Thursday, 2 October 2008


Having read the Sentinel Website, I noticed an article on how Councillors want the bus station to look like in Hanley. Lets be honest here, it is in desperate need of bulldozing, and redeveloping. Just wondered what people would like to see done with it. What shops, restaurants, would you like? My first choice has to be a Nando's. What about the Coachmaker's Arms? Surely, this could be built into the redevelopment, using old style bricks. I noticed for the first time yesterday, on my way up Lichfield Street, the new houses built near to the canalside. They have probably been up a while, but hey, 0 points for my observation. Have to say, they are a big improvement. Do you argree with the regeneration of the City or do you think its a waste of money? Yours thoughts please!!


Sir Findo Gask said...

I'm all for the regeneration of the city but I also believe that it needs to be done sympathetically so we don't lose all our heritage and history.

brooneyes said...

I think it calls for something modern and exciting, a futuristic design that by itself would attract visitors to the retail centre of the city.

Alison said...

I agree with both these posts. We need to get modern and exciting, whilst incorporating the great heritage and history of our city.

What is without question is the fact that something needs to be done about this dreadful area of the city, it is long overdue.

I do worry whether we have the right people at the council, in terms of actual councillors, portfolio holders, and council officers, to bring about this vision though.

You only have to look at how long it's taken Renew and all the other agencies which have sprung out of the Government's Pathfinder initiative (which Stoke on Trent became a part of several years ago, hence the creation of Renew North Staffordshire), to actually do something to regenerate areas of the city, to know that this project isn't going to come to fruition any time soon.

What does everyone else think? Am I being too harsh on the council officials and employees? Or am I being realistic in my assumptions?

Gary Elsby said...

You are being too harsh, Alison.
You can't just use the blanket criticism of their being no talent within the councillors as that is quite wrong.
As always, if you believe that something is wrong and you consider nothing is being done about then you should stand for as a candidate and offer your services.
The Labour Party have a (death)wish of putting forward 50% all women shortlisting in 2010.
Please tell me that you will come on board and be one of those women.

I went to Derby recently and had a look what they have achieved in their City centre and I am most impressed with their layout and their new Westfield Centre (shopping complex).
I have always admired how Hanley stands up to any challenges from other areas but Derby, I feel, has the edge. Itake the point regarding Nandos as this seems to crop up every time the question is aked of what our centre is missing.

Anyone can be a councillor, whether you are Mother Teresa or a black hating Nazi.
Stoke-on-Trent proves this point on a daily basis.

Immigrant hating racists are quite capable of walking someones dog or helping old ladies to cross the road and I'm certain that decent responsible people who are unhappy with what is being done in their name in this City can match any Nazi's public service.

Raise your game and criticise their political judgement and only criticise authority workers if you can claim incompetence.

None of the above is against the law, except for open racism.


Alison said...

Gary, thank you so much for your kind words and offer to become a Labour party candidate.

Unfortunately, I have a proper job, and although the prospect of earning £16K p.a for a few hours a week's work in the EMB is attractive, sadly it won't pay the bills and the mortgage.

Neither will my employer be very happy if I have to take lots of time off to attend council meetings.

So unless Rob Flello can offer me a £40K a year job with the Labour party, and I also have the opportunity to become a member of the EMB for another £16K, then unfortunately I aren't able to offer my services.

I have to say though, if I won enough money on the lottery this weekend and didn't have to do a real job, I would jump at the chance.

I, like our mutual friend Wol, am increasingly frustrated by the lack of vision, drive and dynamics which (don't) appear to be present in our council.

I work in the housing sector, (although not directly in housing), and know enough about the supposed regeneration projects in this city to know that the bus station isn't going to happen any time soon.

So I apologise if my comments seemed harsh, and I would love to be in a position to contribute to moving the city forward.

Unfortunately, although I have always voted Labour in the past, my faith in them, both at national and local level, has been extinguished by things like the BSF process, and the fact that no one in government gives a toss about the destruction of education in Stoke on Trent, and I am fed up with political games being played out across the Council chambers.

So harsh I may be, but I am also a realist. I await your reply with interest!

Sir Findo Gask said...

Gary, [criticise authority workers if you can claim incompetence..]

In my somewhat limited experience with the council both as a resident and as a new business start up who wants to show the council what services I can provide in relation to regeneration, I can't claim any council workers are incompetent as I have yet to receive a reply from them! To prove their incompetence they must carry out their tasks to enable me to decide if I feel they are incompetent or not!

Maybe it does take someone from the council over a week to reply to an E-mail that I know was read last Friday.

The message intended for
and sent to
has been read at 26 Sep 2008 16:31:00 +0100.

If I have not had a reply by the time I get back from my holidays then I'll deem them incompetent.

Sorry for going off topic a bit there..

Alison said...

