PnP Meet – James Rushton Conservative PPC for Stoke South

Tonight Pitsnpots met James Rushton Conservative PPC for Stoke South. We asked him a range of questions about what he would do for the people of Stoke South should he be elected in May 6th.

Topics covered were jobs, education, the economy, Senior Citizens having to pay for residential care, The changing face of the Conservative Party and James’s vision for the city. you can hear what he had to say by playing the MP3 files below.

What’s wrong with aspiration?

I spent some of last week pushing leaflets for a Labour Council Candidate in which the word “aspiration” was prominent. The major political parties all emphasis the need for people to get on.

Take one Conservative website, which had the following statement

“Hence, why the Conservatives campaign must now focus on Aspiration not Austerity.
When people aspire to something better, they work harder”¦.they have a motivation, an inspiration”¦.an aspiration.
That is the “ËœPromised Land’. The dream of a better tomorrow.
This is the vivid, bright picture that Cameron must now paint in the hearts and minds of the British electorate.
The people are ready to be inspired. They are listening.
What will Cameron’s Britain look like in 5 years. In ten? What’s the journey? How will people’s lives be better?”

There is a problem here, which I thought about as I was pushing the increasingly sodden leaflet through the wet streets of Stoke last Thursday. By the way I have to say the leaflet was full of other words such as “creativity” and the hope that potential voters could contact the candidate via Twitter. I wondered how many voters in that part of town would avail themselves of the opportunity?

The problem is this. Suppose the person does not want to aspire? I will use a case in point from a person who works at the supermarket I work at. She is an extraordinary happy person with a really sunny disposition. She has a psychological and sociology degree from Leeds. I asked her what she wanted to do with her newly acquired degree. She did not know exactly but she was happy with what she was doing as a checkout operator and absolutely no intention of moving into management.

Could she be considered a failure for not wanting to aspire? Or indeed the other people who work in the supermarket. And anyway what about all those people who for whatever reason have no desire, intention or wish to get on.

There was a time not to long ago when we had a society where people essentially were allowed to get on with their lives and were allowed to. Potbanks employed people in menial jobs. People just wanted to do a honest day’s work for a honest day’s pay. They wanted to live within a recognised structure. I guess what people expected from authority was security and the wish to live their lives in whatever way they wanted without being thought of as somehow deficient.

I don’t deny that there is a problem with educational qualifications in the area, but I would hope that political parties recognise that there will be a body of the population where aspiration is a meaningless concept who do not want to be written off by the governing classes.

500 Words From Shaun Bennett Conservative and Unionist Candidate For Hartshill and Penkhull


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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This can be a great city once again, but many of our existing council representatives and officers have consistently failed to look after the interests of us, the residents and taxpayers of the city. We need a new broom to sweep away many of the old and out of touch councillors and their way of doing things. Only by making a fresh start together can we restore faith in our local politics and move the city forward.

My main priorities are to work with the police to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in the city and to clean up our streets to create a great environment for our children to grow up in.

We must build strong communities, strong families and strong community groups to repair our broken society. But this cannot be achieved by government alone. We have to stop the cycle of decline at root-in the family home. As government, we must offer an outstanding education and promote opportunity for all whether in academic or in vocational education.

We must not be content with Stoke-on-Trent to remain a low-paid, low skilled city dominated by warehousing and bargain basement shops. Perhaps the first priority of the new council must be to bring business and enterprise into the city and to create the environment to facilitate that.

I believe that our city is consumed with waste and inefficiency. The taxpayers of the city are throwing good money after bad as our council attempts to maintain its tentative grip on controlling all areas of our local community. Its time to do things differently and roll back government to concentrate on providing excellent essential services.

As a Conservative, I am naturally inclined to support lower taxes and I will work towards achieving a CUT in the council tax burden just as other Conservative authorities have been able to achieve. It IS possible to deliver both lower taxes and excellent local services; we have done it elsewhere in the country, and I believe that it is only the natural high tax mentality of existing councillors and officers in this city that prevents us from copying that model. However, I will not allow frontline essential services to suffer at the expense of tax cuts.

