The year in review ““ April

Welcome to part 2 of our ‘Year in Review’ article.

Here we concentrate on the period beginning April through to the end of june.

April

The biggest story in April by far was the ongoing saga of the Council Corruption investigation. We had already seen the arrest of Cllr Roger Ibbs and the Elected Mayor Mark Meredith. Both men had been questioned and released on Police bail. Both had stood down from the majority of their duties. In April we witnessed the third episode of this unfortunate soap opera, which was being played out before a gob smacked city wide audience. The scandal was also attracting the interest of the nationals including TV and Radio.
The arrest of prominent businessman Mo Chaudry confirmed everyone suspicions that this whole sorry episode was centred around the attempted closure of the splash pool at the popular Burlem Leisure Centre Dimensions. Mo Chaudry issued a statement through his lawyers stating that Mr Chaudry denied any wrong doing and that he had, and would continue, to co-operate with the Police Investigation.
Smoke-on-Trent re-launched their website, but it was to be very short lived. The site was to close down completely just a few months later.
While we are on smoke – Stoke-on-Trent’s first prosecution for flouting the smoking ban was successful. The owner of the Shesha Lounge in Hanley was fined £100 plus costs for failing to stop two customers from smoking a water pipe and a cigarette.
In April we also broke the news that the National Executive of the Labour Party along with their Regional Officers were descending on Stoke-on-Trent amidst accusations of in party fighting and councillors threatening to walk out on the party. This was perhaps the first clue that all was not well within the party that had once been so strong in our City.
Racism entered the University arena for the first time when University Presidential Candidate Assed Baig claimed that his opponent was using racist comments to defeat his challenge. The election was postponed whilst an internal investigation into the claims took place.
Mick Salih used the full council meeting early in April to once again hit out at the appointment of a paid chair for the NSRP. The new chair was take up his/her responsibilities in June when the Elected Mayor stepped down from the position. Cllr Salih tabled an amendment to instruct the city council’s representatives on the NSRP board not to vote for an independent chairman. Members voted 35 to 16 in favour of the amendment, despite warnings from Council Manager Chris Harman and Conservative and Independent Alliance leader councillor Ross Irving that it could damage relations between the council and its partners. Mr Harman hit out at the conduct of elected members in the press after the meeting, claiming that the amended motion was pointless because
there was no voting by the board on that matter.
Rob Flello was continuing to be a thorn in the side of Serco and was asking for the BSF proposals to be extended to 15 schools and claimed that the pupil numbers warranted this amendment. This was met with universal agreement from the Trentham Action Group who had been calling for the same for quite a period of time.
Rob went a massive step further just a few day’s later when a hastily arranged press conference held at Trentham High School revealed a letter from Schools Minister Jim Knight which indicated that the government had changed it’s view on THS closure. It was a major u-turn by the government, and one that left the City Council with a huge dilemma. Would Chris Harman and the EMB go against the wishes of government? This turn of events, down to the hard work of Rob Flello MP, threw THS a lifeline and it now seemed that the campaign to save THS was just a small matter of a council meeting away…
Meanwhile it seemed that the out going Elected Mayor was urging community activists in the Bucknall/Berryhill area to fight to retain their community school in the wake of the government u-turn on THS.
The all important EMB meeting where the issue of Trentham High was again, rightly, at the top of the agenda. The meeting was to be screened to members of the public in the adjacent Kings Hall. Only members of the Press [for once that included us!] were allowed to witness the meeting in person in the Windsor Room. The meeting went ahead but was not without controversy. Several Councillors were refused admission to the Windsor Room on the grounds of fire safety. But it turned out to be the day that the TAG had dreamed about. Trentham HS was to be removed from the schools closure list and was to be allowed to explore all possibilities for becoming a Trust type school. The meeting also decided that THS would receive none of the BSF funding. The reason for this seemed to be purely out of spite at the time and was later recinded. But there was to be no reprieve for Mitchell High School. Their campaigners were told in no uncertain terms that no further alterations to the BSF plans would be considered. That also signalled the beginning of the end for Heathfield Special School.
April also saw Cllr Ross Irving enter the race to become the new Council Leader. Mike Barnes officially left Democracy 4 Stoke which signalled his intention of challenging for the Leadership of the Labour group on the council.
Later on in the month we saw the emergence of a new community group, the Potteries Community Federation, the brainchild of former BNP member Craig Pond, Terry Cope and Sam Tunstall. They wanted members from all over the political sphere who were disenfranchised with the political system here in Stoke. The Labour Group were continuing to spiral downwards. Complaints about Labour EMB members and counter claims were going in thick and fast. The Labour Group Leader position was beginning to look something of a poisoned challice.
April also saw the local Liberal Democrats elect a new leader, Kieran Clarke. Dr Zulfiqar Ali was elected his deputy.

