Inside the civic

The big news this week, as hinted in my last column, was the resignation of Deputy Lord Mayor Khan as he prepares to once again face the Standards Committee. This is certainly an honourable decision, however why it took so long (and a Labour group meeting) to convince Khan to resign perhaps signifies how unaware certain councillors are about what the public think of their conduct. Continue reading

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]

Who Should I Vote For?

So it is less than 24 hours until the polling booths open and I need to decide who I am going to vote for.

In my ward I have 6 candidates each of who I would like to think should be canvassing me for my vote, they have all allegedly put themselves forward because they want to do the best for the community they live in. So let’s look at what I have had in the way of election leaflets from each of the parties.

  • Community Voice – 4 leaflets all black and white with 1 addressed and posted
  • Conservatives – Nothing
  • England First – Nothing
  • Labour – 5 leaflets 1 glossy, 4 colour printed with 2 of them addressed and posted
  • Liberal Democrats – Nothing
  • TUSC – Nothing

I have had no knock on the door from any candidate, I have been on annual leave for the previous 2 weeks and someone has been in the house each and every day.

Mike Barnes from Community Voice has obviously been out ‘doorstepping’ he even tweeted about it a few days back.

Twitter / @mike barnes: Another 4 1/2 hours on the ...

 

For some reason Mike has deleted this tweet, blocked a load of his twitter followers and protected his account so that only people who he ‘authorises’ can see his tweets. I find this a bit strange from a person who has never been afraid of self publicity. It has to be said I think there is a bit more to this story with ‘Lil and Sue’ than meets the eye, this will come out after the count tomorrow I’m sure.

Mike was even trying to take £10,000 bets on him still being a councilor on May 6,

  barnes-betting

I should point out that win or lose Barnes, who also said he will get more votes than all the other candidates put together, will be a councillor until 9 May as this is the day that the winning candidates are sworn in to office.

So back to who should I vote for? 

I vote differently in General Elections than I do in Local Elections, in a General Election it is about the party who I think will do the best (or least damage) for the country, locally it is the person who I think will do the best for me and my community, but how do I make a decision on who is going to be best for me and my ward if the candidates generally don’t tell me about what they are going to do when they become my elected representative?

4 of the 6 candidates in this ward have taken Pits n Pots up on the offer of a 500 word article and while we are getting between 16 & 20,000 visitors a day, publishing something on-line either on Pits n Pots or on your own website is not an alternative to traditional canvassing. I am under no illusions that people still want bits of paper through the door and want to look at the candidate in the eyes to see what makes them tick.

I want the candidates to knock on my door on the run up to an election, even if I set the dogs on them I want the choice on whether I speak to them or not, I don’t want to be ignored.

After every election there is a big hoo-ha made about what the % turn out was and why is it so low, maybe all parties need to look at actually engaging with the electorate on the run up to the election rather than just sticking a name on the nomination from so they can say the party fielded a candidate in the ward.

We deserve better from the people who hope to represent us.

Who am I going to vote for? that is between me and the ballot box but I can assure you that 3 of the 6 in my ward are not in the running straight away.

 

500 words from Margaret Lowe

I am proud to have been chosen as the Community Voice candidate for the
Bentilee and Ubberley Ward in the forthcoming elections. Although new to
politics, I have been campaigning for two years against the Discovery Academy
and feel I have learned so much about the area I live in and the residents
there. This area has been treated unfairly by the coalition cabinet at the
council. Some of the current councillors voted for the budget cuts, which I
would not have done. We have lost so much in this area recently; the golf
course and Willfield as a community venue giving many of the clubs and groups
who use the facility nowhere to go. We are now in danger of losing the gym
and the swimming pool. Facilities which are so important to residents of the
area. I am passionate about Bentilee and Ubberley and want to see it go from
strength to strength. I want to make it an area to be proud to live. I will
listen to the residents, to their ideas and views and support them in any way
I can. I want the opportunity to show that I can stand up and make my voice
heard on behalf of the community.

