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.
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