Stoke-on-Trent City Council Slammed Over Election Coverage

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been slammed for the poor election coverage on its own website during the Local & General Elections in May this year.

In a damming report from SOCITM, who surveyed a number of councils before, during and after the elections, Stoke-on-Trent City Council was singled out by the report authors who said of the council:

Communication of the results was patchy. Stoke on Trent City barely acknowledged that elections were taking place. Even on results day it still only carried an insignificant link to ‘Election notices’. Fortunately this site was an anomaly as by now elections were featuring pretty heavily on most sites

The survey was carried out on 42 council websites in 4 rounds which coincided with key dates over the election period.

  • Round 1- 10 April, the final day to register to vote
  • Round 2 – 4 May, two days before the elections
  • Round 3 – 7 May, election day
  • Round 4 – 8 May, the day after votes had been counted

The survey also looked at the use of social media by each council and finally whether they were taking part in the Open Election Data Project.

In the copy of the report seen by Pits n Pots it does not contain detailed league tables for each council surveyed but does cite good and bad practice with Stoke-on-Trent being used as an example of bad.

Pits n Pots are disappointed that Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been highlighted as an example of bad or poor practice, especially after we attended a Spotlight Review with the Press & Communications Department back in March. The review was to cover a number of items such as, developing a consistant approach to dealing with all media organisations, and use of social media especially to engage with young people.

As part of the review the Press & Communications Department were asked to spend some time speaking to us about how we use social media tools and offer advice on how best to utilise them within the council. The Press & Communications department did not contact us to continue this discussion.

The City Council were also asked by Pits n Pots prior to the election if the council would be taking part in the Open Election Data Project, so that the data would be available in a standard and easy to use format. The Council did not respond until they were contacted a second time where they explained that the Open Election Data Site was blocked, so they didn’t know what it was all about and couldn’t use it. This is despite the fact that the software used by Stoke-on-Trent City Council had been updated by the suppliers to automatically provide the election data in the format required by the Open Election Data Project.

We asked the Council if they would like to provide a quote or statement in response to the quote in the SOCITM report but they have not yet responded.

What Now For The BNP Nationally And In Stoke-on-Trent?

As the dust settles on both the General and Local Elections, the various parties will start analysing their performances and making the changes they need as a result.

Questions are being asked of the party leaders, particularly those who failed to deliver.

Gordon Brown is facing calls from a few of his MPs to step down and the same can be said of the British National Party Leader Nick Griffin.

There are many calls for Griffin to stand down and it is thought that Eddie Butler who is head of the Party’s Election Department could challenge him for the party leadership.

Contributors to a number of far right Internet forums are also questioning Griffin’s leadership. There have also being a number of high profile fall outs within the party in recent times.

First came the spat between Alby Walker and the BNP.

Walker accused Griffin of using the party to make himself rich and famous. He also claimed that there was a vein of holocaust deniers and members who display Nazi-esque sympathies within the party.

Then came the very public falling out between Griffin and Mark Collett, who at the time was the party’s publicity Director.

There was no shortage of publicity when it was revealed that Collett was plotting to overthrow Griffin as leader.

The result was that Collett allegedly threatened to kill Nick Griffin. The Police were called in to investigate the matter.

Finally, just two days before the election, another fall out rocked the BNP.

As a result of a dispute between Nick Griffin and former BNP webmaster Simon Bennett, the latter shut down the Party’s Website, Facebook and Twitter pages. The result was that the party was left with just a single temporary holding page on their home page on Election Day May 6th.

At the BNP’s recent election manifest launch, Nick Griffin was at pains to point out that his party no longer needed the mainstream media as their website had more hits than that of the Labour Party’s, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems put together. Those words must be coming home to roost right now.

Griffin failed to make any impression what so ever through the ballot box in Barking. He finished a distant 3rd behind Labour’s Margaret Hodge, who doubled her vote and Conservative Simon Marcus.

The BNP did increase it’s share of the national vote by 1.83% but failed to deliver the Member of Parliament it claimed was within their grasp.

In Stoke-on-Trent, BNP Deputy Chairman Simon Darby staged a massive campaign. He worked the constituency tirelessly. But his work failed to materialise into votes and he crashed to a humiliating defeat in Stoke Central.

Darby finished 4th behind Tristram Hunt [Labour], John Redfern [Lib Dem] and Conservative Norsheen Bhatti who is of Asian heritage.

