Our Moment To Shine or an Olympic cock up?

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past month or two you will probably know that the Olympic Torch Relay is coming to Stoke-on-Trent next week.

Having the Olympic Torch come in to your city is being billed as ‘Your Moment To Shine’ as you play your part in what is arguably the biggest sporting event in the world. On 30 May the eyes of the world will be on Stoke-on-Trent as the torch arrives in the city and heads up to Hanley park to light the cauldron after an afternoon of events and entertainment. Continue reading

Now the dust has settled is John van de Laarschot the right Chief Exec for Stoke-on-Trent?

There have been many comments in the Sentinel recently regarding the performance of John van de Laarschot as chief exec. at Stoke-on-Trent city council.

It is interesting to see that the reader’s mood is changing now that the honeymoon period is over.

I remember my first meeting with John van de Laarschot when he arrived at Stoke. He was very keen to turn around the misfortunes that the city had suffered and gave the prediction of being able to do it in three years.

I did say to John at the time that I thought it was very optimistic but it could be done given time and the right political backing. Continue reading

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Live Budget Web Chat

Join Council Leader Councillor Mohammed Pervez live on-line tonight from 5:30pm and ask questions about the proposed £24 million budget cuts for the 2012 budget.


Please use the chat form above to ask your questions and not the comment form below.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Budget Consultation Extended to 13 January

Councillor Sarah Hill has confirmed that the public consultation for the 2012 Budget has been extended from December 23 until 13 January.

In a comment let on Pits n Pots Cllr Hill said

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s leader to hold live budget web chat

A live online forum will give residents the chance to pose their questions on this year’s budget proposals to Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s leader, Councillor Mohammed Pervez.

Residents with suggestions, thoughts or concerns about the proposals are being encouraged to join the discussion which takes place online on Monday December 19, 2011 between 5:30pm and 7pm. Ҭ

Councillor Pervez, said

This is an opportunity for the city’s residents to let me know what issues are concerning them and to find out what people think of our proposals. I would encourage people to get involved with the discussion as the decisions we are making have an impact on everyone in the city. “¨”¨We want to involve as many people as possible in these decisions and by taking our consultation process into the 21st Century through the internet we can target a different group of people as well as our face to face consultations around the city.

The web chat follows the as yet unconfirmed extention to the public consultation period for the 2012 budget.

People can also submit their budget questions before the live webchat by emailing webteam@stoke.gov.uk. While not all questions will be answered live a response will be sent. If further information is required to provide a response, then an answer will be emailed on a later date. Questions should be about the budget proposals although other questions may be answered if time permits.

Councillor Pervez added

The council has been working hard to put together the budget for next year, in the face of fierce Government-imposed cuts of around £8m.

On top of this, we must deal with unavoidable cost pressures such an inflation, contractual staff increments, procurement and the payback for our capital projects totalling around £11m.

In our Mandate for Change, launched earlier this year, we said we would create a ‘great working city’. Our aim for this budget is to help to do just that, by saving to invest.

I am very much looking forward to hearing your views on the budget and the future of Stoke-on-Trent.

This webchat is an exciting opportunity for us as a city council to hear directly from the people who use our services and I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to our budget consultation. Your participation is very important to us.

To become part of the discussion residents can access the forum on Monday by using the link below visiting and following the simple instructions.

 Pits n Pots ran the first Ask The leader web chat a little over 12 months ago.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Extend Budget Consultation

Pits n Pots can exclusively reveal this morning that Stoke-on-Trent City Council have extended the public consultation on the proposed cuts for the 2012 budget.

The consultation was due to end on 23 December but yesterday we published details of a further 4 consultation events announced by the City Council which are to be held in January.

So far the City Council have not confirmed the extension to the consultation or indeed what date it will actually close but in a comment made on Pits n Pots last night, Cllr Sarah Hill Cabinet Member for Finance said

Sorry you feel that way guys. We have the space to extend the consultation and so we have done so. That’s all there is to it.

Unfortunately Sarah neglected to provide the new date for consultation to end in her comment. We will update this as soon as we get a confirmed date from the City Council.

