Gaff Prone NULBC Councillor Describes Church as a “ËœCult’

A gaff prone Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Councillor has once again put his foot it ““ this time on Facebook.

Ashley Howells, Conservative councillor for Loggerheads & Whitmore, previously described Stoke-on-Trent residents as idle and overweight on social networking site Twitter.

His latest gaff came courtesy of comments made by him on Facebook.

Councillor Howells used the world’s biggest social networking site to describe religion, in particular the Church of England, as a cult.

Councillor Howells commented on a link posted by a Facebook user to a story in the Telegraph newspaper that reports that CofE congregations have halved in the last 40 years.

He said that the demise of the Church of England would remove one more myth based cult.

”quite”¦..however it would remove one more myth based cult”

Cllr Howells comments drew this angry response form another Facebook user.

”Sorry to hijack your message, which I happen to agree with, but I fear that Ashley Howells however has given another reason by which his bigoted one sided views have been revealed.

You would think that a councillor wouldn’t cause offence to a good portion of his electorate and his comments on Twitter have caused him to make public apologies before.”

His previous comments about Stoke-on-Trent forced him to close down his Twitter account.

Will his latest gaff force him off the social networking site Facebook?

”Upon meeting many villagers, we found that the various priorities outlined by me matched their concerns and demands to a very great extent ““ for example, residents want to preserve the rural characteristic of the area whilst enhancing local services such as children/youth facilities and senior citizen activities; local folk see a police presence and rapid response rate as key in preventing crime and reducing the fear of crime; residents of all our villages are concerned about Wind Farm, Quarrying and Methane Gas Drilling threats; highway safety and speeding are worries for many ……

I know that Loggerheads Parish Council, responding to its parishioners via the Parish Plan, wants to plan for an improved village centre and I will continue to work with them and the Borough team to drive the initiative on.
I’ve met many from the various community and parish groups which do such important work for the communities of the rural area and I look forward to working with them to enhance our shared quality of life”.

It would appear that the important role played by churches in community life, especially in rural areas like Loggerheads & Whitmore, is being dismissed by Conservative Councillor Ashley Howells, despite what his blog comments say.

It is obvious that his blog article on the NULBC website misleads the electorate and his true beliefs are hidden behind the words written.

Cllr Howells Facebook comments fail to respect those members of society who a practise their faith and enjoy playing a part in church life.

Councillor Howells comments will offend some members of Loggerheads & Whitmore communities and may well affect his chances at the next election as well as seriously diminishing his chances of being invited to open any church fete in his council ward.

Newcastle Lead The Way Over Recycling – Stoke Bring Up The Rear!

For those who have questioned Pits n Pots motivation in raising the issues surrounding Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Enhanced Recycling and Waste Management procedures, we thought that you would be interested in reading the following article.

This article is from the Lets Recycle Website:

Recycling rates in Newcastle-under-Lyme more than doubled in the eight months after weekly food waste collections were introduced in March 2010, according to the Staffordshire council’s kerbside recycling collection contractor, Acumen Distribution.

The Northampton-based company has been running the Staffordshire council’s recycling collection contract since 2003 and began a new seven-year collection deal in February 2010. It has expanded the range of materials that householders can recycle at the kerbside to include plastics bottles and cardboard – a change introduced in April 2010

Together with an extension to its garden waste service to cover all properties with a garden, Acumen claims the changes increased Newcastle-under-Lyme borough council’s household recycling rate from the 26% recorded for 2009/10 to 55% for the period March to November 2010.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council are currently achieving just over 40% recycling.

This equated to 1,900 tonnes of food waste and 4,250 of dry recyclables being collected over the period, using a source-segregated approach, with Acumen operating nine trucks, four days a week to run the service.

The company also opened a new waste transfer station, at Burslem, in November 2009 to handle the recyclables collected. And, Acumen’s efforts were welcomed by Trevor Nicholl, head of recycling strategy and fleet services at the council.

“We have worked closely with Acumen Distribution over the past year to improve our recycling rates,” he said. “Towards these ends, Acumen has made a significant investment in specialised vehicles to enable us to expand our kerbside recycling collection service.”

Newcastle-under-Lyme’s kerbside recycling system involves householders separating dry recyclables, with sacks or bags being used for: cardboard; plastic bottles; paper; and, mixed glass, cans, aerosols and foil.

Residents can also recycle textiles using a bag, food waste in a caddy and garden waste in a wheeled bin, while residual waste is collected by the council’s in-house collections team using wheeled bins.

The food waste is then sent to the nearby Lower Ruele Bioenergy anaerobic digestion facility, which opened in May 2010 (see story) and paper is sent to UPM Shotton to be recycled into newsprint, while a spokeswoman for Acumen noted that “in the main everything is sold locally”.

