Friday, 24 October 2008


As Tony is unavailable at the moment, you've got my blog on the results of the Mayoral Referendum.

Well, the YES camp won, and some! Click here for the Sentinel article which broke the news.

Mike Barnes is over the moon, and has said "“The result today I think is a victory for democracy. Democracy is back in Stoke-on-Trent.” Let's hope he's right.

What we now must wait to see is who the front runners are for the Leader's job. I am sure there will be scurryings in the Council Chambers, deals being done on who will vote for whom, etc.

As citizens of Stoke on Trent, we must now ensure that are Councillors become ACCOUNTABLE and do what we want them to do, rather than push through some Government agenda (as our friend Mayor Meredith did).

Paul Breeze, for the NO camp is quoted: “I’m deeply disappointed. We’re going back to a system that led our city into decline.” Well, it's up to those 60 councillors (including the Council Leader), the council's (highly) paid officials, and the good people of this city to ensure it doesn't go into decline.

It's time we all started working together for the good of the city, not any one political party.

What worries me is Meredith's comment that he's now going to push through what he's started. Things like BSF etc. Well, he's done enough damage already, so I think it's time it was called to a halt. And the councillors who will be left to run this city after May 2009 should do exactly that.

There are lots of comments flying around, people saying they will leave the city etc. Are these the people that have actually bothered to vote? With a very low turnout of just over 19%, it seems people are apathetic about what happens in this city. But they will probably be the first ones to start moaning (and probably already have).

What do you all think about it? Sorry my posts aren't as exciting as Tony's, but you are stuck with me (and hopefully some additional satire from The Oracle), for the next few days.....


Politically Correct Pete said...

Thankfully we've avoided the prospect of a BNP Mayor being elected next May.

I think it's obvious that the leader of the council will emerge from one of the two largest groups (Labour or the City Independents) but neither has enough seats and will need the support of other groups to govern. Both now need to say if they are willing to work with the BNP and give them a say in the running of the city.

Sir Findo Gask said...

A sad day for the city if you ask me..

brooneyes said...

Here here, Sir findo, I concur completely.

Sir Findo Gask said...

Less than 20% could be bothered to drag their backsides out to vote on something as big as this?

Apathy on Trent..

I hold out little hope for the future of the city.

Sir Findo Gask said...

I am appalled at the lack of turn out for this vote. Sorry to flood this with comments but to put it in context.

More people (14760) voted for Mark Fisher (Labour) in Stoke on Trent Central in 2005 than voted no (14592) in the WHOLE of the city in the referendum.

brooneyes said...

Alison writes, "we must now ensure that councillors become accountable."
You've just voted for a system that's going to do exactly the opposite! Congratulations, let's hope it's not a case of choose in
haste, repent at leisure.

Winston Churchill said...

"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

Those were mine. Here's another one I like:

"Democracy is a process by which people are free to choose the man who will get the blame."
Laurence Peter.

Zahid said...

how are our local councillors not accountable.
We still have local elections, right?
In case you didn't know, the trick is, just vote for someone else!

Alison said...

See, Craig has got to continue to support the Elected Mayor option, because he's convinced that's the easiest way to get a BNP Leader. He knows the councillors won't vote for a BNP leader.

So he has to continue to moan and say we won't be able to hold councillors accountable, but as I see it, councillors have been able to hide behind everything the Mayor was doing/saying, and have continually stated that he has the final say, so they can't do more than they have done/said.

NOW - there will be no Mayor, councillors have no excuse. And as has been so rightly said, we can vote for someone else if they don't do what we ask them to do.

Simple as that really Craig, but I can see why you are sticking to your Mayor guns.

brooneyes said...

It's not a case of sticking to my guns, the vote is decided and that is that. What bothers me is the way in which the council will now fracture into so many factions all trying to get their representative into the hot seat.
Unpleasant deals will be done promising high paid positions for votes. This has a very real chance of leaving this city council run by a bunch of moneygrabbing mongrels.
The other problem is that there could well be no continuity of personnel. You could end up with a different leader every twelve months, but you bloody Labour/exLabour voters have taken us back into the system that caused us to have a referendum in the first place!
Stupid, blinkered, selfish, are all words that could come to describe the "yes" voters, I genuinely hope not, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
Ibbs, Salih, Kent-bagguley, Garner,
Barnes. Let's hope not.

