Stoke-on-Trent England First Candidate Caught In Racist Row

Audio with Dave Sutton Now Online

The England First candidate for Goldenhill & Sandyford Craig Pond has been caught in a racist row on an internet forum.

The hyper-local website My Tunstall has organised an online question and answers session for all the candidates standing in the area, Pond gave his views which included a racist outburst against the travelling community.

Mr Pond’s answer to this question – What are the biggest problems facing this area? ““ was: “The biggest problems facing the area are a continued lack of decent jobs, the complete lack of a centrally funded youth policy, and the giving away of properties to gypsies and anti-social scum”.

Mr Pond’s racist rant continued in his response to readers and online users’ comments in relation to the England First candidate’s answers to the questions set.

Settled gypsies?
That will be that coward that flirted his girlfriend off the quadbike and left her to die in the road?
Or perhaps it has something to do with a lorry being driven into a house?
Or the ridiculous amount of time the police have to spend at Lime Houses?
Or how about the weekly dose of violence and anti-social behaviour?
I’m 47 now, and in all that time I’ve never once heard anyone say, “oh good, here come the gypsies.”,
but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard them say, “oh Christ, here come the gypsies.”
The reputation gypsies have is entirely of their own making, if they don’t like being disliked by most of the community, they should bloody well change their behaviour!

This claim drew an angry response from one of the forum users who responded:

I think you need to look at some facts Mr Pond and not go shouting rubbish before you know them.
You appear to be a devisive and totally unsuitable candidate to be a councillor. Remember you should represent all the people who live in a ward whether or not you like their lifestyle, race and so forth.
I’m afraid that with your quite ludicrous opinion of your self worth and lack of knowledge of the democratic system, you would quite rightly be sidelined by the other political parties and the paid officials, which would do no good for a ward which needs considerable improvement.

There seemed to be genuine astonishment at Pond’s racism, another commenter said:

With sweeping generalisations like that i am sure you will make a valuable councillor
What a great way to alienate voters you must be so proud…

The England First candidate did seem to have a little support from one commenter who pointed out:

That aside, the guy is being up front about his views, which the voters (including you guys) may consider, one way or the other.

This comment caused another forum user to pose this interesting question:

that aside, aside from what? so if a person with gypsy heritage is having problem with kier and went to counciller pond he would be in his right to tell them to get stuffed? marks have you read what he put on the other sites, its just bile. hes anngry and bitter

Mr Pond was not to be deterred though and again went on an angry racist rant:

Look, if you people are happy to have the council fill your community with gypsies, then fine, but don’t get trying to tell me that they are a misunderstood, good at heart lot, really. You find one or two like that, but the majority aren’t, and they will cause your community problems.
Some of you sound like Labour zealots, you jump to the defence of the ‘ethnic minorities’, and if it isn’t them, then the council are giving away houses to drug dealers, sex offenders, and God knows what else. Why don’t you grow a pair and tell the truth for a change, that ignoring our sons and daughters in favour of outsiders with a preponderence for criminality is not now, nor will it ever be, good enough.
There are no lies in what I said earlier, gypsies have a rotten reputation that is solely their fault, if they want the attitude of the community to change, they should change their behaviour. If they don’t give a monkeys about the community, why should the community give a monkeys about them?

Pits n Pots have offered every candidate the opportunity of writing an unedited 500 [or so] word article and/or a 7 min audio interview which will start to hit the site over the next week or so.

This includes all the England First candidates. We made contact with Pond to ensure that he and his party were included and through his wife, said that he was not interested.

Over the past few months Pits n Pots have published a number of articles that have highlighted the extreme nature of Pond’s views which have been conveyed through his writing on both the England First and PCF websites.

These have included outrageous claim and slurs against individuals, anti Muslim and Islamaphobic comments as well as anti gay and homophobic insults.

Ponds anti traveller views have come out into the open on previous occasions, when he was a mamber of the BNP he wrote a very anti gypsy article which angered the then BNP Leadership. The article was to eventually lead to Pond being told he was no longer wanted in the BNP fold.

See the attached article below from the Pits n Pots archives.

Not content with insulting the traveller community, Ponds also attacked his fellow candidates on the My Tunstall website.

