Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Work Slim Down Stop Whinging

Tory Councillor tells calls Stoke on Trent people underclass and to Work, Slim Down, Stop Whining

Councillor Ashley Howells from NuL give the 'Stoke underclass' some advice via his twitter account.

Monday, 1 December 2008


Hi all,

Just a quick note to say Pitsnpots has now moved to its new home!

Here is the link -

We've moved all the older blogs onto the new site, everything is accessible, just the same. All you need to do is click the link and lets keep blogging!

Please note there will be no further blogs on this site and comments have now been closed..

See you over at the new site!

Mind the new fixtures and fittings!

Tony & the Pitsnpots bloggers

Saturday, 29 November 2008


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!

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!!
Randy Conteh is a well respected, hard working councillor and he should not have to justify that there was no wrong doing while carrying out these inspections. He is a season ticket holder at Stoke, so a trip to Vale Park would have been torture for him!

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 in Trentham, 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 tough 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,or too hard to imagine. You will have your own thoughts on that. I can feel the pencil's being sharpened as I speak and keyboards warming up!

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 chosen 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. Have the TAG got something up their sleeve? It's all gone quiet, hasn't it? What about this so called legal action? It's put up or shut up time I'm afraid!

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, I'm off to shop for Xmas decorations as I've 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!!

Friday, 28 November 2008


I just had to add this to the blog, as it is positive news for a change.

The Regional Minister for the West Midlands, Ian Austin, today announced that Advantage West Midlands has confirmed its support for a £36 million investment into the £282 million project, for a state of the art learning quarter in Stoke on Trent.

The University Quarter in Stoke on Trent will bring together Staffordshire Univsersity, Stoke on Trent FE College and Stoke on Trent Sixth Form College, in a unique learning quarter.

The improvement will include new shared facilities for the college and the university, as well as commercial and residential development. The University Quarter will see major improvements to an important area of Stoke on Trent, between the railway station and the city centre.

A major focus for the University Quarter will be to drive up aspirations and skills to meet the needs of local employers. A business Centre has already been set up, to ensure that businesses in the area have access to the new facilities, and that the courses on offer are tailored for the needs of their employees.

£180 million has already been secured from the Learning and Skills Council, Staffs University, Stoke on Trent FE College, Stoke on Trent Sixth Form College, Stoke on Trent City Council and Advantage West Midlands. The rest of the investment will come from Higher Education Funding Council for England, RENEW North Stafforshire and the private sector.

Ian Austin , Regional Minister said

“I want to make sure that the economic downturn does not delay the regeneration of Stoke,and the investment we want to see in North Staffordshire.
“And I’m determined to ensure we improve education, training and skills in the area because that is the only way we’ll bring to Stoke the new highly-skilled and well-paid jobs on which the area’s prosperity will depend in the future.
“We need to make driving up skills our number one priority because the only way we will be able to attract and develop high-tech innovative businesses we’ll need in the future is by showing investors we’ve got the skills they’re looking for. “This project will see a massive improvement to an area of Stoke-on-Trent, which to many visitors is their first introduction to the City.

Mick Laverty, Chief Executive at Advantage West Midlands said

“In these times of economic uncertainty it is even more important that we do not lose momentum on this flagship project. This announcement shows AWM’s continuing commitment to the regeneration of North Staffordshire.
“Not only will the University Quarter help to raise the aspirations and educational attainments of local people, it will also regenerate a major site within Stoke-on-Trent for the benefit of the whole community, bringing nearly 1,000 new jobs and hundreds of new businesses to the City.

The Portfolio Holder for Enterprise and Culture , Councillor Hazel Lyth said

"This £36m of funding will help the University to train a highly skilled workforce for the future. The city has a commitment to get as many people into skilled jobs as possible, and this means increased access to higher education.
"We will have a smooth transition for students at local colleges to move on to Staffordshire University, and it will help us increase the amount of people available to take on high quality jobs. The funding will also help with the major physical regeneration of the University Quarter as part of the wider North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership, and help in creating a positive image for Stoke-on-Trent."

This makes sense doesn't it, to place the colleges all in the same area, and link them to the University. Hopefully, this will form closer links with the college and universites, and will encourage people to go onto University. I have seen the new Stoke on Trent (Cauldon Campus) building, and it does look as if it will be pretty impressive, when finished.

Well done to everyone involved in this project!! What do you think?


Stoke on Trent is to take part in a Government funded pilot project to cut down on anti social behaviour and vandalism near public waiting areas.

Closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) could soon be put into bus shelters across the city, as trials take place to try and stamp out on anti social behaviour. A camera has already been fitted into the bus shelter on Chell Heath Road, near the junction with Springbank Road, in Burslem.

The bus operators, police and Stoke on Trent City Council have all found that the fear of crime associated with vandalism and anti social behaviour discourages people from using public transport. The bus shelter at the centre of the pilot scheme, has been identified as suffering from persistent vandalism problems.

Councillor Adrian Knapper, is the Portfolio holder for Regeneration and Economic Development, and he said, "The fear of crime associated with persistent attacks on shelters, seen at stops such as the one in Burslem discourages residents from using the services. It is hoped that by putting CCTV up, it will help reduce the problem".

If the scheme is successful, the project could be rolled out across the city, with cameras being secured in other bus sheters, affected by crime and anti social behaviour.

Well, I'm all for this, but whether it will be a success or not, is another matter, but well done to the Council for at least trying.

