Labour Party Trounce All Comers in Stoke-on-Trent City Council Elections

Stoke-on-Trent voters sent the Labour Party to a resounding victory in the Local Council Elections [Thursday].

Labour took 34 of a possible 44 seats which gives them a clear mandate for the next four years.
The British National Party lost all 5 of their council seats, a move which sees the City free from any far right representation.

The Liberal Democrats were also eradicated from the council chamber. Their leader Kieran Clarke among those who suffered the public backlash against Nick Clegg’s Party that was evidenced across the country.

The Conservatives & Independent Alliance group have been reduced from 8 to 2 in number. Leader Ross Irving and fellow councillor Mark Wright lost out to Independents Terry Follows and Peter Hayward in Trentham & Hanford.
Hazel Lyth and Joanne Powell-Beckett lost out in the new “Ëœsuper’ ward of Milton, Baddeley and Norton, a new Conservative Councillor will serve alongside Labour’s Andy Lilley and Duncan Walker.

Community Voice lost all of their councillors in the biggest shock of the night which no political commentator predicted. Leader Mick Salih, Peter Kent-Baguley & Mike Barnes and Ellie Walker were all casualties.

The election results are an apparent vote of confidence for the austerity measures imposed after the 8.1% cut in funding by the national coalition, Mohammed Pervez Labour Group Leader, is set to continue in the role of Council Leader.

Pervez is looking for a new Deputy Leader after Conservative Group Leader Ross Irving lost out. Paul Shotton and Sarah Hill the front runners after Deputy Group Leader Tom Reynolds ruled himself out last night.

The Labour Party are also claiming that they have defeated the BNP and chased them out of the City turning their last remaining strongholds, Abbey Hulton and Bentilee completely red.

The City Indpendents also took a bit of a bashing although their number could be as high as 6. They lost their Leader Brian Ward, Rita Dale, Barbara Beeston, John Davis and Mick Bell, but they gained Ann James and Glenys Ward.

Rumours are circulating that Paul Breeze and Lee Wanger could join forces with the CIG and that there is a possibility that the 2 Conservative councillors could also join up to make an opposition group of 10.

Nationally it was a disastrous night for the Liberal Democrats who have so far lost control of the 4 councils that they held and a staggering 296 councillors across the country. There are still 171 councils yet to declare.

It hasn’t been to bad an election so far for the Conservative Party who have gained 36 councillors and have taken control of 1 more council, but of corse this could all change today as more results are declared.

Meanwhile back in Stoke-on-Trent, a Labour majority had been predicted and the Pits n Pots poll seemed to confirm that view.

It was obvious from the early declarations that it was going to be a very good night for Pervez and his team.

All 3 Labour MPs were in attendance to offer support and congratulations to the victorious candidates. Rob Flello, Tristram Hunt & Joan Walley urged their council colleagues to remain grounded and prepared to work hard for the next four years.

Next year the Labour Group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council with their 24 seat majority will have to preside over another £20million of cuts in the next financial year and although lacking in opposition in the chamber, there will no shortage of political scrutiny from outside of the council chamber.

Today is a day that the successful candidates will celebrate and those that lost out will be left wondering where it all went wrong.

One thing is for sure, the council chamber will have a very different look to it at the next full council meeting.

Some big personalities will be missing in action. Some will bounce back and some will analyse their performance in the campaign to see if lessons can be learned for the future.

All Audio Interviews from the count last night are available to listen to and we will be adding new ones today.

More Problems With Stoke-on-Trent Ward Boundaries Emerge

With less than 24 hours until the polling stations open, a further ward boundary issue has been highlighted to Pits n pots.

It has already been reported that a number of houses on London Road were placed in Springfields and Trent Vale instead of the Boothen and Oakhill ward, while properties on Leek Road are mixed up between Birches Head and Central Forest Park and Abbey Hulton and Townsend wards.

A number of properties on High Lane have been incorrectly placed in to Burslem Park ward when they should actually be in Little Chell and Stanfield ward.

In Blurton properties on Finstock Avenue should be in Blurton East ward but have been placed in the have mistakenly been registered in Blurton West and Newstead ward.

