Deadline For Postal Votes

If you wish to register for a postal vote for the May 5 Elections or you wish to change from postal voting to in person voting, you need to have completed a postal vote.

We have attached a PDF copy of the form you need to complete to register for or change from a postal vote.

We would recommend at this late stage, that you take the completed from to the Civic Centre personally to ensure that it is received and will be dealt with in time for the election.

Anyone registered to vote can apply to vote by post, great if you will be at work on election day, on holiday or just can’t make it to the polling station.

The deadline for applying for a postal vote is at 5pm on Thursday 14th April. If you want to cancel your postal vote the same deadline applies.

Image Credit

Pits n Pots Election Coverage More Than Doubles Site Traffic

Since we launched our Interactive Election Map last week our visitor numbers have more than doubled.

From our normal 5 – 6000 visitors and and average 20,000 page views each day, we have seen a marked increase in our visitor numbers to between 15 & 17,000 per day generating almost 63,000 page views.

We have also seen an increase in the number of new accounts and E-mail subscriptions over the past 7 days.

we had been planning our election coverage for some time before we actually published our interactive map. Our election pages have generated a massive amount of interest and lots of positive feedback.

We are sharing some of our content with other local sites who are covering the election in their own wards to make this election the most open and transparent we possibly can.

Mike and the guys who work away in the background on the site have done a fantastic job.

Remember we need your help to make this election transparent.

If you are tweeting about the election use the tag #le2011 & #sot
If you are writing about the election even if it is only about your own ward, then drop us a mail with a link to your site and we will include it in our coverage.

We are working with the Election Leaflets website during the 2011 elections and what we would like you to do is, scan or photograph any election leaflets you get delivered and add them to the Election Leaflets site, all you need to do is upload your images and fill in a simple form, you don’t need to create any accounts just follow the instructions.

If you do upload any leaflets, please tag them with:

Candidates Name
Ward
Party
pitsnpots
Any other tags you think are suitable

If you could then drop an E-mail to le2011 at pitsnpots.co.uk with a link to your uploads, we will add the link to the candidates page. Please check the spelling of the candidates name as this is the most important tag that will be used by Election Leaflets to group the information.

Don’t worry about the site not having wards only general election constituencies on it, the Election Leaflets site will still accept local election leaflets.

If you don’t want to upload the leaflets yourself then you can E-mail the files to le2011 at pitsnpots.co.uk and we will do it for you. If you don’t have the ability to scan or photograph the leaflets then you can send them by post to or drop them off at:

PnP Election Leaflets
6 Towns Radio
Shop 26 Queen Street
Burslem
Stoke-on-Trent
ST6 3EG

and we will sort them out for you.

Boundary Commission Confirm 44 Councillors For Stoke-on-Trent

Audio Interviews With LGBC & D4S Online Now!

Following a lengthy review and months of public consultations the Local Government Boundary Commission for England [LGBCE] has today released its recommendations for the warding arrangements for the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

The LGBE has recommended that the number of councillors needed to represent the people of Stoke-on-Trent is 44.

There will be 31 single member wards, 5 two member wards and 1 three member ward.

Originally they were proposing a pattern of 33 single-member wards, four two-member wards and one three-member ward.

The boundary review was instigated following the Stoke-on-Trent Governance Commission’s publishing its 14 recommendations in 2007.

The Commission recommended, among others, that:

Ӣ The City Council should move to all-out elections, i.e. hold elections once every four years (the council currently elects by thirds, with elections in three years out of four).

“¢ There should be a uniform pattern of single-member wards (the council currently has a uniform pattern of three-member wards).

“¢ Work should be commenced on building a case for an appropriate council size at an early date (the Council currently comprises 60 councillors).

The proposed new arrangements must now be implemented by Parliament. An Order ““ the legal document which brings into force the recommendations ““ will be laid in Parliament over the coming weeks. The draft order allows for the new electoral arrangements to come into force for the next council elections in May 2011.

Electoral Registration ““ a little rant

I’ve just (26/8/10) filled in my electoral registration form. It comes with a letter advertising that you can register by freephone, internet or text and even more annoyingly it tells you this again on the back of the envelope.