The electorate often described as the BNP ‘jewel in the crown’ chose an ‘Asian belly dancer’ as the BNP often refer to her, over the Deputy Chairman of a nationalist party. Surely there can be no greater insult to their policies?

Mike Coleman failed to oust Rob Flello in Stoke South whilst Melanie Baddeley failed to make any impact in Stoke North and managed to go through the entire campaign without giving a media interview on her chances and her party’s core aims and values.

The only time she did engage with the media was in reaction to the news that her husband had been arrested and subsequently charged with possessing cannabis. He is currently on Police bail.

Mike Coleman is keen to get the message out that his party is not defeated and will pick themselves up and work towards the all out elections for Stoke-on-Trent City Council in 2011.

But, the BNP will have their work cut out if they are to halt and reverse their apparent decline.

At the local elections they lost 26 councillors across the country including all 12 from Barking and Dagenham.

They now have just 19 councillors in total across the country and are 15 behind the Green Party who have 34.

To put their task of challenging the 3 main parties into context you need to realise that the Conservatives have 3369 councillors, Labour have 2865 and the Lib Dems have 1665 across the country.

We managed to catch up with Stoke BNP Group Leader Mike Coleman earlier today who remains upbeat about his party’s performance and future prospects.

Listen to the Audio Interview below:

Wol’s Election Analysis – The BNP’s Bubble Bursts As Labour Rise to The Top

Stoke-on-Trent’s electorate went to the polls on Thursday 6th May to vote in both the local and General Elections.

There had been a lot of hype about the General Election.

The BNP claimed that they were targeting the seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central and would surely benefit from the alleged imposition of Labour Party PPC Tristram Hunt and the very public departure of Gary Elsby from the Party he supported for 27 years.

It so did not work out that way. Elsby lost his deposit with a humiliating 399 votes. He must surely be now contemplating life after the Labour Party and giving his wounds a serious licking.

BNP Deputy Leader Simon Darby gave his campaign a serious amount of time and effort. His blog site was getting a massive amount of hits and his video diaries told the viewers everything that is wrong with parts of Stoke-on-Trent, but were void of any positive ideas on how to improve the lives of the people of Stoke-on-Trent Central.

Stoke BNP Group Leader Mike Coleman’s campaign never really took off. I kind of get the impression that Mike knew it was going to be an uphill struggle bordering on mission impossible to get the electorate switched on to the BNP message.

Melanie Baddeley was no more than a paper candidate for the British National Party and any minute chance she had was wiped out the moment her husband was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis. He was later charged with the offence and will appear before magistrates on 14th May.

All three of the BNP PPC’s were effected by the revelation that there was a vein of holocaust deniers in the far right party.

The revelation came from former Stoke BNP Group Leader Alby Walker after he quit the party. He was quickly followed across the council chamber by his wife Ellie.

These actions angered some of the party supporters, but effectively killed any chance the BNP had in returning a BNP MP in this City.

Locally, the BNP lost two of their sitting councillors. They failed to get any of their candidates elected, often finishing in 3rd place or lower. They have the embarrassing record of never successfully defending a council seat in this City.

Nationally the BNP were mauled. The nations electorate turned their backs on the policies of the far right. They lost all of their 12 seats on east London’s Barking and Dagenham Council.

Nick Griffin was pasted in his attempt to get elected as an MP for Barking. He came 3rd with just 6620 votes in a result that saw sitting Labour MP Margaret Hodge double her vote.

There are a number of far right websites that are calling for Griffin to go, they are demanding a change in leadership.

The BNP leadership [Darby & Griffin] polled just over 9000 votes between them which is no where enough to get them elected anywhere in the country.

Their total number of votes across the country amounts to 563,743, which equates to just 1.9% of the total number of votes cast at the election.

The fact that the mainstream parties are now willing to talk about immigration issues may well be the reason that people are turning their backs on the far right.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have tabled policies to deal with the concerns of people who are worried about the impact the number of people who are coming into this country is having on the economy, jobs, housing, and public services.

The Labour Party nationally has been rejected and it would seem that Gordon Brown’s days are numbered.

Locally the Labour Party are resurgent.

They have taken 17 of the 20 available council seats. They have smashed the BNP and critically injured the Independents.

