Stoke-on-Trent City Council Budget for 2012 -2013 Announced

The budget proposals unveiled yesterday by Stoke-on-Trent City Council will inject £5m into areas including boosting private sector job creation and kick-starting the local economy.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Mohammed Pervez has outlined the bold proposals in the face of stern government-imposed spending cuts. As part of the authority’s Mandate for Change the top priority is to create a great working city, to make Stoke-on-Trent the place to bring business. The council’s cabinet is implementing a raft of measures that will provide a ‘red carpet’ treatment to new businesses, improving key infrastructure links and boosting what the city has to offer. The measures come as the authority has announced it needs to find savings totalling £24m for the year 2012-13.

Councillor Pervez said

 

We are committed to our Mandate for Change to make our city a great place to live and bring business. But the government’s stance is forcing the way we have to make budget cuts. The government-imposed spending restrictions for the last two years have been the fiercest ever endured by this authority. Last year we were faced with making £36m worth of cuts, and this year we are faced with another huge task just to balance the books.

 

The way the government is imposing spending restrictions means we are no longer going to be able to sustain or create the same level of public sector jobs. Therefore it is crucial that the private sector can stimulate growth and has the ability to do this.

Our ambitious capital programme, such as the £250m Building Schools for the Future scheme, is giving the private sector confidence that we can deliver, and confidence for them to invest in Stoke-on-Trent.

Government-imposed cuts will next year reduce the council’s budget by £8m. On top of this, unavoidable costs such as inflation, legally-required staff increments, procurement and the payback for capital projects will total around £11m. This means the council needs to find £19m just to stand still.

But the council’s cabinet is proposing to invest an extra £5m in areas that will drive the city forward, redesigning the council for growth.

Key investment proposals in the budget will

  • Enable the construction of new access links to further open up Etruria Valley for expansion.
  • Provide small grants to give a facelift to independent retailers’ shop fronts in the city centre.
  • Complete the design of the city centre ring road.
  • Improve the appearance of the area in front of Stoke Station.
  • Help reduce traffic congestion by investing in the current signal network and additional bus priority systems.
  • Launch new business support packages to help new and growing local businesses.
  • Increase the number of foster carers in the city.
  • Provide training for children and young people with special educational needs to travel independently across the city.
  • Launch a range of city-wide events and festivals to increase the number of visitors into the city.
  • Bring forward proposals to secure the development of a comprehensive Cultural Quarter and city centre hotel.
  • Hold a housing self-build competition to encourage diverse and high quality residential developments.
  • Focus on getting tough on fraudulent activity, especially benefit and tenancy fraud.

During 2011/12, the city centre bus station will be completed, and site preparation and clearance for the £350m City Sentral leisure and retail development will take place. The council will improve day opportunities for adults with complex learning difficulties through a million pound redevelopment of Newstead Day Centre. The authority will also look to dispose of a number of buildings to support its investment programme.

 

Councillor Pervez said

 

In some parts of our city there is a culture of dependence, and we have to lift our residents out of this. If we can stimulate the economy and help the private sector to create jobs, they will have the means to have money in their pocket and not rely on the state. This will mean the council will then be able to focus on helping the most vulnerable.

 

I believe in being open and transparent, and the budget proposals are just that. Some of them are difficult and are extremely tough decisions to propose. We could simply cut and cut every year, or we could sit on our hands and do nothing. But both would be reckless and shirking our responsibilities. We are a responsible council, and take our responsibility to manage services and taxpayers’ money seriously. We need to save to invest and that is what these budget proposals are designed to do.

 

These are tough decisions to take, but we want to ensure that in making them we fully consider the views of local residents. That is why we are now embarking on a wide-ranging consultation process, and I urge as many people as possible to tell us their opinions. The proposals that we have put forward are just that – proposals. We need local people to contribute their views to help shape the decisions we make.

 

Details of the budget proposals can be found online at the link below. 

 

The council’s budget consultation will run until 23 December. Details of a consultation roadshow, where cabinet members and officers will be able to meet residents and explain the budget proposals, will be revealed later this week. Residents can give their feedback on the proposals by emailing budget2012@stoke.gov.uk.