Now it appears that Wileman Street in Fenton has been placed in to the Mount Pleasant and Fenton West Ward when it is actually part of the Fenton East Ward. Victoria Road in Fenton forms part of the boundary between the two wards with Wileman Street being to the east but has been placed in to the ward on the west of the road.

This is yet another mess left by the Electoral Review which the citizens of Stoke-on-Trent are going to have to live with.

It is unfortunate these anomalies have happened but they are a very small percentage amounting to 3 or 4 streets out of over 6,000. I need to emphasise everyone entitled to a vote can still vote, no one has been deprived of a vote, and I would encourage them to use their vote tomorrow (Thursday).

The Boundary Commission decision on wards was very late, the end of January, these anomalies are a result of not having enough time to check everything before this election. After 5 May we will start to check the register thoroughly.

Do you know of any other streets or properties which have been placed in the wrong ward?

Who Should I Vote For?

So it is less than 24 hours until the polling booths open and I need to decide who I am going to vote for.

In my ward I have 6 candidates each of who I would like to think should be canvassing me for my vote, they have all allegedly put themselves forward because they want to do the best for the community they live in. So let’s look at what I have had in the way of election leaflets from each of the parties.

  • Community Voice – 4 leaflets all black and white with 1 addressed and posted
  • Conservatives – Nothing
  • England First – Nothing
  • Labour – 5 leaflets 1 glossy, 4 colour printed with 2 of them addressed and posted
  • Liberal Democrats – Nothing
  • TUSC – Nothing

I have had no knock on the door from any candidate, I have been on annual leave for the previous 2 weeks and someone has been in the house each and every day.

Mike Barnes from Community Voice has obviously been out ‘doorstepping’ he even tweeted about it a few days back.

Twitter / @mike barnes: Another 4 1/2 hours on the ...

 

For some reason Mike has deleted this tweet, blocked a load of his twitter followers and protected his account so that only people who he ‘authorises’ can see his tweets. I find this a bit strange from a person who has never been afraid of self publicity. It has to be said I think there is a bit more to this story with ‘Lil and Sue’ than meets the eye, this will come out after the count tomorrow I’m sure.

Mike was even trying to take £10,000 bets on him still being a councilor on May 6,

  barnes-betting

I should point out that win or lose Barnes, who also said he will get more votes than all the other candidates put together, will be a councillor until 9 May as this is the day that the winning candidates are sworn in to office.

So back to who should I vote for? 

I vote differently in General Elections than I do in Local Elections, in a General Election it is about the party who I think will do the best (or least damage) for the country, locally it is the person who I think will do the best for me and my community, but how do I make a decision on who is going to be best for me and my ward if the candidates generally don’t tell me about what they are going to do when they become my elected representative?

4 of the 6 candidates in this ward have taken Pits n Pots up on the offer of a 500 word article and while we are getting between 16 & 20,000 visitors a day, publishing something on-line either on Pits n Pots or on your own website is not an alternative to traditional canvassing. I am under no illusions that people still want bits of paper through the door and want to look at the candidate in the eyes to see what makes them tick.

I want the candidates to knock on my door on the run up to an election, even if I set the dogs on them I want the choice on whether I speak to them or not, I don’t want to be ignored.

After every election there is a big hoo-ha made about what the % turn out was and why is it so low, maybe all parties need to look at actually engaging with the electorate on the run up to the election rather than just sticking a name on the nomination from so they can say the party fielded a candidate in the ward.

We deserve better from the people who hope to represent us.

Who am I going to vote for? that is between me and the ballot box but I can assure you that 3 of the 6 in my ward are not in the running straight away.

 

500 Word From Mark Wright

My name is Mark Wright, I’m 24 and I’m currently a councillor in the Hanford
and Tentham ward, where I’m standing for re-election. I have always lived
in Trentham, I attended the local schools and am a member of the local Rugby
club. I have recently purchased a property in the area, and intend on
staying here as I enjoy living in Trentham so much, which is why I want to
help represent and further increase the development of our area. I have a
passion for this ward and want it to continue to be the flagship
neighbourhood.

In May 2010 I was elected for a one year term of office as councillor for
the Hanford and Trentham ward, and this year in the role has given me an
insight into how the Council functions and will allow me to represent you
with knowledge of the role and an understanding of how to get action in all
areas of the ward.

