500 Words From Randy Conteh

“When the Boundary Commission first contacted the City Council, regarding the proposed new wards, i was heavily involved in the consultation with many residents and our Community groups/Resident Associations.

I submitted petition letters and suggestions through the Council system and was instrumental in Thistley Hough School and an area known as Penkhull Garden Village being included and also the new name being changed to “Penkhull & Stoke.”

I would like to continue the good work i have been doing locally, for the areas of both Penkhull and Stoke and also the comprehensive committee/partnership work i have been involved in, down at the city council and around the ward.

I believe i now have the experience and quality after 9 years-indeed i have had extensive training-Improvement & Development Agency courses (I & DeA) and Community Leadership sessions-but one thing that does not diminish is the passion i have for my local area and our City!

Many of the Issues in our ward have been resolved personally by myself, over a number of years ““ e.g. the new improvements, paths, bins, seating and play-equipment for older children and youngsters in our 2 Penkhull parks-Richmond Street and Lodge Road.

There are still issues of Anti-social-behaviour, but hopefully the CCTV Cameras, within both parks and Penkhull village, (petitioned for by myself) will help to deter and reduce the ASB.

The new City General hospital development has brought issues of parking, by both visitors and workers; but we have endeavoured to solve a lot of those parking issues, with the successful installation of Resident Parking schemes, in the nearby streets- although more needs to be done around both parking and speeding issues.

The new Thistley Hough School will also bring additional issues to our area -If successful in the election, i will continue to work with the Council and the residents, negotiating compromises, regarding the planning conditions to improve pedestrian, road safety and access issues, in the streets and roads near the new proposed school.

The regeneration of Stoke Town is also a big issue and i am currently an active member of the “Stoke Town (shadow) Regeneration Board” looking at both the continued development of the Spode site and the improvements within stoke town and the surrounding areas.

Successes include the saving of the Merit School, in Penkhull through petitioning and submissions to Scrutiny and additional petitioning and representations to retain the no. 58/58a Bus service (ongoing.)

The ward of Penkhull & Stoke has 680 over-70’s from 3,570 households in 106 streets and i know many of our elders need and deserve these bus services and i will continue to provide additional representation and support.

I genuinely believe i am the ‘Right person for the job’, due to my passion, enthusiasm, dedication and commitment. I don’t have a full-time job, indeed i honestly think that being an effective community and City Councillor is a full-time role in itself!!”

Many thanks,

Randy Conteh

Proposed Cuts To Ward Budgets Could Effect Communities.

A cut of 90% in ward budgets may leave the council paying for costs that will still have to be covered and my appear as unexpected costs. The plans also cuts to next to nothing one of the few ways in witch we of communities in the city has a say in witch some public money is spent.

Within the plans to save the city £35 million is a proposal to cut each councillors ward budgets from £50,000 p/a to just £5000. This means that at the moment, communities have £150,000, held by the three thee councillors for the area to ask for and use within it. It seem that after May, each ward will only have £5,000 per ward.

This move will be discussed on 22nd February. It was also debated at the transformation and resources overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday 10th February with Peter Bates, Director of resources tell the committee that this would have to change to the approach.

Joy Garner, Labour, the committee chairman responded and said, “ËœAs councillors, we need to know where the money has been spent and if we are propping up some services.’

City Independent Randy Contey stated his disappointment on the reduction. Saying the committee recommended a reduction per member to £40,000.

Cabinet member for transformation, Sarah Hill, Labour, said that it was going to be a difficult year all round. In keeping the £5,000 means if the situation was not as bad in a years time, more could be put back in.

Cabinet member for resources, performance and governance, Kieran Clarke, Lib Dem, said he himself was a strong believer in the ward budget system, but it was one of them that if the councillor as it someone loses it. He added that ‘With the £5,000 at least it is still there because if it went completely, it would be hard to reinstate.’

These budgets have been granted since 2007 and are a good way to help councillors help RA’s and other community groups to work on issues in the area.