 

Paul Breeze Nomination For Council Leader – The Speech

At the Annual Council Meeting on 26 May, newly elected unaffiliated councillor, Paul Breeze nominated himself for the role of council leader against Councillor Mohammed Pervez.

Paul has sent Pits n Pots the text of his speech for us to publish and comment on.

It took a hell of a lot of courage for me to stand up totally alone in that chamber and deliver this speech. I knew the risk I was taking to my own morale, confidence and credibility, but I am proud that I did it.

I think that the many points I raised (who do we blame for the state of our country and our city; are we one city or a federation of towns; are Labour more interested in their political party or our city; is Mr Pervez the right man to take us forward?) are significant for the future of out city and worthy of serious discussion.

Thank you, Lord Mayor.

Congratulations.

I’m not naïve, stupid or mad. This is no gimmick. I’m absolutely serious in nominating myself for Leader of the City Council for good, rational, practical reasons.
But we all know what’s going to happen at the end of this.

But that’s not going to stop me putting my case.

Labour have a majority in this council, 34 out of 44.

Even if my friend Cllr Dave Conway thinks One Man and God make a majority. Unfortunately, for me, an Atheist, one man and an imaginary friend don’t make a majority. Even with his 6 colleagues and their imaginary friends that would make Cllr Conway and 12 disciples. It won’t do it.

And even if the Conservatives included their imaginary friends “¦

“They’d only score from a call in.”

So Labour have a majority in this chamber.

But they DON’T have a majority OUT THERE. Not across the streets, the neighbourhoods and all the wards we’re privileged to represent.

The MAJORITY did NOT vote Labour. Labour should bear that in mind every single second, with respect and humility.

But already I’m disappointed by the tone set by Labour.

I regard Cllr Pervez as a friend, Mark Meredith, Paul Shotton, Tom Reynolds and many others. I’ve worked closely with them. But that friendship does not preclude severe criticism.
Their disingenuousness in certain areas does not impress.

44 councillors: All equally elected through the same process. Yet you’d think there were only 10 councillors of importance.

Labour have a massive opportunity to rise in graciousness and include ALL sections of council members. They were part of a Coalition last year working well. Now they have chosen to disregard the rest. They have the ten most talented people in the council? NO. They’ve chosen out of 34 not 44.
Also, Labour apportions NO BLAME to themselves for the state of the city or the country. They blame the Tory-LibDem coalition for everything, locally, nationally, past and present. Is that what we can expect now?

Have they forgotten? Up to twelve months ago we had 13 YEARS OF A LABOUR GOVERNMENT with a MASSIVE majority; THREE Labour MPs in Stoke-on-Trent since time immemorial, DECADES of Labour council complacency and wasteful spending. Thirteen years. 3 local Labour MPs, a Labour government in power, a brilliant opportunity: Stoke-on-Trent a special case. They FAILED – with their OWN government.

And now Labour plea “Ëœspecial case’ to the national ConservativeLibDem coalition whilst blaming them for everything in creation. Do they seriously believe that is going to wash with this government? It doesn’t even wash with the majority of people in this city, never mind anywhere else.
So, I’m putting myself forward to balance things up, reflect the real diversity across our city; make a realistic case for progress WITHIN this council, FOR this city and TO this government.

My cabinet would comprise:
* ONE member of the Independent group, of their choice

* ONE Conservative: Jack Brereton, 19 years old, our youngest ever city councillor, to become our youngest ever cabinet member. Ability, courage and maturity beyond his years, with all the support he needed. Imagine the signal that would send to aspiring young people across our city and beyond.
* ALL the other cabinet posts to Labour, of their choice.

* For a deputy, I would accept WHOEVER Labour chose from amongst themselves.

We would be a WIN-WIN situation city council, taking a radically different INCLUSIVE approach to address the REAL NEEDS of OUR CITY.

This Government would absolutely sit up and take notice. No longer: short-sighted, narrow-minded, mean-spirited, backward-looking, basket-case back to same old Labour. We would absolutely get attention from Westminster.

So I ask Labour members: What comes first ““ OUR city, or THEIR party?

If I was Leader, I’d lead with ONE VISION and STICK TO IT

That ONE VISION would be “¦
* FAR-SIGHTED ““ create ONE CITY. Not a federation of towns spread so thin hardly anyone benefits. Concentrate on ONE IDENTIFIABLE CITY CENTRE. That does not mean losing our heritage, but encompassing it.

