Lord Mayor’s Charity Race Night Tonight

Councillor Roger Ibbs the Karaoke King of Stoke-on-Trent is hosting a Charity Race Night for the Lord Mayors charities, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and Child Victims of Crime at the Jubilee Hall in Stoke tonight

Tickets cost just £10 per person and include a pie and pea supper with all the proceeds going to the charities. There will also be an auction of Sporting Memorabilia and a raffle during the night.

There are opportunities to sponsor the races and the runners & riders.

Tickets are available on the door tonight or by contacting the Mayors office on 01782 232625 during office hours today.

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.

Lord Mayor’s Charity Race Night – Wednesday 3rd February

A Race Night has been organised in aid of the Lord Mayor, Cllr Jean Bowers charities on Wednesday 3rd February at the Jubilee Hall in Stoke.

Tickets cost just £10 per person and include a pie and pea supper. There will also be an auction of Sporting Memorabilia.

There are opportunities to sponsor the races and the runners and riders.

The evening is being hosted by Cllr Roger Ibbs.

Roger is not only a councillor and a part time chiropodist, he is also a Karaoke King and Stoke-on-Trent’s answer to John McCririck!

Race Nights are fun, you can place bets and win a few bob, enjoy a drink and a good nosh up and you can also win several great raffle prizes.

Pits’n’Pots will be there on the night and are willing to share the total of our racing knowledge, which like our political knowledge is the equivalent of bugger all!

The Lord Mayor has selected two charities she will raise money for during her mayoralty ““ Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and Child Victims of Crime.

Further details can be obtained by contacting Denise at the Lord Mayor’s office OR Roger Ibbs on 07737 273036.

You can also fill the contact form in on this site with your detail and we will do the rest.

So join Roger Ibbs and the Lord Mayor for a great evening’s entertainment at the Jubilee Hall on February 3rd and LETS GO RACING!!

Stoke City Players To Switch On Christmas Lights

By Mike Rawlins

Stoke City first team & management team will be guests of honour at the switch on of the Christmas lights in Hanley this year.

Tony Pulis said “It’s a great honour for the football club to be invited to turn on the Christmas lights. To see so many people turn out will be magnificent and shows what a fantastic city Stoke-on-Trent is. It’s the type of event that brings together all types of people and communities, and the football club is proud to be a part of something so special. “We see people cheering us on every week in the Premier League, but this is something different, something that puts us right at the heart of so many people’s lives at a special time of the year, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

The team will be joined in Fountain Square by Potters fan Nick Hancock, who will compare the evening to ensure everything goes smoothly. Nick said: “I love Christmas time and I love Stoke-on-Trent, so I am genuinely looking forward to this event, it will be great fun!”

A whole day’s entertainment is planned from 10am, with Stoke City’s double decker bus decking out the street with a mini football pitch, Table Tennis, Competitions and giveaways, along with mascots Pottermus and Pottermiss, and a chance to meet former heroes, first team and academy players during the day

At 3:30pm, the Pre-Count Down Stage Show starts in Fountain Square. Hosted by BBC Radio Stoke’s Tim Wedgwood, highlights include the Stoke-on-Trent Male Voice Choir and the City Music & Performing Arts Service.

Then, at 5:00pm, The Black Watch Marching band will lead the Christmas Lights Parade through the city centre, starting at the Victoria Hall. The band will take in Marsh Street, Piccadilly, Stafford Street and Lamb Street before sweeping down into Fountain Square. They will be leading mascots from Stoke City, Port Vale, Kier Stoke and Signal 1, dance groups and school pupils to fountain square, with Santa Claus bringing up the rear on his sleigh.

Taking part in the parade will be 60 children from the city’s lantern project, who will be designing a variety of large Christmas lanterns over the previous day that they will be carrying through the city centre on the night.

Then, the countdown show begins at 5:30pm, with special guests taking part in the event before the official switch on by the players at around 6:45pm.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Jean Bowers, will also be part of the lights’ switch on. She said: “There is plenty for everyone to enjoy at this year’s event. The Stoke City players bring a touch of Premier League class to the event and I’m sure it will be a huge success.”

