Gaff Prone NULBC Councillor Describes Church as a “ËœCult’

A gaff prone Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Councillor has once again put his foot it ““ this time on Facebook.

Ashley Howells, Conservative councillor for Loggerheads & Whitmore, previously described Stoke-on-Trent residents as idle and overweight on social networking site Twitter.

His latest gaff came courtesy of comments made by him on Facebook.

Councillor Howells used the world’s biggest social networking site to describe religion, in particular the Church of England, as a cult.

Councillor Howells commented on a link posted by a Facebook user to a story in the Telegraph newspaper that reports that CofE congregations have halved in the last 40 years.

He said that the demise of the Church of England would remove one more myth based cult.

”quite”¦..however it would remove one more myth based cult”

Cllr Howells comments drew this angry response form another Facebook user.

”Sorry to hijack your message, which I happen to agree with, but I fear that Ashley Howells however has given another reason by which his bigoted one sided views have been revealed.

You would think that a councillor wouldn’t cause offence to a good portion of his electorate and his comments on Twitter have caused him to make public apologies before.”

His previous comments about Stoke-on-Trent forced him to close down his Twitter account.

Will his latest gaff force him off the social networking site Facebook?

”Upon meeting many villagers, we found that the various priorities outlined by me matched their concerns and demands to a very great extent ““ for example, residents want to preserve the rural characteristic of the area whilst enhancing local services such as children/youth facilities and senior citizen activities; local folk see a police presence and rapid response rate as key in preventing crime and reducing the fear of crime; residents of all our villages are concerned about Wind Farm, Quarrying and Methane Gas Drilling threats; highway safety and speeding are worries for many ……

I know that Loggerheads Parish Council, responding to its parishioners via the Parish Plan, wants to plan for an improved village centre and I will continue to work with them and the Borough team to drive the initiative on.
I’ve met many from the various community and parish groups which do such important work for the communities of the rural area and I look forward to working with them to enhance our shared quality of life”.

It would appear that the important role played by churches in community life, especially in rural areas like Loggerheads & Whitmore, is being dismissed by Conservative Councillor Ashley Howells, despite what his blog comments say.

It is obvious that his blog article on the NULBC website misleads the electorate and his true beliefs are hidden behind the words written.

Cllr Howells Facebook comments fail to respect those members of society who a practise their faith and enjoy playing a part in church life.

Councillor Howells comments will offend some members of Loggerheads & Whitmore communities and may well affect his chances at the next election as well as seriously diminishing his chances of being invited to open any church fete in his council ward.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

Politics ““ It’s a Dirty Job But Someone Has To Do It ““ Don’t They? Part 2

Ahead of last Thursday’s Full Council meeting I got the chance to interview Cllr Roy Naylor, until recently a full and active member of the City Independent Group, now non-aligned.

I have always been impressed by Roy, he’s a man of principle and not a harder working councillor can be found.

Roy dedicates his life to his Blurton ward and is committed to helping the residents of the area.

He has embraced new media and the people of Blurton are regularly updated on his activities through his impressive blog site, FaceBook and his informative Twitter feed.

The ward of Blurton used to be represented solely by members of the City Independent Group until the surprise election of Labour’s Margaret Barber this summer.

There is no doubt following my discussions with people who live in the area of Blurton that Roy is the man on the beat, which is understandable given his former Group Leader’s Cabinet responsibilities.

The duo complemented each other until their recent parting of the ways.

Cllr Roy Naylor was unceremoniously booted out of the City Independent Group for being in arrears with his council tax and the rent on his council home.

Roy doesn’t deny the claim, far from it, he openly admits to having financial problems. I myself have been aware of rumours surrounding Cllr Naylor’s financial predicament for some 12 months now.

Those rumours have been circulating around the corridors of the Civic Centre for even longer according to some sources.

So it really does beg the question, why expel him from the group now, after all this time? Other members of his group knew that Roy had difficulties, including Group Leader Cllr Brian Ward.

The answer may lie in the fact that just before his undignified expulsion; Roy informed his Group leader that it was intention to fight the election in the newly formed Blurton West & Newstead Ward, an area that he is both known and enormously well respected.

