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 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.

Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Suffers For His Tory Principles

Outspoken Conservative Shaun Bennett may well be de-selected as a Conservative Candidate for the Stoke-on-Trent all out local council elections at a hastily arranged meeting this coming Wednesday [23rd March]

It appears that some of his comments opposing the Conservatives coalition agreement locally with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and The City Independent Group, have angered members of the Conservative group on the City Council.

Sources have revealed that Shaun has also upset members including Cllr Hazel Lyth and Cllr John Daniels over comments he has made on Pits n Pots.

The Special Executive Committee of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association will meet at the civic centre to discuss the following motion:

“The Conservative Group ask the Executive to reconsider the adoption of Shaun Bennett as a Conservative Party candidate in the local elections 2011, as we have concerns he will not abide by the Group’s rules on Collective Responsibility, based on comments made recently on the internet about both the Group and individual members.”

A letter obtained by Pits n Pots suggests that Shaun Bennett is un-repentant for his comments and hits right back at those who would deny him his opinion.

Dear Members of the Executive,

It seems that members of the Conservative Group have now achieved their long held plans and initiated a special meeting of the executive to discuss my de-selection as a Conservative candidate at this election. Since the decision has effectively already been made, I have little desire to humiliate myself by coming before you personally to oppose this spurious case. Instead, I am writing this letter to you all as a defence against the charges that I now find levelled against me.

It appears that the group’s decision to call this meeting and recommend my de-selection rests upon just a single charge: that I have spoken out against Conservative involvement in the Labour led coalition and specifically that I have said that I would not have supported the budget imposing Labour’s programme of cuts upon this city.

Let me be quite clear from the start and say that I do not oppose the principle that cuts must be made. I am not an oppositionist for the sake of opposition. I am prepared to support tough choices, and I supported every tough choice that Conservatives made when we were leading the coalition just over 12 months ago.

What I do NOT support however, and will not support is LABOUR’S programme of cuts which has been designed specifically to hit the most vulnerable in our city the hardest; deliberately and calculatedly as a means of putting a noose around the neck of the Conservative government at Westminster and ensuring the election of a Labour majority on the city council in May. That the ‘so called’ Conservative group has chosen to go along with Labour’s cuts really does speak volumes about how our council group has now lost its way and abandoned the people and the principles upon which they were elected.

The charge raised against me is that I have broken collective responsibility; that I have opposed the decision of the group to support Labour’s political budget of cuts. And the answer to that charge is very simple: as I am not a councillor at present I am not BOUND by the collective decisions of the Conservative group. I am not an officer of the party, I am not a councillor, at the moment until nominations close I am not even an official candidate. I can in fact speak as I like about whatever I like without penalty.

I am not bound by any rule of the party to support decisions made before my election and membership of the group comes into effect. By the time that occurs of course, Labour will have a huge overall majority on the city council and Conservatives will no longer be involved in any formal coalition. Indeed, following the elections in May, I suspect the then OPPOSITION Conservative councillors will be taking much the same view on many of these issues as I have taken today. At that time, coalition decisions will magically become ‘Labour decisions’; the coalition’s budget will transmogrify before our very eyes into ‘Labour’s budget’ as we try desperately to wash our group’s hands of the consequences of those ‘collective decisions’.

The group, by taking this extraordinary action against me today, are seeking to rewrite the rules of the party. Under their scheme, all Conservative members will be bound to support whatever they say whether it is in line with party policy or not. And as we all know from our experiences in the past-ordinary members will have no say whatsoever over what those decisions consist of.

I hope that as an executive you will vote to reject the group’s recommendation for de-selection. However, whatever the outcome, I do not apologise for what I have said. This case will determine whether we remain a true Conservative Party in this city, or whether we surrender to anti-conservative forces and abandon all those who want to support genuine Conservatism.

If the choice is to support the strategic errors of the local Conservative group or to line up alongside the Conservative government of David Cameron, I’m afraid my loyalty to the Conservative Party commits me to go to the defence of the government against labour’s frontline cuts agenda. I’m sorry that that is no longer compatible with the views of the Conservative Group in Stoke-on-Trent in the year 2011.