I drive regularly through the Meir, and there are a number of bus shelters along Sandon Road, that are constantly smashed. Now, there is CCTV on the roundabout, but this has not deterred them, from smashing the bus shelter up, close to the library. I feel sorry for the elderly, waiting for the bus, as the ground is constantly covered in glass, and some are a bit unsteady on their feet, they could easily trip. How thoughful of the mindless idiots that cause this damage! Would they care, of course not, they would probably find it amusing.

We used to have bus shelters on the Meir Hay estate, but because they were constantly smashed, we just have a little post, with the number of the bus on it. Great in the summer, but awful in the winter, when it's hammering down with rain.

I really do not understand the mentality of these yobs, that get some kind of buzz out of damaging property. They smash the bus shelter up, the next day its repaired, the next day its smashed up, and it goes on and on! At what cost to the Council, to constantly have to repair these shelters?

I say get the CCTV in , and when they are caught, give them the bill for the repair of the shelters, plus an extremely large fine. Is your area suffering from criminal damage? What do you think should be done to cut down on this problem? Give us your thoughts.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


I'm back from a hectic two day's in the manic Italian City of Milan, but I will have more to say about that in my Sunday comment article!

So, the Libdem's - what are they all about then? It's been a question i have asked of many, many people over recent weeks. I have asked political commentators, city councillors and more importantly, I have asked the ordinary electorate and nobody can give me an answer! They are like the Man in the Iron Mask or Kendo Nagasaki or even worse than that they are like our very own "ORACLE". They have no identity, no one knows what they stand for or what they believe in, what their policies are, or even if they want a presence in this city! Well all thats about to change........

Ladies and Gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke on Trent North, Mr David Jack (pictured). let's have a look at the "Tale of the Tape", This is taken from the Libdem Website.........:

David has lived and worked for thirty eight years in the West Midlands in law, construction, industry, business and the community putting him directly in touch with so many aspects of local peoples' lives.

David is a family man, married with two daughters: he understands the demands of modern day living in the City environment and has gained much experience in order to give help and support when it is most needed.

David is a natural leader who knows how to get things done. David is passionate about protecting the environment and the future of our schools, NHS and policing. He has been actively involved for a number of years as a grass roots campaigner and has previously run for Parliament on the Wolverhampton North East seat.

David has campaigned against Labour plans to bring in Compulsory Identity Cards, against Council Tax, arguing to replace it with a fairer system of tax and petitioned and lobbied for greater use and licensing of green technology.

Outside of Politics David is actively involved in a varied range of social activities including being a regular paintball player, a cricket team member and also playing guitar with a small band. Much of his spare time is taken up with family life.

In the next few day's David is submitting an article to pitsnpots so that we the people of Stoke on Trent can evaluate this party and consider whether they are worth our vote.

One thing is for certain David comes across as a very driven individual who wants to enter the local political debate. During my conversation with him I got the impression that he realises that his party need to connect with the cities electorate and to get the Libdem message out there, rather than wait for the electorate to find them. David has wasted no time in telling us what he thinks of the BNP in this letter to the Sentinel (CLICK HERE)

To give us a flavour of what Libdem policy looks like, I thought I would publish their stance on Immigration and terrorism. This is actual policy:

Firm but fair on immigration and refugees – We will create an integrated
border police force bringing back entry and exit controls to monitor
movement in and out of Britain. By running immigration and asylum services
fairly and efficiently, we will ensure that all migrants pay their way through
taxes and we will cut the number who work illegally or turn to crime.
Tackle terrorism – We will reform our courts to prosecute terror suspects
more effectively. Restrictions imposed on people without trial risks increasing
support for extremists. Our reforms: plea bargaining for “supergrasses”,
intercept evidence in court, and questioning after charge – will be effective
and fair. We will improve cooperation between UK anti terror bodies and
reach out to young men in Muslim Communities.

The Libdems will have their work cut out to overturn the current MP Joan Walley who holds the seat for Labour an enjoys a healthy 13666 majority but David is up beat about his prospects and feels that recent boundary changes to Stoke North will help him and his party.

So, I for one can't wait for David's first pitsnpots article. What is your view on the Libdems both locally and nationally? Do they represent a threat to the other major parties? Over to you........................................


It appears that Tim Mullen considers the Oracle to be misinformed of political events regarding his party, the Tory party or politics in this City. BIG MISTAKE, Timmy!
The Oracle understands your pain but as the saying goes, you can lead a donkey............

The Oracle makes good news and the Sentinel follows my lead on occasion and is well to follow this site. Today's Sentinel covers a letter from a known BNP activist (denied) JM Burke and you can share Timmy's Pain here Timmy, don't forget to write soon of Dinosaurs and "The problem and not part of the solution". It is your ilk that is wrecking this City, Timmy. Please thank those Councillors and former Lord Mayors in Stoke South for my information.
My agents are everywhere and are coming to expose you soon.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Well the trials have finally arrived. It seems that Meir Park and Bentilee have been chosen to trial the new fortnightly bin collections/enhanced recycling scheme being introduced by the City Council. See the Sentinel article by clicking here.

There are lots of comments on the Sentinel website, many are extremely positive, but many make the point that this appears to mean more work/burden for residents, and there is no detail about what will actually happen to the recyclable materials (although I only skimmed the Sentinel article quickly, so perhaps I missed something).

Now I am all for recycling, and can see the benefits. However, it does mean more work and for many people it will be a big change to their normal routine. I wonder how the City Council are going to engage people in the embedding process and get everyone on board with this initiative.