I wish I could! In the past I’ve used the freephone and internet registration and found them both very convenient. I wouldn’t use text as it would cost. But I am relegated to use post – AGAIN – because I have to add a 17 year old.

I don’t like snail mail. It’s not only slow; it seems highly variable. There are things posted out by the school to parents and often I’m receiving them much later than other people say they are getting them. I have also failed to receive things that should have been posted to me. In one case I chased it up and the sender insisted they posted it. I never received it. I have received mail for other addresses and gone out to post it on to them. So I didn’t really want to put something as important as an electoral registration form in the post, but I have done.

Look at the related article, published 21/8/09; commenters talking as if they might have their forms already, Mark Sheratt gets his, albeit from Newcastle council 24/8/09, I don’t get mine until 28/8/09. Snail mail ““ not good.

So my questions are these:

  • I added a 16 year old last year, so why does he not appear on the form this year?
  • Why not have a simple form available by internet registration to add or remove residents, including adding 16/17 year olds?

I shall wait a week then telephone the helpline to see if they will tell me whether we are registered.

I would be apoplectic with rage if I were prevented from voting. My son will turn 18 before May and would be none too pleased if he weren’t allowed to vote. He wants to vote in the local election and especially in the AV/FPTP referendum. He would’ve liked to vote from age 16 actually.

Ward boundaries ““ what people said in the final stage of the consultation.

Following initial consultations on number of councillors and suggestions for wards, the LGBCE published draft recommendations on 26/3/10 and invited comments. The final stage of the consultation closed on 11/6/10.

My blog mostly focuses on the issue of numbers of councillors per ward although many people put forward specific boundary and ward naming suggestions.

17 submissions were made by politicians and political groups. Notably, none of these complimented the LGBCE on the bizarre mix of 1, 2 and 3 member wards in their draft proposals and many argued strongly against a mix. The local labour and conservative parties, the council’s conservative group and councillors Dave Sutton, Peter Kent-Baguley and Mick Salih argued in favour of single member wards. Arguments include the scale of campaigning and the number of electorate associated with each councillor being smaller and more manageable and avoiding dominance of social housing areas over smaller communities. In contrast councillor Mike Coleman argued in favour of two member wards to better serve residents. Other councillors had also argued this in the previous stage of the consultation. Joan Walley MP accepts single member wards but only if councillors are adequately resourced, which she doesn’t see that they are. Rob Flello MP wants either only single member wards or only multimember wards but does not mind a mix of 2 and 3 member wards. Democracy for Stoke made a more general submission for more councillors, a power of recall and a uniform system.

Personally I think all these submissions make some good points. I want a uniform system for democracy, equality, fairness and clear and effective local government. I don’t mind whether this is 1 or 2 member wards but I am against a mixture. Of the above submissions I agree most with Mike Coleman on the basis that the 2 member ward solution takes best democratic account of the arguments made in the previous stage of the consultation from ordinary residents and their associations, who overwhelmingly preferred multimember wards and were opposed to single member wards.

21 submissions were made by local orgnisations. There are no strong arguments from residents’ associations for single member wards although Hartshill and Harpfields RA, Newford RA and Penkhull RA accept or support the mix proposed. Other RAs maintain a strong argument for two member wards; Brindley Ford RA, Chell Area RA, Fegge Hayes RA and Woodfarm RA. These are all pushing for pairs of proposed single member wards to be joined together in the interests of community links and identity. Organisations arguing in favour of single member wards are the Governance and Transition Board, the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and St. Modwen.

Who matters more, local residents and their associations or large companies and unelected interfering bodies? I say the former. I think this quote from a former “ËœUnreasonably Persistent Complainant’ is well worthy of mention. He describes the draft proposals as “an increasingly desperate and dysfunctional political establishment trying to keep power by gerrymandering ward boundaries to exclude new political groups with policies relevant to our peoples needs” (dated 12/4/10). Well said ex-UPC! What bothers me is that the new government with its supposed “Ëœlocalism’ agenda has nevertheless done nothing to counteract the interference in our democracy imposed by the previous one. Different party in charge ““ same old establishment.