Yours Sincerely

Shaun Bennett BA(Hons), MA
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke South)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke Central)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke)
Former Treaurer (Stoke)

Shaun Bennett was unavailable for comment today.

What’s It *Really* Like in Hanley on a Friday Night?

As a member of the Licencing Committee (the committee responsible for issuing alcohol licences across the City), I was invited to visit the City Centre on Friday night with our licencing team and the police, on an observational visit.

I’m not quite sure what I expected to see, as I admit it has been probably 4 years since I last when out to the pubs and clubs in Hanley at night, beyond a swift drink in the Unicorn, Reardon or Chaplins whilst seeing shows at the Victoria Hall or Regent Theatre. Whilst at college and university, I’d visited Hanley numerous times, and was familiar with clubs such as Valentinos and The Place, and the many bars and pubs in the area. On reflection, a night in Hanley would probably include a lot of walking ““ maybe starting at Heaths (near the museum), with a wander up Piccadilly past the old Manhattan bar, with a stop perhaps at Flacketts, Yates or the Pig and Truffle, before heading either along to Rosie O’Neill’s and The Place, or down to Valentinos. The pavements and roads would be crammed with people, moving between pubs and from about 10pm onwards, there would be a continual throng heading towards the various clubs.

Hanley today is much different. We met at the police station at 9pm and were briefed on the Stoke-on-Trent Business Crime Initiative, a partnership that covers both the day and night time economies across the City, and which has just celebrated its 21st birthday. The objective of the Business Crime Initiative is “Ëœto help make the City a safer and more pleasant place to be, for the benefit of the business community and the people who work, live, visit and invest in the area, by reducing crime, disorder and anti social behaviour, including alchol-related violent crime and drug offences within a 24 hour economy.’ The partnership is run by businesses and membership levels are good, with many businesses seeing the value in working together to reduce business crime. A number of initiatives have been launched and it’s clear that this partnership is delivering for both the City and the businesses involved. More specific details can be found at

We then went for a walk around Hanley, accompanied by licencing officers and several police officers. The first road we walked up was Piccadilly, which has a few smaller pubs and bars on it, which generally were quiet, as were the restaurants we passed. Part way up Piccadilly, temporary barriers had been put across the road to prevent parking, though there were still some cars parked in the area, and one foolhardy driver tried to nip past the barrier while we stood there with the police. They were soon moved off.

As we reached the top of Piccadilly, I was quite surprised by the number of taxis, all parked up waiting. We rounded the corner of Piccadilly and headed towards Trinity Street where the top of the street was now closed off, with two ambulances parked just inside the gate. The noise hit me as soon as we rounded the corner from the bars and pubs that now line Trinity Street. There seemed to be a lot of people outside the bars, not queuing but just milling about, however as the street was closed off with another barrier at the bottom and access was also resticted against Foundry Street from Hope Street, it was in effect a pedestrian-only zone. There were a number of police just watching what was happening in the street, and as one officer explained to me, having so many bars in such a small area made it much easier to police, especially in contrast to the spreadout nature of the nightlife in Hanley I remembered from the late 1990s.

At the bottom of the road, we turned into Gitana Street, where we stopped to talk to the team outside the Night Church. I’d read about them in the paper, but it was quite nice to actually see them in action, handing out sweets and chatting. They offer refreshments and a chilled environment for clubbers to relax and talk about life, their worries and their problems. You can read more about them at We then moved on past the back of the old Theatre Royal, which now houses Liquid, Envy and JJ’s before heading back to the police station.