Politically Correct Pete said...

brooneyes you surprise me.

I'd been led to believe that the most likely deal to run the council would be one between the BNP and Independents hence my queston above.

Presumably that would mean an Independent leader and BNP deputy, with a mixed cabinet of Independent and BNP councillors?

Tony said...

Allthough I'm away for a few day's I want to say how pleased I am for Mike Barnes and D4S! Poor turn out as we pridicted yesterday. Labour now need to pick the right leader and unite. I hope it's either Mike or Mark Davis or Joy Garner. Let's face it, it was a resounding victory for the yes campaign and now our elected representatives of every party need to do us proud. Nothing less will be acceptable!

Anonymous said...

A resounding victory for the yes camp? A resounding victory for apathy more like. We'll now be subjected to the usual whinging by the majority who couldn't be bothered voting, the ones who blame everyone but themselves.

Anonymous said...

Albie Walker's phone will be hot tonight with Alan Rigby on the other end trying to make a deal to stitch us up.

brooneyes said...

Where are you away at Tony, a beer festival? Joy Garner!!??
Christ, once a Labour loony, always a Labour loony.

Sir Findo Gask said...

No good will come of this I can tell you.

There will be more deals done by our elected councillors between now and March 2009 each trying to get in to a position of power. we will end up with a more fragmented and less effective management structure than we ever believed possible or dare I say it, have until April 2009!

An elected mayor was the way forward, and anyone who bumps their gums about four years is deluded, no matter how long you say the term of office is for, there is 'always' a way of getting somebody out if the need arises. Now we will just have 11 months of fighting each year while people in city halls try and get themselves in to positions which are far above their abilities.

As I have said this is a sad sad day for the city on a number of levels.

I'm glad my business is portable, that's all I can say..

ian norris said...

Tony: what do you want to see our Cllrs do now? If as it appears they appear to have fooled many people they have been held back.

Lets come up with 10 policies the Cllrs have been able to implement due to the Mayor and see who many get implemented in the 1st year?

Alison said...

Ian, I like this idea, shall we start the ball rolling?

First off, I'd like to see the BSF proposals being revisited and re-consulted upon. My understanding is that Government haven't rubber stamped these proposals yet, so let's start again. This means NOT closing the 4 schools and keeping them going till some proper, commonsense approach is agreed upon by all concerned.

Your turn - we need another 9 policies, so get thinking everyone. By the time Tony reads this, we should have all 10!

Alison said...

Hubby's just given me another one - let's start working to attract some new businesses into the city to ease unemployment and get rid of some of the empty warehousing across the city. Who's got Policy No. 3? I could go on, but better given someone else a chance to have their say...

Me, Somewhere in The Potteries said...

So the result of the referendum broke down like:

Yes: 11.37%
No: 7.82%
Not arsed: 80.81%

The not arsed won by a landslide majority.

In true Stokie fashion expect some serious whinging over the next few months about the Leader and Cabinet system from people that voted "Not Arsed".

By the looks of the voting it seems that most people are in favour of no-one running the city and wouldn't care less if it fell into an abyss.

brooneyes said...

Alison, think you might struggle trying to attract new businesses in with an ever deepening recession on your doorstep!
Especially so if we wind up with Ibbs or Garner, although any of the Labour tat would finish the city off. I think you'll need to be a little more creative than that, a little more detailed too.

Alison said...

Craig, as usual you deride other people's (in this case, mine) posts and suggestions, without providing any alternatives with any substance.

If I need to be creative, at least I aren't still crying over the fact that the BNP's best hope of getting a leader was brutally taken away by those "selfish" YES voters!!

Sorry if you don't agree with me (again), but I aren't too concerned about that, as it's becoming a regular occurence!

Hugh said...