“Councillors are trying to force me out for saying it like it is”

By Matt Taylor

The Chairman of a city neighbourhood group says he is being forced out of his position because he says it “like it is”.

Geoff Brookes, aged 64, lives in flats off Bucknall New Road and runs the Newshaw Walk residents’ association which meets at the Elim Church.

But the 40-year-long resident of the tenements claims that councillors and officials of the council are attempting to push him out because they think he is a “stirrer”.

Geoff maintains that he is simply standing up for the rights of people who live in the flats, which are divided between owner-occupation and council/housing association rental. He said:

“[councillor] Jean Bowers came to a meeting – the first one she’d been to in twelve months – and sat through it with arms folded.

“People were saying, ‘we only see her when she wants the votes’. So I put the question to her, “Would you mind telling these people what you have done for them?” And she said, “Nothing,” and then added, “but you haven’t asked me to do anything.”

“Then I got a letter from the council saying they don’t like how meetings are being run and they will not participate in them.

“I called Jean Bowers because I wanted to sort the situation out. And she said she would send [Northwood and Birches Head councillor] Dave Sutton to the next meeting.

“But Dave Sutton came along and started handing out copies the letter which was addressed to me outside the meeting.

“Then he came in, sat down, and started reading the letter out.

“I told Dave Sutton to stop reading it as he was disrupting the meeting. But he just kept on reading.

“So I said if he wanted to read it, he should wait till ‘any other business’ or leave. So he left, saying “I’ve never been thrown out of a meeting before”. And then he handed out copies of the letter to people outside.

“I hadn’t had chance to bring the matter up yet with the committee so hadn’t asked them what they thought.So then I asked everyone present if anyone disagreed with me being the chairman, and I had unanimous support from everyone in the room.”

Geoff claims that councillors have now boycotted his meetings, and that council officers will no longer talk to him. He added:

“I feel as if they are trying to force me out. By saying it like it is, I am looked on as a stirrer.

“I am not interested in politics, I am just interested in people.

“I have now put in a complaint against Sutton because he shouldn’t have read a private letter out, or handed it out to members of the public.”

But Dave Sutton said that Geoff is simply a persistent complainer. He said:

“I can’t comment because he has made an official complaint to the council about me.

“He has made complaints about everyone.

“I know you want both sides of the story but it would be wrong at the moment for me to comment, especially as I also have the case over the election still coming up as well.”

Residents’ associations – where are they?

By Nicky Davis With the next stage of the boundary committee’s consultation due to run from 27th October to 18th January and no evidence of much action being taken following the 8th September council meeting, I have today (14th October) submitted the following complaint to the council, to try to get something moving! I have made a number of telephone requests to ask for the details of residents’ associations on the council’s web site: http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/community–people-and-living/residents–associations/ which is woefully out of date, to be corrected. This is because I am a firm believer in grass roots democracy, wish to see residents’ associations thrive and believe this would be good for residents, communities and the city. It would help to facilitate this if the list of residents’ associations on the web were accurate! Unfortunately the response I have had to my polite requests has been non-existent. This is why I am now regrettably submitting this complaint to the council. At the full council meeting on 8th September on the council report to the boundary committee, Cllr Joy Garner also pointed out inaccuracies in the list of residents’ associations. She said the boundary committee should have a full and correct list. The Lord Mayor Jean Bowers actioned Chris Harman to do this. This gave me some hope that something would be done, but I have lost that hope now. If the boundary committee have been given a full and correct list, why can’t this list be made available to the rest of us on the council’s web site? If the boundary committee have not been given the correct list, that is even more of a disgrace. With the next stage of the boundary committee’s consultation http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/boundary-reviews/all-reviews/west-midlands/staffordshire/stoke-on-trent-electoral-review due 27th October to 18th January, it is especially important to have a proper list of residents’ associations and what areas they cover. It is my view that when new ward boundaries are decided they should not split residents’ associations. There are potential complexities, especially if neighbourhood zones might be important in deciding ward boundaries. Where I live, the residents’ association crosses the boundary of two neighbourhood zones. In order for a proper consideration of ward boundaries to take place, I would make a further request, that a map is made available on the web site showing the exact areas, to street level, covered by all the residents’ associations. This information exists, for example see the map on: http://www.trenthampeople.co.uk/Map.htm It just needs someone in the council who has this for all associations to put it together. In summary, what I am asking in order for my complaint to be properly addressed is for (a) a full and correct list of residents’ associations and (b) a map showing the exact areas covered by all residents’ associations, to be made available on the council’s web site, prior to 27th October when the next stage of the boundary committee’s consultation commences. I thank you in advance for your help.

