President heads south for Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

President Canal Boat steaming along a canal original picture from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/81647People from Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire are being invited to see history in the making as President, one of the world’s only remaining steam powered vessels begins its journey to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June.

The boat ‘President’, commissioned to take part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire. People can take up this opportunity to see President at the Etruria Industrial Museum this afternoon  (20 April) from 12pm before she leaves at 1:30pm. Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Ian Dudson and The Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Councillor Terry Follows will also be in attendance. Continue reading

Anthony Bamford and corporate dependency

I met one of the Bamfords, it might have been Anthony, in the mid 1980s. I was being interviewed for the position of Magistrate. The interview took place at Fenton Court. Mr Bamford was interested in my political activity especially whether I had demonstrated. Asking someone on the left during the middle of the Miners Strike if they had taken part in a demo was like asking whether a duck had taken to water. I had no problem with it and was perfectly open about my political affiliations and actions.

We move forward a quarter of a century and Sir Anthony Bamford’s political affiliations and actions are under scrutiny. His response seems to be far less open than mine all those years ago in Fenton. It seems that he has been funding the Tory Party and that over time he been providing leading Tories with all sorts of perks. Continue reading

Stoke-on-Trent Cleaner And Greener

Stoke-on-Trent is set to be a cleaner and greener city by this time next week. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is organising the biggest citywide clean up operation in its history next Thursday & Friday (22 & 23 April) for the city’s Cleaning and Greening Days.

Over 500 people will be taking to the streets of Stoke-on-Trent over the 2 days to clean up streets, parks, and open spaces. Around 80 locations around the city have been identified and will be targeted.

Over 300 staff from the city’s environmental services team and the Future Jobs Fund will be joined by over 250 community and private sector volunteers from organisations such as Michelin, Seddons, JCB, Amey, Highways Agency, Community payback, Schools, Groundworks, Love Stoke, Staffordshire Fire Authority, P.M.training, Business in the Community, CSV , Youth action, British waterways, YMCA & Local Community groups/Residents Associations. Together, they will be working from 7am until 7pm to clean up the city’s streets, parks, open spaces and town centres.

Chief Executive John van de Laarschot will be visiting one of the clean up sites on the day, and said, ‘This is about making Stoke-on-Trent a place that can stand up and say “Ëœwe have clean and green streets for everyone in the city’ and showing the community we are committed to keeping things that way. It should be the start of a series of events that gives people confidence in the city council to keep the city looking good and making sure we care for our environment. Once Cleaning and Greening Day is done, we want to hear from people who have spotted areas around the city that do need tidying up. We want people getting involved, telling us where their hotspots are and what needs to be done.

We want people to feel part of this and take real pride in their city by volunteering to help our teams and working with us to address the real problem areas where they are. Residents now need to do their part to make sure Stoke-on-Trent stays clean and green. We need people to stop throwing litter out of cars, stop getting rid of sweet wrappers, cigarette ends and crisp packets when they are walking on a pavement, and stop fly tipping because they think it’s the easy way to get rid of waste. We can’t afford to let this keep happening if we want to clean up our city. The city council can only enforce what we see, it’s up to the people who live and work here to change the culture and take responsibility for their actions when it comes to their environment. Our main aim is to get the city council, all our partners and the community working together to make the city a better place.’

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS! – WOL’S SUNDAY COMMENT!

week1tonywalley23Well that was a week that was! Monday saw the devastating news that Wedgwood had called in the receivers and JCB announced that they were shedding another 700 jobs!

It worries the hell out of me I can tell you and the hardship is not just being felt by the cities biggest companies. In all my years running a business I have never witnessed any thing quite like this.

The government have got to find a way to help businesses to cope in these most difficult times. The VAT reduction in real terms has done absolutely nothing to help industry. We have poured millions and millions of taxpayers money into the banks only to see them hang on to it. They are not passing the full reduction in interest rate cuts onto their mortgage customers and the fact that they are refusing to finance company purchases on things like plant,  machinery and vehicles is having a catastrophic effect on companies like JCB, Bentley, and the major car and commercial vehicle  manufacturers. Bentley have just announced that they will cease production for seven weeks.