There are certainly downsides to fortnightly bin collections. I remember an article on GMTV in the summer (what summer?), where the residents of Oxford were complaining about the dreadful smell from their rubbish, towards the end of the fortnight, a few days before the collection date. There were problems with vermin etc, and this to me is harking back to Victorian times - something I am sure no one, particularly our Councillors, will want for this city.

How will the council ensure the system runs smoothly? A 6 week trial in Meir Park and Bentilee will hardly have had time to get started, let alone be long enough to iron out all the problems - half of the problems will probably not have even materialised in that time! Yet the plan is to roll out fortnightly bin collections and the enhanced recycling by summer, to all Stoke on Trent residents.

There is also a good point made on the Sentinel article, about how disabled residents are catered for - they will surely have even further difficulties getting the various bins out on the correct days. And as a busy person myself, I never know which day my bottle/paper collection is, and rely on seeing other people's boxes out, before I put mine out, otherwise I miss it!

I really hope the people of Stoke on Trent take this initiative to heart and efficient recycling becomes a major success across the city. However, I think fortnightly bin collections could bring more problems than solutions, and hope the council have plans in place to address issues, as they arise. I am sure they will say the trial is intended just for that purpose.
I look forward to celebrating a successful recycling project, after all, we are way behind in this particular issue. What do you all think?


Over the next two years Council Services will be hit by at least £12 million worth of cuts, after finance chiefs failed to hit budget targets. The current budget contained plans to find £11.2 million worth of efficiency savings from the community services directorate, over three years, including £3.5 million this year. The controversial cuts had included, shutting Dimensions splash pool, closing under used park bowling greens, axing one of the two mobile libraries, and reviewing the city's community centres. Now, only six months into the three year strategy, officers have admitted they cannot find this year's savings. They told the Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, that additional pressures such as the new equal pay scheme, and higher fuel, meant they are another £900,000 off budget. Council Officer, Kerry Cartlidge said that £12.1 million in savings must now be found by April 2011. She told the Committee that potential targets had been found, but did not say which services would be affected.
Committee Vice Chair Randy Conteh, said he did not believe Councillors would support the cuts.
Councillor John Daniels said members would have to do what was needed to balance the budget.
The total Council Budget for 2008/09 was £193 million. The savings targets are set by the Government, and if the Council fails to meet them, the Authority's rating by the Audit Commission could be affected.
Peter Kent-Baguley (Potteries Alliance), blamed unrealistic promises of low council tax rises, for the problems. He was of the opinion that the council needs to explain to the public, exactly why council tax has to go up, more than the rate of inflation. He said it was short changing the public.
Elected Mayor Mark Meredith said that Senior Members and Officers would work together to ensure we deliver all of the savings in the budget.
One of the proposed cutbacks in this years budget involved the City Farm Site, in Bucknall. The plan was to either shut it, or let a community group take it over. The members of the Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee strongly opposed these plans. They called for increased funding, to transform the farm into a thriving attraction. Debbie Gratton, Portfolio Holder for Sports and Leisure, confimed that the Authority, was no longer looking to make any cutbacks at the City Farm.
The review of the proposed savings from community services budget is expected to finish in the New Year, when the findings will be reported back to the Improving Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
How I see it, is, that if the Council raises the Council Tax, the public complains, but if the Council Tax is kept low, and they start to cut services, the public complains, they can't win on this one. What services do you think should be cut back to save money? Give us your views.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Well, well, well, what a week that was! In many ways I'm glad to see the back of it!
Monday saw a visit to the civic office, for the Children & Young People Service Overview and Scrutiny Committee. They were discussing the siting of the Parkhall Academy. Michael Coleman (BNP) was in the chair and he allowed representatives from interested parties to voice their concern. I think he should be applauded for this.
The Chair of Mitchell High School, spoke in support of her school, and asked if their was any way that Mitchell & Berryhill High Schools could be merged, and a new building be put on the current Mitchell Site, to serve the areas of Parkhall, Weston Park, Sanford Hill, Bentilee, Berryhill & Bucknall. She also had concerns over the lack of pavements on Dividy Road near the Gasometer.
Terry Crowe, long time Labour activist and Chair of Governors of Berryhill, (he was supported at the meeting by Barry Stockley), was an absolute disgrace! I'm all for emotion, but he went way too far, and was an embarrassment to the high school he supposed to represent. He pleaded for his school to be merged and rebuilt on Mitchell. When Ged Rowney was talking about the siting, and other issues, Mr Crowe decided that he would call out that Mr Rowney was a liar! He repeated this when he addressed the committee. Roger Ibbs (Tory) tore a strip off the Chair, for allowing Mr Crowe to insult an officer of the council, without being forced to withdraw the accusation. Mr Crowe eventually did withdraw the insult but, his outbursts made his arguments seem futile. Mr Ibbs was angry with the Chair for allowing representations to the committee, on the decision to close Mitchell & Berryhill, when the decision was already made, and the BSF plans approved by the Government Minister for Schools Jim Knight. Mr Ibbs reminded the committee that the only issue that should be considered was the siting of the new Academy.
