500 Words From Ian Norris

Over the last year I have become increasingly despondent with the council’s attitude to what is required in the locality, particularly management of spending. This is why I have decided to run for the position of Independent Councillor for the local people of Ford Green & Smallthorne.

Cllr Dave Conway, current Councillor for the Burslem North ward, who has done a lot of work in the Smallthorne area, has kindly given me his backing/endorsement to carry on the good work he has been doing in the area. On a walk around the area I soon discovered how welcomed his work was and how hard he has been working with the various communities around Smallthorne.

I have lived in the Tunstall area for 20 years so therefore understand the problems that we face and can therefore respect your fears and concerns, for the present and the future, I would like the chance to work on your behalf to make Stoke-on-Trent a better place to live for the young, the families, and the elderly. If you decide to vote for me I pledge to carry on the work of Cllr Dave Conway.

During the last few months our City Councillors, our elected representatives, have been condemning the national government for a reduction in the amount of funding they give the City. They are using this as an excuse to close many of our loved services such as Swimming Pools in Shelton and Tunstall and the City Farm.

What they have failed to shout so loudly about is that our elected representatives are also adding £7million to a Contingency fund (for some future use) as well as upping the amount they put into a reserved pot (for a rainy day) from £0.5million a year to £1.5million a year.

How can Labour claim that they are forced to close our services when they are putting money aside while communities are fighting to set up trusts to run these services, could Labour not spare a bit of that £8.5 million to help communities?

Labour Councillor Debra Gratton proposed the Closure of seven Children’s Centres saying “If we don’t do it, the danger is someone else will do it for us”, Now Labour have the nerve on some of their election leaflets to claim to have saved the “Children’s Centres”. Can we believe anything Labour now says in the City? They appear to have no long term policies, and change their mind depending on if they are in power or in opposition.

Labour have allowed the Cities finances to become a complete shambles. while reading through the councils recent invoices I was mystified/horrified to find an invoice for £24,095.26 for expenses on a PETTY cash return, to some £24,095.26 may not be a lot of money but I certainly don’t class it as petty cash and I also think that for such large amounts the descriptions are extremely vague. Another invoice was for Rent of £12,500 but this was classified as Miscellaneous expenses. How can the council complete accurate audits of its property portfolio unless rent payments are classified as RENT?

If elected this would be one of my first aims to attempt to make the Finance dept more open and transparent to both Councillors and the Public, only when Finances are in order can the money available be used correctly to provide the services the public need.

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.

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

Blurton

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]

Fenton

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

Tunstall.

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.

Election Apathy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stoke-on-Trent South

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

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

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

500 Words Sharon Baggaley Independents Group Candidate For Fenton


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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Please let me introduce myself to you all. I was born in Blurton, and have lived here all my life. I have been married for 17yrs, and have one daughter.

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

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

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

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

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

500 Words From Shaun Bennett Conservative and Unionist Candidate For Hartshill and Penkhull


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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This can be a great city once again, but many of our existing council representatives and officers have consistently failed to look after the interests of us, the residents and taxpayers of the city. We need a new broom to sweep away many of the old and out of touch councillors and their way of doing things. Only by making a fresh start together can we restore faith in our local politics and move the city forward.

My main priorities are to work with the police to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in the city and to clean up our streets to create a great environment for our children to grow up in.

We must build strong communities, strong families and strong community groups to repair our broken society. But this cannot be achieved by government alone. We have to stop the cycle of decline at root-in the family home. As government, we must offer an outstanding education and promote opportunity for all whether in academic or in vocational education.

We must not be content with Stoke-on-Trent to remain a low-paid, low skilled city dominated by warehousing and bargain basement shops. Perhaps the first priority of the new council must be to bring business and enterprise into the city and to create the environment to facilitate that.

I believe that our city is consumed with waste and inefficiency. The taxpayers of the city are throwing good money after bad as our council attempts to maintain its tentative grip on controlling all areas of our local community. Its time to do things differently and roll back government to concentrate on providing excellent essential services.

As a Conservative, I am naturally inclined to support lower taxes and I will work towards achieving a CUT in the council tax burden just as other Conservative authorities have been able to achieve. It IS possible to deliver both lower taxes and excellent local services; we have done it elsewhere in the country, and I believe that it is only the natural high tax mentality of existing councillors and officers in this city that prevents us from copying that model. However, I will not allow frontline essential services to suffer at the expense of tax cuts.