The final article on Pits’n’Pots in april was the prediction that there was to be an Indian Summer for our Country which just goes to prove ““ we don’t get everything right!

May will be coming shortly………

The year in review ““ January through to March

Well it’s that time of year again reader. Out with the old and in with the new.

2009 was a difficult year for many people, the recession, many people on short time working or worse still losing their jobs.

A government reluctant to accept that the global economy was in melt down and the inevitability that recession would surely follow in the UK.

January

Locally the start of the year could not have started any worse for those people who relied on the Pottery giants Wedgwood for their livelihood.

The Barlaston based company announced that they had called in the receivers at the end of the Christmas shut down. It marked the beginning of the end for a company that had been on the City’s landscape for some 250 years.

Education chiefs announced that they would issue the closure notice for Trentham High school a whole year earlier than had previously been proposed. This move only served to further galvanise the Trentham Action Group in their fight to save their community school.

Craig Pond, then the Chair of the Stoke BNP Policy group, outraged the City by writing an article on what he claimed was the proposal to build permanent and temporary ‘Traveller Camps’ he lambasted the ‘Traveller’ community and described them as ‘lying, thieving, no good, trouble making scum!’ he went on to state that we have ‘been gifted with so many thieving pikeys from abroad, we round up ours and send them to Romania!’ This article drew a massive response and pits’n’pots was roundly criticised for publishing it. It also angered the then Stoke BNP group Leader Alby Walker.

January also saw three City Councillors reprimanded for failing to undertake a standard CRB check. Gavin Webb held out because he believed that the CRB check that his employers had undertaken on him should suffice. Lee Wanger was having problems trying to prove who he was as he had no passport or driving license. Geoff Knight had been ill and had not been well enough to go through the process. All three eventually complied.

Gav being Gav kicked up a real fuss about the CRB requirement and told the City that he didn’t agree with these kind of checks. He also gave his first clue that he was heading towards the Libertarians in a blog article.

Jean Bowers EMB for Adult Services announced that there would be changes to the Life Line service provided to the elderly. The old type pull chord system was to be replaced with pendants. There were obvious benefits to the new system such as ‘fall detectors’ but it also meant that more people would be required to pay for the service.

The 22nd January heralded D-Day for the Trentham Action Group. A meeting of the EMB descended into chaos when TAG members staged a sit down protest. The protest followed constant refusal by the Elected Mayor Mark Meredith to allow TAG Chair Daniel Jordan to address the meeting. Mayor Meredith acted like a dictator in that meeting and just before the vote to merge THS and Blurton HS, Mr Jordan made one last attempt to speak out. Mayor Meredith ordered two burly security guards to escort Mr Jordan out of the room. Mr Jordan was having none of it and promptly staged a sit in. He was joined by many TAG supporters. The EMB concluded the meeting behind closed doors. It was without doubt the most tense meeting that we have covered for PnP and we were there to capture pictures and audio from the meeting as the action unfolded.

At the Full Council meeting at the end of January, the constitution for a chamber under the Leader and Cabinet system was revealed. Outgoing EM Mark Meredith clashed with Cllr Mick Salih at the proposal to introduce a paid Chair for the NSRP for when Meredith vacated the position.
The month began with the administration of Wedgwood and finished with the shock announcement that North Staffs Race Equality Council had called in the administrators. The REC closed it’s doors after 30 years service to the city.