This has allegedly angered Cllr Ward who wants to fight the ward himself and sources have informed me that as Group Leader, he believes that the “Ëœpecking order’ allows him first choice.

Now, if as the CIG claim, that the reason that Roy was shown the door was down to his financial differences, why did his group not do their best to help their mate and valued group member out?

Cllr Randy Conteh has recently vacated the Police Authority Committee, a position that pays handsomely, why was Cllr Naylor not considered for this position? Surely the financial reward would have help his position greatly and would enable him to clear his arrears faster.

Cllr Naylor liaises with the police particularly well and has a great understanding of how the Police operate within our city.

So, who did replace Cllr Conteh on the Police Authority? Non other than CIG Group Leader, Cabinet Member and fellow ward Councillor Brian Ward. How much does all that earn Cllr Ward?

Over £33,000 per year. Not bad all things considered.

How much does Cllr Naylor now earn for holding the fort in the Blurton ward and working tirelessly for the residents of his ward?

Just over £11,000 per year.

I feel a little uncomfortable talking about another man’s finances, but do you know what? Not as uncomfortable as Cllr Ward should feel for disclosing a fellow councillors personal circumstances to the media.

A council source has informed me that the matter may be referred to the Standards Committee and that it doesn’t have to be Cllr Naylor that makes the initial report.

As the same source said to me on the phone this week, “Ëœwith friends and colleagues like that, who needs enemies’?

It has also been suggested to me that Cllr Naylor may well be priced out of fighting the next election due to the cost of mounting a campaign.

I have been assured by a number of sources that Roy will not be short of offers to help, or indeed of offers of membership to other groups.

Now that would be an interesting ““ top of the bill clash ““ between Roy and his former group leader Brian Ward.

Especially if the full weight of a mainstream party is behind the former CIG member. But that is just me speculating, although, I may just nip to the bookies to put a couple of quid on.

What isn’t speculation however is the rise and substantial fall of the City Independent Group.

Once the second biggest group in the chamber with some 16 councillors and now reduced to just 8 and 1 of those constantly rumoured to be on the move.

There are those in the city that champion Independent politicians/groups, but the present crop isn’t that independent when you consider that they are part of a 4 way ruling coalition.

There is no doubt that the CIG are in political melt down and with the election campaign season about to start more divisions could come to light.

As for Cllr Roy Naylor, I’m sure he will keep on doing what he does best and that is to passionately represent the area of Blurton and to continue to champion causes like the Save Our Children’s Centre campaign as the kind of true Independent we can all remember.

Where’s Ann James’s number…..

Ask The Leader

On Wednesday 1 December we will be hosting Ask The Leader where Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader, Councillor Mohammed Pervez will be on-line to answer questions around the proposed budget cuts facing the city.

The on-line meeting will run from 7-8pm and will be available on the front page of Pits n Pots from 6:30pm on Wednesday.

You will be able to take part in the on-line meeting by visiting Pits n Pots on Wednesday if you use Twitter, you can also ask questions or make comments after 6:30pm on Wednesday by using the tag #asktheleader

You can also E-mail questions in to up until 3pm on Wednesday, after 3pm we can’t guarantee that we will be able to deal with them as part of the on-line meeting.

Stoke-on-Trent Councillor Roy Naylor Considers Legal Action Over Group Expulsion

Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor Roy Naylor is considering taking legal advice over his former Group Leader’s disclosure to the press that he has council tax and rent arrears.

Mr Naylor is now listed on the Council website as a “Ëœnon-aligned’ councillor.

Cllr Naylor broke the news of his expulsion from the City Independent Group over the weekend, but today he said that he was disgusted at how his former group leader Brian Ward and his colleagues had handled the issue.

He declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his expulsion but confirmed that he was taking legal advice about his group’s disclosure of his personal circumstances.

He was also angry about finding out that he had been kicked out of the CIG from member services instead of from his former group leader.

He also hit out at Cllr Brian Wards comments in the Sentinel that he had refused to attend the City Independent Group meeting last Wednesday to discuss a
range of issues relating to his situation.

