EyeSpy Oh how the mighty are fallen!

David Conway was not the only one with a big smile on his face Friday morning as Labour awoke to the short sharp judgement of the residents of Springfields and Trent Vale. Whilst it might not stop the move, the backlash against the move to the CBD was apparent, which raised the spirits of many council officers on Friday morning. Parking in Stoke may not be perfect, but the thought of a daily game of ‘musical parking spaces’ followed by a forced tutorial on how you should cycle to work rather than moan about paying £25 a year to spend 20 minutes looking for a parking spot before abandoning hope and parking in Tesco, is a step too far for some.

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Inside the Civic

Those who thought all out elections would bring some stability to our Council must be feeling embarrassed this week as Council Leader Mohammed Pervez took a scalpel to his cabinet, cutting out the disobedient Gratton and challenger Hill, and carving up the other portfolios in what is quite clearly more than the ‘tweaking’ he described it as.

The introduction of Platt and Dutton is seen as a nod to the left wingers in the group, who re-emerged in 2011 to rival the modernisers who were in danger of taking over Labour. Continue reading

Why pennies do matter

The best way to start a blog is often with a cliche. Look after the pennies, we are told, however contrast this to the claim often thrown at those in opposition – you’re missing the big picture. Can you do both? Of course – anyone who decides to forgo their small indulgences in favour of saving for a house, a car, a holiday is doing just that. So why the brickbats when a councillor suggests a bit of care with small budgets?

One of the first blogs I ever wrote focused on my confusion as a new councillor at the amount of letters I get from in response to emails I’ve sent. Why can’t you email me back? I appreciate that some things have to be sent as a letter – but the ultimate snub surely to cost effectiveness is to say that one letter to one person won’t break the budget, as I have been told recently by one organisation in response to a Freedom of Information request I made. Continue reading

In minority but making a difference

Jack BreretonYoung people are often seen as disengaged in politics. However Jack Brereton is different. Rochelle Owusu-Antwi speaks to one of the only two Conservative councillors on the city council, and he is the youngest at just 20 years old

Stoke-on-Trent’s youngest ever councillor Jack Brereton is encouraging more young people across the city to get involved in politics.

The 20-year-old politician believes the council should be a diverse mix of younger and older generations working together to form a more representative and democratic body. Some of the 44 councillors Jack works alongside are three times his age. Continue reading

500 Words From Abi Brown

It doesn’t seem like 12 months ago that I was last writing about why I would
like to be a City Councillor – and being elected last year was one of the
proudest moments of my life. Over 2200 people put their faith in me, and I
hope I have done my best to fulfil the pledges I made.

Being a visible councillor in my ward is important to me – I’ve held regular
surgeries, kept in touch through newsletters and by attending Residents
Associations and other events, and generally getting out and about. I’ve
blogged about my experiences, many of which have been republished on
Pits&Pots. I’ve also worked hard to find solutions to problems, such as anti
social behaviour and road safety, and although I can’t claim to have solved
all these issues, I’ve certainly helped to improve the situation.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to be visible and ensure residents’ needs are
put first.

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’ the saying goes, and alongside every councillor is
a team of Council officers and operatives, representatives from partner
organisations such as the Police, Fire Service and NHS, residents, community
groups, and also when looking at bigger strategic issues locally, other
councillors. As the Council reorganises itself, the role of councillor will
change to be more hands on, which has always been my approach anyway. One of
the best things about being a councillor in the Meir area is the fantastic
people I’ve been able to work with, and the successes we’ve achieved
together, such as the flowers in Meir, the focus on street cleaning and the
reduction in anti social behaviour. So much is achievable when people work

If re-elected, I’ll continue to work with residents, community group and
partners to get the best for my ward and area.

Councillors have many roles – however one of the most challenging is trying
to be both a good local councillor but also willing to stick your head above
the parapet for the City. Perhaps because I’m a Conservative, I’m used to
taking a bit of flack, but we need as a collective of councillors to be both
proud and pushy for our City. I’m not prepared to sit back and be a
passenger – the Council Chamber is a pretty scary place, but I view it like
a stage, and I know residents don’t elect councillors to be part of the
background scenery. I quickly decided to dismiss the voices that said I
should sit and watch for a while, and instead I got up and spoke. I don’t
have all the answers, but I want to be part of the debate and contribute
what I can.

If re-elected, I’ll continue to speak up for both my ward and my City, and
contribute to the debate on how we can make Stoke-on-Trent a place we can
all be proud of.

Last year, I asked residents who would not normally vote Conservative to
lend me their vote so I could show them what I could do, as a local person
sincere in wanting to do the right thing and get the best deal for the area.
I hope that over the last year I have proved this to be the case.

New Feature – A Week In The Life Of A New Councillor – Abi Brown

We are pleased to bring you the first in what will be a regular feature. A week in the life of a new councillor, will hopefully give us an insight into the way a Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor juggles their civic duty with their everyday lives.

This week we hear from the newly elected Conservative Councillor for the ward of Meir Park & Sandon, Abi Brown.

