Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I am delighted to say that Longton North Councillor Tom Reynolds has submitted his second pitsnpots blog.
We have had some negative posts about some Labour councillors and anonymous comments that have been a bit too far in my opinion. At least these Longton North guys have got involved and endorse what pitsnpots is trying to achieve, so I would ask contributors to bear this in mind when thinking of posting negative comments on a personal level.
Without going into too much detail I have received a call from someone who was upset by some comments made by anonymous poster on this blog. This person had sought legal advice and wanted to let us know that the blog is being monitored. You all know I never intended this blog to be a vehicle for people to use it as an opportunity to make personal attacks on anyone.
That said let's get to my mate Tom's Blog............

In my last blog for Pits’n’pots I criticised the City Independent Group for not having any positive ideas to move the city forward. Following the blog, many posters challenged me to lay out what Labour stands for in Stoke-on-Trent. I hope that today’s blog will at least play a tiny part in laying out that vision. At this juncture, I want to thank all those that responded to my post in a constructive way, even those that were critical of what I had to say. I agreed to contribute to this site because I subscribe to what it aims to do – provoke political debate in our city. It is a shame therefore that a few posters decided to attack me, my Labour colleagues, as well as councillors on other sides of the chamber in a venomous and vitriolic way. By all means criticise us and make fun of us – we are fair game, but to be so rancorous in the way it is done damages politics and wider participation.

I also want to add a disclaimer before I begin. All comments contained within any of my blogs are my personal opinions. Official positions are set out by full meetings of the group, so while I aim to reflect the policies of the Labour group, my blogs set out my own personal comment. I thought I would start by tackling an issue I mentioned in my last blog – regeneration and the environment.

Given the global economic downturn, regeneration is undoubtedly one of if not the single most challenging questions facing Stoke-on-Trent. People have heard lots of discussion around regeneration in the past, much of based on essential groundwork and master planning for projects that will improve our city. We need to start seeing cranes and diggers move in to transform, firstly the city centre, but also communities throughout the city. This can only happen with adequate inward investment.

The Mayor’s bid to get DCLG money to improve the suburban estates will be a great kick start in seeing renewal on housing. Nevertheless attracting businesses and jobs is integral to the success of the regeneration of the city centre and to the economic wellbeing of the city as a whole. Stoke can brace the economic storm and encourage inward investment by being aggressive in the way it markets itself to potential inward investors.

We have a lot going for us; a skilled workforce, space for development, a heritage of being enterprising and two respected Universities nearby. Instaffs and the City Council must go after potential businesses like terriers and demonstrate why this is such a great place to do business. We can learn some important lessons from authorities like Derby and Manchester that went hammer and tongs to market themselves as the place to do business.

Moreover there are some golden opportunities; government and commercial relocation programmes from expensive South Eastern locations, expanding sectors such as green technology. We need to pursue these avenues uncompromisingly.

Further, while we are on the environment, Labour has better green credentials that any other party. Nationally, we have introduced the Climate Change Bill. Locally the mayor’s recent green paper focused on how we can improve Stoke-on-Trent’s environmental standing. Even at a very local level, in Longton North we are investing in more litter bins to help people dispose of their litter in way that keeps our community tidy.

A final thought on regeneration centres on an issue that is somewhat of a hobby horse for me – transport. In the past Stoke’s development has suffered because of an insufficient transport network. Stumbling blocks have included the road system, the fact that there is no rail station in the city centre, and the poor availability of public transport. Now that the A50 and A500 are in place the road network has improved massively. For me public transport is a massive challenge, as it is fundamental to the mobility of a large proportion of the City’s population. Bus service need to be more comprehensive, and as the Task and Finish Group rightly outlined – the new Hanley bus station should be something the city can be proud of as a major gateway to the city centre. The cycle city scheme is genuinely fantastic for Stoke-on-Trent, and I am delighted that work on new routes will commence in January. A city with a fully integrated and inter-model transport system is extremely attractive, not only for residents but also for potential investors. While we are some way from achieving this we are heading in the right direction, Labour has the imagination and ability to make it a reality.

