A tale of two halves….

Ruth Rosenau - an insider's view

Ruth Rosenau – an insider’s view

Me, myself and life in local politics...

I thought that this week, I would halve my blog. I’ll start off with some of the day to day council business, which will give you a glimpse of some of what’s involved in being a councillor….

On Wednesday, a warm and sunny evening I sat with a community spirited group discussing the Meir Christmas event… Christmas I hear you shriek, but it’s months away… but events need months of planning and working alongside the likes of Janet Bellis (Chair) we discussed how we wanted to make the Meir event bigger than previous events and how we intended to achieve it. So many possibilities, so many problems, but for every issue we found we came up with solutions and ideas.. The group also looked at how we could promote other initiatives to highlight our area.

The importance of volunteering was promoted heavily this week, and we should applaud anyone who…

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Past, present, future…. my history in local politics.

Ruth Rosenau - an insider's view

Ruth Rosenau – an insider’s view

A considered article by Ruth Rosenau – Councillor for Meir North

Me, myself and life in local politics...

Past: Our City is full of wonderful memories, whether they are buildings, cemeteries or people. History is a wonderful arena, the link to our past. I had been the ‘teenager with a cause’ whilst at high school, and was an active campaigner for the Anti-Nazi League, animal rights and equality. I was extremely lucky to have had two fabulous history teachers who allowed me to question what I was taught, I will always be grateful to them for the opportunities they gave me.

I struggled massively during the last year at school as my dear, dear father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a harrowingly dark time…….

Unable to cope with the loss, I eventually left home and initially moved to London then moved from area to area before coming back to Stoke. I settled down and had my family. Work was varied and it was only when I seperated from…

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A Funny Old Month…… an insider’s view

A contributed opinion piece from Ruth Rosenau – Councillor for Meir North 

If a day is a long time in politics….. A month can seem a lifetime.

The last few weeks have been interesting, hard work,  eye-opening, thrilling, depressing and challenging. The short campaign, in the run up to the election saw many of us going out door-knocking on a daily basis, often doing 3 x 2 hour sessions a day – you knock on a lot of doors and hear a lot of

Ruth Rosenau - an insider's view

Ruth Rosenau – an insider’s view

people on that basis. We had good days, where the sessions were positive, or you managed to encourage someone to use their vote, or your arguments changed someone’s mind. There were bad days too… when either no one answered the doors, the resident said they weren’t interested in voting or they told you what they thought, and sometimes that was a hard lesson.

Being on the door leaves you open for a number of things, including the chance to hear what the real issues are – normally that’s the issue that comes up time and again in every ward. We can all stop and put our best argument forward, we can be persuasive but there comes a point when you know that that thing that keeps being raised is a real problem. Some of those issues can be dealt with on the doorstep, we heard the complaints about Smithfield, but stop and explain the rationale and by and large people get it, they understand – they also get it that you can borrow for building but you can’t borrow for care. It’s like having a mortgage for your house, but not being able to borrow the same amount to pay for a care package for a loved one. Chelsea Flower Show was another issue on the door, and when you explained that this was about putting us on a global stage to market the City, along with an apology that we sincerely expected to get sponsorship in, and we had failed on that, it was also important to highlight the fabulous talent we had with our in-house designers. There were misconceptions around, like Birminghams garden only cost £5k – we had had a prime spot at the show with a full size garden, Birmingham didn’t and they also have a thriving business quarter which is our aim.

On the doors was also the issue that officers and two councillors recently stayed in a top hotel following an awards ceremony – why weren’t rooms booked in a Premier Inn or a Travel Lodge.

I’ve skirted the biggest issue on the doors, the one that was raised in every ward I door-knocked (14 out of 15 in Stoke South) and that was the Labour Group leader. Time after time we would hear ” Labours got my vote nationally, but I ain’t voting for Labour locally while he’s in charge” If we look at Stoke South, 3,000 more people voted for Rob Flello than the local Labour candidate and that showed in the results at the count.