How about a policy of implementing the "stoke Compact" that has been around for a couple of years, and suggests that the Council works and consults with the Voluntary and Community Sectors (i.e. with the people).

Or a policy of Council openness and accountability - one that renders the FoI Act obsolete?

Tony said...

Oh Dear,
Found a WI-Fi! You are all doomed now. Sir Findo, i can understand your concern but thing is this so called Labour mayor has completely knocked my belief in that system of governance. The care homes fiasco, the BSF, the Brit deal, it goes on and on! Now what we must do is to send a clear message to our councillors that we will not stand for any crap! The majority group will select a leader and this leader will be accountable.

brooneyes said...

Alison, I'm not deriding your ideas, I'm pointing out to you a rather big problem with what you're saying. You ARE going to stuggle trying to attract new business into this city. And that struggle is going to be more difficult with Ibbs,Garner,Barnes, Davis, or any other Labour remnant you find lying about. We've had 60
bloody years of Labour and look what we've got, and now Tony in particular, is calling for the return of Labour! How stupid do you have to be not to realise Labour will kill what is left of the city?!
It's the city I'm crying for, and the bloody awful mess you and the rest of the blinkered ones could well have lead us into. If we wind up with a stinker as a leader, expect the blame to dropped squarely into the laps of those
selfish socialists, who chose the system more likely to see their sad party still regain control, instead of voting for what was best for the people of this city.

warren said...

Yes its a sad day, that Mayors office was a good ideer Killed off by a bad incombent. But did you see his face on the Sentanals frount page, priceless that was, and in yesterdays to with a top hat on and a bloody big dice, that was a right pisser. It was worth droping the office of Mayor just to see that kind of think going on.Mayor Meredith ta ta and good ridance. Never mind Mr. Pond, who knows, maybe Alby can use a bit of human charm and indeed get a run at leader, you know what human charm is dont you.

One last thing, a 20% turn out,now thats bad, I dont think meny Potters give a f*** anymore, and that worrys me.

Sir Findo Gask said...

Tony, I agree the current incumbent has hardly showered himself in glory. In my mind there is nobody in the current councillors who is strong enough to take on this role with all the deal making that will need to be done to get anyone in place.

If it were down to the good people of the city then at least it would be the peoples choice and you never know who may throw their hat in to the ring.

I have said it before, we could do a lot worse than Mike Wolfe..

Tony said...

Sir Findo,
I agree about Mike Wolfe. I thought he had the people at heart. Now we will have to see how the Independents play their cards! I have said on this blog many times that Alan Rigby and his ilk have proved that there is no such animal as an Independent!

nita said...

I cannot believe, that such a large amount of people simply could not be bothered to get off their backsides and vote. That tells us, that people simply do not care how their City is run. As people have already stated, these will be the first to moan, if the Leader system does not work. To say it was a poor turnout, is an understatement.

I would have personally preferred the people to choose the person to run the City, but now we have to trust the Councillors to put this person in place.

We have to hope that they do manage to choose the right person. As we have no overall majority in the council, certain parties are going to have to join together. Will it be Lab/Con, Con/Ind or Ind/BNP, who knows.

I have no problem with any of our Councillor's, as they all work hard for their wards, but will they have the experience to step upto the Leader role? I feel it is a massive step. Whoever, the Leader is, we have to back this person, and let them give it a good go.

I feel the mayoral system could have worked, with the right leader. Mr Meredith, has made unpopular decisions, and he has paid the price. I feel, it is not always the decisions that are made, it is how you go about engaging the people. People do not like being told what they are getting. You cannot adopt the attitude of 'its may way, and that's final'. If Councillors have given their opinion, on various unpopular decisions, and offered alternatives, you should always take that advice, and be willing to listen.

It will be an interesting time, until May next year, to see what councillor's are put forward.

Good luck to them all.

nicky said...

Alison, don't apologise for your blog! It's good to have you blogging as well as Tony.

A good result today.

