Monday, 17 November 2008

MONDAY, MONDAY!

Well another doom and gloom Monday, and that's just the weather!
Two interesting topics to get our teeth into today.
First, Councillor Ann James Leader of The Independent group on the city council has come out and said that the
Governance Transition Board have been set up as a ploy to gain more Labour support in the city.

The creation of the 13-member panel was one of 14 recommendations laid down earlier this year in a report by the Stoke-on-Trent Governance Commission, which the council voted in July to accept. Its task is to oversee the council's progress on the other 13 proposals and report back to Whitehall.

Ms James made these controversial comments
: "We believe the members were carefully selected because the people of Stoke-on-Trent weren't voting the way the Labour Party in Westminster wanted. It is not right for the people of Stoke-on-Trent to be dictated to from the outside.
Click here!"Let the people of Stoke-on-Trent decide what's best for us, not outsiders who suit the Labour Party."

The Governance Transition Board is made up of:
Professor Michael Clarke, Professor Christine King of Staffordshire University and Ian Dudson of the Dudson Group, the board comprises former Labour councillor and MEP Mike Tappin, Danny Flynn of Hanley YMCA, Lloyd Cooke of the Saltbox Christian centre, Chris Dawes, chairman of NHS Stoke-on-Trent, TGWU regional secretary Gerard Coyne, David Carr, retired managing partner at architects Hulme Upright Manning, Julie Grant, managing director of marketing firm Plinkfizz, Sajid Hashmi, chief executive of Voluntary Action Stoke-on-Trent, Sheikh Muhammad Hanif Haqqani Kareemi, imam of Tunstall Mosque and Clare White, founder of online newsletter Local Edition.

Councillor James has written to Government Minister John
Healey to question why this board was set up and more importantly how it's members were selected.

Personally I can say, having met Clare White, who is a fellow presenter on Focal Radio, that she has no affiliation to any political party. The same can be said of Danny Flynn from what I am told by a member of the blogging team who knows of him.

The other thing that attracted my attention is the start of the Public Consultation regarding the the proposal to switch the local elections to every four years despite objections from a number of councilors.

Roger
Ibbs, Conservative and Independent Alliance leader , had this to say:"I think it is essential that we involve the public in this decision. There is a presumption that this council will move towards all-out elections, but I think it would be very difficult for the council to make that decision on its own.There will be people who say this is just another consultation, another £20,000 spent and it will make no difference, but it will make a difference.It will enable us to go to the Government and say that it is not just our opinion, it is the view of the public as well."

Many may think that to move the elections to every four years will help to save our Rog, who is in a precarious position for opposing the
Trentham High closure. If the public express a desire to have all out elections every four years would it mean that our Lame Duck Mayor has a reprieve until 2011?

Labour Group Leader Joy Garner said this on the matter:"Consultation is something that the people of this city accuse us of not doing enough of. The people told the Governance Commission that they didn't feel involved or valued and they didn't see evidence of strong leadership, so let's do those people proud and agree to hold the consultation."

But
BNP group leader Councillor Alby Walker said his group could not support the consultation and called for all 14 recommendations to be scrapped.

He said: "The head of the Governance Commission, Professor Michael Clarke, said the 14 recommendations were not a menu to be picked from, so this leaves the BNP group with no alternative but to oppose them all. This consultation is nothing more than a waste of time and £20,000 of taxpayers' money because I don't believe that in January this council will vote for all-out elections."

Potteries Alliance leader Councillor Peter Kent-Baguley reminded members that the council had a legal obligation to consult residents on the electoral changes.

He said: "We can't go back as a council on a decision that we made in July, when the majority of members voted to accept the 14 recommendations of the Governance Commission.

"This council is on probation and whether we like it or not we have got to respond to that, and not by querying every little proposal and idea."

Over to you guys give us your input. do you want all out elections every four years? What do you make of the quotes from our councillors on this issue

Tues AM Update:

"Sources" have contacted me to inform us of the fact that Cllr Ann James voted against the public consultation about all out elections but, speaks out against the Transition Board! As my contact says "Cake and eat it!"

Same contact has also confirmed that despite how the public feel about all out election, the Elected Mayor's tenure will definately come to an end in June '09

40 comments:

brooneyes said...