” i am incredibly upset at the accusation that I refused to attend our group meeting.

“I had already emailed the group leader well in advance of the meeting to advise him that I was unable to attend do to circumstances beyond my control.

“To suggest I refused is just untrue.

“I have no problem acknowledging that I have some financial issues but I don’t want to comment further because me and my wife are taking legal advice about how my issues were disclosed through the press.

“I would like to make it clear that I have every intention of standing for election in the Blurton West and Newstead ward. I am confident that the hard work that I have put into helping the residents and groups in the area in the absence of any support from a fellow councilor who is a cabinet member will stand me in good stead come election time.’

”I would not have made any comment about the matter had Cllr Naylor not have contacted the local newspaper.”

“The facts are that our group are more than aware of Roy’s circumstances and wanted to discuss the ward arrangement and who stands where.

The also wanted to hear from Roy why he had not showed up to chair the Overview & Scrutiny management committee the past two meetings, a role for which he gets paid.

” I feel that our group were left with no option but to expel him. He did not walk away like he said on Twitter”

On Thursday 25th November 2010, @Blurtoncllr said:

I have today informed the Leader of the City Independent Group, that at the May Election in 2011 I will be standing for the New Ward, which consists of most parts of the Blurton Farm Estate and Newstead.

From there I also advised him I was not intending to stand this time as a City Independent Candidate, but as a stand alone Independent. His response to this was that he would stand Head to Head with me, as an opponent.

I have worked very hard in the last 3 years for the area, and feel that I have received very little support, so that has been the reason behind my decision (sic) to stand alone, as I believe I can if re-elected do just as much if not more for the area, and not being in a Group would leave me free to be in the Ward even more than I am now. As from May 2011 there will only be one Councillor for that area instead of the present three, I feel it would be better for residents to have someone that isn’t tied up in meetings at the Civic Centre most of the week.

Until May I will continue to work hard for all the present area’s that make up the Blurton & Newstead Ward.
The changes to the Ward is due to the decision (sic) to decrease the number of Councillors from 60 to 44 and the change of Ward Boundaries to make smaller wards.

Cllr Naylor’s expulsion has also been attacked from other members in the chamber.

” Well the Independent Group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council have shown their true colours yesterday.
How many people out there are struggling to get a job, pay bills, or are struggling to pay mortgages or rent?

How sad it is then that when one of their own, Cllr Roy Naylor, suffers what many ordinary residents are having to cope with, they decide to turn their back on him.

I have alot of respect for Roy Naylor, if nothing else he has worked hard for the Independent Group over many, many years. But in his hour of need, he really found out who his friends are.

Roy has fell behind wit his council tax, and rent, not a crime, nor I suspect entirly unusual at this time for many in Stoke-on-Trent. The law does say a councillor can’t deal with financial matters when in arrears (a position I would question), so the Independents, led by Brian Ward, his fellow ward councillor in Blurton, have thrown him out of their “Party”.

If this is how they treat their own, what hope for the rest of us.

With friends like that who needs enemies.

Good Luck Roy. Hope things turn around for you and your family.

Cllr Roy Naylor may not be the only councillor taking a ride aboard the political roundabout, watch this space.

Staffordshire Computing Expert Liz Helps Champion UK Internet Safety

A Staffordshire computing expert is helping to spearhead a UK wide campaign aimed at keeping people safe on line.

Liz Thursfield, former Associate Dean of Computing, Engineering and Technology at Staffordshire University, is heading the social media campaign for Get Safe Online.

Liz, of Stafford, runs social media consultancy Ariadne’s Thread which helps many public and private sector organisations to use tools such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook to promote themselves online.

Her success has led to her being asked to represent the Get Safe Online campaign ““ a partnership between the Government, the police and the business community.

The social media campaign will back up a high profile media campaign and meetings with Government Ministers and other opinion formers.

“I am thrilled to be involved in helping to spread such vital safety information on issues such as identity thefts, on line scams, computer viruses and spam emails.

“Get Safe Online week ““ which starts on 15 November – will see a series of high profile events to raise awareness among computer users.