I am also a great supporter of the regeneration schemes going on in the city, but I cannot in principle support Compulsory Purchase Order’s, and I will not vote for them. People who have lived in an area all their lives deserve more than summary eviction from their property in the name of some great plan. We are servants of the people, and if our plans do not take them with us, then we have failed. People must be offered a fair market price for their properties.

This is also an opportunity to send a message to central government that we will not be taken for granted any longer over Europe. Unlike the UKIP candidate in my ward, I am actually signed up to Better Off Out. If you agree with me that Britain can flourish outside of the political constraints imposed by the EU, then I would urge you to back me and help to make this the policy of a mainstream party of government.

The programme I have laid out is a radical manifesto for change. It will mean a complete re-think of the way we do things. It is about small government and bigger individuals; lower tax and better services; a new relationship between government and the people. I believe that the Conservative led administration in the town hall has made a good start over the last few months, but we now need to step up a gear and start to implement the changes to the culture of the town hall that has kept the city back for decades.

500 Words Jeremy Dillon, Labour Party Candidate for Stoke and Trent Vale


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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So, here we are. I’ve been asked to stand in Stoke and Trent Vale for the Labour Party. I’m rather excited. Having moved to Stoke 10-11 years ago, I’ve lived in more houses than I’d care to count, been to uni, been to the jobcentre, and even started to train as a teacher. Life has been busy.

The two phrases that keep coming out of the current race for Number 10 are “Ëœthe New Politics’, and the “ËœReformation of Politics’. The recent scandals regarding MP’s expenses have left people asking serious questions about the integrity of politicians, and it will be interesting to see the turnout. The truth is, people are more likely to vote for their favourite contestant in a singing competition, and find politicians irrelevant to their lives. This needs to change and requires a humility on behalf of those in government to recognise these changing times.

My desire is to see a new generation of young people embrace politics in a way that is relevant to them. 21st Century politics requires a 21st century politician, and that’s why I’m looking forward to standing. During the last twenty years, the city has suffered from the devastating effects of the collapse of industry and it’s time to get Stoke believing in itself again.

In this, its 100th anniversary, we must start to cast aside old mentalities, lack of vision etc. and re-discover our creative spirit in new ways. One of my first goals as a councillor would be to start building relations between
local business and the arts, setting in motion a movement like that which began in Liverpool in the 1960s with the MerseyBeat sound. It was there that a young businessman had the initiative to create a stable of stars that would become internationally recognised, and something I am keen to encourage, whether it be in music, art, or even independent filmmaking. Eventually, I would hope that this would spread to other areas, releasing a wave of fresh talent from the area. The recent promotion of Stoke City to the Premiership
and the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, I believe, have started to get people interested on a national and international level, and we must capitalise on these developments. These new endeavours, I believe will, in
the long term, help to rebuild the confidence of people in the city, and encourage companies from outside of Stoke to set their stall here, creating new jobs and opportunities and securing the future regeneration of a city in
need of hope.

We are asking each and every candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent local election if they would like to write 500 words about themselves their reasons for standing and their campaign. You can view all 500 word articles by clicking here 500 words

500 Words Daniel Harley Conservative Candidate Longton South


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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My name is Daniel Harley. I am a resident in the ward of Longton South, the area I have lived my whole life and the area I am eager to represent on the City Council. I come from a working class family – my father ran a car parts shop, “ËœTop Gear’ in Carlisle Street for many years, and I attended Dresden Primary School. I am currently studying at Keele University and as an amateur actor I am not afraid to stand up in front of a crowd to make sure our voice ““ as local residents ““ is heard.
 
I want to assure everyone that they have in me a candidate they can trust to take on their issues and do the utmost to have them resolved. I believe that if you don’t have an eye on City-wide issues and an ear for every resident, then you can’t be doing your job properly!
 
I want to hold regular surgeries and publicise them as widely as possible. I want every resident to know my face and trust me as a champion for their issues.
 
Living in Dresden, Stoke-On-Trent and Longton South mean a lot to me. I have seen a great number of problems reoccurring, problems which elected representatives have hitherto ignored. Elderly people afraid to venture from their doors because of groups of young individuals causing them unimaginable distress. The same troublesome misfits turning our great public facilities, play areas and parks into no go areas, wasting tax payers money instead of being dealt with so that our green and open spaces can be enjoyed by us all. These people need to be dealt with and I would take a very hard line on this issue.
 