The importance of the new service’s success was highlighted by Acumen’s managing director, Chris Doughty, who said: “Due to innovative recycle collection services set up by Boroughs like Newcastle-under-Lyme, the Government last month announced that it will meet the EU 2010 Landfill Directive.”

“Partners like Acumen are proving invaluable to councils as they provide local authorities with value for money and access to their extensive experience and cost-effective solutions,” he added.

The key fact regarding this article is that NULBC HAS achieved a recycling rate of 55% between March and November 2010.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council can only estimate that they MAY achieve the recycling target of 45% for 2015 and 50% by 2020.

NULBC had commissioned WRAP to produce a report at roughly the same time as SOTCC did.

The difference between the two was that Newcastle’s decision making process had FULL member involvement as opposed to SOTCC who had NO member involvement.

Elected members at NULBC were given the WRAP report, in Stoke it was buried and was never put before councillors.

Newcastle did not waste £1.6million of public money whereas Stoke duly purchased 84,000 blue bins that if elected members had had the opportunity to consider all the options of the WRAP report, chances are we would not have needed them.

NULBC are trend setting in this area SOTCC are bringing up the rear as the poor relation often does.

Cllr John Daniels has called upon the District Auditor to carry out a full investigation into this matter as he has even more concerns over certain aspects of the Waste Management and Recycling issue, particularly over the awarding on certain contracts and the price per tonne paid.

Ashley Howells ‘Apologises’ – But I’m Still Not Happy!

I was incensed to read the comments made by Newcastle-under-Lyme Councillor Ashley Howells in today’s Sentinel.

He said:

“I am extremely sorry that I made a personal response on Twitter which has been misinterpreted and then sadly misrepresented by others.

“My comments were in response to reading a highly political anti-Coalition Government comment about public expenditure cuts, which alleged that Stoke-on-Trent has been and will be disproportionately affected.

“I would say that there is indeed an obesity problem, together with a benefits dependency and worklessness problem amongst a minority ““ I stress a minority, some might call it an underclass ““ in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire which all councils and politicians of all shades are trying hard to rectify.”

Now while this may seem a grovelling apology to the people of Stoke-on-Trent, to me it is a double edged sword.

On one side, of course I accept his apology for the hurtful, inaccurate, insulting and incredibly arrogant comments he made about the people of the City of my birth.

On the other side his apology left me fuming at his insinuation that he had in some way, been ‘misrepresented’.

Our story was picked up and written by my good friend and colleague Mike Rawlins. I had the task of getting the reaction from both the public and our politicians.

Now I realise that our politicos are busy, busy people, but Mohammed Pervez [who works full time too], Ross Irving, Tristram Hunt MP [who was in a meeting when I called] all had the decency to get back to me fairly promptly. Rob Flello MP got back to me the next morning to voice his disgust and relay the hope that someone would refer the matter to the Standards Board.

Ashley Howells has not returned any of the 12 calls that I made to him and the numerous messages I left on his answering service.

At PitsnPots we pride ourselves on our balanced approach and fairness to all.

We give all parties and their politicians/representatives equal treatment, yes even the BNP.

We asked Mr Howells to give us his side of the story, we offered him, as we do with all others a completely unedited interview which would have given him the opportunity to set the record straight.

His silence is deafening!

I am left frustrated that he chose to speak to the Sentinel who picked up the story off this site and I can’t help but think that there was a veiled swipe at us in his ‘misrepresented’ comment.

I may well live Stoke-on-Trent, but I pay a substantial amount of money to Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council in business rates.

I think that puts me in a position whereby I deserve an explanation as to why this excuse of a politician is claiming that this site ‘misrepresented’ him or his comments.

Ashley Howells has now terminated his Twitter Account. I wonder if this is because he can not trust himself not to say the wrong thing.

Apparently he was once a Labour Party supporter who failed to reach the status of group leader and so defected to the Tories. Maybe he is having a problem justifying the policies of the ConDem government having seen the world through socialist eyes.

My old Dad used to say that all men make mistakes but only true men with integrity admit to making those mistakes.

His apology is of course welcome to all of us ‘unfortunate’ Stokies, but at the same time it is full of buts, misinterpretations and claims of misrepresentation that attempt to pass the blame and not accept the responsibility.

Why do some people have a problem with holding their hands up and saying ‘I screwed up and for that I am truly sorry’ – full stop.

Rob Flello MP thought that the matter should be reported to Standards and as someone who contributes to NULBC I am seriously considering whether to report it myself, for no other reason than I think that Ashley Howells has tried to shift the blame and claim that we have in some way treated him unfairly. So much so that he could not speak to us and explain his comments even though we published the matter in it’s entirety to avoid claims that we have misrepresented the issue.