Within the city, this money has been spent on the fitting of gates to alleyways that prevent unwanted anti-social behaviour such as street drinking and the use of drugs in the area. Local football clubs have been given cash to build changing rooms. Money as also been on local play areas to. In my RA area, we use some of the budget to part pay for street cleaning, witch works very well indeed. It at times is also used for bins and information boards within an area to, as well as many other projects.

As someone very much involved within the RA system, I’ll tell you this, the money that the council Members hold and we can ask for is, like the trash bashes we hold each year do make a difference in the communities, it help use to do the job we are there to do, to be a link between the people and the council, to work with the council, to improve and to keep standards in an area. Its very worrying that a ward budget may be cut to such a low level, even with one council member in smaller wards in May, the budget per member is very low and next to useless. What do you think.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

Politics ““ It’s a Dirty Job But Someone Has To Do It ““ Don’t They? Part 2

Ahead of last Thursday’s Full Council meeting I got the chance to interview Cllr Roy Naylor, until recently a full and active member of the City Independent Group, now non-aligned.

I have always been impressed by Roy, he’s a man of principle and not a harder working councillor can be found.

Roy dedicates his life to his Blurton ward and is committed to helping the residents of the area.

He has embraced new media and the people of Blurton are regularly updated on his activities through his impressive blog site, FaceBook and his informative Twitter feed.

The ward of Blurton used to be represented solely by members of the City Independent Group until the surprise election of Labour’s Margaret Barber this summer.

There is no doubt following my discussions with people who live in the area of Blurton that Roy is the man on the beat, which is understandable given his former Group Leader’s Cabinet responsibilities.

The duo complemented each other until their recent parting of the ways.

Cllr Roy Naylor was unceremoniously booted out of the City Independent Group for being in arrears with his council tax and the rent on his council home.

Roy doesn’t deny the claim, far from it, he openly admits to having financial problems. I myself have been aware of rumours surrounding Cllr Naylor’s financial predicament for some 12 months now.

Those rumours have been circulating around the corridors of the Civic Centre for even longer according to some sources.

So it really does beg the question, why expel him from the group now, after all this time? Other members of his group knew that Roy had difficulties, including Group Leader Cllr Brian Ward.

The answer may lie in the fact that just before his undignified expulsion; Roy informed his Group leader that it was intention to fight the election in the newly formed Blurton West & Newstead Ward, an area that he is both known and enormously well respected.

This has allegedly angered Cllr Ward who wants to fight the ward himself and sources have informed me that as Group Leader, he believes that the “Ëœpecking order’ allows him first choice.

Now, if as the CIG claim, that the reason that Roy was shown the door was down to his financial differences, why did his group not do their best to help their mate and valued group member out?

Cllr Randy Conteh has recently vacated the Police Authority Committee, a position that pays handsomely, why was Cllr Naylor not considered for this position? Surely the financial reward would have help his position greatly and would enable him to clear his arrears faster.

Cllr Naylor liaises with the police particularly well and has a great understanding of how the Police operate within our city.

So, who did replace Cllr Conteh on the Police Authority? Non other than CIG Group Leader, Cabinet Member and fellow ward Councillor Brian Ward. How much does all that earn Cllr Ward?

Over £33,000 per year. Not bad all things considered.

How much does Cllr Naylor now earn for holding the fort in the Blurton ward and working tirelessly for the residents of his ward?

Just over £11,000 per year.

I feel a little uncomfortable talking about another man’s finances, but do you know what? Not as uncomfortable as Cllr Ward should feel for disclosing a fellow councillors personal circumstances to the media.

A council source has informed me that the matter may be referred to the Standards Committee and that it doesn’t have to be Cllr Naylor that makes the initial report.

As the same source said to me on the phone this week, “Ëœwith friends and colleagues like that, who needs enemies’?

It has also been suggested to me that Cllr Naylor may well be priced out of fighting the next election due to the cost of mounting a campaign.