Alison and Tony, I agree with you that our councillors have got to get it right, they can't blame it on a mayor now. And if they get it wrong we give them hell. Tony, for an ex-labour guy you're still so very labour. As Craig says – Joy Garner?!

Politically correct Pete, you are suggesting an independent leader and BNP deputy, with a mixed cabinet of independent and BNP councillors is likely. Well that doesn't sound too bad to me (other bloggers undoubtedly won’t agree). But just compare their performance in council with the labour/tory/libdem lot of late. Labour have yet to show that they will change now that Meredith is the lame duck, will they or will they not? I’ll believe it if and when it happens. Libdems are probably beyond hope and tories are definitely beyond hope.

Alison, well said about BSF, that is the most urgent policy to be reviewed. I know Meredith’s already done terrible damage to Longton High and that needs to be rectified as much as possible. But I don’t think he’s as far forward in pushing the BSF through as he makes out so it will be hard for him. It would help stop him if only the labour people would see sense and side with the independents and BNP on this issue a bit more. (I may do an entire blog on BSF over the weekend if only I can find the time!) Trouble is 'labour'ish people (like Tony) seem to loath the independents and BNP too much and get irritated with the likes of me who likes to take that more balanced (which Tony would call confused) view.

Nita, I don’t believe all councillors work hard for their wards, some work hard to screw their wards over for reasons best known to themselves, you know who I mean. Having said that, a majority of them are good councillors or have the potential to be (for those ones who need to stop being controlled by Meredith)

nicky said...

And in true 'here's one I prepared earlier' style, here is a delighted response to the outcome today from Shaun Bennett:
"YES- hoorah, thank goodness we can finally wave goodbye to Meredith, at least that's one unnecessary salary we can save. We may not see dramatic changes, and the city may well still be run appallingly, but at least the system is not going to make things worse and we have a chance of getting some good people back into the running of the city."

Tony said...

I don't think that you are confused for a second! But I need to correct you on one thing, I don't loathe anyone. I am concerned, no, very concerned that we have councillors in our city who call themselves independent who clearly can be anything but! On national TV we have had a so called "Indie" saying that he canvassed for a "tory" mate and thinks the BNP councillors are doing a cracking job. That same councillor is known to be doing "deals" with anyone who will allow him to be leader! These politicians have no credability as far as i'm concerned. I don't see everything through my Labour goggles, but I am hoping that the leader of the council comes from one of the three mainstream parties as I unlike you do not want this city run by a BNP led administration. I reflect on the future for the whole of the city and not just Trentham just as i look at all the candidates and not do not just judge people on what they have done or not done for Trentham and it's school!

Politically Correct Pete said...

I'm also extremely concerned that there are those who are putting forward the opinion that BNP involvement in the future governance of Stoke-on-Trent would not be a bad thing. These kind of comments are not helpful at all.

As the main political parties are certain to rule out working with the BNP it only leaves them with one or two places to go and I know that the Independents are unprincipled opportunists as I've had first hand experience dealing with one of them.

Politically Correct Pete said...

"You are suggesting an independent leader and BNP deputy, with a mixed cabinet of independent and BNP councillors is likely. Well that doesn't sound too bad to me"

Yes Nicky, well perhaps the Nazis seemed a good idea at the time in 1930s Germany! If you want an application form I'm sure Craig has one ready and waiting.

And why am I still up at this hour of the morning???

No such thing as society said...

Truly shameful comments from Nicky Davis.

ian norris said...

Policy 3: A real Public Transport Policy using the renewal of the housing market to incorporate new Public Transport links into the design, the whole city and its transport network is up for re-design let`s make use of it.

nicky said...


I did not say I wanted a bnp led council (and don't think that will happen), I did say (which I am aware you don't like) that I would be happy with a council leader who is one of the independents. I particularly like Peter Kent-Baguley although I expect that could be non-starter if they decide it's to be based around big political groups. It's their choice anyway! I have always thought, though I prefer the leader system, that it is going to be quite a difficult task to implement it well. Ideally the way it would be done would enable input to the cabinet from all councillors to represent their wards and freer decisions in full council. It will be interesting to see what is sorted out.

