Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Stoke Council Budget 2014/15 Consultation

Consultation on the budget proposals will run from Wednesday 20 November to Friday 20 December. Residents can have their say via, or, and copy them to and we will publish here too

Scraping the second Civic Centre would prevent the “increase in the on-going revenue costs of operating its buildings (additional costs in 2015/16 are £7.9m falling to £2.8m by 2018/19 and to £2.2m by 2021/22)” recently reported and if the sites don't sell and car parking doesn't generate the income envisaged that could the on-going costs remain at £7.9m for foreseeable future.

Look at bringing the Green Waste processing back into the City creating a green waste to energy centre, to create income from keeping the Green Spaces tidy, and planting up bio fule crops on the current vacant sites around the City. This would save on transport costs and generate sustainable income

Part Time Pay for a Part Time Leader - Facebook Group
Our City needs a full time hand on the tiller not a part time one.
Either do the job full time or give up half your pay to allow someone else to do it. 
Even better stand down and let a real leader who listens to the people do the job properly.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Liat Norris

1. What assurance can you give that you will listen to, and respect, the opinions expressed by members of your electorate ? If elected, do you undertake to represent these views in any and all council discussions, whether or not they may conflict with any 'party' view ?

Taking into account the views of an electorate is clearly a key part of being a representative. But "listening to the electorate" is often just a cop-out representatives use to mask voting how they want to. If elected I will be elected as a socialist, as a campaigning anti-cuts activists dedicated to fighting to restore the jobs and services cut away by the Labour council and Tory government.

Being a member of the Socialist Party stands me in good tradition to fight tooth and nail for the people of this ward, and this city. When we were a part of Labour as supporters of the Militant newspaper our MPs took only the average wage of their constituents.

When supporters of the Militant were elected to lead Liverpool city council in the 1980's, they built along with the community and council trade unions a massive campaign in support of a NEEDS BUDGET which won £60 million back from the Thatcher government which had been cut from the money allocated to the city. This £60 million was used to build 5 thousand council houses (more than all other Labour councils nationally during their period in office), build 6 new sports centres, 6 new nurseries, created 16,000 jobs, took on 100 apprentices with a guaranteed job, rents were frozen and not one council worker was sacked.

When we previously had two Socialist Party councillors on Stoke-on-Trent city council in 2006 they put forward Needs Budgets, to try to ensure that people across the city received the services they needed – rather than the services the council from high told them they would have. Unfortunately Labour councillors refused to vote for this type of budget and preferred to carry on with their cuts under a Labour government.

That is the "party view" I hold, and is the "party view" I'm proud to hold.

2. How will you increase political engagement and communicate with ward residents?

One of the key reasons political engagement is so low is because people see no difference between the policies of the main political parties. You can barely fit a cigerette paper between the pro-cuts, pro-austerity policies of the Labour, Lib Dem and Tory parties. Rightly so people often think "well what's the point in voting, I'm going to suffer regardless of who gets in".
That is why the Socialist Party is involved with others including the railway workers union the RMT with 80,000 members in building TUSC. We believe we need a new mass workers party, to fight for working class people in Stoke-on-Trent and the rest of the country who currently have no political representation.
Since this council was elected Stoke Socialist Party and other TUSC supporters have organised more public meetings to engage the people in Stoke than other parties and candidates combined! At our public meeting at Norton WMC on the 10th October two local campaigners were so engaged that they said they would stand as TUSC candidates in the next local election.
Every week myself and Stoke Socialist Party do a number of stalls around the city, campaigning on issues effecting people in this city and talking to hundreds of ordinary people about the ways various cuts and attacks nationally and locally effect them. From campaigns against the Bedroom tax, against the council HQ and in defence of a publicly owned NHS we are constantly out on the streets communicating with people and we will continue to do so whether elected or not.

Being an elected councillor would allow me to increase the scope of this real engagement even further with local residents.

3.  Put the following in order of priority, and give reasons. The list is in alphabetical order so as not to show preference.

city - conscience - national interest - party – ward

I believe it is vital that those standing for election for a party, group or as an individual should explain clearly what they stand for and against. For example, given the current plans of our Labour council to carry out another eye watering £100 million worth of cuts to jobs and services over the next four years every candidate needs to state clearly what they WILL DO about them if elected. Merely complaining about or accepting without serious opposition the government's dictats is not acceptable.

