Saturday, 4 May 2013

Letter to editor of the Sentinel

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 Council's actions.

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.

It has 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 councillor.

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,

Given the 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.

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