Were we prepared for the decimation at the count? I don’t think so, not as a group. Two weeks prior to the election, myself and some of my most trusted friends agreed to honestly go through the list of wards and candidates and say who we thought would be elected and where… Somewhat tellingly, we all came back with the same results – Labour with 19 or 20 elected members – okay I’ll put my hands up, we were all out by 1 or 2, but nowhere near as far out as the ridiculous numbers that some Labour Councillors were stating we would get. At the last Cabinet planning meeting we held one of the cabinet stated we would be back with between 31 and 36 councillors, I wasn’t sure which of us was delusional!! As another Cabinet member said (I think pointedly at myself) that there may be some losses around the table but if anyone thought that Pervez shouldn’t be the leader after the election they shouldn’t be round the table – I looked at the officers either side of me and said “I’ll get my coat now eh?”

A large number of councillors and candidates alike bought into the hype that “the General Election will pull us through” – I was deemed to be naive, pessimistic and repeatedly told “what do you know” What I did know was what people were already telling me, what they had been telling me for over 12 months, and it wasn’t just those who had supported me when I challenged Pervez last year, this was people who I went out to see for ward issues, this was people who stopped me as I shopped, this was members of our business community.

The short campaign was, if nothing else intense, and I will be forever grateful for friendships that were nurtured during that hectic time, friendships I feel will be lasting, wherever I end up. I also met some people who I knew in name only, Gary Elsby being one – an intelligent and warm man, one who I spoke to at length at an event – even when some of my Labour comrades looked on disapprovingly..

So, the 7th May duly arrived  and the team in Stoke South could not have done more than we had, we had door-knocked, leafleted and telephoned where we could. The day was largely spent with the delightful David Williams and the unassuming but tough Chris Robinson – both top guys. As the polling stations closed, a number of us headed down to the Civic for the count. It didn’t take me long to see that there was an issue with what the ballot papers were showing. I’m pretty good at the count and am pretty accurate, as the boxes were being emptied and sorted into piles of 25 you try and get a feel for the numbers coming through. It didn’t take a mathmatician to know we were not in a good place. I moved between tables which housed the different wards in Stoke South, and each one told me the same story – we were taking a hiding. I spoke to a number of people, different political parties, people I didn’t know – they were all picking up the same thing – Labour were struggling.

Bagh Ali came up to me and asked what I thought ” we’re in trouble Bagh” was my simple response. Fifteen minutes later Bagh came back to me and Pervez was behind him. I was surprised that Pervez spoke to me “how’s it going?” he asked – I replied that in my opinion we “were being annihilated” his response was along the lines of “well you’ll be all right” was met with my “I’m not so sure” At this, Pervez turned and walked away from me. Had I not still been surprised by the volume of votes against Labour I may have registered shock that Pervez had voluntarily come and spoken to me….

Thursday night was largely spent counting and recounting the votes for the MP’s, and somewhat exhausted at around 7.00 am as they said they were going for a recount I left the Civic, heading home to get my children ready for school – I felt dejected and raw – but I knew that my predictions looked pretty much right.

After taking my children to school, with the promise that I’d text them as soon as I knew results, I prepared to return to the Civic, I picked up Chris Robinson and headed back. Everyone was somewhat subdued by this time and we all waited somewhat impatiently for the count for the local elections to start.

My ward was the first to be called, and I have to say there were times I doubted the win, I watched others around the room, the looks of hope, despair, shattered dreams… I overheard one Cabinet member constantly saying they had lost, the man counting with her said “I think you’ve got it – but you’ve got to address the reason why you’re in this situation” she replied “I think you’re right” – this was soon forgotten!

I went down to the Kings Hall to see how Stoke Central and Stoke North were doing – it was heartbreaking to see some as the realisation hit home – they weren’t getting re-elected. We lost three Cabinet members, Terry Crowe, Adrian Knapper and Gwen Hassall, we lost well established councillors who were fantastic ward members, Debra Gratton, Mark Meredith, Bagh, we also didn’t get some fabulous candidates elected – David Williams, who was fantastic, Nicola Howell, Arif Hussain, Shirley Kliment-Temple….the list goes on

