove Juniors, Birches Head High, then Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College; all have graduated through university.

I continue to believe that love, reasonable discipline, personal responsibility, social behaviour, education and citizenship should all begin in the home and be reinforced and supported by schools, police, council and local communities.

My values and integrity have remained constant throughout all my adult life:
AGAINST all political and religious EXTREMISM.
AGAINST all criminal and anti-social behaviour.
FOR a culture of mutual respect, tolerance and harmony.
FOR individual, family, community and wider social responsibility.
FOR promoting opportunity and education for all.
HELPING everyone regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, disability or background.

I have no party political affiliations, no “Ëœsingle issue’ agenda, and no personal axes to grind. I am in continuing contact with all relevant council departments, local community police officers, PCSOs, schools, residents associations and community groups, as well as helping, whenever possible, with many local residents’ personal problems.

If elected, I will work conscientiously, realistically and responsibly with fellow elected councillors, police, local residents, and all agencies to serve our local communities and to strive to make Northwood, Birches Head, Hanley, and our City of Stoke-on-Trent a better place for us all to live. It would be an honour to be elected as a representative to serve our area and city.

500 words from Margaret Lowe

I am proud to have been chosen as the Community Voice candidate for the
Bentilee and Ubberley Ward in the forthcoming elections. Although new to
politics, I have been campaigning for two years against the Discovery Academy
and feel I have learned so much about the area I live in and the residents
there. This area has been treated unfairly by the coalition cabinet at the
council. Some of the current councillors voted for the budget cuts, which I
would not have done. We have lost so much in this area recently; the golf
course and Willfield as a community venue giving many of the clubs and groups
who use the facility nowhere to go. We are now in danger of losing the gym
and the swimming pool. Facilities which are so important to residents of the
area. I am passionate about Bentilee and Ubberley and want to see it go from
strength to strength. I want to make it an area to be proud to live. I will
listen to the residents, to their ideas and views and support them in any way
I can. I want the opportunity to show that I can stand up and make my voice
heard on behalf of the community.

500 Words From Amjid Wazir

My name is Amjid Wazir and I am the sitting Councillor for Hanley West & Shelton ward, I have lived here for nearly 40 years and I am proud to be your Labour Candidate in the new Hanley Park & Shelton Ward.

My aims for the community:

IMPROVE ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR. Many people are concerned about this issue and it is something I am pleased to say that Labour has tackled head on. During our time in power Nationally Labour put more police on the streets, supported police departments not cut them, engineered the Police Community Support Officer scheme and basically got tough with Anti-Social Behaviour when our neighbours were put at risk.

IMPROVE COMMUNITY FACILITIES. Hanley Park is a credit to our City not just our area. We all know that communities of all aspects of race use the children’s play area together and at the same time. Just take a look on a Sunday afternoon to see. The sports facilities are well used by the international and national student community many of whom reside in Shelton. Our Park is also home to many City wide celebration events and festivals which are often free for us to enjoy. It’s an asset I want to protect and enjoy.

PROTECT CHILDREN’S CENTRES. As a Labour Councillor, across the City we have had to make savings in some areas and protect others. We have had to make savings because we have had a 9% cut to our Council budget from the Government Coalition. We have endeavoured to protect the most vulnerable in the budget and that is why we have managed to save 15 children’s centres across the City from cuts and secure their future including the Thomas Boughey Children’s Centre.

COMMUNICATE REGUARLY. I am a people person. I love my street. I have two boys. I am happily married and my family live nearby. I will never be far away for people to ask questions of me and to get my support for their concerns. I hope to communicate with you even more after the election, furthermore there will only be one Councillor for this ward in the Council chamber so it is important we make the right choice on who that Councillor will be.

CONTINUE WORKING HARD FOR YOU. In all things I will work hard for you. As part of a Labour Team in power we can work with our Labour MP to deliver the goods. This means that the Community we are a part of can be proud to be part of something bigger and wider than just this smaller ward structure we are all part of. With Labour we can deliver.

I hope that from reading this you can see that we are part of a winning combination of a Labour Team. With 3 MPs, Labour Councillors, and a Group, we can go in the right direction for this City.

Please consider casting your vote for me Amjid Wazir, your Hanley West & Shelton Labour Ward Candidate.

500 Words From Alastair Watson

Hi, my name is Alastair Watson; I’m the Joiners Square Labour Candidate. I’m passionate about Stoke-on-Trent being the best place it can be.

I have been a homeowner in the ward since I graduated from Staffordshire University in 2003. After this I was an elected student rep in the position of President for two years. Since then I have worked for the Council for a couple of years in various posts and for the last three years in the private industry of Transport. I’m proud to live and work in this City.