If re-elected for a full term I would continue the work already underway
around the ward, building greater relationships with Residents Associations,
action groups, learning and social groups, youth groups and of course you
the residents. There have been some great leaps forward in our ward with
regards to the reduction of anti social behaviour, it generally being a
cleaner and greener ward, and highways repairs. I will continue to fight for
services within the ward and push hard for a fair deal for our neighbourhood
as I have done in the past year.

I would love the chance and challenge of being re-elected on to Stoke on
Trent City Council and would be proud to represent the residents of the
Hanford and Trentham ward again.

500 Words From Abi Brown

It doesn’t seem like 12 months ago that I was last writing about why I would
like to be a City Councillor – and being elected last year was one of the
proudest moments of my life. Over 2200 people put their faith in me, and I
hope I have done my best to fulfil the pledges I made.

Being a visible councillor in my ward is important to me – I’ve held regular
surgeries, kept in touch through newsletters and by attending Residents
Associations and other events, and generally getting out and about. I’ve
blogged about my experiences, many of which have been republished on
Pits&Pots. I’ve also worked hard to find solutions to problems, such as anti
social behaviour and road safety, and although I can’t claim to have solved
all these issues, I’ve certainly helped to improve the situation.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to be visible and ensure residents’ needs are
put first.

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’ the saying goes, and alongside every councillor is
a team of Council officers and operatives, representatives from partner
organisations such as the Police, Fire Service and NHS, residents, community
groups, and also when looking at bigger strategic issues locally, other
councillors. As the Council reorganises itself, the role of councillor will
change to be more hands on, which has always been my approach anyway. One of
the best things about being a councillor in the Meir area is the fantastic
people I’ve been able to work with, and the successes we’ve achieved
together, such as the flowers in Meir, the focus on street cleaning and the
reduction in anti social behaviour. So much is achievable when people work
together.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to work with residents, community group and
partners to get the best for my ward and area.

Councillors have many roles – however one of the most challenging is trying
to be both a good local councillor but also willing to stick your head above
the parapet for the City. Perhaps because I’m a Conservative, I’m used to
taking a bit of flack, but we need as a collective of councillors to be both
proud and pushy for our City. I’m not prepared to sit back and be a
passenger – the Council Chamber is a pretty scary place, but I view it like
a stage, and I know residents don’t elect councillors to be part of the
background scenery. I quickly decided to dismiss the voices that said I
should sit and watch for a while, and instead I got up and spoke. I don’t
have all the answers, but I want to be part of the debate and contribute
what I can.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to speak up for both my ward and my City, and
contribute to the debate on how we can make Stoke-on-Trent a place we can
all be proud of.

Last year, I asked residents who would not normally vote Conservative to
lend me their vote so I could show them what I could do, as a local person
sincere in wanting to do the right thing and get the best deal for the area.
I hope that over the last year I have proved this to be the case.

500 words from Margaret Lowe

I am proud to have been chosen as the Community Voice candidate for the
Bentilee and Ubberley Ward in the forthcoming elections. Although new to
politics, I have been campaigning for two years against the Discovery Academy
and feel I have learned so much about the area I live in and the residents
there. This area has been treated unfairly by the coalition cabinet at the
council. Some of the current councillors voted for the budget cuts, which I
would not have done. We have lost so much in this area recently; the golf
course and Willfield as a community venue giving many of the clubs and groups
who use the facility nowhere to go. We are now in danger of losing the gym
and the swimming pool. Facilities which are so important to residents of the
area. I am passionate about Bentilee and Ubberley and want to see it go from
strength to strength. I want to make it an area to be proud to live. I will
listen to the residents, to their ideas and views and support them in any way
I can. I want the opportunity to show that I can stand up and make my voice
heard on behalf of the community.

What city voters need to know for upcoming local elections and Referendum

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is reminding voters across the city about what they need to know for next Thursday’s (May 5) polling day.

City wide council elections will take place to vote in the 44 members to the council as part of the city’s new ward arrangements. Voters can also have their say in the UK-wide referendum on alternative voting.

Reminders to voters are:

* Polling stations will be open from 7am until 10pm. Residents should have received a card with details of your local polling station. If not, call 01782 233800.