Residents’ associations – where are they?

By Nicky Davis

With the next stage of the boundary committee’s consultation due to run from 27th October to 18th January and no evidence of much action being taken following the 8th September council meeting, I have today (14th October) submitted the following complaint to the council, to try to get something moving!

I have made a number of telephone requests to ask for the details of residents’ associations on the council’s web site:

http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/community–people-and-living/residents–associations/

which is woefully out of date, to be corrected.  This is because I am a firm believer in grass roots democracy, wish to see residents’ associations thrive and believe this would be good for residents, communities and the city.  It would help to facilitate this if the list of residents’ associations on the web were accurate!

Unfortunately the response I have had to my polite requests has been non-existent.  This is why I am now regrettably submitting this complaint to the council.

At the full council meeting on 8th September on the council report to the boundary committee, Cllr Joy Garner also pointed out inaccuracies in the list of residents’ associations.  She said the boundary committee should have a full and correct list.  The Lord Mayor Jean Bowers actioned Chris Harman to do this.  This gave me some hope that something would be done, but I have lost that hope now.  If the boundary committee have been given a full and correct list, why can’t this list be made available to the rest of us on the council’s web site?  If the boundary committee have not been given the correct list, that is even more of a disgrace.

With the next stage of the boundary committee’s consultation

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/boundary-reviews/all-reviews/west-midlands/staffordshire/stoke-on-trent-electoral-review

due 27th October to 18th January, it is especially important to have a proper list of residents’ associations and what areas they cover.  It is my view that when new ward boundaries are decided they should not split residents’ associations.  There are potential complexities, especially if neighbourhood zones might be important in deciding ward boundaries.  Where I live, the residents’ association crosses the boundary of two neighbourhood zones.

In order for a proper consideration of ward boundaries to take place, I would make a further request, that a map is made available on the web site showing the exact areas, to street level, covered by all the residents’ associations.  This information exists, for example see the map on:

http://www.trenthampeople.co.uk/Map.htm

It just needs someone in the council who has this for all associations to put it together.

In summary, what I am asking in order for my complaint to be properly addressed is for
(a) a full and correct list of residents’ associations and
(b) a map showing the exact areas covered by all residents’ associations,
to be made available on the council’s web site, prior to 27th October when the next stage of the boundary committee’s consultation commences.

I thank you in advance for your help.

We will remember them

Source: PKB Blog

Those four words, the final line of the verse which is read at war memorials annually, conclude the 7-verse poem, For The Fallen, which was read by the Head Girl and Head Boy of Brownhills High School, Tunstall this afternoon during the hour-long unveiling ceremony of the new commemorative wall in Tunstall Memorial Gardens.

Joan Walley MP for Stoke North (centre), the Lord Mayor, Cllr Jean Bowers, the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, the Leader of the City Council, Cllr Ross Irving and several hundred people attended the unvieling of the granite plaques bearing the names of those who lost their lives serving their country in the First World War. The finely proportioned 21′ high memorial obelisk in the centre of the Gardens was unveiled in 1928. Built of Hollington stone the obelisk does not carry any names so nearly three years ago the Friends of Tunstall & District War Memorial Group was formed to campaign for an additional memorial which could carry the names of all those  from the area who gave their lives in the Great War.