Here’s the difference Jon, I tell the truth, if you don’t like that, vote for one of the third rate candidates you’ll find yourself left with.
Vote for Dave Sutton, him and his party cheated Eve Maley out of her rightful position as councillor in Northwood and Birches Head, or how about a second term of Megan Ryan? During her last term, you lost your golf course, your swimming pool, your S106 money, Bankeyfields residents still have to play whacky races to get off and on to their estate, and the allocation of houses to undesirables seems to be running at its usual sprint.
Maybe you could go all out for a third rate service and vote for Joy Garners husband! He represnts Labour, the party completely responsible for ripping this city apart, who in 60+ years of control have only managed to oversee the collapse and destruction of what used to be a viable and successful industrial city.
You need to take a cold, hard look at what your community needs, because I’m pretty sure that most would agree with me on some of the inhabitants. You will never have a safe and successful community whilst you refuse to see the problems that are holding you back, and safe and secure must be the target for most people. Violence and intimidation reduce drastically the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of your community, so change the behaviour of those responsible for such behaviour, or kick them out.
In my questions, I was asked by Matt Burke which members of the community were my priority, and I answered the decent, law abiding ones. Whoever or whatever falls into that category will have my full support, whether gypsy, indigenous, or bloody eskimo.

The public would be hard pressed to believe his last paragraph given the history of his extreme comments on this site and others.

Ponds Claim about Eve Maley drew this response from a very angry ex Lib Dem Councillor Dave Sutton:

Craig,
I spent 4 times down in the Royal Courts of Justice in London over 21 months, at no time was it ever reported or insinuated that I robbed Mrs.Maley of being a councillor. there was 2 extra counts in London which nothing changed in the counts I still won and the Judge in the old Magistrates Court in the Victoria Hall in Hanley gave me the ruling in favour of me being elected still winning by the ONE vote.
It is now past history, now things have moved on and I have served and worked hard for 3 years as a councillor in Northwood and Birches Head and I have served Tunstall well for 4 years in the past 2003 to 2007.
When you see my leaflet in the coming weeks read it and weep and see what I have been doing in Goldenhill and Sandyford.
Its a pity you cannot get your facts right you racists never do, but carry on with your racist overtones people will see through you for the bigot that you are.
David Sutton

Dave also gives his views in the Audio interview below.

It would appear that the communities of Goldenhill & Tunstall are beginning to realise just what an extreme candidate that they have in England First’s Craig Pond.

Stoke-on-Trent Central CLP Reject Sutton – Sutton Rejects The Lib Dems!

Stoke-on-Trent CLP have rejected a membership application from current Liberal Democrat Councillor Dave Sutton.

Cllr Sutton was suspended from the Labour Party for 5 years for standing as a Liberal Democrat. That suspension expires in May 2010. Cllr Sutton has hit out at the Labour Party and the Labour Group on the City Council for rejecting his application. He also attacked the Liberal Democrats for their lack of support regarding his election to the City Council and the controversial count which led to Eve Maley lodging a complaint and instigating a legal process which eventually ended in failure. He Confirmed that he will not stand for the Liberal Democrats in the future and that he has not renewed his party membership. [Listen to the audio interview below]

It is understood that the Labour Party have rejected his application because his suspension still has nine months to run. This would however, prevent Cllr Sutton standing as a Labour Candidate in the 2010 all out council elections.

Councillor Mohammed Pervez, leader of the Labour Group dismissed claims that Cllr Sutton was ‘blacklisted’ from joining the Labour Party. [Listen to the audio interview below]

Liberal Democrat leader Kieran Clarke has been aware that Cllr Sutton was trying to get back into the Labour Party but confirmed that he is welcome to stay with the Liberal Democrat. [Listen to the audio interview below]

Cllr Sutton now intends to stand as a non aligned councillor in next years council elections. Subject to the Boundary Committee review, he is considering standing in the Sandyford or Tunstall ward.

Standing Outside Political Parties

A public meeting was held in the Stoke-on-Trent council chamber on 27th April at 6pm to hear from people who had decided to stand as candidates in the local elections not aligned to political parties. Harry Smallwood chaired the meeting.

