1. What are the biggest problems facing this area?
The biggest problems facing the area are a continued lack of decent jobs, the complete lack of a centrally funded youth policy, and the giving away of properties to gypsies and anti-social scum.
2-What issues would you tackle first?
The council are lying, there is no need for the cuts that they have made, so getting the swimming pool back up and running, getting the youth policy organised, and look at the problem of Bankeyfields residents not being able to get off their own estate. Of course, anything of particular interest or need of the residents.
3-Without very much budget how will you implement your ideas?
As of a few weeks ago, the city council had just under £42 million in the DMO accounts, and Ian Norris highlighted another £35 million, £1 million of which has been added to the general reserve! Why that hasn’t been used to fix Tunstall and Shelton swimming pool I just don’t know.
4-How would you generate income for the local area?
To attract in the jobs for our people, the city council must lead by example, and we must start by showing imagination and innovation. I would want to see all council vehicles run on recycled veggie oil, because that would cut a huge chunk off the councils current diesel bill, £1.1 million per year! There should be a bio-mass plant in the north of the city so that the city’s compostable waste doesn’t have to be shipped to another county for processing at ridiculously high charges. There are a host of money saving ideas that would give us funds to invest in the local economy, things that would have a knock effect in the jobs market for instance.
5-What are your thoughts on Anti Social Behaviour?
Zero tolerance! Come down hard on offenders for small breaches and they rarely graduate to larger crimes, but if they sit back and let them get away with, they will simply do it all the more! There should be regular evictions of those disrupting our communities, and I would dearly love to see the city council refuse to re-house these people! The private landlords need to tied down to a strict lettings policy as well. Local lettings policy!!
6 - Will you be working full time or part time as a ward councillor? (this is an update as this question was proposed after the questions went out)
I would be a full time councillor.
Questions by Jon Morgan, Bankeyfields.
- Who should be running of the council the Council Officers or the Councilors?
This is one of the things that really makes me mad! The councillors are elected by the people to run the city, the council officers are there for guidance, advice, and to implement the policies agreed on by the councillors, but it seems as if even this simplistic model is too complicated for the usual suspects. This has to change, the right to delegated decisions needs to be removed from the council officers, they are clearly neither competent or trustworthy enough to hold this power.
2) How do you envisage keeping local facilities such as Tunstall Pool Open?
This is without doubt, the direct responsibility of the city council! Pervez has selected the services for closure purely as a political statement, a way of blaming the coalition government for Labours abject failures. I am in no doubt that the funds are there to fix the pool and re-open it. There is always the option of a community group running the pool, once the city council have repaired it- and they have to, they accepted the money for its upkeep as part of the council tax.
3) How would you deal with Anti-Social Behaviour?
I’ve answered this above Jon.
4) How are the council / you going to get Business to move to the area?
There are loads of different things that could be done to attract in new businesses. Lower car park charges, reduce business rates, stop turning every vacant shop into a bloody takeaway, improve the image of the city by withdrawing the licences to sell alcohol form every shop in the city, ask big business what it’s looking for when it comes to premises, education, workforce. The city council has to lead by example, and I’ve highlighted a couple of ideas on just this subject above.
5) How will you get money spent in our area in preference to other areas?
Good question this. The best way to secure funding for this area is to look at the spending already done, and see where it went. Goldenhill, Sandyford, have both been neglected when it comes to getting a share of the money to improve, the north of the city has become the poor relation. If they won’t see sense, I’ll pester them until they give it to me just to be rid of me!
Questions by Richard Hawthorn, Bankeyfields.
1) Will you fight the officers of the council and return the power back to its rightful place (in the hands of the councillor)?
I already am Richard. The officers hate me because they know I don’t give in. This is imperative, there can be no reversal of fortune without taking back power from the officers.
2) Will you take steps to have the 106 money (with accrued interest) returned to its rightful owners. The area that it was designated for?
The money attached to an S106 agreement is legally binded to that agreement. The city council have no right to take that money and spend it anywhere else. I would fight for the replacement of that money- and any lost interest- by the city council, or look into taking legal action against them if they refused.
3) Who will be your priority your party, your voters, or the council?
The voters. Everything I do will be judged on what is best for the people I represent.
4) Will you serve the voters irrespective of political beliefs?
Yes, that’s the job Richard. Once the election is over, it’s all about getting as much done in the ward, and the city, that we can possibly manage.