The problem for most companies is, the orders are there, the means for the customers to finance these orders are not!

Government have also got to provide tax incentives to encourage companies to leave as much money as they can in their businesses. If this were to happen the credit companies would feel less insecure about financing company purchases. The government offer of £2500 for every employee taken of is no use at all. The incentive should be given to companies to reatain staff. If that were already in place it might just have saved many employees at Wedgwood and JCB!

Extremeism

I get accused at times for being a “BNP basher”! – I’m not actually, but I do admit to having an interest (perhaps unhealthy) in finding out what they are all about. A leaflet was emailed to the site last week that made me see why perhaps some people are supporting the BNP. This is the leaflet word for word:

“TERRORISM BY THE ILLEGITIMATE ISRAELI STATE AGAINST INNOCENT PALESTINIAN MUSLIMS!
Who is the biggest terrorist nation on earth (after Americ)?
Once again Ehud Olmert and his terrorist Israeli nation have demonstrated to the wold the true face of democracyand freedom in the middle East. recent events in occupied Palestine (which have left over 500 martyrs) have shown to us the brutality and hatred of the evil Israeli administration vehement in spilling the blood of innocent Muslims.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE JEWS
These Jews were thepoeple who were favoured by Allah (swt) and the prophetMoses (pbuh) was sent to this nation (Before Mohammad (pbuh)). However most Jewsrebelled against Allah (swt) and Moses (pbuh) and have been cursedfor ascribing to artners to Allah (swt) .
AMERICA AND BRITAIN SHOW THE HIPOCRISY WITHIN DEMOCRACY
The statements from the terrorist British and American states have proven that there can never be justice in the world until the laws of Allah (swt) are implimented in the world, [Khilifa (Islamic state )] . “i am deeply concerned by the continuing missile strikes from Gaza on Israel and by Israel’s response today.” (Gordon Brown)
“Tel Aviv has the right to self defence. ” (Zalmay Khalizad, US representative to the UNSC)
THE NEXT STEP
We advise the person who is reading this to become a Muslim (if they are not already a Muslim) and to join and support our brothers and sisters who are suffering in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, Chechnya, Indonesia, Somalia, Pakistan, Thailand, China ect and also help and support the Muslim prisoners held in illegal captivity all over the world.
ISLAM4UK.

We need to be aware that there are real Islamic Extremists living amongst us. These people want to destroy the very fabric of our society. They want an end to our countries traditions, our law and order, even our liberty! Me must work together to rid our city and ultimately our country of these groups. Now, before we go any further let us not forget that these people are a very small minority, who are not welcome among the Muslim communities of our city. They are banned from the mosques and have been known to circulate leaflets to young Muslim men in the hope that they can be turned to extremism. They are a threat to every peace loving Muslim in our city which makes up 99% of the population of the Asian  communities. These communities must work with the police and authorities to help identify those Muslims who harbour these extreme beliefs. There is no place in a multicultural society for those who are against that very ideal. I embrace multiculturalism but not a society where these people are left to peddle their own twisted brand of what is an essentially peaceful religion. Pitsnpots was forwarded a number of links to extremist websites but I do not want to put them into this article but, they leave you in no doubt that there are a very small number of Islamic Extremists in this great city who seek to push their own agenda. They are a threat to every decent Muslim family and I hope that they are driven out of not just this city, but indeed out of our country! (thanks to Button1001 for the website links, maybe he would give us his insight?)