* When voting at a polling station, it’s helpful to take your poll card with you. But if you don’t have it, don’t let that stop you ““ you can still vote.

* Polling station staff will give out ballot papers for ward elections. Residents eligible to vote in the UK-wide referendum will receive a ballot paper for that too. Staff will not be able to give ballot papers after 10pm, so voters are advised to arrive in good time.

* The referendum is on the voting system used for elections to the UK Parliament and the question being put to voters on is: “At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the “Ëœalternative vote’ system be used instead?”

* Residents who have applied for a postal vote need to be send it back to the Return Officer by 10pm on Thursday 5 May. If voters have left it too late to post back, you can drop it off at their polling station or at the council offices at the Civic Centre on Glebe Street.

“This is one of the most important decisions local people have been asked to decide on in the recent history of Stoke-on-Trent. With the new ward boundaries coming in to place this city’s residents will have the almost unique chance to shape the whole council to reflect their views. Additionally, voters will also have the chance to have their say on the prospect of alternative voting. Polling staff will be available on the day across the city to assist voters with any questions and make this a smooth process.”

For more information, visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

Introducing Independents 4 U

Article Submitted By Independents 4 U

We are a growing group made up from sitting councillors, ex-councillors and some people who want to stand in the Stoke-on-Trent council elections for the first time.

A mixture of existing and ex-councillors who give us age and experience along with the drive and enthusiasm of younger new candidates.

We come from any and every political background, or indeed from no political background at all, we have come together putting differences aside to work for the betterment of Stoke-on-Trent and its citizens.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM AN INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR?

When you vote for somebody you are voting for somebody to represent you on our council, to work for you, your area and the city as a whole. Someone to take on the challenge and fight to get the best for you and our city.

Some people say that with a national political party you know what you are getting. Their policies are well known and published in advance in their manifestos.

We say that the problems that face our city are immense, complicated and ever changing. No one-size policy fits all. You need to be flexible and adaptable.

It is absurd that one party should claim a monopoly of wisdom for themselves and a monopoly of folly for their opponents: Life is far more interesting and complicated than that. It is equally absurd that there should be a Labour policy on streetlights, a BNP policy on refuse collection, a Conservative policy on litter picking and a Lib Dem policy on (who cares, they will do what the Conservatives want anyway).

By being Independent, a councillor can judge all issues on their merit alone and then fight to get what is best for the area that they represent. Only independents can promise you that. When you belong to a political party there are always strings attached, and you never know just who is pulling the strings.

WHAT DO THE PARTY POLITICIANS DO?

The big political parties with their Whitehall mandarins appear to want to manage the electorate rather than represent them, they do this my shackling their councillors and make them follow the party line with suspension, expulsion or de-selection from the party for those who disobey. And in the council chamber a whipping system that ensures that everybody votes, and they vote the way they are told to, or else.

Unless councillors can be liberated from the shackles of the whipping system of party politics that works neither for them, nor for us and unless we can significantly raise the quality of our councillors and be represented by the best and the brightest and not by the most docile and compliant. Unless we can restore the function and reputation of the council as the true hub of our great city, in which proposals are properly scrutinised and debated; and decisions taken on their merits; and innovative policies put forward that actually make a difference. Until that happens we will never get the best for our city and its electorate.

Party politicians represent us, but are not necessarily representative of us.

There was a time when councillors did things not for personal gain, but because they believed in a cause, had a passion for the area and community in which they live and want to make a change to people’s lives, it is our hope that we can return to these times.

Our type of Independent politics is a gentler, kinder type of politics, more attuned to the needs and wants of local people, our people. Unlike the big political parties there is no automatic support for an Independent, every single vote must be wooed and won. That is why we always have to try harder.

Independents try to speak up for those neglected and deprived communities, believing that all areas should not be treated equally those with less, need more.

Independent’s need to be champions for the areas that they represent, they need to challenge stigma and promote a holistic approach to community well being.

Many people think that they are powerless to make a difference in their community so it is the job of Independent councillors to try to empower individuals or groups. Independent councillors listen carefully to the issues involved and try to find an achievable solution to their problems working with all parties involved.

WHAT DO INDEPENDENTS BELIEVE IN?