Questions by Terry Cope, Tunstall, Greenfields.
- What past experience do you have that makes you think you are prepared for the responsibly of being a Councillor?
I’ve spent 5 years now fairly deeply involved in local politics. I was Branch Secretary and Chair of the policy group with the BNP, helped found the Potteries Community Federation- PCF- you, Sam Tunstall, and myself collected financial data from the city council and instigated an investigation by the fraud squad. I run two political blogs- PCF and England First Party Stoke-on-Trent, and have been studying Stoke-on-Trent city council for some time now.
- What are your major strengths?
I’m intelligent, hard working, not afraid to speak my mind, and I don’t lie.
- What are your major weaknesses?
I’ve got no patience, I’m not afraid to speak my mind, I don’t lie, and I use a walking stick or crutches to get about, so it takes me forever to get anywhere!
- What is more important, to fix a street light or to install a park bench, and why?
At this point in time, and given the state of the city, fixing the streetlight, because our streets have been turned into dangerous and unpleasant places. Shining a light on them tends to keep the scum away.
5) What experience do you have in securing funding?
When Chell Heath was split into quarters, I was Chair of the residents association in one of those quarters, we applied and gained funding from numerous places. I’ve worked on funding applications before, and have done a wide variety of fundraising. It isn’t a difficult concept.
6) What are your thoughts on keeping a weekly/bi weekly blog on MyTunstall if elected of
- work you are carrying out?
- ongoing ward budget?
- key local news?
One of the most neglected parts of being a councillor has to be making yourself available to the people that you represent. Having a blog to which the electors could come and see what’s happening, leave comments, or get in touch would be a must.
7) What green initiatives do you think can benefit all in the ward?
Foods getting more and more expensive, and the north of the city has a lot of arable land not in use, so I would increase allotment spaces, encourage schools to teach kids how to grow fruit and vegetables, encourage public sector to buy produce as locally as possible. Get rid of that eyesore gypsy camp and plant out that field with school projects, use infra red lamp posts, grey water collection systems, off mains sewage to produce methane, There are a lot of ideas out there that range from small and inexpensive, to £millions, so it would be a case of seeing what funding was available at the time.
8) Which members of the community are your priority?
The decent, law abiding ones.
Questions by Matt Burke, Bankeyfields
- What power have you got ?
If I was elected? I would have the power to represent the people of Goldenhill and Sandyford in the council chamber.
- Where did it come from ?
Any power I had as an elected representative would come from the people who elected me.
3) In whose interest do you use it ?
In the interests of the people whom I would be representing.
4)To whom are you accountable ?
I would be accountable to the people of Goldenhill and Sandyford.
- How do we get rid of you ?
In the unlikely event that things got that bad, I’d be happy to stand down if that was what the majority wanted.
Questions by Mick Williams, The Internet
- How will you communicate what you plan to do / have done with us?
A weekly surgery, a blog, making sure that the constituents can contact me by phone, e-mail, text.
- How will you engage the electorate?
As above. It’s simply making myself available, and I would have no problem with that.
- Where do you see the line being drawn between the community solving their problems and the local government doing it?
Another really good question. Ask 10 people this same question, you’ll get 10 different answers, so my answers come with the ability to change. To my mind, that line has to be drawn according to the qualities and qualifications that the members of the community have. Dependent on which services/amenities the community would want to run, would be entirely dependent on the right skills being present, so communities could run local transport, sporting facilities, swimming pools, community centres. I’d really like to see community/resident associations have an imput on housing allocations within their areas.
- What are your views on a Big Society?
This is like the parsons egg Mick, good in parts. The Localism Bill for instance, has fantastic potential to change local politics for the better, for good! I’m sure you understand the concept of citizen initiated referenda, as is toted within the Localism Bill, but its downfall is that it doesn’t go far enough. Any subject or service can be brought to referendum status by a citizen, but the outcome is not legally binding, it only has to be taken into account by the council. I would like to see that made legally binding once a certain percentage of the population was in agreement. That would really be a change worth having!
This is a massive topic of discussion, and I could really do with brushing up on the different parts of it, so I’ll try and answer any of your questions at the hustings.
Questions by Lawrence, Bankeyfields.
- 1) In your view, what are the major challenges facing this ward and what do you think a councillor's role is to address them?