I have been assured by a number of sources that Roy will not be short of offers to help, or indeed of offers of membership to other groups.

Now that would be an interesting ““ top of the bill clash ““ between Roy and his former group leader Brian Ward.

Especially if the full weight of a mainstream party is behind the former CIG member. But that is just me speculating, although, I may just nip to the bookies to put a couple of quid on.

What isn’t speculation however is the rise and substantial fall of the City Independent Group.

Once the second biggest group in the chamber with some 16 councillors and now reduced to just 8 and 1 of those constantly rumoured to be on the move.

There are those in the city that champion Independent politicians/groups, but the present crop isn’t that independent when you consider that they are part of a 4 way ruling coalition.

There is no doubt that the CIG are in political melt down and with the election campaign season about to start more divisions could come to light.

As for Cllr Roy Naylor, I’m sure he will keep on doing what he does best and that is to passionately represent the area of Blurton and to continue to champion causes like the Save Our Children’s Centre campaign as the kind of true Independent we can all remember.

Where’s Ann James’s number…..

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Meeting 21/10 – Lidice, Loans and Battles!

The Full Council Meeting opened with the sad news that Cllr Randy Conteh has had to step down as Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s representative on the Police Authority due to health reasons.

Randy is facing a very serious operation on his brain in the not too distant future and has been advised to slow his pace of life down. Anyone who knows Randy would confirm that he gives 100% as a councillor and as a member of the Police Authority.

I have spoken to Randy today [Friday] and he has asked me to pass on his thanks to all who have contacted him with messages of support which include fellow members of the Police Authority, high ranking Police Officers, Council Colleagues and members of the public.

Randy wants everyone to join him for the Soul Night that he has organised in aid of The Firefighters charity and the Lodge Road Park play area on October 30th. There are still tickets available for the event which includes a host of top DJ’s and as is typical for Randy he was more concerned about pushing this event than talking about the difficulties he will face in the future.

I’m sure that you will join with Pits n Pots and send your best wishes to a top bloke and fine servant of our city. We look forward to speedy recovery and to seeing Cllr Conteh back on the beat as soon as is possible.

The City Council has voted Cllr Brian Ward as their replacement for Cllr Conteh which came as a surprise to me given the tremendous amount of collaborative work with the Police undertaken by Cllr Roy Naylor.

Councillor Ward will have to juggle his cabinet work with his group leaders and ward work which makes his proposal even stranger.

For once there was some good news to come out of the meeting yesterday.

The City Council voted unanimously to accept a recommendation to explore links with the Czech Republic town of Lidice.

The Council accepted the following recommendations:

1. Members agree to work with the Lidice Gallery to explore the feasibility of an exhibition
and associated programme of work and an EU funding bid to support this.
2. That Members approve a commitment of £10,000 as seed funding towards such a
funding bid to be made from existing resources.

The historic links between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice were brought into the public arena by Alan & Cheryl Gerrard of the Art Bay Gallery in Fenton.
Alan & Cheryl put a massive amount of effort into bring the story of Sir Barnett Stross to the current Stoke-on-Trent public and in particular the youngsters of our city.
Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic just north-west of Prague. It is built on the site
of a previous village of the same name which was completely destroyed by German
forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in the spring of 1942. All
192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the
Germans and the rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where
many women and nearly all the children were killed.
In September 1942, coal miners in Stoke-on-Trent, led by local Councillor Barnett
Stross, founded the organisation Lidice Shall Live to raise funds for the rebuilding of the
village after the war.
Barnett Stross was elected to Stoke-on-Trent City Council in 1937 and served until
1952 (during the later part of this period he was an Alderman). At the 1945 general
election Barnett Stross was elected as Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent’s Hanley division.
He received a Knighthood in the New Years’ Honours list of 1964.
Sir Barnett Stross KBE was honoured by the Czechoslovak government for this work
with the White Lion of Czechoslovakia, and became Chair of the British-Czechoslovakia
Society. He stood down at the 1966 general election, and died just over a year later.