“The internet is a great way of sharing information and a wonderful educational asset.

“But, on line communication can be used to exploit people, including our children, and we must all learn to take simple steps to protect ourselves and our families.

“I will be helping to raise awareness through Tweets and on Facebook. People can follow me on Twitter @GetSafeOnline.”

Liz’s top tips for keeping safe on line:

“¢ Use strong passwords that contain numbers and symbols as well as letters

“¢ Install a Firewall and anti-virus software on your computer

“¢ Make sure your wireless networks are secure

Play Your Part In Olympic Build-Up With The Games and Me

A campaign to encourage people in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to get involved with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics has been launched.

The Games and Me project aims to encourage people to get something positive out of the Olympics and Paralympics by volunteering or trying a new sport with a view of people then sharing their stories with others.

The campaign was launched at Tipton Sports Academy with a number of people from across the Midlands, including 12-year-old Abbie Jean-Baptiste from Staffordshire, telling how they have been involved with London 2012. Abbie played her part by singing at a Community Games event in Staffordshire.

“I love to sing and get involved in things around my area. I was really scared doing the talent show but once I started singing some of my friends started cheering and that helped me feel more confident. I was really shocked when I won, everyone was clapping and yelling. I am lots more confident about singing in front of people now, if you want me to sing my song I will.”
“It’s tremendously encouraging to hear stories like Abbie’s about how people across Staffordshire are getting involved in our 2012 activities. I know that there are so many more people out there with similar stories and I encourage them to spread the word through The Games and Me.”
“Recording these individual stories of new personal bests will provide Staffordshire with an invaluable living archive of the difference the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is already making to people’s lives. I am very impressed with the early contributions to the Games and Me and urge everyone with a story to tell, to get involved and showcase their endeavours.”

The Games and Me launched at Sandwell Leisure Trust’s Sports Challenge Day at Tipton Sports Academy. During the event 500 young people tried out a range of Olympic sports delivered by Sandwell Leisure Trust including Judo, football, athletics and tennis.

Anyone who has been involved in a London 2012 activity in Staffordshire can tell their story by joining The Games and Me on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter. See for further information.

Labour Leadership Debate – I Agree With Tom!

We are but a few weeks away from knowing who gets to lead the opposition against the wave of ConDem Coalition cuts that are heading our way.

I get a vote on the Labour Leadership election courtesy of my union membership and I must admit I have watched/listened/read everything put out by each of the 5 candidates.

I was trawling through some blog sites earlier and I came across Cllr Tom Reynolds site on it he revealed who he was supporting and why.

I have been edging toward Ed Miliband myself but I’m still considering who will get my second preference vote. I’m pretty sure it won’t be Ed Balls though.

As Tom’s thoughts kind of mirrored my own I thought it would be good to put it out there and ask Labour supporters, union members and other parties supporters who they thought should lead the Labour Party through the next phase of their history.

Here is Tom’s Blog:

This blog is a bit of a journey; in starting it I was completely undecided on who I would cast my vote for in the Labour Leadership Contest. I’ve trawled the websites of the runners and riders, watched the interviews and read their literature and, after much head-scratching I’ve reached a conclusion.

From my perspective the whole leadership contest has to some a large extent been defined by the absence of two names which I was desperate to see on the ballot paper. Alan Johnson ““ the union man with high-level cabinet experience who hardly faltered at the top (and on the occasions I have heard him speak he has been excellent); and Jon Cruddas ““ the media tagged “Ëœsenior backbencher’ with a fantastic policy pedigree and the perfect type of politics (everything I have read by JC in Compass has been spot on).

Alas, the ballot paper has five different names on it, all bringing their own unique flavour to the mix. One thing I can say is that the campaign has showcased our “Ëœbroad church’, and the genuine contest will mean a stronger party than that which followed Gordon’s coronation. So, turning to each of the candidates:

When you meet Andy Burnham he comes across as a genuine down to earth bloke with a passion for putting things right in society. I like some of the inclusive social policy he has come forward with, however he’s not come forward with much ““ only one post on his leadership blog. I like what he has said on trusting the party and being more inclusive in the policy making process, and he offers a much broader commitment to this than the other candidate’s elected party chair gesture.