Unemployment, allocations, anti-social behaviour, apathy. These are the main areas that are holding back the area from becoming what it could be.
The councillors role is to alleviate these problems as much as they can be alleviated, with the aim of seeing them gone completely, this is why I don’t understand the dreadfully poor performance of our councillors across the city. A councillor has to wear two hats, one as ward councillor, and one as city councillor. If we build a factory in the north, that will have positive knock on effects in the rest of the city, so why do the councillors continue to gather in cliques and protect their own areas, rather than to pool together and push for improvements that affect the entire city?
- 2) General question that would probe local knowledge and their interpretation of what they can do/achieve
My local knowledge is sporadic, history was never my best subject. My interpretation on what can be achieved is very positive, and even more so if we can get the councillors to push in the same direction occasionally, but the most effective way of changing things for the better is to get the electorate to vote those changes in. Voting in the same old faces, voting in independents that are not independent at all, just old Labour cast offs that can’t get the party’s backing, or a handful of councillors cum candidates that have tried just about every party going.
I have strong opinions, and God gave me a big gob that I am not afraid to use, allied to an unending stubborn streak, this can make me very effective in a fight, and make no mistakes, the thieves and incompetents that riddle the Civic Centre and the upper echelons of the city council, will not give in without a fight.
Questions by Clare White, Burslem.
- 1) What are your connections to this ward, why have you chosen to represent this ward?
I’ve attended several meetings in this ward Clare, and the one thing that really impressed me was the willingness of so many to get off their backsides and attend. I consider this vital if you want to see the area regenerated. A councillor can only achieve so much, but with the backing and support of the community, miracles are possible.
Question by Ian Norris, Tunstall.
1) Can you explain -in detail- your strategy to bring big business into the area, particularly in sectors such as finance which is a well paid sector and is entirely under represented in Stoke on Trent? (Remember the business rates on office premises is much lower here than in other areas.)
Ian, we have to compete with so many other areas, so we have to be imaginative and innovative .Stoke-on-Trent has unequalled access to the railway, airport, and arterial road systems, which is a good start, but the city council have no idea! We should be showing big business that we have the physical and mental capabilities to make this city a fantastic home for them! I’ve already talked about running the council fleet vehicles on veggie oil and having our own bio-mass plant, but one of the most neglected areas is recycling. This city could not only save a fortune, but make one as well, if it was prepared to confront the challenges! If the council vehicles ran on vegetable oil, they could be run at a minimal cost, which means they could be used all the more. If instead of packing paper and sending it away, why not recycle it ourselves? With a captive audience of outlets that include schools, the NHS, Staffs Police, the City Council, the recycling and provision of paper would not only create a huge income for the city, but would also create jobs for the city too!
And innovative, creative ideas will produce interest amongst the big employers in the country. You add to these ideas low business rates, deals on business premises, lowered council tax in exchange for jobs and the companies you want to attract will come! You will need to make sure that Labours malignant influence is kept out of the decision making process though.
As to your ideas on attracting financial industries to the Potteries, one idea might be to spilt the six towns up into different areas of employment. You could have the administrative section in Stoke, the financial district in another area, Hanley is retail, though you could have a market town, and so on and so forth.
- 2) If you do manage to attract businesses into the area, what will you do to ensure that a high proportion of managerial and supervisory jobs go to local people rather than allowing companies to import their top paid employees from outside the area? (As is the case now)
Ian. In exchange for the jobs being sourced locally, we make the kind of reductions already mentioned, we sweeten the pot so they come here and select their employees from the people of Stoke. I was on Facebook this morning complaining that my daughter couldn’t find work, despite having 17 GCSE’s, a handful of which were A’s! She has A’s in maths, chemistry, business studies, Microsoft computing, but she can’t get work, it’s bloody ridiculous!
The workforce is here, so is the intelligence, what we’re lacking is any kind of imagination and drive from a city council that is supposed to represent us, but in reality is only there to serve itself.
- What will you do to bring local salary levels up to the National average, or at least the average in the West Midlands?
The only way to bring salary levels up is to attract in the big companies, and to make sure that salaries are attached to the job, and not the person selected to do the job! We can do deals with companies to make sure that decent levels of salary are paid, even if that means cutting business rates, because what we lose in business rates, we make up for in reduced benefits and improved income tax receipts.
Questions by Andy, Bankeyfields