So….. We spent a weekend licking our wounds, knowing that on the Monday night we had the group AGM 1 and the decision for who would lead the group for the next year… I spoke to some of our members who had not been re-elected, heard their disappointment that Pervez hadn’t even bothered to call them, I told them how important it was that they stayed within the loop, how important THEY were…

We knew we had no overall control, to take control there had to be a coalition….but who was going to take our group forward? Maybe I didn’t learn from last year, I still didn’t offer people paid positions on the chance I were to get the leadership, but I wanted to take the group down a different route – we needed to heal, to accept where we had gone wrong, learn from our mistakes, be humbled by the results, engage with the people of our City. We needed to be brave, to hold our hands up and say “we got things wrong, we will change, talk to us” – but it didn’t happen, status quo was kept, doing nothing seemed to be the order of the day.

For me the frustration wasn’t that I wasn’t chosen, it’s never been my aim in life to be the leader of Stoke Labour Group, but the inability to address the issues we have. If we don’t change, in 2019 we will get wiped out, Labour councillors will be a thing of the past…

So, what did I do post AGM 1? Pervez asked all members to email him some feedback on our members as he looked at who would get the Chairs of the committee’s we were eligible to. Members were also to email him if they wanted to be considered for a position. I have to say I was somewhat sickened by the behaviours of some members when it came to the process – to some not having a paid position was obviously unacceptable…. After much thought I emailed my feedback to Pervez and confirmed that I was not looking for a paid position, I gave my honest opinion (as I’ve always given) – including feedback on myself… I got a one line response saying maybe we could discuss a way forward…. I felt I’d taken part in too many pointless exercises to do anything other than email my thought’s back…..

Chairs were duly agreed, including, for me the surprise that Pervez had given himself a position – I’ve never known him sit on an Overview and Scrutiny committee, and said so in my feedback, but the proof will be in the pudding I suppose….

We heard the council grapevine saying that Dave Conway was nominating Mel Baddeley as Deputy Lord Mayor – this kicked off a Stoke-on-Trent hurricane of activity, how could the City have an ex BNP member in the civic role? NorScarf kicked into action and I made a number of statements and radio interviews – I also emailed every elected member asking that they voted with their conscience if the City Independents didn’t put forward a different candidate – thankfully Dave Conway saw sense and at the last moment Mel Baddeley was pulled from the position and Rita Dale went forward as Deputy Lord Mayor. I’d had a quick conversation with Jean Bowers the Tuesday before Annual Council, I was saddened to hear her thank both myself and Alan Dutton for speaking to her….. Other members of Labour were shunning her – I don’t feel that is appropriate behaviour for an elected member, and I told her as much.

Thursday was Annual Council, and we knew that Jean Bowers would be elected as Lord Mayor and that Rita would get the Deputy role. All plain sailing…. to there….

After much soul searching, Alan Dutton and myself decided that we had to make a stand in respect of all those residents we had spoken to, who raised the same issues. It wasn’t an easy choice for either of us, but let’s be very clear, we did NOT vote against the Labour leader – his name wasn’t put forward, we chose not to abstain, and so had no choice but to vote for Dave Conway as Leader of the Council. Reaction was varied, I heard Councillor Joy Garner saying “Well that’s interesting” – interesting to someone who previously walked the floor? Broad smiles and a thumbs up from Councillor Randy Conteh – along with a look of surprise, and a number of pleasantly surprised raised eyebrows from across the chamber. One person in the gallery said that you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.

A number of interviews later and Councillor Alan Dutton and I stood outside the Civic Centre discussing what we thought reaction was… Pervez walked out of the doors, saw us and went back inside – or maybe he had forgotten something.

So, Alan and I await our fate – the Labour group will decide, but I hope they all remember that if you live in a glass house – you really shouldn’t throw stones.

Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox 31/05/2015

Leadership, Opposition & A New Broom

On My Stoke Soapbox - Tony Walley

On My Stoke Soapbox – Tony Walley

OK so it’s been some time since I did one of these pieces but I’ve had so many people contact me in one way or another to say how much they used to enjoy reading these kind of posts on PitsnPots and asking me to start doing them here on The Political Potteries.