February

The beginning of February saw Mike and I attend a press launch in the snow to publicise the proposed face lift of the Potteries Way. £1.8million was to be spent on new Hundreds of new trees and hedges, 53 new street light columns and 212 colourful image panels attached to the lighting columns. This work was to be started immediately and was to be finished by April ’09. Eight months later and the work has yet to be completed.

BNP Leader Alby Walker called for an independent audit of the North Staffs REC accounts by the City Council. He added that the absence of a Service Level agreement had cast doubts on the REC’ financial dealings and he demanded to know what the money given by Stoke on Trent city council had been used for. He also suggested that the REC had been guilty of letting third parties like Unite Against Fascism, and the North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, use their building free of charge to defeat the BNP.

In contrast, PnP team member Tideswellman penned an article that exposed his thoughts on ‘Who the BNP really are’. This article drew a massive response and to this day remains one of our most viewed.

February also witnessed an attempt to save Wedgwood by members of the Wedgwood family. This campaign was backed by Stoke South MP Rob Flello and after a valiant attempt, the move was doomed to failure.

The TAG announced that some of their members would cycle to Strasbourg to deliver a petition to the European Parliament.

EMB Member Joan Bell announced that after taking the views of the Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, she had decided to revise plans for the raising of car park charges. Originally, charges were to rise by up to 40p per hour. Bell went with the scrutiny recommendations and opted for a staged rise in parking charges. Ironically, these rises were never implemented and would come back to bite officers in the rear later in the year.

The Coachmakers Arms featured predominately in the news in February. The campaign to save the popular city centre watering hole was gathering pace. Plans for a proposed visit to the pub by councillors were altered at the 11th hour to avoid a demonstration by pub regulars and supporters.

They opted instead to view the pub from the relative safety of the balcony of the near by Victoria Hall. Then it was back to the Civic to wield the expected axe over this award wining pub.

The proverbial hit the fan with our decision to publish another article from Stoke BNP policy group Chair Craig Pond. This one was entitled ‘Wasted Money’ and essentially it was a list of council funded projects and groups. Many of the groups were ethnic minority or disabled groups and Craig left us in no doubt of what he and the BNP thought of this use of public money. The article gab=ve the local BNP a few problems, and it emerged that Ellie Walker [wife of group Leader Alby] had relatives that had benefited from the work of one of the groups that Craig had slated. There was trouble ahead…

February also saw the announcement that the Audit Commission were to investigate the selling of the shares owned by the City Council to Stoke City FC. We are still waiting for the result despite repeated calls for information from Cllr Mike Barnes.

Trentham Gardens also announced that they were to charge for the Lake Walk. The walk would also take in the Italian Gardens. A Facebook group was formed and within weeks a large number of people had joined the campaign against the charges.

The BNP, the CIG and some other members of the council had walked out of the council chamber ahead of a vote to implement a series of measure designed to help businesses through the recession. The unrest was caused by what was perceived to be a lack of detailed information on which companies would qualify for the assistance. Officers of the council would have the ultimate say in which companies would benefit from these measures.

It was also agreed in February that the Mitchell Memorial Theatre would get a complete refurbishment.

Sunday 22nd February saw a 1000 demonstrators descend on Trentham Gardens in protest at the implementation of charges for the Lake walk. To his credit Trentham Director Mike Herbert was in attendance and faced his critics. He also conducted media interviews. The decision to implement the charges was largely vindicated as visitor number increased over the year 2009.

The City Council accepted the Corporate Plan with the exception of the BNP. They failed to table any alternative, but did say the plan would be very different if they were in charge. That response drew widespread condemnation for all sides of the council chamber.

March

Well March started with a bang! The arrest of Roger Ibbs right at the end of February hit the headlines, but the details were sketchy.

Here at Pits’n’Pots our legal team advised us to report that a prominent councillor had been arrested but no more. This was a move that paid off, as we were the first to get an exclusive statement from Roger Ibbs. His statement said: “I am sure everyone realises that this is a most difficult time for me and my family, particularly because I cannot go into detail as to the reasons why I am helping the Police with their enquiries. As I have explained it is impossible for me to comment in detail on an ongoing police enquiry but I do believe that some broad explanation should be made before people jump to the wrong conclusions. These enquiries came about following a complaint I made to the council. It is nothing to do with the BSF proposals for Education. It is about actions that started over 12 months ago when I held a different responsibility but has nothing to do with that area of responsibility either. I willingly helped the Police on Friday and will willingly continue to do so”.