* BROAD-MINDED ““ listen to all progressive views and ideas, from wherever they come, inside or outside the council, whatever political or non-political source.

* GENEROUS-SPIRITED ““ engaging all elected members and all communities; but totally rejecting any attempt to undermine progress without credible alternative

* FORWARD-LOOKING – pits, mass pottery production, Iron and Steel – Gone. “ËœGood old days’, miners’ strike, save our steel, bad old Margaret Thatcher, pointless; GONE. A NEW ERA: Our heritage won’t die. It’s here forever. But we MOVE FORWARD. Concentrate on the FUTURE

* COURAGEOUS ““ face economic challenge HEAD ON, determined, compassionate, but with UTTER REALISM. Face residents, and TELL THE TRUTH. We can’t be all things to all people. We have SEVERE CHOICES. You want this, you lose that. You want money into this, gets taken out of that. We’re all in this together. And in the spirit of equity, I would suggest all council officers above £80,000 a year ““ a massive salary by anyone’s standards – volunteer to take a 10% pay cut. And our residents would see their own austerity shared by those far better off.

But we know what’s going to happen ““ unless a miracle occurs. But I ask every councillor to consider what I’m saying, and vote as an individual; not blind loyalty to a party or group.

I want OUR CITY to SHINE. SHINE as a true, lean, modern beacon of efficiency, fairness, inclusiveness, innovation, and progress. Get through these dire times with HOPE and EXPECTATION.

Let that shining light lead to attracting POSITIVE ATTENTION from GOVERNMENT, bringing employers, businesses, jobs, students, visitors, creativity, aspiration, and inspiration.
Let that light SHINE SO BRIGHT that not just Staffordshire, the Midlands, and Westminster see it, but the WHOLE of the United Kingdom, Europe and the WORLD.
Say it LOUD AND PROUD – STOKE-ON-TRENT, OUR CITY

We have the POTENTIAL; TRULY TALENTED PEOPLE; the NEXT GENERATION coming up. We have the OPPORTUNITY. With the WILL, we can GET IT RIGHT. 4 years to turn things round; It’s OUR CHANCE.

Let’s enter this NEW ERA with a RADICAL NEW OUTLOOK.

FORGET PARTY POLITICS
LET OUR CITY SHINE.
Let it SHINE BRIGHTER than it has EVER SHONE BEFORE.

Lord Mayor, I’m nominating myself for Leader of this City Council.

Thank you.

Pervez Elected Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council but only after a Breezy Challenge

Labour Group Leader Mohammed Pervez was elected Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council today [Thursday], but only after a challenge by Unaffiliated Councillor Paul Breeze.

In an unexpected move, Cllr Breeze decided to nominate himself as Council Leader and offered the Labour Group 8 cabinet places.

He also offered the City Independents one place and challenged the council chamber to take the opportunity of making newly elected Conservative councillor 19 year old Jack Brereton the youngest ever cabinet member.

In a passionate address Cllr Breeze reminded the Labour Group that whilst they have a large majority in the council chamber, they were not the choice of the vast majority of the citizens of the City.

He told Labour Leader Mohammed Pervez that it was unacceptable to keep claiming that the state of the city is down to the cuts handed out by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government. He reminded the City Council meeting that the country had had 13 years of a Labour Government until May 2010 and the City of Stoke-on-Trent had had many years of Labour domination.

He predicted that, with the size of the Labour majority, his challenge would be futile but he said that someone had to offer an alternative view for the city.

His challenge was heavily defeated with just one vote for Cllr Breeze and two abstentions [Conservatives].

Cllr Pervez refused to respond to Cllr Breeze’s challenge and instead went on to inform the meeting that he was confident that Labour would be able to achieve all of their objectives having received a clear mandate from the public.

He announced his Labour cabinet and said that he was confident that his team would be able to deliver the services and amenities needed despite the savage Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government cuts.

Pervez thanked members of the previous council coalition partners including Brian Ward the former leader of the City Independents and Kieran Clarke the former leader of the Liberal Democrats.

He paid a special tribute to the former Conservative Leader Ross Irving who had served as deputy council leader last year. He said that Ross Irving was a man of integrity who had served the city with distinction over the past 4 decades and was universally respected by all sides of the chamber.

