Tuesday, 28 October 2008


In the last couple of days, it's been reported in the Sentinel here, that we are to have a Transition Board to oversee us in the next few months, to "transform politics in the city".

Well, perhaps that's what we need. I don't know. The article goes on to name 13 people who either live or work in the city, who will make up this board.

Apparently, the transition board will analyse how the city council implements the result of the referendum and handles all electoral matters. Action plans and quarterly reports will be critiqued and members may make public comments about their findings.

I don't want to put too much of my own thoughts in this blog, just want to leave it open for debate.

What do you think? Is this Transition Board needed to transform politics in the city? How do you think it will work? Will it be a good or bad thing? Is this a case of the Government forcing something else on Stoke on Trent that we might not want or need?

Tell me your thoughts...


Ian Norris said...

LOL the City has just voted against 1 elected Mayor overseeing governance of the City to be replaced with 13 unelected and some recently kicked off the council over seeing it.

HOW much is this Costing? and WHO asked for them?

What commission passed this?

Anonymous said...

Ass wipe.

The Transition Board came from a recommendation contained in the Governance Commission report.

brooneyes said...

The recommendations of the governance commission are just that, recommendations. It should be up to the city councillors to vote on whether or not they adopt these suggestions, it sure as hell shouldn't be down to some pushy,
halfwit MP who thinks he knows better than us!

Ian Norris said...

Anon: no wonder you anonymous

Gary Elsby said...

I totally agree with Ian Norris (I've informed my doctor who is sectioning me).

I voted to either keep the Mayor or remove him.

I did NOT agree or vote with, or was aksed in the referendum, that a 'transition board' will oversee Stoke.

Once again, Stoke is the experiment.

End result? National Government wins and fulfils its agenda.

No one, BNP, Lib, Labour, independents or apathy can claim this to be the right course of action.

Who is this board and how many funded Mike Wolfe for Mayor and how many openly and publicly supported Mark Meredith and supported his BSF plan?

We will find out and dirt WILL be found!

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...

Was the Governance Commission report not heralded by so many as being right and highlighting so many problems in Stoke in respect of political engagement?

If that's the case, then the last people you can actually trust to monitor whether the problems identified by the Governance Commission are the city councillors who are not engaging and likewise the communities that are not engaging.

One of the main problems that Stoke has is its inability to look beyond its own borders. So perhaps a bit of external scrutiny wouldn't be such a bad thing.

I don't know how much it will cost, but what price would you put on a more effective political system that truly engaged with the people of the city? As for asked for it, it was agreed by the City Council when it consider the report of the Governance Commission from my recollection.

Are we really saying that the people should be consulted on every issue like this by way of a referendum? People aren't interested already. Lets get some original ideas on the table and perhaps through this blog and the discussions that take place actually submit some ideas on the process of improving engagement, rather than identifying particular issues that upset us. It is the process that is failing. At the end of all things, the Transition Board is not the accountable body, that is the City Council, the Transition Board will have to act independently and challenge assumptions and act as an advocate of the people (note, use of the word advocate, not representative).

Just my thoughts ...

warren said...

We sould get a Council leader in place as fast as we can and show Mayor Mark 'Mayday' Meredith and this transition board the way out of the city.

Big John said...

I'm afraid were stuck with him, Warren, he was elected by a significant amount of people for a full term. That was the whole argument against an elected Mayor. Under the elected Mayor system your stuck with them for the full term, where as under a leader and cabinet system we can now remove much sooner, involving various methods, if the person is just not up to it.

Johnnyf said...

I think that the governement is worried about Stoke and to be fair rightly so, our local representitives have failed us for decades. We need radical change and many more people involved. A lot of money is being invested in our city and we need strong leadership to make sure it is spent wiseley.

warren said...

To me, the sacks the sack, he sould be out the door now. Good riddance to bad rubbish, and I voted to keep the office, just not him.

Big John said...

Fair enough, Warren, I don't want him in charge either but he is here for another 6 months whether we like it or not.

TAG Fan said...

When people elected Mark Meredith in 2005 they did so for a 4 year term of office, and it was entirely their choice whether to elect him or someone else.

So whether people like it or not the Elected Mayor's time in office does not come to an end until 2009.