It's good to see others stepping forward to denounce the undemocratic dumping on the city of this board. We didn't ask for it, we didn't vote for it, we didn't want it. This is the Labour party forcing on the council this collection of unwanted dross. Tony mentions two that aren't Labour, but fails to mention Clarke, King,
Tappin, 3 rabid lefties! This is nothing but old fashioned fascism,
something the Labour party are well versed in!

warren said...

Well I have to say that board seems to be a little to the left to say the least, if it was a colour it would be a very dark pink. As for the public consuliation, if thay come round asking me I will just tell them stright, 'anything that gets Meredith out in May, if not before, thanks a lot.'Tell you one thing ol' Rog has seen a get out of jail free card, and he's soon changed his tune, becouse he as never taken a blind bit of notice of what we ever tell him anyway, pefering to tell us to be quite.

Ian Norris said...

Joy Garner said " so let's do those people proud and agree to hold the consultation."

Sorry Joy and Rodger BUT you are SUPPOSE to consult the people and get FULL involvement BEFORE you VOTE to accept ALL 14 recommendation.

A recommendation was made to accept in PRINCIPLE. But it was voted out!!! This would have been the Proper way to discuss and debate all options with the City, then the Scrutiny commisions examine the results and report back to full Council on findings..

warren said...

Ohhhhhhhh! now Ians got a point there.

terry turbo said...

Well said Ian, could not have put it better myself.
Typical LabCon consult after decision is made, and then do what the hell you like, sound familiar?

brooneyes said...

Alby made the point that Prof Clarke said the 14 recommendations were not a menu to be picked at. Fine, tell Clarke and the rest of these interlopers where to stick their 14 recommendations, if it's a choice between all or none!

Gary Elsby said...

It doesn't make much sense at all.

The full Council vote by a majority to accept the lot. All 14 recomendations.

There is no need to ask me my opinion on anything, its already in the bag.
The presumption is that we all vote AGAINST all out elections and now it's down to 13 recommendations.

Doesn't add up.

Let's have a vote on the transition board an unnecessary addition of local Government and unelected.

Bob Bagley said...

Tony, sorry but I do have to take issue with you on your statement that Transition Board member Clare White is non a supporter of any particular party.

As a Burslem resident and observer of the former Local Edition newspaper published by Ms. White I was able to see how Peter Kent Baggaley was given favoured status and regularly given the opportunity to contribute articles etc. and from other people I have spoken to it appears that there are definitely links between them.

To be honest I suppose you can't say that it's totally unfair that the Potteries Alliance party have one of their supporters in a key position, after all they need all they help they can get if they are ever able to ditch the phonebox and move to a portacabin!

tim mullen said...

To answer your specific question about the "lame-duck Mayor", his position is not affected at all; as the law of the land states, and which Warren wishes to break and make the Council Tax payers of this City pay the massive fine that would result, he will serve out the remainder of his term of office which expires in May/June 2009.

Tony you also make a bold assumption about Roger Ibbs trying to delay his re-election; the 14 proposals include not just all-out elections every four years, but single-member Wards - therefore who is to say that Roger, and not Ross Irving (or even Shaun) would not be the Conservative candidate in Trentham and Hanford? After all, Ross is the Leader of the Conservatives on the City Council (Roger being the Leader of the Conservative/Independent Alliance).

If there is any bias in the Transition Panel it is in favour of Mike Wolfe - Professor King and Mr Cooke were early cheerleaders for the Dictator himself, and PHA (for whom Danny Flynn used to work) and Voluntary Action both actively supported Mr Wolfe (although VAST did have a different Chief Executive at the time). It also seems unlikely that people such as Ian Dudson and David Carr are hard-core Labour supporters!

It also has to be asked why did Cllr James not vote against the Governance Commission recommendations - which included the setting up of a Transition Panel in Full Council - has she only just woken up, or does the fact that Brian Ward is so often the spokesman for the CIG indicate that she's only let out of a cupboard once a month???

If the Panel can help drag the City Council kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, and if we can learn from places like Manchester, Birmingham and others, which have taken much greater strides forward than Stoke (mainly because of a lack of parochialism and narrow-mindedness) then it should be welcomed with open arms.

Frank Fuller said...

Hang on, if Councillor Ann James is the leader of the City Independents then how come Alan Rigby from the same group has declared himself as a candidate for leader of the council?