Leadership

City Independent Leader Dave Conway is the new Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council. He is a man of honour and integrity and he clearly loves this city – all six towns equally, apparently.

His problem is that he has to show that he can make the transition from Opposition Leader to being ‘the main man’ and that’s going to be tough for him.

You see he’s had a pretty easy time of it over the four years because there has been plenty for him to oppose and to be frank, he hasn’t always said what he and his group would do instead. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezey to say ‘I wouldn’t do that’ but it’s a bit more difficult to come out and say what he would do to improve the lives of the good folk of the potteries.

Well he can stay silent no longer. He’s is in a coalition with the Tories and UKIP and people are waiting for him to fulfil his promise that he will do better than Labour. He needs to hit the ground running and I’m sure that we will all give him time to, in the words of Sinatra, do it his way. But let’s be clear here – the Indies have made manifesto promises and we expect them to deliver on them.

I don’t mean that I expect to see the promised Tram system running between Meir and Tunstall any time soon but what I do expect is that Dave delivers on the promise that he will move to the Committee System in pretty quick time. The coalition has named a smaller cabinet which is commendable but they have promised to move away from the Leader/Cabinet system so the eyes and ears of the political interested are properly open and waiting.

Dave Conway didn’t have the best of starts really and probably didn’t do themselves or Melanie Baddeley any favours by proposing the ex BNP councillor for the position of Deputy Lord Mayor. Her past was always going to bite her on the arse (politically of course) and in my opinion she should have been allowed to pull her own name out of the frame. If she had been the one to front the decision put Rita Dale up instead, she could have taken the opportunity to try and convince us that she has really turned away from the policies of the far right and maybe she would have apologised for some of the shocking literature put out in her name when the BNP were at their pomp. That said, Melanie was voted in in no small number by the people of Abbey Hulton and you could argue that if they don’t have a problem with her; should the rest of us?

Dave Conway looked a bit weak by seeming to back down on an issue before he had even been voted in as council leader. I’m sure he and the coalition will get better soon – they have to really.

So as much as Dave has his issues, Leader of Stoke Conservatives Abi Brown will also have a few of her own. Her national party under another Dave are about to bring billions of pounds worth of cuts upon the citizens of our nation. This will mean that Stoke-on-Trent will get hit hard by these upcoming cuts for sure. Abi will need to be seen to lobby her national colleagues to lessen the burden and fight for a better settlement than we’ve seen from George Osborne in the past.

Let’s make no mistake here, this coalition will have to cut and cut deep. There will need to be jobs cuts which never go down well. One faction of the coalition, the Indies, won’t want to dole out the P45’s but another faction, the Tories, will understand the need to balance the books and produce a legal budget. The other faction, UKIP, will be far too concerned how many times their national leader is seen in a pub with a pint of bitter in his hand!

Opposition

In the words of the queen – it’s been quite an ‘Annus horribilis’ for Stoke Labour and in particular their leader this past municipal year. 

They’ve scored some pretty horrendous own goals politically and they’ve witnessed quite a few of their members telling all comers that they expect to improve on their majority in the local elections earlier this month. One Labour councillor in particular was spouting that they would get between 31-37 councillors elected – oh dear, how sad? How out of touch has this party been?

Stoke Labour Leader Mohammed Pervez has refused to accept responsibility for his party’s crushing defeat. Instead he’s blamed the loss on several other factors including, but not exclusively, Ed Miliband, UKIP, the General Election (even though before and during the campaign this was going to be Labour’s saviour), negative outsiders, the moon passing through Mars and into Uranus….. the list goes on.

Point is – he says that the Labour Group told him that they didn’t want him to take responsibility for their demise at the ballot box and continued on to vote him in as Leader at the group’s AGM.

He saw off a challenge to his leadership by 17 votes to 4. So, if we discount his own vote, just 16 councillors decided, on behalf of every Labour voter in Stoke – to keep Pervez as leader.

They did this even though they knew, and it was widely accepted at the count on May 8th, that Pervez had been a major issue on the doorsteps during the campaign.