This was enough to start the speculation. People very quickly formed the opinion that this was all to do with the attempted closure of the Dimensions leisure pool. This was confirmed by the arrest of the Elected Mayor Mark Meredith exactly one week later.

Meanwhile, all was not well with Stoke BNP. Craig Pond announced his shock resignation from the party. He cited a difference of opinion with the local party hierarchy. There were rumours abound that the party leadership was less than impressed with Craig’s articles on PNP which had outraged Alby as these articles were not in keeping with the image that Alby was trying to portray of the BNP.

Back to the Roger Ibbs saga. It was announced that Ross Irving would take the party helm following Roger’s decision to step down from all council duties apart from his attendance at full council meetings. This meant that EM Mark Meredith would take over the responsibility for the BSF process. This move however, was to be very short lived, following Meredith’s subsequent arrest in the same police investigation. Ironically Meredith had heralded Ibbs’s decision to step down.

We had aired our first ‘Leadership Special’ interview with Mike Barnes which had massive viewing figures. We were planning many more and committed to putting them on the site unedited. The uptake was fantastic, with one exception ““ Alby Walker! He blatantly refused to allow us to film or record an interview with him. We decided not to ask him again.

The TAG were still fighting strongly to save their school and there was talk of legal action. I knew at this stage that Rob Flello MP was working in the background lobbying ministers in Parliament.

Following the arrest of Mark Meredith, our very own Matt Taylor wrote an article calling for the EM to follow the precedent made by Roger Ibbs and resign. Exactly two days later, Meredith resigned and stepped down from all his political duties including overseeing the BSF project, Chair of the NSRP and he was temporarily suspended from the Labour Party. Amazingly he held onto the position of Elected Mayor and the salary that came with it!

Mohammed Pervez, as Deputy Elected Mayor, stepped in to fulfil the duties vacated by Mark Meredith. There was a media gathering organised to allow the press to put questions to Chris Harman and Pervez. Pnp were not allowed to interview the pair and were barred from the press gathering on the instruction of Dan Barton Head of Communications. This really set the tone for our tempestuous relationship with the media department at our city council.

March was the month that PnP started to get some national recognition. Several national dailies picked up PnP contributor Plane Jane’s article of the mis-use of the Spitfire by the BNP. We remain truly proud of this article.
It was during March that our sources started indicating that Government were about to intervene in the running of this city as they were becoming completely frustrated at the failure to reach a clear cut decision on the implementation of all out elections.

March also witnessed the official merger of Pits’n’Pots and the Radical Press. An upgrade to the web site followed and the site was again receiving recognition for the quality it was producing.

Towards the end of March we saw the very sad announcement of the death of former councillor and wife of Terry, Christine Follows.

Nationally the Mps’ expense scandal was gathering momentum. Revelations were coming thick and fast. We had an inkling that this fiasco would run and run. It followed perhaps the best example of investigative journalism seen in this country from reporters at the Telegraph.

The TAG were still fighting tooth and nail for their community school. At a council organised consultation meeting at the Brittania Stadium both communities universally rejected the proposed merger of the two schools and called for an Academy to be built on the Blurton site and a refurbishment of THS. It seemed a plan was coming together…

Details of our local Mps’ expenses were revealed at to be fair they did not show anything too untoward. Collectively Rob Flello, Mark Fisher and Joan Walley claimed  more than £450k in the main for travel, second homes and the running of offices. Out of the three Stoke South MP Rob Flello claimed the largest amount. He ranked as the 75th highest claimant out of the 645 MPs’ with a total of £162,116. Flello claimed £150,405 for running a second home and a constituency office.

Stoke North MP Joan Walley claimed a total of £146,719 in expenses. This amount included £134,210 on allowances and £12,509 in travel expenses. This put her in 325th place out of 645 Mps.

Stoke Central Mp Mark Fisher claimed a total of £147,664 which included £139,360 in allowances and £8,304 in travel expenses. This put Fisher in 309th out of the total of 645 Mps.

