A Sneyd Green Mum writes

The Sentinel carried a poignant letter recently from a Sneyd Green Mum whose 45 year old son had been out of work for 4 years and despite hundreds of job application remained unemployed. He had volunteered for 15 weeks within a Co-operative Store in the City. His mother felt that such a comparatively young man had been tossed onto a scrap heap

This heart felt cry puts into plain words the central difficulty that the unemployed face in trying to get into work in Stoke-on-Trent. The jobs are not out there. Last week the Sentinel advertised 378 jobs in an area where there are 11,000 unemployed. Continue reading

500 Words From Charley Hasted

I’m only 24 years old but I have a wealth of experience representing and campaigning for people and issues I care passionately about. I’ve taken part and led campaigns as diverse as preventing the closure of my local library in London, fighting against the closure of a centre dedicated to improving the lives of disabled people by allowing them to live independently, helping to secure funding for a young carers group to give their members a break, securing pledges from a local council (Greenwich) to protect and support young people, protecting talking newspapers and dial-a-ride services for Deaf and disabled/elderly people and campaigning against discrimination in all its many and varied forms.

I may not be a born and bred Stokie but I chose to come here for University and then I chose to stay after I graduated. I love living in Stoke and I sincerely hope to be able to stay here for a long time. I’ve contributed to Stoke I used to be a youth worker for the Council; I’ve done fund-raising activities for local charities (including having my head shaved a year ago).

I want to help improve Stoke by encouraging job creation and educational aspiration. One is useless without the other. I’d like to encourage entrepreneurs in Stoke; we have smart people with good ideas out there who just need a bit of help maybe with finance or a skill they lack. Why not help link them up with investors or people who have that skill? I’d like to try and continue a scheme I took part in through AimHigher where students go into local schools and colleges and give advice on further and higher education. I want to make sure the Council is offering work experience placements, internships and apprenticeships to people of all ages that are valuable and relevant to them and encouraging others to do the same.

I want to ensure that you are getting the services you need and that we can continue to provide them for you. The fact is we have less money, I wish we didn’t but there’s nothing I can do about it. However there have got to be places we can save money without cutting services. A case in point, why are we spending huge amounts of money on solar panels for the show lights at the civic centre? Why not turn the lights off? Secondly I disagree with some facets of the big society but I am passionate about encouraging volunteering, as someone who has been a volunteer virtually since I can remember. So why don’t we do more to encourage people to help their communities not as a way of replacing public services but as a way of making them better?

When all is said and done we’re wasting time with bickering and point-scoring when we should be pulling together and make sure we’re building a strong, secure and sustainable future whatever parties we may or may not be members of.

Submission to the Boundary Committee

This is the submission that I have put to the Boundary Committee:

I present to you my views as Deputy Leader of the Conservative and Independent Alliance Group of the City Council.

You will by now be aware of the difficulty the City Council had in coming to a united decision on how to organise the warding arrangements based on a 45 member council at the Council meeting of the 7th. January.

What there was a united view that a 45member council was too small.

Our group believe that if we had the opportunity to have decided on 46 or 47 members the warding arrangements would have been successfully supported by a majority of the council.

The extra 1 or 2 members would have enabled the council to draw up wards of similar size and keep communities in their own natural areas rather than having to look to make up wards to try and get numbers something similar.

An example of this was the Meadow Lane Estate in Trentham which was suggested be transfered to a Blurton Ward.

The council previously agreed to one of the 14 recommendations of the Governance Commission and consulted on that basis of single member arrangements as instructed.

Public consultation was held and in some areas due to the un-natural nature of the wards the community asked for multi member arrangements to be considered.

Although you are not restricted to single member wards we as a council had been told that we could not ‘cherry pick’ any of the recommendations and we were therefore in a dilemma.

Members who had been ‘instructed’ to support single member wards, even though they personally were not in favour of them, were now faced with the dilemma of a hybrid view for some areas when that view had not been placed before their area because we consulted and expected single member arrangements.

It must be recognised that the work of the Administration and Appeals Committee under the chairmanship of Cllr. Alan Joynson in pulling together all of the representations was a superb piece of work. The problem was that this work highlighted the community view being different to the council’s predetermined position. This then placed the councillors in a position where they were expected to vote against the wishes of their community

The council officers had drawn up a series of options based on 45 to 48 members and this small increase gave a much better set of arrangements.

We realise that there is a set date for the end of presentations to you but since these new arrangements will stand for 20 to 30 years we would ask for an extension of a few weeks to enable the council to come to their preferred view which we believe would be 47 or 48 members.

We believe that the warding arrangements drawn up by our officers based on that number would receive substantial support.

We would ask that you consider the proposals drawn up by the council on a slightly larger number of members which we are sure you will agree give much better community connections.

If this delay is not possible then we make the following comments based on 45 members:

1. Single member wards are our preference since it gives a uniform mode of representation across the whole City and is easily understood.

2. Dual and triple member wards with a predominance of single member wards will lead to a lack of understanding of why an adjoining ward has 2 or 3 members and they have only 1.

3. The opposition to one area feeling dominated by another because of the name of the ward would be overcome if we returned to numbering the wards as used to be the case when we had 24 wards. I was elected firstly for ward 6 which later became Burslem Grange and yet I live in Sneyd Green. Numbering removes the conflict.

4. Should you be considering some multi member wards based on 45 members then the position and presentation I know you will be receiving from the Administration and Appeals Committee, represents the best way forward

Cllr Roger Ibbs
Deputy Leader Conservative & Independent Alliance.

Operation Nemesis – 12 More Arrested

Police in Stoke-on-Trent have sent a clear message to those involved in the supply of drugs this Christmas as part of the latest phase of Operation Nemesis.

Before dawn this morning, eight teams of police officers from the Stoke-on-Trent division began a day of executing drugs warrants.

The search warrants, all granted under the Misuse of Drugs Act, were aimed at recovering evidence against suspected drug dealers in the city.

So far today officers have executed warrants at 14 addresses across the city including properties in Normacot, Blurton, Cobridge, Sneyd Green and Longton.

Officers have arrested 12 people – eight men and four women – in relation to drugs offences and have seized a quantity of what is believed to be Class A drugs (cocaine) and cash at various addresses.

Supt. Dave Mellor said “Operation Nemesis really is daily business for us in Stoke-on-Trent. We are keeping the pressure on the dealers and have done since the launch of the operation in 2007. These warrants are the result of some detailed investigative work by a number of departments determined to tackle the supply of drugs, but importantly many of the search warrants executed today have resulted from calls by members of the public to Crimestoppers.”

On average, since the launch of Operation Nemesis, one or more drugs warrants have been executed every day in the city.

Each time a property is searched officers from the local neighbourhood policing team are involved and they work to deliver leaflets to homes in the area to ensure residents know what action the police are taking to tackle the supply of drugs.

Supt. Mellor added “Keeping the community informed about the action we are taking is a vital part of the operation. As a result of this element of the operation we have seen and sustained a real increase in the number of calls to Crimestoppers, which allows this vital work to continue.”

The leaflets issued to communities also direct drug users and their families to drug services, as the warrant could be the trigger for a user to make a significant change to their lives and seek treatment and support for their addiction.

Supt. Dave Mellor concluded “We are constantly working to protect our communities from the harm caused by drugs.Today’s warrants will help keep the pressure on the dealers and I urge anyone with information about drugs to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or speak to their local neighbourhood officer. A call now could result in a drug dealer in our community spending Christmas behind bars – all we need is the information. Santa isn’t the only person with a magic key this Christmas.”