Stoke-n-Trent’s Newest Political Party ‘Community Voice’ Launch

28 Jul 2010
Posted by Tony Walley

Stoke-on-Trent has a new political party – Community Voice.

Oh no! Not another one, some may say. Well this is an amalgamation of 2 existing groups, the Non-Aligned and The Potteries Alliance. So the net result is one group less in the council chamber.

Community Voice officially launched yesterday [Tuesday]. There were a number of people present including media, members of the public and former Labour Party members maybe looking for a new home.

The city’s latest political party will be represented in the chamber by 5 sitting councillors, Mick Salih, Peter Kent-Baguley, Mike Barnes, Pauline Joynson and Janine Bridges. They will instantly become the fourth largest group on the Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Community Voice’s main priority will be to scrutinise every decision made by the council’s ruling coalition led by the Labour Group and assisted by the Conservative & Independent Alliance, the Liberal Democrats and The City Independent Group, who between them have 47 of the 60 seats.

At next years ‘all out’ council elections, Community Voice is hoping to contest many of the 44 post Boundary Committee Review wards. They will target existing community activists who are currently serving their communities as volunteers.

The new kids in town have already commissioned a party website and adopted a new logo. They have published a draft policy document and set out their core aims and values.

The new party are claiming that they have a large number of people outside the council chamber who have expressed a desire to join.

There is no doubt that all five of this merry band of councillors are committed to making a difference. They set out their priorities at the launch and each spoke passionately about serving the communities that elected them before their duties in the council chamber. That said, they re-iterated commitment to the Overview & Scrutiny process.

The new group will also campaign to rid the city of the Leadership and Cabinet system of governance in favour of the ‘Enhanced Committee’ model

Listen to the Audio Interview with Cllr Mick Salih below.

Watch the videos of the Community Voice members addressing the attendees at the official launch.

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Tony Walley - Interviews - Cllr Mick Salih - Community Voice

Cllr Mick Salih spokesperson for Community Voice
Cllr Mike Barnes speaking at the Peoples Voice launch
Cllr Pauline Joynson speaking at the Peoples Voice launch
Cllr Peter Kent-Baguley
Cllr Janine Bridges peaking at the Peoples Voice launch

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Nicky Davis's picture

“They will instantly become

“They will instantly become the fourth largest group”

Strictly speaking the joint fourth largest with the BNP:

“44 post Boundary Committee Review wards” – not decided yet.

Mick pushes the enhanced committee system which would be a great improvement because like he says, all councillors could be involved in decision making. Encouraging community volunteers into the council if they so wish is also a great idea. No party whip – good.

Mike gives us a great Japanese quote – really like that one. He says about putting community before party but then talks about policies, without resolving the conflict there though. I do expect they will be more open and transparent because those 5 are already amongst those more so than your average councillor.

Pauline is right about community, but the sticking point will be getting elected.

Peter gives an excellent account of the frustrations of being a councillor with some great quotes in there; referring to Kieran Clarke as a stupid little worm, the rank stupidity they have to put up with not being rewarding for councillors or the people, chasing endlessly for answers. Officers should write reports with information in them – I particularly like that one. Don’t know as the spin department will allow it though. I particularly like what Peter says about asking questions not meaning you are in the awkward squad but just thinking and wanting to analyse. He would like questions not to be seen as oppositional. You see, I come up against this all the time in a lot of areas of life. I ask questions and am sometimes seen to be confrontational or disagreeable when most of the time I quite simply and genuinely would be interested in the answers.

Janine speaks passionately about education, as I have heard her do on previous occasions. She is right that community views must be taken into account in BSF. But this has been such a struggle so far. Hope she will be able to continue to support communities on this, including wanting a school on the Mitchell site.

One thing that puzzles me, Mick and Peter both mention 45 or 46 councillors in single member wards.

But the LGBCE draft has 44 councillors in 38 wards, not all of these single member wards.

And I didn’t think the final decision was yet made by them or passed by parliament. Does somebody know something I don’t on this?

Nicky Davis - non-party political activist - a firm believer in grass roots democracy and strong local communities.

Potteye's picture

With regards to the ward

With regards to the ward boundary issues you raise Nicky, you are right - no decisions have been finalised - however, it is unlikely to change dramatically when the publication of the final report comes out.

However, we live in hope.

Cllr Mike Barnes - Longton South

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"

Guest's picture

"Community Voice" - many of

"Community Voice" - many of the things you say you will do such as replace the Cabinet system of governance in favour of the Enhanced Committee model will need Government action or even a change in the law.

Can you tell us how you intend to achieve this as the present Con-Dem Government won't be in the slightest bit interested in what you have to say, and none of the local Labour MPs will touch you with a barge pole?

Potteye's picture

The Government have given a

The Government have given a committment to put Committee Systems in the Localism Bill by the end of 2011 - giving councils the option of scrapping Cabinets.

We also have some loose contact building with other campaigners in other councils, with the same issue.

So many people said we would not get rid of the Elected Mayor System as well. MMmmmm....

Cllr Mike Barnes - Longton South

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"

Guest's picture

Is that the emblem of the

Is that the emblem of the party? A group of people huddling together conspiratorially and all looking inwards? Good work, fellas.

Potteye's picture

No knifes in the back though

No knifes in the back though as with some other groups I could mention

Cllr Mike Barnes - Longton South

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"

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