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] moved the motion to accept the recommendations and in doing so he said that it was a pleasure to move what was a positive story for the city. He said that it was vital to explore cultural and economic links with towns across Europe as it put our city on the map. He told the chamber that out of the tragedy of what one group of people could do to another back in 1942 some good could come from it with this linking arrangement.

Cllr Mike Barnes [Community Voice] said that he supported this motion whole-heartedly. He told the chamber that the story of Lidice highlighted that even out of extreme adversity success can be born. He hit out at Cllr Hazel Lyth[CIA] for doing nothing until the deadline for acceptance had nearly passed and only then did she act when he had made phone calls to the officers. He said that Cabinet members had to be more motivated than that.

Cllr Joy Garner [Labour] said that she was happy to support this motion and that it was important to remember the past and to never forget. She informed the chamber that there are 2 street in her ward that were named after Sir Barnett Stross. She said that through the Art side of this link he would never be forgotten.

Cllr Brian Ward [CIG] said that he too was happy to support this kinking arrangement. He said that £10,000 was a small price to pay.

I’m really pleased that Alan & Cheryl were present in the chamber to hear the debate and to see the motion passed with no one voting against. I was disappointed that no councillor mentioned the hard work that they put into this linking arrangement as I know it was not plain sailing.

Message to Councillors: Members of the public who work tirelessly for the city in which they live in and love, deserve your support and praise occasionally and is something that doesn’t cost any money!

Cllr Mervin Smith [Labour] moved the following motion in relation to a loan from the City Council to Galmor Investment SA:

That, subject as hereinafter provided, Stoke-on-Trent City Council provides a Term Loan
Facility of up to £1.2 million to Galmor Investment SA repayable over 10 years for the
refurbishment of the Angel Business Centre, Westport Road, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
That the Director of Regeneration (in consultation with the Director of Central Services) is
authorised to negotiate and agree the final terms of the loan. Such terms to be
substantially in the form of the draft Provisional Offer of Loan Facilities attached.

Cllr Smith said this loan would enable the company to redevelop to former Wade Pottery site in Burslem. Upon completion it is expected that 168 new jobs would be created for the city. He gave assurances to all sides of the chamber that there would be a comprehensive period in which thorough Due Diligence would take place.

This process would cost in the region of £20,000 which would be paid by the company even if the loan arrangement did not commence should the due diligence highlight something untoward.

Cllr Smith reassured elected members that this loan agreement was viable and that Galmor had undertaken work for companies such as HSBC, NHS North Staffs & The Highways Agency.

The details of the loan are as follows:

4.1. A copy of the proposed Provisional Offer of Loan Facilities is attached to this report.
The key terms of which are set out below:-
Purpose of Loan development of a mixed use scheme
Facility Amount £1,000,000
Repayment Term 120 months from practical completion of the building works
Drawdown in instalments of not less than £250,000 against agreed
drawdown profile and on satisfactory completion of agreed
milestones. Final drawdown on practical completion of the
building works.
Security a charge will be required against the development and a
floating charge will be required over Dransfield’s remaining
assets
Interest Fixed at 6% above the base lending rate for the time being
of the Co-operative Bank Plc
Default Interest Rate Lending Rate plus 5%
4.2. Drawdown of the loan would be in instalments of not less than £250,000 against an
agreed drawdown profile and on satisfactory completion of agreed milestones, with the
final drawdown being made on practical completion of the building works.
4.3. If Stoke-on-Trent City Council agree to provide the required loan facility, the loan will be
repayable by Dransfield over 10 years in 120 monthly instalments in accordance with a
repayment profile which reflects Dransfield’s cash flow forecast.
4.4. Interest will be applied to the loan at 6% per annum above base rate (i.e., a commercial
rate). The rate will be fixed at the date the loan agreement is signed. Therefore State
Aid will not be an issue. In addition, a monthly monitoring fee would be charged to this
facility.
4.5. In advance of the emerging City Council policy for providing assistance to private
companies and due to the absence of a dedicated budget this matter is required to be
considered by full Council Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s role in providing this loan
would be as a “Ëœlender of last resort’ as all opportunities for securing borrowing from a
commercial bank and other external funding opportunities have been exhausted.