Four people gave brief talks:

MICK WILLIAMS (Hartshill and Penkhull) said there is a different mood in politics. People have left political parties and even some remaining in parties are uneasy. The reason for the meeting is to find out why. Democracy for Stoke fought for and succeeded in getting a referendum in 2008 which got rid of the elected mayor system. Dai Davies, “Ëœpeople’s voice’ MP for Blaenau Gwent 2006-2010 had given inspiration. People are prepared to challenge impositions on them.

EVE MALEY (Northwood and Birches Head) had battled with the council for 6 years. She said in 2004 the director of RENEW had come to the block of homes where she lived in Northwood and told them their homes were unfit for human habitation. A freedom of information request revealed they had offered £1.8million to demolish the block. Residents fought to try to save their homes, took the council to court 4 times and had a public enquiry but they were told there was a compelling need for their land for regeneration. Eve then stood in the local election and described what happened. She said on the first count she gained one more vote than Liberal Democrat Dave Sutton, the same on the first recount, the same on the second recount with different counters, the same on the third recount. On the fourth recount 2 more votes were found for Dave Sutton so he won by one. Eve was denied a further recount. She challenged Paul Hackney in the high court because of votes being removed from the table and because he had initially said there were only 3 recounts. She lost the case.

MARJORIE BATE (Fenton) had left the labour party and was really upset about it, but said there was no democracy in the party, people who had worked hard were refused as candidates and the party just wanted members to be nodding donkeys. She is not, she is there for the people so is now non-aligned.

ALAN JOYNSON (Stoke and Trent Vale) had been in the council 4 years. He was elected Labour but walked away after 12 months because parties don’t work. He did not like being forced to vote against his conscience, he was not there for a party’s benefit or his own benefit, he is there to represent people. He encouraged people to forget political parties and vote for the individual.

There then followed a discussion raising the problems of the local government act 2000, the cabinet system, cabinet ignoring scrutiny, officers running the council and too much money spent on consultants.

DAI “that can not be right” DAVIES then spoke. (I have given him this middle name because he kept saying it.) He said the cabinet system is only a bit less barking mad than the elected mayor system. We are not being allowed to keep a good committee structure instead because “Ëœthey’ don’t want everyone involved in making decisions. In current political structures, especially in the Labour party, the leaders would rather have fewer members as long as they vote for them. Labour use all women short lists to keep certain men out. Women as well as men don’t generally like these lists. This is what started people’s voice in Blaenau Gwent. Peter Law had stood against the Labour party in the 2005 general election because it imposed a candidate on a constituency. He was very active and well known and liked in the constituency and won with a 46% swing from Labour to independent with a majority of 9,600. (I found it very interesting that such a large swing is actually possible ““ voters take note ““ if you vote however you really believe there is a chance it can make a difference.) Peter Law sadly died and Dai Davies was elected in 2006. Dai Davies warned politicians “take the people who elect you for granted at your peril”. He spoke out against the government taking democracy away from communities and giving it to spin doctors. The whip system has destroyed politics and power corrupts. Politics needs to get back to the people. (I liked Dai.)

There followed a lengthy discussion including solid values in Stoke-on-Trent, real issues that affect people, not being allowed to speak out, unjust accusations made against people who speak out, persecution and bullying, lack of democracy because of imposed bodies, common purpose, corruption, secrecy, transition board, imposed election systems and parachuted candidates. One issue that cropped up was a number of individuals who had had their comments on pits’n’pots tracked, counted and printed and had been told off for contributing to pits’n’pots or what they had said on the site.

There was a discussion about whether to set up a new sort of party, some people favoured this and one person suggested the name “Ëœultimate sense ““ US’. Others did not favour a party. Alan Joynson for one said he wouldn’t want to be in a party, he wants to promote individual thinking. (I agree with Alan.)

Over to you ““ what do you think about people who stand for election outside the party structure? Risk everything (especially if you are in a party) ““ comment at your peril!

Cllr Dave Sutton Speaks Ahead Of Standards Hearing

Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor Dave Sutton has confirmed that he will accept the findings of the City Council Standards Committee Hearings Sub Committee which meets on 28th April to hear complaints made against him relating to an incident at a meeting of the Newshaw Walk residents’ association.