I don’t think it was my imagination, but a quiet murmur went round the room when I entered my first induction session as a new City councillor. The “ËœMissing Councillor’ had arrived. My notoriety spreads, though as I assured my new colleagues, I wouldn’t have gone quietly!

The “ËœMissing Councillor’ story began as I was the only new member not to have signed their Declaration on Monday, as I had family commitments. Suddenly landed with a never ending pile of paperwork and a long list of meetings, seminars and training sessions, it’s easy to see how the Council could take over your life, however as we were reminded, we need to have lives too. And for me, life revolves around my husband and 4 year old son.

I’ve been involved in politics since my late teens, so my family are quite used to the demands that activism makes, however I think being a councillor is going to take a bit of getting used to. The paper trail around the house that came with the general and local elections has ended, only to be replaced with a new one. There has been a trickle of Council post all week, topped by a big bundle collected from the pigeon holes on Friday, with just a little bit more arriving Saturday morning for good measure. I’d like to think this deluge is all because a) there is a lot for new councillors to know, and b) we don’t all yet have Council email up and running, so paper copies are being provided of everything. There is another option, that councillors just receive loads of paperwork every week… I will keep you informed.

Being called “Ëœcouncillor’ is also something that will take a bit of getting used to. I’m plain Abi to everyone normally and to be honest, I am more used to calling others “Ëœcouncillor’ having worked for several years in local government myself. My son is just at the stage of realising that I have a name other than “Ëœmummy’, and having just grasped that my name is Abi to other grown-ups, this should totally confuse him again!

I finished the week attending my first Residents Association meeting, which was quite nice if a bit daunting. Luckily, my fellow ward councillor Clive Brian was there to ease me into the process and happily we came out of it with a few issues for me to cut my teeth on. My diary has also started to fill up, local meetings with strange acronyms, community events, and requests to meet with people ““ we haven’t even been allocated Council committees or outside bodies yet! Being self employed, I am pretty good at time management, but adding Council duties into that will be interesting ““ though I’ve always loved a challenge!

500 Words – Abi Brown – Conservative candidate for Meir Park & Sandon

**Archive Story From 2010 Election**

Just lately, I’ve noticed that when I meet people and say I’m a Conservative, their response is often one of surprise.

I have a Stoke-on-Trent accent which I’m not embarrassed about, and I don’t think many people think of short 30-something mums with children as stereotypical Conservatives.

On the one hand, they are right. I’m not what Stoke-on-Trent considers to be a stereotypical Conservative. However, on the other hand, there is no such thing as a stereotypical Conservative.

I’m a local girl from humble beginnings ““ I spent my first few years living above my dad’s garage in Shelton, and I’m the first generation of my family to go to university. I paid my way through Staffordshire University by working part time in retail, and worked in the NHS as a clerk before I got a job in local government in 2001. I’ve lived in the Meir area since 2002.

In 2005, I took a career break and went to work for a florist in Meir, delivering flowers, before starting my family the following year. I come from a family with a strong work ethic, and although I wanted to stay at home and look after my son, we couldn’t afford for me to do that. So, with limited resources, I set up my own auditing business. I also took on part of the running of a small business my husband had set up a few years before.

As my son started to grow, I got involved in community activities and am now involved in running a local playgroup and am also a trustee of a charity that is raising money for a military memorial.

I’m passionate about our area and want to help improve it for everybody. Yes, I’m a Conservative ““ but above all else, I’m a local person who is sincere in wanting to do the right thing and get the best deal for the residents of Meir Park, Sandon & Lightwood. I will be a visible councillor ““ you’ll see me all across the ward, checking that the litter patrols have been to the playgrounds, the highways repairs are done to standard, and residents’ needs are put first. I will hold regular surgeries, keep you informed on what I’m up to, and speak up for our ward in the Council Chamber.

Like all areas, we have problems, and I’ll work with residents and other councillors to find solutions to issues such as road safety and anti social behaviour, which residents tell me are some of their key concerns.

It’s time for a change in Stoke-on-Trent, a fresh pair of eyes and a new approach. I bring all these things. I would ask those Meir Park, Sandon & Lightwood residents who would not normally vote Conservative to lend me their vote ““ I will do my upmost to give you a pleasant surprise about what a local Conservative councillor can do for you.

Norsheen Bhatti fighting Stoke Central for the Conservatives launches her website

Norsheen Bhatti, the recently selected Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke Central has today launched her campaigning website www.norsheen4stoke.com

 The website is also a chance for local people to get in touch with Norsheen to tell her about the issues that affect them and about their experiences of living in Stoke Central.

The City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association fully supports their prospective parliamentary candidate for Stoke Central, and has the complete backing of Association Chairman, Abi Brown, and also Ross Irving, Conservative Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The Conservative Party Chairman, Eric Pickles MP, has already enthusiastically endorsed Norsheen as someone who will make a great MP, and the Association are proud to have such a willing and enthusiastic campaigner join our team in engaging with the voters of Stoke-on-Trent.