Cllr Pervez warned the chamber that there were hard times ahead with the need to cut around £20million in the next financial year. He reaffirmed his commitment to listen and to engage with the public and to protect the services that were needed most.

Pervez paid tribute to the officers of the council and he informed the meeting that through the work they had carried they had increased efficiency and reduced directorates. A move which he maintains has saved £7.6miilion alone.

He warned the councillors that he would not stand for infighting from his own benches and that he had no time for negative attitudes and councillors from all sides of the chamber who talk the council down.

He said that he wanted to make Stoke-on-Trent the best place to live.

Listen to this exclusive audio interview with Cllr Paul Breeze below who could well prove to be the voice of the Stoke-on-Trent residents over the next four years.

S.O.C.C’s Alan Lear Hits out at the Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Alan Lear of the S.O.C.C campaign updates Pits n Pots readers with the latest news on the fight to stop the City Council decimating the Children’s Centres budget by 30% [£2.25million]

In a recent Pits n Pots interview Councillor Mohammed Pervez said that he would:

“Give that guarantee to be there for the people and anyone that wants to see me.”

“Because there was not much of a united opposition he would be outward looking as a consequence and I will be making sure that my cabinet members and labour councillors continue to engage and listen to the residents and we will take on board their views as far as possible.”

He also said:

“It’s important that they way we make decisions, we do it in collaboration with our residents, and making sure that we listen to the residents, so working in isolation from the residents is not something that I’m going to entertain. I want our residents to feel involved and it is going to be difficult and we do have to make difficult decisions, but we won’t do it alone. We will work collaboratively with residents.”

” I want the services provided by the Children’s Centres to be distributed in a fair way across the city so people, particularly the most vulnerable have access to those services and the Children’s Centres continue to provide a good level of service to the people most in need.”

With regard to his last statement I draw your attention to the following as what he says is incorrect.

Local authorities are required by the Act to make “Ëœsufficient provision’ of children’s centres to meet local need. They are therefore the lead commissioner working with their Children’s Trust partners. The Act makes clear that “Ëœlocal need’ refers to the need of parents, prospective parents and young children (under the age of five) in the local area. (Not across the city)

Determining what is sufficient provision is a decision for local authorities to take, and the Government expects this to be taken in full consultation with Primary Care Trusts and Jobcentre Plus, other Children’s Trust partners and local families and communities. Local authorities should ensure that universal access to children’s centres is achieved, with children’s centres configured to meet the needs of local families especially the most deprived. Local authorities should be able to demonstrate through their performance management arrangements and review processes that all children and families can be reached effectively.

In undertaking such consideration, local authorities should be guided by demographic factors and demonstrate an understanding of the different communities ““ both geographically and socio-economically ““ children’s centres will serve. Local authorities should also take into account views of local families and communities in deciding what is sufficient children’s centre provision.

Now you can make a judgement on his other statements!

We promised to give you the feedback on our monitoring
exercise in relation to councillor responses to our request to attend our recent meeting in Hanley on 18th May:


Sarah Hill ““ Cllr/Cabinet member ““ RELIED & ATTENDED
Andy Lilley ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED & ATTENDED
Duncan Walker ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED & ATTENDED
Paul Shotton ““ Cllr/Deputy Council Leader ““ REPLIED
Janine Bridges ““ Cllr/Cabinet Member ““ REPLIED
Adrian Knapper ““ Cllr/Cabinet member ““ REPLIED
Ruth Rosenau ““ Cllr/Cabinet Member ““ REPLIED
Karen Clarke ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED
Alan Dutton ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED
Matt Fry ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED
Martin Garner ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED NON ““ ATTENDANCE DUE TO ILLNESS
Sheila Pitt ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED
Andy Platt ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED (2 DAYS AFTER EVENT)
Tom Reynolds ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED
Alison Wedgwood ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED (PLANNING SURGERIES WITH TRISTRAM HUNT MP AT THE TREEHOUSE )

Peter Hayward ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED
Glenys Ward ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED

Jack Brereton ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED
Abi Brown ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED

Paul Breeze ““ Councillor ““ REPLIED

Shame on the following elected representatives ““ we ask does “Ëœevery child matter’ to them?