Labour have made a mockery of those who moaned and hit out at the candidate selection process. There were a number of people that left the party in protest. Is the Labour Party vindicated now?

Two candidates Mick Williams locally and Gary Elsby nationally, stood against their party and were unanimously rejected at the ballot box.

Stoke Central CLP needs to re-group and re-build and elected new officers who will take the constituency forward and ensure it becomes progressive. There may be a way back into the party for some it would seem. Tristram Hunt MP is committed to uniting the party and bringing ex members back to the fold. Somehow I can’t see that happening in Gary Elsby and Mick Williams’s case.

Our own Nicky Davis urged people to reject Labour at the ballot box, She wrote:

Mark Meredith’s Labour, continuing after he was kicked out, do not deserve to win an election in the city. They will do the city no good, their track record says it all.


The council’s Labour group screw over communities then just before an election pathetically say they have not listened enough but will now. No ““ LABOUR CAN NOT BE TRUSTED!

Well, It seems our Nicky got it wrong. This election saw the voters turn to mainstream parties and reject the Independents that Nicky favours so much. She has hailed the work of some of the BNP councillors and yet the electorate has shown them the door.

As one prominent Party politician put it: ‘Is there any such thing as an Independent?’

But, the Labour Party in Stoke-on-Trent need to to tread very carefully now. They need to understand that they have been given an opportunity by the electorate. If they get it wrong this time it could well lead to another rise in the BNP’s popularity.

Why? – simple, the Labour Party started to go down hill faster than Franz Klammer when they formed a three party coalition with the Conservatives and the Lib Dem’s. This robbed our City of the individual party voices. We were robbed of the inter-party debates. The electorate were unhappy that they had voted Labour and got Conservatives and visa versa.

Yes, there is a need for all the parties to work together for the good of the City but the different parties MUST retain their individual party voices. Nothing else is acceptable.

The Labour Party hold 26 seats in the chamber, just 5 short of the 31 they need for an outright majority. If they were to form an alliance with the 4 ex Labour members, PKB, Mick Salih, Mike Barnes & Pauline Joynson, they would be just 1 short of the required majority.

Would the Party turn towards Ellie Walker, or maybe Gavin Webb? The City Independents are known to have a growing number of members who are discontented with the direction of the Groups Leadership. Could Dave Conway be enticed back?

There will be interesting times ahead of the Annual Council meeting on May 27th.

I am proud of the coverage that PnP have given both the General and Local Elections. All the 500 word articles went on unedited. Video and Audio interviews went on untampered with.

Every candidate and Party got equal treatment, including the BNP. That is the way this site will continue. We want to work with all parties to get their message out but we will continue to scrutinise every council decision and will never shy away from reporting what is going on, no matter how uncomfortable that makes certain individuals.

We wish every success to those candidates who were successful and commiserations to those who were not.

A politician text me yesterday [Friday] and congratulated me on our coverage. He said that we had helped some people to make up their minds which way to vote and that we provide an essential service to the politically interested in our City.

If that’s the case I’m more proud of that that anything else…..

Stoke-on-Trent Local Election Count Coverage – Part 2

Declarations and Audio Interviews Online.

As the count was comng to an end, it became apparent that it had been a tremendous day for the Labour Party in Stoke-on-Trent. It was also obvious that it had been an horrendous day for the BNP in particular and also the City Independent Group. The Conservative Party and the Libe Dems made 1 gain each respectively.

Listen to the Audio Interviews below…

Stoke-on-Trent Local Election Count Coverage – Part 1

Declarations and Audio Interviews Online.

The votes for the Stoke-on-Trent local election are being counted from 1100 this morning. We will bring you regular updates and results by ward as they are announced.

Abbey Green.

Robert Durkin [BNP] – 835
Anita Gill [Lib Dem] – 809
Chris Knight [Ind] – 258
Jamie Sykes [Con] – 1170
Gwen Hassell [Labour] – 1639
Alby Walker [Ind] * – 279

Bentilee & Townsend

Wendy Booth [Ind] – 291
Margaret Lowe [Ind] – 218
Philip Sandland [BNP] * – 864
Mervin Smith [Labour] – 1653
Nigel Smith [Lib Dem] – 567
Amy Sykes [Con] – 618