Shouldn't Alan Rigby first show he has got the support of his own group by becoming their leader before trying to get elected to lead the council?

What on earth is going on???

terry turbo said...

Having watched Ann James in the chamber, I found she has the guts to argue her point,and will not be talked down to, by other members in the chamber.
She is a formable opponent, and is not scared to speak her mind.
I totaly agree with what she has stated, this is typical Labour backdoor tactics to get their way, and impose their will on the people.
This 13 (unlucky for this City) member panel is only going to benefit Labour, who are sinking faster than a brick.

brooneyes said...

"Homeowners could be forced to sell part of their land so travellers and gypsies can have permanent sites."

That's Labours newest policy idea!! If the transitional board intend to stop this happening in Stoke-on-Trent, I'll vote for them!

Ian Norris said...

tim mullen Thik youll see Cllr A James voted against all 14 recommendations along with

Baddeley

Batkin

Beeston

Bell, M.

Bridges

Coleman

Conteh

Dale

Davis, J.

Follows

Hall

Joynson, A.

Joynson, P.

James

Marfleet

Mitchell

Naylor
Rigby

Sandland

Simmonds

Walker, A.

Walker, E.

Ward

Hugh said...

Bob, sorry but I do have to take issue with you on your statement that Transition Board member Clare White is a supporter of a particular party.

I have to state now that I know Clare well as she has been involved in various campaigns in which I have been active.

I wonder what you mean by "there are definitely links between them"? Does friendship create a link? Do all your friends belong to a particular political party?

If you, or indeed anyone else, had wished to contribute to Local Edition, you were free to do so. The fact that PKB made contributions shows only the fact that he got off his backside and did so (as did I).

Clare has been, and still is, very active in community campaigning in the north of the City - the fact that politicians may be involved is irrelevant.

Take the Dimensions campaign, in which Clare was involved as a member of SoDS - the Councillors signed the petition were Cllrs. Edwards, Conway, Garner, Gratton, as well as Joan Walley, MP. The campaign was also supported by other Councillors of different political persuasions who did not sign the petition. Does this make Clare (or me for that matter) a diehard Labour supporter?

The Hands off Haywood High campaign was supported by Labour Councillors and MPs. Does this mean that everyone involved is a Labour supporter? Don't think so.

I am what you might call a lapsed one-nation Tory (I was raised on a farm). I support some of the policies of the Labour party. I do not support others. I vote locally for the person that I think might just be able to do something for the people of Burslem North. I am what ought to be called an Independent (but probably needs in S-o-T to be called "of no political affiliation"). I am sure that Clare falls into the same bracket.

Bob, I would like to extend an invitation to you. Since you are a resident of Burslem, I would ask you to write a (non-political) piece on your vision for the future of Burslem that could be published on the HAVOC website (which is apolitical and doesn't do personal!). Hope to hear from you soon!

nita said...

It is all becoming clearer now. I was unaware that some Councillors had voted against these 14 recommendations made by the Governance Commission. One being, having the Transistion Board. Interesting. One question though, why did the Commission Board make these 14 recommendations in the first place, I need say no more. This panel has been put into place to ensure that the Council carries out the recommendations. I am sure they would have done whether or not a panel was in place, or not. If they have agreed to having this Panel, then they all need to work together, and get on with it.

I think having all out elections, every four years could be a good idea. At least it gives some stability. The only downside is, that if you elect someone, who you think will do a great job, but then does not, you are stuck with them. I suppose that is a gamble you would have to take.

Tim, you raise the point, of having single member wards. Now, this is one thing, I totally disagree with. How can one person do all the work, for one ward, it would be impossible. They would have to make the wards a lot smaller.

Will Ann James be putting herself forward for Leader? It would seem to me, she could be a good candidate.

Tony said...

Tim,
Thanks for your post as usual it is most informative.
Hugh,
What an excellent post, one of the best I have seen on this blog and it sums up my position beautifully!

Tony said...

See Tues Update!

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...

All out elections every four years? How often do we elect a national government? Surely the reasons for electing a national goverment every 5 years (at the whim of the PM) are the same as holding local elections on a four yearly basis. People come out to vote for change (see America), so if there was a big election every four years, would it generate more interest? Would it also mean that there is more clarity over who is up for election and avoid situations where some politicians pay the price for the failures of others? You have to accept that there is a need for stability in Government - that is why national governments are usually (although not exclusively) elected for a minimum of four years.