Independents cannot be a political party, that would be absurd and contradictory but Independents do need to work together for their mutual advantage.

The bigger group that you belong to, the more influence you have and you get more seats on decision making council committees.

Independents can research items, lobby each other and debate issues to try to get a shared endorsement of different subjects that can become a form of collective policy but being Independent there must always be the ability for individuals who have a fundamental objection to a particular policy, to be able to speak against it and vote unhindered as their conscience dictates.

To endorse this, all Independents within our group have signed up to what has become known as the ‘Bell Principles’ a set of principles that our old friend Martin Bell composed especially for Independent councillors.

We all agree to:

* Abide wholeheartedly by the spirit and letter of the Seven Principles of Public Life as set out by Lord Nolan in 1995 those being selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

* Be guided by considered evidence, our real world experience and expertise, our constituencies and our conscience

* Be free from the control of any political party, pressure group or whip.

* Be non-discriminatory, ethical and committed to pluralism.

* Make decisions transparently and openly at every stage and level of the political process, enabling people to see how decisions are made and the evidence on which they are based.

* Listen and consulting our communities constantly and innovatively.

* Treat political opponents with courtesy and respect, challenging them when we believe they are wrong, and agreeing with them when we believe they are right.

* Resist abuses of power and patronage and promote democracy at every level.

* work with other elected independents as a Group with a chosen spokesperson.

MARTIN BELL

I think that all Independent councillors and all those who stand for election as MP’s to parliament as Independents owe an immense debt of gratitude to Martin Bell. He has been an inspiration to all of us.

His experience during his time as an Independent MP gave him a unique insight into party politics and his imitable style of writing has given us all inspiration, and I think that all of us Independents have used his wise words to help us in our causes.

The unselfish encouragement that he has given Independents has been our motivation and we thank him.

A REQUIEM FOR PARTY POLITICS

During a moment within the debates on MP’s expenses, when MP’s of all political parties were seen as having their snouts in the trough, and the electorates sense of anger and frustration put peoples faith in the political system at an all time low, Martin Bell penned this poem.

Indifferent to the peoples warning,
The parties headed for a fall,
Tory, Labour and Lib Dem,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them,
But miss them not at all.

500 Words from Matt Wright

I can remember saying during my stint as a TUSC candidate in the general election last year that no matter which of the 3 main pro-capitalist, pro-big business parties won the election, we would be paying for the bail out of the banking system with our jobs, services and living standards.

Fast-forward 12 months and we have the spectacle of a Labour council- a Labour council (!) passing on Tory cuts with only token resistance. It’s a scene that is being repeated across the country.

A week after Stoke council voted through £36m in cuts it came to light that the council had, in fact, over £60m stashed away in reserves. Instead of using some of this money to stop cuts in jobs and services they are using over £20m of it in redundancy pay outs to staff. It’s true that Community Voice and the BNP voted against the cuts, but where was their alternative budget?

So what would I do?

I will be fighting cuts and privatisation tooth and nail. But opposition in words is not enough, neither is simply voting against cuts. What I will do is propose alternatives to cuts and privatisation.

I would propose that we –

* Set a ‘needs budget’ that would take in to account what we NEED as a city, not just what we can afford from the measly government handouts.

* Use a combination of council reserves and prudential borrowing powers to stop, and even reverse the spending cuts inflicted on the city.

* Launch a massive campaign across the city to demand more money from the government, that links up with trade unions, community groups and communities.

I will also be demanding that the council –

* Embarks on a huge program of building council houses to relieve our massive social housing waiting lists and create jobs.

* Call in any decision by local NHS trusts to make redundancies as a result of ‘over spending’ or funding cuts.

* Bring as many of the privatised council services back ‘in house’ to stop our council tax lining the pockets of big business.

Say it can’t be done?

Take a look at the example of Liverpool city council in the 80’s. They launched a similar campaign against Thatcher’s government and won the equivalent of £60m back and built over 5000 houses, 5 leisure centres and created 2000 jobs in the process.