That’s the first quarter of the ‘Year in Review’ stay tuned for the next instalment coming very soon…….

Trentham High seeks Foundation Status

By Matt Taylor

Following their long-fought battle against plans to demolish their school, the governors of Trentham High School are now applying to become a Foundation Trust.

When parents, teachers and governors managed to save the community school from closure, they vowed to make it the start of something which would make Trentham a top-achieving school, having been brought much closer together through the fight to keep the doors open to future pupils.

On that triumphant day back in April this year, the Trentham Action Group agreed to stay together and continue its meetings to consider ways to improve facilities and subsequent achievement at the school.

Today, the governors have published a notice in The Sentinel declaring their intention to attain Trust status, which reads in part:

“The proposed alteration is to Change School Category from Community to Foundation from 22 February 2010.

“The Governing Body believe that becoming a Foundation School secures the best future prospects for our school, a Specialist Science College. It will allow us to develop with confidence our vision of cooperative learning. Through accountability to our supportive local community, the Governing Body will use its new autonomy to raise standards and improve the educational and other experiences of our pupils.”

It is hoped that if the new status is achieved, this will provide Trentham’s best chances for long-term success and sustainability, as well of its chances for investment.

The move would mean that the school would be able to choose cooperative partners to help support its vision for learning, in this case, as a specialist Science College. But the school would remain under the jurisdiction of the local education authority and be inspected by OFSTED just like any other council-owned school.

However, it would differ in the following ways:

·Â Ã‚   The governing body will be the employer of staff rather than the local authority; and
·Â Ã‚   The governing body will be responsible for setting admissions arrangements (in accordance with the law and the Admissions Code).
·Â Ã‚   The governing body would continue to have day to day control of the school’s land and buildings (which the Trust would hold on trust for the school).

This means that fundamentally the Trust school would have more independence than previously as a Community High School.

Birches Head High School has also published its intention to follow the same path and become a Foundation Trust in today’s Sentinel.

TRENTHAM HIGH FLY! – BERRYHILL & MITCHELL DIE!

By The Pits’n’Pots Team.

Audio Interviews now online!

The council executive has made the dreams of the Trentham community come true and at the same time they have shattered the dreams of the communities served by Berryhill and Mitchell High Schools.

At today’s Executive Members Board meeting the decision to remove Trentham High School from the Building Schools fot the Future programme was taken. This means that after a long and courageous battle fought by the Trentham Action Group, Cllr Terry Follows and Rob Flello MP the school is now safe and has been removed from the closure list. The school will also be given the green light to resurrect the opportunity of becoming a Parental Co-Operative Trust as well as continuing with their plans to form a soft federation with St Joseph’s. But the school will receive none of the £230million funding which the city will receive to pay for the BSF programme.

The TAG were understandably elated at the news that their school is saved. Listen to these audio interviews.

Julian shows of his 'Jim (Knight) Fixed It For Me' badge.

Julian shows of his 'Jim (Knight) Fixed It For Me' badge.

Cllr Terry Follows:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/terry-follows.mp3]
Chris Hall TAG:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/chris-tag.mp3]

Julian Teed TAG:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/julian-teed.mp3]

Nicky Davis TAG/Pits’n’Pots:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/nicky-davies.mp3]

Whilst there was good news for Trentham, there was very bad news for the Bucknall, Berryhill and Bentilee communities.

Mohammed Pervez the Deputy Elected Mayor and EMB spokesperson on CYPS delivered the tragic news that there will be no reprieve for communities of Stoke central. The building of a new school on the Mitchell High site instead of the EMB preferred option of a site on the Parkhall Country Park. Pervez said that there comes a time when “enough is enough” and a final decision has to be made. He also stated that he was no longer prepared to “put up with any further delays”

Pervez and the EMB rejected out of hand the suggestion that the Edensor High School catchment area could be re-distributed among the other schools in the Stoke south communities.

EMB member Adrian Knapper voted against the EMB, because he was concerned that the motion was not in the best interests of the constituents that he served and he pledged his support of a school to be sited on the Mitchell Site.

