Nine-foot Saxon warrior comes to Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent residents are being given the chance to attend an exclusive VIP preview of the unveiling of a new work of art inspired by the world-renowned Staffordshire Hoard.

The Staffordshire Saxon – an inspiring nine foot sculpture of an Anglo-Saxon warrior – will be unveiled to the public at an exclusive after-hours event at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, in the city centre, on Thursday, May 17. Continue reading

Newham Council want to move homeless families to Stoke-on-Trent

Reported widely on the BBC this morning, Newham Council says it can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation.

To solve this problem it has written to Brighter Futures Housing Association in Stoke-on-Trent with an opportunity for them to lease 500 homes to it.

Continue reading

14 editorial jobs at risk as The Sentinel restructures

The Sentinel LogoFourteen jobs are at risk of redundancy at Northcliffe subsidiary Staffordshire Sentinel News and Media.

The Stoke Sentinel publisher has announced a newsroom restructure that will see a shakeup of its photographic, sport, design and features departments and the scrapping of its monthly standalone magazine North Staffordshire with immediate effect. Continue reading

Simon Darby On ‘That’ No-Show At The Youth Hustings In Hanley

Audio Interview With Simon Darby Online Now!

Many people have commented and given their opinions on BNP Candidate Simon Darby’s no-show at the Youth Hustings event at the Victoria Hall in Hanley last week.

Today we can bring you an exclusive Audio Interview with Simon Darby and get his side of the story.

The YMCA/Sentinel organised Youth Husting was a massive success.

The hustings was brilliantly Chaired by the Sentinel’s Editor-in-Chief Mike Sassi who made sure that all the panelists got a fair hearing and were given equal time to respond to the questions posed.

The audience made up mainly of young people between the ages of 16 – 25 grilled the panel on a wide range of topics and were widespread in their condemnation at the BNP Deputy Leader’s failure to turn up.

Simon Darby claims that he did turn up at 17.45 and sat in his parked car opposite the Victoria Hall. He also claims that he met up with Stoke BNP Leader Michael Coleman around 18.00.

In this exclusive Audio Interview, Simon Darby gives his reasons for not going into the venue and also tells us his views on the event, it’s organisers, the Sentinel, the Police and what life would be like if he were successful in his bid to take the Stoke-on-Trent Central Seat.

His also gives us his thoughts on Mark Fisher, the Labour Party and Alby Walker who he claims may not stand after all.

The Audio is in 2 parts and lasts for around 15mins in total. So make a cuppa sit back, relax and listen……..


Another example of officer incompetence!

Hot on the heels on the failure to implement a rise in car parking charges, which would have netted our local Authority a substantial sum of money, we have another fine example of officer incompetence.

Today’s fine Iain Robinson article in the Sentinel highlights another member decision that has not been implemented.

Result? Another failure to boost the council coffers!

I refer of course to the proposed installation of bus lane camera’s that should have been covering many of the city’s bus only lanes.

The camera’s needed to have the Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology, costing £140,000, following a successful trial period, using standard CCTV.

Now, this was originally agreed back in 2003 and this failure has cost the city in the region of £300,000.

It has to be a total priority for the incoming chief exec John Van de Laarschot to ensure that all decisions that are passed by elected members are implemented in the correct time frames.

This latest cock up is another slap in the face to us, the council tax paying public of the city.

We are constantly told that our council must save in the region of £45 million of the next three years and that there can be no guarantee that front line services will not be affected.

And yet here we have yet another blatant example of the sort of incompetence that angers the public to the core.

I would place a hefty bet that the officer that is responsible is no longer working for this authority. But assurances must be given via our city’s leading politician that cock ups like this are a thing of the past.

Ross Irving must take a political stance over issues like this article by Robbo raises. It is not acceptable for Ross to keep jumping to the defence of officers who fail in their duties just because it isn’t the done thing to criticise in public.

Well let me remind you Ross, It is the PUBLIC that bare the brunt of such incompetence and it is our pockets that are stretched to cover the shortfalls that short comings of certain officers create.



New versus traditional media – and plain old spin!

Comment By Tony Walley updated by Mike Rawlins

Comment by - Tony Walley

Comment by - Tony Walley

As you know this site has come in for a fair bit of praise recently at national levels.