More information here-

http://www.liverpool47.org/legacy/legacy.htm

I’ve been involved in many campaigns over the last 6 years or so. I’ve been fighting back against the low wages, privatisations, cuts and wars imposed on us by the last Labour government. I have also been supporting and building support for workers across the city who were taking strike action against these attacks. I’m also organiser for North Staffs Against Cuts which has been instrumental in building the anti-cuts movement in north Staffs. Whether I’m elected or not I will continue to fight in the interests of working class people across the city.

BNP Roadshow hits Stoke again

The BNP will be rolling back into town again on Sunday with the launch of their English Manifesto. This time, Longton hosts the launch. It will be interesting to see if support for the BNP is as diminished as it was in last May’s elections, or whether they have done enough to regroup and revive this time around.

I have never been a fan of the BNP. Being of mixed race myself, I have always been suspicious of their motives. Being accosted by National Front Skinheads as a boy will certainly make you suspicious, if not angry and fearful. However, since working on PnP I have tried to put my personal prejudices aside and report on what I see, as opposed to what I might be feeling due to external influence.

Having met the BNP senior leadership last year, I’d at least had the opportunity to talk and interact with them in a normal way, without having my judgement swayed by what I’d read in the papers.

I really don’t know what the BNP would do to people like me, if they were to ever gain power in a general election. They say that there would be no forced repatriation. They do however say, that ethnic minorities would be offered money to leave the country. Both Nick Griffin and Simon Darby were at pains to point out that this was an old Labour Policy. No one from Labour ever came round to my house asking me to leave and waving a one way ticket to Barbados though.

I ‘ve heard from multiple sources that Stoke BNP has some good councillors. I have also heard that they have got some or had some pretty useless ones too. The results last may showed that the BNP were losing popularity within the city. However, The recession has really begun to bite now, and I’m sure the BNP will be really looking to capitalise on that fact.

Some of the noises the BNP have been making abut Mosques worry me. If an immigrant comes to this country legally, and he/she is a Muslim, then I have no issue with them whatsoever in letting them use their money to purchase buildings to be used as Mosques. So long as there is adequate parking and facilities and that all the proper planning procedures have been followed. Like many though I do have reservations about the addition of Domes and Minarets being added. I’m a Derbyshire lad and grew up in an area where the planning laws were very strict. Driving around Stoke-on-Trent I’m regularly surprised with some of the building alterations that have been allowed. I personally think that Domes and Minarets would change the character of the town. I’ve seen them in Birmingham, and very pretty they are too but im my mind they look out of place because this is Britain. It should be noted though that Britain has many Sikh temples, with Domes and I haven’t heard the BNP moaning about those, the opposite in-fact, regularly claiming Sikhs as allies.

Of course Britain is changing all the time and always has been so perhaps I’m behind step in my thinking? I would challenge any unusual building project though not just ones pertaining to religious buildings.

There will be many who say that they are shocked by my article, and some will say I’m even defending the BNP. I say that they are a political party, a legal party. If we want to be fair, and to live in a fair society then we must allow them to speak. If we don’t like what they say then we all have the option of not voting for them.

That’s why I’m writing this blog, and it’s the same reason I wrote the blog post “The day I met the BNP” . Because I don’t approve of the constant lampooning the mainstream press give the BNP. Last May, the mainstream press pushed past PNP to get at the BNP, yet not a one of the broadsheets or tabloids wrote anything worthy of reading when it came to the policy. That’s just pathetic. If the owners of the papers want to work against the BNP then the fairest way would be to write independent articles that detail policy and lay out their argument against it allowing the public to make up their mind.

Nick Griffin told us that the Press had been involved in smear campaign against the BNP, I’d read that before and didn’t believe it really. Until I read the papers the next day. PitsnPots were the only media outlet that told it as it was. the papers just made daft jokes about the bloke dressed as St George.

When I met with Councillor Steven Batkin last year, regarding the Nazi Salute Photo, he was a pleasant and polite man, we treated each other with dignity. Some of his rhetoric was, in my opinion, incorrect and distasteful, but I allowed him to speak and he allowed me to publish.

Politics has become muddied by spin in the last decade. We need to hear all voices and clearly. Let the people decide what they think of the BNP. Regardless of whether the British National Party are cast aside, or increase their seats, I think politics in Britain will be improved for the greater transparency. One could be forgiven for thinking that the larger parties don’t want any more transparency for the BNP, because it will, sooner or later be demanded of them also.