1369 respond to Stoke-on-Trent school terms consultation

Stoke-on-Trent school terms are set to remain the same after a 14 week consultation with parents, teaching and support staff, pupils, school governors, trade unions and other groups which got 1,369 responses.

The council’s cabinet will decide next week on the pattern for Stoke-on-Trent school terms for the next academic year 2013-14 and beyond, the recommendation put to the cabinet will be to stay with the traditional three-term system, with breaks for Easter and Christmas, and a six-week summer holiday. Continue reading

City Council delivers £36m of savings

Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet will hear next week how, despite receiving the eighth worst financial settlement of all unitary authorities in England from the government, the council has delivered on its toughest ever programme of savings.

A report on the authority’s outturn for 2011/12 also shows that by focusing on essential spending only a £1.5m contribution to general reserves has been achieved and the repayment of temporary borrowing from earmarked reserveshas been accelerated. This has enabled the city council to be in a relatively strong financial position given the severity of the challenges faced. Continue reading

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader announces his new cabinet

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Councillor Mohammed Pervez has given details of his new Cabinet after the reshuffle at Monday nights Labour Group AGM which saw Debra Gratton & Sarah Hill removed.

Sarah Hill subsequently resigned her position as a Councillor forcing a by-election in the Springfields and Trent Vale ward. Continue reading

Sarah Hill Resigns

Sarah Hill councillor for Springfields and Trent Vale has resigned from the city council after being removed from her cabinet position at the Labour AGM last night.

All details for Sarah Hill have been removed from the council website.

Rumour from the Civic Centre is that Sarah’s departure is just the first as the Labour group tightens its hold on members and takes a dim view of anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. Continue reading

Staffordshire County Council predicts a £3.7m underspend

Stoke-on-Trents neighbours at Staffordshire County Council have today announced and underspend for 2011 – 12 of £3.7m.

The council’s strong financial position was detailed in a performance report presented to their Cabinet. The report provides further evidence of its drive to deliver value for money services to local people.

Departments cross the authority have spent less than budgeted for at the start of the financial year. The final figure will be confirmed in June alongside discussions about how best to use the underspend to deliver on the council’s priorities. Continue reading

Council call emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss Port Vale sale.

port vale football club badgeCouncillor Mohammed Pervez the leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council has moved quickly to make arrangements for an emergency cabinet meeting to consider expected fresh documentation for creditors who are owed money by Port Vale Football Club.

The council is expecting to receive documentation from club administrator, Begbies Traynor concerning the details of the best bid from the administration process this afternoon. Continue reading

Stoke-on-Trent City Council To Trial Cabinet Meeting Webcasts

Stoke-on-Trent City Council plans to extend the city council’s webcasting facilities will be given a trial run this month when the cabinet meeting is broadcast online for the first time.

The webcasting system which reportedly cost £100,000 to install and has annual running costs of around £15,000 has so far only been used to webcast the full council meetings.

Councillor Paul Shotton, cabinet member for transformation and resources, said

This would be another step towards making the city council a clear and transparent organisation. We want local people to know how we make the decisions and give them a greater understanding of the systems in place at the city council. Obviously not everyone is able to attend these meetings in person so if we get to a position where we can broadcast more important meetings it will be good for local democracy.

It has not been reported how long the trail period of broadcasting Cabinet Meetings will be but if successful the council will decide if all meetings that are to be webcast will take place in the council chamber or if there is the potential to include webcasting facilities in other rooms.

It has long been alleged and previously confirmed,  that cabinet decisions are made at the secrative & private Cabinet Agenda Planning meetings with the public Cabinet meeting merely being a thinly veiled attempt at trying to look transparent.

 

The next cabinet meeting will take place on Thursday January 26, 2012 at 5:30pm.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cabinet Asked To Delegate CCTV Decisions To Officers

Decisions about CCTV in Stoke-on-Trent could be made by officers rather than councillors, if the cabinet accept the proposal being put forward to them on Thursday.

The recommendation, if approved, will see that all public space CCTV decisions will be made by Hardial Bhogal, Director of City Renewal along with a yet to be created CCTV Strategy Group and not the councillors.