Also you know (or should do) I am not concerned just about Trentham, or Trentham High School. The entire schools issues are linked across the city although the worst effects of what is being done is in the south and the most urgent need is at Longton High. I do admit the the whole schools issue is a high priority interest and one that I have had most dealings with the council in connection with, but I know other issues are important and I'm interested in these.

Policy 4 - community involvement. This relates to what sir findo gask was saying on the Longton bridge blog. Some areas have residents associations and I guess some don't. Those that do may be low profile and perhaps in some areas they are very active. Maybe a bit of council coordination/promotion to get these going more widely. Perhaps a web link on their site to enable people to easily get in touch with theirs. The other thing I liked, which I think was a Wolfe thing but I couldn't swear to it, was the citizens panel. Or is this just too expensive in terms of the letters sent out, how about an email one? Or this could just be a totally rubish suggestion given that less than 20% wanted to even vote in the referendum. But on the other hand 20% of a community could form a reasonable group.

No such thing as society said...

Policy 5: Building strong, united and cohesive communities addressing those seeking to undermine and divide them whether it be the far right BNP or the religious (Islamic) extremists both of whom are a cause for concern in Stoke-on-Trent.

Ian Norris said...

Nicky: Neighbourhood renewal began a great swell of committes involvement for FULL and proper consultation, this brought in community champions and neighbourhood managers. Cllrs began to get scared and believed their roles where at threat so all the past work was scrapped and 2 wards were then combined to form neighbourhood forums but this failed as residents had again lost trust in the Council.

It will take a lot of work to get that trust back, hence Low turnout this week.

will the new leader be able to get this trust back? I doubt it..

Anonymous said...

What a shower for the leadership...Alby Walker, Joy, Ibbs, Barnes, PKB and Rigby

Ian Norris said...

Only 5 Policies for the new Leader, and councillors to deliever.

Adam said...

The people of Stoke have spoken and as a result the Elected Mayor has been consigned to history, supporters of the leader and cabinet system have called his exit from the political stage a victory for democracy, opponents have dubbed the decision a dangerous step backwards.

What, the rest of us ask, happens next? How do we reap the benefits of the former proposition whilst avoiding the risks inherent in the latter?

There are, it seems, a number of things that must be done in the short and longer term.

The commission convened to oversee the transition from one system of governance to another must as a matter of the first priority be seen to be working with councillors on the basis of an equal partnership, the slightest suggestion that something is being ‘imposed’ on the city from outside will be deeply damaging to the credibility of the whole process.

Given the low turnout at last Thursday’s referendum the issue of voter disengagement must be addressed as a matter of urgency, to do so effectively three things need to be done.

Even though residents no longer have a vote on the matter councillors must consult with them as to who they should support as council leader and be prepared to explain their reasons for supporting a particular candidate after the vote has taken place.

Real steps must be taken to devolve power away from the Town Hall and out into the community, the idea of setting up a parish council has been raised several times although several key figures on the council are rumoured to be less than keen on a project that might dilute some of their power, it must though now be looked into as a reasonable possibility.

Finally all the political parties operating in the city must work together to promote participation in elections, something similar to the voter registration drives run in the US springs to mind, and this must be allied to an effective curriculum of citizenship education delivered through the city’s schools.

The result of last Thursday’s referendum has given Stoke the chance to start again; this time we must make sure we get the system under which we are governed right.

Alison said...

Adam, your thinking is very sound and it seems you know what you are talking about. I don't recall reading any of your other posts, so if this is your first one, welcome to Pitsnpots.

Please revisit this site on a regular basis and comment on the various blogs on here. It's also good if someone knows a bit about what's going on (and previous suggestions/ideas which may have been blocked), which we can highlight on the site.

We are interested in all community issues across the whole of Stoke on Trent, whether they are political issues or otherwise. If people provide us with information, we will investigate and report on it.

Ian Norris said...

all voting should be open to the public. The Voting system to be used, All nominations, all seconders, number of votes. and a space in the press for all nominations to voice their policies and aims for the city.