500 Words From Mike Barnes

This year’s local elections are more important than ever for the City, as well as for Dresden and Florence. My priority is to protect and continue the great improvements in Dresden and Florence that have been achieved over the last few years by the hard working community groups, Dresden Residents Association, Florence Residents Association and the Queens Park Partnership working alongside myself.

I am extremely pleased that Lilian Dodd, from Dresden Res Assoc and Queens Park Partnership has proposed my nomination in the election along with many others including Sue Walley, chair of Queens Park Partnership and Steve Mallam who plans and organises many of the events in Longton Park.

There have been many successes, top of the list is the transformation of Longton Park, which only a couple of years ago was in a terrible state, but working together it is once again becoming the Park I certainly remember as a boy growing up in the area.

Whilst I do take a prominent and active role in the council itself, my ward and community work has always been my first priority. Working with the local volunteers we have a new community hall opening shortly as well as a new community garden designed by pupils from a local high school. Notice boards have been erected to keep residents informed, new fencing in many areas to deal with anti social behaviour. We authorised £8,000 for extra policing in our area as well as £36,000 for 4 part time youth workers. The Park has had new fishing pegs, a fountain, a new playground, bridge repaired, a new adult gym, path improvements, bandstand has been painted and a bid has gone in for a cafe. Through ward funding I’ve paid for Florence Bowling Club to have a new lawn mower, the scout hall has had a new heating system and the local luncheon club for the elderly has had a new potato peeler. Three local volunteer youth clubs have been given £12,000 between them for equipment. There is lots, lots more I could list.

As your councillor I don’t claim to have made a difference to Dresden and Florence on my own. We are extremely lucky to have 3 hard working community groups without whom none of the improvements would have been possible, and its a privilege to see people who care, get up and do stuff, instead of just moaning about it. We’ve done it together and I want the chance to carry on being a part of that and hope that you will vote for me on May 5th.

I have lived all of my life in and around Dresden and Florence and would love to continue to help maintain what I think is a great place to live.

On a City level my priority will be to continue to passionately fight to protect the services that mean the most to people, particularly those that affect the most vulnerable ““ the elderly, disabled and children, which seem to be easy targets for the cuts and constantly under threat.

My no nonsense, “say it how it is” work in the council has seen plans for posh offices for officers and senior councillors costing £800,000 scrapped; the number of consultants slashed as well as countless wrongdoing and mismanagement exposed. Hopefully this means we can start to move forward in a positive way. It doesn’t always win me too many friends at the council but I never give up on an issue and this has paid dividends time and again in helping local residents with issues and changing the council’s mind on important matters that affect every one of us.

I am also very proud to have led the campaign that got rid of the Elected Mayor system, the only successful campaign of its kind in the country.

My aim is to continue to represent you, Dresden and Florence as well as the City with the same passion and commitment I have shown since last being elected in 2007.

Please consider voting for me, Mike Barnes, on May 5th. I won’t let you down.

Take the party out of politics.

Tony Walley ““ On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox 06/04/2011

Out of the 199 candidates nominated to fight the upcoming local council elections, 139 represent national political parties.

So, it kind of got me wondering, if we happened to end up with a hung council, who would form the next coalition?

Now opinion is divided as to the chances and plights of the various political parties but I think everyone recognises that Labour are the clear favourites to take an outright majority in the council chamber.

I also think that everyone believes [even the Tories themselves] that the Conservatives could get a bit of a public kicking as the electorate exact revenge for the unprecedented cuts that the whole of the country is facing up to and having to deal with.

Despite fielding 44 candidates, the Liberal Democrats face obliteration from the council chamber. They have just 4 councillors presently here in Stoke-on-Trent. Across the country the electorate are expected to send a very clear message to Mr Clegg that he has got it wrong in joining with the Tories. The Libe Dems have become the political whipping boys following a series of high profile national policy u-turns which some say have angered the public to an extent where they will suffer a huge backlash in the May local elections.