Berryhill & Hanley East

Geoffrey Clewelow [UKIP] – 450
David Jones [Con] – 973
Adrian Knapper [Labour] * – 1486
Jeanette Madison [Ind] – 384
Les Porch [Lib Dem] – 738


Margaret Barber [Lab] – 1741
Terry Cope [BNP] – 764
Christine Grocock [Lib Dem] – 873
Harry Mouat [Con] – 939
Jamie Elizabeth Naylor [Ind] – 652

Burslem North

Sharon Black [Lib Dem] – 978
Joy Garner [Labour] * – 2074
Donald Smith [Con] – 952
James Smith [UKIP] – 655

Burslem South

Forid Ali [N/A] – 280
Imran Chowdhury [Lib Dem] – 511
Gareth Fallows [Con] – 838
Ted Owen [Ind] – 918
Mohammed Pervez [Labour] * – 1866

Chell & Packmoor.

Tony Fradley [Labour] – 1835
Mazhar Hussain [Lib Dem] – 507
Ann James [Ind] * – 1328
Mark Jellyman [Con] – 842
Christopher Mccabe [UKIP] – 547

East Valley

Jack Brereton [Con] – 1675
Susan Ford [Lib Dem] – 1043
Roger Ibbs [Ind] – 240
Geoff Knight [Ind] * – 303
Smith – 461
Matt Wilcox [Labour] – 1933
Andrew Wragg – 44 [Ind]


Sharon Baggeley [N/A] – 212
Marj Bate [N/A] – 451
Stephen Blakemore [Lib Dem] – 946
Stephen Brown [Con] – 962
John Cope [UKIP] – 465
Sarah Hill [Labour] – 1581
Kathleen Ward [England First Party] – 236

Hanley West & Shelton

Eleanor Bloor [Con] – 826
Asim Shaheen [Lib Dem] – 1340
Amjid Wazir [Labour] – 1631

Hartshill & Penkhull

Kassem Al-Khatib [Labour] – 1492
Shaun Bennett [Con] – 1155
Paul Billington [Lib Dem] – 1452
Ian Mitchell [Ind] * – 495
Steve Morris [UKIP] – 461
Mick Williams [N/A] – 429

Longton North

Sheila Cowell [Ind] – 277
Paul Goodwin [UKIP] – 488
Mark Leat [England First Party]- 606
Conrad Lubinski [Lib Dem] – 814
Denver Tolley [Labour] * – 2436
James Whitehurst [Con] – 1272

Longton South

Lillian Dodd [Ind] – 1585
Olwen Hamer [Labour] – 2114
Daniel Harley [Cons] – 1283
Sadaqat Maqsoom [Lib Dem] – 1373

Meir Park & Sandon.

Abi Brown [Con] – 2215
Jacqueline Pearson [Ind] – 411
Alastair Watson [Labour] – 1900
Brian Whittaker [Lib Dem] – 1471

Northwood & Birches Head.

Mahfooz Ahmad [Labour] – 1194
Jean Bowers [Lib Dem] * – 2091
Pamela Jellyman [Con] – 839
Eve Maley [N/A] – 740

Norton & Bradley

Joanne Bowen [Lib Dem] – 711
Austin Cooke [Con] – 1045
Sean Daley [UKIP] – 372
Sheila Matthews [Ind] * – 579
John Nicholls [N/A] – 824
Duncan Walker [Labour] – 1485

Stoke & Trent Vale.

Jeremy Dillon [Labour] – 1475
Harold Gergory [Con] – 832
Tom Grocock [Lib Dem] – 1243
Mick Harold [UKIP] – 361
Stephen Issard [BNP] – 524
Alan Joynson [N/A] – 634

Trentham & Hanford.

Alan Alcock [Lib Dem] – 1321
Lloyd Brown [Labour] – 1368
Peter Hayward [Ind] – 884
Phil Smith [UKIP] – 496
Mark Wright [Con] – 2500


Laura Baskeyfield [Con] – 844
Majid Khan [Labour] – 1366
Mohammed Nadeem [Lib Dem] – 887
Gareth Parfitt [UKIP] – 266
Paula Roberts [BNP] – 713
Lee Wanger [Ind] * – 1211

Weston & Meir North.

Sabrina Bowers [Lib Dem] – 838
Spencer Cartlidge [English First Party] – 117
Ruth Rosenau [Labour] – 1691
Anthony Simmonds [BNP] * – 1070
Ross Ward [Con] – 1384

11.43am Update:

Tony Says: Labour are polling very well indeed. It has been suggested that they will make gains.

