My Experience Of The Annual Stoke-on-Trent City Council Meeting – May 26

Okay, so the title may sound like I’m back at school in September writing about what I did on my summer holidays, but here you have a few of my thoughts on my experience of the first meeting of the new Stoke-on-Trent City Council Chamber.

It may have been a bit of a “Ëœrubber stamping’ affair, but the Annual City Council Meeting was perhaps the first chance to really see the new council in action.

For my first visit to the Council Chambers I was impressed by the broadcast equipment found around the chambers providing (what I hope was) excellent online coverage of the meeting. I say hope, because as sod’s law would have it, the City Council website doesn’t appear to be online this evening so I haven’t been able to watch it back.

For those readers unaware of the business of the annual council meeting ““ it was to set the council’s affairs in order ready for the next year of government.

One of the first speeches was perhaps one of the most interesting ““ a Christian prayer by the outgoing Lord Mayors pastor ““ Paul Lockett. In this incredibly diverse city, I find it very interesting that such a traditional Christian custom is still continued today in the council chambers.

A CofE member myself, I suddenly found myself back in first school, quietly mumbling 90% of the Lord’s Prayer ““ it’s always those last few lines that get me!

Official proceedings soon kicked off with the emotional farewell to Denver Tolley, outgoing Lord Mayor and retiring councillor who joked that he would be spending his days skiing. Not in the sporting sense, but Spending the Kids’ Inheritance.

Mr Tolley shared memories, thanks and a couple of tears with the chamber and handed over to newly elected Lord Mayor Cllr Terry Follows and his deputy, Cllr Majid Khan to continue chairing the rest of the meeting.

Cllr Pervez was re-elected as Council Leader but wasn’t the only nomination. Non-alligned Cllr Paul Breeze offered his own name followed by an energetic speech which was granted extra time by the Lord Mayor. He launched an attack on Labour who, according to him, aren’t the popular majority with the public.

His speech was met by cheers from the public gallery but failed to convince the chamber as he only received one vote, followed by 3 abstentions and 37 votes for Pervez. 3 councillors were absent for the vote.

Cllr Pervez declined to respond directly to Cllr Breeze but gave a long post-election speech outlining his plans for the next four years in charge with his Labour majority ““ although he didn’t quite manage to find the same energy as Cllr Breeze.

The afternoon saw the approval of committee placements meaning that the political machine of Stoke-on-Trent City Council now has all of its cogs in place.
How long they stay in place is down to our city’s elected representatives.

Here’s to the next four years of Potteries Politics!

Council’s Solar Panels Exceed Expectations In First Month

Pitsnpots reported last month on the unveiling of 198 solar panels atop the Civic Centre’s roof. It was predicted by the council that the panels would generate £12,400 in savings per year (or £1033 per month).

Today, it has been announced the solar panels have helped save £1,750 in their first month of operation – beating their target.

The Lord Mayor, Denver Tolley, who unveiled the panels in April, said:

“We wanted to launch the panels in time for the spring and summer seasons. There has already been plenty of sun over the lastmonth, so the amount of electricity produced has been particularly high.”

According to Met Office figures, April 2011 was the driest on record resulting in high levels of sun.

Figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change at the Council show the panels generated 4,129kw/h in their first month.

The average house in the city consumes 3,638kw/h in electricity per year.

In 2009/10 the council spent £147,000 on electricity for the Civic Centre, a building which covers four floors and has space for over700 workers. If the solar panels meet expectations, the same bill would be reduced by approximately 8.5%

Stoke-on-Trent City Council last year signed up with E. ON to deliver millions of pounds worth of green energy investment.

Today, solar panels are installed on 54 Chell Heath council properties and it has been announced final touches are being put to a scheme which will result in over 1,000 Stoke-on-Trent City Council properties fitted with similar panels.

The Lord Mayor said: “The solar panels are working really well, and are already showing an excellent return. The most pleasing aspect is that the energy they are producing is completely green, so as well as saving money, they are also saving the environment ““ it is a win-win situation.”