I know, and I say this with complete honesty, that a large number of senior Labour figures had advised Pervez to step down and even more confided in me that he should go. I’m talking MP’s, officers, elected members, unsuccessful candidates, academic’s and more importantly Labour voters. I could name names – and some of those names would shock you – but I won’t break confidences.

What Stoke Labour cannot escape from is the fact that thousands of people across Stoke-on-Trent voted Labour nationally and returned three Labour MP’s but did not vote for their Labour candidate in the local elections – Stoke Labour Group were unanimously rejected. That is an indisputable fact, it is not me being negative.

So those 16 elected councillors who have decided to keep the status quo will have to shoulder the responsibility going forward. They must insist that Pervez changes his approach. He has to win the confidence of the people and more importantly, Labour voters, back if he is ever to become Council Leader again in the future.

Pervez needs to become more ‘of the people’ instead of appearing and coming across as ‘above the people’. I know he has a genuine personality. He can be warm and compassionate, he has a dry sense of humour but we don’t see that side of him often enough. If he doesn’t change how the public view him then he and his party are doomed in 2019.

His opposition role and how he goes about it, is crucial. Instead of viewing it as ‘having some fun’ he has to ensure that the Labour opposition is credible and responsible. He has to keep his back benchers under control.

An example of the, at times, crass stupidity was evidenced by Cllr Joy Garner who, during the council debate on the extra scrutiny committee on Thursday attacked the Independents over how many paid positions they have. Really? No, I mean really? Joy needs to realise that when Labour took control in 2011 they had 24 paid positions under the rules of political balance. Joy and her husband Martin were earning in the region of £45,000 a year between them with their allowances and Special Responsibility Allowance payments. How the hell can she be in a position to judge another group over paid positions?

Pervez and Stoke Labour have their work cut out – they cannot escape that fact. They have to win over the hearts and minds of the people who chose to vote Rob Flello and not their council candidate and then they have to repeat that in the other two constituencies or in 2019 UKIP will take even more votes from Labour locally and there will be no General Election to mitigate some of their losses.

A New Broom.

Finally, Cllr Alan Dutton and Cllr Ruth Rosenau find themselves at odds with Pervez and Stoke Labour. Their crime? They voted for City Independent leader Dave Conway to become Council Leader. The rest of Labour had collectively agreed to abstain.

Let’s be quite clear here, they did not vote against their leader, he had decided not to put his name forward for the ballot.

Pervez was scathing of the two during a BBC Radio Stoke interview on Friday morning. He said that he’d had MANY complaints about the two from members of the Labour Group and that for them to have a future in the group they need to abide by collective decisions. A posh way of saying you must be whipped. Thing is – on maybe 9.9/10 issues they probably would vote the same way. I think both Dutton and Rosenau made a stand for all those people who raised the issue of Stoke Labour’s leadership on the doorstep. That action of voting for Dave Conway wasn’t an endorsement for him as leader, it was about giving a voice to those Labour voters who voted for a Labour MP but not for a Labour Councillor.

The Labour Party have to be careful how they handle this.

Back in 2009, with Mike Barnes at the helm of Stoke Labour, there was an election for Council Leader in the chamber. Mike Barnes was eliminated from the ballot in 3rd place. That left a straight fight between City Independent Brian Ward and Conservative Ross Irving. It was obvious to everyone, given the numbers present, that some Labour Members had chosen NOT to vote for their own leader. I fact, I was told this was the case privately. Those Labour members went on to vote for Ross Irving which ensured that he saw off the challenge of Brian Ward. I can remember vividly both Ward and Roger Ibbs shouting across at me in the chamber “there you go Wol – you’ve just witnessed Labour voting Conservative! Make sure that goes into your article” – so there is a precedent here and Stoke Labour need to consider this when dealing with their two rebels.

If Alan Dutton and Ruth Rosenau do find themselves out of the Labour Group and subsequently the party – you can bet they’ll set their own group up. Both are unashamedly ‘left wingers’ – a bit too left for me but there you go it’s a broad church is socialism.

Make no Mistake these two WILL NOT join any other existing council group.