The Transition Board is not a decision-making body. That is the democratically elected & accountable City Council. The Transition Board is there to hold the Council to account to its own commitment to implement the recommendations of the Governance Commission. Irrespective of whether those recommendations were not unanimously agreed, the majority of the Council agreed to them in principle. We operate in a liberal democracy, government by consent of the majority of the people/representatives.

Ian Norris said...

Tony: you losing the plot, transition board and all out elections are both part of the 14 recommendations Agreed by the Full council on 18th July, despite calls and motions from others to merely agree in principle, untill scrutinized in full.

Where exactly do you get "have your cake and eat it from"?

Bob Bagley said...

Sorry Hugh but you can't really get away with that one.

I happen to take an interest around election times and noticed that you and other 'non-political' individuals put their names to the nomination of the Potteries Alliance party candidate standing in Burslem. I'm sorry but this blows any notion of impartiality out of the water and clearly identifies you with that particular party. Why you felt the need to do this I don't know, the candidate in question must have been one of the worst ever to have stood in Burslem and told a multitude of lies in his literature about how he alone had saved Haywood High and Dimensions etc.

Whay a sorry state of affairs!

margaret said...

Would Tim Mullen please explain his comment that Stoke has suffered unlike Birmingham and manchester because of:

'Parochialism and narrow mindedness'

I really do hope this isn't another attempt at bulling up those in the Labour Group departure lounge.

Adam Colclough said...

To consult or not to consult, it’s all getting a little bit Hamlet down at the Town Hall.

While I’m slightly confused as to the council is holding a consultation over something it has already signed up to when it voted in favour of the 14 recommendations put forward by the Governance Commission I am fully in favour of the public being involved in the decision making process.

For what its worth I’m also in favour of four yearly elections, although with the provision that we use the period before the new system comes in to deliver the programme of (non-partisan) voter education the poor turn out for the referendum reminded us is so very much needed in this city.

Transition Board.

So Councillor Ann James, allegedly, the leader of the City Independent Group thinks the Transition Board is biased in favour of the Labour Party, funny, I’ve heard several Labour people say it’s biased against them.

Just as the grass on the other side of the fence is always greener it follows that a transition board will always seem to be biased in favour of some party other than your own. As it happens I think they’ve got about the right mix although the proof of the pudding will be how well our system of governance is running five years hence.

Cllr James is, almost, right on one point, the new system of governance will favour mainstream political parties over Independent councillors, and, given the way she and many of her colleagues have voted in the council chamber over the past few years that may be no bad thing.

At least when people go to cast their vote they won’t have to remember to read opportunist whenever they see independent next to the name of one of the candidates.

Ian Norris said...

Adam Colclough : you claim Independents Cllrs have vote in an opportunist manor in the past, please explain.

What Mistakes have the Independents voted for in the past that you disagree with?

Bob Bagley said...

Well a good example of this Ian would be the practice of the Independents to try to vote down the budget put forward by the mayor and/or Labour group but then offer no alternative budget of their own.

It has to be said that this is just total negativity.

Hugh said...

Bob,

Guilty as charged, m'lud. I had (which you may or may not accept) genuinely forgotten about that.

Afterwards, I wasn't overly happy at having done so as I happen to agree with what you wrote with regard to the candidate.

Excuse? None, other than I was asked to sign the paper, and, after an initial refusal, in the interests of having some sort of electoral contest (not a particularly good one, as it turned out), I did.

As to how I voted ... well, you wouldn't believe me anyway!

I believe that my comments in the post above are still valid.

Bob Bagley said...

Thats very gracious of you to admit Hugh. Another fine mess that PKB got you into no doubt...

Ian Norris said...

Bob Bagley: when has the Labour Group ever submitted their own
Budget? Or is Labour Party/Group Policy to Charge for Disabled Parking?

The Budget process is now beginning and is produced by Council Officers before it goes through the Committee/Commission process before being submitted to Full council

(BTW the Independents have submitted alternatives)

Bob Bagley said...

Thats very useful to know Ian.