126 submissions were made by residents. These show well how certain groups have engaged with the process and written many letters and some petitions to make strong views known. Particular cases are to use the name Hartshill and Basford instead of Cliff Vale and Stoke, support for inclusion of the Meadow Lane estate into Trentham and Hanford, support for the boundaries of the Dresden and Florence ward, a call for the Tunstall North RA area to be wholly in Tunstall rather than cut in two and to use the name Sneyd Green Village or Moorcroft instead of Cobridge.

Some residents still argue against the reduction in the number of councillors; Shaun Bennett, Patricia Dixon, Mr and Mrs Ruscoe, James Tongue, an unnamed contributor and myself. But a few favour the reduction; P L Field, Peter Grady and Roger Leverett. Mr A Bloor argues for community councillors as well as city councillors.

In terms of councillors per ward, Heather Davie, Andrew and Karen Pate and Graham Simm agree with the mix proposed. Shaun Bennett, P L Field and D Leverton favour single member wards. More favour 2 member wards; Susan Dennis, Patricia Dixon, Lydia Palmer, Iain Robinson, A E Snape, Mrs Taylor and myself. Michael Dixon and Ann James argue against single member wards. Mr and Mrs Ruscoe and the unnamed contributor want 3 member wards (without reducing councillor numbers). Some argue specifically against a mix of ward types and for a uniform system; Patricia Dixon, Michael Dixon, Iain Robinson and myself.

The balance of the quantity and quality of all the arguments indicate to me that the LGBCE should in a fair and reasonable world conclude that a uniform system of two member wards be proposed to parliament. We await their conclusion.

Furthermore if the current government really believes in localism it will throw out the entire recommendation when it comes before parliament and reverse the order for all out elections, on the basis that these were imposed by the previous bunch of labour dictators against the will of our council and the majority of local people. If parliament were to reject the LGBCE recommendation we would keep 60 councillors and the current 20 wards at 3 councillors per ward. A government order overturning the last one would be needed to restore elections by thirds.

Nick Griffin To Step Down As British National Party [BNP] Leader.

BNP Leader Nick Griffin has announced that he is to step down by 2013.

His decision comes following a weekend long meeting of the party’s Advisory Council.

The meeting focused on the BNP’s performance in the recent General and Local elections. The current membership and the modernisation of the party were also on the agenda.

Griffin had come under fire from certain sections of the BNP membership following their failure to get an candidate elected to parliament.

The BNP also lost councillors across the whole of the country but in particular at Barking & Dagenham where the lost all 12 of their sitting councillors. Here in Stoke-on-Trent the party suffered 3 losses in the Council Chamber.

Nick Griffin said of his decision to quit as leader by 2013:

“By then I would have been leader of the BNP for 15 years and that is long enough,”

“It will be time to make way for a younger person who does not have any baggage which can be used against the party.”

Griffin claims that his decision will allow him to concentrate on getting re-elected to the European Parliament.

Many commentators however will speculate on whether this is a compromise deal to ease Griffin out of the Leadership instead of facing yet another attempted hostile takeover.

500 Words From Mick Williams Non-Aligned Socialist Candidate For Hartshill and Penkhull


*****************************************
**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
*****************************************

It is exactly 40 years since I was first elected to the City Council. As a young(ish) enthusiastic Labour member I had a lot to learn. Coincidentally:
“Forty years it had taken him to learn just what kind of smile was hidden beneath that dark moustache. But it was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

(Closing lines of Orwell’s “Ëœ1984′)

Did Orwell’s moustache adorn the face of Stalin ? Mine certainly belonged to Peter Mandelson.
So what did I learn in the journey from County Borough through District Council to the current Unitary Authority ? Stoke was on a parallel learning curve but whereas their’s led to a revolving door for senior officers mine resulted in a determination to change things.

Sadly this has been frustrated in many ways.

From the old days of serving an apprenticeship before being entrusted to represent Labour, and being nominated by one’s peers, we now have self-nomination and a current candidate being thus nominated after just three week’s membership.
Independence and free thinking is discouraged, so I had to decide: conform, for an “Ëœeasy ride’ or stand by my principles, defend my integrity and leave my party of 46 years.

I went away for a couple of days with a blank sheet of paper. On the left I listed all the reasons for leaving the party; on the right those against.
It was no contest and I returned and emailed Gordon Brown to tell him why. I didn’t expect a reply but neither did I expect an “access denied” on Labour’s website the following day.