Dazzling flower display to make rare shipwreck bloom

By Tony Walley.

A rare 18th century shipwreck is to be brought back to life in a dazzling display of flowers for a prestigious horticultural show.

Greenfingered workers at Stoke-on-Trent City Council are preparing thousands of flowers for the award winning authority’s entry into the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Show this week.

More than 3,500 flowers are being nurtured to ensure a replica wreck of 200-year-old Royal Navy ship HMS Swift is in full bloom for the week-long show.

The ship hit rocks while undertaking surveys off Patagonia in 1770. It was discovered in 1982 and was excavated between 1998 and 2006. The wreck was found to be wreck laden with rare and preserved North Staffordshire tea and table wares, many in almost perfect condition. The Argentinean National Institute of Anthropology called on the expertise of Stoke-on-Trent City Council archaeologists last summer to uncover the history of the finds, and the artefacts are now on permanent display in Patagonia, some 7,000 miles from where they were made.

HMS Swift’s discovery has been ranked alongside the Mary Rose and Batavia as among the most important and best preserved archaeological sites in the world.

A team of nine council workers have recreated the Georgian ship, out of reclaimed railway timbers from a Stoke-on-Trent path. Flowers, including blue lobelias, white alyssum and juncas twister represent the swaying sea and seaweed, with echeverias and rosette shaped succulents suggesting coral that thrives around the ship wreck.

Lord Mayor Jean Bowers will launch the display at the show in Tatton Park, Cheshire on Tuesday (21 July). She said: “I am really looking forward to the show. It is a fantastic opportunity for Stoke-on-Trent and to promote the talents we have in the city.”

Council displays have won major awards at the RHS Flower Show for the last three years. In 2006 the authority achieved a silver gilt award, in 2007 it won gold, Wigan Cup, and best in show awards, and in 2008 it struck gold again.

This year’s display, called “ËœFrom the Potteries to Patagonia’ is the culmination of 12 months’ work by a team of nine council workers.

Annita Gibson, principal landscape architect, said: “Artefacts found on board the HMS Swift have provided historians with an invaluable insight into details of naval warfare, ship building techniques as well as everyday life in 18th century Britain and its colonies. The tablewares were no doubt preserved for the exclusive use of the captain and his officers and some of the artefacts are so well preserved that they could be used today.

“We wanted to bring this fascinating story to life. We have a great team who have designed the display, and excellent workers who have grown the plants and who will build up the display for us. There will be plenty of strong competition at the show and judging will be tough because in order to impress, everything has to be perfect.”

The RHS Flower Show will run from Tuesday 21 July to Sunday 26 July.

Ross Names Four for the Cabinet – Council Meeting Update.

By Pits n Pots Reporter

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Ross Irving today (Thursday 11 June) announced the first four positions in his new cabinet:

* Councillor Brian Ward (City Independent Group) ““ Regeneration
* Councillor Kieran Clarke (Liberal Democrat Group) ““ Resources
* Councillor Clive Brian (Conservative and Independent Alliance) ““ Adult and Older People’s Care
* Councillor Ian Mitchell (City Independent Group) ““ Children and Young People’s Services

Councillor Ward will also be the new deputy leader of the city council.

Councillor Irving said: “There has only been a relatively short period of time since I was elected leader to form a

Council Leader Ross Irving

Council Leader Ross Irving

cabinet. I will continue to talk with other councillors and will be announcing more positions shortly.

“It is vital that we work together an engender unity within the city council. Hopefully these appointments, and those to follow, will start a rebuilding process within the council. It is important we get those positions right, as there are many challenges. Only by working together as a council will we be able to meet these challenges in the right way.”

It is known around the council chamber that Ross Irving has not had an easy ride from the members of his own political group the Conservative & Independent Alliance. It is understood that the group had wanted to retain the Portfolio for Regeneration. As yet Ross has only named one member of his own group on his cabinet. He faces a huge task to get the other members he wanted to accept the Portfolio’s they were offered.

