Eye Spy the By-election

So the by-election has finally been called for the vacancy for Office of Councillor for the Springfields and Trent Vale ward, it’s only taken since 27 April. So now the ballot boxes are being broken out and just in the nick of time… frustrated residents in Springfields & Trent Vale are already starting to petition the council over local issues, having begun to feel the effects of no local representation for the last few months.

Despite having more councillors than they know what to do with, Labour have not fallen over themselves to ensure residents have felt looked after, which is perhaps why there are rumblings that this by-election may see upwards of 8 candidates all vying to fix the numerous potholes and clear the litter on the yellow brick road from Trent Vale to Stoke. Hardly a ringing endorsement of previous incumbents…

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Springfields and Trent Vale By-election called

Some late breaking news out of the Civic Centre tonight.

It seems the Springfields and Trent Vale By-election has finally been called just under 2 months after Sarah Hill resigned from her seat there. The date for the By-election will be July 26.

More as I get it..

Inside the civic

The big news this week, as hinted in my last column, was the resignation of Deputy Lord Mayor Khan as he prepares to once again face the Standards Committee. This is certainly an honourable decision, however why it took so long (and a Labour group meeting) to convince Khan to resign perhaps signifies how unaware certain councillors are about what the public think of their conduct. 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

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader announces his new cabinet

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Councillor Mohammed Pervez has given details of his new Cabinet after the reshuffle at Monday nights Labour Group AGM which saw Debra Gratton & Sarah Hill removed.

Sarah Hill subsequently resigned her position as a Councillor forcing a by-election in the Springfields and Trent Vale ward. Continue reading

Sarah Hill Resigns

Sarah Hill councillor for Springfields and Trent Vale has resigned from the city council after being removed from her cabinet position at the Labour AGM last night.

All details for Sarah Hill have been removed from the council website.

Rumour from the Civic Centre is that Sarah’s departure is just the first as the Labour group tightens its hold on members and takes a dim view of anyone who doesn’t toe the party line. Continue reading

Anger at idea to merge council

Members from Newcastle Borough Council have scoffed at the idea of merging with the city.

They roundly rejected the suggestion that Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council should form one super-power.

The hostility came as the public were invited to a discussion at Staffordshire University’s Film Theatre about whether Stoke-on-Trent should merge with the County Council based in Stafford.

Members of the audience from Newcastle expressed anger at the idea of merging any council in the area with Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Continue reading

Councillor Sarah Hill: It can’t be all her fault

It may be amusing that the Tax Payers Alliance has voted Councillor Sarah Hill the Pin Head of the Month due to inflicting an unnecessary council tax rise of 3.49% on the people of Stoke-on-Trent.

I know we are constantly told that this is a member led council and I am not jumping to her defence, but I do not believe for one minute that this would be Cllr Hill’s proposal, but something forced onto her by the finance officers. 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.