Stoke-on-Trent Gets A New Lord Mayor

Stoke-on-Trent’s new Lord Mayor has vowed to celebrate the people of the city during his year in office.

Councillor Denver Tolley was announced as the city’s first citizen at Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s annual meeting today (Thursday 27 May).

The 67-year-old has served continuously as a councillor for 25 years ““ first as a county councillor from 1985 ““ 1997, and then as a city councillor from 1997 to date. Denver has also served as vice chair of Staffordshire Fire Authority for the last four years.

Denver, who has four grandchildren, says he is proud to represent the city and its residents.

He said: “I am a people person, and always have been. The people make this city and have been through a lot in recent years, through losing the pits and steel industries and the way the pottery industry has declined. But people have always diversified and proved their ability to bounce back though their ingenuity and industry. It is the people who make this city great.

“It is a great honour to be Lord Mayor and I want to help as many people as possible.”

During his year in office, Denver will raise money for three charities ““ Arch (North Staffordshire), which provides advice and accommodation for the homeless or potentially homeless; the North Staffordshire Special Olympics, which helps children and young people with learning disabilities develop their sporting and social skills; and the Beatrice Charity which gives children with special needs the chance to experience days out on the area’s canals. He will also support smaller charities throughout the year.

Denver added: “I was fortunate enough during the last 12 months serving as Deputy Lord Mayor to encounter the work of lots of charities that do a fabulous amount for the good of the city and support city residents who are disadvantaged. These charities work very hard and need our support.”

Originally from Hedensford, Denver is a city councillor for Longton North. Now retired, he worked for 31 years as a bus and coach driver, including five years working on the buses in Australia in the early 1970s.

Denver takes over the civic chain of office from councillor Jean Bowers. He will be accompanied in his civic duties by wife Lynne, who is his Lady Mayoress. Councillor Mohammed Matloob was named as Deputy Lord Mayor at the annual council meeting.

Denver Will Go To The Ball – The Lord Mayors Ball!

Denver Tolley has served the City of Stoke-on-Trent since 1996. Before that he also served as a county councillor.

Denver is a ward councillor that serves with distinction. He is respected by everyone, both in the ward of Longton North and in the council chamber.

I have yet to meet anyone who has a bad word for the guy.

He is also Deputy Lord Mayor and is due to undertake the highest of civic offices at the end of this month when Cllr Jean Bowers completes her year in office.

Denver was re-elected to serve as a councillor on Thursday with a massive majority of 1164,the highest winning margin in the entire election.

He has a great team working with him, Cllr Tom Reynolds, Cllr Mark Davis and support from people like Jane Heggie & Ann Harvey.

They have all made a massive difference to the lives of the electorate in Longton North by using their ward budget wisely and tackling anti-social behaviour head on.

On a day that saw the Labour Party in this City buck the national trend to take 17 out of the 20 seats available, Denver’s victory was an emotional one.

Anyone who who knows Denv realises that he will put his heart in soul into being the best Lord Mayor he can be, ably assisted by his lovely wife Lynne.

Listen to the Audio Interview below. Denver gets a bit choked up towards the end. To me it is refreshing to see an elected representative that cares so much and is so proud to represent our City in the ambassadorial role that is integral to the office of Lord Mayor.

500 Words – Denver Tolley the Labour Candidate for Longton North


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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I’ve served the Longton North area for more than twenty years now in one way or another. I live here, and I love the place.

Over the last few years, with my fellow Labour Councillors, Tom Reynolds and Mark Davis, I’ve worked hard to improve things, but also to keep people in touch with what we’re doing. This is something I intend to keep pushing if I’m re-elected.

There have been a lot of changes over the years, and one I’ve really welcomed has been the introduction of the ward budgets ““ it means we’ve finally got some of the things that I’ve been fighting for over years ““ it also means we’ve been able to focus on the things local people have told us are their priorities.