This and whatever else they would do if elected should be printed in black and white on their leaflets and delivered to homes across the ward so that everyone knows exactly what to expect from them. If the elected candidate does not do what they said they would then you will know not to vote for them again.

For the record;

TUSC was set up just three years ago to fight against all cuts, closures and privatisation. A vote for myself as a TUSC candidate will guarantee just that.

and TUSC's 2013 local elections policy platform here

4.  Do you believe the specious argument from the Council that £50+M on a new HQ in Hanley is money well spent? If not, what do you believe would be a better option?

Not at all! Myself, TUSC and the Socialist Party have been campaigning against this waste of money since it was first announced. We made opposition to the new HQ a key position when we stood in the Springfields and Trent Vale by-election last year - a link to our leaflet from that by-election at
We also actively built for and participated in the March on Stoke campaign from the beginning.
You can see a report of me campaigning as far back as July 2012 against the new HQ, under the demand of “No to Another New Council HQ! Save Our Jobs and Services Instead!” at

If the council want to increase employment in this city, then they are better off spending money instead to immediately reverse all cuts to jobs, pay and services in the city. Launching a mass council house building program would create much needed jobs and renovate areas left derelict by Pathfinder. It is perverse that a council whilst claiming they have no money is willing to fritter at least £50 million away on nothing more than a vanity project.

5. & 6 What would be your priorities for Baddeley Milton and Norton, and your overall priority for the City as a whole? / What redevelopment/improvement will you aim for in your ward given such plans for the redevelopment of hanley town centre?

As explained before my priorities for the ward and the city are much the same – fighting for a Needs Budget that defends the services people need.  This means a budget that ensures Norton Community Centre gets the funding it needs to stay open, whilst also ensuring the rest of the city's Community Centres are properly funded or reopened. It means a budget that ensures Norton and Ball Green Children’s Centres get the funding that they need to provide an excellent service, whilst also ensuring the rest of the city gets and keeps decent children's centres. It means being focused on the needs of BOTH the ward and the city, ensuring the council doesn't play us off against each other.

7. Should you be elected, what would you like to be remembered for come the Full Council Election in 2015, and will you be standing again in this ward?

If elected I'm determined to be remembered for fighting to ensuring that we have decent jobs, homes and services throughout this city, and for fighting against the slash and burn policies all the main parties advocate that are wrecking our communities.
TUSC are planning on standing across Stoke-on-Trent in the next local elections – whether that means me standing in the ward again, or someone else, is for TUSC supporters and people who live in the ward to decide.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Gary Elsby

Thanks for taking an interest in this election. I hope you realise that neither the BBC or the sentinel have bothered at all, and we wonder why people are not bothered.

Q1. I have no intention of changing my 35 year commitment of telling the truth to anyone who is interested in politics, either International, National or local. Anything other than to tell the truth would expose me as a fake to myself firstly and to others if found out lying.

I have no reason to suspect or believe that I have got something completely wrong and so I must be generally within the same sphere of opinion as most people around me.

Naturally, I take a more closer inspection of events due to my long term personal interest of all things political and my 30 years former membership of the Labour Party of which I stood as a Labour candidate locally and for 4 years sat on a Parliamentary panel awaiting a vacancy (all tests passed and unanimous nominations accepted).
I am now out of a political party and therefore I answer to no group whip and no majority view held by any party leader. In other words, I do not have to vote in anything I do not believe in.

I could go on and on and point out to you where that is exactly the case for some local politicians and (would be) candidates which has caused absolute chaos in my City.

So of course I will listen to the local electorate and all decisions made by me will have a considered viewpoint.

Q2. I’m busy at the moment putting out 10,000 leaflets (the second time) in this ward which is far too big.

I was the only person in my area of Baddeley Green that turned up for a boundary commission meeting to discuss this GIANT ‘single member’ ward (of three Councillors). It came to pass that the boundary commission did not have a clue of the remaining part of the City, so they lumped it all together. My idea was to draw a line along the River Trent with one councillor each side, save money by a reduction to two councillors and make it easier to manage. It can’t happen because we have too many residents in Baddeley Green and the immediate surrounding districts.

I was also the only person in my area to attend a meeting with the Primary Care Trust to establish a Health Centre on a piece of vacant land adjacent to Nursery Lane.