I can't help but think that its a bit sad that the elected mayor system never showed it's true potential as both of the Elected Mayors were p*ss poor.

Johnnyf said...

Mike Tappin, part of the problem or the solution- Discuss?

brooneyes said...

Tappin is without doubt part of the problem. We've only just got rid of him, yet here he is again,
returning like a bad smell!
The real problem lies with its
leftist liberal tendencies, that, and the fact that we didn't ask for it, or get any say on who was on it! Socialist democracy at its finest.

nicky said...

What I HOPE is that these people, given that they live or work in the city, will care enough to do a good job of this (they could use checking on what becomes of scrutiny committee recommendations whilst they're delving into the details). They need to make sure the new 'cabinet' system doesn't end up just dictating like the current EMB but instead allow all councillors to have a proper input. So there is potential for this transition to be done well and all to be rosy. But...

What I FEAR is that they may have been sent in to set up a system to make it yet easier for central government to impose their will on us. My fears are only made worse by former town clerk's dept saying "Stoke has ... inability to look beyond its own borders. So perhaps a bit of external scrutiny wouldn't be such a bad thing." and "challenge assumptions and act as an advocate of the people (note, use of the word advocate, not representative)". Now how my cynical side might interpret that first point could be that we are a pain in someone's (e.g. central government's) rear end so they need to come in here and screw us over. The second point could be interpreted as just another case of telling us what they think is best for us rather than asking us what we think. Haven't we had just enough of that?

But then I ask myself what would be in it for these people to do that, when they have to live and work here too? But I'm suspicious, after all what makes the current EMB behave as badly as they do? So if they have been brought in to shaft us I say let's give them hell and don't make it easy for them.

So will they be the good guys or the bad guys? At the moment I don't know.

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...

Really and truly, read the report to the City Council meeting where the Governance Commission report was considered. This is where the Transition Board originates from. It monitors the city council, in the same way that the Audit Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspectorate, OFSTED inspectors, come in and audit whether the Council is doing what it should be doing. People welcomed the Governance Commission's findings, this was one of the recommendations made.

What does it mean for the city? If you're interested, get involved, keep an eye on it and make sure it is doing what it is supposed to. I would be more concerned if there wasn't anyone monitoring the progress towards implementing the Governance Commission's recommendations.

As for the question of what system is in place, Elected Mayor and Cabinet or Leader and Cabinet, they operate in exactly the same way, the subtle difference is how the Leader is appointed or removed - by majority vote of the Council, rather than majority vote of the people. In every other aspect of decision-making, the two models are the same. I wouldn't be too excited about the new executive arrangements, roll on the implementation of the Governance Commission recommendations! But isn't brilliant that we're providing a platform for this debate?!

Gary Elsby said...

Town Clerks dept: How many other authorities,with an Elected Leader have a transitional board overseeing decisions?

What possible decisions is Stoke making, or about to make, that require a transition board to have a view?

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...


No other authorities have it, but then I am not aware of any other authority that required a Governance Commission or has had the Council Manager/Mayor model of executive arrangements. A lot of authorities have internal Improvement Boards where reps of Govt Office, the Audit Commission etc are invited to attend to oversee improvements that Councils have to make. This is in effect the same model, but for a more outwardly facing project.

The recommendations from the Governance Commission! They're not there to do anything else. Indeed the appointment of this board was recommendation 14 of the Governance Commission


I think this should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. Stoke will therefore be making decisions on:

Move to all-out elections
Single member wards
A smaller Council
Further devolution of governance
Improve community engagement
Increase the involvement of young people and Stoke-on-Trent’s diverse communities
Strengthening of the political machinery
Member development
Review of Overview and Scrutiny
Review of Councillors’ pay and Special Responsibility Allowances
Clarification of MPs’ roles
Raising the profile of the City of Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire

and I reckon this is pretty big stuff. Members voted for this, ask them why agreed to it!

Gary Elsby said...

I think you have answered my point. NO other authorities have one. We would, it seems, have an audit commission/ improvement board, just like all other areas.
No problem there.

I would point out to you that the Government changed the law regarding Manager/Mayor system because of the people of Stoke-on-Trent and not in spite of us.

WE got it right, the Government (and Country) got it wrong and WE forced them to change the Law.