Negativity

What is happening to our City? We as Stokies are turning into a city of moaners! Our cup always seems to be half empty instead of half full. Yes, I know we our facing an uncertain time withe the state of the economy and the worry over jobs, but that is a nationwide concern. Every issue seems to be surrounded by negativity. Take the BSF process, apart from the THS issue which is on going, we should be really excited by the prospect of having £250 million to spend on new state of the art school buildings. This money would also provide jobs (the builders can’t wait!), but the whole city has become bogged down on the argument regarding academies. These academies are a by-product of the BSF process and we are not going to have the funding without them. Every authority in the country will be forced to have them. All three main parties want them. Research will show there are good examples of Academies and bad examples of Academies. We as parents, governors, teachers, pupils and politicians should be working together to shape these buildings to suit our communities needs. The Trentham Action Group are one of the best things to come out of the BSF process. If every community formed such a group to ensure that there was enough parental representation on the governing bodies and maybe a “parents forum” as well, we can get what we want from these academies. If the TAG lose their fight to retain THS, by Christ they would be formidable in negotiating what’s best for their community with the LA and academy sponsors. It is essential that community representatives are involved in shaping these academies and I want the TAG model to be used in all communities with the sole aim in ensuring that the academies best represent the communities that they are in! It has to be easier to be involved on the inside, rather than standing on the outside moaning and being negative at the prospect of having something that we have no choice in. I know that Roger Ibbs is about as popular as a “fart in a space suit” in Trentham, but as Portfolio Holder for Education we need to work with him to ensure that parents have an input into these new schools. I have always said that a school should be a school by day and a Community & Sports Centre by night! Academies are coming, we need a say in how they are run and what they can give back to us!

The negativity runs deep in our council chamber too. I was reading some old articles the other day and I came across one of the articles we did on recycling. A great example of negativity was the Independents move to call in the decision on introducing the different recycling bins before the trial instead of after it! Surely the council would be better informed about whether it is right or wrong to go to this system if the results of the trial is known! Despite the economic downturn we want creativity from our council. We as a city should demand the best facilities that we can get! We are into a massive regeneration project, parts of our city are being renewed, but if Regen is handled with negativity and the reaction is the same as it has been over the BSF project, our city will not  benefit by the amount it should do! Have we in Stoke got the creativity on our council and the desire as an electorate to make our city a better place? I think with the demise of our pottery industry we need a new tourist attraction, as a part of our city vision for regeneration. We have some of the best Victorian parks in the country. Most of them being left to go to ruin and are left unattended. We should turn one of our city centre parks into a “Trentham Gardens”. It could bring the families back into the parks, imagine a retail village made up of specialist shops sympathetically built from green materials. Eating places to cater for all budgets, a visitor centre that shows our city traditions. Permanent leisure attractions for our enjoyment, a big wheel and so on! Do we have a council with the vision to deliver this sort of regeneration? Do we as a city population have the motivation to push for changes like these that will surely rebuild our city economy create jobs, and help bring back the feel good factor? We need a touch of the “YES WE CAN!” mentality I think!

Four Yearly All out Elections.

There is confusion surrounding the issue of whether to stay with the election system as it is or to go to four yearly all out elections as recommended by the Governance Commission. Make no mistake if the council vote on the 22nd of this month does not vote this change by a 2/3rds majority the government will FORCE the change upon the city! As long as there is a majority, it will happen! Many wanted all out elections this year so that we can start the new Council Leader system with a fresh start but everyone I’ve asked whether MP or Councillor or officer has said there is not the time.  If this is the case then there is no sense in having an election in 2010, we may as well wait until 2011. Don’t forget that we do not get to choose the council leader, only the councillors have that privilege! We just get to vote for our ward councillors. We must not panic if we do not have elections until 2011, if the chosen council leader turns out to be useless, the other councillors can move a vote of no confidence in him/her! Given the fact that it is the councillors that get to choose our leader, the issue of having to wait until 2011 is of no consequence! We can always lobby our ward councillors if we do not like the direction that our leader is taking the city. It should prove to be an interesting period in our political history and I admit to being excited at the prospect of all the jockying for positions we will witness! One thing is for certain though, whoever the councillors choose to be leader he/she will ultimately (along with our ward councillors) be answerable to us!

….And Finally!

I was informed that Roger Ibbs has this week driven through Trentham and witnessed more banners being put up, asking him to “save THS”.  So I’m off down Trentham road to see what went wrong with the border checkpoints and to ensure that the sniper elite is publicly flogged for this most serious breach of security. Apparently he had a tape measure and was heading for New Inn Lane…………………………..

As always your comments/thoughts/criticisms/Craig’s insults, are welcome on the above points.  Sorry it’s a bit late this week but, we went for a curry last night and that well known Johhny Cash tune “Ring of Fire” has been blasting out of the stereo all morning! This is my Sunday comment and I commend it to the blog………..