Is the Civic Centre to move to the Central Business District in Hanley?

Plans are set to go before the Cabinet next week that will see the Stoke-on-Trent City Council become the anchor tenant for the new Central Business District in Hanley.

The move away from the Civic Centre in Stoke could be the beginning of the end for this struggling town. It is widely thought that it is only council staff doing their shopping and buying lunches in Stoke that keeps the remaining shops open. 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

Solar Panels On Stoke-on-Trent Civic Centre Set To Exceed Target

The 198 solar panels which were installed on Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Civic Centre building in Stoke in April 2011 have already generated 93% of the predicted target for the first year.

In just eight months the panels generated 27,620 kWh of electricity against an expectation of 30,000 kWh of energy in a full year. Additionally, the panels are attracting the highest feed-in tariff for generating zero carbon electricity from the government for the next 25 years, because they were installed and registered last April. It is estimated that this will see the council receive £9,400 a year.

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for city services, said

It is fantastic news that so much clean, green energy has already been produced. The solar panels are proving to be a sound investment, not just in financial terms, but also in the positive impact they are having on the environment, and as part of our plans to be a sustainable city. 

As well as providing a constant stream of income, they will also reduce the council’s carbon dioxide emissions by 400 tonnes over their lifetime. This sends out a really strong message that we are committed to improving the environment for future generations. 

There is a deal of uncertainty around the government’s plans for the feed-in tariff for the future. However, I’m pleased to say that this scheme was put in place well before the deadline the government set before Christmas for installations to benefit from the higher tariff. 

We know that a number of other solar panel schemes in the city weren’t able to be completed before the deadline, and we have made strong representations to the government against this.  

However, the performance of the panels shows that they are a very viable way of producing sustainable energy.

The 198 panels were installed onto south and south west facing roofs of the Civic Centre, and cost £134,500 from the council’s existing climate change budget. The estimated £3000 a year saving on electricity costs will mean the panels will have paid for themselves and beging to generate a profit in a mere 45 years. 

500 Words From Tom Reynolds

I’d like to thank Pits’n’Pots for the opportunity to share with readers why I want to continue to be a City Councillor in Stoke-on-Trent and why I want to represent the people of Broadway and Longton East Ward.

It has been a privilege to serve as a councillor for the past three years, but the last 12 months have been an enormously difficult and unpleasant time to be in local politics. The unprecedented shortfall in funding which faced the council in the run up to the budget has meant that, in balancing the books some distasteful decisions have had to be taken. No body gets involved in the Labour Movement to reduce provision in public services. It makes many of us sick to the pit of our stomachs to see the reduction in the size of the public sector which Whitehall is forcing on Town Halls like ours in Glebe Street.

The Coalition Cabinet talk about of localism a lot. My only experience of it since they got in is a shift in the blame for service reductions to the local level as they remove ring-fences and reduce overall funding to local authorities. Councils like ours up and down the land are backed into a corner.

Deprived areas like Stoke-on-Trent have been disproportionately hit by the reduction in funding. Stoke has lost £90 per person compared with an average of £30 per person in the leafier districts of Staffordshire. This local election provides the first opportunity for the public to show the coalition how they feel about the castration of local government and the effect it’s having on cities like Stoke.

But sending a message to Clegg and Cameron is not a good enough reason to vote Labour. I believe that Labour’s priorities for the City Council to focus on over the next four years present the best opportunity for Stoke-on-Trent to thrive. Those priorities are:

As the number of jobs in the Public Sector shrinks because of the Coalition’s spending policy, we need to attract in as many private sector jobs as possible. That means pushing developments like the retail and business precincts in Hanley, helping people develop new skills through an expanded JET service, aggressively pursuing inward investment and eradicating the barriers to investment & work (like our poor public transport).
Educational attainment in our city is still below the national benchmark and we need to do everything we can to address that. BSF needs to be delivered ASAP to provide our young people with the inspirational learning environment that will encourage aspiration. Early years provision like Stoke-Speaks-Out must continue to be safeguarded and we need to do everything possible to help the Children’s Centres (our Government’s proudest achievement) to continue to be viable.
We have to acknowledge that Stoke-on-Trent City Council has let people down in the not distant past. The authority needs to provide lean services that are delivered well to citizens. That involves being tougher on wasteful processes and giving all of our hard working employees the correct tools to do a good job. Giving credit to some tenacious opposition members – the council needs to be more receptive to scrutiny and share information more openly. Trust needs to be earned back.

I want to represent Longton East and Broadway for a couple of reasons. The majority of the ward is in the current area I represent so I have build up a number of good partnerships and I can hit the ground running on behalf of residents. I also live smack bang in the middle of the ward and have the natural desire to want to make my home a better place to live. I’ll continue to assist all residents to the best of my abilities, and will hold a surgery and ward-walkabout every month.