My aspirations for the Stoke-on-Trent are that we can be the best we can possibly be whilst taking people with us. I am passionate about regeneration on a large and small scale. From plans to build houses, to plans to clean up streets I have an interest in them and in your view.

Throughout this campaign I have been out knocking on doors, getting in touch with the voters Labour has maybe lost touch with over the years, and finding out what’s on your mind and what matters to you most.

Working with the Labour team of MP and Labour Group we have a real chance to make things happen for the people of this City. With Labour we can make things happen, so I hope you will support me at the ballot box, because together we can make it happen for this new political ward boundary we live in called “ËœJoiner’s Square’. I look forward to representing you.

Some policies I support are as follows:

  1. Finishing Regeneration. There is no doubt this will take time but I want to see it through. I want to see regen finished in this area so residents’ lives can move forward and turn to some level of normality moving forward.
  2. Support Safe Crossing. Petitions and letters have been written over the years for the Council to provide a safe crossing at the centre of Lichfield Street for children going to school. I think this is vital and will take this again to the Council.
  3. Tackling Anti Social Behaviour. Many residents are concerned about this. Labour have always put more police on the streets, developed the Police Community Support Officer Scheme and tackled anti-social behaviour head on.
  4. Communicating Reguarly. I will undertake regular communication in the ward. I will do a ward surgery with our Labour MP once a month, and listen to your concerns and arguments when you come to me with them.
  5. Any More Issues? This last point is reserved for you. Labour needs to continue connecting with the people, and so I will take your concerns on board and reply as best I can to the issues you raise.

Thank you very much for reading this, if you have any questions please contact me using the details on the literature myself and the team have been distributing.

Please make your vote for me, Alastair Watson, your Joiners Square Labour Candidate.

With Thanks,

Alastair Watson

500 words from Spencer Cartlidge

THE ENGLAND FIRST PARTY – Many people have asked me already, are you a racist?

My answer to that is I say its OK to have the Scottish national party and no one seems to ask them, I don’t think its wrong to represent English people young and old in there own country even though the labour party seem to think it is, the trouble with them is they don’t like the competition because they have had it so sewn up for years, yes cause there is a massive issue with immigration no party dare seem address it, apart from the BNP of who we have had dialogue with about it, and we wont deny meeting the English defence league to see there issues about sharia law being introduced in England and what it brings to our country, without a referendum I hasten to add, these people I have met, EDL,BNP, are according to the labour party are knuckle dragging scumbag idiots, I assure you they from from it, they know their stuff that’s why they are highly growing in numbers, I’m not just saying that, I was very surprised, I feel they are so bemused how extreme Muslims are allowed to burn the poppy on armistice day along with burning the union flag, and they get a 50 pound fine, they seem to feel the powers that be are so afraid of Islam ???

But we have massive issues of more importance such as re-generation or should I say lack of it, we have just to seemed to replacing our history by retail, no sight of any manufacturing structure, well nothing to shout about, I look around stoke our once great city and in massive parts of it is just shear urban decay and no-one stands up and takes any responsibility, we are now one of the worst, poorest cities to live in England.

Derelict housing, empty shops, lack of affordable housing lack of help for small business and no-one over the years and years of our glorious run Stoke-on-Trent Labour council as ever seemed to have the answers, no youth clubs anymore to keep our youngsters out of crime, a transport system that never seems to improve, our pensioners worrying about heating bills, in a perfect world we would love to open the books to the Stoke-on-Trent-public about what really happens to all the money that comes and goes out of what alot of people consider one of the dodgiest town hall in England, will it ever happen, it’ll open alot of eyes if it ever did.

S.Cartlidge
England First Party Candidate – Dresden & Florence Ward

PS. This is the time for the PROTEST VOTE, we don’t claim to be professional politicians, never have, but stroll on, could we really do any worse ?

500 words from Ross Ward

Firstly may I add my thanks to Pits n Pots for affording me this opportunity to talk about why I would like the chance to represent my ward of Meir Hay.

I would like to start out by pointing out that I am not a politician. I am a member of the Conservative party, but I am not a politician. I work full time, come from a traditional working class background, I live with my partner I am a proud father of three children. The point I am making is that I have a centre right leaning in my politics but I am not standing for the sake of politics, I am standing because I care about my community and the future it offers for my family and the people we share this City with.

I am not here to bat blame and accusations back and forward ad infinitum as this resolves nothing. We all know the arguments, we all know where we stand and it is unlikely that my 500 words will alter this.