There are many good people left in the Party but they are outnumbered by shysters, crooks, control freaks/bullies and those obsessively ambitious to be an MP.
Gone are the days when we joined because we believed in socialism and I think the 2/3rds of members leaving since 1997 would say rather that Labour had left them.
So; is standing for a 1-year term a futile gesture ?

I think not, and am prepared to give a year of my (precious retirement) time in the hope that my experience will prove useful.

Of course I will diligently attend to all my constituents’ problems (they all say that but I have a track record to prove it) but my main contribution must be to change the system.

There is not much doubt that at present the officers are running rings round the members. Recent revelations (Stoke City’s “Ëœcharitable work’, use of “Ëœconsultants’, etc, etc) seem to prove this. We must make sure that the councillors we elect will properly represent us and not be just a “Ëœbuffer zone’ between citizens and the officials who are really calling the shots.
Does the City’s fate depend on the votes of the Hartshill and Penkhull electorate ? Certainly not, but I would hope to enthuse other councillors from across the three constituencies to develop a bit more independence and to challenge those things they feel are not in the interests of citizens.
They could do worse than follow the example of democracy4stoke’.

500 Words From Peter Hayward Independent Candidate For Trentham & Handford


*****************************************
**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
*****************************************

I posted my last campaign leaflet last Saturday. 5,000 plus dwellings!. I’ve lived in this Ward for 30 years but still have to admit to visiting some of those roads, streets ..tracks! for the first time. This is my first venture into local politics so thought it appropriate that I at least made the effort to find every “Ëœdoor’.

This week I have started to systematically walk around our ward just knocking on some of those doors, meeting people and asking their opinions on all things local. I feel that I can now begin to comment on what led me to the decision to stand for election, and what my aims would be if elected.

I accepted an offer from Staffordshire County Council to take early retirement in 1997 when Stoke on Trent took on Unitary status. Prior to that I had spent the previous twenty odd years helping the County Council, (in post as County Energy Manager), reduce it’s energy and water costs, by efficient procurement and reducing waste. I have worked in the private sector ever since.
During the last couple of years I’ve become more aware about the “Ëœgoings on’ at the Council and the need for change via the Sentinel and Pits n Pots (Lotto). The rise in the number of independent councillors and the decision this year to hold local elections as per normal, even though the term of office would be just 12 months proved too much of a temptation. I had to give it a go and stand up for what I believe.

I believe that the art of being a successful councillor is setting the correct balance between time spent developing community involvement and time spent contributing to the development and monitoring of City Council policy.

I think it futile and a little arrogant to imagine that if elected I will be able to make major changes to the present City Council policies during my 12 months in office. However, I’ll be looking for any opportunity to make comment and press for modifications where any policy under discussion could be in conflict with the wishes/interests of residents in Trentham and Hanford.

Four days of knocking on doors and listening is beginning to tell me that almost everyone in our area knows what they don’t want, but have few collective ideas for the future. The attempt to close Trentham High has obviously left an indelible image. The episode proved to the few remaining doubters that 2 of our 3 Ward councillors could not be trusted to properly represent us. More importantly, in my opinion, the Trentham High episode proved that there is enthusiasm and an ability to press for change in the community. We should surely all be trying to direct this enthusiasm towards building a bigger and better community spirit in the area by focusing on increasing facilities for young and old.

So what, if elected, will I be promising to do during the 12 months leading up to 2011?

Firstly I won’t be alone! Terry Fellows is already an active Independent Councillor in the area. Terry already has a proven record of providing support to residents in the Ward, I will be able to provide help and assistance to ensure that the present support system built up by Terry will continue to expand.
Secondly I intend to knock on quite a few more doors (figuratively speaking) to find out what actually makes the ward “Ëœtick’ (community groups, churches etc) and what additional services and facilities could reasonably be provided during the next 4 year council term. The information collected will provide a basis for a start to be made on further developing our three community associations during this 12 month term and help us to collectively produce a “ËœMini Manifesto’ listing our area “Ëœwants and priorities’ in time for the 2011 local elections.

Thirdly I will be attempting to start a process aimed ultimately at devolving more power to our community associations.