More Dates Added To Stoke-on-Trent City Council Budget Consultation

Stoke-on-Trent City Council have this morning announced that a further three dates have been added to the Budget 2012 public consultation.

The new dates and venues are:

  • Wednesday, January 3, 5pm to 8pm: Fenton Manor
  • Saturday, January 7, 10am to 2pm, Fountain Square, Hanley (on Hoppa Bus)
  • Wednesday, January 11, 10am to 12pm, Longton Market and Tunstall Market.

All of which are after the public consultation period closes on December 23 2011.

Probably just another mistake in the budget consultation.

Campaign To Save The Wedgwood Memorial College

Five charities are starting a campaign to save the Wedgwood Memorial College in Barlaston after their proposal & business plan to run the college as an Independent Educational Trust were turned down by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The five charities

  • Friends of Wedgwood Memorial College
  • Esperanto Association of Britain
  • Arnold Bennett Society
  • Raymond Williams Foundation
  • Workers Education Association (WEA)

produced a business plan to enable Community Asset Transfer (CAT) for the WMC to be run by an Independent Educational Trust, releasing Stoke-on-Trent City Council of its financial commitment and College deficit from 1st April 2012.

On 15th November , the  new Trust was informed that its Plan had been rejected and so the authority’s proposal is to close the College goes ahead. According to the Stoke-on-Trent City Council budget proposals book (4-CR01 on page 32 if you have a copy) Cabinet will be recommended on 15th December 2011 to close WMCC although this is not reflected in the agenda for this weeks cabinet meeting.

Maybe this is just another mistake either in the budget book or the Cabinet agenda.

You can read more about the organisations involved in the campaign using the links below.

Are We Really Being Consulted On The 2012 Budget?

Stoke-on-Trent City Council are currently running a ‘Consultation’ on the 2012 Budget with a number of events around the city. When you here the word ‘consultation’ you like to believe that you are going to be able to influence some of the proposals in the budget book.

Ian Norris has already been pushed down the FoI route with his request for information on the budget, with the response due the day before the consultation closes, giving him little time to do anything useful with the information, if it does get presented on time.

It seems that the decision to close the Wedgwood Memorial College has already been taken and just needs to be rubber-stamped by the Cabinet at their meeting on 15 December which is a day before the last public consultation event and over a week before the consultation closes on 23 December.

More worryingly it seems that some decisions on the budget are being made at meetings that don’t exist, 2-CE04 HR Initiatives, on page 22 of the budget book for instance, was, according the Business Impact Decision, Discussed and agreed at Cabinet on 6 October. Discussed at Labour Group.

Now if you check on the meeting calendar you will be hard pressed to find the cabinet meeting on 6 October nor any minutes to support the agreement.

Pits n Pots asked the City Council about this meeting and a spokesperson said

The meeting referred in the budget book was a closed ‘CAPS’ (Cabinet Agenda Planning) meeting not a cabinet meeting this was a mistake. 

So can we trust the information that is presented in the Budget Book, if this is a mistake, how many other ‘mistakes’ are there?

Mandate For Change Budget Failing The City’s Children?

Education Welfare Officers are set to be reduced as part of Stoke-on-Trent City Councils Mandate For Change Budget for 2012.

The budget proposals show that the City Council want to remove 3 Education Welfare Officers posts which will see the workload on the remaining officers increase by around 30%.

Education Welfare officers provide a statutory duty ensuring that all school age children in the city receive education at an appropriate level, they are responsible for ensuring that families moving in to the city are met and that provision for schooling is provided for them. They also ensure that our most vulnerable children, those in care, receive appropriate education.

The cuts would also mean that the trigger for when Education Welfare get involved in school absences would be reduced from the current level of 80%.

The budget proposal to remove 3 of these valuable posts says

  • School attendance may fall across the City
  • There will be an impact on the ability to undertake some of the statutory duties including monitoring Children Missing Education.
  • There will be a reduction in home visits which can act as an early warning to other integrated services and may have implications for safeguarding.
  • Primary schools will no longer have a named EWO who contacts and supports them regularly

The Mandate for Change Budget is all about making Stoke-on-Trent a great place to live and do business, although high educational attainment doesn’t seem to count towards gaining inward investment in this case.