New website looks at who funds UK-based think tanks and political campaigns

Who Funds You LogoA new website launches today calling for think tanks and public policy campaigns to publish their annual income and name their major funders.

For its pilot project, Who Funds You? – http://WhoFundsYou.org – asked 20 leading UK-based think tanks and political campaigns to disclose their major funders and rated them on the depth of their responses. Continue reading

Inside the Civic

Those who thought all out elections would bring some stability to our Council must be feeling embarrassed this week as Council Leader Mohammed Pervez took a scalpel to his cabinet, cutting out the disobedient Gratton and challenger Hill, and carving up the other portfolios in what is quite clearly more than the ‘tweaking’ he described it as.

The introduction of Platt and Dutton is seen as a nod to the left wingers in the group, who re-emerged in 2011 to rival the modernisers who were in danger of taking over Labour. Continue reading

Fenton Town Hall

I read somewhere of the commitment of former Labour Councillor Stan Bate to protecting the heritage of Fenton especially the Town Hall.

All well and good as it’s a fine late Victorian building and his passion for defending what is a jewel has to be commended.

It’s a pity that Stan, who to be fair to him, memory might be hazy of events a quarter of a century ago has perhaps forgotten the stance he took on Longton Town Hall in the late 80s when Ellis Bevan and other concerned citizens of the town campaigned to save the building. Continue reading

Stoke-on-Trent City Council formally applies for administration of Port Vale Football Club

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has confirmed this evening that it has made a formal application to the High Court to put Port Vale Football Club into Administration.

Councillor Mohammed Pervez, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said

We have throughout this very complex and sensitive process always kept our focus on protecting the public purse while working towards safeguarding the future of Port Vale Football Club. Continue reading

No pay offer to local government employees for third consecutive year

The 1.6 million local government employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being informed that in order to protect funding to vital frontline services and reduce further job losses, no pay offer will be made to local government employees for 2012/13.

Sarah Messenger, LGA Head of Workforce, said

This has been a very difficult decision to make but it is the right one for council tax payers and the workforce as a whole. A combination of rising costs and shrinking local government funding means councils were left with little choice. Increasing pay would mean more job losses and cuts to the services people need. Continue reading

City Sentral Another Week

Another week on and another Council Budget agreed with pledge to spend £12million and complete Hanley Ring Road, after the last proposal for another Hotel and another Casino failed to materialise and increase our Council Tax by 3.49%

Oddly enough my first suggestion for a retailer to contact on their interest in our City came from a local Councillor, Cllr Rosenau suggested on twitter for her followers to contact Hotel Chocolat about coming to Hanley. Who I am to ignore Cabinet Member for Regeneration she must know a thing or two. So I send off my email hoping above hopes that this will be the first positive response ( I have insider information dont I ) but sadly no yet another negative reply Continue reading

Tax Payers Alliance name Sarah Hill Pin Head of the month for February

Sarah Hill TPA pinhead of the monthThe Tax Payers Alliance have voted Councillor Sarah Hill, the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cabinet Member for Finance as their Pin Head of the month for February.

According to the TPA Sarah is the driving force behind moves to refuse the Government’s funding that would enable a council tax freeze in Stoke-on-Trent this year and instead is pushing ahead with a 3.49% increase in bills at a time when many residents are struggling with the rising cost of living. On Thursday Sarah and her fellow councillors were set to vote through this rise, despite previous TPA research and official statistics pointing to areas where costs are already running too high, such as Continue reading

Landsbanki make £1.5m payment to Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Stoke-on-Trent City Council announced today it was one of the 80 councils that has received its first repayment from money owed after the collapse of the Icelandic bank, Landsbanki.

The city council received £1.5m of its £5m owed and is expecting more installments in the future. Stoke-on-Trent City Council lost the money in the Icelandic banking crash after an email, sent by the council’s credit agency, which showed a downward review of Landsbanki’s credit rating, was not acted upon by one of the council’s officers.

