Eye Spy Springfields and Trent Vale

Ever keen to promote democracy, Eye Spy feels it is his duty to bring residents’ attention to the candidates for the upcoming Springfields and Trent Vale byelection, seeing as the Council PR Department haven’t.

Anyone searching for the Statement of Persons Nominated at the end of last week could be forgiven for not finding it, tucked well away from the homepage (alongside the Masterplan for Stoke town centre no doubt…). Continue reading

Why a political elected Police Commissioner is a dangerous idea

Next November there will be the election for local Police Commissioners in Staffordshire and Stoke – as it will be everywhere else in the country. It is likely that all the main political parties will be entering candidates. Already there seems evidence that the party HQs are controlling the business about who becomes the candidate. In North Wales, for instance, the local Labour Party is accused of trying to impose a short list of three without internal party debate. The other political parties will want to control the process. Continue reading

500 Words From Matt Wilcox

As many of you will know I was elected last year in the ward of East Valley. During that time much of my work has taken place in the area of Smallthorne and the Norton heights estate which has now been coined “Ford green & Smallthorne” By the boundaries commission, therefore when I had to decide which area to stand in I felt it was a natural decision to stand here.

The past 12 months have been a huge learning experience for me in terms of what being a councillor actually means and during that time ive met some fantastic people and seen some great projects and ideas. Having spent pretty much my entire adult life working in the community through various guises the role of councillor opened my eyes not only about what the impacts of what politics mean in this city but about what support communities need and how we can work together to make this city a better place to live.

Many good foundations have been set in my first elected year and I really do hope that the public demonstrate support for me next week in the local elections as im excited about the prospects of building on these. The interesting thing for me is the fact that with a smaller area and better (or sole) accountability success can really be measured over a 4 year period for example anti social behaviour is down, this area was regenerated, this play facility was built ect ect. Things that sometimes don’t happen unless you have a hard working person (your local councillor) who can string meetings and ideas together with local residents and the wider team (council officers, police etc etc)”¦.

I prefer to focus on the positive ways of working and not the negative. When cuts are forced upon us lets take the bull by the horns and do something about it, not moan or critize but do something! Like ford green hall, I didn’t moan about this potential cut I took the bull by the horns and joined the group that are developing the new business plan for it. Moaning, petitions and going to the press is far more ineffective than actually doing!

I know what the issues and priorities are in this ward, have built up great relationships with residents associations, shop keepers and users of local facilities like the allotments and community centre and have the skills and experiences to really make a difference. Lets make sure we all use our votes carefully on the 5th of may to ensure we get the right candidates elected who can collectively take this city forward in a positive way.

500 Words from Jeremy Dillon

Since coming onto the Council, my eyes have been opened to the many challenges facing the city, and I am committed to seeing them through. Stoke-on-Trent needs bold, creative thinkers, and I want to build a City that its citizens can be proud of; where people want to live. Oh, and just to show I’m not bluffing, I moved into a house overlooking Stoke Town (or Stoke-upon-Trent, if you prefer) to be a part of the action.

Marketing this city is at the heart of everything I stand for, and I have been sowing seeds for a City-Wide Business, Creative Arts and Local Government Network that would stimulate growth and help create new jobs. Having Chaired the Mitchell Memorial Youth Arts Centre Committee, I have seen first-hand a project that will act as an exemplar for future generations, and inspire future projects across the City. Spode is at the very heart of regeneration for the area, and I have been part of the consultation for its future development, as well as speaking against the idea of a supermarket on this historical site.

Penkhull is a place I’ve known for a long time. I am involved in local youth work, where every week, we give kids the opportunity to gain positive input, as well as providing table tennis/pool facilities. Some of them attend Thistley Hough, which has had a lot of bad press over the years. When I visited last year to meet students, I was impressed by the Headmaster’s initiative to give £1000 of his budget to them to decide what to with! Such empowerment and trust is to be commended, and as a media and arts college, I want to work with them further. I have also started to work with elderly residents in the area, and am trying to understand their concerns better by engaging in conversation with them.

Travelling to Europe (on my own money), I have been looking at ways to use public space better to generate revenue, as well as a better, more affordable, transport system for the City. I believe that Stoke-on-Trent would benefit from a transport infrastructure which includes a bus service that people can afford and that helps deliver other services, both in terms of tourism and local business. The Oyster Card system in London is one such system I have been looking at.

I want Stoke not only to be a working city, but an attractive city, which can find its way boldly into the 21st Century. For too long, it has grieved the loss of traditional industries, and it’s time to look to alternative methods of revenue. This decision will take courage and perserverance, but I believe WE can make it happen. Setting competitive business rates for the area is a massive priority.

At 30, I am in a great position to inject renewed energy and vision into a City that is in need of change.

500 Words From Randy Conteh

“When the Boundary Commission first contacted the City Council, regarding the proposed new wards, i was heavily involved in the consultation with many residents and our Community groups/Resident Associations.