I intend to look at further topics in future blogs, including amongst other issues BSF. Until then I will look forward to reading your comments."


a very public sociologist said...

Free public transport would be nice!

Short of that I would like to see an integrated scheme. There's been many a time when I've been standing at a bus stop and had to allow (often) empty buses from non-First companies sail by because my bus pass is valid only on First. It would be a step forward to make transferability a condition of the local subsidy that goes to Stoke's bus companies.

Sir Findo Gask said...

I agree with the regeneration of the city. We have massive investment over the next few years. I've just been reading Transformation the business plan for 2008 - 2011. In 2008 / 9 there is just shy of £150,000,000 being invested. This is a huge sum of money but what are we going to get for it?

Tony, Nita, Alison et al..

Can we have a glossary of abbreviations somewhere on the site please?

I am a simple man and don't understand:


and the like...

Shaun Bennett said...

I have to say, Tom Reynolds is one of the few Labour councillors that I actually think we (as political opponents) should fear.

He's bright, young and very presentable. Unlike most of the Labour group, he sounds like a sane individual and seems to know more politics than many of his colleagues of far greater experience ever will.

And over and above all of that, if he is prepared to sit down and write a piece like this to actually ENGAGE with people, he may well be Labour's key to recovery in this city. Any chance of him standing for leader?

Now if only my party could get its act together and learn the lessons that Tom clearly has...

no such thing as society said...

Tom is clearly a foward looking Labour councillor, unlike Gary Elsby who seems happy to take the city back to the disaster days of Barry Stockley and his incompetent friends (eg. Tinsley, Jones, Wallace, Dimmock, Shaw, Hathaway).

It's a few years ago but does everyone remember Barry? Stoke-on-Trent voted the worst place to live in the country. I bet its ringing some bells now.

Tom reynolds said...

A very public sociologist

Not wanting to sound like a salesman... A couple of years ago the council introduced 'smart' bus tickets, which are accepted by most operators in the city. They are a few quid more expensive than a first week/month but it does mean you can jump on any bus regardless of the company. You can get them from the drivers or anywhere with a paypoint. I agree public transport does need to get better and cheaper.

Shaun and no such thing as society - Thanks very much for your kind comments.

Anonymous said...

Tom 'speaks for the Labour Party' but makes a disclaimer that his comments are personal.
Keep on bulling up a lame duck Mayor, Tom and maybe people will actually believe that all this cash coming in to build a bus station is all your own work.

We are green because of 'litter bins in Longton North'.

I'll have to stop writing now as I'm having a heart attack!

Margaret said...

Tom Reynolds certainly doesn't speak for the Labour Party.
He is a Councillor with a minority view of supporting the Mayor and his disatrous policies that nobody wants.Tom reynolds came in the day that other Mayor supporters were kicked out and that was because Tom Reynolds had no pedigree.
I don't get this at all that Tom Reynolds speaks for the Labour Party. I think this is nonsense and what he really means is that he speaks for around 16 Labour Councillors. In fact, he doesn't speak for them either. Easily proven.Cut it out Tom.

gary elsby said...

No such thing as society:(anonymous in reality).

1. Please don't insult me or I'll cry (sniff) and I'll get a solicitor to send me a big bill.

2. Where do you get that I want to go back to the 'disaster days'? What days are those, by the way?

3. The names you link me to are great people in my view and estimation and served this City well.

4.What do you mean by 'worst place to live in'? Do you mean this post 2 Mayor, 1 star city that has had its education and social services taken away from us?

You don't have a clue what you are talking about and for the record, I'll repeat again that I wished enhanced commitees for this City ( a Government reccomendation not allowed in Stoke (?) why?)I don't expect you to understand my reasoning but it gives more councillors more power and say than any Cabinet system.Increased local Democracy.

Finally, name one success for this City since those names, you claim to be poor representatives of the public, stood down.

Tell me something good to come out of the Mayor's, Education or Social services?

I enjoy the thought that you consider me all powerful, when in fact I am but a volunteer with an opinion. An opinion that appears to be sided with a popular one.
Politics isn't hard, it is quite simple.

brooneyes said...