This coming weekend we have been invited to a conference to discuss how to advance new media technology.

A week later we have been invited to take part in another high profile conference with some serious hitters and we will give you the details as soon as we can.

I know certain people may accuse us of ‘banging our drum’, and to a point that is fair. You see we know that there is a real prejudice against this site and the type of media we present and to be honest it’s all something of a pain and is most certainly frustrating!

Don’t get me wrong here, this site has a healthy relationship with our local paper the Sentinel and it’s editor Mike Sassi [in my humble opinion he has saved it from closing]. We have a lot of respect for their reporters, who do a great job in what is at the moment, a difficult industry. Newspaper sales are falling and titles are dropping out of existence. I don’t think this will happen to the Sentinel though as many people [me included] still buy and support our local paper and long may that continue.

I get asked the question ‘are you trying to replace the printed press?’ often and the answer is straightforward and honest, – no we are not. We see ourselves as an alternative, a kind of citizen news source. People these days access the news on their terms and want to take part in online discussions and voice their opinions and I feel that sites like these are ideal for that.

We would welcome a better relationship with the communications department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council but fear it will not happen. We get regular feedback that this site is not popular with the head of communications and that he rolls out the old chestnut about us being un-regulated press.

We always strive to write our articles within the guidelines of the Press Complaints Commissions  ‘Editors’ Code of Practice’ and the funny thing is the PCC and the code, bangs on about being self regulatory. I think we regulate ourselves extremely well, that is to say that Matt Taylor does as he has the remit of keeping us on the good side of being naughty. Matt has a journalism degree and a press card and yet it is likely that if he went to a press conference organised by the communications department at SOTCC he would be refused entrance because he would be representing us – pathetic!

The editors code of practice does not cover user content [i.e your comments] yet this is what we get criticised for the most.

Today we have printed an article about Staffordshire County Council streaming their council debate live on the Internet this coming Thursday. Their press department is a lot more inclusive too, as is Newcastle-under-Lyme’s.

Here in Stoke we are lucky if we turn up to a full council meeting where all the microphones in the chamber are in working order!

Why is our local council and in particular the communications department so out of touch and behind the times? Why, in a time when the government wants more community engagement, must we rely on a comprehensive report on this site and an article in our local paper to see whats going on in our city and within our council chamber?

As Pits’n’Pots moves forward and the new site is ready for release [coming soon guys!] we will have the technology to stream live audio over the Internet and possibly video too. We would love to see the council embracing this initiative and to work with us as a partner to get the council debates out to a wider audience. We would also provide a listen/watch again option for people who can not watch or listen live.

Yes it would cost the council some money but nowhere near what it would cost to bring in a film company to do the job for them.

Could I see the council going for this idea? The councillors yes, they would welcome it. The communications department? No definitely not – no way! They have set their stall out on this issue that is for sure.

The sad point in all of these issues is that we as a site could quite easily make the small step to being the online media outlet for the city of Stoke-on-Trent. An alternative news source [which is what we do now], a community radio station with massive local content managed by local people and a video news/feature option too.

We involved in this site have a clear vision of where we want to be, we could use some help, advice and support from our local authority but I can’t see it appearing on our horizon can you?

Our local authority are not allowed to discriminate against anyone, yet the management of our communications department may discriminate against who the hell they like and for no good reason.

While this is allowed to continue this city will witness all those around us to flourish and embrace new media with it’s technology, while we all stand still and watch all that is new, pass us by.

Update 29 September

I thought it prudent to update this post rather than detract from the good news the the City Council has chosen a new Chief Executive.  Once again the Press & Communications department have shown their true colours and not published a press release about John van de Laarschot. Granted the full council need to ratify the decision but non the less the news is out there that Stoke-on-Trent City Council have found a new Chief Executive.  How did the news get out there?  Our sources inside the Civic Centre have told us that the Sentinel were given a private briefing on this story this afternoon.

So once again an officer of the council is allowed to discriminate against us as a news outlet.

Has it stopped us? No, will these childish outdated views about ‘new media’ and in particular our site stop us from providing and alternative source for council news? No, we will continue to do this in spite of the Press & Communications department.