The Cameron Veto on Europe is a disaster for North Staffs.

What will the British veto in Europe mean for North Staffs?

I have spent a great deal of my adult life believing in the European project. In 1975 I was a young member of the Labour party and one few who was an enthusiast for Europe in referendum year. I helped to run a Yes to Europe shop in Lamb Street in Hanley and was naturally pleased when North Staffs like most of the country supported the Yes vote. 36 years later the whole project is under jeopardy after David Cameron’s veto will undoubtedly lead to Britain’s isolation.

What will happen to the area should the vote lead to Britain leaving the EU?

David Cameron is the Prime Minister for the City of London. And his veto was essentially to protect their interests over the prospect of a Tobin tax on financial transactions. Anyone in N Staffs should be wary of any policy whose aim is to protect the interests of the City

This is the same City of London, which is primarily responsible for the financial crisis. And the same City of London which contributes 11% of tax revenues each year but which is instrumental in facilitating $3trillion of tax funnelled to tax havens every year.

The City has become disproportionately dominant over the last 30 years, a period in which the wealth gap in the UK has widened massively, a period in which we have all become massively indebted as real incomes for ordinary people have stagnated. All this should concern the people of North Staffs.

The political classes whether it is Labour or Tory have bent the knee at the City to the detriment of places like Stoke. The withering of our manufacturing sector is largely the consequence of short termism and the pursuit of the quick buck. The security of the manufacturing parts of the British economy depends on long term investment especially in areas such as the Green economy. The financial structures in the EU are more likely to guarantee this long-term investment rather than the drivers in the city based on rapid returns.

It’s extraordinary that Cameron thinks that his priority is to defend the interests of the City regardless of the impact of EU isolationism on the UK manufacturing sector?
Cameron’s stupidity has cheered the swivel-eyed bigots on the Right of his party and his sponsors in the City, but it was not done in the national interest and it will tear the coalition apart. After which it will tear the Tory Party apart and possibly with more pro European Scots ultimately into a breakdown of the Act of Union.

The most momentous foreign policy decision in decades, and one which he and the Europhobes will come to rue in the coming years.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council December Meeting Details

The December meeting of Stoke-on-Trent City Council takes place this Thursday at 5:30pm in the council chamber.

Some interesting public questions for this meeting including ones relating to the offer to tender to run the now close City Farm.

Councillor Paul Breeze has put a motion forward to ask the council to Say No To The Name City Sentral, the motion is seconded by Councillor Lee Wanger

Meeting Agenda

1. Minutes of a previous meeting of the City Council held on 20/10/11
2.Apologies for absence
3.To welcome visitors (if any)
4.To receive official announcements (if any)
5.To transact business of a non-contentious and/or urgent nature specially brought forward by the Lord Mayor or Chairman
6.Declarations of Interest
Members to give notice of any personal or prejudicial interest and the nature of that interest relating to any item on the agenda in accordance with the adopted Code of Conduct.
7.Report of Petitions Received
8.Public Questions
To deal with any public questions received in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 8.
9.Members’ Questions
To consider any questions (notice of which have been given under Council Procedure Rule 9.02)
10.Appointment of City Council Representatives to Serve on School Governing Bodies in the City of Stoke-on-Trent
11.Council Tax Base 2012/13
12.Changes to the Council’s Constitution
13.Safer City Partnership Plan, 2011-2014
14.Local Development Framework – Joint Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Waste Core Strategy 2010-2026
15.Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority – Periodic Report of the Chairman
16.Staffordshire Police Authority – Periodic Report on Police Authority Matters
17.To consider the following Notice of Motion, moved by Councillor Breeze and seconded by Councillor Wanger SAY NO TO THE NAME CITY SENTRAL
18.Minutes of the Cabinet (27/10/11 and 3/11/11)
19.Report of the Chair of the Development Management Committee (26/10/11 and 23/11/11)
20.Minutes of the Audit Committee (10/11/11)
21.Minutes of the Human Resources Committee (4/11/11)
22.Minutes of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee (19/10/2011)
23.Minutes of the Standards Committee (12/10/2011)
24.Minutes of the Adult and Older People’s Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee (3/10/11 and 2/11/11)
25.Minutes of the Business Services and Chief Executive’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (5/10/11 and 16/11/11)
26.Minutes of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (17/10/11 and 9/11/11)
27.Minutes of the City Renewal Overview and Scrutiny Committee (26/10/11)

PFI, Defrauding taxpayers an open letter

Dear Sir,

Having l articles on benefit fraudsters such as Sandra Edwards who defrauded taxpayers of £11,000 is all very well, but there are bigger fish who have cost the exchequer multiples of £11,000.