The BNP locally have managed to field just 10 candidates and what is very different to last year is that there seems to be some sort of “Ëœarrangement’ with the England First Party not to field candidates in the same wards which would result in a split in the Nationalists vote. With the 6 England First candidates, far right voters will have an option in 16 of the 37 wards across the city. Of course this is a far cry from the days when the BNP described Stoke-on-Trent as their jewel in the crown but never-the-less the BNP could be another party that suffer at the pens of the electorate. The public feel that there is a genuine alternative to the mainstream parties with a number of credible Independent candidates and groups like Community Voice who actively seek to scrutinise the ruling administration and have become a self styled group of people champions.

It is hard to decipher who is who when analysing the 42 or so Independent candidates. The largest number will be attached to the City Independent Group under the stewardship of leader Brian Ward. They suffered something of a public backlash for joining in the 4 party ruling coalition. They have a reputation out of the mean streets of Stoke has being very hard working community councillors.

But in the event of a hung council just who could work with who?

There has been some suggestion that the Labour Group on the council have over egged the national cuts issue. This has caused unrest among the Conservative element in the chamber. One wonders whether the national Conservative party would allow their Stoke-on-Trent counterparts to take part in another love in with Labour.

An opposition member said to me recently that he thought it was like a scene from “ËœBrokeback Mountain’ to hear the interviews with Pervez and Ross Irving on Pits n Pots.

Well after the election it could be more like “ËœLast Tango in Packmoor’ if Labour don’t get the 23 seats necessary to take overall control of the city council.

I think there will be a few voices of discontent if a coalition between Labour and the Conservatives were proposed.

Any coalition with a far right party will not happen. Both the leader of the Labour Group Pervez and the Leader of the Conservative Group Ross Irving have ruled out working with the BNP in the past and I can’t see that that would change in the future.

The Liberal Democrats are expected to have a poor showing following the election so I don’t expect them to play a significant part unless Labour were short of just a couple of seats.

The prospect of Community Voice playing a part in any future coalition is a fascinating one. Mike Barnes had a very public parting of the ways with the Labour Party. Mick Salih and Peter Kent-Baguley also fell out of favour with the Labour Party and all three have been harsh critics of the coalition and Labour in particular.

Community Voice are tipped to do well in the local elections and could well be the dark horses come May 6th. I would love to be a fly on that particular wall to witness the coalition talks involving Community Voice representatives.

The City Independents will also play a major role in any future coalition and to some degree a coalition agreement with this group would be Labour’s worst case scenario. By the very nature of their group the CIG are made up of Independent thinkers and minds and it is very hard to get them agree to anything which makes a partnership arrangement with a group who operate a whip very difficult indeed.

Even though all this is speculation, we do need to consider what will happen in the event of a hung council.

One thing is for sure, groups like Community Voice, the City Independents, even Independents4U could play a major role in the future shaping of the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

With the exclusion of the far right for moral reasons and the possible exclusion of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on political reasons any coalition arrangements is fraught with danger.

The reason for the boundary changes and reduction in the number of councillors was thought to bring about political stability.

In the event of a hung council, the political gerrymandering and posturing will be no different to what it is now. There will just be less characters involved.

One thing is for sure, the next four years will be very interesting here in planet Stoke.

Election Campaign Launch – CV The Only Alternativ”‹e!

**PRESS RELEASE FROM THE COMMUNITY VOICE GROUP**

Today Community Voice launches its election campaign for the forthcoming local elections in Stoke-on-Trent.

Community Voice has 12 carefully chosen candidates across the City.

”I am so pleased and proud to be a part of Community Voice and our first local election campaign, especially in putting forward 12 quality, active, community candidates.

“We strongly believe we have made a significant contribution in the council over the last 12 months, both in terms of shaping policy and decisions, as well as effectively holding the council, Cabinet and officers, to account.

“Community Voice has clearly demonstrated the we are the only alternative to the council’s coalition, the only voice on the council in a sea of silence.

“Labour, Conservatives, City Independents, and Liberal Democrats are one and the same on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, putting party politics and their cosy coalition before ordinary people and their own residents.

CV has been the only group actively scrutinising and challenging decisions.