I have no doubt that whether you like or loathe him he is a very skilled politician at a local level, and his knowledge of procedure is far superior to anyone I have seen him lock horns with. He's a bit like the flu jab, you don't want it at the time, but it can save you a lot of suffering in the future!
There is no doubt in my mind that if Terry Crowe is representative of the standard of Labour councillors, then Labour should embark on a recruitment drive to get some much needed new blood in, FAST! If they don't they could sink in the doldrums for a very long period of time!
Joy Garner, Mike Barnes and Mark Davis, if this is Labours finest, you've got a hell of a job on, good luck to you!
While we're on the Schools issue, I've decided that I'm not going to speak to the Sentinel ever again! They can all kiss my lily white arse (sorry for giving you that particular image!) A reporter rang me mid week to ask me what I thought about the government not allowing the Local Authority to factor in the rise in birth rate, that is predicted in ten years time. The LA are only allowed to reflect the birth rates for seven years, when submitting their plans. So, I say to the reporter that the government are wrong to prevent the LA reflecting the known rise in birth rate, which could well mean that the plans should allow for another school, and could impact on parental choice when the time comes for selecting which school parents would want to send their children to.
What is printed in the Sentinel? An article which is written in a way that suggests that I am having a pop at our Local Authority & Serco when I am most certainly.. NOT!
How can I? If the government won't allow this birth rate rise to be factored in, how can it be anyone else's fault? Don't get me wrong, I love to have my say but I refuse to blame councillors and officers for something that is not of their making! The Sentinel will get short thrift the next time they ring me I can assure you!
Wednesday proved to be a turning point in the life of pitsnpots. I blogged an article about the size of the BNP membership. My angle on this was to highlight the difference in size of all the political parties. I listed the membership numbers, of as many parties as I could find accurate figures for. Before I published the article, I tried several times to find the BNP membership list on the net. I made my mind up, that if I could find the list, I would not publish the article. I could not come up with the list whichever link I followed. So I published.
When I left the office there was two comments on the article. I called in somewhere on my way home, had dinner switched the footie on, turned my laptop on. There was 52 comments posted on the article, and I said to Nita "bloody hell, this has created some interest!" I clicked on the comments and was mortified to find that some brave person had decided to publish on our site some names and addresses and contact details of some of the local BNP membership list. We deleted them as quickly as we could, and I decided to contact the Police, because I was concerned that there had been a breach of privacy. The Police were great and 20 minutes after I called them, a Police Sergeant from Hanley contacted me to inform me that someone had reported the matter to them. After they carried out their enquiries, they completely exonerated pitsnpots, they said there was nothing wrong with the article and there was no wrong doing. They said they would contact google and see if they could trace the IP address of the perpetrator. From what I'm told they don't have much chance.
I have no issue with anyone who wants to be a member of the BNP, that is their choice. We have some driven, motivated and passionate BNP supporters who contribute to this blog, and whilst I don't agree with their politics, I passionately believe they should be free to follow their party and their politics. They like all the other parties committed supporters, good decent people and to see them vilified is nothing short of disgraceful!
I will pick their beliefs apart, and I expect them to come back with a solid defence and hard debate, that is what we are about!
We have been accused of being a BNP bashing site, we have been accused of being apologists for the BNP, both completely wrong!
This blog was set up for interested parties to debate their politics, and the wrongs and the rights of what's happening in our city. We have had over 3000 comments posted to our site, and we are working hard to promote this blog to get more people to contribute to it. We are extending the blogging team, so that there are more varied topics to discuss. We are currently working on a new, better more user friendly site. Do we do this for political gain? No! Do we do this for reward? No! Do we do this to promote, celebrate or endorse any establishment or individual? No! Truth is we do this because we care for our city and we want to be an information service to all the people regardless of who they are and what politics they support.
Our vision good people, is to help get the answers needed to any questions that anyone might require. We want to be a FREE and INDEPENDENT service for the whole of Stoke on Trent! We are not, and never will be, owned by anyone and we will answer to no one! That's what pitsnpots is all about so please spread the word.
Our team are committed, the ORACLES agents infiltrate places and people you wouldn't believe!
Contact us with anything you want us to investigate or to get answers to. The email address is at the top of the page.
Remember our slogan..... Your Site, Your City, Your Say!
Oh and by the way......... have a nice Sunday!