The national media of the last week has highlighted the huge waste of public money in a number of projects by the Labour Government. In ascending order we had the £500 million wasted on the reorganisation of the national call centres in the fire service. But this is peanuts compared to the £12 billion lost on the national computer scheme for the NHS, the folly of which has been known about for nearly a decade. But top of the heap of malfeasance and waste is the Private Finance Initiative started under the Tories but fully exploited by Gordon Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The cost of new NHS private- financed schemes will stay with future generations of taxpayers up to 2049. Hospitals that would have cost £11 billion under the old Treasury arrangements of financing public projects such as hospitals will now cost £75 billion. An absolute disgrace which dwarfs the £11,000 stolen by Edwards. If Edwards deserves jail what fate should be in store for the politicians and civil servants that sanctioned this grand larceny?

Of course there are other projects funded through PFI including City schools. I hear horror stories of local schools been charged astronomic amounts for even minor repairs or maintenance. The whole PFI sorry saga requires more scrutiny then it has so far generated.

Bill Cawley

6 Towns Radio interviews City Councillors

Burslem based 6 Towns Radio are going to be broadcasting interviews with the 44 City Councillors giving you the chance to hear from the representative of your ward on their plans for the term of their office, the issues they are currently dealing with in your area and any of their ideas and aspirations.

Cllr Andy Platt, was the first one to step in to the studio and you can hear his interview below.

Already lined up for interviews are

  • Cllr. Alan Dutton (Burslem Central) – Friday 9th September @ 12.30pm
  • Cllr. Mark Meredith (Birches Head and Central Forest Park) – Tuesday 13th September @ 1.30pm
  • Cllr. Kath Banks (Hollybush and Longton West) – Tuesday 13th September @ 2.15pm
  • Cllr. Andy Lilley (Baddeley, Milton and Norton) – Tuesday 20th September @ 1.30pm

Each week Tuesdays editions of Talk Of The Towns 1pm to 3pm and Fridays editions of The Mid Morning Show 10am to 1pm will feature live studio chats and interviews with as many of the 44 of the councillors for the area that can be arranged over the coming months.

No New Enterprise Zone For Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire

Despite the Prime Minister, David Cameron saying that the Government would ‘look favourably at any bids from the area for a Local Enterprise Zone’ during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April, this morning Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire woke to the news that it has missed on being granted a Local Enterprise Zone.

After the announcement of 11 Enterprise Zones in March it was announced that a second ‘competitive’ wave would be held in July. The 11 successful locations chosen from 29 applications for this second wave of Local Enterprise Zones announced this morning are

  • Alconbury Airfield in Cambridgeshire
  • Daresbury Science Campus in Runcorn
  • Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent & Enterprise West Essex in Harlow
  • Great Yarmouth in Norfolk & Lowestoft in Suffolk
  • Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster
  • MIRA Technology Park in Hinckley Leicestershire
  • Newquay AeroHub in Cornwall
  • Northampton Waterside
  • Rotherwas Enterprise Zone in Hereford
  • Science Vale UK in Oxfordshire
  • The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus Airfield in Gosport
We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Enterprise Zones are a major step towards delivering this; cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand.

These new Enterprise Zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country.

Too many of our towns and cities have been left behind, but the answer has never been to impose ineffective sprawling regional structures. It is local business and commerce that drive the private sector growth, jobs and wealth this country needs. This Government’s job is to foster local enterprise and create the conditions for businesses to thrive in. That is why low tax, low regulation Enterprise Zones are being planted across the country and will give businesses all the incentives they need to grow their local economy and create thousands of new local jobs.

The Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire Enterprise Zone was to be based at Etruria Valley, with specialised sites at Keele University Science Park and the Hadleigh Business Park at Blythe Bridge.

It was hoped that the LEZ would have delivered up to 115 hectares of prime development land ready to go for business, with capacity to create up to 10,000 jobs by 2015.

The first wave of Enterprise Zones saw

  • Leeds
  • Sheffield
  • Liverpool
  • Greater Manchester
  • West of England
  • Tees Valley
  • North East
  • The Black Country
  • Derbyshire
  • Nottinghamshire
  • London

being given Local Enterprise Zone status.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Stoke-on-Trent in April this year,

You are not missing out on an enterprise zone. There will be an enterprise zone within the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area, and we will be advised by the LEP as to where it will go.

Reaction

The Government Enterprise Zones will be a ‘shot in the arm for the British economy’
We have lost out and have to go it alone regardless of Cameron promising there would be one for this area.

