Yesterday's Sentinel included a long piece from Mohammed
Pervez praising the City Council to the skies - as usual.
You cannot be
unaware that many members of the local electorate have serious concerns
regarding the City Council's current actions clearly demonstrated by a
1000+-person march from Hanley to Stoke on a bitterly-cold Saturday earlier this
year as well as one of the biggest letter series I can ever remember being
published in the Sentinel - virtually all of which were in opposition to the
I list the main concerns which have been raised below
The City Council is planning to relocate its staff from the Civic
Centre in Stoke to two new buildings in the proposed Central Business District
in Hanley, despite the existing building being only about 20 years and and,
apparently, good for many more years.
This is likely to convert Stoke
into a ghost town
Despite the proposal for the construction of the CBD
being raised several years ago, there is still no sign of any BUSINESS showing
interest in establishing itself there.
For this reason, the City Council
intends to take on loans of around £40M to finance the construction of the two
buildings mentioned above - though it publicly admits that it cannot state a
precise figure for this loan. This is supposed to kick-start businesses seeking
to locate at the CBD.
The City Council publicly admit that this is a risk
and they have consultants reports - which they commissioned - which give a
fairly low probability of success of the proposed CBD development.
recently been revealed - as a result of a freedom of information request which
the City Council tried to block - that it already has a loan book of just under
£280M - around £1100 for every man, woman, child and baby in the city. The £40M
mentioned above would be in addition to the £280M.
The City Council has a
plan to sell-off redundant buildings, but they have recently been warned that
this could take many years to happen.
Ever since the possible closure of
the splash pool at the Dimensions centre was raised (2007 ?), there were
suspicions that the City Council had tried to reach some form of agreement with
Mo Chaudry of Waterworld that the Dimensions pool would close and swimming
lessons would take place at Waterworld.
These rumours were denied at the
time and later, when £28000 was paid to Mo Chaudry to avoid potential legal
action for breach of contract, the existence of the Dimensions / Waterworld plan
was again repeatedly denied.
Only a few weeks ago - again as a result of
a freedom of information request which the City Council were unable to block -
it was revealed that the plan mentioned above certainly existed. The
then-elected mayor, Mark Meredith, was directly involved and he has now resigned
as a member of the City Council, but he continues to be a
Many of these problems are due to a) complete dominance by
the Labour group councillors, who seem unwilling to do anything but
toe-the-party-line set by Mohammed Pervez and b) the failure of City Council
officers to realise that their job is to advise on - and implement - policy and
not to lay this down to councillors.
For all these reasons, I - and many
other residents - now don't believe any information which the City Council
publishes. If there was any way of doing it, we would like the operations of the
Council to be thoroughly investigated by some external agency,
above, I challenge the Sentinel to publish a piece of similar length covering
the concerns of the local electorate. I would suggest the organising committee
of the "March on Stoke" informal group be invited to prepare this.