We make 5 cast iron and crystal clear promises, yes PROMISES, to our electors:

1. Our Communities Come First, and we promise that we will put them first
2. We promise to protect Adult Older Care

3. We promise to protect Children’s Social Care and Education including Children’s Centres

4. We promise to clean up the council, banish secrecy, route wrong-doing and fraud, and make it more open and transparent

5. We promise to give people more say and more power in their community.

We strongly believe that each councillor, whatever party or political persuasion should put the residents that elect them FIRST.

We look forward to the coming weeks, sharing our vision and passion with all residents of this great City.”

Every single one of Community Voice’s candidates has a track record of working hard in their community from all backgrounds.

”Our 12 candidates all have a solid background in the community. Each one has come to Community Voice, CV has not chased or canvassed anyone to stand.

“We have no “paper” candidates at all, unlike the other major parties such as Labour, Conservatives and the Lib Dems, and we have made the decision early on not to just accept anyone to build up the numbers. I can reveal we have turned down 8 approaches from individuals whom we felt it was not the right time for them to represent CV. This was for various reasons, most notably those that bear personal grudges against other parties or individuals.

“Residents and Communities need a real voice. One that put them FIRST without exception. CV will work with anybody in the interests on our residents from whatever political party, but we will not shy away from our responsibility to challenge bad proposals or decisions, or hold those that put party or self interest above this City and its citizens.”

Stoke-on-Trent Local Election Candidates List Released

199 candidates have come forward to contest the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Elections which will take place on 5th May 2011.

These candidates will seek to represent 37 newly formed wards in a council reduced from 60 to 44 following a review by the Boundary Committee last year.

The City will be split into 31 single member wards, 5 two member wards and 1 three member ward.

The release of the candidates list confirms that whoever is elected, the council chamber will have a very different look to it on May 6th.

The 3 member ward of Baddeley, Milton & Norton has 16 candidates seeking election. 12 from national parties, 1 from Community Voice and 3 Independent candidates.

The current Council Leader Mohammed Pervez [Labour] is facing opposition from former Conservative & Independent Alliance Leader Roger Ibbs who is now standing as an Independent candidate.

Deputy Leader of the City Council and Leader of the Conservative & Independent Alliance Ross Irving is seeking election to the 2 member Hanford & Trentham ward. There the main opposition is understood to be from former coalition cabinet colleague Terry Follows [CIG] and Peter Hayward [Ind].

Liberal Democrats Group leader and coalition cabinet member Kieran Clarke is again standing in the Birches Head & Central Forest Park ward where he comes head to head with Former elected mayor Mark Meredith. He will also face a stiff challenge from former elected mayor champion and community leader Paul Breeze.

City Independent Leader Brian Ward is standing in the Blurton West & Newstead Ward and will not be facing former colleague Roy Naylor who recently announced he is standing down. The main opposition is thought o be from the Labour candidate Neil Day.

BNP group leader Michael Coleman will have his work cut out to defeat the very popular Labour candidate Ruth Rosenau in the ward of Meir North while former BNP deputy group leader Anthony Simmonds will surely split the far right vote with England First Candidate Nicholas McVeigh which could give a boost to Labour Candidate and current cabinet member Tom Reynolds.

Former BNP group leader Alby Walker who is now representing Community Voice is facing an uphill struggle in the Meir Park Ward to defeat City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative party Chairman Abi Brown.

Walker’s wife Ellie is taking on former BNP colleague Melanie Baddeley in the Abbey Hulton & Townsend ward. One surprising omission from the candidates listed for this ward is that of former Labour councillor Graham Wallace. A number of sources had indicated that he would stand against the official Labour candidates selected.

Community Voice group spokesperson Mick Salih will stand for election in the huge Baddeley, Norton & Milton ward. He faces stiff opposition from all the mainstream parties.

There is some 53 Independent candidates standing including members of the City Independents, Community Voice, Independents4You and those who have chosen not to put any description on the form.

Whatever the outcome, the city’s electorate have a wide and varied choice of candidates to select from.

These elections will be the last, barring by-elections, for four years.

Pits n Pots will launch our election coverage later today.

This will be the most comprehensive coverage anywhere, given to each and every candidate regardless of political persuasion.

We will offer every candidate an equal opportunity to write an election article for publication [500ish words] and the chance to record an audio interview of around 7 minutes. These will be left on the site for reference.