These people should stop treating this City with contempt.

Elected politicians, YES.
Un-elected quango's NO.

'No taxation without representation'(war of independence).

Democracy4 Stoke needs desperately to have a view on the reason of this quango and their determination to see through policies that no-one wants.

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...


You're bloody paranoid old bean.


No other authorities have one because none are so politically divided as this Council! That is the answer, Stoke needs it because it is messed up. Who else is going to perform their role then?

Anonymous said...

Gary this may be difficult for you to comprehend but read what FTCD (sorry for the abbreviation - hope you don't mind!) said: NO OTHER CITY NEEDS A TRANSITION BOARD BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT CHANGING THEIR MODE OF GOVERNANCE.

As for Warren, you people are amazing - I bet you shout and scream about law and order and anti-social behaviour, and yet you want the City Council to break the law by removing Mark Meredith before the end of his term of office. Are you going to pay the extra Council Tax when the City Council is fined for breaking the law?

Gary Elsby said...

Former Town Clerk:

I have just been party to tthe demise of a democratically elected Mayor. |I am neither paranoid nor stupid. I know a quango when I see one and I know this Quango to be supportive of Mike Wolfe and I don't trust it in one single instance.

Yes, I know this City is divided politically, so what?

You mean we are an authority of NOC (no overall control) just like a few hundred others?

This transition board has NO right to be here and no one asked it to be here other than the Government hell bent on forcing things upon an unwilling electorate.

Namely, schools.

gary elsby said...



Joy Garner said...

there are several questions being asked on this blog, I hope the following is of some use.

John Healey, Minister for Local Government, commissioned this report into the Governance of the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

The review was actioned, and they came up with 14 recommendations, the 14th being to appoint a Transition Board and the development of an Action Plan. Both to ensure the Council actually did what the report says.

Para 5.29 onwards explains the make up of the board which it describes as a "Transition Board of local stakeholder representatives which will monitor progress on the implementation of our recomendations and help hold the Council to account."

Para 5.31 suggests the board should be in place for at least 3 years... It lists the areas its members should be drawn from... The size no more than 15...

Para 5.32 requires the Council to draw up the action plan(timetable to achieve the other 13 points), as a matter of urgency.

January 2009 full council meetings will be important for this.

The new Council constitution should be ready then, and the full council to formally request the Electoral Commission to review the ward boundarys with a view to single member wards. A vote on all out elections every 4 years is the trigger.

The EC then sends in its Boundary Committee.
They start from this request, but can not be fettered by us or the Government, and after CONSIDERABLE PUBLIC CONSULTATION, they draw up their plans, which may not, and often do not agree with the Goverments view.

Of course, this is a light touch by government, and is intended to be a 'critical friend' as well.

If the Council fails to start moving forward with some urgency, or even fails at the first hurdle - the Council vote to all out elections in January, which triggers the EC and then the BC - then it is hard not to think of what may happen.

I dread to think that a complete take over, like happened in Walsall, could ever happen here in Stoke.

We are told, at present, that the members will only get allowances to cover costs.

Mike Tappin, as far as I can see (and there is a couple of names I am unfamiliar with), is the only member with experience of being an elected representative, MEP, County Councillor and City Councillor.
Certainly the only one ever elected in Stoke, and should be able to eloquently voice these experiences.

The Elected Mayor position is in place till next May/June (Euro elections may extend his service).

If he were to stand down now, it is too late for a by election so his Deputy, Cllr Pervez would act in his place till then.

The publics views will be crucial to how all this pans out.

It is the views of groups like on this blog, and individuals to make their feeling known at the right time.

To have your points worked out in time, as a group, it would be worth starting some serious debate on the points in the report, seeing how some work or do not work when taken together.

Some obvious ones are:
Less Councillors - but more scrutiny work, and spend more time in the ward.

Higher calibre Councillors - will need to be paid properly if younger proffessionals are to be attracted, especially if you have to have alot of time off work, and a £200,000 mortgage to pay ??

Recommendation 13
5.24 A wider North Staffordshire Authority ??

Recommendation's 5 and 6
Both are about community involvment, firstly for all citizens, then especially the young, and our diverse communities.

You could easily start these very important debates on this Blog site.

I wish you well, and if I can assist further, I will.