North Staffordshire needs jobs and investment. I supported the LEZ bid as did many others- from the Chamber of Commerce to the voluntary sector and lobbied all government ministers on this.

It had full cross party support including all MPs and Staffs County council all backing the Local Enterprise Partnership’s bid.

This government has abolished the regional development agencies but put nothing adequate in their place. It has gone back on its word for Stoke on Trent.

Eric Pickles says previous Enterprise Zones “set up a load of retail parks” – something which will not be seen with current set.
We are extremely disappointed at this news.

Stoke-on-Trent needs jobs and private investments as we made that clear in our application to Government and our recently announced Mandate for Change. We will endeavour with or without Government help to make Stoke-on-Trent a ‘great working city’ to shout the message on the regional, national and global market we are very much open for business.

Of course this is a huge blow for us but we are determined to succeed.

We will be urgently asking for more details and feedback on this decision and exploring if there are any further opportunities for future Enterprize Zones or any other similar Government initiatives.

However the Enterprize Zone on its own was never going to be the solution. We need investment and expansion from the private sector and we are working hard to make this happen.

So Cameron lied. We’ll just have to work harder 2 bring new business to Nth Staffs despite no EZ. SoT has great assets to promote
Everyone in North Staffordshire will be disappointed and somewhat astonished this morning to find that the promises of the Prime Minister just before the local elections have been abandoned; we are not getting the promised Enterprise Zone. It is all the more frustrating that this announcement has been made while Parliament is in recess and so I must wait a couple more weeks before I can try to question the Prime Minister on his reasons for this u-turn. Given his usual form, I don’t expect any sort of proper answer from Cameron.

While this is indeed a setback I know that our city and North Staffs have so much to offer businesses, from land and building availability to a fantastic workforce, with excellent road, rail, and air links into the bargain. I will continue to work with the City Council to approach potential businesses and of course support the Local Enterprise Partnership and North Staffs Chamber of Commerce in all our efforts to promote Stoke-on-Trent as the best place to come to set up businesses.

I am writing to the Business Secretary to see what other support government will make available but I think the message is a clear one – we must stand and fight alone, without the Tory-led government’s help. That means we must all now focus our efforts on singing the praises of Stoke-on-Trent and not allow anyone to talk down the area and those working to promote it.

We have a fight ahead but working together we can win and see North Staffordshire prosper.

Rob Flello MP

It is of course a huge disappointment that the government has let down Stoke on Trent. Despite the promises of manufacturing-led regeneration, David Cameron has decided to turn his back on one of the great industrial centres of Britain.

I was sceptical of the LEP going for a three site bid when the application would have been better focussed simply on the Etruria site.

This round looked like a party political fix, rather than a clear enterprise zone priority.

That said, when parliament reconvenes, together with the other Stoke-on-Trent MPs, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with Vince Cable to understand their decision making process.

It really is beyond ridiculous to prioritise Oxfordshire and Hampshire above Stoke-on-Trent. But Stoke-on-Trent is bigger than this: we must create our own enterprise zone in the Etruria valley.

Bashing the Bishop ““ But was the “ËœArch’ Right

I have loved the continuous coverage of the war of words between the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the Prime Minister David Cameron ably supported by a legion of right wing press reporters and bloggers. It’s true to say that there has been a fair amount of bishop bashing today.

Some say that religion is the cause of many a conflict, this one was started by an article the Archbishop wrote for the left leaning New Statesman magazine.

In it he questions the Conservative, Liberal Democrat coalition government, saying quite rightly, that no individuals voted for the policies that have been adopted.

Dr Williams wrote that the coalition was causing “Ëœwidespread suspicion’ and was creating “Ëœanxiety and anger’ in the country by introducing reforms without sufficient debate.

He accused the coalition of imposing their health and education policies at “Ëœremarkable speed’.

I don’t think anyone who has read the article can be in any doubt that the Archbishop has little time for David Cameron & Nick Cleggs policies and is perhaps a little left leaning in his political outlook.

Not since Robert Runcie’s numerous sparring contests with Margret Thatcher has an Archbishop dived head first into the politics of the country.

When you look back in history, there is a long tradition of the church commenting on political issues. Indeed some Archbishops have played key roles in not just politics but the monarchy before parliament was formed.

But in a modern day society, should the head of the Church of England be wading into party politics criticising the government of the day.

Leaders of minority religions aren’t afraid of speaking out. Muslim leaders are often in the news giving their opinions on a wide range of topics, so for me it was good to see the leader of the Church of England give his two penneth.

