Stoke-on-Trent Councillors Back Plans To Scrap NSRP

Stoke-on-Trent City Councillors today [Thursday] backed plans to scrap the controversial NSRP, putting hundreds of jobs at risk in the City.

At a meeting of the Full Council, elected members backed plans to form a new Local Enterprise Partnership [LEP] with neighbours Staffordshire County Council.

Councillors also voiced concern about historical problems between the County Council and the City when trying to get Stoke-on-Trent’s fair share of any joint funded venture.

Four proposals had been put before the council including the option to stay in the current NSRP.

The other options were to operate independently and to form a new LEP between North Staffordshire & Cheshire East.

The latter seemed nothing more than a pipe dream as Cheshire East has recently opted to form a LEP with Warrington.

Council Leader Mohammed Pervez [Labour] urged the council to back the plans to work in partnership with Staffordshire.

The government have set a side a fund of just £1billion for which all LEP’s will compete for.

Deputy Council Leader Ross Irving [Conservative & Independent Alliance] said that the Staffordshire option ‘was the only game in town’. He called for the leader of the new LEP to be led by an independent non political chair, preferably for the private sector.

Cllr Mick Salih [Community Voice] reminded the meeting that the City Council were probably the biggest employer in the area and any partnership would have to serve the needs of the whole of the city and it’s workforce. He asked for the future emphasis of the new LEP to focus on bringing manufacturing jobs to the city. He wanted more skilled jobs and apprenticeships. He called for an new open and transparent process in selecting the chair of the new LEP and insisted that it should not be a case of a short list of one. He said he would be supporting the new partnership arrangement with Staffordshire.

The new LEP proposals were also backed in speeches by Cllrs Peter Kent-Baguley, Knapper, Lyth, Reynolds and Brown

Cllr Mike Barnes said that he would support the new LEP with Staffordshire. He said that current situation reminded him of the 1997 Labour Party Election song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ He said that he had every confidence that the CEO John van de Laarschot to get the best deal for Stoke-on-Trent, but he did not have confidence in the Council Leader Mohammed Pervez who ‘might be too busy’. He teased Pervez that perhaps he would be best served leaving it to other members.

Pervez responded by saying that he was pleased that Cllr Barnes had confidence in the CEO and that he would have been very surprised if he had confidence in him as Council Leader. He urged Cllr Barnes not to worry because all councillors in the chamber knew that they were very different individuals and that he was very grateful for that!

Pervez thanks the Elected Members for their supportive comments on this issue. He said he would ensure that all councillors were kept fully up to date with developments. He said he was committed to Stoke-on-Trent City Council getting the very best possible for all the communities in our city and he understood that Staffordshire County Council doing the same.

The motion to support entering into talks with Stafforshire County Council about forming a new LEP was carried.

Just one councillor, Gavin Webb, voted against the motion because he felt that there was just too much regulation on businesses and that society should push for a free market free from regulation.

Cllr Webb urged for more to be done for small business enterprises who would he believed never benefited from projects like LEP’s.

Council Breaking News!

We have been getting information from our sources at Civic Centre saying that there are some councillors on the move.

Labour Group

We have been getting reports that Councillor Joy Garner has resigned from her position in the cabinet with immediate effect and rejoined the Labour Party.

We have also been told that there are rumours that Councillor Joan Bell is set to rejoin the party ahead of the Friday deadline set by the Labour Group for members to rejoin or face expulsion.

UPDATE:

We can now confirm that both Cllr Joy Garner has resigned from the cabinet & along with Cllr Joan Bell has rejoined the Labour Group.

Both had until Friday as per the instructions from the Labour Party national executive.

Mike Barnes, Labour Group Leader said: “The Labour Group is pleased that Joan has agreed with the NEC request”

Speaking in today’s Sentinel, Joy Garner said: “I have decided to re-register as a member of the Labour group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, as instructed by my party.

“It was a difficult decision for me to leave the Labour group, and it has been equally hard to decide to rejoin. However, I believe that, in the long term, it is far better to be a member of a group rather than a single individual who can achieve little.”

Council Leader Ross Irving said: “It’s regrettable that Joy has made this decision, but I feel she was put in a difficult position by her party.

“I understand Joy’s long relationship with the Labour group and her decision to rejoin the party, but I am sad to lose her from the cabinet. Joy was very good at the job she did.”

He added that he would hold talks in the next few days to decide whether to replace Mrs Garner or transfer her duties to another cabinet member.

He said: “There may be an opportunity to do some re-jigging of that portfolio so that we can run with one less member.”

Conservative & Independent Alliance

We have been told that at tonight’s meeting of the Conservative & Independent Alliance group, the 4 independent councillors are going to leave the group and stand on their own. This will have a significant impact on Ross Irving as both leader of the group and the Council.

UPDATE:

The threat of a split has been temporarily removed.

Discussions are thought to be on going and a final decision expected within days.

We will keep you informed.

Exclusive: Council Leader & Opposition Leader Speak Out!

Audio Interviews Now Online!

By Tony Walley & Mike Rawlins.

The two men were in attendance at the Civic Centre today.

Both looking tanned and ready for action, both with the interests of the City at heart, but both going in different directions.

Ross Irving - Conservative & Independent Alliance Leader.

Ross Irving - Council Leader

Council Leader Ross Irving is just back from a conference in Portugal on Healthy Cities. He gives us his reaction on the formulation of his first cabinet and his vision for the coming months. He also clears up some of the rumours that are doing the rounds.

[audio:http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0609/ross-irving-23-06.MP3]

New Council Leader Mike Barnes

Council Opposition Leader Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is just back from a family holiday in the Greek Isles. He looks refreshed and ready for action. He talks about loosing three prominent members of his group and how his group will get to grips with being the official opposition on the City Council. He also talks about his plans to re-engage with the electorate and to oust the BNP from traditional areas of Labour support.

[audio:http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0609/mike-barnes-23-06.MP3]

We would like to thank Ross & Mike for taking the time out of their busy schedules to speak to us today.

EXTRA, EXTRA! – ROGER IBBS LATEST!

breaking-news1

ibbs1 Pits’n’Pots has just received the following breaking news:

Roger Ibbs has today stepped down as Leader of The Conservative and Independent Alliance Group on the City Council until the matter now in the public domain is resolved.

It is expected the Ross Irving will step up to lead the Conservative and Independent Alliance.

There had been calls for his suspension from office from Independent councillor Terry Follows who has been in conflict with Mr Ibbs over the future of Trentham High School and from Councillor Mike Coleman, BNP.

UPDATED 15.00PM: Roger Ibbs has taken the decision to step down as Portfolio Holder for Children & Young People Services. Elected Mayor Mark Meredith is to take over this Portfolio and will oversee the controversial BSF process.