I am also a great supporter of the regeneration schemes going on in the city, but I cannot in principle support Compulsory Purchase Order’s, and I will not vote for them. People who have lived in an area all their lives deserve more than summary eviction from their property in the name of some great plan. We are servants of the people, and if our plans do not take them with us, then we have failed. People must be offered a fair market price for their properties.

This is also an opportunity to send a message to central government that we will not be taken for granted any longer over Europe. Unlike the UKIP candidate in my ward, I am actually signed up to Better Off Out. If you agree with me that Britain can flourish outside of the political constraints imposed by the EU, then I would urge you to back me and help to make this the policy of a mainstream party of government.

The programme I have laid out is a radical manifesto for change. It will mean a complete re-think of the way we do things. It is about small government and bigger individuals; lower tax and better services; a new relationship between government and the people. I believe that the Conservative led administration in the town hall has made a good start over the last few months, but we now need to step up a gear and start to implement the changes to the culture of the town hall that has kept the city back for decades.

Still a wasted a vote with Lib Dems? Not if the Facebookers have got anything to do with it!

They took over the Christmas number one slot last year with the most unlikely of tracks by the anti-establishment “Rage against the Machine” and rocked the smarmy grin right off Simon Cowell’s face. But could the Facebook revolution help create revolutionary results in the General Election? With recent events, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

This morning, the recently-created -Facebook group entitled a not-too-catchy “We got Rage Against the Machine to #1, we can get the Lib Dems into office!” had gathered 65,000 supporters. At the time of writing, this has swung to a rapidly-growing 68,018.

Okay, with 27 million odd voters in the last general election, this is hardly enough to ensure the implausible title of PM Nick Clegg, but we there’s a while to go yet. And after enough people downloaded a hit that came out in 1992 just to topple the factory-finished X-factor single off the top of the charts in a record-breaking music download spree, you’d be foolish to underestimate the power of the social networking site’s members.

Couple this with the recent successes of “Ëœlaugh-along’ with Vince Cable whilst the heavyweights, sorry Darling, were pushed out of the limelight. And then, despite the odd hapless -looking faux-pas exposed on this week’s QI, Clegg holding his own with the PM and the leader of the opposition as we Brits caught up with the programme and had our first ever leaders’ TV debate.

And suddenly, the previously scoffed-at leader of the Lib Dems shot up the opinion polls with a You Gov/ Sun survey reporting his party having 30 percent support, with the Tories still in the lead at 33, and Labour coming up short with 28.

Many voters who have ever thought of backing the third party have often been put off by the idea that it would always be a “Ëœwasted vote’, since the Liberals would never stand any chance of seeing off the big boys. But could this be a historical turning point?

Even if the extra support which is bound to prevail following recent events and a spiralling viral campaign doesn’t see the party which has long been overlooked overtake the blues and reds in a feat that would break election history, what it seems for sure, is that the Lib Dems will gain a significant rise in numbers in Parliament. Which means more serious and ambitious politicians will actually consider joining them a viable move, more and more voters will have the guts to give them a go at the polling station, and the more it will begin to look like instead of a two-horse race with jockeys who seem to be on the same team, we may just have a real competition, and therefore more genuine choice in future.

You can find the group on Facebook here:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=113749985304255

500 Words Jeremy Dillon, Labour Party Candidate for Stoke and Trent Vale


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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So, here we are. I’ve been asked to stand in Stoke and Trent Vale for the Labour Party. I’m rather excited. Having moved to Stoke 10-11 years ago, I’ve lived in more houses than I’d care to count, been to uni, been to the jobcentre, and even started to train as a teacher. Life has been busy.