If a new socialist group is formed then as well as representation in the chamber, they will also need extensive support outside. Like minded true socialists who are disillusioned with the direction of travel Labour are currently on, will be drawn to this group like a moth to a light bulb. There are a large number of folk across this city that are looking for something else, some other cause that will give support to those who are most needy in our society and who will champion workers rights in our council chamber.

There are rumours that a new group is imminent and that it already has significant support. So I, along with many others, will watch and wait to see how the issue of the two rebel councillors is handled.

A new group has to be managed properly and in a modern way by using a website, social media and more importantly, public events to sell their policies to the electorate.

There was a group called Community Voice formed in the past with some existing councillors and they were great in the chamber but outside on the means streets they failed to make an impression and and the very next election they were eradicated.

You’ve got to admit that politics is becoming interesting again though isn’t it? From the Labour dominance of 2011 to a four, maybe five party arena soon.

It’s enough to give John Van De Laarschot nightmares!

That’s my first Sunday Soapbox (for ages) and I commend it to the blogosphere.

Two Stoke Labour Councillors Rebel Over Group Leadership

There was fun and games in the chamber at Stoke-on-Trent City Council yesterday during the Annual Rebel Rebel - Alan & RuthCouncil meeting.

Labour Councillors Alan Dutton and Ruth Rosenau voted in support of Councillor Dave Conway of the City Independent Group as Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Other members of the Labour Group abstained from the vote.

There were a number of surprised faces on the Labour benches and some welcome smiles from opposition members. There has been unrest within the Labour group for a while, and Councillor Rosenau has challenged Labour Leader Mohammed Pervez for the leadership on 2 occasions, and it had been widely reported that Councillor Dutton lost his Cabinet position along with former Labour member Janine Bridges for supporting Ruth Rosenau’s first challenge.

Throughout this week Councillor Rosenau, who previously campaigned against the BNP and worked for the Race Equality Council, has been actively campaigning against the possible appointment of ex BNP member Melanie Baddeley to the position of Deputy Lord Mayor, she emailed all elected members prior to the annual council and asked them to ‘vote with their conscience’ if they were not putting another candidate forward.

Asked for the reason behind their voting in favour of Councillor Conway as Leader of the City Council, Councillor Rosenau said:

This is a protest vote against the Labour Leader, we have all been campaigning for many weeks, much of which was time spent knocking on doors and speaking to residents across the constituencies – on every session we had the leader, his lack of engagement and openness raised as an issue, in Stoke South we had many residents stating that they were voting for Labour in the national elections but could not vote for Labour locally with the possibility of the leader not changing – more than 3,000 people voted for Rob Flello MP than for the local candidate – that’s telling us that there is an issue. Unfortunately the group seem unable to move on and accept that change needs to happen.

Councillor Dutton agreed, saying that whatever the decision of the group, both himself and Ruth would always do the best for the residents that they represent.

In a telling decision by the Labour Leader, from the committee panels put forward, Councillor Rosenau was given one seat on Planning and Councillor Dutton was given vice-chair of Audit and a seat on Licensing – many officers and councillors alike have previously commented on the hard working ethos of both councillors so I asked them if they had asked for a minimum amount of committee’s. Councillor Rosenau stated that she had not put her name forward for any paid position, but was surprised at the lack of seats offered her.

Councillor Dutton confirmed that he had been offered a seat on the Labour Group shadow cabinet but turned it down. He said:

I was asked by the Labour Group Leader Mohammed Pervez if I was willing to serve on his shadow cabinet but I turned him down without hesitation.

I thought it was very hypocritical that he asked me given the fact that he had taken me off one of his previous cabinets because I chose to support Ruth Rosenau when she challenged him for the group’s leadership.

Both rebel councillor’s have said that they now wait to see how the group will react to their actions, although they both stated that they have previously been in contact with the Regional Office to raise concerns.

The Political Potteries is waiting for a comment from Stoke Labour and we will update the article when we have it.

New Political Era for Stoke-on-Trent as Coalition are Voted In

Members of Stoke-on-Trent City Council elected a new council leader and cabinet at yesterday’s annual council meeting.SOTlogo 

 Councillor Dave Conway will lead a City Independents, Conservatives and Ukip coalition administration after a vote by all councillors at the authority’s annual council meeting.

