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

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

Standing Outside Political Parties

A public meeting was held in the Stoke-on-Trent council chamber on 27th April at 6pm to hear from people who had decided to stand as candidates in the local elections not aligned to political parties. Harry Smallwood chaired the meeting.

Four people gave brief talks:

MICK WILLIAMS (Hartshill and Penkhull) said there is a different mood in politics. People have left political parties and even some remaining in parties are uneasy. The reason for the meeting is to find out why. Democracy for Stoke fought for and succeeded in getting a referendum in 2008 which got rid of the elected mayor system. Dai Davies, “Ëœpeople’s voice’ MP for Blaenau Gwent 2006-2010 had given inspiration. People are prepared to challenge impositions on them.

EVE MALEY (Northwood and Birches Head) had battled with the council for 6 years. She said in 2004 the director of RENEW had come to the block of homes where she lived in Northwood and told them their homes were unfit for human habitation. A freedom of information request revealed they had offered £1.8million to demolish the block. Residents fought to try to save their homes, took the council to court 4 times and had a public enquiry but they were told there was a compelling need for their land for regeneration. Eve then stood in the local election and described what happened. She said on the first count she gained one more vote than Liberal Democrat Dave Sutton, the same on the first recount, the same on the second recount with different counters, the same on the third recount. On the fourth recount 2 more votes were found for Dave Sutton so he won by one. Eve was denied a further recount. She challenged Paul Hackney in the high court because of votes being removed from the table and because he had initially said there were only 3 recounts. She lost the case.

MARJORIE BATE (Fenton) had left the labour party and was really upset about it, but said there was no democracy in the party, people who had worked hard were refused as candidates and the party just wanted members to be nodding donkeys. She is not, she is there for the people so is now non-aligned.

ALAN JOYNSON (Stoke and Trent Vale) had been in the council 4 years. He was elected Labour but walked away after 12 months because parties don’t work. He did not like being forced to vote against his conscience, he was not there for a party’s benefit or his own benefit, he is there to represent people. He encouraged people to forget political parties and vote for the individual.

There then followed a discussion raising the problems of the local government act 2000, the cabinet system, cabinet ignoring scrutiny, officers running the council and too much money spent on consultants.

DAI “that can not be right” DAVIES then spoke. (I have given him this middle name because he kept saying it.) He said the cabinet system is only a bit less barking mad than the elected mayor system. We are not being allowed to keep a good committee structure instead because “Ëœthey’ don’t want everyone involved in making decisions. In current political structures, especially in the Labour party, the leaders would rather have fewer members as long as they vote for them. Labour use all women short lists to keep certain men out. Women as well as men don’t generally like these lists. This is what started people’s voice in Blaenau Gwent. Peter Law had stood against the Labour party in the 2005 general election because it imposed a candidate on a constituency. He was very active and well known and liked in the constituency and won with a 46% swing from Labour to independent with a majority of 9,600. (I found it very interesting that such a large swing is actually possible ““ voters take note ““ if you vote however you really believe there is a chance it can make a difference.) Peter Law sadly died and Dai Davies was elected in 2006. Dai Davies warned politicians “take the people who elect you for granted at your peril”. He spoke out against the government taking democracy away from communities and giving it to spin doctors. The whip system has destroyed politics and power corrupts. Politics needs to get back to the people. (I liked Dai.)

There followed a lengthy discussion including solid values in Stoke-on-Trent, real issues that affect people, not being allowed to speak out, unjust accusations made against people who speak out, persecution and bullying, lack of democracy because of imposed bodies, common purpose, corruption, secrecy, transition board, imposed election systems and parachuted candidates. One issue that cropped up was a number of individuals who had had their comments on pits’n’pots tracked, counted and printed and had been told off for contributing to pits’n’pots or what they had said on the site.

There was a discussion about whether to set up a new sort of party, some people favoured this and one person suggested the name “Ëœultimate sense ““ US’. Others did not favour a party. Alan Joynson for one said he wouldn’t want to be in a party, he wants to promote individual thinking. (I agree with Alan.)

Over to you ““ what do you think about people who stand for election outside the party structure? Risk everything (especially if you are in a party) ““ comment at your peril!

500 Words From Alan Joynson Stoke & Trent Vale

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

i am standing in the Stoke/Trent Vale Ward,because i know that i can make a difference for the community in which i live.
Far too often people are put up for election by political groups,not because they care about the community they allegedly represent, but they are used as voting
fodder within the chamber,and the only people who lose out are the Electorate, once again!
I look at Stoke Town Centre in disbelief, and wonder who ? and when? some-one will bring regeneration to the Town that i care so passionately about !
I have been inside the Council for the last four years, knowing that all investment is targeted at Hanley Town, and any developer that would wish to invest in Stoke
is dicouraged from so doing, i want to change this intollerable situation.
St Modwen have sat on the Old Victoria Ground for years, hoping to get the best buck for their investment, they now wish to extend their permission for another
seven years, well that for me is not good enough,Renew should compulsory purchase the land, “after planning permission has expired” and redevelop them selves.
Stoke market is dying on its feet through lack of investment, half the stalls are empty, £78-00 p/w to rent these stalls, far better to encourage buissiness
by halving the rental and having the Market full.
Woolworths, and all the empty shops that front the Town is a disgrace, and only furthers the decline in the Town itself, but the Stoke Town Regeneration is
not doing its job, its no good looking to develop the Spode site alone,”IF IT EVER HAPPENS” for it would take at least seven years,and the lights would have
allready gone out in Stoke!
Stoke is the only Town without a major park, yet they want to shut down the community fitness centre in Booth Street! they must be joking.
London Road is the biggest eysore you`ve ever seen, yet a major gateway, i would encourage Renew to bring investment to that particular area.
Campbell Road has problems with heavy traffic some-thing needs addressing, and i would be looking at the problems with the Highways.
Every area has its ASB problems and i would work with the police as i allready do to address any problems that arise.
I would be here for the people i represent and not for my-self,i will answer your telephone calls, I will answer your letters and E/Mails, unlike some!
I will not promise what i cannot deliver, but i will promise to do my utmost at all times, i will not win every thing, but i will try and keep trying, and i will
not use spin, i will make mistakes, of that i promise, but i will hold my hands up when i do!