To engage on a personal basis with a massive ward such as this is a huge undertaking and not to be taken lightly or offhand. Of course this is a challenge that must be taken up and organising councillor surgeries is a natural part of that process as well as attending as many community groupings as possible.

I am proven to engage with residents anyway and many already know what I stand for and what I want but more is always possible and certainly more achievable by becoming a Councillor. I would consider it an honour and a privilege to communicate more widely with fellow constituents.

Q3. This a tricky one with many consequences for getting it wrong. To be honest I could pick a few for my first choice due to politics and political analysis being a part of my life for many decades (it’s not a fad or phase I’m going through as I am credited with writing a part of the 2010 Labour Party policy forum document of which Labour fought the National election).
(1)Conscience is first because I have to live with myself and look my wife and family in the face (and I stand by every decision that led to me being expelled from Labour in 2010 for 5 years).

For the life of me I cannot separate National interest from City. If the national Interest is screwed, then we are as dead as we are now, but this is my home. I was born here and I shall die here and so I will opt for City as (2) Councillors can do a great deal of damage voting for something they don’t believe in (told what to vote for).

I have fought the Nazis, who did believe in the repulsive views they stand for and I’ve battled away for many years against Tory dogma.

The biggest betrayal EVER in this City, in my view is the City Independents who have SHUT OUR CARE HOMES and began to dismantle in-house care for the elderly.

They should be ashamed of themselves but they are in denial and refuse to accept or acknowledge any blame.
They ran the City in 2009 and passed that policy and the budget to go with it for 2010.

National Interest(3) Our Country is led by a Conservative Party that acts like one. When in debt, cut back ( a no brainer for the average household with debt). But our Country is no a household and cannot ever go bust and those that say we can, lie.

This Country’s debt will double by 2020 and the Conservatives spin the nonsense that we have to cut our own throats to solve this problem. This is a falsehood with hundreds of years of folly attached to it.

The truth is simple, cutting back will solve the problem of debt DEFICIT, not the debt itself (which is to double).
They wish to reduce the deficit to a manageable 40% of which I reckon is almost achieved and no doubt they will tell us of this before the next GE.

The problem of what has happened is the £350bn worth of Quantative Easing (QE free money) that has to be repaid.
When the Country gets back on its feet, there will be £350bn too much floating around which will (could) spiral vast inflation. (high mortgage repayments, high food prices causing high wage demands). They will therefore push up Interest rates accordingly.

My preferred method would be to follow FDR in the 1930’s and undertake capital spending on projects that would boost the economy in a natural way, including 2m houses for the 5m families that haven’t got one. This would create hundreds of thousands of new construction jobs, tens of thousands of apprenticeships in all trades and increase the tax income to government, thus solving a debt burden. Speculate to accumulate is a Tory watchword never admitted to in public unless during private business (a con trick).

The Tories can credit themselves with massive spending already, due to higher social spending than the previous Labour Government, but I believe this to be unintentional.

(4) Ward. Two eyes on the City, one eye on the ward. That is a proper and commonly held view of many past Master politicians who have served this City well over the years.Let’s get off the nonsense that they’ve always been bad people who have undertaken public service.

Each and every day I will wake up in my ward, do what I have to do and return home to my ward.
4th is therefore a misnomer.
(5) Party. I can’t help but laugh at this part of the question because I’m not in one.

Nobody can force or bully or buy my view and vote and I therefore can live with my vote and conscience.
Stupid decision such as a bus station too small (City Independents) a shopping centre without a brick being laid (City Independents) and care home closures (City Independents) actually make my skin crawl.

Labour taking power from them in 2011 embarrasses me to death and makes me feel ashamed as they target elderly dementia sufferers and vulnerable old people’s services.

I will fight the lot of them with every ounce of strength I have and until my final breath.

Q4. This is the question that at least one other misread.

I do not believe the question is right as the questioner is pre-empting an answer ( a loaded question).
This Council DOES believe in their own argument, that is the whole point of the matter.

Many successful and high percentage footfall Cities do operate from the centre and they also have a University, railway and bus station within eyesight.

Our problem is a six Towns (mentality?) City that is only 85 years old. Many other Cities are hundreds of years old and started from the centre in the first instance.

Hanley is dying and the footfall is abysmal but whether the new build Civic Centre is the kick-start to a successful business district is debatable.