I submitted petition letters and suggestions through the Council system and was instrumental in Thistley Hough School and an area known as Penkhull Garden Village being included and also the new name being changed to “Penkhull & Stoke.”

I would like to continue the good work i have been doing locally, for the areas of both Penkhull and Stoke and also the comprehensive committee/partnership work i have been involved in, down at the city council and around the ward.

I believe i now have the experience and quality after 9 years-indeed i have had extensive training-Improvement & Development Agency courses (I & DeA) and Community Leadership sessions-but one thing that does not diminish is the passion i have for my local area and our City!

Many of the Issues in our ward have been resolved personally by myself, over a number of years ““ e.g. the new improvements, paths, bins, seating and play-equipment for older children and youngsters in our 2 Penkhull parks-Richmond Street and Lodge Road.

There are still issues of Anti-social-behaviour, but hopefully the CCTV Cameras, within both parks and Penkhull village, (petitioned for by myself) will help to deter and reduce the ASB.

The new City General hospital development has brought issues of parking, by both visitors and workers; but we have endeavoured to solve a lot of those parking issues, with the successful installation of Resident Parking schemes, in the nearby streets- although more needs to be done around both parking and speeding issues.

The new Thistley Hough School will also bring additional issues to our area -If successful in the election, i will continue to work with the Council and the residents, negotiating compromises, regarding the planning conditions to improve pedestrian, road safety and access issues, in the streets and roads near the new proposed school.

The regeneration of Stoke Town is also a big issue and i am currently an active member of the “Stoke Town (shadow) Regeneration Board” looking at both the continued development of the Spode site and the improvements within stoke town and the surrounding areas.

Successes include the saving of the Merit School, in Penkhull through petitioning and submissions to Scrutiny and additional petitioning and representations to retain the no. 58/58a Bus service (ongoing.)

The ward of Penkhull & Stoke has 680 over-70’s from 3,570 households in 106 streets and i know many of our elders need and deserve these bus services and i will continue to provide additional representation and support.

I genuinely believe i am the ‘Right person for the job’, due to my passion, enthusiasm, dedication and commitment. I don’t have a full-time job, indeed i honestly think that being an effective community and City Councillor is a full-time role in itself!!”

Many thanks,

Randy Conteh

Alternative Vote

There is a lot in the news already about Alternative Vote or AV and a lot more to come in the coming weeks as parties lobby for a change in the way we vote here in the UK.

What Is AV?
In short Alternative Voting is where, rather than voting for the person you want to elect and putting your paper in the ballot box, you put a 1 by the person you would most like to elect then grade the other candidates by putting 2, 3, 4 etc after their names.

If no candidate gets a majority of all the votes cast in the constituancy, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is removed and their ballot papers are then recounted and redistributed across the remaining candidates based on second preference. This continues, removing the lowest candidate each time until a majority is reached. See the links to the Electoral Reform Society & Wikipedia at the bottom of the page for a more in-depth description.

So How Would things Be Different In Stoke Under AV?
It isn’t possible to tell exactly how things would have played out in Stoke-on-Trent if AV was being used in the 2010 General Election, but by making some basic assumptions you can see how the vote could have been counted to come to a majority in each of the wards.

Stoke-on-Trent North
Round 1

CandidatePartyVote%
Joan WalleyLabour17,81544.3
Andy LargeConservative9,58023.8
John FisherLiberal Democrat7,12017.7
Melanie BaddeleyBNP3,1698
Geoffrey LockeUK Independence Party2,4856.2

Stoke-on-Trent North didn’t have a clear majority in the 2010 General Election so Geoffrey Locke would have been removed from the count, his votes would be redistributed based on second preference in Round 2

Round 2

CandidatePartyVote%
Joan WalleyLabour18,91647.6
Andy LargeConservative10,17125.3
John FisherLiberal Democrat7,56018.8
Melanie BaddeleyBNP3,3958

Still no clear majority so now Melanie Baddeley is removed from the count and her votes are redistibuted based on second preference.

Round 3

CandidatePartyVote
Joan WalleyLabour20,33251
Andy LargeConservative10,93227
John FisherLiberal Democrat8,12620

This is enough to give Joan Walley the 50% majority she needs to retain her seat.