The two phrases that keep coming out of the current race for Number 10 are “Ëœthe New Politics’, and the “ËœReformation of Politics’. The recent scandals regarding MP’s expenses have left people asking serious questions about the integrity of politicians, and it will be interesting to see the turnout. The truth is, people are more likely to vote for their favourite contestant in a singing competition, and find politicians irrelevant to their lives. This needs to change and requires a humility on behalf of those in government to recognise these changing times.

My desire is to see a new generation of young people embrace politics in a way that is relevant to them. 21st Century politics requires a 21st century politician, and that’s why I’m looking forward to standing. During the last twenty years, the city has suffered from the devastating effects of the collapse of industry and it’s time to get Stoke believing in itself again.

In this, its 100th anniversary, we must start to cast aside old mentalities, lack of vision etc. and re-discover our creative spirit in new ways. One of my first goals as a councillor would be to start building relations between
local business and the arts, setting in motion a movement like that which began in Liverpool in the 1960s with the MerseyBeat sound. It was there that a young businessman had the initiative to create a stable of stars that would become internationally recognised, and something I am keen to encourage, whether it be in music, art, or even independent filmmaking. Eventually, I would hope that this would spread to other areas, releasing a wave of fresh talent from the area. The recent promotion of Stoke City to the Premiership
and the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, I believe, have started to get people interested on a national and international level, and we must capitalise on these developments. These new endeavours, I believe will, in
the long term, help to rebuild the confidence of people in the city, and encourage companies from outside of Stoke to set their stall here, creating new jobs and opportunities and securing the future regeneration of a city in
need of hope.

We are asking each and every candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent local election if they would like to write 500 words about themselves their reasons for standing and their campaign. You can view all 500 word articles by clicking here 500 words

Eve Maley, loses against the council – again

It was just under two years ago that Eve Maley, having lost the Northwood and Birches Head election by one vote, following multiple recounts which had found her previously one ahead, took legal action against the council over the conduct of the count.

Returning Officer Paul Hackney had allowed three or four recounts depending who you believe, or indeed, which of his own accounts you read, since in one letter he said four counts had taken place, and then in his submissions to the High Court, he said it had been only three. He then declared the election in favour of Dave Sutton, the Lib Dem, who has been serving the ward ever since, in a position of pseudo-limbo.

And this week, following several expensive visits to the High Court in London and three figure legal bills on both sides, a public hearing found in favour of the city council.

The commissioner charged with making the final decision, after it had been deferred repeatedly before, said he had “sympathy for all parties”.

He could empathise with Dave Sutton, who has had to go on in his seat for the last two years with this weight hanging over him, Paul Hackney and his team, who have “clearly done their best with the appalingly complex, time-consuming and wasteful procedures”, and finally, with Eve Maley, who “felt that the election process was not quite right and she had some grounds for that belief”.

The commissioner went on to say that, had the letter of the law allowed him, he would have preferred to act “like a Wimbledon umpire”, and called a ‘let’ allowing to all parties to re-run the ‘point’.

For me, the odd thing about the way the case panned out was that Eve’s original point of major contention, was that so many (three or four) recounts had taken place, all of which found her in front, before final count was chosen to be decisive after it found that Sutton was one in ahead. But the case ended up being debated over the possible loss of a postal vote, rather than whether or not the Returning Officer had done things correctly on the day.

And of course, what was suspicious, at least from Eve’s point of view, was that it seemed all too convenient that Lib Dem leader Jean Bowers kept demanding and being allowed recounts, especially considering Eve was council enemy number one, having also very publicly brought the matter of the council putting a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on her house to court as well.

But, it’s all over now. And does she regret it? Not one iota. She told me:

“It’s all been a complete waste of time, and taken much longer than we thought. But I don’t regret it. At least people have been questioned for their actions.”

But, aside from who was right and who was wrong in this matter, I can’t help but feel for the woman, and her husband John, who have been through hell this last few years.

They fought and lost the house they called their own, which they, and their surveys said, was in perfectly good condition, when the council decided the block needed to be demolished altogether because of apparent structural problems, and yet, they still stand now onminously, boarded up and fenced at the back to prevent the vandals from getting in.