My view is that the Civic Centre should always be in the Centre of the City but somebody made Hanley the shopping centre of the City over a hundred years ago.

Stoke should have been the centre of the City ad the shopping district built up around it, but they did all that in 1910 (1925).

It’s a massive problem and dilemma which appears to be a half-way house situation at present.

Do I believe in this Council’s thought process? They don’t know if it will work and neither does anyone else. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you.

It’s a gamble that could pay off.

What would I believe to be a better option?

Confidence levels in the other five Towns are continuously at a low ebb and I believe this to be un-necessary.
I have always believed that 5 Directors should be a prime aim of the other Towns with a remit to progress their respective aims.

These could be politicians or officers. The general one cabinet fits all approach causes conflict and the City-wide approach appears to pass by local feelings.

I would invest in this approach because I believe it will work. Not could, but will.

Q5. My priorities for my ward would be to serve and vote with my conscience first and foremost. Residents will be assured that if I can live with my views, thoughts and voting structure, then they should continue with that confidence in me. My intent is to not get it wrong.

My ward consists of two vast areas. One is a privileged and one considered to be disadvantaged.

There are two clear approaches to how to manage aims and values needed to fulfil the role of Councillor.

Any candidate worth his salt will die for their ward and tell of wondrous things and even some fall into the trap of offering up a shopping list they have compiled (read their leaflets worthy of an Oscar).

Pragmatism brings many down to real time earth and whatever can be done will be done.

Many people in this ward will require a helping, guiding hand for social equality whether they are from a privileged area or not and so I can see much work in this particular area. It is what I truly believe in anyway.

Allowing people to live dignified and self respective lives is also a major priority with a crack down on ASB.

My ward has recently been unfairly placed near the top on the ASB table. Break it down into three correct areas of similar size (as other single member wards have) you then see we are bottom.

There are many pet projects that can be undertaken such as parks and other social facilities that can be worked on.

Q6. I don’t understand this question.

Hanley MUST undertake continual re-development and I will never get in the way of that. It would be a stupid mistake to be a Councillor and use that position to frustrate any development that betters this City.

Note the stupid mistake of this Council to frustrate the Potteries shopping centre wishes to expand leisure facilities on site. Completely wrong and I would not ever support stupid thoughts.

A criminal act, in my view.

Development in my ward is not connected to anything going on in Hanley, and that includes any money they are attempting to invest.

This requires a different set of money. Do not let anyone tell you anything different.

My ward can be improved massively and I see it every day (5 hours a day) as I campaign on the streets. I see it everyday, all day in the area where I live.

Speeding traffic near schools, un-kept areas requiring intervention and a general clean up of parks.

The one missing ingredient of my local area is a community, as in a people community and that can be addressed if undertaken properly.

Q7. I would be remembered for standing alone and highlighting what they have done to us.

I know what they have done to us but many do not.

Ask any of them and they will tell you a different tale which fits their party and public platform.

They all listen and they all didn’t come into politics to cut and slash us. They have no choice but to do it they all say.
The City Independents ran this City before cuts came in during 2009 (Gordon Brown) but they passed a policy of care home closures. They deny it but google and Stoke Council’s own website proves otherwise.

It wasn’t the fairies who ran the City in 2009 nor was it Labour either.

In 2010 they did it all again to prove their culpability.

Did anyone walk away (Dave Conway?) No. They shut us down.

In 2011 Labour took full control and continue to do things they just don’t like doing (hankies out) such as more closures. But as we all know money is awash for private companies to the tune on £Ms.

A complete betrayal of old and young people alike and not worthy of our votes.
The lot of them play to the crowd and want you to believe in what they say.

The City Independent currently shout against cuts they initially introduce.

That disgusts me, but that is the City Independents for you. Say one thing in power and say another thing when in opposition.

My victory will signal to other non-party Independents that they can win also and together we can stop unnecessary and unwarranted attacks upon vital services serving vulnerable people.

I will stop them and reverse any cuts I find inappropriate.

With enough support I will re open any service cut that is required  (St Michaels/Dementia Homes) and pursue the ideal local Government aim with a social conscience and for people who believe that the Labour Party no longer represents them in a working class City.

Will I be standing again?

If I said No, no-one in political circles will believe me.

I just don’t know but a victory in 2013 means yes.

I hope these answer are are at least something that you require and if you need further clarification on anything, then please ask.