The report detail and the assurances given by officers were commended by Cllrs Salih & Kent-Baguley [Community Voice] and that they were happy to support the motion.

Cllr Kent ““Baguley said that he celebrated this king of initiative by the City Council as it sent out a different message to that of the banks that we as a city are open for business unlike them.

Cllr Pervez [Labour] said that it was important that this deal go ahead. He said that this showed that the council was demonstrating that it could go forward with complete member involvement. He reminded the chamber that the government were relying on private sector jobs in the wake of the announcement that 500,000 public sector job losses over the coming few years. He said that Stoke-on-Trent City Council could lead the way and that this arrangement showed that it was serious about regenerating the city and the Mother Town of Burslem.

Cllrs Barnes, Ward and Shotton all spoke in favour of the motion.

Cllr Shotton [Labour] suggested that 50% of the cost of the Due Diligence should be paid up front by the company as it would be a devil of a job to get the whole amount if the agreement collapsed as a result. He said that the 168 jobs that this development created would help to support around 700 children of the families employed.

The vote was carried unanimously.

Last but by no means least , as the meeting was drawing to a close a political argument broke out between members of the Community Voice group and Council Leader Mohammed Pervez [Labour] and Deputy Leader Ross Irving [CIA].

Cllr Pervez was questioned by Cllr Barnes abouyt what he was doing to oppose the government cuts imposed on LA’s as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday.

Cllr Pervez said that he was working very hard and had written to Local Goverment Minister Eric Pickles to make a special case for the City of Stoke-on-Trent. He also said that he would be consulting with unions and he would carry on talking to residents to gauge their concerns about unavoidable cuts. He did confirm that there would be some loss of service and that his job was now more difficult as the government announced cuts of 28.4% over the next 4 years as opposed to the expected 25% cut.

Cllr Salih rounded on the Council Leader and said that he needed to do more than just write letters. He said that
Cllr Pervez ought to join up with other Labour led authorities and to take direct action as they had in France.

Cllr Barnes entered the debate and remonstrated with the Council Leader and said that the cuts were a devastating attack on the poor and most vulnerable in our city.

Cllr Pervez argued that he was already talking with other Labour led authorities and that they were working together to reduce the impact of the cuts and to maximise any opportunity that may arise to gain extra funding. He went on to attack the Community Voice for petty headline grabbing and he said that he would not take advice from former disgruntled Labour members.

Cllr Irving [CIA] defended his party’s position of implementing widespread cuts and said that to do nothing would almost certainly confine the country to bankruptcy. He said that the opposition remarks were a throwback to 1984. He attacked the Community Voice councillors for having nothing positive to contribute and he said that the public would not support the type of action that we have seen in France.

Cllr Pervez said that he would try his best to bring private sector jobs by working with businesses like Galmor which would get people off benefits an into work.
He finished by attacking the negativity of the Community Voice councillors and their endless search for cheap headlines.

“We will show you how it’s done” ““ he said in his closing statement.

Well Pervez let’s hope you are right ““ your city awaits…..

Soul Night for the Fire Fighters Charity

A Soul Night is being held in at the Kings Hall in Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday October 30th to raise funds for The Fire Fighters Charity.

A selection of both nationally recognised and local Northern Soul DJs will be playing sets on the night, including Nick Marshall, OZ, Johnny Beggs and Phil Ankers.
DJ Wilf and Johnny F will also be playing Sweet Soul sounds, in the Windsor Room. There will also be a raffle on the night with a selection of prizes up for grabs. Tickets for the event are £7 and the night will kick off from 8pm until late.