This story is taken from the BBC News Website.

A VAT cut could be at the centre of the pre-Budget report on Monday, according to widespread speculation.
Reports suggest that VAT could drop by 2.5% to 15% as part of Alistair Darling's plan to revive the flagging economy.
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, writing in the News Of The World, has pledged to help struggling families and insisted the government was "on their side".
In the Sunday Mirror, Mr Darling said "every household" would be supported through the "difficult period ahead".

The specifics of Mr Darling's recovery plan will remain under wraps until Monday.
It is understood that, as well as the VAT change, he may also announce further tax cuts targeted at poorer people, as well as big increases in public spending.

Mr Brown writes in the News Of The World: "I know how worried many people are about their jobs, making ends meet at the moment and about the security of their homes.
"No politician can promise to stop the difficult times, but I can promise that we will do everything we can to help people get through them fairly.
"I want every household facing difficulty at this time to know we are ready to help and on their side."

It is thought Mr Darling will say, in the Commons on Monday that his recovery formula, will leave Britain with a £100bn debt, that the country will have to pay back later, in the form of higher taxes. Alistair Darling's other measures expected in the package are, help for people in mortgage arrears and loans for small businesses.

Tory leader David Cameron has opposed the plan, accusing the prime minister of planning to "throw money at the crisis in the faint hope that this will help recovery".
But Mr Brown says failure to intervene will only prolong the pain of recession.
"If we do not act now, the downturn will be longer and more severe,".
"A prolonged recession means people out of work for longer, more repossessions, and businesses taking longer to start growing again."
Mr Brown also hints further government efficiency savings will be announced in the pre-Budget report.

Mr Darling says in the Sunday Mirror that "every household" will get support to help them through the "difficult period ahead".

An ICM poll for the Sunday Mirror shows the Conservatives have maintained an 11 point lead over Labour.

So, what do you think about this proposed VAT cut? What do you think about all the borrowing being done by the Government? Is it right/wrong? Well, I'm no expert on all of this, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out, that at some point, all this money has got to be paid back. This will mean raising taxes yet again. What do you think?

Saturday, 22 November 2008


The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Mr. Smith kissed his wife goodbye and said, 'Well, I'm off now. The man should be here soon.'

Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale. 'Good morning, Ma'am', he said, 'I've come to...'

'Oh, no need to explain,' Mrs. Smith cut in, embarrassed, 'I've been expecting you.' 'Have you really?' said the photographer. 'Well, that's good.

Did you know babies are my specialty?' 'Well that's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat !

After a moment she asked, blushing, 'Well, where do we start?' 'Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed.

And sometimes the living room floor is fun. You can really spread out there.' 'Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Harry and me!'

'Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.'

'My, that's a lot!', gasped Mrs. Smith. 'Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be In and out in five minutes, but I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that.'

'Don't I know it,' said Mrs. Smith quietly.

The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. 'This was done on the top of a bus,' he said. 'Oh, my God!' Mrs. Smith exclaimed, grasping at her throat. 'And these twins turned out exceptionally well - when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with.'

'She was difficult?' asked Mrs. Smith. 'Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look'

'Four and five deep?' said Mrs. Smith, her eyes wide with amazement. 'Yes', the photographer replied. 'And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling - I could hardly concentrate, and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots.

Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in.' Mrs. Smith leaned forward. 'Do you mean they actually chewed on your,' 'It's true, Ma'am, yes..

Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away.' 'Tripod?' 'Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long.' Mrs. Smith fainted

Friday, 21 November 2008


This is a story concerning secondary education in the whole of Stoke-on-Trent, not specifically Trentham. Although it is brought to you by Stuart, a valued TAG member.

The sentinel story can be viewed

The city council has recently had their initial BSF proposal, Strategy for Change Part 1 (SfC Part 1), approved by central government, the first step in securing the desperately needed funding to regenerate our schools. And it’s only taken council around 7 years to get to the stage they should have been at within 6 months of starting the process. So, after 7 years of plans going to and fro between council and the government, where exactly are we now? Before this question can be answered, it is necessary to consider some basic facts;

1. There are currently around 15,700 under fives in this city. These children will be in secondary school by 2018.

2. The council’s original BSF proposal, submitted in February 2008 and subsequently ratified by the O&S Committee, estimated that 12,200 of these children would be in Stoke-on-Trent secondary schools.

3. To allow for some surplus, the council allowed for 13,000 secondary school places in their reorganisation plans.

Basically, the council’s proposal was based on the fact that in 2018, 3,500 children would have to find a secondary school outside of Stoke-on-Trent. By comparison, in 2014, only 1,375 children were expected to find a secondary school outside of the city. So why were council predicting a 150% increase in the number of children leaving the city’s educational system and why have they made no attempt to explain this expect increase in pupil migration?
On November 5th 2008, Jim Knight announced that he had approved the council’s proposal, SfC Part 1. This document states that by 2019 there will be 14,642 secondary school pupils in Stoke schools. After months of rejecting any suggestion that their pupil projections were wrong, all of a sudden council have found another 2,500 children to educate. If council are to maintain the recommended 10% surplus places in our secondary schools, they should be looking to provide over 16,000 pupil places by 2018, not 13,000. The only conclusion can be that the council had got their calculations wrong and that the proposed reorganisation will have to be reviewed.
So how many secondary school places do our councils proposals allow for? How many extra places have they added in now they admit their projections were inadequate? Despite knowing that by 2019 the city needs at least 14,642 pupil places in its secondary schools and despite knowing that the councils own population predictions show that this figure is likely to rise to in excess of 16,000 by 2025 (meaning we should have around 17,600 secondary school places), and despite all common sense, the council has managed to increase the number of places it plans to provide by 50.
By the time the BSF building programme is complete (around 2014 if it’s on time) there will be 13,050 secondary school places in Stoke-on-Trent. Will we have to build 2 new schools by 2019 and another 2 by 2025 to accommodate these children? Who will pay for these new schools? This would almost double the current investment required. Will the money come from government? Are they willing to guarantee another £250 million investment by 2025 or will the bill have to be picked up by local taxpayers? Or will council propose squeezing these children into the 9 existing non-faith schools or perhaps into the 5 new academies. Knowing our council they will have to go for the budget option and fit the additional 4,600 children into temporary classrooms. Just where will council put the 154 portakabins needed? This would certainly blow the councils promise to provide schools of their “optimum” number of places; between 900 and 1,200 pupils. If expansion is absorbed by the academies we will have schools with in excess of 2,000 pupils.

