Tuesday, 14 October 2008


So, Planners at Stoke-on-Trent City Council are preparing a bid for a new Government grant, which would enable them to build around 1,000 new homes in areas of most need, according to today’s Sentinel - http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/news/Breaking-News-200m-revamp-plan-rundown-Potteries-estates/article-396701-detail/article.html

Abbey Hulton, Bentilee, Blurton, Chell Heath, Fegg Hayes, Meir and Norton have been picked out for the facelifts, due to limited variety of housing and high levels of deprivation, worklessness and poor health.

Facilities such as play areas, street lighting and community centres will be improved. About 60 per cent of the new houses would be council-owned, with the rest for sale and shared ownership. It seems they will be built on council-owned land that is currently derelict or unused. If the proposal is accepted, the article indicates that building work will start in 2012, to be completed by 2017.

Whilst this is all well and good, it would be very interesting to know what is happening with all the RENEW funding. Having looked at the RENEW website, it says there is £2.3 billion to invest over a 15 year period to “transform the local housing market and make North Staffordshire a place where people want to live, work, and enjoy.”

Now, I know there has been some work done under the RENEW banner throughout the City, including the City Waterside project, but my question is this – what’s happening with all this RENEW funding? And wouldn’t you think that, with £2.3 billion available, more could have been done already? My understanding is that this RENEW funding was granted as part of the Pathfinder project in 2002. Why are the City having to bid again for a new Government grant for housing, when we can’t possibly have spent all of the original Pathfinder money?

Also, why is it always the same places? I know the areas mentioned in the Sentinel article are some of the City’s most deprived, but how much money can you throw at an area and it still be in need of more? Bentilee has had millions ploughed into it over the past few years, and still it needs more, apparently.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are the council doing a good job of spending this government funding? The City could certainly do with it – new houses will make the area look better and provide better standards of living for people in the area. But all this talk of improved play areas, street lighting and community centres – wasn’t that what RENEW was all about? Let me have your thoughts on this one…


brooneyes said...

Two points.
We always hear that moneys coming in from here or there, to do this and that, but it rarely puts in an appearance!
If the council actually had access to two hundred million or so, wouldn't it be a far better use of that money to start to rebuild the manufacturing infrastructure of the city?

Helen said...

The council don't want to spend this money too quickly do they?

No, first of all they want to spend the BSF money, then they will build new houses for families,etc, THEN & only then will they realise they don't have enough high schools for all the kids in the houses they've built!!!

It would be funny, if you couldn't see it happening or even have told them, TIME & TIME AGAIN.

T COPE said...

How strange that Tunstall is left out again?
Is Tunstall part of this City or not.
Meredith always has memory loss, when it comes to Tunstall, or perhaps he can't say the word.
Agree with craig on this, on where the money would be better spent.
Well said Helen, right on the head.

Frank Fuller said...

If the council believe that by spending money in areas like Abbey Hulton, Bentilee, Blurton, Chell Heath, Fegg Hayes, Meir and Norton it will stop the people there from voting BNP then this is simplistic thinking.

I think there is a deeper reason as to why people in this city have turned to the BNP, and something is deeply wrong with society to make people vote for such a repugnant party.

brooneyes said...

Frank, who are you calling repugnant?
It is simplistic thinking that this same old attempted bribery will stop the British National Party!
There are deeper reasons, one of which is the electorate are sick and fed up of paying money in and getting nothing out! To say nothing of them being sick and fed up of watching the standards of education tumble year on year!
The only repugnant people round here, are those that keep returning Meredith and his pals to their seats on the council. I'll bet you're one!

Shaun Bennett said...

As I have said on the Sentinel comments page, I seem to remember a similar story a couple of weeks ago (unless I dreamt it, or had some odd preminition about it).

Whilst this will no doubt be absolutely marvellous news for the city-and about time too; I really do have a niggling feeling at the back of my mind that these announcements have been very carefully timed for maximum effect in the mayoral referendum next week. What on earth could they be trying to tell us?

Perhaps this money will help to make up for the millions that we will probably lose in Iceland!

Frank Fuller said...

Oh dear brooneyes, the BNP sychophants are out then!