There was cross party support from Councillors in attendance at the meeting, listen to these audio interviews:

Mike Barnes, Labour:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/mike-barnes.mp3]

Peter Kent Baguley, Potteries Alliance:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/p-k-b.mp3]

John Davis, City Independents:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/john-davis.mp3]

The decision regarding Mitchell/Berryhill drew a very angry response from Stoke Central MP Mark Fisher and the Chair of the City Labour Party Barry Stockley. These two Labour Party stalwarts questioned whether the Labour Members of the EMB should consider their positions within the Labour Party. Listen here:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/mark-fisher-barry-stockley.mp3]

Once again their was support present for the special school sector. Marie Hennessy from Heathfield Special School was disappointed with the EMB plans for her daughters school. Listen here:

[audio: http://www.pitsnpots.co.uk/audio/0409/emb15/marie-h-heathfield.mp3]

This meeting once again was shrouded in controversy.

Before the meeting had actually started Terry Follows questioned Mohammed Pervez on the legality of the meeting. Mr Follows said that it was down to the EMB to provide a room that was big enough to cater for the public who wanted to attend. He criticised the council on spending public money on hiring an outside company to film and relay the meeting by video link to the Kings Hall.

There was also widespread anger at the fact that a number of senior councillors were refused entrance to the meeting on the grounds of  fire safety. Alby Walker (BNP), Tom Reynolds (Labour) and Mick Salih (Non-aligned) were among those refused.

Pauline Joynson spoke out at the meeting and voiced her disgust that councillors were locked out of a meeting that they were entitled to attend. She said that the badge that councillors were issued with gave all councillors access to any room or department within the civic centre. Mike Barnes also questioned the refusal and said that decision to not allow some councillors into the Windsor Room was in breach of the council constitution.

Labour Group Leader Joy Garner once again angered members of the TAG by saying that she was receiving text messages from some members of the public who live in the Berryhill area accusing her of turning her back on the working class by supporting the proposal to keep Trentham High School open. This led to angry outbursts by members of the TAG who shouted out that they too were working class and that many of them had taken time off work to attend the meeting.

Once again we witnessed an EMB meeting descend into chaos. The meeting was aggressively chaired by Pervez and he constantly threatened to have people removed from the meeting.

Sources have informed Pits’n’Pots that Joy Garner, Debra Gratton and Mohammed Pervez had voted against the rest of the Labour group and may now be subject to the party disciplinary procedures. There are also rumours of Labour councillors calling for a vote of no confidence in the Labour group leader.

No doubt you will have loads to say on today’s proceedings, so without further delay, over to you……….

TAG, SNOBS OR CRUSADERS? – YOU DECIDE!

tag2Well the cat is truly among the pigeons! I guessed it would happen at some point, well it seems that some have reached that point!…….

The Save Trentham High campaign is definitely back in the lime light once again. The EMB meeting last week where the decision to close THS and merge it with Blurton High on a site to be decided, was the catalyst and some may say the blue touch paper waiting to be lit!

Councillor Dave Sutton has come out and publicly stated that he thinks that the TAG are acting to save their school out of snobbery and a desire not to see the children of Trentham mix with the kids from the council estates of Blurton.

suttonCouncillor Sutton (pictured left)  made his comments following a meeting of the city councils Children & Young Peoples Overview & Scrutiny Meeting yesterday.

He said: “They just don’t want their kids to mix with Blurton kids. I think they are just a bunch of snobs.

“It really does annoy me that they just want to stay where they are and don’t want their kids to have a state-of-the-art school,” he added.

Labour councillor Mark Davis also voiced concerns over any further delay in delivering the BSF programme.

He said: “It would be interesting to see where we would be in the league tables now if those new schools had opened two or three years ago, because I think there would have been a change in performance and it is very sad that that hasn’t happened.”

But TAG member Jules Teed who is also a Pitsnpots contributor hit back.

He said: “I think it is a bit unfair and inflammatory to accuse us of holding up the BSF process or being snobs.

“There are already mixed classes of Trentham and Blurton pupils at both schools, and we haven’t held anything up yet because we have only just come to the end of the statutory consultation period.”

The CYPO&S meeting also heard that the delay is  having an effect on other schools across the city.