Mohammed Pervez ““ Cllr/Council Leader ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Debra Gratton ““ Cllr/Cabinet Member for C&YPS ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Mark Meredith ““ Cllr/Cabinet Member ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Olwen Hamer ““ Cllr/Cabinet Member ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Gwen Hassall ““ Cllr/Cabinet Member ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Bagh Ali ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Muhammad Aumir ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Kath Banks ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Terry Crowe ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Neil Day ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Joy Garner ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Shazad Hussain ““ Councillor ““ Did NOT RESPOND
Gurmeet Singh Kallar ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Majid Khan ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Shaun Pender ““ Councillor – DID NOT RESPOND
Alistair Watson ““ Councillor – DID NOT RESPOND
Amjid Wazir ““ Councillor – DID NOT RESPOND
Matt Wilcox ““ Councillor – DID NOT RESPOND

Randy Conteh ““ Councillor ““ DID NOT RESPOND REPORTED ILL
Dave Conway ““ Cllr/Leader CIG ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Terry Follows ““ Cllr/Lord Mayor Elect ““ DID NOT RESPOND
Ann James ““ Cllr/Dep CIG Leader

Cllr Debbie Wheeldon could not be contacted due to her council email address not working.

Cllr Lee Wanger was not contacted by S.O.C.C.

S.O.C.C are committed to holding the City Council to account regarding their plans for the City’s Children Centres and we will continue to seek a resolution through negotiation.

We appeal to the Leader of the City Council to meet with us in a bid to finding a suitable outcome for both the City Council and our city’s fantastic Children’s Centres.
We are committed to a “ËœConversation B4 Confrontation’ ethos.

Stoke-on-Trent Chosen to Host Olympic Torch

Interest in the London 2012 Olympic games was ignited this morning by the announcement that Stoke-on-Trent is to be one of the 66 chosen to host the Olympic Torch.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has said that it is thrilled and honoured to confirm it has the privilege to host an Evening Celebration event as part of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay on 30th May 2012.

This amazing evening event to welcome the Olympic Flame is the ideal opportunity for the city to shine on the national and international stage, to demonstrate what is special and unique about Stoke-on-Trent. We are a creative city and our celebrations to welcome the Flame will reflect this. The council will work with all; communities, schools, businesses and visitors in our city to showcase our strong heritage in the most spectacular evening event ever in living memory.

The evening events will offer thousands of people the opportunity to come together and get involved in celebrations and share in the Olympic spirit. As part of the events, London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Presenting Partners, Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung, will stage exciting entertainment shows where a cauldron will be lit from the Olympic Flame, marking the end of the day’s proceedings.

The Olympic Flame will arrive in the UK from Greece on Friday 18 May 2012 and the 70 day Torch Relay will start at Land’s End, Cornwall on the morning of the 19 May 2012. On leaving Land’s End, the Olympic Flame is expected to travel an estimated 8,000 miles across the UK, giving thousands of communities and individuals their moment to shine as the Olympic Flame comes to their doorstep. The Olympic Flame will arrive at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Council leader Mohammed Pervez confirmed that LOCOG will meet the majority of the cost of staging the event. The City Council’s contribution will be the event management, traffic management and crowd safety.

The London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer nomination programme launches today at 11am. Together with the three Presenting Partners ““ Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung, LOCOG is seeking 8,000 of the most inspirational people to have their moment to shine next summer by carrying the Olympic Flame. Full details of the LOCOG Torchbearer programme and how to nominate potential Torchbearers will be released from 11am today.

Earlier this morning we recorded this audio interview with Council Leader Mohammed Pervez. [LISTEN BELOW]

Audio Interviews with Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Newly Appointed Cabinet

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Mohammed Pervez has to day named the Labour Group Councillors who are to serve on his cabinet.

The cabinet line up is as follows:

* Councillor Paul Shotton, deputy council leader and cabinet member for resources;

* Councillor Sarah Hill, cabinet member for finance;

* Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development;

* Councillor Adrian Knapper, cabinet member for planning & transportation;

* Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration;

* Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for city services;

* Councillor Gwen Hassall, cabinet member for housing & neighbourhoods;

* Councillor Olwen Hamer, cabinet member for adult social care, health & commissioning; and

* Councillor Debra Gratton, cabinet member for children’s services and life skills.