“The Fire Fighters Charity is a fantastic organisation that supports fire and rescue service personnel and their families during their time of need. It costs over £9 million each year to run the charity, so I’d encourage people to come along, not only for a great night out, but also to support a worthwhile cause.”

The event will also raise funds for the Lodge Road Park play equipment appeal, which will go towards the purchase of play equipment, for younger children at the park located in Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent.

For more information or to book tickets, contact Cllr Randy Conteh on 01782 256 869 or 07929 223201.

To book a free Home Fire Risk Check contact: 0800 0241 999. For all other non emergency enquiries contact: 08451 22 11 55 or log onto: www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk or www.direct.gov.uk/firekills. In an emergency dial 999.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Hold Spotlight Review On Britannia Stadium Parking

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has instigated a Spotlight Review on match day parking and traffic around the vicinity of the Britannia Stadium.

The success enjoyed by Stoke City and their elevation to the Premiership in has exasperated the problem for residents living near by and areas that are used by fans for parking.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is calling for anyone effected by these issues to give feedback so that the Spotlight Review can investigate the matter fully.

Here is a copy of the email that Pits n Pots have received and how all our readers can help:


“Sir,

I am hoping that readers, residents and Stoke City fans will be able to assist with addressing an increasing problem, relating to parking issues experienced by local residents, during Stoke City’s home games at the Britannia Stadium.

The City Council is currently facilitating an in-depth evidence gathering investigation, called a “Spotlight Review” to address the issues around the residential streets, near to the stadium in Stoke, Heron Cross, Fenton and Blurton.

This Review’s membership includes Councillors, city council officers, the police, local Resident Association Chairs and representatives from Stoke City Football Club.

We are urging fans, when travelling by car or vans to Stoke City home matches, to be more considerate to the local residents, when parking their vehicles.

Inconsiderate and irresponsible parking includes: – blocking driveways, parking in resident-only parking spaces, parking on pavements, parking in front of garages, parking on double-yellow lines and blocking resident’s cars in.

We would ask, that local residents contact the council, if and when they experience, or are affected by these problems, with specific locations, streets or post-codes and any solutions they may have (contact details below).

We will be monitoring the parking situations at Stoke’s first home game, against Tottenham Hotspur and the city council’s parking enforcement team and the police; will take any and all necessary action, to deter drivers and potentially fine offenders.

We also realise that these problems are caused by a small minority of fans and commend and thank those that do park appropriately and responsibly.

We are also looking for feedback from fans

* What’s your postcode?

* How do you travel to Britannia Stadium?

* Where do you park your vehicle and why?

* Would you consider changing to another form of travel to Britannia Stadium? And if so what?

* What is the one thing that would make it easier for you to get to/from Britannia Stadium?

* How do you think we can reduce parking issues in the vicinity of Britannia Stadium on match days?

*Have you got any suggestions for potential solutions?

If you are a resident / fan affected by any of the issues please forward details to:

Email: scrutiny@stoke.gov.uk

Address: Britannia Stadium Review
c/o Member Services,
Chief Executive’s Directorate,
Civic Centre,
Glebe Street
Stoke on Trent
ST4 1RN

Thank you,

Cllr Randy Conteh
“Chair of the Britannia Stadium Parking, Spotlight Review.”

Pits n Pots urges all residents who may have witnessed the problems caused to this area of the City to engage with this Spotlight Review.

Having taken part in one of these types of review in the past, we can testify to the comprehensive nature and thorough investigations that will be carried out by the Councillors and Scrutiny Officers concerned.

Mick Williams Resigns From The Labour Party To Fight For Hartshill & Penkhull

Veteran Labour Party member and activist Mick Williams has resigned from the party in protest at the candidate selection process used for both the parliamentary and local elections.

His resignation ends a 46 year association with the Labour Party. In that time he served as a City Councillor for many years and was awarded the party’s National Merit Award in 2008.

He will now return the award to the Labour Party in protest.

Mr Williams was at the centre of a long running dispute over his status as a Co-op party delegate to the City Labour Party.

