The official blog of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Labour Group Leadership.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A temporary goodbye

Because of the guidance on Local Authority publicity, we have decided not to make any entries from today until 5 May 2005, lest we be accused of misusing resources.

See you on 6 May!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Labour's Budget

Message from Labour Group Deputy Leader, Peter Kent-Baguley:

Mick Salih and I had devoted countless hours in meetings with all Directors and other senior officers so that we had the fullest possible picture of the real spending needs of the different departments.

We were determined to present a Budget to Full Council on 3rd March that addressed real needs in the City.

In Full Council, Elected Mayor Mike Wolfe accused us of wasting hundreds of hours of officers' time! That was rich, coming from an Elected Mayor who failed to even get his budget seconded!!

Not one single Councillor was prepared to support his Budget, which he had clearly spent next to no time preparing.

Well, all our hard work paid off, because our Budget was approved, after a minor amendment proposed by Tory Group leader, Cllr Roger Ibbs, who was all-out to please the Liberal Democrats. That was part of the price the Lib Dems demanded of Ibbs. I was happy to second it anyway since the two minor changes are subject to approval by the General Purposes Committee at a later date.

We have made sure:

1) the City gets 10 additional new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). They will join the 18 PCSOs being introduced across the City during this month. They have more authority and more powers than Community Wardens and we think will bring huge benefits to our communities plagued by offensive and anti-social behaviour.

2) we have also made sure that a start is made on improving some of the 100 football pitches across the City. Incredibly and disgustingly, half of them are unplayable most of the time! We have made sure that work will soon start on drainage, better maintenance and improved changing facilities at some of the venues. Our investment should attract more than £500,000 in grants from national funding bodies.

Already, we have received positive responses from members of the public.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Waiting for the counting to end...

The result of the East Valley by-election wasn't long in coming; wasn't a bad result for us but of course not exactly what we had hoped for. The main thing is that we beat the BNP into third place, so now the voting:

Richard Hughes (Labour) 496

Knight, former Lib dem Cllr won with 525.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of Lib Dem Martin Dent, due to illness. Knight will hold office for one year. So, Richard has twelve months to find 29 more votes.

Standing Ready-- Good Luck Richard Hughes!

Mick and I have had a busy day; I appeared on Signal Radio’s Sam Plank programme to talk about the budget, and then held a meeting with fellow Councillors to discuss Development Control issues. Mick also had a Regeneration Zone Board meeting (Councillors can only attend as observers since the Council Manager and Wolfe hold both the City’s votes). Only two hours to go until Full Council… am ready with my notes and hoping for a more mature standard of oratory from our Esteemed Elected Mayor. I think one of the prophets once said man cannot live by bread alone; a stiff gin would suit me!

Oh, almost forgot, there’s a by-election in East Valley today—good luck to the Labour Candidate Richard Hughes. Should know the results (and of the vote on our budget proposals) by midnight tonight. Let’s hope Mike Wolfe turns back into a pumpkin by then!

Bitch is Back?

It was interesting to read the results of Mike Wolfe’s whispering campaign among the voluntary sector organisations in The Sentinel yesterday (2 March 2005). (Read the Story here). I wonder how many taxpayers realise that they have stumped up another £423.12 for Mike Wolfe’s tab today?

I noticed also that Wolfe conveniently neglected to mention the fact that he did not propose either £40,000 for the Racial Equality Council or £114,000 for a ‘benefits take up campaign’ on 3 February 2005, he only added these things to his proposals on 22 February—ready for this afternoon’s meeting. Mike’s chronic aversion to telling the whole truth and addiction to marketing his premier brand porkies also seems to have led him to forget to tell the Sentinel’s correspondent about his £100,000 cut to Highways Maintenance, which he is still proposing for this afternoon’s meeting!