We are pleased to bring you audio interviews with Pervez, Sarah Hill, Mark Meredith and Adrian Knapper.

We will bring you more audio interviews with the cabinet members in the weeks to come.

” Well this might surprise you all – Well done Pervez.

“This seems like a good start with a clever balance of maintaining experience with new and competent faces, as well as a mix of left and not so left.

“Having a single strong group in the driving seat especially for four years does hold out some potential for sustained and clear direction.

“Key to this, firstly, will be how quickly the new political regime builds up its confidence, no longer shackled by the unpredictable coalition. No more worrying about how or if something will go through the full council.

“Secondly will be how the Labour Party in the City responds to the opportunities now open to them, for example developing a strong broad policy to direct the officers and the council over the next four years. This will be the test for the structures put in place during the more uncertain times within the Labour Party itself.

“There are many challenges to come, but despite our political differences, I know many of the new councillors and know that there is some talent there now in depth.
Give them all a chance – be more confident – take political control back from the officers – deliver.

Good Luck”.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox 16/05/2011

As the red & white half of Stoke-on-Trent comes to terms with their loss in the FA Cup final the political potteries is as flat as boring nil nil draw.

It’s a bit like “Ëœafter the Lord Mayors show post election.

To Speak or Not To Speak

The only sexy story was the attempt at gagging our new crop of councillors with a “Ëœmedia protocol’ that circumnavigated democracy.

The document that was slipped in the new councillors pack was tantamount to a biblical commandment ““ “ËœYou shall not criticise the council, its officers or the executive ““ no matter the size of the monumental cock up or who was responsible!’

More worrying for me was the fact that there were councillors who were queuing up to sign this attack on freedom of speech.

One of them was Paul Breeze, a man who I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He works tirelessly for his community and he has taken a principled stance in not aligning himself with any group in the council chamber.

Paul was quick enough to remind us that he is a free spirit, but his complicity in this matter showed that whilst he is his own man in the political sense he was all too ready to do his masters bidding and put officers before the representation of the people that elected him.

The “Ëœgagging order’ has received a fair amount of political commentary and rightly so. But so far the facts of the matter have been inaccurately reported.

It has been alleged that the individuals responsible for this have been the press and communications team, Mohammed
Pervez and CEO John van de Laarschot.

My information leads me to believe that it was actually Pervez who suggested that the protocol be withdrawn from the councillors’ pack when he read it the weekend before declarations were taken and was unaware of its contents beforehand.

Sources have indicated to me that it was in fact Members Services who directed that this protocol be drawn up and the press team were directed to draft it up.

The bit that is shrouded in uncertainty is how much involvement CEO John van de Laarschot had in the issue.

Who Will Be The Trophies on The Cabinet

Now that it has been confirmed that Pervez will be Council Leader with Paul Shotton as his Deputy Council Leader, the labour Group will tonight [Monday] decide who will make up the remaining 8 places on this the first totally Labour cabinet.

Now I’ve followed the scene in the political Potteries for years and, as all good commentators should, I will make my predictions as follows.

The 8 cabinet places will go to, in no particular order:
Mark Meredith, Tom Reynolds, Sarah Hill, Debra Gratton, Olwyn Hamer, Ruth Rosenau, Janine Bridges and either Bagh Ali or Adrian Knapper.

My guess is that the cabinet will reflect the Labour Party desire to have a 50/50 men/woman split.

We will know soon enough I suppose, but my guesses are more down to instinct as opposed to education.

You may have your own ideas?

S.O.C.C Get a Helping Hand From Former Councillor

The nationally recognised Save Our Children’s Centres campaign has received a boost recently with the news that former Longton South Councillor Mike Barnes has joined their team to advise them on council procedures and future strategies.

S.O.C.C has reignited their fight and will present a massive petition to the council opposing the 30% budget reduction which equates to a huge cut of £2.25million.
The council are embarking on a formal consultation over their proposals.

What is 100% clear to me, having met and held discussions with S.O.C.C leaders, is that their battle lines have been drawn and they are prepared to mount a sustained and aggressive challenge to these savage cuts. The campaign team feel that the services that are on offer will be decimated beyond all belief if these cuts go through.