The BNP are predicted to lose both seats, this from a source within the BNP.

11.58am Update

The Conservatives may well take Trentham & Hanford. It is understood to be a two horse race between them and Labour in Hartshill which could spell the end of Ian Mitchell [Ind] and the attempt to defeat the official Labour Candidate by Mick Williams.

13:05pm Update

Sources suggest that Labour are set to win in 17 of the 20 contested seats. There is a massive swing to the Labour Party that has resulted in a number of sitting councillors losing their seats. Lee Wanger, Ann James, Sheila Matthews, Geoff Knight, Roger Ibbs, Philip Sandland and Alan Joynson are among the casualties so far.

500 Words From Alastair Watson Labour Candidate For Meir Park & Sandon

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

Hello, my name is Alastair Watson and I’m the local Labour candidate for Meir Park & Sandon.
My hope here is that the lives of young people would be enhanced and improved by the services made available.

There are a few ways of achieving this, many are Labour inspired.

The Stepping Stones Children’s Centre that has recently opened on 26th April on Normacot Grange Road is a Labour achievement that covers prebirth to aged 5 with a range of services and helps.

Then Primary Schools cover the next stage of development of which this ward has one.
High Schools are designed to raise aspirations and help set young people’s vision on a brighter tomorrow.

At this point the Labour policy for the next election to ensure all 16-18 year olds either are in College or have an apprenticeship tackles some of the “ËœNot in Education, Employment or Training’ or “ËœNEETs’ issues that are present here.
Higher Education is supported by the Labour government with a target to get 50% of the nation’s young adults into University with grants to help make this happen for people coming from a low income background which is of benefit to people in this ward.

At this point we need to talk about developing industries in carbon neutral / friendly energy methods of production, getting manufacturing moving in the UK and getting further jobs secured in Stoke-on-Trent with our fantastic transport links and proximity to the M6 for North and South, A50 for the East etc for our young people to inherit, all of which are conversations currently happening in Government and locally here within the Labour Party

Supporting this whole process is the work of volunteering in the community. I am going to take a moment to talk about that here because I am a big fan of volunteering in the wider community. Volunteering for me is giving of ourselves to a something bigger than ourselves and for some other’s benefit. I volunteer my time regularly with a faith based initiative in Penkhull, I don’t live near there but I do give of my resources there which is time and energy well spent and skills well used. If elected I would support genuine grass roots volunteering initiatives with council money in this ward. It is a guaranteed way of developing communities, fostering cohesion, and can be done in conjunction with a community policing strategy to tackle Anti Social Behaviour as well. It’s a great way to spend your time!

I am looking forward to standing in Meir Park & Sandon on 6th May and hope you will lend me your support. My trade is as a Logistics Analyst in a Transport operation based within the borders of Stoke-on-Trent.
If you’d like to talk to me you can get in touch through the Stoke South office at this election time. Personally I hope to meet you on the doorstep very soon.
With thanks
Alastair Watson

500 Words From Amjid Wazir Labour Candidate For Hanley West & Shelton

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

This Thursday, I hope the people of Hanley West & Shelton ward will consider using the local election vote for a candidate who is aware of the issues that affect us in this ward.

I have been living in this ward since 1977! That’s over 30 years, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to serve the community in a variety of ways. This has meant fulfilling a range of different roles and more importantly meeting a range of different people with different views.
As a father of two I understand the need for good education in the community where it is needed, the need for Sure Start Centres to continue to impact our youngest children, for schools to perform better than in the past, for Colleges to be renewed and developed, and for University education to be made accessible to everyone through grants and funding.
Furthermore I know the needs of our ward for great healthcare that’s available when we need it, to all who need it. And then we have to consider the green space in the ward that we all use, places like Hanley Park which was renewed not long ago, and the Etruscan Park which was improved even more recently.
The list goes on and is endless. All these reasons and more is why I’m standing to be a Councillor in the City Council as the Labour Councillor in these imminent elections which will be a local as well as an important general election.
If elected I will work to ensure that great services are made available to the local people of ward like those I mentioned above ““ all of those improvements were made under a Labour government and I hope will continue to bloom after the next election if you give me your support as a voter.

With Thanks

M. Amjid Wazir

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.