So far I have taken a very “Ëœhands on’ approach to my campaign. I prefer the doorbell to the letterbox, I’d much rather engage with people and listen to them than simply push through a leaflet. You deserve an open and honest councillor, especially after we have all been let down in the past, locally and nationally.
 
As a young, passionate Conservative, I believe I have the right approach to local politics. I want to bring the community together and take on the local and City-wide issues with determination and rigour. I want to be there for the unemployed and the small business owners, the elderly and the young! 
I will fight for:
A persistent low level of Council Tax ““ making efficiency savings not cutting vital services
A zero tolerance on crime and anti-social behaviour
Public funding to be geared towards keeping our community clean, green and tidy
each and every one of  you
 
I hope people can see in me an open, honest and trustworthy candidate, and I sincerely hope they will pledge their support via the ballot box on May 6th. 

We are asking each and every candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent local election if they would like to write 500 words about themselves their reasons for standing and their campaign. You can view all 500 word articles by clicking here 500 words

500 Words From Terry Cope BNP Candidate For Blurton


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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After the last 9 months I did not really want to get involved in an election.
I believed that to stand for just 12 months then have to fight another Election was pointless.
What can I bring to the table for Blurton if I am successfully chosen?
I believe the position of local councillor is just that “local” and national issues should be left to those whose job involves national issues.
Too many times Stoke-on-Trent has been held back by orders from London or Birmingham, by people that have no interest, or knowledge of what this city needs.
I will work for all the residents of the ward with no exceptions.
As a ward councillor I will work with other councillors in the ward to the benefit of the ward.
Blurton like all the other wards in the city has suffered with a drop in services while Council tax has increased, and in line with BNP policy I will campaign for a reduction in this insidious tax, and will be looking for savings from the well paid officers of the council in every department.
In order to create employment I will fight for a reduction in rates in local business’s.
Business’s can only employ personnel and make profit if their outlays are at a sensible level.
The reverse of this is in every town in the city.
Trade fairs run on a regular basis where our local up and coming businessmen can display their goods.
The City council needs to “cut its cloth” not “cut its services”.
Too often we see front line troops get sacrificed while those at the top make no sacrifice at all.

Savings on fuel for council vehicles.
In 07, when fuel prices were lower than they are now, the council spent £1,020,000.00 on diesel alone, and that sum will be bigger now.
The veggie oil processing plant would cost £175,000+vat, and is capable of recycling 7 million
litres a year. Bio-Pod can be found at .
The vat is reclaimable.

The bin lorries alone use £400,000 of diesel a year, so just running these on veggie oil will save several hundred thousand pounds.

I looked into the savings of producing electricity to the advantage of the council buildings, Care Homes, and even Hospitals, and transporting cost of rubbish to neighboring cities.

The bio-mass plants we looked at provided 23,000Mw/hrs of power per year when combined with a sewage treatment plant. One in the north of the city, one in the south. The one in the south could cure the stench of sewage over Trentham if combined with the sewage farm on Barlaston Old Road.
Housing costings are bizarre from the city council. Mapletimberframe homes gave us a quote of £9020 for a 3 bedroomed bungalow built to a sealed unit, based on 100 units. That leaves plumbing, electrics, cladding, and roofing. These could be built for £25,000 a pop, fully fitted.
A pair of 2 bed semis can be built for £31,000, and that price could be lowered significantly if
a large number of unite were to be built.
Also, because of the construction of these houses, the panels that form the walls and floors are super efficient, leading to the non requirement of a central heating system.
If we were to build a large number of these units, we could make it part of the deal that the factory constructing the panels be here in Stoke-on-Trent, so you wouldn’t just be providing jobs for the building of the houses, but for the construction of the panels too.

These will cost in the region of £15-£16 million, and would be paid for out of the £50 million invested by the government on behalf of the city council.
Easily achievable savings of a combined £3 million, would have the plants paid off in 10 years! With a life of 30 years, that would give the city income of £60 million!!!

These proposals would go a long way to creating local employment, bring in much needed finance to the council to cut the insidious council tax, and improve services to the public.

We are asking each and every candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent local election if they would like to write 500 words about themselves their reasons for standing and their campaign. You can view all 500 word articles by clicking here 500 words