Stoke-on-Trent Central CLP nominated him as the chair of the City Party but he was prevented from entering the meeting [allegedly by the Regional Director Ian Reilly] in which the vote was taking place.

As a result Stoke-on-Trent Central CLP refused to attend further meetings until the situation was resolved.

Mr Williams was also very unhappy with the candidate selection process for both the local and general elections and in particular what he perceives to be the imposition of preferred candidate upon the constituencies and branches.

Here is the email in full to Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, which sets out his reasons for his resignation:

Gordon,

Thank you for your email sent earlier today and promising “a different kind of election – one where we the politicians throw open the doors to grassroots activists and the wider public”. Well, forgive me, I’ve heard that so many times before and it never happened – anyway they are not your ‘doors’ to throw open, they belong to the party members.

I joined the Labour Party in 1964 to seek a democratic way of overthrowing a (Tory) Government which had been in power for 13 years and had relentlessly attacked the interests of the working class. I now leave the Labour Party for exactly the same reasons – except that this time the Government concerned (yours – and coincidentally also of 13 years) claim to have improved the lot of the working class. Really ? After reading Wilkinson and Picket’s “The Spirit Level” (which describes how inequality has got considerably worse) and by personal observations of my local area, I think not.

Last Thursday I attended my CLP’s selection meeting to choose a new PPC, following Mark Fisher’s announcement of his standing down. This meeting was presented with a shortlist of three which was so obviously rigged that I was moved to vote against ‘proceeding to ballot’. There had been much local (and some national) publicity regarding the successful candidate and speculation that he had been manipulated into the vacancy by Mandelson. My distrust and hostility to Mandelson dates back to the infamous ‘Sheffield Rally’, where his cocksureness destroyed any chance of a Kinnock victory, and I did have concern for your sanity when I learned that you had brought him back into government.

After the PPC selection came the counting of votes in a postal ballot to choose a council candidate for my ward (Hartshill and Penkhull). This had been actioned by the Regional Office “on the instructions of the Chair of the Organisation Committee, Cath Speight, to re-open the selection”. This followed the decision of my Branch (despite the quorum being augmented by people from other parts of the region) not to proceed to ballot. What should have happened was that there should have been another shortlisting/selection date(s) agreed and the process re-run – but excluding the candidates on the original shortlist. This did not happen, and BLP members were amazed to get a ballot paper with the original two names – after both had been clearly found unacceptable. Whether this was pure bullying or a recognition that they could not continue to impose candidates by a ‘flying selection squad’ I know not. I formally complained to the Regional Office, and they said “duly noted; passed to the compliance unit”. I’ll not hold my breath.

The date 20th September 2008 may not mean much to you, but it was the day that you and Ray Collins signed a certificate on behalf of the NEC “to honour a lifetime’s commitment to the Labour Party”. This was the National Merit Award given to me after I had been nominated by my peers in the local Party. I will be returning it by post since I cannot now believe it was signed with any degree of sincerity.

Perhaps you will understand why I now feel it necessary to assert local democracy by standing myself in the local election – for the first time in my life not as a Labour candidate. I shall put in my nomination papers tomorrow and have until noon next Tuesday to withdraw. Who will blink first ?

This of course means that I shall have to resign from the Labour Party so I would be grateful if you would regard this email as my formal resignation.

I copy this email to the General Secretary (“we are where we are”) and the Chairs and Secretaries (where appropriate) of BLP, CLP and NEC, together with the Secretary of my Co-op Party Branch. I will make verbal announcements at trade union and other relevant places. I will not be bullied, bought or gagged.

In democratic socialism.

Mick Williams.
Membership No. A******.

The official Labour Candidate for Hartshill & Penkhull is yet to be announced.

The sitting Councillors are Cllr Randy Conteh & Cllr Barbara Beeston.

Cabinet Member for Children and Young Peoples Services Ian Mitchell is up for election on 6th May 2010.