Former Stoke-on-Trent Councillors Cleared of Wrongdoing

Former Stoke-on-Trent City Councillors Mark Davis and Hazel Lyth today welcomed the publication of the findings of a Stoke-on-Trent City Council investigation into their conduct which categorically cleared them of any wrong doing.

The allegations, which were made public by former Councillor Mike Barnes, centred on the relationship between Mr Davis and Ms Hazel Lyth and a company called PREM Management. It was alleged that both Mr Davis and Ms Lyth used their positions as city councillors to gain advantage for the company, and that they failed to publically declare interests in the firm.

After an investigation lasting over seven months, a committee of councillors and independent members has decided that neither Mr Davis nor Ms Lyth committed any breach of the council’s strict code of conduct. The investigation into the allegations involved extensive interviews, and research into the affairs of the company and was carried out by an independent legal officer of the City Council.

Mr Davis said

My honesty and integrity are massively important to me and I am very pleased that the Standards Committee have found me completely innocent of the allegations against me. Having this shadow hanging over me and my family for the last seven months has been very difficult and I am glad that the process has come to an end. Sadly, the whole thing was made a lot worse by the decision of a now former councillor to publish details of the confidential complaint on the internet.

Ms Lyth said

I am glad that the committee have finally cleared me and that I can move on with no stain on my character. The allegations against Mark and I were without foundation and I have maintained my innocence throughout the investigation. The damage inflicted by the unfounded accusations has taken a heavy toll on all innocent parties included in the complaint and lives, businesses and careers have been deeply affected. Whilst I appreciate that due diligence must take its’ course; it is sad that it has taken so many months to reach this conclusion and that Mark and I have had to suffer in silence, long after leaving the council.

It is understood that a separate investigation is being undertaken into former councillor Mike Barnes and his conduct in publicising the initial complaint.

This is a reposting of an article from 13 October that got lost in the server update

Tom Reynolds on BSF and The EMB!

By Pits’n’Pots Contributor.

Where now for BSF?

I wanted to make my latest blog on the recent developments in the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme; however I wanted to first let the dust settle on this week’s Executive and Member Board (EMB) meeting.

I am delighted that Trentham High School (THS) has been granted a reprieve from closure. I expressed my sympathy for Trentham Action Group’s well thought out arguments and a hope that Jim Knight would clarify whether 14 schools were possible at the last council meeting during the debate on Cllr Follows’ motion. I’m therefore delighted that the work of Rob Flello in badgering the Minister finally paid off, and that the action group’s tireless, long, and well fought campaign proved to be worth the hard work.

I’m also pleased that the EMB honoured Jim Knight’s wish to keep THS open. However I am also concerned by the specific course of action taken. The school has now been taken out entirely from the BSF scheme meaning it will have no access to funding for renovation and refurbishment. I feel it is seriously amiss to deprive children in any part of the city from this excellent government investment in education ““ including the attendees of a saved THS. The minister’s letter stated he would accommodate a 14 school BSF proposal with Trentham being the 14th ““ that is what should have been approved by the EMB. If there is a legal technicality concerning trust schools not being able to receive BSF investment, frankly it is nothing that couldn’t be sorted out by a dialogue with the Department for Children, Schools, and Families.

Further, I think that the knock-on effects of retaining THS for the South and East of the City needs to be fully considered. Pupil numbers for the other schools, as well as the areas they serve, will now all change. Arguably, rather than a quandary this presents an opportunity to perfect the plans to suit all area’s needs.

On the whole, the families that attended the Park Hall consultation (which I have previously blogged about) were broadly happy with academy plans ““ such as the sponsor etc. The main concern was travel to and from school to that particular gasometer cite. The dissatisfaction at Mitchell and Berryhill Schools should also be ignored at peril.

But as I said, the changes in the proposals are an opportunity. Blurton Acadamy will have capacity for more children from the south part of Longton, which in part addresses the concerns raised at the recent consultation by Dresden parents about the distance they would need to travel to Park Hall. There is also, I believe, scope to look at alternative sites for the Park Hall Academy. So what are the options?

1) The Gasometer Site is Serco’s stated preferred option. I, like many parents am concerned about the safety of access to the site and it could cost a lot to decommission the gasometer. It does have the benefit of being reasonably central to the Longton North and Bentilee communities.
2) Mitchell Site or Wilfield Site: Both sites are a problem for me because of the distance children from my ward would have to travel to school. Wilfield is my preferred of the two but kids would still have to cross Dividy Road by a busy bus depot.
3) My preferred option, and one that needs to be investigated and mooted further is for an Academy on the site of the old Mossfield Colliery. It has the benefit of being equidistant for the Longton North and Bentilee and Berry Hill areas, and has safer access from all sides than the gasometer site. Further the land is already clear and, as I understand, is in council ownership (although this needs to be clarified). The site has potential that should be investigated further.

There will doubtlessly be more twists in the tale of the secondary school reorganisation over the next couple of months. I have two hopes, that the City Council leadership will have a more vigorous dialogue with the Government and public going forward and that we will start to see construction workers as soon as possible.

Cllr Tom Reynolds

Longton North Ward Visit the Longton North Website.