2011 Election Coverage

It is just over a month until the polls open for one of the most important local elections in Stoke-on-Trent for many years, with changes to the ward boundaries, a reduction in councillors and moving to whole elections.

This year we are going to build on our coverage of the 2010 local & general elections and provide even better coverage of the candidates, campaigns and the election.

We are putting the finishing touches to our 2011 Election Section and will be publishing it very soon.

Candidates
This year each and every candidate will have their own page here on Pits n Pots where we will link to news stories about each candidate both on PnP and other local media, link to copies of any election leaflets that they produce.

Tony Walley will be going out on the road and speaking to any candidates who take up our open offer which is:

Pits n Pots will allow you to publish 500 words about your campaign and give you the option of a 5 minute audio interview both of which will be published unedited in return you will be asked a number of questions which have been suggested by Pits n Pots readers, each candidate will be asked the same questions.

If you decline the offer of an interview with Pits n Pots that is fine but a candidate page will still be created with any publicly available information.

Questions
What questions do you think we should be asking the candidates in this election? Use the comments below to come up with suggestions, we will sort them and then put the best up for vote to be included in our candidate interviews. Keep the questions generic as they need to be asked of each & every candidate.

We will include 1 or possibly 2, depending on interest, ward questions, so if there is a particular issue in your ward then feel free to add this in the comments below but make sure you say it is a ward question and provide the name of the ward it should be asked in.

Crowd Sourcing
We will be asking you, our readers, to help us with our election coverage when it comes to Election Leaflets.

This year we are working with the Election Leaflets website. What we would like you to do is, scan or photograph any election leaflets you get delivered and add them to the Election Leaflets site, all you need to do is upload your images and fill in a simple form, you don’t need to create any accounts just follow the instructions.

If you do upload any leaflets, please tag them with:

  • Candidates Name
  • Ward
  • Party
  • pitsnpots
  • Any other tags you think are suitable

If you could then drop an E-mail to le2011 at pitsnpots.co.uk with a link to your uploads, we will add the link to the candidates page. Please check the spelling of the candidates name as this is the most important tag that will be used by Election Leaflets to group the information see Shazad Hussain as an example.

Don’t worry about the site not having wards only general election constituencies on it, the Election Leaflets site will still accept local election leaflets.

If you don’t want to upload the leaflets yourself then you can E-mail the files to le2011 at pitsnpots.co.uk and we will do it for you. If you don’t have the ability to scan or photograph the leaflets then you can send them by post to or drop them off at:

PnP Election Leaflets
6 Towns Radio
Shop 26 Queen Street
Burslem
Stoke-on-Trent
ST6 3EG

and we will sort them out for you.

Lets make this the best Local Election coverage we can and let’s get as much information about our candidates as we can so we can hold them accountable for their promises & pledges for the next four years.

Stoke-on-Trent Needs Committed Councillors, Not Activists with a Grudge

I know that this blog article is going to make me mightily unpopular in some quarters of the Stoke-on-Trent political arena, but here goes.

Following on from my last post about the far right England First Party, which was fantastically well received, I climb up on my soapbox for round two.

You see i have a real worry about the upcoming local council elections, in fact I would go as far as to say it is boarding on a mortal fear, that our city will end up with a load of councillors that are in it for all the wrong reasons.

My fears were further realised following a disturbing telephone conversation with an ex-member of the Labour Party here in Stoke-on-Trent.

It appears there is a group of disenfranchised ex-Labour party members that are to throw their hats in the ring and are to seek election to the City Council with their number one priority to smear the Labour Party and its candidates as opposed to actually wanting to represent their communities.

I admit that I was absolutely flabbergasted by this revelation.

These people are to focus their campaign on what the Labour Party have done to them in the past, how the Labour party has broken their own rules [in their opinion anyway] and they are to publicly smear some of the Labour candidates.

I’m sure that you don’t need me to mention their names in this article, but you will know who I mean when I describe them as the usual suspects.

It would appear that the labour Party’s crime is to select 44 candidates to fight every available seat across the City.