The Northwood & Birches Head councillor has also expressed his dissapointment for what he describes as a ‘rare drop in my own personal standards’.

Councillor Sutton said:

“I will be telling the hearing that I accept the findings of the Monitoring Officers report and wish to apologise if I have caused any distress to the complainants.

I do not wish to argue with the findings in the report. I have not been the subject of a standards complaint in the past and apologise for this rare drop in my own personal standards”.

The complaints are understood to be related to an incident at a resident association meeting which resulted in a complaint being made by the chairman which was supported by Eve Maley who lost out to Cllr Sutton by one vote at the 2008 local election.

Mrs Maley is contesting the upocoming election in the Northwood & Birches Head ward as an Independent candidate. She will be trying to defeat sitting councillor and current Lord Mayor Jean Bowers.

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.

21 Month Long Dispute Uphold’s Sutton Victory.

A 21 month long disputed election result has upheld the original declared victor.

Dave Sutton was declared the duly elected candidate for the ward of Northwood & Birches Head in 2008 after a number of recounts.

Independent candidate Eve Maley disputed the result and claimed that she was the rightful winner.

A 21 month long legal process and bitter dispute ensued.

Yesterday after a whole host of High Court hearings, a two day public inquiry at Hanley Town Hall declared that the election and it’s result was lawful.

Mrs Maley was disappointed by the outcome and has now set her sights on standing as a candidate in the forth coming General Election in Stoke-on-Trent Central against sitting MP Mark Fisher.

Speaking in today’s Sentinel Mrs Maley said:

"I don’t regret doing this at all.

"The inquiry has shown that dozens of mistakes have been made, but they have still come down in the council’s favour.

"I’m not just going to give up. This council needs to be challenged and that is why I am going to stand as an MP."

Dave Sutton, who is a member of the Liberal Democrats, spoke exclusively to Pits’n’Pots today and you can hear this Audio Interview at the bottom of this article.

Dave speaks openly and honestly about the stress that this has caused him over the past 21 months.

Update 21/4: Council election dispute back in the High Court

By Matt Taylor

Update 21/4:

The case over a Hanley woman who took legal action against the council over a disputed election result has still not been resolved despite spending the last two days in the High Court.

Eve Maley took the city council to court over the election for Northwood and Birches Head because she felt aggrieved that the Liberal Democrats were allowed multiple recounts which led to the eventual announcement of their representative Dave Sutton being declared the winner by one vote, when Eve had been ahead in the previous three totals.

There is now debate over a missing postal vote which could hold the key to Eve achieving her aim of changing the result of the election with the possibility of a re-run.

But although these were counted yesterday, no decision has yet been made and there will now be a further hearing, which is to happen next Friday, 30th October, at an as-yet undisclosed location.

The battle thus far has cost Mrs Maley seven thousand pounds, with further costs still adding up paid for by legal aid, as well as mounting costs to the taxpayer for lawyers representing the city council.

As published on October 19th:

Eve outside her home in Eaton Street

Eve outside her previous home in Eaton Street (now subject to a CPO)

Eve Maley, aged 64, from Hanley, took umbridge when the vote to elect a councillor for Northwood and Birches Head last year went against her by one vote – after several recounts.

In the first three counts Eve was found ahead in the ballot. But with Dave Sutton being second in the running, the Lib Dems called for the multiple recounts which led to the fourth overturning the decision, instead putting Sutton one ahead. It was when this occurred and after Eve was refused the right to a recount herself, that she decided to take action against the council.

But a year-and-a-half on, several hearings in the Royal Courts of Justice, and costly appearances by QCs on behalf of both Eve and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, nothing has been resolved. And today’s hearing before a commissioner was no exception.

However, it does seem as if the long battle is coming to a long-awaited conclusion.

The case has taken a turn from what it was originally concerned with, as the count of votes which were delivered by the city council to the courts did add up to the tally declared in the final count. Now it has come down to postal votes, because the numbers published by the Returning Officer did not add up correctly, meaning there was one missing vote. Since this vote could have been for Eve, the argument is that, of course, it would have led to a draw.