The election gave the Labour Party 34 councillors and a healthy majority with little opposition in the chamber.
S.O.C.C are more than prepared to take up the opposition role.

Their campaign has gone viral and there are S.O.C.C groups appearing all over the country. They also have the support of Netmums which has a phenomenal web presence.

Stoke-on-Trent has had effective campaign groups in the past like the Trentham Action Group who managed to reverse the decision to close their high school by facilitating government involvement.

S.O.C.C has the potential to make the TAG look like a meeting of the Salvation Army!

They are very angry people at the moment but they are channelling that anger and are using it as a motivational tool.

They are angry about the Labour Party’s campaign leaflet claims that they have saving the children’s centres but failed to mention the proposed budget cuts.

They are angry at the lack of support from the three city MPs’ Joan Walley, Rob Flello and Tristram Hunt who they have described as “Ëœthe invisible man’.

One of the Children’s Centres that is most under threat from these cuts is in Fenton, in fact is virtually next door to the constituency office of Rob Flello.

It could see the services that it offers cut from 5 days down to one half day.

Given that Sure Start centres were the flagship of the last Labour Government, S.O.C.C are expecting, no make that demanding that all 3 Labour MP’s support their campaign.

The case of Fenton’s children’s centre puts Rob Flello in an unenviable predicament as he sees the work they carry out at close hand and his partner Karen Clarke has just been elected as Councillor for ““ yeah you guessed it, Fenton West & Mount Pleasant!

I’m surprised that there is a negative view of Tristram Hunt and I share the view of the S.O.C.C leaders that all our MPs need to back this campaign with every ounce of their moral fibre.

I urge the Labour Group councillors, the newly appointed cabinet, Council Leader & Deputy and the 3 Labour MPs’ ““ do not underestimate this group.

S.O.C.C Hull are about to force a judicial review the same is 100% on the cards here in Stoke-on-Trent.

Our City Council are proposing the severest cuts in Chidren’s Centres budgets nearly anywhere in the country.

Communities will not take this lying down, S.O.C.C will not take this at all and in the words of one of their main players ““ “You have been warned!”

Audio Interview with Stoke-on-Trent Ruling Labour Group Leader Mohammed Pervez

We bring you an extensive unedited Audio Interview with Mohammed Pervez.

Pervez was re-elected as Stoke-on-Trent Labour Group Leader and will be elected as Council Leader on 26th May.

In the interview Pervez talks openly about the challenges that face his group over the next for years and about the £20million in cuts that face the City Council next year.

He also confirms that Cllr Paul Shotton will be his deputy and tells us how he will manage his group and the difficulties that face him in his leadership with a group as large as 34 members.

Pervez gives assurances that this new Labour group will be open and transparent and he confirms that he will listen, consult and fully engage with the electorate and the media.

Stoke-on-Trent Councillors Asked To Sign “ËœGagging Order’

Newly elected councillors in Stoke-on-Trent are being asked to sign what is effectively a gagging order that prevents them “Ëœcriticising’ the City Council.

A document in the new “Ëœcouncillor pack’ is a protocol preventing electing members from speaking out against the council on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and on community blogs.

All 44 councillors are being asked to inform the press and communication department when they become aware of any controversial matter that arises.

They are also being asked to speak to the relevant departmental director with any concerns and to inform the Chief Executive and council leader should they have any concerns about any issues.

The protocol has outraged both old and new councillors.
Sources have told Pits n Pots that a number of councillors have refused to sign the new media protocol.

One elected member told us that they had been told by the council that signing the protocol was voluntary.

A previously elected experienced councillor said:

”There is absolutely no way that I will sign any protocol that is tantamount to a gagging order.

“This country has been built upon certain values such as freedom of speech and a free press.

“To sign this protocol would have a serious impact on the electorate and when it comes down to it, they vote us in and they must be our priority.

“Councillors are responsible to the people in their wards, not to the press department, the council leader of even the Chief Executive.

“I urge all councillors old and new to refuse to sign this document as it is an attack on democracy itself.”

Pits n Pots believes that the media protocol has now been withdrawn from the councillors’ pack.

New elected members are to be given more time to read, comment and to make suggestions before the protocol is implemented.