Then Eve stood for election – her manifesto including not knocking down decent properties – and lost in such a contentious way, and then lost a battle to have the decision overturned, nearly two years on.

Now, the couple live in one of the new apartments overlooking the canal, and are remarkably chipper, considering that they seem to have been beaten into submission by their own local authority on two counts.

And although their case would put many off fighting against something they feel is unfair, I have huge admiration for the woman who refused to back down, and stood up for what she thought was right to the end.

I just hope that Eve and John are now allowed to enjoy their retirement in peace, and that the council doesn’t decide one day soon that the Waterside Apartments are about to imminently fall into the canal.

Lets Make This The Most Accountable General Election Ever

Democracy Club is a new, independent network of volunteers who want to help internet-savvy transparency groups like mySociety and Thee Straight Choice to hold election candidates and representatives to account. Both of these organisations endorse this project. If you sign up, they will (in time) suggest ways you might want to help them.

When you sign up, representatives of these organisations will occasionally suggest tasks by email, such as gathering information on general election candidates or finding and sharing election leaflets, to help them build awesome sites that will make the next election the most transparent ever. They’ll also help you to collaborate with other volunteers in your area.

If you are serious about wanting to make changes then I suggest that you sign up for this and help make the candidates accountable.

Use the links below to sign up.

Breaking News! Ross Irving Elected as new Council Leader [Audio update 1600]

By Tony Walley & Mike Rawlins

New Council Leader Ross Irving

New Council Leader Ross Irving

It has just been announced that Ross Irving has been elected to the role of Council Leader by 26 – 21 votes.

Ross who was elected in a secret ballot this afternoon will take the role of Council Leader on Monday 8 June replacing the current Elected Mayor, Mark Meredith.

Tony Walley interviewed Ross straight after the election, listen to what our new council leader had to say

[audio:http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0609/friday5/ross-irving.mp3]

Ross in his speech said “its a funny old word and who would of thought it! The people of Stoke deserve better than they have had”  He called for unity across the chamber.  He said he would work with all present in the chamber, shame the BNP left after round 2 of the voting..

Brian Ward asked for the secret ballot which was passed, the BNP had asked for a named vote which failed to get any support.  Roger Ibbs put a motion forward that every candidate should speak to the councillors for 5 minutes each to outline their vision for the city.  The motion was overwhelmingly defeated, it seems that the councillors are not interested in what their new leader will be doing when he gets in office.

Peter Kent-Baguley was the first candidate to be knocked out of the election followed by Alby Walker of the BNP in round 2.  The BNP members left the chamber as soon as this was announced.  Round 3 saw Mike Barnes leave the race after the vote was held with just 49 councillors and the elected mayor.  The final round of voting saw Ross Irving leader of the Conservative and Independent Alliance up against Brian Ward the leader of the City Independents.

Listen to the reaction of the other candidates

Mike Barnes

[audio:http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0609/friday5/mike-barnes.mp3]

Peter Kent-Baguley

[audio:http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0609/friday5/pkb.mp3]

Brian Ward

[audio:http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0609/friday5/brian-ward.mp3]

Tony was unable to get an interview with Alby Walker

We wish Ross all the very best in his new role as Council Leader and hope that we can work together in the future to promote Stoke-on-Trent in a positive way.

Lord Mayor

Lord Mayor Jean Bowers

Lord Mayor Jean Bowers

During this mornings council meeting, Jean Bowers was elected as the new Lord Mayor of the city taking over from Derek Capey. Jean was proposed by Kieran Clarke and seconded by Alan Rigby

The new Lord Mayor in her first speech said ” I have made mistakes in the past and I can’t promise that I won’t make any in the future but I promise I will do my best!”

Denver Tolley was elected deputy Lord Mayor Proposed by Mark Davis & seconded by Ross Irving.

We all wish Jean and Denver the all the best in the run up to the 100 anniversary of the federation of the 6 Towns.