The postal votes and spoilt ballot papers therein will be examined tomorrow, when Eve returns for another appearance in the big smoke. But this could still not be the last, with a possible final hearing to happen in Stoke before the matter is ultimately resolved. Eve said:

“We got what we wanted in that they are going to check the postal votes. There’s one missing and they can’t account for that. So it could have been declared a draw.

“The commissioner wasn’t happy that the whole thing had taken 18 months.

“But it could still not be sorted tomorrow and if not will be completed in Stoke. It’s been a nightmare.

“If they had just given me a recount in the first place, then either way the result went, none of this would have happened.

“The best outcome is the truth – what went on needs to come out. People who voted for me need to know the truth.”

Battle-worn resident could win election re-run

By Matt Taylor

Eve Maley, who will be 64 on Sunday, has had her fair share of battles in recent years. She has fought long and hard to remain in the house she and her husband John bought and paid for. Now, an election which she feels she was swindled out of could be re-run as a result of a case she took all the way to the High Court.

Eve outside her home in Eaton Street

Eve outside her home in Eaton Street

The case began when Eve, having stood in the local election for the Northwood and Birches Head ward last year, was declared as runner-up ““ but only after three recounts (four according to some accounts) had taken place. Eve had been in front by a single vote in all but the final count, and hence took umbridge at the fact that so many tallies were taken before an extra two papers were found for Lib Dem Dave Sutton and he was announced as the winner.

Eve has always maintained that the council didn’t want someone like her anywhere near the chamber (given that she was kicking up such a fuss about the council issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on her and her neighbours´ homes) and that there must have been some sort of conspiracy to stop her succeeding at all costs. The council asserts that everything was carried out correctly and in accordance with legislation.

On Tuesday this week, the case was before the High Court in London and has now come down to a missing postal vote which could potentially have evened up the tally. Although this was not the initial dispute in the election, because there were supposed to be 716 postal votes, and the final total only accounted for 715, the absent ballot could have been marked for Mrs Maley. Her lawyers now believe that they have a strong case to get the outcome of the election quashed, which would mean a local by-election. The case has now been adjourned for 21-days. Mrs Maley said:

“It has taken twelve months to get this far and this will be five times at court ““ yet nobody can make a decision. I just wish they would decide one way or another.

“I am just worn out with it. But as far as I am concerned it is a serious issue ““ people’s votes.”

With all the publicity that Eve has received, and the sympathy felt for her in her community, it is likely that in the event of a fresh vote, she would attract a lot of support. But in the midst of the fray, she is now having to negotiate with the city council after losing the right to stay in her home, which is taking its toll. She added:

“We have had to start negotiating on the house now as well. The council have said lower £90,000s, then they said 95k is their final offer. But this house was valued at £130 thousand by Quigleys only last year and the council offered me £112,000. But at the time everthing was up in the air and we were still battling in court against the CPO. I know that the market has gone down since then but we want a fair price so we can move to one of the waterside apartments and at least have a nice view like we have here.

“I told them £98,000 and that’s my final offer ““ I’ve already lost thirty thousand off the value. They just want to keep trying to cut you down on it every time. It’s really bad. I’ve been forced out of my own home, but if I don’t get the right money, I’ll stay here for another twelve months until they drag us out.”

RESIDENTS GIVE UP FIGHT FOR THEIR HOMES

By Matt Taylor

“Well at least they didn’t beat me,” said May, days before she died, “at least I didn’t have to leave my home.”

“If only she knew,” says Eve.

Eve Maley, after becoming high on the enemy list at Stoke City Council, has finally had to admit that she can’t go on with the fight to remain in the house in which she thought she would spend the rest of her life.

Eve and the residents of 18 other properties in Eaton Street, Northwood, began a campaign to save their homes after they were told they had to move out because of structural problems which they maintained were a fabrication.
But five years down the line, thousands out-of-pocket after putting the issue in front of High Court on repeat occasions, many homeowners giving up the battle, and three of the residents, including May, dying since the process began, there was little left to fight for. Eve said:

“There’s only four of us left and it’d be another £15 thousand plus waiting another couple of years. It just can’t go on. Now there’ll be another fight over what they give us for the houses, because they’ll be claiming the price has come down now.

