Open Mike Night Live!

Join Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, Assistant Chief Constables Jane Sawyers & Julian Blazeby and Director of resources Graham Liddiard here for a live web chat from 1800 tonight. Continue reading

Staffordshire Police’s Open Mike night returns

After a sell-out previous performance, Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Mike Cunningham will again be taking to the internet for Open Mike night.

Mike will be supported this time by new comers, Deputy Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, Director of Resources Graham Liddiard and Assistant Chief Constables Jane Sawyers and Julian Blazeby. Continue reading

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.

Newcastle Council get Social

Newcastle Council website has been voted one of the best in the country, and the Communications team there continue to experiment with Social media to increase the reach and accessibility of what the Council does. As well as having their own Twitter feed, Facebook account and Flickr Photostream they now have a great Audio Podcast too.

So, if you share an interetst in the borough, or just want to know what’s going on over the coming weeks you can tune in via your computer or download the file to put on your mp3 player. 

I speak from experience when I say, Podcasts are great but the difficult thing is keeping up with them.  They have to go out on the same day of the month, without fail.  The Newcastle production is well produced with a very clean sound, so I imagine that quite a bit of work has gone into it.  They will have to work hard to ensure the quality and variety continues.  However, If they don’t try, then  no one benefits so I say well done Newcastle, this is a great initiative.

Related Links:
Newcastle Council Facebook
Newcastle Council Twitter
Newcastle Flickr Photos
Newcastle Council Podcast

Election Campaign starts – according to Twitter!

The world of Social Media is under attack – from politicians!

Twitter, it seems has gone election crazy.

The hour struck 12 on New Years Eve and the jockeying for position started ahead of the most important election for many years.

The Conservative Party has released the first draft manifesto on the NHS. They have stated that there will be no cuts in NHS funding under a Tory Government.

David Cameron has promised “real choice” to women over the kind of childbirth and other key NHS services.

They will not however, rule out other cuts in a bid to balance the books and to reduce the deficit, but at the same time ‘encouraging growth in the economy’.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave the strongest indication yet that the election will be as late as possible. It seems that there will be no spring election as some political commentators predict.

Chancellor Alistair Darling accused the Tories of making £45 billion of promises whilst only having an explanation of how they will a quarter of it. He went on to accused them of having a credibility gap of some £34 billion.

All this was being Twitted out to the social media world. Twitter and face book will pay a huge part of the upcoming election season perhaps for the first time.

Meanwhile on planet Lib Dem, whilst languishing in third place in the polls, Leader Nick Clegg knows that his party may play a pivotal role in the 2010 general election in the case of A hung Parliament.

He is keen to push his party as a credible alternative to the Tories and Labour. Any coalition with the Lib Dems will come at a price. Clegg wants electoral reform. Will this wet the appetite of either Brown or Cameron. Would Brown be desperate enough to dance to the Libdem tune?

The BNP are making full use of Twitter and are constantly sending out ‘vote for real change in 2010’ tweets at every opportunity. You have to give them credit, they were really the first on the social media bandwagon.

Nick Griffin has registered for a Twitter account, @nickgriffinmep and despite taking a fair bit of abuse that he expertly ignores, he is getting his message out there. He gives his thoughts on a range of issues as well as trying to sell the ‘family’ side of his personality.

So, 2010 will be a major year. A general election that will shape the destiny of our country as we emerge for the depths of recession. Also a local election, the last by thirds, that will highlight the political fragmentation in our city.

All political groups face some unrest, the BNP without Labour, two separate factions of the CIG, a split in the Conservatives and Independent Alliance and the Labour selection policy causing in fighting in the Labour Party.

As yet none of our local political groups have embraced social media sites like Twitter, and with just two councillors from 60 keeping an up to date blog site, i tend to think that ‘Twitter’ is a long way away from them!

2010 promises to be a big, big year and we are ready, willing and able to bring it all to you here…

Talk About Local Recognises Pits’n’Pots Talent!

By Tony Walley.

A fantastic new venture that encourages community activists to set up their own blogs and social media sites has recognised the talent behind Stoke-on-Trent’s premier community site, Pits’n’Pots.

Will Perrin, founder of ‘Talk About Local’ has this week enlisted the substantial talent of Pits’n’Pots own Mike Rawlins and Nicky Getgood from ‘Digbeth is Good’.

Mike and Nicky join Stoke-on-Trent’s own Clare White, who was the founder of Burslem’s online newspaper ‘The Local Edition’.

Will Perrin is delighted with the team he as assembled, he said: “I’m delighted that Mike Rawlins of PitsnPots and Nicky Getgood of Digbeth is Good have agreed to join the TAL team full time joining me and Clare White who has been working on the project part time.  Mike, Nicky and Clare are some of the best hyperlocal talent around and TAL gives them the opportunity to transfer their skills to communities across the country. Â Ã‚  I shall ensure they have time to continue with their existing sites”.

“Some wonderful people applied to work with the project and I am sorry we couldn’t take on more.  I am also touched that people are volunteering to help left right and centre ““ maybe we should create some sort of hyperlocal corps to match offers with need.  We shall also be funding further freelance work like Jon Bounds’ marvellous Brum and Stoke-On-Trent aggregators.”

“We start work as a core team in early August, which allows us to get the show on the road with pilot TAL sessions in the West Midlands, before delivering a robust national product later this year with our partner UK online centres.  We now we have capacity to get the hyperlocal alliance project underway. And as ever we continue to develop partnerships with all sorts of organisations, more on that soon.  As ever, thanks to our sponsors 4IP, Screen West Midlands and Advantage West Midlands ““ their funding has created two new social media jobs in the West Midlands”.

I attended Monday’s meeting at the Live and Learn Centre in Burslem and I was really encouraged by the number of people that attended and were interested in setting up their own sites.

There were even a couple of political activists there that were seeking the help of the ‘Talk About Local’ team. Everyone who was there got something out of the workshop.

I spent some time talking a number of people who were in attendance and the key message that came across to me was that people were really surprised just how easy it was go set a site up.

The TAL team will be a great help to those who wish to have their voice heard online, take a look at this video that was filmed at Monday’s workshop:


TAL are going to be a great asset to those who already run social media sites and there are future plans to get some of the people behind the successful sites together.

In my opinion it will be great to share my experiences with others and to hear the issues that other social media sites have faced.

Watch this video which features interviews with community activists that are already involved with social media sites:


If you are interested in setting up your own blog or media site then a visit to one of the ‘Talk About Local’ workshops is essential.

I am sure you will all want to join with me in congratulating Mike Rawlins on his appointment to the TAL team.

Everyone who knows us and follows our site will recognise that Mike is the intelligent one in our team. He is also busy working on our new, bigger & better site which will be launched very shortly.

I am delighted that Mike has had his talents recognised and that he will get to work in an exciting new venture that will be at the fore front of  social media. I know he is relishing his new role.

He has a great passion for the work he has done for Pits’n’Pots and I am extremely grateful to Will for allowing Mike the time to continue his work with Pits’n’Pots.

I have worked with Mike for a while now and it’s a good job we have become close mates because if he can put up with me with my limited understanding of I.T,  then he can be a great help to anyone!