Shaun Bennett.
The problem with todays politico's like yourself is reflected perfectly in what you just said.

"He's bright, young and very presentable. Unlike most of the Labour group, he sounds like a sane individual and seems to know more politics than many of his colleagues of far greater experience ever will."

Politics isn't, and should never be, about outward appearance. What's on the inside is so much more important than what's on the outside, and the perfect example of this is Cameron. A public school pretty boy with nothing between his ears but 6 inches of fresh air!
And why would we worry about a young politician pushing the same ideology that has all but destroyed this country? Labour is dead, they just haven't fell over yet.
Remember, function over fashion,
content over packaging. This is the lesson your younger politicians need to learn if we are to avoid the same disasters in the future.

gary Elsby said...

My last post;

Mayor's, education or social services is typed wrongly. It should read:

Mayors, education or social services? I could add a bigger list and the apostrophe weakens the argument.

the joker said...

Who is the cry baby running to 'legal advice'?
Doesn't everyone know that you can't sue the internet?
Is the site being intimidated by those on the run and have something to hide? Of course they want us to shut up. Of course they do.
Let them spit their dummy out.

Mick said...

What Labour stands for in stoke-on-trent(Tom Reynolds).
You do not have a clue what Labour stands for in Stoke as you fought for the complete opposite and your voting record proves it.
If you want to know what Labour stands for in stoke-on-trent, then read the sentinel and you'll see a Mayor with a P45 and SERCO being decried on a nightly basis.
So you want a crane and a bus station and a litter bin installed for us morons(cos we're thick) and you call that socialism of either new or old Labour?
Are you having a laugh, Tommy?

The BNP don't want a bus staion, a crane or a litter bin? Think about it a bit more son and come back and tell us the truth.

Anonymous said...

Just been informed that the site is being targetted because it displayed a D4S site by Mick Williams who is the conveynor.

Bob Bagley said...

I'm sorry Gary but no such thing as society is right.

Barry Stockley brought this city and the Labour party to its knees. He should have done the decent and honourable thing and resigned when Labour lost something like 16 seats at the election in 2000. Look at the latest election when Barry stood in Northwood. Unless I'm wrong I think he finished 5th out of 5 candidates. And look at the legacy of failures left by Barry: Worldgate, the Cultural Quarter fiasco which cost millions and the deal which resulted in the Britannia Stadium being built with supposed community facilities which never saw the light of day.

Like it or not Gary times have moved on and there is no place for discredited councillors from the past. To have them returning to the council would in my opinion be a backwards step. The future of the Labour party in Stoke-on-Trent is far safer in the hands of people like Joy Garner, Mark Davis and Tom Reynolds.

Gary Elsby said...

Bob, completely wrong, but you are entitled to your opinion.

1. Barry Stockley stood for us in Northwood with two weeks notice because the original candidate stood down at the last minute.

2. Yes there were (financial)difficulties eminating from worldgate and the Cultural Quarter but I think you'll find that the official inquest found two OFFICERS guilty and they were sacked. Of course, it goes without saying, that Councillors carry the electorate can.As always 'this Labour Council'(no such thing) will always take the hardest hit.
Incidentally ,Bob, the Cultaral Quarter is the biggest single most prominent and popular facility this City has ever undertaken.

3. I'm sure this City is safe in the hands of Joy, Mark and Tom and couldn't agree with you more.

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...

In response to Gary's comment, I just felt obliged to make my observation on the "sacking" of two officers

The officers you refer to were not sacked. They enjoyed early retirement in compensation for their castigation as scapegoats for the real culprits, who were either dead or had escaped the area - anyone remember Brian Smith?

These disasters occurred under the Leader and Cabinet and Committee systems. Just goes to prove in my view that the system of executive doesn't really matter as decisions are made based on the advice/recommendation of professional officers in the vast majority of cases. For me, it is how decisions and decision-makers are scrutinised (both before and after a decision)that would improve our overall governance arrangements.