The intention of Building Schools for Future is supposed to be about investing in our schools for decades to come, so why are the council building schools that they know will not last the city 10 years? Serco, the mayor and the EMB have put forward a proposal they are trying to bulldoze through before anyone realises that they have made a mistake. They are trying to accelerate the rebuilding programme despite knowing it is fundamentally flawed. They are pushing these plans through knowing that by the time the “Jim Knight” hits the fan, they will all be long gone. All will have fled from or be rejected by this city and will claim that it is because they are no longer here that the educational reforms in Stoke have failed when it is blatantly obvious that it is their intransigence and short-sightedness that will be the further ruination of our already failing educational system.
They appear to have no interest in the long term future of the schools in this city and are only interested in gaining more stars from their party leaders, achieving their bonus targets and maintaining their control over a city they seem to care so little about.

Once again, we will be subjected to the mistakes made by idiots that we will have to live with.
It is councillors that must put a stop to this disastrous BSF programme. So councillors, what are you going to do? Sit back and let this city be a laughing stock or are you going to represent your wards and the people of this city and make decisions for our long term prosperity?

Thank you for that Stuart.

I would add that I am particularly infuriated by the statement made in the council’s strategy for change part 1:
that support for parental preference is expected to diminish!

Whilst I still think that Jim Knight was crazy to sign this off, his subsequent letter to Ged Rowney:
is at least fairly damning. In particular, Jim Knight states that the council needs to resolve, with the Office of the Schools Commissioner, these issues regarding diversity, choice and fair access.
Well the numbers and diversity and choice issues are of course easy to resolve, just provide schools of the type that families want in the communities where they are needed – simple!

This would also avoid the council falling foul of section 2 of part 1 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006:
regarding their duties in relation to diversity and choice and section 14 of the Education act 1996:
regarding their duties to provide sufficient schools. It would also avoid the possibility of the intervention by the Secretary of State under sections 496 and 497 of the same act, as he has the power under these sections to prevent unreasonable exercise of functions and failure to discharge their duty, of a local authority.

Come on council/SERCO – it is time to get your act together!
What do you all think about the latest in this saga of educational vandalism?


This is a story I found on the BBC News Website today, and it highlights the difficulties that many people across the UK could be facing if or when the new welfare plan comes into place. This is what the BBC Article said,

Ministers may now have to rethink or delay plans to force lone parents, disabled people and the long-term jobless to seek work, a senior government adviser has said.
Sir Richard Tilt said reforms in Wales, England and Scotland could "push people into poverty" as unemployment rises.

From next week, lone parents will have to look for work once their youngest child is 12 or face losing benefits.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said plans should offer support to the jobless, not penalise them.
Sir Richard, who is head of the social security advisory committee, said the so-called "welfare to work" reforms risked "falling into disrepute". He called for the changes to be delayed by one or two years.

Currently, single parents can claim income support solely on the basis of being a lone parent until their youngest child is 16.
But from Monday, those with children aged 12 and over will no longer be able to make a new claim for income support. Instead, they will be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance if they are actively looking for work. The total amount they can receive will be almost exactly the same, but anyone not complying with the new rules could face sanctions, including having their benefits cut by up to 40%. Sir Richard said: "Benefit rates are relatively low and if you are going to reduce someone's benefit for a few weeks by 40% you are pushing people much closer to poverty. "Of course, the child will suffer, but it's not the child that has fallen foul of the system."

These plans deliberately target the vulnerable, as they have no power and no real voice.

Sir Richard said he was concerned about the availability of suitable, affordable childcare for lone parents affected by the changes, he said there was often a particular reason that the lone parent was staying at home.
"It may be to do with disability or chronic illness, or in some cases it may be to do with behavioural problems," he said. "So pushing the lone parent in those circumstances into work may actually not be in everybody's interest.
"In many cases it will be harmful and lead to further behavioural problems."

Mr Purnell said it was more vital than ever to help the jobless seek employment.
"What we are saying is people should take up the support which we know works.
"I think it would be wrong at a time when it may be harder for people to find work to provide them with less help."

Dawn Harrison, from Sidcup, south-east London, told BBC Breakfast she had to give up her job when childcare for her daughters aged 12 and 13 became too expensive.
"What it was they wanted, £1,000 up front over the summer holidays and I haven't got that sort of money," she said.
"I couldn't see the point of struggling with money, going to work and looking after them at the same time."

For lone parents already claiming income support, the changes will be phased in depending on the age of the youngest child.
From March 2009, parents of 14 and 15-year-olds will no longer be able to claim income support and from July 2009, the change will extend to parents of 12 and 13-year-olds.
By October 2010, lone parents with children aged seven and over will be required to look for work in order to get benefits.
According to the government, there are 1.8m lone parents in the UK, 56.3% of whom are in work.
There are 738,600 lone parents on income support, and of those, just over 100,000 have children aged 12 and above.

If we look at Stoke on Trent alone, I only commented the other day, how many young mothers there actually are. Some, no older than 16-17. Many of these young ladies, are trying to fit looking after a baby, carry on studying, or doing full time/part time work, so I do think these young mum's sometimes get a fair amount of unnecessary criticism. They deserve all the help and support they can get. Sadly, we have those that see having a baby as a quick way of getting a council house, this does happen, I have heard the conversation many times. This is a sad state of affairs, so, this may be one good example of where the new plans could discourage these young girls.

We have many parents, who are left single, through marriage breakups, or loss of a partner, who work hard to hold down a job, and fit in looking after the kids and home. Are they getting extra money to help with finances, if not, they should be?

If we hear what Dawn Harrison says, she had to give up work, because child care became too expensive. This is a problem many families and single parents face, paying out large amounts of money on child care, very often amounting to nearly all of the wages they earn.