A couple of years ago Longton North had a really bad anti-social behaviour problem ““ so bad that the police imposed Section 30 dispersal orders – but since then things have started to improve. We’ve put money into extra policing, we’ve got youth services out on the streets, and we’ve made sure the Council use the tough new powers they’ve been given by the Labour Government to tackle nuisance neighbours and things like litter louts and fly-tippers. Now I’m not saying everything is perfect ““ we still have too many gangs of kids hanging around on street corners, too much graffiti, too much litter ““ but things are getting better and I want to see that continue. Particularly with the summer months coming up we shouldn’t become complacent.

Our Town Centre is still strong, but needs building up. I’m proud to serve on the Longton Regeneration Board, which is working with local people to create plans for the future of the town. There are lots of exciting things coming forward, but sadly too many things are out of our hands. The Council had to fight for years to get the old burnt out bakers shop knocked down in The Strand, because it was in private hands. I’d love to see the Railway Bridge painted and I’ve been working with Rob Flello on this, but until Network Rail give the go ahead nothing can happen. There are too many derelict buildings that need to come down, but their owners aren’t cooperating with us.

I have had the honour of being Deputy Lord Mayor for the past 12 months and it has given me the opportunity to see the talent, good work and pride within our City.

We’ve got lots of choices in front of us as an area ““ particularly the issue of the new High school to serve our area and I want to see a school on the Mitchell site to serve Bentilee and another school, possibly on one of the current sites, to serve our young people. Big decisions like this need local knowledge and experience – things I’ve got a plenty of ““ I hope I’ll get the chance to carry on serving the people of Longton North and the City.

Democracy4Stoke ““ The Revenge

Is the Labour Party taking its final retribution on those campaigners that led to the overwhelming public victory of getting rid of the Elected Mayor. This weekend the City Labour Party in Stoke, which is chaired by Sarah Hill, former assistant director of Adult social Care in Stoke, with the West Midlands Regional Labour Party in control, interviewed applicants for Labour candidates for the local elections in 2010. The Labour Party locally has prioritised and targeted 6 seats in the city for extra resources and campaining: Abbey Green Bentilee and Townsend Burslem South Tunstall Fenton Longton North Sources from the event which lasted for 2 days, have revealed as little as 17 Labour members applied for the 20 seats to be contested. More telling is that 6 of those were rejected. Who you ask? Joy Garner or Joan Bell, who left the Labour Group? No. 5 of the 6 were active campaigners to get rid of the Elected Mayor: Gary Elsby Terry Crowe (former councillor) Barry Stockley (former council leader and current PA to Mark Fisher MP) Mick Williams (D4S organiser and former councillor) Denver Tolley (current councillor and Deputy Lord Mayor) Majid Khan This comes on top of the loss over the last couple of years of others who actively campaigned to get rid of the Elected Mayor and are still currently councillors: Cllr Dave Conway Cllr Alan Joynson Cllr Pauline Joynson Cllr Mick Salih Cllr Peter Kent Baguley For the first time in decades, there is real possibility that Labour will not be able to contest all 20 seats. Down to 14 councillors and only 11 candidates – is this the end? This witch hunt is brought about by those that want to blame everybody but themselves for the mess the local Labour Party and more importantly, the City is in. They cannot see that they completely disconnected with the people: that the whole experimental disaster of the Elected Mayor is directly responsible for this monumental downfall. Lets take Cllr Denver Tolley. Some may not agree with his politics, but this man has dedicated and given years of his life to the Labour Party and the City. He is also currently the Deputy Lord Mayor and supposed to be the Lord Mayor next year, but now ruthlessly tossed aside by the New Labour machine. As the casualties pile up, as BNP grows in strength, and as they arrogantly manipulate local party structures and members to suit their own ends – will they ever see that the people of this City are not all blind to these games. It would not even surprise me if Mark Meredith, or his other failed Elected Mayor cliché colleague, Mervin Smith, have the brass neck to put their name forward? We wait with baited breathe as the City Party selects its candidates on the 27/ 28 November 2009, with a “policy” conference to follow on 5 December 2009