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

March in Support of Willfield Gym

There was a protest march on Tuesday 28th June 2011 against the planned closure of the Willfield gym, fitness centre and swimming pool.

I have blogged before (see links below) about Labour outrages in Bentilee and the fate of the Willfield gym.
I was very pleased to see a huge turnout at this protest, organised by the City Independent Group of the council alongside gym campaigners.

We were led by Vance Reardon and his splendid contingent of bagpipers in a well organised and marshalled march from the Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre along Dawlish Drive to the Willfield gym. There was much support along the way, people at home came to their doorsteps to watch, some joined in and traffic stopped without animosity. There was some talk along the way about who voted Labour in the ward. There seemed to be very little knowledge of many who did.

Prominent gym user and campaigner Carol Harrison took part with a multitude of other gym users including Lisa Hulme and her very vociferous group of children and parents from Bentilee Happy Feet who use the building for their dance classes. The crowd also included residents’ association members and many others who care about their community facilities.

Councillors Dave Conway and Ann James joined the march as did former local councillors Steve Batkin, Rita Dale and John Davis. Current Bentilee and Ubberley councillors Sheila Pitt and Alison Wedgwood did not join the march but Sheila attended the rally afterwards outside the Willfield gym.

Cabinet are sure to vote today 30th June 2011 to close the Willfield gym. Dave Conway’s City Independent Group are sure to call in the decision but to no avail as Labour scrutinising their own decisions are bound to apply the final axe to the gym and swimming pool.

BNP Roadshow hits Stoke again

The BNP will be rolling back into town again on Sunday with the launch of their English Manifesto. This time, Longton hosts the launch. It will be interesting to see if support for the BNP is as diminished as it was in last May’s elections, or whether they have done enough to regroup and revive this time around.

I have never been a fan of the BNP. Being of mixed race myself, I have always been suspicious of their motives. Being accosted by National Front Skinheads as a boy will certainly make you suspicious, if not angry and fearful. However, since working on PnP I have tried to put my personal prejudices aside and report on what I see, as opposed to what I might be feeling due to external influence.

Having met the BNP senior leadership last year, I’d at least had the opportunity to talk and interact with them in a normal way, without having my judgement swayed by what I’d read in the papers.

I really don’t know what the BNP would do to people like me, if they were to ever gain power in a general election. They say that there would be no forced repatriation. They do however say, that ethnic minorities would be offered money to leave the country. Both Nick Griffin and Simon Darby were at pains to point out that this was an old Labour Policy. No one from Labour ever came round to my house asking me to leave and waving a one way ticket to Barbados though.

I ‘ve heard from multiple sources that Stoke BNP has some good councillors. I have also heard that they have got some or had some pretty useless ones too. The results last may showed that the BNP were losing popularity within the city. However, The recession has really begun to bite now, and I’m sure the BNP will be really looking to capitalise on that fact.

Some of the noises the BNP have been making abut Mosques worry me. If an immigrant comes to this country legally, and he/she is a Muslim, then I have no issue with them whatsoever in letting them use their money to purchase buildings to be used as Mosques. So long as there is adequate parking and facilities and that all the proper planning procedures have been followed. Like many though I do have reservations about the addition of Domes and Minarets being added. I’m a Derbyshire lad and grew up in an area where the planning laws were very strict. Driving around Stoke-on-Trent I’m regularly surprised with some of the building alterations that have been allowed. I personally think that Domes and Minarets would change the character of the town. I’ve seen them in Birmingham, and very pretty they are too but im my mind they look out of place because this is Britain. It should be noted though that Britain has many Sikh temples, with Domes and I haven’t heard the BNP moaning about those, the opposite in-fact, regularly claiming Sikhs as allies.

Of course Britain is changing all the time and always has been so perhaps I’m behind step in my thinking? I would challenge any unusual building project though not just ones pertaining to religious buildings.

There will be many who say that they are shocked by my article, and some will say I’m even defending the BNP. I say that they are a political party, a legal party. If we want to be fair, and to live in a fair society then we must allow them to speak. If we don’t like what they say then we all have the option of not voting for them.

That’s why I’m writing this blog, and it’s the same reason I wrote the blog post “The day I met the BNP” . Because I don’t approve of the constant lampooning the mainstream press give the BNP. Last May, the mainstream press pushed past PNP to get at the BNP, yet not a one of the broadsheets or tabloids wrote anything worthy of reading when it came to the policy. That’s just pathetic. If the owners of the papers want to work against the BNP then the fairest way would be to write independent articles that detail policy and lay out their argument against it allowing the public to make up their mind.

Nick Griffin told us that the Press had been involved in smear campaign against the BNP, I’d read that before and didn’t believe it really. Until I read the papers the next day. PitsnPots were the only media outlet that told it as it was. the papers just made daft jokes about the bloke dressed as St George.

When I met with Councillor Steven Batkin last year, regarding the Nazi Salute Photo, he was a pleasant and polite man, we treated each other with dignity. Some of his rhetoric was, in my opinion, incorrect and distasteful, but I allowed him to speak and he allowed me to publish.

Politics has become muddied by spin in the last decade. We need to hear all voices and clearly. Let the people decide what they think of the BNP. Regardless of whether the British National Party are cast aside, or increase their seats, I think politics in Britain will be improved for the greater transparency. One could be forgiven for thinking that the larger parties don’t want any more transparency for the BNP, because it will, sooner or later be demanded of them also.

500 Words From Steve Batkin

I have served as a councillor for Bentilee and Townsend for the last three
years and wish to stand in the Bentilee and Ubberley ward following boundary
changes. I have lived in Bentilee for 26 years so I am very well aware of
all the issues that affect local people.