“We’ve been told that we’ve got nine months to come to an agreement with the council. If we don’t go then they can throw us out two months later.”

The remaining residents now have to appoint an independent valuer so that a figure can be agreed for their property ““ after negotiating with the valuation officer from the council. And the homeowners will be given 10% on top and other costs for moving and inconvenience. But even if a fair deal is come to, for these people it was never about the money. They were happy where they were, but were being forced to move out of the house they thought was their own. Eve added:

“It’s all very sad after five years. I haven’t a clue where I’m going to go. I didn’t even bother looking before the judgment because that would be admitting defeat. But it seems we’ve got to go. In light of the recent news, it seems like stupidity to be knocking down houses when there is a lack of affordable housing.”

Eve is also battling to get a decision overturned which saw her lose the council election for Northwood and Birches Head in which she was beaten by a single vote after several recounts. There is doubt over how many counts there were and why there were more than three counts when Mrs Maley was found to be in front in the initial two. She added:
“I’m hoping to get the decision overturned ““ otherwise I’ll be standing against Jean Bowers in the next election.”

Renewal at what cost?

Renew has had some pretty bad publicity in the last couple of years – and rightly so.

It seems that the council employs these agents to do its dirty work, thinking people will fall for the con. Evidently, the people of Stoke aren’t as daft as they think.

Admittedly, Stoke-on-Trent has had some bad press in recent years and okay, it’s no Britain in Bloom contender. But this does not mean that in some misguided effort to attract people and businesses to the area, we should demolish all the old houses, and destroy the communities along with them.

In the name of regeneration, this council is ruining people’s lives.  In Middleport, and Hanley, the council or Renew plan to bulldoze thousands of houses, for no good reason.  And elderly citizens wanting nothing but to live out their retirement in peace form a large proportion of those unlucky enough to suffer the consequences.

I have ‘had it up to here’ with local councillors who say that it’s unfortunate for residents who have been living in their houses for half a century, but that it’s the bigger picture they should be looking at.  Perhaps they should go and tell that to poor 74-year-old Joan Dutka who paid her mortgage off 40 years ago.  With the stress she was put under when she was forced to leave Wellington road, Joan is hardly likely to be thinking of the future generations who will benefit from the yuppie apartments they’re about to build on the newly flattened land near the canal.

Stoke is traditionally a working-class area, where not so long ago Labour was so well-backed that it was futile to enter a Lib Dem or Tory vote at the ballot.  But this sort of behaviour is proof that local Labour councils have lost their socialist roots as much as central government.  The ex-miners and ex-potters – voters who have consistently put Labour into power in this area – are the very people being thrown out of the houses they worked hard for all their lives.  It really is no wonder the BNP are stepping in to pick up votes at the elections.

In a handful of select areas, Renew have actually done some valuable work.  In Normacot, money has been invested in refurbishing the Victorian town houses instead of bringing them to the ground.  But after getting people on side with what now looks like a publicity stunt more than anything else, the council and Renew have had their heads together and decided this sort of thing is a waste of money.

What they’ve now realised is that it’s far more profitable to throw people out of their homes, demolish them for whatever reason they can get an “Ëœexpert’ to say is valid,  and then plan to build four-bedroom houses that the now homeless residents can scarcely afford.

And this is occurring without any scrutiny.  Having spoken to councillors and MPs from the Labour to the Liberal and the “Ëœindependents’ about the issue, I can confirm that none of them are prepared to do anything other than pay a lip-service of sympathy to those who are suffering the effects of the unscrupulous policy they support.

It is clear that this city needs redevelopment.  But this is no way to go about it.  The council is coming up with a plan of what to do and seeking any way it can to show it is necessary.  And if anyone gets in the way, it’s nothing a compulsory purchase order (CPO) won’t sort out.

Eve Maley’s house overlooks the park in Northwood ““ where she has spent 40 years of married life.  She doesn’t want to move, but an insistent council says she will.  It is little wonder, then, that this disillusioned 63-year-old is standing for election next month.  Her ward is being targeted for “Ëœmajor intertvention’ by Renew, meaning other constituents may soon find themselves in the same boat. So I imagine she’ll get a lot of support.