As for TR, he makes some valid points and at least he has the nerve to publicly make his comments and engage through this blog. Full credit to him for that. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but he recognises that this is one way to get a message across.

Bob Bagley said...

Gary, the paid officials may well have been the ones responsible but the fact is that it was Barry Stockley and his cabinet who should have been managing them and making sure that they did their jobs properly.

I'm not anti-Labour, just anti-incompetent which I'm afraid Barry Stockley and his colleagues during that time most definitely were. Barry would do your party a big favour by not standing for election again and reminding people of how bad the council had become under his leadership.

st george said...

Former Town Clerk's Dept.

Barry Stockley and co never ran the council as a modern leader and cabinet system.

They were on the old committee system, but trialing a form of cabinet system which ran along side.
This trial finished in October 2002, when M Wolfe (not at all bitter in his sentinel column, at the referendum not going his way, was he!), became E.mayor.

I agree with other bloggers here - Joy, Mark and Tom are forward thinking councillors who want to make the tough, but necessary decisions to take Stoke into the 21st Century and beyond......

Gary Elsby said...

Town Clerk Dept.

Now now, come along just say it how it is and not let anything get in your way.

So they 'enjoy early retirement', do they?
An early bath?
Gardening leave?

If I remember rightly ( I accept your loyalty to the profession of Officers) Brian Smith was the formr Staffs County Treasurer?
A good appointment to Stoke coming out of the prison of the County Council.

The legal wrangle that blames around 6 (notable and highly regarded in true Labour circles)former councillors centred on a clause on who pays for any legal costs incurred.

OFFICERS do that stuff and it is their role to inform. They didn't and Councillors carried the can to the ballot box. Sacked by the electorate and no compensation.

If memory serves me right, those two officers, fingered, were paid approx £250,000 each and 'retired early'(sacked).

Now I don't claim to be the sharpest knife in the draw, but even I know that it is Officers fault and elected councillors innocent.

That, apparently, is all Labour's fault (as always) and one star City of Stoke (years and years on)has its most prominent services confiscated by Government.

I admire your loyalty and hope all enjoy their retirement.

Incidentally, the two greatest achievements this City has ever had were done under Ted Smith and Barry stockley, namely, Festival site and the Cultural Quarter.
I'll ignore the Potteries centre and Britannia stadium and instead concentrate on BSF, the modern equivalent of politics.

Shaun Bennett said...

You're absolutely right Brooneyes. Politics SHOULD'NT be just about style and outward appearance. It shouldn't be, but I'm afraid we're all kidding ourselves if we think that its not.

There is some truth in the view that Cameron (and he's not the only one by the way, plenty of other party politicians are equally guilty of this) has little substance behind the style.

But lets be clear, the responsibility for this state of affairs sits fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the voters, not the politicians. Time and time again voters have rejected perfectly decent leaders of substancebecause they said that they 'couldn't take to them' 'he's bald' 'he sounds funny' 'he dresses funny' etc etc. And time and time again they have been taken in by lightweight politicians of great charisma and style but very little substance. Look at Tony Blair in opposition and for that matter just look at the newly elected President of the USA.

If parties are constantly penalised by the electorate for choosing people of no style but great substance, and are rewarded for choosing people of great style and no substance, can we really complain when that is all they offer us???

Personally, I was a great fan of William Hague as leader. But he became leader at the wrong moment for the electorate to accept him. After 1997 he created a Tory party of great substance-and one with which I was much more comfortable, but what happened? Another Labour landslide.

I supported Cameron for Leader of the party not because I agreed with him-quite often I don't. I supported him as the best person to win us the next election. I hoped that as Prime Minister he would get back to the core principles of the party, or that he would be forced to do so by members of the party like me. Failing that, my belief that even a poor Tory government always has to be better than the very best Labour government, and I was willing to set my own disagfreements to one side to achieve it. If voters want the situation to change, then they are the only ones who can do it.

Finally, I would point out to Brooneyes that the quote he has fed back to me actually does make clear that he knows Tom Reynolds knows more politics and is a better, more listening and less arrogant representative than his Labour colleagues. In that sense, I did actually go beyond mere style in my praise of him. Style over substance is one thing, but it never hurts to have both.