I choose to work full time as a ward councillor, making me very accessible to
the community and able to fulfil both ward and Civic Centre duties. This is
in contrast to some other councillors who have other jobs and cannot devote
as much time to the community.

I serve an important role as local authority representative on the governing
bodies of 3 schools. Due to being a full time councillor, I have been able
as school governor to attend staff appeals, this is very useful for the
schools as not many governors are available during the day for this.

I work very hard with East Bentilee Residents Association which is a growing
group of good people willing to put a lot of their time into the community.
I encourage more people to become involved in these positive efforts.
Recently I was asked to contribute to a fundraising event for the local
family involved in a tragic fire accident. I played my role and helped to
raise over a thousand pounds for the family.

As ward councillor I attend community events and have tried to make
contributions that are important in people’s lives in this area, such as
helping facilitate housing transfers and repairs, arranging fencing for
greens to curb misuse by motorbikes and quad bikes, improving parking areas,
resolving anti-social behaviour issues and approving ward budget
contributions to projects such as the Bentilee Valley tree planting
initiative. Unfortunately due to persistent Labour Party cuts over the years
I am only sometimes successful.

My support is for the long term, not just for election time. For example I
am a supporter of the Willfield centre and the gym and I have visited
occasionally over the years to support users of the centre, particularly the
tap dancing and ballet. I was the only councillor and politician who turned
out to support the Willfield gym campaigners at the demonstration over the
Labour threat of its closure at the Civic Centre on budget day. Labour
falsely claim in leaflets they are campaigning in support of the Willfield
gym. I am opposing Labour who have an appalling track record of making
claims in leaflets that are utterly false. They used this tactic before in
promising a school on the Mitchell site and then breaking their promise.
Labour cannot be trusted!

I am a person of political principle, true to my word and unlike some
councillors will always vote at council meetings in the interest of local
people, in the ward and the city as a whole. I have proved this on many
occasions, for example voting against Labour’s shocking budget cuts and
their support for the bankers. Someone must speak out for what the community
wants. As a BNP councillor I cannot always win the argument if it does turn
out there is a Labour majority, but someone needs to oppose them!

I have worked tirelessly for the local community of the Bucknall and Bentilee
area and welcome the opportunity, if elected, to continue to do so.

Keep local control, not Labour control!

Stoke-on-Trent BNP Councillor responds to Nazi Salute Photo

Yesterday evening I met with controversial Stoke-on-Trent BNP Councillor Steven Batkin. I had wanted to discuss the photograph in which he had been pictured with three men who were giving a Nazi salute.

Nothing British about the BNP broke the story on their website on May the 5th. I managed to get in touch with Mr Batkin to ask him about the photograph and to give him the opportunity to respond to the reaction. He arranged to meet me at the BNP party office in Stoke’s Civic Centre.Cllr Batkin made some interesting statements during the interview.

When asked about his experience as being the first BNP Councillor in Stoke.

“It wasn’t very nice, all the existing parties, Labour Tory, Lib Dem and Independent, all ganged up on me”.

When asked about what drove him into politics Mr Batkin stated that he noticed changes in society whilst at work and it became obvious to him that..
“It was the Banking Industry that was running the Country and not Political Parties”

Commenting on BNP voters, and the impact of Multicultural society, Batkn told of BNP voters who had mixed race, family members.

” I get people say to me, We all voted BNP, and yet on their sideboard, they have photographs of their coloured grandchildren”

On immigration Batkin said,
” We need to stop any more immigration to make sure we don’t get a situation like the Balkans”

Mr Batkin then went on to talk about the National Fronts stance on repatriation;
” This concept of repatriation and turning the clock back, there’s no way it can happen in British history and if any one ever tried that, there’d be civil war.”

when questioned about the photograph in which he appears with men who are giving a Nazi Salute, he stated that;
“The people in the Photograph, although they are genuine patriotic people, I believe their strategy is wrong”

I asked him why he had appeared in the Photograph at all, he Said “It was a risk, which has certainly backfired on me”.

He also said that he didn’t think the men in the photo saw it as a Nazi salute but a “Fascist salute”.

When asked how people would feel about the photo, given that Britain lost thousands of people in WW2 fighting Fascism, he replied that he thought people “wont be very happy about it”

The photograph was supplied to the antifascist website Nothing British about the BNP by former BNP group leader Alby Walker. Walker recently left the party stating one of his reasons for leaving that there was a vein of Holocaust denial in the party. When Mr asked if he was a Holocaust denier, Mr Batkin had this to say.

” I’ve always believed about 300,000 people died in the Jewish holocaust, not 6 million.” “there’s no way , there was that many Jews in Europe at that time who could have sustained that amount of deaths.”

Mr Batkin serves as a School Governor in two Stoke on Trent Schools, Edensor Technical College and Mitchel High School.

A representative from Edensor High told BBC Midlands today that Mr Batkin should resign, not only from the board of Governors at Edensor, but from the city council. When asked if he would be stepping down from those positions in light of the controversy, Mr Batkin replied ” I expect left wing people to say that, they feel they need to impress the establishment, they are always on the lookout for more money, and if they can use the BNP or me personally to elevate their selves, the will do that.”

He said he wouldn’t be stepping down as it needed someone to speak out about the “birthrate of 1-5 yr old Muslims which has doubled”. He stated that this could “turn into a conflict at some point of culture and ideology”.

Pits n Pots warns anyone listening to this interview that they may be offended by some of views expressed by Cllr Batkin, particularly about the holocaust.

The sound levels fluctuate in the interview. It is best listened to with your PC’s speakers turned to a high volume, or through headphones. We will be uploading the high quality version soon.