Gary, I missed out one other reason why I couldn't stand as a Labour councillor candidate - I couldn't take orders from Joy Garner and would NEVER allow her to influence my judgement and make me change my views (or those of the people I am meant to be representing), in order to fulfil some Government directive which she feels duty bound to achieve.

There are councillors known to me who can't look me in the eye at the moment because they've said one thing and done another.

So, not being someone to compromise my principles, I can't see me doing that.

However, having read Nicky's wonderful comments regarding the Trentham High closure and the council meeting on Thursday night, it seems the Independents and non-aligned council members are the ones that shone on the night, so perhaps I should consider that as an option for my contribution to the city?

I am sure Wol and a few members of the TAG, plus others I am aware of from other campaigns could be persuaded to join me!

Gary Elsby said...

Alison, I think my invite to become a female Labour Councillor may have been interpreted as a slur. It wasn't, it was an invite as I am on a recruiting campaign to fulfil a 50% all female shortlist that is demanded by Gordon Brown in 2010.
Personally, I think it is flawed to hell but I don't make the rules. Nice thought though!

You have identified a number of issues that should be aired further.

You link loss of earnings with public service for you Community and City. Wrong wrong wrong.

This eliminates Caudwell and co from entering local politics.

If you think that local participants are not up to the job, you automatically suggest that you must be (?)

I see nothing wrong in that at all but where I disagree with you is that Joy Garner or some other person is telling everyone what to do. She most certainly doesn't.

She has one voice and one vote, if it goes her way then all well and good, if it doesn't, then she must abide by the majority view.
That's politics and even independents (Tories) have to abide by that ruling, even if they have a dozen views between them.

So it is public service versus lack of pay and promotion.
This has somewhat been redressed by paying Councillors a standard annual earning which means that money should not be a barrier to public service and public life.

My invite for you to stand as a candidate is a compliment and should be seen as such.


Frank Fuller said...

Perhaps Gary and others may find this blog interesting as from my understanding Alison is is you:

Alison said...

Gary, to address your points:

I am sure your offer was meant as a compliment, which was why I thanked you at the start of my post in reply.

I don't mean to infer that I would be any more capable than the present councillors, indeed, I may not be any better. But I have passion and belief that this city needs to change, the people deserve it, and I don't think it's people are listened to enough, and I would like to think I could make a contribution.

I am interested in these payments you talk about for councillors. If you could clarify I would be most grateful. If you are telling me that being a councillor is a full time job, then why do some councillors hold down other jobs as well? Surely, if they get paid handsomely, they should dedicate themselves to their public (and paid) duty? Can you provide me with full details of these standard annual earnings? If you don't want to post on this blog, you can email me - Wol has my email address.

I think your comments on Joy Garner are naive. Having seen her in action in council chambers, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with, and I am sure there are other councillors who do as she says. But I suppose that's just my personal opinion.

I can assure you I have taken your offer as a complement, and as I have until 2010 to consider it, I will continue to look on and comment with interest on what goes on in the city, and can make my decision nearer the time.

Alison said...

Frank, sorry to disillusion you, but I have never been to the Wrekin, never mind seen it from my home. If you read my profile, you will see that I both live and work in Stoke on Trent, and am a governor at a local high school. My name is not Alison Wedgwood, and I have never had any aspirations to become an MP. I just have strong passions about my own city, which is definitely STOKE ON TRENT!

nita said...

Frank, just been onto the link, and you are mistaken, Alison is not that MP. Our Alison is a Stokie lass. Gary, thanks for your input into the debate. I did not read your comment to Alison as a slur. I thought you were merely suggesting, that if people don't like what our elected Councillors are doing, then anyone is free to stand and make some change. Fair comment really.

Tony said...

Gary, as you know i have recently resigned from the Labour party. I would like to see your thoughts on these couple of points. Can you explain how the party whip operates? I think my preference is for a mayoral system (not quite sure though) because it think that if we go to the leader model it will effectively rule out any non party person like Mike Wolfe from running the city and the calibre of the party representatives does not bode well for the city. How do you and others respond to this?

Gary Elsby said...

The whip is an internal position that all parties have.
If 10 people vote one way and 9 vote opposite, then the 10 win.
So 19 vote (whipped) in the majority favour.
You win some, you lose some.

So any allegation that a Group leader is a bully is wrong and wrong to suggest that Joy Garner is doing anything other than observing the rule book.

Don't kid yourself that the independents and BNP don't work this way. They go into the FULL council chamber with a set of instructions on how to vote.

Clever dicks go for a pee when the vote is taken and joe public doesn't get to see how they would have voted. Another trick is non attendence or walk out etc etc.

Every day of the week, those that stay and vote will i the end be seen to have more honour than those that pull tricks (all subject to discipline by the whip).

The notion that non aligned politicians who condemn the whip process have more value than those in parties, is also false.