We are trying to get people off the jobless list, but, how many people are currently having their working hours cut, or face the possibility of redundancy. The situation will probably get worse, before it gets better. It is any easy statement to make, to cut people's benefits, but we have the genuine people who are looking for work, day in, day out, but simply cannot find employment. Should we penalise these people, by cutting down on benefits, I think not.

What do you think?


Apologies, to those of you that like to debate politics, as this is not one of the normal topics for PitsnPots. This is a very sad story, and one that to be honest, really shocked me. I feel that this is something that needs to be highlighted, and the public need to be made aware of.

A 12 year old boy from Derbyshire died, after spraying deodrant whilst in a confined space, and caused him to have a cardiac arrhythmia.

Now, how many of us have teenagers, who do the very same. Even adults are probably guilty of doing it too. Yes, I know you need to use a bit of common sense, when spraying the stuff, but who would have thought the consequences if ignored, would result in a loss of life.

Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner Dr Robert Hunter said manufacturer Unilever provided adequate warnings on cans of the deodorant that large amounts should not be used in a confined space. He said: "It seems the presence of a volatile agent caused the cardiac arrhythmia. Daniel copiously used deodorant in the bathroom.
"I do not know how many people read the warnings about exposure awareness.
"But people need to know about the risks that these products have on the cardio-vascular system."

Now, it makes me think, what is actually in these deodrants in the first place. Who actually reads these warnings on the can? Do the warnings need to be made bigger, do the public need to be made more aware of the serious consequences of spraying the deodrants in confined spaces? To be honest, if you walk in a bedroom/bathroom, where someone has been on the spray, and that can only be, by using a small amount, it does make you cough, and can affect the chest, so you have to open the windows to let some air in.

So what do you think, and how many of you have read the warning on the spray can? I'm one of those that hasn't.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Just a quickie (as the actress said to the bishop!). We have now removed the comment moderation. We will still receive notification by email when someone posts on one of our blog articles. All posts will continue to be monitored and as our slogan is,
no post will be removed unless it is personal, threatening or abusive, you can bet we will stick to it!

We have taken this decision after the "Oracle" threatened to haunt me forever! The "Oracle" does not want the debate stifled and what the "Oracle" wants the "Oracle" gets! I don't want to be infiltrated by those "Agents" 'ooh 'err!

I am delighted to announce that Sir Findo Gask has joined our merry band of bloggers and as already made a massive difference to our team and has brought a deal of IT knowledge with him. I can confirm he looks exactly like his photo!

Anyway onwards and upwards!..................................


The row concerning the leak of the entire BNP membership list rages on.

My opinion on the matter is quite clear: I believe that anyone has the right to choose which, if any, political party they would like to belong to.

Privacy is something that everyone is entitled to no matter who they are.

Whilst I don't support the BNP in any shape or form I have absolutely no issue with anyone who does. As far as I'm concerned it's their politics, their choice.

Now, the issue is, should anyone in any profession be allowed to hold a BNP membership card?

Take for instance PC Steve Bettley of Merseyside Police. He has been called back early from a holiday abroad and suspended from duty whilst the force investigate whether he is a fully paid up member of the far right party.

Earlier today, a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said: "Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe has reiterated our position that membership of the British National Party is totally incompatible with the duties and values of Merseyside Police. We will not accept a police officer or police staff being a member of the BNP."

The fundamental difference as I see it, between being a member of the BNP and any other political party in this country is that the BNP's policies are based mostly on the colour of a person's skin.

Whilst party activists will say that they are not racist, they are nationalist, a BNP member will prejudice against a person who's skin is a colour other than white. They will do this because of their beliefs and what their party stands for.

Now, to me, the same could be said of Teaching, Further Education, Civil Service, Armed Forces, The legal Profession, Medicine........ this list goes on!

I can see why the BNP want to be recognised as serious political party and I can empathise with that, but surely they can understand that they are going to be judged differently because of their stance on all non white folk.

Let's have a good honest pitsnpots debate on this most sensitive issue, over to you........................................


I read an article in the Sentinel last night, whereby a successful Pioneering Scheme, which helps to steer young people away from a life of crime, will close down next year, due to lack of funding. This saddens me. How can we lose such a Scheme, that has brought so much success?

Two Youth Inclusion Projects (YIP's), in Stoke on Trent will stop operating from March 2009. It would seem that they have attempted to gain funding, but have been unsuccessful. The Schemes are held in Stanfields and Meir, where they target 8-17 year olds, who are thought to be at risk of offending, truancy or social exclusion. Youngsters take part in various organised activities, including sport, art and fund raising. They complete workshops about drugs, and sexual health. If they stay out of trouble, they are taken on excursions.

The project is run by a crime reduction charity (NACRO), and police, schools and community groups, say the project has dramatically reduced anti social behaviour in the area. Sadly, without an investment of £260,000, a year, they will have to close. There are currently 58 young people involved with the Stanfields project, and 59 at Meir.

John Tate, Director of Stoke on Trent's Youth Offending Service said "the projects have had a big impact. Apart from getting support to young people that need it, and to their parents, we have also engaged with the local communities". He said the programme had resulted in a 30% reduction in youth crime and anti social behaviour.

The Stanfield Scheme started in 2001, under a three year grant from the Youth Justice Board, and continued with funding from various sources. The programme expanded to Meir, in 2005.From April 1st of this year, changes in the funding process, meant no more cash was available for these projects. Grant Applications to the Big Lottery Fund and Coalfields Regeneration have been unsuccessful, because the YIP's do not meet the criteria.