I stood for the first time in the 2010 local elections so I am a relative newcomer. I won’t pretend to know the inner machinations of the Civic Centre or Local Government but I do understand the economics of running a business and maximising the limited resources available through difficult times.

I believe that a large part of the problems we face are derived from our former success. The “ËœPotteries’ were world leaders in much of what we produced and the local politics were on the whole unchallenged; this lead to complacency in local industry and in those who represented us. The world is an ever changing place but we rested on our laurels and let the competition pass us by.

More than ever this City now needs proactive, forward thinkers to help us regain our competitive edge. We need to be ahead of the game and have competent, enthusiastic, driven councillors who can find, bid and win investment back into Stoke on Trent whilst spending our very limited resources wisely. It’s time to balance the books.

At ward level I will continue the fight against EMR’s dreadful treatment of their Parkhall and Meir Hay neighbours and the council’s apparent support for a development that is blighting people’s lives. The development is welcome but not at all costs. Residents should be allowed to sit in their homes and gardens without ceaseless noise, dust, vibration, 24 hour high level floodlights and intrusive cameras looking over them. I will work to broker a compromise that will be agreeable to all.

I will work with my local community groups and associations to ensure their voice is heard in the council chamber. I will support the residents of Meir Hay and Adderley Green who feel they are constantly overlooked in their attempts to get some local investment (play areas, highway repair, council house maintenance) into their community. I will support their vigilance in preventing the Springfield site from inappropriate development. I don’t believe in NIMBYism but I do believe in common sense.

I am a great believer in accountability and responsibility for your actions but at the Civic Centre I see little evidence of either. I hate to see waste and bad management but I read about it across the City everyday. With your vote I will work hard to represent you and will tirelessly work for a fair deal for our ward and our City.

Prime Minister David Cameron in Stoke-on-Trent

Prime Minister David Cameron was in Stoke-on-Trent yesterday [Thursday] to celebrate Portmerion Potteries fantastic performance and to help boost the Conservative Party local election campaign.

Mr Cameron also gave assurances that Stoke-on-Trent would have the benefit of being in an enterprise zone, which could bring thousands of jobs to the city.

The Prime Minister also rejected the suggestion that Stoke-on-Trent had been treated unfairly despite having government funding cut by 8.1%.

He gave hope to the S.O.C.C campaign by insisting that the local authority did not have to cut the funding to Sure Start centres in order to make savings and that other areas had been successful in protecting this vital service.

“It’s not about who’s dominant politically, but one of the reasons I wanted to come is because I think Stoke-on-Trent has faced particular challenges.

“Obviously economic challenges with the demise of some of the pottery industry and great political challenges with the fact that the BNP has done well here.

“I think that makes it very important that mainstream politicians come here for themselves.

“How can we help economically, how can we help politically and how can we help regenerate Stoke-on-Trent?

“It’s an area I care about a great deal.

“I cut my political teeth in Stafford and it’s good to see a business here at Portmeirion that’s doing very well, that has brought some of the great pottery brands together and that is expanding, investing, exporting and actually currently bringing production back onshore, making more things in Stoke-on-Trent.

“So to those people who say Britain doesn’t make anything any more ““ actually we do and we do better than that. Manufacturing is up and exports are up. We need to rebalance the economy and we need businesses that make things.”

“We made sure that nobody had to reduce their budget by more than 8.8 per cent, so Stoke-on-Trent came in below that level. Obviously there are difficult decisions that have to be made.

“But when you look at the funding that comes in per head in Stoke-on-Trent it still comes in at £555, more than twice the amount in some other areas, so the money is coming in. And there is also additional backing coming from the Government for things like social care, which has benefits for Council Tax rates.”

Mr Cameron added: “I have visited councils up and down the country and the Conservative-led councils have been able to cut back on these back office costs and not cut front line services.

“And they are doing that in different ways. Things like sharing the chief executive with the neighbouring council and removing layers of senior management.

“These are the sorts of changes that can be made without cutting things like Sure Start services and many councils are doing this successfully.”

“I accept it’s difficult and hard work, but we are all in this situation because of the deficit left by Labour.”

Mindful of the fact that Pits n Pots have reported and interview four shadow ministerial visits to Stoke-on-Trent, every effort was made to get an interview with the Prime Minister.

Mr Cameron’s press team tried to make time for us to do a quick audio interview with him but due to the pressure of his schedule, this was not possible.

Although we appreciate that No10’s press team know of and respect this site and made every effort to facilitate our request, it was disappointing that we did not get the opportunity to put a couple of questions about the upcoming elections to the Prime Minister given the Conservative’s endorsement of new media.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was due in the city yesterday but was cancelled because of the ministerial visit.

Arrangements had been made for us to interview her about the local elections.