Stoke-on-Trent Central
Round 1

CandidatePartyVote%
Tristram HuntLabour12,60538.8
John RedfernLiberal Democrat 7,039 21.7
Norsheen Bhatti Conservative 6.833 21
Simon DarbyBNP  2,502 7.7
Carol LovattUK Independance Party 1,4024.3 
Paul BreezeIndependant 959 3
Gary ElsbyIndependant 399 1.2
Brian WardCity Independants303  0.9
Alby WalkerIndependant 295 0.9
Matthew WrightTrade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 133 0.4

As the bottom 6 candidates polled only 10.7% of the votes, we can safely skip rounds  2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 leaving just Hunt, Redfern Bhatti & Darby in the vote. At this point the voting would look something like

Round 8

CandidatePartyVote%
Tristram HuntLabour13,96043
John RedfernLiberal Democrat 7,797 24
Norsheen Bhatti Conservative 7,566 23
Simon DarbyBNP  2,771 9

So after the removal of the bottom 6 candidates we are getting closer to a majority, Tristram Hunt has nearly double the number of votes of John Redfern but still not the 50% majority required. Now we take Simon Darbys votes and reallocate them.

Round 9

CandidatePartyVote%
Tristram HuntLabour14,93046
John RedfernLiberal Democrat8,33926
Norsheen Bhatti Conservative8,09225

Still no overall majority of 50% with just 3 of the 11 candidates still in the running, so now we have to take the votes from the third placed candidate and re allocate them.

 

Round 10

CandidatePartyVote%
Tristram HuntLabour17,58154
John RedfernLiberal Democrat9,82230

and finally we have an elected Member of Parliament with a majority of 54% Tristram Hunt. So in Stoke-on-Trent Central.

Stoke-on-Trent South

Round 1

CandidatePartyVote%
Rob FlelloLabour15,44638.8
James RushtonConservative11,316 28.4
Zulfiqar AliLiberal Democrat 6.323 15.9
Michael ColemanBNP 3,762 3.4
Mark BarlowUK Independance Party 1,3633.4
Terry FollowsStaffordshire Independent Group1,208 3
Mark BreezeIndependent4341.1

Again in Stoke-on-Trent South, every candidate up to second placed James Rushton would have to be removed to give Rob Flello the majority required to hold his seat.

Round 6

CandidatePartyVote%
Rob FlelloLabour20,52552
James RushtonConservative15,03438

 

While the results (based on our assumptions) are not shocking they do show how much more work would need to go in to counting the votes.

Alternative Voting Is It Any Better Will It Make A Difference?
Well based on our totally unscientific rerun of the 2010 General Election, no it wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome of the election. Until details of how the counts would actually be carried out, it just looks like a lot more work and a far longer night before results are declared.

How Are The Parties Campaigning? 
BNP are campaigning against
Conservatives are campaigning against
English Democrats are are campaigning for
Labour have no official stance
Liberal Democrats are campaigning for
The Green Party are campaigning for
UKIP are campaigning for
 

Assumptions
I made the following assumptions while calculating the new results for each constituency in Stoke-on-Trent.

  • The votes from the lowest candidate in each round were reallocated using the same % as the original vote.
  • A number of votes were lost in each round due to:
    • people not giving second or third preference votes
    • second & thrid preference votes were for candidates already out of the running
    • spoilt papers

Photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/ludens/4582962125/

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Slammed Over Election Coverage

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been slammed for the poor election coverage on its own website during the Local & General Elections in May this year.

In a damming report from SOCITM, who surveyed a number of councils before, during and after the elections, Stoke-on-Trent City Council was singled out by the report authors who said of the council:

Communication of the results was patchy. Stoke on Trent City barely acknowledged that elections were taking place. Even on results day it still only carried an insignificant link to ‘Election notices’. Fortunately this site was an anomaly as by now elections were featuring pretty heavily on most sites

The survey was carried out on 42 council websites in 4 rounds which coincided with key dates over the election period.

  • Round 1- 10 April, the final day to register to vote
  • Round 2 – 4 May, two days before the elections
  • Round 3 – 7 May, election day
  • Round 4 – 8 May, the day after votes had been counted

The survey also looked at the use of social media by each council and finally whether they were taking part in the Open Election Data Project.

In the copy of the report seen by Pits n Pots it does not contain detailed league tables for each council surveyed but does cite good and bad practice with Stoke-on-Trent being used as an example of bad.

Pits n Pots are disappointed that Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been highlighted as an example of bad or poor practice, especially after we attended a Spotlight Review with the Press & Communications Department back in March. The review was to cover a number of items such as, developing a consistant approach to dealing with all media organisations, and use of social media especially to engage with young people.

As part of the review the Press & Communications Department were asked to spend some time speaking to us about how we use social media tools and offer advice on how best to utilise them within the council. The Press & Communications department did not contact us to continue this discussion.

The City Council were also asked by Pits n Pots prior to the election if the council would be taking part in the Open Election Data Project, so that the data would be available in a standard and easy to use format. The Council did not respond until they were contacted a second time where they explained that the Open Election Data Site was blocked, so they didn’t know what it was all about and couldn’t use it. This is despite the fact that the software used by Stoke-on-Trent City Council had been updated by the suppliers to automatically provide the election data in the format required by the Open Election Data Project.

We asked the Council if they would like to provide a quote or statement in response to the quote in the SOCITM report but they have not yet responded.