James Brindley High is in a state of disrepair and the school and it’s governors are desperate to have the school rebuilt as soon as possible. Wilf Stanforth, representing the school’s governing body also hit out at the Trentham campaign.

He said: “I could understand it if it just affected their own school, but it has held up the whole programme for two years now.

“Our school should have been demolished at least 10 years ago.

“We had some issues with the original plans for BSF and complained, but came up with a new business plan which has been accepted.

“These parents need to understand that the education of their children is more important than what happens to the school.”

Ged Rowney, Director of Childrens Services, called on councillors to push on with the plans for the transformation of secondary education.

He said: “I am still very bullish that we will deliver the plans, but as a city council you have a history of not delivering the BSF plans. The problem is that we have been talking for seven years now and it really needs to move on.”

The TAG had seemed to have cross city support, but in recent Sentinel articles some contributors (not me Truth Seller!) had questioned whether the reluctance to merge with Blurton was down to a question of snobbery.

For my part I have always supported the TAG’s right to fight for their school until that fight is over. I have however also encouraged the TAG to consider an alternative site should they fail in their legal battle to save the school on it’s present site.

To me it would be wrong for both communities if a merged school ended up on Blurton. Roger Ibbs has come out and expressed a desire to see the school on New Inn Lane with a road and foot bridge to make access from Blurton easy and acceptable. The TAG must pursue this plan as well as fight their legal plan. Much as been made of the New Inn Lane idea with many TAG members claiming that it is a “red herring” or un-deliverable. Well I say push Mr Ibbs and force him to either put up or shut up!

This was my intention in getting the TAG round the table with Mr Ibbs, this intention was met with suspicion and negativity and my integrity was called into question.

With my recent experience I can understand why people question the motives of the TAG, they certainly proved to me that they would use anyone or anything to get what they want.

I wonder if the city council/Roger Ibbs granted them their wish of becoming a co-operative trust school but insisted that this must include the pupils of Blurton, what the TAG reaction would be? If the Academy argument was taken from then would there then be another excuse put forward against the merger?

It is a priority for Mr Ibbs to put more “meat on the bones” regarding the New Inn Lane site. Equally it is a priority for the TAG to prove to this city that this is not a “snob” issue. Surely they need to support from across the city. If there are further delays to the BSF process they could face the wrath of parents from everywhere except Trentham!

The Sentinels article can be read by clicking HERE

Over to you………..

THAT WAS THE WEEK ,THAT WAS! – WOLS SUNDAY COMMENT!

Well my week started with a trip to Milan. Now I know it’s a major european city, but the transport infrastructure is awesome! Off the plane, on a train, on a tram, arrive at hotel – sorted! Â 

Stoke on Tent is a city that has crap public transport. It does not give me any pleasure to say it, but this city needs to start addressing some fundamental issues and transport happens to be one of them. An inadequate bus service and a couple of half decent roads and that’s your lot. People should take a trip to Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield if they want a vision of how cities can deliver a transport network, that enables you to leave your car in your drive. We have six towns and if you want to get to say Tunstall from Longton, you have no alternative but to get in your motor, and in doing so clogging up the roads and polluting the air!

Non of the local political parties have put forward any policies for dealing with the cities transport issues. Where are the proposals for delivering a transport network worthy of the regeneration of our city and in particular the transformation of Hanley’s east/west precinct?