Gary Elsby said...

Surely, Shaun(try saying that with a mouth full of chips!)it is not about being nice or polite or gentle etc..that just helps the nature of presentation.
Who gives a monkeys if someone has many delicate tendencies and attributes.
It's down to how they vote.
Tony Blair was a great guy,in my view (my critics have no evidence to support 'the old ways')but he led us into an 'illegal war' based on 'a lie'.
So much for being presentable and polite!

nita said...

Margaret. I am not going to sit on the fence on this one. Tom Reynolds is a breath of fresh air to the Labour Party. He is doing some very good work in Longton North. People can critisise him for supporting the mayoral system, so what, that is his opinion. Just because certain people dont agree, I'm sure he won't lose any sleep over it. As Shaun Bennett says, at least he is prepared to put his thoughts onto this blog, and is willing to engage with the people.

Sir Findo, I agree with you, the city is in desperate need of regeneration, and some areas are benefitting from it already.

I also agree with other comments, we do not want to go back to the old style, of how the Council was run.

Anonymous, (10.48). Why would we even think it was solely because of Tom Reynolds that the money for regeneration was coming in? Credit it us with some brains.

Thanks for your contribution, yet again Tom. We look forward to your thoughts on the BSF, for Sir Findo, Building Schools for the Future.

brooneyes said...

Gary, the two officers fired over the cultural quarter were nothing but a couple of patsies. The real crooks got away with it.
Shaun, you can't blame the electorate for voting the way they do, when the three main parties offer the same dish! There should be an option of the BNP, but media bias from the LibLabCons friends
see that doesn't happen, so we just keep plugging away. We will get there, it just takes a little longer.

Anonymous said...

Barry Stockley is the Frank Spencer of Stoke-on-Trent politics!

The original anonymous said...

Lee Wagner is the Gary Glitter of Stoke-on-Trent politics!

Former Town Clerk's Dept said...

The two greatest achievements of the City, was firstly the federation of the towns in 1910. A massive leap forward. The second great achievement was unitary status in 1997, freeing the city from the shackles of the County Council which currently inhibit our neighbours in Newcastle-under-Lyme. But the point here is that the days of yesterdays men are gone - I think that goes for Labour, the Tories or whoever. Whilst it is a tenuous link, the election of Obama may have a ripple effect and may inspire a new generation to come forward with new ideas, including yourself Gary. Lets look forward not back.

As for my loyalty to the officer profession (there are a number of professions within the officer corps - including the oldest profession in the world which also operated at member level too for some time), I have none. I have worked some utter dross in my time and I would say that there was a lot of deadwood that was hard to shift, precisely because of the close relationships between former members and now former officers. The dynamics of that relationship are now changing, not just in Stoke, but everywhere. But I have no hesitation in telling you that there were a lot of people who were over-promoted in Stoke and then stayed in post for a decade or more because they and the politicians were comfy. Again, I come back to the issue of scrutiny and accountability - that is the way forward. Let me also be clear that there are a great many officers at Stoke-on-Trent City Council that are a great credit to this city and don't get any recognition for the good work that they do because, as Hazel 'Titch' Blears puts it, we all like the scandal and the bad news.

Gary Elsby said...

The problem that I have with blaming the old guard of Councillors(they are very modern and protest daily at ignorance)is that they are still blamed for someone elses incompetence.

If Officers of the Council failed to spot a clause (or chose to ignore it) that made the Authority soley responsible for costs, when they believed Officers advice to the contrary, then I say that those Councillors (always Labour, mind)were hard done to.

The end result is that long memories will continue to punish those candidates but allow others to succeed.

To my knowledge (vast) those that have been allowed to succeed are shutting schools on a false pretence in full knowledge of the publics protests and with the full knowledge that they will lose their seats at the next turn.

As a Socialist, I remain disheartened that they sacrifice these seats to the BNP.