Deputy Council Leader - Brian Ward

Deputy Council Leader - Brian Ward

Councillor Ward added: “I’m delighted to be named as deputy leader of the city council and I would like to thank Councillor Irving for giving me this opportunity.

“The city needs a fresh vision, and it’s important that the people get an accountable and responsible cabinet to show they’re being represented. This is about making united decisions ““ involving all councillors.

“Regeneration is an important part of Stoke-on-Trent’s future, and as cabinet member for this field, it is important that we quickly turn Stoke-on-Trent into a vibrant city, equipped to become a major part of both the West Midlands and the UK on the economic and business front.”

The Labour Group are also very upset at the lack of Overview & Scrutiny Chairs and Vice Chairs postitions they have been offered. Sources confirmed that three very senior members of the group feel that as they are now the official oppostion group, it is their place to head up as many of the scrutiny committees as is possible.

The committee Chairs and Vice Chairs are as follows:

Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee.

Chair -  Mike Barnes (Labour),

Children & Young Peoples O&S Committee.

Chair – Mike Coleman (BNP), Vice Chair Ann James (CIG)

Economic Development & Enterprise.

Chair – Roy Naylor (CIG), Vice Chair Mohammed Matloob (Labour)

Adult & Older People’s Wellbeing.

Chair – John Davis (CIG), Vice Chair Ellie Walker (BNP)

Improving Communities

Chair -  Dave Conway (CIG), Vice Chair – Debra Gratton (Labour)

Administration & Appeals.

Chair – Alan Joynson (Non Aligned), Vice Chair – Anthony Simmonds (BNP)

Audit Committee.

Chair – Paul Billington (Libdem),

Development Management.

Chair – Adrian Knapper (Labour), Vice Chair – Janine Bridges (CIG)

Human Resources.

Chair – Paul Shotton (Labour),

Licensing & Consumer Protection.

Chair – Sheila Matthews (CIG), Vice Chair – Jean Edwards (Labour)

Mitchell Memorial Youth Centre.

Chair – Alan Rigby (CIG), Vice Chair – Hazel Lyth (Conservative & Ind All)

Outside Body Appointments

Burslem Regeneration Company – Cllr Joy Garner.

Burslem School of Art Trust Board – Cllrs Mohammed Pervez & Jean Edwards.

Joint Appointments Committee (Staffs Police Authority) – Cllr Ross Irving (Leader)

Local Government Association General Assembly – Cllrs Brian Ward, Mike Barnes, Ross Irving, & Mick Salih.

Staffordshire Police Authority – Cllrs Clive Brian & Randy Conteh

Stoke-on-Trent/Staffordshire Combined Fire Authority – Cllrs Terry Follows, Ann James, Dave Sutton, Denver Tolley, Ellie Walker & Lee Wanger.

West Midlands Regional Assembley – Cllrs Ross Irving, Mike Barnes, Kieran Clarke, Brian Ward, & Alby Walker.

West Midlands Regional Assembley – Strategy Advisory Panel – Cllrs Ross Irving & Brian Ward.

Today’s Council Meeting was adjourned several times due to the recalculation of Political Balance caused in the main by the leaving/joining of councillors  from the different political groups.

Lord Mayor - Jean Bowers.

Lord Mayor - Jean Bowers.

The meeting was expertly chaired by the New Lord Mayor Jean Bowers, she made sure that councillors danced to her tune. Jean was firm and fair and always gives councillors from all groups a telling off with a twinkle in her eye and a near smile of mischief.

Three councillors were given long service awards today. Cllr Bagh Ali, Terry Follows & Denver Tolley. They were called up separately to collect their awards whilst being widely applauded for their much respected service to the city & quite rightly so.

What ever happens over the next week or so we will bring you the news as it happens.

Ross will complete his cabinet line up shortly and we will bring you Audio Interviews with the Portfolio Holders and the Council Leader and his deputy.