So, what did I see and what did I learn? The 24 hour economy in Hanley is not what it was ““ despite the number of people we saw in the Trinity Street area, we learnt that a number of bars were not open (despite having licences to operate), and many were just opening for a few hours, shutting early due to lack of custom. The policing approach is now a lot more proactive than it perhaps used to be, maybe because of licencing laws that means reviews are easier to get, however 24 hour drinking and more late licences (a lot of the bars have licences until 4am) mean there is never a “Ëœquiet time’ for the police, even though the establishments themselves are not so spread out. Closing off the Trinity Street area is certainly a good idea, and perhaps the ability to therefore keep an obvious police presence reduces the amount of trouble.

One thing that always sparks conversation is the idea of a cafe culture. Just this week, someone was telling me we’ll never achieve that in Stoke-on-Trent. Granted, Piccadilly was very quiet, however the restaurants in this area seemed bright and clean and the area was relatively peaceable. Stigma is a hard thing to overcome, but maybe now the noisy bars and clubs seem to have found themselves an area they are comfortable with, perhaps a more cafe cultured area like Piccadilly can start to blossom? There are certainly bigger issues behind the decline of nightlife in Hanley, some of which can only be dealt with at a national level (the suggestion that the cheap price of alcohol means many people now drink at home before heading up to Hanley much later in the evening is one), however maybe we need to take the initiative and do more to encourage back those who visit the Regent and Victoria Hall, for a meal or a drink some other time? Certainly food for thought.

500 Words – Abi Brown – Conservative candidate for Meir Park & Sandon

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

Just lately, I’ve noticed that when I meet people and say I’m a Conservative, their response is often one of surprise.

I have a Stoke-on-Trent accent which I’m not embarrassed about, and I don’t think many people think of short 30-something mums with children as stereotypical Conservatives.

On the one hand, they are right. I’m not what Stoke-on-Trent considers to be a stereotypical Conservative. However, on the other hand, there is no such thing as a stereotypical Conservative.

I’m a local girl from humble beginnings ““ I spent my first few years living above my dad’s garage in Shelton, and I’m the first generation of my family to go to university. I paid my way through Staffordshire University by working part time in retail, and worked in the NHS as a clerk before I got a job in local government in 2001. I’ve lived in the Meir area since 2002.

In 2005, I took a career break and went to work for a florist in Meir, delivering flowers, before starting my family the following year. I come from a family with a strong work ethic, and although I wanted to stay at home and look after my son, we couldn’t afford for me to do that. So, with limited resources, I set up my own auditing business. I also took on part of the running of a small business my husband had set up a few years before.

As my son started to grow, I got involved in community activities and am now involved in running a local playgroup and am also a trustee of a charity that is raising money for a military memorial.

I’m passionate about our area and want to help improve it for everybody. Yes, I’m a Conservative ““ but above all else, I’m a local person who is sincere in wanting to do the right thing and get the best deal for the residents of Meir Park, Sandon & Lightwood. I will be a visible councillor ““ you’ll see me all across the ward, checking that the litter patrols have been to the playgrounds, the highways repairs are done to standard, and residents’ needs are put first. I will hold regular surgeries, keep you informed on what I’m up to, and speak up for our ward in the Council Chamber.

Like all areas, we have problems, and I’ll work with residents and other councillors to find solutions to issues such as road safety and anti social behaviour, which residents tell me are some of their key concerns.

It’s time for a change in Stoke-on-Trent, a fresh pair of eyes and a new approach. I bring all these things. I would ask those Meir Park, Sandon & Lightwood residents who would not normally vote Conservative to lend me their vote ““ I will do my upmost to give you a pleasant surprise about what a local Conservative councillor can do for you.

500 Words – Pam Jellyman The Conservative candidate for Northwood & Birches Head

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

The focus of a councillor is to represent the people and tackle the issues.

To represent the people successfully, it is necessary to learn their views by listening to them by holding regular surgeries and being easily available using a range of communications. The other quality necessary in a councillor is empathy for the people. I feel that this is no barrier for me as I come from generations of people who were born in Stoke-on-Trent and worked on the pot banks.