The account given by the media of old Labour incompetence is false and the new upstarts feed off it.
In fact 'mistruths' are rolled out to scare us into believing we will be shortchanged if we don't go along with the flow.
Amateur politics for amateurs.

nita said...

Gary, I do agree. There are many Councillors who have been happy to let these school closures go ahead, in the full knowledge, that they are going against public opinion. My biggest problem is, they are taking away schools from their communites, and I am not sure that this will benefit the kids. We are told how happy the pupils of Sandon High are with the new building. Well they will be, they have a state of the art building, but it is after all built on the same site, serving the community.

As you say, Councillors know full well that their decisions will cost them at the next elections. The end result more BNP gains.

Shaun Bennett said...

Brooneyes, I HAVEN'T blamed the electorate for voting the way they do. They have the right to vote in whichever way they wish and using whatever judgements they wish.

However, I am blaming the electorate for forcing the parties into a positon that they have to all offer the same thing in order to win.

Political parties want to win, its why they exist; to win elections so that their members can put policies into practice. You can't blame them for following whatever trends the electorate set, and the electorate can't really complain when they consistantly say that they want real choices, and then they vote to punish parties that dissent from the concensus.

Frankly (and I don't want to get too party political in this) thats why the BNP will never amount to anything more than a few council seats scattered around the country. You will only really win big by joining the political club and reigning in your policies so that they have a wider appeal. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is.

Lets imagine a world in which the BNP are forming a government at Westminster. Once the BNP start to win big, they will be able to be accused of being just like all the rest of the parties because you will have sold out your core beliefs. There will always be a small minority looking for a radical alternative, but once tou start to win, the alternative will be much more radical than what you offer.

Now that's the fault of the electorate; its the rules of the game that THEY have created.

brooneyes said...

OK, first things first, I think you've got it the wrong way round.
The political parties put before the public what they decide the public want, and this is why since 97, photogenics have been number 1 on the parties' list for candidate.

As for the BNP, slow and steady wins the race! We build slowly and make sure that everything is in place, before moving on to the next job. It's your choice to think that we will never amount to anything, but we already hold a seat on the GLA, and will be looking to catch numerous seats in
the european parliament. We will then give those PC liberal b*stards
a hell of a time! Something has to give in British politics, and the chances are that it will be the total collapse of the Labour party. When that hits the fan, don't be surprised by anything that happens in British politics!

Shaun Bennett said...

Well now we're into chicken and egg territory.

The parties don't just 'decide' what people want, they react to what people vote for. Its all very well telling voters how its going to be, but if they vote against it you've got a problem. Its VOTERS who decide how parties will be, not the other way around.

No matter how much voters say that they don't like all the parties being the same, or party leaders having lots of style but no substance, they do not vote to back up their complaints. Therefore, parties don't take the complaints seriously and they continue to offer what will get them votes.

If the BNP offer a radical alternative to the main parties, and if the BNP leader has lots of substance rather than just style, why isn't the party storming ahead in the polls? Its because the voters LIE to pollsters and actually WANT the politicians of style over substance. Only the voters can change the status quo.

brooneyes said...

The BNP are not storming ahead in the polls because of the deliberate and systematic misrepresentation of our beliefs and policies by the triumvirate of the LibLabCon! Give us a level playing field and there isn't a party from the "mainstream" that wouldn't get its backside kicked in a most comprehensive manner!

The Original Anonymous said...

Delusions of grandeur springs to mind in reading Brooneyes last comment.

Comment Deleted said...

The BNP will storm ahead in the polls because of the deliberate and systematic misrepresentation of our beliefs and policies by me and the BNP hierarchy! Give us a level playing field and there isn't anyone from the "mainstream" that wouldn't get its backside kicked (literally) in a most comprehensive manner in homage to Hitlers Night of the Long Knifes!

brooneyes said...

If you think they are delusions of grandeur, wait until we finally get the chance to debate against the LibLabCon, instead of having them claim "no platform" so they can call us names and not have to justify what they say.

The Original Anonymous said...

What kind of debate is this, the kind where everything eventually works back to being the fault of immigrants and black people!