I never said I was a Meredith supporter (you will see from some of my other posts that I'm certainly not) but any day of the week I'd prefer to see the main parties get their act together than the odious BNP running the city.

nita said...

Frank Fuller, that is what we are all hoping and waiting for, the main parties to get their acts together.

I am all for, any funding to improve any area of the City, lets face it, it could do with it.

What I would like to see, is, money spent on community facilities for every part of the City, not just certain areas.

If we build all these new houses, will people actually move here, as the job prospects are virtually nil.

Frank Fuller said...

I don't disagree with you nita that this investment is welcome. The unfortunate coincidence is that those areas where the money will be invested - Abbey Hulton, Bentilee, Blurton, Chell Heath, Fegg Hayes, Meir and Norton - are the same places where the BNP are active or have support. The danger is that the message which will go out is vote BNP if you want the council to spend money in your area.

What about those parts of the city which have turned their back on the BNP or kicked them out? I think they deserve better.

Alison said...

Frank, that's an interesting point you are making, and I wonder how many other people in the city have the same perception?

But if what you say is correct, how has this come about? Surely the BNP councillors don't have that much clout (there are only 9 of them!) How can the whole council allow money to be ploughed into areas of BNPism (is that a word? I just made it up!), when there might be other areas in just as much need.

I agree, and made the point in my article, that it seems to be same old, same old. Money doesn't seem to be spent in other areas of the city other than these named few.

If what you are suggesting is actually happening, it is time the other councillors stood up against this, and fought for other areas of the city. There are lots of places in need of regeneration.

I would still like to know where this £2.3 billion is being spent. I know RENEW have a lot of people working for them, and that the council has just advertised for some more Management posts at huge salaries. Perhaps all the money is being taken up in salaries?

It's like SERCO, only called RENEW. Or am I being cynical again?

brooneyes said...

Frank is entitled to his opinion, however much I disagree with him.
Here are the facts that you should be looking at Frank. The BNP stood in 10 wards and got 8000
votes, Labour stood in all 20 wards and got 14,000 votes. What happens when we expand into those untried areas???

brooneyes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison said...

So the BNP have plans to expand into these untried areas then Craig? When is that going to happen? Have you got enough candidates?

And is Terry right in what he is saying about Tunstall? Not living that side of the city, I don't really know a lot about what goes on there. Just wondering...

Frank Fuller said...

Alison, coming from Tunstall I can confirm that there has not been much of the kind of investment we are talking about in Tunstall. The town centre is doing fairly well though with new retail developments on the western side eg. Asda, Argos, Matalan, Next etc.

Contrary to what T.Cope may want to think Tunstall is not a BNP stronghold and has mainly been represented by Independent councillors for the past 10 years. I think Mr. Cope's electoral breakthrough has not yet happened because he is competing with the Independents for the same section of the vote. Hope that analysis helps.

warren said...

Its all we ever hear, we have money for this and that and the other. Nowt ever gets done, we get the public conseltation thing with lots of pritty pictures and littel moddels on a tabel, but when it comes down to doing it, well, it don't happen. To much money is wasted before the work begins.How long have we been told thet Meir is to be Regenerated, years, and what gets done, nowt, its just talk. Take a look at the time frame 2012 to 2017, plus the years already wasted on talk, you know what I say less showmanship and more workmanship. May I say in closeing its not a debate about the BNP, that can be held on other postings.

St George said...

Frank is right.

Its happened in other areas.

Money is spent in an area, and the BNP leaflet goes out saying that the threat of more BNP cllrs has made the council spend money here - think what could happen if you had more BNP cllrs - Vote BNP !!

Thats what they do. And Frank is right about many of the independent vote being transferable to the BNP.

Look at Blurton and the leaflets put out there, especially Brian Wards. If anything his were more racist than the BNP's !!

brooneyes said...

Maybe Alison, stranger things have happened.

Frank Fuller said...

So are you planning to stand for election again brooneyes?

Interestingly I reckon your barrier to success is similar to Mr. Cope, that you are competing with Independents/Kent Baggaley for the same section of the vote.

From the accounts I've heard Kent Baggaley is an abysmal councillor for your area, I don't know about the others.

brooneyes said...

Yes Frank, I'll be standing again.