Perhaps this afternoon will be as embarrassing a debacle for our esteemed Elected Mayor as it was on 3 February, when he tried to withdraw the fact that he had proposed the shambles of a budget that he did when he saw the way that the meeting was going. Even Paul Breeze, Wolfe’s Chief-of-Bagcarrying Operations (i.e. Deputy Elected Mayor), asked if he could un-second the garbage proposals he seconded only minutes beforehand. Paul Breeze has had the good sense to clear off on holiday to America to avoid such embarrassment this time…

Having (unfortunately) heard Wolfe’s prima donna speechifying since October 2002, I am beginning to think that his Civic Centre Office is the only place in Stoke-on-Trent that the dustmen deliver to, rather than collect from. Let us hope that the bitching really isn’t back in the Council Chamber this afternoon…

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Life in the Automobile

Lots of travelling involved in today, from home to Newcastle, from there to the Civic Centre, from there to Hanley and back and then back again, and then finally home to work.

Just got back from BBC Radio Stoke, had ten minutes on the Stuart George programme to talk about Labour’s Budget proposals. Not much time, but enough to talk about the plans for a two-pronged assault on anti-social behaviour with the investment into sports pitches and the 10 additional PCSOs—bringing the total in the City to 28.

Then back home to work on ward issues and a newsletter for Mick and the other Labour Councillors in Norton & Bradeley.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Peter's Budgetary Thoughts

I am looking forward to the opportunity of presenting the Labour Group’s alternative budget on Thursday 3rd March: should be both an interesting and worthwhile experience. I’m looking forward to reversing Mike Wolfe’s mad idea of cutting £100,000 from highways maintenance; showcasing our £250,000 investment (which should lever in up to £1 million more in match funding) into Sports Pitches; explaining how our proposals offer £236,000 for 10 new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)—this is in addition to the 18 already pledged by the Police Authority; to announcing our ideas on how the City Council can give real support to the voluntary sector (of £160,000 in total) by asking them to look long and hard at the plans they have made, to put themselves on a truly sustainable footing. This really is Labour Working for Stoke-on-Trent.

Mike Wolfe threw his toys out of the pen when he heard about the proposals, branding them “irrelevant” and accusing us of wanting people to pay for the police twice. As per usual, he has no understanding of the issues (we are making an additional contribution to the police, not handing the taxpayer two bills instead of one). Wolfe lacks any ideas in his budget about reducing Anti-Social Behaviour in the City and conveniently neglects to mention the fact that he not only proposed but voted for a £100,000 cut to the Highways Maintenance budget. What kind of idiot would propose spending less on maintenance when the Council has to find another £219,000 to cover insurance claims as a result of badly maintained pavements?

It’s also truly amazing to me that Mike Wolfe never seems to bat an eyelid when Labour says how much he costs the taxpayer—a staggering £423.12 a day, which equates to a whopping £154,441.19 a year, or £392,656.19 by the time of the 5 May 2005 Mayoral Election. And to think, that £392,700 could have bought the taxpayer something useful…

Besides launching this blog, Mick and I had a busy day today: meeting with the Director of RENEW (the multi-billion pound Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder) to discuss issues and the £125,000 of match funding RENEW has offered for Labour’s Heritage & Design Programme; Mick went along to a Responsible Authorities meeting and I went to see the Commander of the Local Policing Unit to talk about ward issues. It’s busy, but it’s always worthwhile in the end!

Welcome to the Stoke-on-Trent Labour Group Blog!

We've decided to launch a blogsite to help explain our ideas and policies to the world. We want everyone to know how much effort we (and the other 31 Members of the Group) put into working for our constituents and the City as a whole. Most importantly, we want everyone to have a different perspective on the workings of the City Council—rather than just the unimpressive (and inaccurate) one offered by Mike Wolfe. I should explain who ‘we’ is! The Leader of the Group is Councillor Mick Salih (Councillor for Norton & Bradeley since 1993). The Deputy Leader of the Group is Councillor Peter Kent-Baguley (Councillor for Chell & Packmoor since 2002). Mick was elected Leader of the Group in 2003, and Peter as Deputy Leader in 2004. We both work from an office in the Civic Centre.

We hope to be posting regular updates to our blogsite, so keep watching this space.