Perhaps the Independents could make their 2009-2010 alternative budget publicly available for comments and suggestions?

Ian Norris said...

Bob Bagley: thats bit negative, how do you know their will be need for alternative, depends how the alliance votes over next few months?

You didnt answer re Labour Policy on Charging for disabled parking

Bob Bagley said...

It's a bit beyond me to answer on that Ian as I'm not a councillor or member of the Labour party. I would guestt that you are presumably a member of the City Independent party though?

Bob Bagley said...

Hugh, I just wanted to add this for you to think over.

I understand your argument that you and others put your names against the nomination of the Potteries Alliance candidate to allow the candidate to stand and a contest to take place. However, that is not how Dave Conway may have seen it. I would imagine he felt extremely disappointed after he had done everything asked of him with regard to Haywood High School and Dimensions both publicly and in the background. To add insult to injury the Potteries Alliance candidate (who lives miles away and had never been near Haywood or Dimensions in his life) subsequently went on to claim all manner of things in his literature.

Intentionally or not I fear your actions have politicised the Havoc group and you will never be viewed in the manner you wish, as a non-political group working for the betterment of the community. PKB and Ted Owen took advantage of you, and in hindsight I'm sure that you now realise this.

Ian Norris said...

Bob Bagley: just asking to distinguish if Labour have ever submitted their own Budget, my understanding is they just go along with what officers say, IE why Dimensions and Disabled Parking were both included in Budgets. One was allowed throught the other rejected before Full Council.

Ian Norris said...

Bob Bagley: No I'm not a member of the Indpendent Party

Ian Norris said...

BUDGET BUDGET any chance of Budget thread??? Community Services is going to be £2.757M over Budget after failing to meet £2.102M savings this year. Cllr Dave Conway was invited to Working Group meeting to discuss how to Cut £12M by 2011.

Anonymous said...

Hugh are you aware that your mate Mark James is a member of the BNP and his name appears on 'the list'?

Oh dear!

nicky said...

Ann James said “It is not right for the people of Stoke-on-Trent to be dictated to from the outside”. I totally agree there, that is what must not be tolerated if the transition board were to try to do this. She also says “Let the people of Stoke-on-Trent decide what's best for us, not outsiders”. Well with regard to voting that is definitely what will happen, no transition board can tell us how to vote, that is down to us.

As for the all out elections every 4 years, I would like a consultation which explains this further. I think I may be in favour of this but still not sure. It has the advantage that there will be a chance to really change things in one go, that’s also a good motivator to get interested, consider the issues and get out and vote. The down side is it does not help with engaging younger voters as they may have to wait up to four years after being old enough to vote to get to exercise that right.

Some questions I don’t know the answer to: Does this influence when we get to next have local elections? This ought to be 2010, but there is rumour of 2011. Sooner rather than later would be best. What if we keep multi-councillor wards? How are these voted for in an all out election? What does the ballot paper look like and what votes do we get?

Regarding single councillor/multi-councillor wards, I’m not sure about this. The argument for fewer councillors in similar sized wards is no good in my view, I don’t think council can work with far fewer councillors. Single councillors in smaller wards has the advantage that these wards are easier to get to know the communities of for the councillor. But the problem is what if enough imbeciles who live around you vote in someone awful? Now hopefully there aren’t many imbeciles and that won’t happen. But if it does, you are then stuck with that one councillor. The advantage of multi-councillor wards is at least you may have one good one and can ignore the other useless two.

Hugh said...

Bob,

I suppose that you coud apply the following: "The road to hell is paved with good intention"!

Anonymous,

No, I wasn't. I wish that I had heard it from a different source. All the issues raised from this are now making me seriously consider if it's worth carrying on. I hope that, at least, some good has been done in the past.

Ian Norris said...

Bob Bagley: you've gone a bit quiet over Charging for Disabled Parking issue, is it likely to raise its head agiain. Seeing the Councill Lost £250,000 due to parks using a free site they closed that Site off, Parking charges are likely to be a Budget issue.

Bob Bagley said...

I don't know enough about it to comment Ian, thats why I've not said anything.

Ian Norris said...

Sorry Bob just with your interest in Independent Budget I though you would have know what labour had submitted in the past budgets and who had submitted the Parking Charges the Local Praty or Group or Cllrs