A couple of concerns though. Firstly his media performance: like it or not a party leader must be able to stand up to a grilling. When I saw Andy on This Week (a fairly informal set up) he was mauled by Andrew Neil. How would he come across facing Paxo on Newsnight or Cameron over the dispatch box? Secondly, his campaign has been described as grassroots. If we’re honest it’s been barely visible because of lack of finance and manpower. If a leadership contender can’t inspire the support and donations to fight this battle, how will they engage the public in order to grow the Labour movement and build the electoral coalition we need to succeed in the next election?

Mrs Reynolds decided early on in the leadership campaign that she would be backing Ed Miliband. I wanted to be convinced, and must admit I have been taken with his approach to the economy (e.g. High Pay Commission, interventionist in industry) and his take on what people want from politicians ““ ideology and passion rather than just guff. That said I wonder if a milibandwagon has passed Ed’s campaign HQ? Denouncing the invasion of Iraq for instance (wasn’t EM a policy advisor to Tony Blair back then). Also I’m not keen on his pledge on gender balance for the shadow cabinet, although I admire the principle. The party should appoint people to posts based on skill and potential, rather than on arbitrary quotas. There are enough females of a high calibre in the Labour Movement that the new leader doesn’t need to be reminded they are there by having his/her own targets!

I’ve been very impressed by David Miliband’s campaigning machine. I’ve personally had three calls from his team, a leaflet and he is all over Twitter. Some of this is because of his huge financial backing, but then again two of the calls were from ordinary members of his own CLP that are giving backing to the campaign. Also, if people are donating to the campaign there must be a reason, inspirational leadership perhaps (see B Obama)? Having seen David speak on a couple of occasions though, he’s not blown me away. His policy priorities don’t get me excited either. There’s nothing I’d argue with: fair wages, building the new economy, a greener Britain, its just it all seems a bit cliché and there doesn’t seem to be much substance. All in all I think David would be a very capable leader but not necessarily an incredible one. He would manage the media, and take the battle to the ConDems, but would he inspire the reinvigoration of the Labour Movement and the nation?

I must admit I started out with a prejudice against Ed Balls. I know a lot of educationalists that haven’t a good word to say about his approach while Secretary of State. Also a lot has been said about the “Ëœbullying culture’ that allegedly characterised the latter days of Government, with Mr Balls being Gordon’s chief lieutenant. This is a culture which a revitalised Labour Party should be avoided like the plague.

Over the course of the leadership campaign, however, my perception of Ed Balls has changed entirely. He has been by far and away the best candidate at defending Labour’s record under attack from the new government. Further he’s not denied his key role in the New Labour project. His campaign has been articulated in unpretentious language which I like and he has in my opinion been strongest in the media, particularly in broadcasted interviews. He has got stuck in to his campaigns (watch out for Keep the Post Public), but aside from that his campaigns are similar to David Miliband’s ““ a little dry and “Ëœbitty’. Ed is a high calibre candidate but I’m not sure he provides the break with the past that we need.

Last but not least the final contender Diane Abbott. Its been refreshing to see Diane in the contest, not because she isn’t a white thirty-something man, but because she isn’t in the same mould of carbon copy politico’s that use a certain type of language and present their arguments in a certain type of way. She’s also put across some arguments that haven’t had the airing they deserve for some time. However I get the feeling she’s playing being controversial and trying to make that her USP. I really like her stance on immigration policy, trident and economy, but then again I find some of her policy banded under “ËœCivil Liberties’ unacceptable. I like the prospect of have a highly principled leader, but what happens when her principles are at odd with the will of the wider party? Will she bolt as she has done as an MP? Also I’d question whether someone is a principled politician when they argue against private education and then send their offspring to public school. Aside from that I can’t get past the fact she’s unelectable.

So cutting to the chase, after balancing everything up Ed Miliband will be getting my first preference and (surprising to me) Ed Balls the second.