Independents always have secret meetings on how to vote. At election time they inform everyone of their 'independence'. A lie.

Councillors get a standard £8000 per annum which replaced payment for meetings attended.
This is a fairer system because pensioners attended all meetings(5 minutes/5 hours) and then were paid more than working councillors.
Money should now not be a barrier for public service.
The Mayors cabinet get more money.

The Governance Commission report suggests many options for future role of councillor and the notion of full time and single member wards is on offer.

Who are these people who wrote that report and what is their link to Mayors?
If you find out, don't tell anyone in Trentham or Longton.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be alison wedgwood if I were you!

gary elsby said...

Tony, it can't be right that people like Mike Wolf will be ruled out under a leader and cabinet system. If Wolf stood as councillor independently and the overall majority were either independent or sympathised with them, then Wolf could be leader.

A much harder route which is currently frustrated by the Mayor system, meaning that a directly elected Mayor can ignore the entire council.
It is up to you which model satisfies democracy the best but if the Mayor stays, it will not be the current style we have now.The focus of attention should be held at what we end up.

Interestingly enough, the finger is pointed at Boris Johnson for removing the Chief of Police in London. If true, he bypassed the Government. Is someone kidding here?

Now let's here the Government views on mayors.

nita said...

Gary can you elaborate, when you say, if we get the Mayoral System, it will not be the style we have now. Does that mean, that this person will not have total power? Will it mean, that there would not be all these extra committees, such as the EMB? You may be able to answer my question, if we have Leader and Cabinet, would this leader have the final say on decisions made, or would it have to be voted on at full Council? If, the Leader would have the final say, there is not much choice between the two options is there. Can I clarify the problem with Joy Garner. We attended a EMB meeting, and too be frank, we were not impressed with her body language, or lack of interest, to certain councillors and the public, on what was a major decision to be made on a closing school. I for one will not judge her on this one occassion, and no doubt she is highly respected, and puts a lot of hard work into what she does. I note that she sits on various committees (not council), working with the community. What I am trying to say, is sometimes, people forget, that first impressions count. This was a sensitive matter, and to be sat in a room, where more than a few of the Committee showed such a lack of interest, is not acceptable, as Im sure you would agree. Keep up the debate.

Gary Elsby said...

The style we have now is council manager (no1) and Mayor (no2).
The council manager is chief executive (uneleceted) which is a democratic outrage.

This system dies after the referendum and no other authority can choose it.
The elected Mayor will have more power than is the case presently.

A council leader (elected by majority of councillors) is the style of Government (Brown and cabinet).

The leader and cabinet will form policy and will have to get it through the full council. In other words, a full concnsus based upon a majority view.
The leader can be removed at the drop of a hat (by concensus) wheras the Mayor could last a further 4 years.

There is a common view that Labour Councillors represent the common view of the Labour membership in thi City. I doubt that any councillor can stand up and make this claim.

The Labour membership stands firmly with the parents of Longton High and Trentham.

Don't tar us with any brush. Keep your eye on who's saying what and what we (Labour members) are not allowed to say.

nita said...

Gary, Thanks for clearing up my questions. That has just changed my mind yet again, I'm now being swayed towards Leader and Cabinet. This is about the 20th time i've changed my mind, ha ha.

Alison said...

Thanks Gary, that's now clarified a few things for me to. I think between yourself and Nicky, you have persuaded me which way to vote.

It's all very interesting. I will take your advice and see who's saying what within the local Labour membership.

Thanks again.

Tony said...

I'd love to hear what the local Labour Party have to say but alas apart from Gary we aren't hearing alot!

Alison said...

Tony, I was hoping they would take up the invitation, but it seems only Gary will talk to us.

I wouldn't mind if they posted on this blog and, if they got questions they couldn't answer (either because they didn't know or they had received instructions not to), and they then said that they either didn't know, or were not allowed to say, at least we would all know where we stand.

As it is, they have a great opportunity to communicate with us, but are failing to do so.

Shame really, I would love to hear from them on the issue of the referendum, in particular.

We live in hope...

brooneyes said...

The Labour party are like most other sensible people, they don't want Elsby!
You want to know what terrifies him? The thought of a BNP lead council in this city!lol
Mad as a hatter, and disowned by the party he claims to represent, he is the Oxford dictionary definition of sad.

Margaret said...

I thought that Gary holds one of the most senior positions in the Labour Party around here? What's Craig on about. Everyone with an ounce of sense know that if Mark Meredith wins the vote, Gary will challenge him for the Labour nomination. Two Company Directors fighting it out for Labour members votes. Gary will win 10/1.A bit silly you are Craig.

brooneyes said...

Now come on Margaret!!
I am not afraid to admit when I'm wrong, though thankfully it doesn't happen that often(!)lol

Gary Elsby as mayor!!!!
I'll have a pint of whatever you're drinking (as long as it isn't petrol!lol)