 Councillor Conway formally announced his cabinet and their portfolios at the meeting:

  • Councillor Dave Conway – council leader
  • Councillor Abi Brown – deputy leader, cabinet member for finance and partnerships
  • Councillor Janine Bridges – cabinet member for economy and education. She is lead member for children’s services
  • Councillor Randy Conteh – cabinet member for housing, community and safer city
  • Councillor Terry Follows – cabinet member for greener city and development
  • Councillor Jack Brereton – cabinet member for regeneration and transport
  • Councillor Ann James – cabinet member for health and adult social care.

 Four cabinet support members will also assist full cabinet members:

  • Councillor Melanie Baddeley – supporting councillor James
  • Councillor Daniel Jellyman – supporting councillors Follows and Brereton
  • Councillor Jackie Barnes – supporting councillor Conteh
  • Councillor Anthony Munday – supporting councillors Conway and Brown.

This is a radical new approach to how the City Council is run. Previous administration operated with a Leader, Deputy and eight cabinet members. The new coalition has decided to reduce the size of the cabinet but brought in four ‘cabinet support’ members.

The new system will realise a small saving for the authority.

 The cabinet leads and their support members represent all corners of the city and have a vast experience of working in their communities and supporting residents.

 At the meeting, councillors voted to keep all four existing scrutiny committees – covering children and young people, city renewal, adults and neighbourhoods, and corporate services.

The Labour group had proposed the extend the number of Overview & Scrutiny committees to five following recommendations arising from an independent report from a specialist on scrutiny.

The extra committee would have resulted in a paid chair’s position worth around £9000 to the selected councillor. On political balance this chair would have been the Labour Group’s to allocate.

During the debate in the council chamber Joy Garner councillor for the Burlem Park ward said:

Many of us can remember us having 13 or 14 separate overview scrutiny committees. This report doesn’t give anything like that option, it’s merely saying one more committee.

Over the years we’ve gone down and down, but our responsibilities have gone up and up, and so have the pressures.

Health and social care is a massive problem. We can see that at Stafford Hospital, and down the road at the University Hospital.

After days of controversy, members eventually voted for Jean Bowers, councillor for the Birches Head and Central Forest Park ward, as Lord Mayor and Rita Dale, councillor for the Eaton Park ward as her Deputy.

These appointments put an end to heated debate over whether ex BNP councillor Melanie Baddeley was an appropriate choice as the City Independents original nomination for the office of Deputy Lord Mayor.

Labour Group Leader Takes Paid Position Following Election Defeat

Under Fire - Mohammed Pervez

Labour Leader – Mohammed Pervez

Stoke Labour Group Leader Mohammed Pervez has gifted himself a paid position following his party’s election defeat.

Councillor Pervez will take the position of Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee which will ensure that he gets a ‘Special Responsibility Allowance’ of around £9000. This payment will take his council earnings to over £20,000 per year.

Following Labour’s defeat which saw them lose overall control their number of extra paid positions dropped dramatically through the formula used based on ‘political balance’.

In opposition, Labour are entitled to three Overview & Scrutiny committee chairs and one regulatory chair.

As well as Cllr Pervez, Cllr Shaun Pender and Cllr Joan Bell will take up the O&S chairs whilst Cllr Joy Garner will take up the chair of the Regulatory committee.

Stoke Labour Group are also expected to announce their Shadow Cabinet line up in the coming days. Their leader is thought to be considering applications from his group members.

The Labour Group leadership have said that they are committed to providing robust but responsible opposition to the ruling coalition which is made up of the City Independent Group, Stoke Conservative Group and UKIP.

The Labour Group will attend tomorrow’s Annual Council meeting, their first in opposition and will oppose the nomination of ex BNP Councillor Melanie Baddeley, the City Independent councillor for the ward of Abbey Hulton, for the position of Deputy Lord Mayor. It is expected that Labour will propose Cllr Debbie Wheeldon as an alternative.

Labour are still expected to propose Cllr Kath Banks for Lord Mayor even though the numbers suggest both nominations will fail unless there is a dramatic change of mind within the coalition.