As polling day looms, I hope the public feel able to put their support behind Labour.

City Council Are Investing In Sunshine

Lord Mayor Denver Tolley unveiled 198 brand new solar panels atop the Civic Centre in Stoke on Tuesday and described the installation as a “fantastic achievement for Stoke-on-Trent”.

The panels stretch across the south facing side of the roof and will generate an estimated 30,000kw/h in energy ““ enough to power 150 computers for eight hours every working day.

The Civic Centre, on Glebe Street, used £147,000 of electricity in 2009/10. The solar panels are estimated to reduce the bill by £3,000.

The panels are expected to last 25 years, and cover their installation costs within 14 years.

Alongside the electricity saving, the panels will benefit from £9,400 in government tariffs for producing zero carbon electricity, generating a total £12,400 per annum.

It’s as good as having money in the bank. The investment is a good investment.

We know in the long run it will pay the city back. If you keep looking backwards and not forwards, you’re not going to modernise. You’re not going to advance enough. Well, here we are advancing in front of everyone.

The 198 panels are still a long way off making the Civic Centre zero-carbon. 700 people are employed at the Civic Centre and with lighting, equipment and other machines to power, many more solar panels would be required to make the Civic Centre entirely green.

However, the panels will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 400 tonnes in their lifetime, according to the Council.

In Stoke-on-Trent you have to lead by example, and that is what the City Council is doing… They’ve fought very hard to get this investment to where it is.

Stoke-on-Trent’s CEO And His Team Are On The Move

City council leader Councillor Mohammed Pervez and his cabinet before Christmas rejected proposed plans for a £600,000 refurbishment of the Civic Centre’s first floor.

The cabinet asked council officers to go away and come up with a better, more creative, solution that was a good value for money alternative.

After investigating the level of occupancy in the Civic Centre and drawing up some plans a proposal was presented to cabinet to move the CEO and his team to the fourth floor of Stoke Civic Centre. The new plans involve no refurbishment, no new IT and no furniture changes which means the move would be at zero cost. So, this weekend, the chief executive and his team are on the move.

“A report to cabinet last year detailed the refurbishment of the first floor of the Civic Centre in Stoke costing up to £600k.

“I felt very strongly, it would be entirely inappropriate for cabinet to support a £600k expenditure on the refurbishment when facing £33.5m imposed government cuts. These government cuts are now even deeper and currently stand at £36m which puts the council under immense pressure so it was only right cabinet told officers to go away and think again.

“In addition, our residents and our staff also raised concerns about the cost of the refurbishment during the budget consultation. It would have been extremely insensitive to push ahead with these expensive refurbishment proposals when we will be making deep painful cuts to services and jobs in February.

“I am pleased we were able to find a solution without costing the residents of our city anything – which is crucial in the current difficult financial climate”.

The first floor refurbishment will now be a much smaller job with approximately £50k being spent to bring the office space back into use with installation of new IT infrastructure.

The first floor refurbishment will also now involve the bare minimum to bring the office space back into use. The work will involve some essential IT cabling and basic cosmetic improvements which are being planned currently. We will then start to bring in our staff from other council buildings into the Civic Centre which will help the council save even more money.

City council receives “BreatheEasy” Award

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been handed one of the first “BreatheEasy” awards.

The award recognises achievements that have been made in helping staff kick the smoking habit and the work that has been done to promote a Smokefree environment.

The city council will be officially presented with its award at the Civic Centre in Stoke on Friday 7 January by Leo Capernaros, Staffordshire’s BreatheEasy Co-ordinator.

Any business or public body receiving the award has to include the following points:

* Demonstrate that they have written up an effective SmokeFree policy

* Addressed the problem of cigarette litter around their premises

* Actively promote their local Stop Smoking Service to their employees

* Trained a Stop Smoking advisor

* Remove cigarette vending machines from their premises

* Provide their staff with information on how to report those selling fake cigarettes and tobacco

“Any large organisation needs to show that it is looking after its employee’s health and wellbeing, and we take that very seriously.

“To receive an award like this shows that we are taking steps in the right direction and that there is support there for staff who want to give up smoking.

“The larger picture is obviously the impact we can have on the businesses and individual people of Stoke-on-Trent by setting a good example.”

“In partnership with Staffordshire County Council and the NHS, Stoke-on-Trent City Council is building strong relationships with local businesses and working with them to improve the health of their employees. However as one of the Stoke-on-Trent largest employers the city council recognised it was important to lead by example and ensure it is providing its own staff with the support and advice needed to quit smoking.”