Inspector Mark Hardern, Commander of Tunstall Neighbourhood Policing Unit, said "There used to be serious issues around crime and anti social behaviour in this area, but I have seen a massive improvement. I would not like to see it close, as it does a lot for the kids involved and the community."

Michael Coleman, Councillor for Weston and Meir North said "The work done by the project is invaluable, and the thought that we could lose it fills me with dread. I know what the estate can become without that kind of intervention".

What a travesty this is. Two successful schemes, that have proven to reduce crime and anti social behaviour, now to be lost. These young people have been prepared to do something, to get involved, to change themselves, to involve themselves with the community. Full credit to them all, and to those who are involved in running the Schemes.

This is what we need, Schemes like this, to give the youngsters the help they may need. Sometimes it is easier to do all the wrong things, but they don't know how to get away from it. What does it come down to, Funding, or lack of. It is so wrong, that these sort of Schemes should be lost. What do you think?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


I never thought it would come to this! Good natured debate was all we intended and what have we got? Our site hijacked by a spineless individual who decided to play silly buggers and post the names and contact details of local people who happen to be members of the BNP (no crime!)

I would like to offer my sincere apologies to anyone who was offended by this mindless act of cowardliness and I would like to reassure all our regulars that we acted as quickly as we could to remove the posts concerned.

I myself, have informed the police and reported this breach of privacy. The police have informed me that pitsnpots have done all we could and are not being held responsible for this disgraceful incident. The Police are investigating and have already contacted Google with the aim of tracking the IP address of the individual responsible.

It is only a matter of time before the idiot responsible for this is traced, and I for one will look forward to blogging about their day in court!

Following discussions with the Police, we have decided to moderate all comments. This will not detract from our blog. Posts will be published as quickly as possible. I hope that this is a temporary measure but let's face it we don't want innocent people upset by the actions of the minority.

Pitsnpots will carry on blogging about local issues and promoting political debate, it's what we do! and we will not allow these mindless idiots bring us down!

Please note you can still post anonymously, it's just that we will check the comment first before we allow it to be published. It will stop any recurrence of this type of incident, We will not stifle the debate and censor like the Sentinel.

Thanks to Sir Findo and "fair minded" for their help and guidance, sorry for the inconvenience but I promise that all comments will go on unedited as long as they are not personal, abusive or threatening, so Craig can carry on regardless! lol.

Let's get back to it troops!.... Remember the "boys in blue" are on the case and Big Brother (& Sister!) are watching!

Onwards and upwards..............................................


Shock Horror! The BNP's membership list has been printed on the Internet! Who cares?

The only thing that it as brought home to me is how insignificant this minority party really are.

For all the huff and puff we hear on this blog about how they are the future for our City nay, our Country. this list proves that it is all piss and wind!

Lets put this pathetic number into some sort of perspective shall we:

Tory Party 290000 members
Labour Party 210000 members
Liberal Democrat Party 70000 members
UKIP Party 16000 members
Green Party 12000 members (England, Scotland, Wales N.Ire)
BNP 10000 members.

At the last General Elections the BNP polled at total of 191,519 votes out of a possible 27000000 votes cast!

The BNP won over 100 council seats at the May 2008 elections in the United Kingdom which is in fact, less than 1% of the total number of seats available.

In Stoke on Trent the BNP polled 8086 vote out of 55288 (14.6%).

Given the fact that Labour is supposed to be on it's arse in this city and is most certainly suffering from the ineptness of the policies of the Labour Elected Mayor, Mark Meredith, Labour managed to poll 14038 vote out of the possible 55288 cast (25.3%)

We are constantly told on this blog by certain posters that the BNP in this city, are like the 2ND coming of the Messiah! The first coming of the No9 bus seems more apt to me!

BNP membership is frowned upon in many organisations, the Police, Fire Brigade, Teaching, Further Education, the Clergy, the Armed Forces, and so it goes on. This leaked membership list has people as young as 14 on it, which in my opinion should be against the law!

Nick Griffin admits that some of his members, especially those in the professions listed above are vulnerable. I say if a name appeared on one of the mainstream parties membership list no one would give a toss! Could it be that association with such an extreme, hateful party who's policies are based on the colour of one skin, might be reviled by the vast majority of the British people.

There is no doubting that the BNP have 9 councillors in our city and have prospered because of the EMB.

The EMB have no doubt taken the voices of every single separate political party represented in Stoke on Trent and left just the collective of the EMB and the extreme views of the BNP.

The BNP would have us believe that they are the answers to all our prayers but in truth, given the above statistics we would be better of voting for UKIP or the Green Party if we were looking to place a protest vote.

Over the next few months we will be bringing the other parties to the forum and giving you the cities electorate the chance to make your mind up which party best represents your ideals and I'm sure if we did this the BNP's popularity would diminish.

The BNP would have us believe that they are a united organisation but this membership list was posted by an angry member who wants to start off a leadership contest. This dissenter believes that Nick Griffin is too dictortorial and want rid of him. This latest rift comes not long after Griffin kicked out most of his executive who also wanted rid of the Welsh Wizard! They went on to form their own far right party called the "Voice of Change" (CLICK)
The BNP are about as united as the "Strictly Come Dancing" judges!

The BNP a credible alternative to the mainstream parties? I'd better be off.... the No9 bus is due............ Oh look a flying pig!