Frankly, whoever wins the leadership has a massive task. Tony Blair aspired that while the Tory’s were the party of government in the twentieth century, Labour would be in the twenty-first. For that to happen we have to become a movement again rather than just a Westminster party. None of the policy initiatives or rhetoric coming forward from the candidates at the moment will make that transformation. It is an exciting, if worrying, time to be a member. From the new leader a party expects.

Ashley Howells ‘Apologises’ – But I’m Still Not Happy!

I was incensed to read the comments made by Newcastle-under-Lyme Councillor Ashley Howells in today’s Sentinel.

He said:

“I am extremely sorry that I made a personal response on Twitter which has been misinterpreted and then sadly misrepresented by others.

“My comments were in response to reading a highly political anti-Coalition Government comment about public expenditure cuts, which alleged that Stoke-on-Trent has been and will be disproportionately affected.

“I would say that there is indeed an obesity problem, together with a benefits dependency and worklessness problem amongst a minority ““ I stress a minority, some might call it an underclass ““ in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire which all councils and politicians of all shades are trying hard to rectify.”

Now while this may seem a grovelling apology to the people of Stoke-on-Trent, to me it is a double edged sword.

On one side, of course I accept his apology for the hurtful, inaccurate, insulting and incredibly arrogant comments he made about the people of the City of my birth.

On the other side his apology left me fuming at his insinuation that he had in some way, been ‘misrepresented’.

Our story was picked up and written by my good friend and colleague Mike Rawlins. I had the task of getting the reaction from both the public and our politicians.

Now I realise that our politicos are busy, busy people, but Mohammed Pervez [who works full time too], Ross Irving, Tristram Hunt MP [who was in a meeting when I called] all had the decency to get back to me fairly promptly. Rob Flello MP got back to me the next morning to voice his disgust and relay the hope that someone would refer the matter to the Standards Board.

Ashley Howells has not returned any of the 12 calls that I made to him and the numerous messages I left on his answering service.

At PitsnPots we pride ourselves on our balanced approach and fairness to all.

We give all parties and their politicians/representatives equal treatment, yes even the BNP.

We asked Mr Howells to give us his side of the story, we offered him, as we do with all others a completely unedited interview which would have given him the opportunity to set the record straight.

His silence is deafening!

I am left frustrated that he chose to speak to the Sentinel who picked up the story off this site and I can’t help but think that there was a veiled swipe at us in his ‘misrepresented’ comment.

I may well live Stoke-on-Trent, but I pay a substantial amount of money to Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council in business rates.

I think that puts me in a position whereby I deserve an explanation as to why this excuse of a politician is claiming that this site ‘misrepresented’ him or his comments.

Ashley Howells has now terminated his Twitter Account. I wonder if this is because he can not trust himself not to say the wrong thing.

Apparently he was once a Labour Party supporter who failed to reach the status of group leader and so defected to the Tories. Maybe he is having a problem justifying the policies of the ConDem government having seen the world through socialist eyes.

My old Dad used to say that all men make mistakes but only true men with integrity admit to making those mistakes.

His apology is of course welcome to all of us ‘unfortunate’ Stokies, but at the same time it is full of buts, misinterpretations and claims of misrepresentation that attempt to pass the blame and not accept the responsibility.

Why do some people have a problem with holding their hands up and saying ‘I screwed up and for that I am truly sorry’ – full stop.

Rob Flello MP thought that the matter should be reported to Standards and as someone who contributes to NULBC I am seriously considering whether to report it myself, for no other reason than I think that Ashley Howells has tried to shift the blame and claim that we have in some way treated him unfairly. So much so that he could not speak to us and explain his comments even though we published the matter in it’s entirety to avoid claims that we have misrepresented the issue.

Work Slim Down Stop Whinging

Tory councillor for Loggerheads and Whitmore, Ashley Howells has offered the people of Stoke-on-Trent some advice, using his Twitter account he said, Work slim down stop whinging.

Mr Howells ‘tweet’ was in response to Pits n Pots reader Mark Porter who had used his twitter account to say, ‘Cameron ought to come to Stoke to tell the people here why we never get anything but cuts. #condemfail’ about David Cameron launching the Big Society initiative in Liverpool on Monday.