The recommendations of the report are:

2. Recommendation(s)

  • 2.1 That Members approve and adopt the Community CCTV Strategy, and that officers review that Strategy in 2015.
  • 2.2 That Members agree a CCTV Strategy Group is established to oversee and implement the Strategy.
  • 2.3 That delegated authority be award to the Director of City Renewal in consultation with the CCTV Strategy Group to determine the future provision of public space CCTV in Stoke-on-Trent.
  • 2.4 That Members agree that regular monitoring reports are submitted to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

If the cabinet approve this recommendation then decisions about CCTV in the city could be made behind closed doors without the same level of public scrutiny they would receive if they were made by councillors at open meetings.

Should councillors allow the delegation of decisions of things like CCTV to an unelected officer and group?

Photo credit Andy Roberts on Flickr

Campaign To Save The Wedgwood Memorial College

Five charities are starting a campaign to save the Wedgwood Memorial College in Barlaston after their proposal & business plan to run the college as an Independent Educational Trust were turned down by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The five charities

  • Friends of Wedgwood Memorial College
  • Esperanto Association of Britain
  • Arnold Bennett Society
  • Raymond Williams Foundation
  • Workers Education Association (WEA)

produced a business plan to enable Community Asset Transfer (CAT) for the WMC to be run by an Independent Educational Trust, releasing Stoke-on-Trent City Council of its financial commitment and College deficit from 1st April 2012.

On 15th November , the  new Trust was informed that its Plan had been rejected and so the authority’s proposal is to close the College goes ahead. According to the Stoke-on-Trent City Council budget proposals book (4-CR01 on page 32 if you have a copy) Cabinet will be recommended on 15th December 2011 to close WMCC although this is not reflected in the agenda for this weeks cabinet meeting.

Maybe this is just another mistake either in the budget book or the Cabinet agenda.

You can read more about the organisations involved in the campaign using the links below.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Answering Questions About Their Mandate For Change Budget

Stoke-on-Trent City Council have announced that the Cabinet will be taking to various venues across the city over the next two weeks to answer questions from the public on its ‘Mandate for Change’ budget proposals for 2012 to 2013.

The public consultation will be launched on Thursday 1 December during late night shopping outside the Potteries Shopping Centre between 6pm and 8pm. Members of the Cabinet will also be attending events across the city to answer questions on their budget proposals. The events will take place in the North, South and central parts of the city and will include daytime as well as evening events.

Public consultation on the proposed budget closes on 23 December.

Councillor Mohammed Pervez, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said

Over the next few weeks, we will be seeking feedback on the budget proposals from the public, elected members, staff, partners, MP’s and businesses in the city. We will be listening to their concerns and answering questions. We will also welcome any further suggestions on how the council can save money.

We are committed to our Mandate for Change to make our city a great place to live and bring business. Last year we were faced with making £36m worth of cuts, and now we are faced with another huge task. However, this year our budget is not all about cuts; we are also saving to invest in our city to create the right conditions to stimulate the local economy.

It is absolutely vital that the private sector kick starts the economic regeneration of our city. Businesses, small and large, need to stimulate growth through expansion and job creation. The recent government cuts to local authorities mean that public sector will not have the means to do this. We therefore need to give business confidence to invest in Stoke-on-Trent through our ability to manage large projects such as the £250m Building Schools for the Future scheme. The additional £5m savings will give us the resource we need to further build confidence and attract businesses willing to invest in our city.

I have no doubt that year two of cuts is going to be very painful and tough with some extremely difficult decisions to be made on some equally worthy competing priorities.

A full list of the consultation events can be found using the links below.

Pits n Pots reader & regular commentor, Ian Norris E-mailed the council leader to ask some questions about total spending on, PFI schemes, landfill tax, waste disposal, energy, vehicles & capital investment for this year & last year as well as the council prediction for next year in the budget so he could respond to the consultation.

Mr Norris from Tunstall did not recieve a response from the Council Leader or Officer, he was sent a standard E-mail from the Freedom of Information office explaining that he had sent in a Freedom of Information request and he should expect a response by 22 December, just one day before the consultation closes.

Mr Norris said

I am greatly concerned that the Council Leader was unable to answer a simple question about his budget. This information should be readily available as part of the budget consultation. I am appalled that he has submitted the question as a Freedom of Information request in my name.

I have since recived a phone call from the council who want to speak to me about the request, I have responded to say I want a written reply to my question and not just a phone call.

So although the Council Leader welcomes and further suggestions on how the couuncil can save money, it seems that you can only do this if you don’t ask too many questions about the budget.