I worked for 17 years at a City high school and feel passionately about education at all ages and for all abilities. The re-vamp at The Birches is good news. It is a local High School and, as such, is extremely important to the community. It survived the re-organisations of the past and deserves to be treated well. An increase in numbers would be a great start for enhancing the education in the school. It is time to look beyond league tables, at whatever stage, and look at what is really happening in the schools. One thing is certain, the staff, pupils and parents should all be respected and supported. A school is a vital part of life and it should be a good place to be ““ it should be orderly so that it is safe and is able to be a place of learning in both the social sense as well as the academic. Education is, obviously, my main interest. I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity and help to achieve their full potential. At the end of education there should be plenty of decent jobs for those who don’t want to continue in education. It is time that Stoke-on-Trent was re-generated.

I also feel very strongly about keeping the leisure facilities. I know how important they are to those that use them. Something which improves quality of life, as well as health, should be maintained. I will object to anything which I feel is a waste of money such as reports commissioned unnecessarily, entertainment expenses not needed. Being a councillor in Stoke-on-Trent is about looking after the unique community of Northwood and Birches Head while looking towards the improvement of the City which will benefit all.

500 Words – Mark Wright The Conservative Party Candidate for Trentham & Hanford

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

My name’s Mark Wright, and I’m the Conservative Party candidate for Trentham and Hanford.

I have lived in Trentham all of my life and I’m passionate about my community. I attended the local schools and am now involved with the local rugby club. I have played at Trentham RUFC for the last 3 years – having played for a bit at Colts level, I now play regularly for the 2nd team and really enjoy the team effort and the sense of camaraderie. I’ve worked in retail since I left school, and am now a team leader for a major high street retailer. I enjoy working with people, solving problems and providing solutions, and I also enjoy working with colleagues to their best of our ability, to provide the service our clients require. All these are valuable attributes that I think people expect from their councillor and that I hope to bring in serving my community to the best of my ability all the time.

I’m incredibly proud of Trentham and Hanford and that is why I am asking the people for this chance to represent them. Growing up in Trentham and living in this area I feel that I understand well the ways that Trentham and Hanford has developed and want to be a part of the further enhancement of the area. I would provide a strong voice on the Council and would fight for the people of Trentham and Hanford.

If elected my aim is to be there for my residents and be a voice for them,

I will be hands on and committed.

I will give people the chance to voice issues at a monthly drop-in session,

I will act on all issues brought up and always provide direct feedback.

I will also work with community groups , making myself visible and approachable within in the community.

I will push for continuous maintenance of our highways and pathways.

As well as representing your interests in the Council, I also want to help make our Council more resident friendly. We need to work hard to win back people’s trust and I will push for the Council to be more open in its financial affairs.

As a member of this community I know that more needs to be done, the people of Trentham and Hanford deserve more, that’s why I hope that the people will turn out and support me on May 6th.

Stoke-on-Trent Conservative’s Set The Record Straight Over Labour Lies

The Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke North Andy Large and Conservative Candidate for Stoke Central Norsheen Bhatti have stated their intention to dismantle Labour’s desperate scare tactics in Stoke.

Through out this election campaign both candidates and especially over the last weekend whilst campaigning in Hanley have been approached by people who have been told by Labour activists that Conservatives are set to remove free bus passes and TV licenses for pensioners. This is simply untrue.

Conservatives believe in retaining these benefits as well winter fuel payments, because they will help ease the pressure pensioners are under due to our high inflation levels, eroding the value of their pensions.

Commenting Norsheen Bhatti said:

“This election is probably the most important election for voters in Stoke for a long time and what Labour is doing is simply unjust, not just for us the candidates but for the people of Stoke, who want to make an informed decision.

This is another reason why we need change in Stoke, we have been lied to and let down by Labour for far too long. Only the Conservatives here can bring about the change we desperately need.”

Commenting Andy Large said:

“The depths that Labour are sinking to in this election are quite staggering. But Norsheen and myself are resolved to let people know the real truth in Stoke. Voting Conservative as a pensioner is the best way to secure your future : We will retain the current benefits and focus on stabilising the economy to reduce inflation and engender continued growth.”