Mr Howells sent this tweet in response, ‘@marksporter not in the junk food fuelled calorie intake of the lazy stoke underclass!Look at obesity. Work slim down stop whinging’

Mr Porter from Kidsgrove said, ‘Ashley Howells doesn’t follow me on Twitter and I have never met him but this tweet shows exactly what the Tories think of Stoke-on-Trent, I personally feel a councillor should not be making comments like these. I see from his latest tweet Mr Howells is attending a “Nulbc Licensing liaison committee this lunch. Seeking improvements in town centre drinking behaviour” perhaps he should look at his own behaviour on Twitter first.’

We went out and asked the ‘lazy Stoke underclass’ what they thought of Mr Howells advice that they should ‘Work slim down stop whinging’.

I go to work, eat what I want when I want. I’m not obese, I pay my taxes, contribute to my local community and to society. This NUL Councillor obviously has a twisted and unusually biased view of the people of our great city.
Given the fact that Newcastle is only minutes from Stoke, I can’t think that there would be much different between the folk of both areas. Maybe he lives in one of those big houses in the Westlands and thinks that makes his opinions more valuable than those of us who live in modest, but not the less important areas of our County. With ideals like that, you have to wonder whether he should be elected to serve the people of NUL. Heaven forbid he should have to help someone un-employed.
I’m disgusted that a man of his standing can make such a generalism about the entire population of Stoke-on-Trent. He might well be a twitter virgin, but there’s no excuse for insulting an entire city.
He’s done nothing but damage his own reputation.
What a snobby git! I think he should resign for having such outrageous views of his borough’s neighbours. These comments have brought Newcastle Borough Council into disrepute. My uncle has been out of work for months due to no fault of his own and he still contributes to society through doing voluntary work. He is trying so hard to get back into work.
What a load of rubbish he talks! I have a full time job, plus work as and when required at the Regent Theatre. Due to having a hectic social life, whenever I get the chance, I go walking in the Lake District. The man should be sacked without hesitation as he is obviously not fit to represent all the communities.

When Mr Howells is not sunning himself in his Andalusian home he is the Managing Director of Stoke-on-Trent based Ashley Recruitment, ‘The Quality Agency For Healthcare And Hospitality Staff’, who we assume must employ members of what he likes to call the ‘Stoke underclass’.

Mr Howells also went to the trouble of telling us how he was, Glad to see nulbc leaving ineffective regeneration partnership with badly run stoke on trent


Ross Irving, Deputy Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council & Leader of the Conservative & Independent Alliance was outraged by these comments, he said:

“These comments are completely out of order. They are unacceptable and I expect the Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council to deal with this matter urgently. It is simply not on to make abusive comments about the people in a neighbouring area. Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle are a part of North Staffordshire and sometimes we do not see eye to eye on matters, but we need to work together. Comments like these are not helpful and make matters more difficult.”

Nicola Ralph, Secretary of the Newcastle-under-Lyme Conservative Association was also keen to distance herself from these comments. She said:

“Oh dear, that’s not very good is it? Yes, Stoke has it’s problems but I have always found the people dead friendly and completely unpretentious.

I don’t think the people of Stoke-on-Trent do themselves any favours by constantly re-electing Labour.

These comments aren’t very nice though, especially the obese comments. I can’t see there being a greater percentage of people that are obese in Stoke as opposed to Newcastle”.

Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Tristram Hunt hit out at the comments, he said:

Well, the Tory leopard hasn’t changed it’s spots!

At this very moment Stoke-on-Trent is coming out of recession with falling unemployment and is looking forward to the future with confidence and low and behold the nasty party rears it’s ugly head.

There is no place for the unattractive reality of negative and out of date stereotypes.

Update Thursday 1145

While it maybe uncertain exactly who made these comments on twitter, people who use twitter expect casual and informal language to be used but these are abusive and insulting comments about the people of Stoke-on-Trent and are completely unacceptable.

Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council declined to comment saying that it was a personal matter.

We have not yet been able to contact Mr Howells for a statement.

Is Mr Howells right to call people from Stoke-on-Trent ‘the lazy stoke underclass’?