Come on councillors, MP’s and Prospective Parliamentary Candidates use this blog to tell us your plans for turning this city into a rival for other cities of a similar size and wealth!
Talking about councillors, I could not help but be amused by all the fuss, caused by the visit of seven councillors to the Brittania Stadium and Vale Park, where they enjoyed a pint of beer and a few sarnies! They are members of the council’s sports ground certification panel, and they have been criticised for accepting match tickets, car parking, food and drinks.
Councillor Randy Conteh has defended the visits, and reassured the public that they did not sit in the executive boxes at the grounds. So what if they did? Who cares? Not me for sure! I say this to the people who have an issue with these councillors carrying out their inspection and then enjoying a bit of corporate hospitality: GET A LIFE, YOU SAD ARSES!!
As a councillor, you get plenty of stick and grief for little reward (apart from the EMB!) So if those interested in the footie get the opportunity to watch a game after they have done their duty, what’s the problem? I mean it’s not like they are accepting a holiday on a luxury yacht in the South of France is it? A bit of common sense is called for…. don’t you think?
It was suggested this week that Trenthams favourite son Roger Ibbs is pitsnpot’s ORACLE! Instead of being insulted the ORACLE pissed it’s pants! Oooh the very thought!
In my opinion, Roger Ibbs is a bit like Turkish Delight… Everyone has had a taste… but no one admits they like it!
Even though, he’s as popular as an unidentified lip fungus, I think that Roger Ibbs would make an excellent Council Leader, even though his politics follow a different path of mine. He is not afraid to take decisions, even though sometimes they are unpopular, and he speaks his mind, and even though he knows sometimes it doesn’t do him any favours, he stands up for what he believes. He is a skilled Councillor who knows the system inside out, and maybe that’s the approach that we need, as we enter a period of change and regeneration. Maybe a coalition with Roger at the helm, isn’t too far away, but you will have your own thoughts on that. I can feel the pencil’s being sharpened as I speak.
To be honest the constant attacks on Roger Ibbs and Serco, and whoever else has a different opinion to the Trentham Action Group is really grating on me now. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that it’s a mistake to close THS, but do I think that Mr Ibbs and Serco are closing this school to antagonise the community of Trentham? Not on your life!
It’s like Rob Flello. Until he stood up in the House Of Commons, and spoke up for the closing schools, and took on Jim Knight, he was accused by many in Trentham as being something of a wet lettuce. In truth, Rob was working hard behind the scenes, to get the Elected Mayor to consider an alternative proposal. This is the way he works, but because he wasn’t making a loud noise, and blowing a lot of hot air, the Trentham community took against him., but his commons performance, he is their knight in shining armour!
The BNP and certain Independent Councillors have chose to play to the crowd, by speaking out against the closure of Trentham High School, and it saddens me that members of the TAG, suddenly see these people, as possible Leaders of our City. Isn’t it time now, that Trentham and the rest of the communities facing school closures, finally accept the decision, no matter hard that is, and concentrate on ensuring that the new schools cater for the needs both emotionally and educationally for the young people of our city. These proposals have now been endorsed by Government, and as such, will not be changed, no matter which party or person promises otherwise.
The TAG have fought a long and vigorous campaign, but surely now is the time to stop all the personal attacks on Councillors and Officers, including Serco, before the insults get to the level displayed by Terry Crowe in the recent Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Mr Crowe has lost all credibility over the schools issue, and this must not happen to the TAG. I still believe that the proposal could be tweaked, so that all communities would feel happier and more content, but after many, many conversations with Councillors and Officers it seems that these proposals will go through unchanged, and hand on heart, I don’t think for a minute that these people feel that they are wrong, in what they propose. We may disagree, but surely now is the time to move forward for the benefit of ALL the city.
This week will see a massive change to PitsnPots. We are moving to a brand new domain, and a completely new look. Sir Findo Gask joined our team, and bought with him the know how to make our blog bigger, better and more professional. We feel that this site can rival any local newspaper, because we let people speak the truth, and put out their opinion, without editing or censorship. Our articles are written by our hands, and never tampered with. That is why you get many different opinions, even me and my lovely wife disagree on certain issues, but that is what makes this site so special. We would like you to tell us, if there is anything that you would particularly like to see on our new site, then this is the time to tell us. We would like you to spread the word, and the gospel of what PitsnPots is trying to achieve, which is a place where you can have your say, and pose questions that you want us to find the answers to. If you want a sneak preview of the new site, then click here
Anyway, that is enough of a rant for this Sunday, Im off to shop for xmas decorations as ive just noticed that VH1 have started showing the xmas videos, which is an excuse for me to crack open a few bottles of “vino collapso“, and try and get out of decorating the xmas tree, which I always seem to get wrong. Why doesn’t green go with gold, and what is wrong with black tinsel.
Over to you, as always your comments, thoughts and idea are always appreciated, and if I have offended anybody in the reading of this blog, tough titties!!