They stand accused of not producing a manifesto on which to fight the election and they are definitely guilty of fielding candidates that are not legitimate and have been selected by the Regional Office so the dissenters claim.

One poor candidate that has got it coming to her is Alison Wedgwood, her crime? She doesn’t live in the City according to this group. “We are going to nail her” was the phrase used. She won’t be the only one.

This group are marketing themselves as “Ëœoriginal Labour’ ““ you know, a throwback to those halcyon days when the Labour Party that the ultimate power in our city. A time when all 60 candidates were Labour and the only arguments, and there was a few, were between themselves.

But those days were blighted by some of the most monumental cock ups in our city’s history. The Cultural Quarter, World Gate, the Britannia Stadium deal to name just a few ““ hardly the city’s finest period of history, do we really want to go back there?

In fact it is rumoured that Barry Stockley, the Council Leader at the time of those Keystone Kops like incidents will stand in the election alongside the usual suspects against an official Labour candidate thus ending his long association with the party.

None of current crop of Labour councillors were in office at the time of the darkest days in our council’s history.

Please don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying vote Labour in this post.

As I have said in the past we will have a real choice of candidates in these elections ranging from mainstream parties, community councillors from the City Independent Group and Community Voice, and true Independents who seek to serve their communities and wards and to help make the areas in which they live a better place.

But we have a duty to vote for councillors who will make a real difference to the city.

By and large we will have a single councillor to represent the majority of wards across the city and we will be stuck with them for four whole years. If we vote in the wrong calibre of person we will be able to repent at leisure.

I therefore ask a genuine question.

Do we really want to vote in a group of individuals or are standing against a party, it’s rules and regulations [or the lack of them] and it’s candidates?

Do we genuinely care if this crew were thrown on the scrap heap for having a different ideology to that of the modern day Labour party?

Why should we the general public get embroiled in a war between factions when the likelihood is that it will be us that get caught in the crossfire whilst the two opposing sides will be battling it out?

Are we really bothered who is right and who is wrong in this dispute?

Activists fall out with their parties every day, just like in the case of Shaun Bennett. But the fundamental difference here is that Shaun has walked away and is standing for the City Independents. He hasn’t spat his dummy and is standing on an anti-Conservative agenda.

It has been said that the Community Voice group is made up largely of ex-Labourites and that’s true. But Community Voice have their own identity. They have their own set of political principles. They will seek election on a set of their own pledges. To their enormous credit they rejected a number of advances from this “Ëœoriginal Labour’ group because they did not want to go down the anti-Labour route why? – Because they have their own vision.

And what of the suggestion that the City labour Party have no agenda?

My understanding is that the Labour collective will have a very definite set of priorities, policies and pledges that will be communicated to the electorate during the election campaigns.

So in summary I find myself pleading with all communities to use their votes wisely.

The majority of us will be represented by a single councillor, we will be stuck with him or her for four long years, so let’s get the right ones in eh?

Whether you are far left, left, middle, right or god help us far right, let’s get people into the chamber who want to put communities ahead of their own personal vendetta’s.

We want people who will support, represent and help the elderly, the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society and we want councillors who are progressive and can improve the areas in which we live.

If I lived in a ward where there is an “Ëœoriginal Labour’ candidate standing I would be “Ëœnailing’ them to be open and transparent for their reasons on why they are seeking election. I would be “Ëœnailing’ them on what they intend to do to stand up for their ward. I would be nailing them to say what their priorities are.

And if one of them gave an answer which contained what the Labour Party did to them, or which rule it did not follow, or how the candidate selection was wrong, or why a certain candidate should not be standing ““ I would shut the door in their faces. Their leaflets would be flushed down the toilet so that it can meet the other sewage that lurks in the city’s drains.

No doubt my politics will be “Ëœnailed’ as a result of this article. I simply do not care. Anyone who reads my articles [10’s of thousands] and the people who know me personally [hundreds] know that I have socialist principles but when it comes to the local election, my family and I always vote for those who we think will best represent our community and who will do the most for the people who live in it.

Apart from the BNP and heaven forbid the England First Party that applies to pretty much any candidate.