The next elections in 2011 will soon be upon us. I sincerely hope that you the residents of Trentham and Hanford will be prepared to trust me for these important 12 months leading up to 2011, despite being badly let down by some of your councillors in the past. Given that trust I will endeavour for my part to ensure that you are provided with a manifesto for 2011 ““ 2015 that properly reflects your wishes and aspirations.

Election Apathy

Every time there is an election there is always the discussion about apathy of the electorate. How many people are entitled to vote and how many people actually use their vote.

I have done a bit of research in to the general election to see how bad election apathy really is. In the last General Election only 52% of Stoke-on-Trent voters turned out, which is about 13% or around 24,000 people below the national average, which in itself it quite poor.

To put that in some kind of context, we would need the equivalent of the average gate of a Stoke City home game in people exercising their right to vote to bring us in line with the UK average.

Stoke-on-Trent Central was the worst turn out in the city with just 48.4% of the electorate voting. Surprisingly they were not the worst constituency in the UK, not by some way. Our near neighbours Staffordshire South hold the 2005 award for the lowest turn out with a pity-full 37.2% or 25,631 of their electorate turning out to vote.

Stoke-on-Trent Central doesn’t even make it in to the bottom 20 constituencies for the 2005 election!

That is the voters, who we know are quite apathetic, they have been for years. So what about the candidates?

It seems in Stoke-on-Trent they are not much better. As we know this is the first real election campaign that has used the Internet. There are more people tracking and following the election on-line than ever. With the campaigns being far more in the public domain that before it is easy to check and compare what candidates are doing. It is easy to question them on their policies and as a couple of candidates have found out to their cost in the past week or so, it is easy to spot their misdemeanour’s.

Democracy Club have spent a lost of time working with volunteers to build a questionnaire for all General Election candidates to complete. The questionnaire is a mixture of national policy questions and questions gathered from volunteers in the constituencies. The questionnaires have been E-mailed to every candidate that Democracy Club and their volunteers have an E-mail address for.

I have just looked at the 3 constituencies in Stoke-on-Trent and whether the candidates have completed the surveys yet.

Stoke-on-Trent North
John Fisher – Lib Dem
Melanie Baddeley – BNP
Andrew Large – Conservative
Joan Walley – Labour

Have all completed the questionnaire, you can see the results here
Geoff Locke – UKIP has not received the questionnaire yet as there is no E-mail address for him.

Stoke-on-Trent Central
Carol Lovatt – UKIP
John Redfern – Lib Dem

The other 8 candidates in this constituency have as yet not bothered to let the electorate know their answers to the questionnaire. I would have thought in this hotly contested seat the candidates would have used every means possible to engage with their potential voters. You can see the results here

Stoke-on-Trent South

In Stoke-on-Trent South Messrs Ali, Barlow, Breeze, Coleman, Flello, Follows & Rushton are all so confident that they have engaged with their electorate that not one single one of them has bothered to complete the questionnaire.

There isn’t much to see in Stoke-on-Trent South but if you really want to you can see the lack of results here.

Local election candidates don’t fair any better in the apathy stakes, we have contacted as many candidates as we can in the local elections and made it know that we are willing to publish 500 words but pretty much as we expected we have only had a 20% uptake on our offer.

500 Words Sharon Baggaley Independents Group Candidate For Fenton


*****************************************
**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
*****************************************

Please let me introduce myself to you all. I was born in Blurton, and have lived here all my life. I have been married for 17yrs, and have one daughter.

I am Vice-Chair of Governors for Heron Cross Primary School. Some of you might know me from campaigning for the pedestrian crossing by the school. We got our crossing, and can now cross to school in safety. I help out with various things at the school, so I feel that I know most of you already.

I am probably like most of you; want to see improvements in the city. Not money wasted on rubbish that does no good. I am a new candidate with a new approach. I am standing for Independent because I wish to make my own choices, not to follow what others say.

This year you are voting in candidate’s just for 12 months. I hope to help and do you all justice, so much that you will want to re-elect me in 2011. I will be pressing to retain all your services, in this area. I will of course support your resident associations, community groups or individuals.

I had my own Security business back in 2000, based in Fenton. Most of my working career has been in Security or Administration.

I would like to thank my family, friends and people who know me for their support in my campaign. I have met some lovely people whilst out and about in Fenton.