New Years Commitment

2011 promised to be a challenging and momentus year for Stoke-on-Trent.

I have already said that I am standing as a candidate in the local elections in May which alone carries a heavy workload and that will be a judgement for those of the ward that I stand in. However, I want to convey a further message to those on PitsnPots, campaign groups etc.

I am deeply concerned about the governments cuts and our local councils compliance to this effect.

I am Community Voice and I will now be working 9-5 from the CV office in the Civic Centre and 24/7 from my mobile.

Democracy, equality and protecting vulnerable people are my priorities for the next 4 months that I am certain to be a councillor (and cetainly beyond if I am elected).

I am therefore, available to anybody, and I mean anybody from any area, ward, political persuasion (except BNP), for advice, for information, for election advice etc whether through the pages of PitsnPots, via email or phone. Make me work. Make a difference. Save our services.

I don’t pretend to be pefect. Far from it. But if I can help I will.

Its time to make Stoke-on-Trent punch its weight.

My email is: michael.barnes@stoke.gov.uk

My phone is: 07850939611

Reagrds

Mike Barnes

City Council Go In To Lock Down

Council buildings around the Civic Centre in Stoke are in a state of lockdown this morning ahead of the National Union Of Students National Day Of Action by students in protest against the proposed increase in tuition fees.

  • The Civic Centre
  • Stoke Local Centre
  • Swann House
  • Swift House
  • Stoke Town Hall

Are all in a heightened state of security this morning with extra security staff on all entrances and staff being asked to use dedicated staff entrances. Council employees who do not normally work in these building are being asked to stay away from them for the next two days while the extra security measures are in place.

Stoke-on-Trent Welcomes Historic Visitors From Lidice

Lord Mayor Denver Tolley yesterday officially received visitors from Lidice as part of a growing cultural exchange between the Czechoslovakian village and Stoke-on-Trent.

Three members of the Lidice Art Gallery paid a visit to Stoke-on-Trent, and stopped off at places around the city like the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, and Gladstone Pottery Museum.

They rounded off their trip to the Potteries by visiting the Lord Mayor’s Parlour, and having a tour of the council chamber at the Civic Centre in Stoke.

”We enjoyed it a lot, we met a lot of great people, and gained great inspiration to take back with us. Our heads are full of new ideas and projects we can work on with Stoke-on-Trent in the future.

“This was my first visit to England – it is a lovely place and I have seen many new things.”

“This is about a new generation of people learning about Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice’s past – we want people to understand exactly what the links are and how we can form a stronger bond with Lidice. We didn’t need to sell the city to them when they were here – they were delighted to see Stoke-on-Trent and we were more than pleased to welcome them.”

Councillor Lyth, along with councillors Brian Ward and Mick Bell, met with the group as they visited the Civic Centre. Accompanying them were Alan and Cheryl Gerrard, owners of TheArtBay gallery in Fenton, who have been involved in promoting the city’s links with Lidice over the past year.

”The main purpose of today was to show them what Stoke-on-Trent is all about,

“We have been going into schools, telling young people about how Lidice and Stoke’s past were linked, the story of Sir Barnett Stross and what we can do in the future to make the links stronger.

“We are trying to get young people to take part in the Lidice Gallery’s International Children’s Art Competition, where young people from all over the world can have their work displayed in the gallery in the heart of the town. We would exhibit it here first and then it would go over to Lidice to enter the competition. Given the relationship between the two places, we want to encourage as many young people as possible to take part in the competition.”

“I’d like to think linking closer with Lidice will raise aspirations amongst young people, telling them the story and the role of people of Stoke-on-Trent in rebuilding Lidice in 1942. These were people from Stoke-on-Trent, not Birmingham, London, or Liverpool, and we should be celebrating their work by forging a closer relationship with Lidice.

“I got involved because I’m really interested in the regeneration of the city, it’s important Stoke-on-Trent grows and promotes itself, and makes the best use of all the links it has across the world.”

“It’s really inspired me to do more to strengthen the bond between Stoke and Lidice. We are in a similar industrial area as Stoke back in Czechoslovakia and it’s interesting to see how it has developed. It’s great that the heritage of the city has been preserved and it is something we would like to do as well.”
“They were very interested in the history of Stoke-on-Trent and were particularly impressed by the painting done by local artist Rob Pointon we have in the council chamber showing a meeting held earlier this year.

“There were also lots of things in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour like past chains of office and gifts presented to previous Lord Mayor’s that they would never see anywhere else. It’s important we keep the link with Lidice because we need to keep hold of a valuable part of the city’s past and also keeping exchanging ideas in the future.”