I was heartened by David Cameron’s response though, the dummy didn’t fly out, he came back with exactly the right comments when he said that the archbishop was entirely free to express “political views” and make “political interventions”. But he added: “I profoundly disagree with many of the views that he has expressed, particularly on issues like debt and welfare and education.”

Whether we agree with his point of view, or like David Cameron, profoundly disagree with it, there has been a precedent set now so I expect it will not be the last time Dr Williams speaks out and criticises the government of the day.

Other CofE leaders have leapt to the defence in the wake of today’s [Friday] public Bishop bashing.

The Bishop of Guildford said Dr Williams’s comments were “Ëœentirely reasonable’ – he said: “Government cannot at any stage simply abrogate its responsibility. One of the prime, core functions of government is the care of all in society, especially those at the bottom.”

I think the tone of the Archbishop’s article took government ministers by surprise. They have responded to Dr Williams’s comments with Liam Fox and Vince Cable defending the claims that the government do not have a mandate to impose sever austerity measures.

I also think that Dr Williams, as a left wing sympathiser, is struggling with the concept that the Lib Dem’s went into the last general election even further to the left than the Labour Party and then jumped into bed with a party way to the right of the Labour Party.

Mind you, they say that opposites attract don’t they?

I admit to being quite surprised by the Archbishops political intervention.

When he has made a speech I’ve always thought that he was a bit wishy washy and as assertive as a field mouse.

He has hardly set the world alight with his insights into the moral’s of a modern day society.

In a society where there is often a breakdown in family values, communities that are blighted by anti-social behaviour and a monumental surge toward materialism, I can’t remember seeing one single hard hitting interview either broadcast or written where he has spoken out on the challenges that meet a progressive society.

He saved his biggest and harshest dig at the “ËœBig Society’ and yet if done correctly, this could restore some of the values that have been lost over recent generations. I think we could do with some of the good old fashioned “ËœDunkirk Spirit’ in a nation that is being ravaged by cuts and many normal Joe and Joanne’s are being left jobless. And a culture shift where the public sector is being disseminated like a game of Jenga.

It looks like politics could be his new game. Maybe he has given up the traditional role as being our moral compass?

So, in summary, I’m saying to Dr Williams yes get involved in the political scene. Represent the views of your flock, be the voice of those that are the most vulnerable in our society, here I do believe that there is a cross over between religion and the state.

But have a go at putting your own house in order first eh? The Church of England is still stuck in the dark ages. There is a bloody battle being fought in an organisation that is institutional sexist, women are fighting for equality. And where gay people are afraid to declare their sexuality.

Churches are losing their flocks in large numbers. The only churches that are booming are those with an ethos like the Breathe City Church here in Stoke-on-Trent.

They are supporting, helping and fixing communities. They are inclusive of gender and sexual orientation. They have progressive and moral leaders. Their numbers are shooting through the roof mostly at the expense of the traditional churches.

So you have a bit of a job on there Dr Williams, there is work to be done in your own palaces, cathedrals and churches before you march upon Westminster.

Labour Landslide In Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent is waking to to a very different political landscape this morning, the morning after the night Labour swept through the new slimmed down chamber taking 34 of the 44 available seats.

As well as the increased majority in the Labour camp we are in a city that is now only represented by 4 of the 10 different parties that stood.

The chamber as elected last night looks like:

Labour 34
Independent 7
Conservative 2
Unaffiliated 1

Gone are the BNP, in a city that was quoted by party chairman Nick Griffin as being the ‘Jewel In The BNPs Crown’ in 2010, we have seen their presence reduced from nine councillors before the May 2010 elections where they were reduced to 5, down to no councillors in last nights count. Michael Coleman the BNP Leader in Stoke-on-Trent had said in an interview with Pits n Pots earlier in the night that he wasn’t confident.

Community Voice, are also gone, taking with them the characters of Peter Kent-Baguley Mick Salih & Mike Barnes all of whom added some colour and interest to the full council meetings. Former BNP councillor Ellie Walker who moved to Community Voice after leaving the BNP in 2010 also lost her seat in Abbey Hulton & Townsend

The Liberal Democrats who fielded only 8.73% of the total vote are also gone taking the ever cheerful Kieran Clarke out of the chamber.

Other casualties are Conservative Group Leader Ross Irving, Hazel Lyth & John Daniels. Mark Wright who was voted in only last year also lost his seat.

Brian Ward the leader of the Independent Group also lost his seat in Blurton West & Newstead

We will be bringing you reaction and interviews from across the winners and losers during the day today.

You can read the archive of our Election Live Blog Here

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.