Sarah Hill, cabinet member for finance, said this morning

This is excellent news for the city council and a well-deserved success for the Local Government Association (LGA) and its partners in the Supreme Court case. The way in which we have co-ordinated the legal action with the LGA, and other local authorities is an example of our effectiveness as a council, we have minimised legal costs and provided excellent value for money for the taxpayer.

This is very welcomed money for the council, £1.5m is a lot of money but it isn’t new money, it is money we were confident we would get back and is already committed for capital expenditure over the next few years.

So unfortunately it doesn’t change the budget proposals before the council later this week. However it is good that after four years we know for certain we will get most of our money back from Landsbanki.

The legal action was, coordinated by the Local Government Association, to secure priority creditor status for UK local authorities following the winding up of Landsbanki and another bank Glitnir. Local authority funds worth £413m were held by Landsbanki when it collapsed in 2008, and the LGA expects some 98% to be eventually recovered.

LGA chair Sir Merrick Cockell, said

This is the result of four years of hard work on behalf of the sector and we are absolutely delighted that we have been able to help more than 80 local authorities.

Protest Against Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cuts

North Staffs Against Cuts (NSAC) are calling a protest against the Stoke-on-Trent council budget cuts on Thursday 23rd February 2012 outside the council chamber on Kingsway, Stoke, starting at 1645.

NSAC strongly oppose the £24m cuts the council are pushing through this year. This second round of cuts will affect all sections of the community: children, pensioners, disabled people and council workers. Last year saw the closure of two local swimming pools, childrens’ centres, libraries alongside huge budget cuts to hundreds of other services. This year’s budget includes unfair contract changes to refuse workers, closure of a recently-built specialist dementia care home, closure of the Wedgwood College and the sacking of three hundred council workers.

Jason Hill, president of North Staffs Trades Union Council (NSTUC) says

The council says they are mandated to cut services in the city because of the Tory government policy. The people of Stoke-on-Trent did not vote for these cuts nor did we elect councillors to cut vital services, such as youth centres and nursing homes. We believe the council should refuse to make any budget cuts and fight to defend the services and people of Stoke-on-Trent against the savage Tory cuts agenda.

NSAC encourage all individuals and organisations that are against the cuts to come along to the protest, bring their banners and placards and show their opposition to the devastating slashing of services that will affect the city for many years to come.

Albion and Parliament Square Proposals Go On Display

Shoppers are being given a first glimpse of the next stage of a multi-million pound transformation of public spaces in the city centre.

Proposals for the Albion and Parliament Square areas of the city centre are going on display this week as residents and visitors are encouraged to have their say.

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-On-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said

The city centre will be transformed with new public spaces, seating, lighting and paving which will create a more visitor friendly atmosphere for shoppers. It is exciting to see the proposed designs for stage two unveiled and I hope that people take the time to have a look and comment on what they would like to see in the city centre.

The work is part of a multi-million pound refurbishment of city streets over the next few years to improve the city centre street scene creating a more inspiring outlook for visitors to the city and provide a strong link with the new bus station.

Work on the first phase of the project, which focuses on Tontine and Percy Street, is due to start in April.

The consultation for the second phase, which will run until Thursday 16 February, will look at proposals covering Albion Square outside the Town Hall and the small area outside Wetherspoons called Parliament Square.

Residents are being asked to comment on the proposals so that final designs can be drawn up for the scheme which is due to start in Autumn. The city centre improvements are designed to complement other major regeneration schemes in the city centre such as the Central Business District and £350million shopping and leisure complex City Sentral.

Information stands will be available in the city centre with questionnaires and design boards in the following locations

  • Victoria Hall – until Monday 13 February
  • Potteries Museum – until Thursday 16 February
  • The city centre indoor market – until Thursday 16 February

Representatives from the council will also be on hand in the city centre in Tontine Square between 10am and 2pm, Wednesday 15 February to help answer any questions.

Members of the public can get more information and leave their feedback on-line using the link below.