Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I have various discussions about community wardens. The funding for these (which used to come mainly from central government) has now run out and I want to ensure that the City Council keeps them in place until a proper review of their usefulness can be carried out. I am confident that the review will confirm my support for them and we must then find ways of funding them right across the city. Unfortunately there seems to be a certain amount of party politicking going on but I believe that after the election Labour will start to listen to the positive views from many people.

I launch a programme to get CCTV cameras in private hire vehicles. This is a really important safety initiative for drivers who are some of our most vulnerable and yet necessary workers. In the past they seem to have been subjected to rules and regulations rather than assisted to contribute to the city’s economy. I want for instance to open up bus lanes to them as soon as this comes within the power of the council.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I am getting a great deal of support in campaigning from Independent Councillors. More than anybody else they understand that Labour victory would mean the imposition of party policies often dictated from outside the city and we would lose the openness, flexibility and energy which is now beginning to flow. Even those who don’t like the Mayoral system are now being very supportive aware of course that discussion about the system will wait until there is another referendum on that (which I would support) and I hope will introduce a Cabinet to our decision making at the end of my next term.

I am on Cross Rhythms Radio and am able to congratulate them upon getting their five year broadcasting licence. This is another great achievement for the city. They are a very committed and cheerful bunch of people who have also demonstrated great skill both in broadcasting and steering round the government’s broadcasting regulations.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I visit Stoke Cycle Speedway Club who are shortly to take over a disused bowling green in Etruria Park to create a new track for themselves. This will be a really good addition to the park’s facilities and will also be a vast improvement for this club. They are a very impressive group of people completely self managed and producing many nationally recognised cyclists including one who has just been part of the British at an international event in Australia.

I have discussions with leaders of the Bangladeshi community. They have recently elected a committee for the Bangladeshi Welfare Association which is a very welcome as I think it will give them the organisation to speak up about their needs as a community. As a small group it would be easy for them to be ignored but it is clear that we need the initiative and ingenuity of every community within the city if we are to regenerate ourselves so this must not be allowed to happen.

I also visit the Lads and Dads football championship. This is an incredible organisation which brings together thousands of youngsters and their parents in an activity which keeps people fit, gives them a feeling of success, knowledge of team work and improves people’s parenting. It is one of the city’s great success stories and I would like to applaud it.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Supporters are out campaigning across the city and I speak to hundreds of people. Our literature is clearly well liked and in stark contrast to the Labour stuff which really just knocks me. In Tunstall supporters have placed an A4 poster on a tree whilst they give out leaflets next to it. Across the square Joan Whalley’s supporters have fly posted Labour posters in a similar way on a boarded up shop. Mid morning the Sentinel turn up with Labour Councillor, Dave Conway. He wants to have his picture taken with our poster (to which my supporters have no objection.) Later I hear from the Sentinel that he is complaining that the council is allowing my posters where they would not allow his previously. Of course this is complete nonsense. The poster which he was asked to remove was enormous and strung across safety railing around a roundabout. The Council is not permitting my poster at all and it will be removed once the supporters leave the area. Actually there is a long tradition of Labour trying to bully people out of freedom of speech which I find very depressing. I doubt if the Sentinel will run the story because it seems so trivial but I am sure the public will see it for what it is if they do.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The election campaign seems quiet. The Sentinel have decided once again to run a daily series of feature articles about particular issues accompanied by remarks on them from each candidate. This is admirable in its comprehensiveness and the issues chosen are undoubtedly major concerns to the public. However it is a bit frustrating because it doesn’t allow debates between candidates to develop as they would were our speeches or other events reported as news.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I visit Fenton market distributing leaflets and talking to people. Many people in Fenton do feel like it is a “forgotten town.” This is despite the fact tat we have spent money directly there on things like street lighting, improvements to rear alleys, changed the cleaning mechanisms etc and also that it is ideally placed to participate in the regeneration not just for the city centre but also Longton and Stoke town.
Tonight the City Council wins Public Servant of the Year Award in London for some of our housing services. This is a great honour for the city and I send a congratulatory note to the team.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I launch “Start Up.” This is an initiative aimed at helping parents back into work. It gives them intensive help from a mentor to enable them to overcome whatever are their individual blockages to regaining employment. It seems to me that this will be very good not just for the parents but also for their children who will be brought up in households with a better income and with parents who are hopefully more stimulated and engaged.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I launch a very successful recruitment fair at which the City Council’s various departments and some of our partner organisations explain to ethnic minority people the kind of jobs which may be on offer. Encouraging more BME people to work for the council is vital if we are to become an organisation that understands first hand the real concerns of BME people. The event is very successful both in the number of displays we have and visitors to it.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Local Strategic Partnership meets. The community is now at last well represented and their involvement gives the Board a very different (and much more relevant) feel. The LSP does bring together thinking from all our relevant partner agencies with the community. We discuss various strategies and ensure that we have a system in place to monitor the activity towards our goals. I talk informally with some members about anti-social behaviour afterwards. It is clear from this that the wardens are very popular and successful in reassuring people about anti-social behaviour and providing the intelligence that police need to do their job of countering it. It is also true that unfortunately police do not (for whatever reason) attend anything like as often as communities would like and this is a contributory factor in a habit of anti-social behaviour which exists in far too many of our communities.

Tonight I take part in a Radio Stoke debate with other Mayoral candidates. Mark Meredith sits reading answers from a little red note book. It is clear that he would be a puppet of the Labour Group if elected and that this would be a disaster for the City as we lurch back to the kind of unimaginative compromises that ruled policy formulation in the past.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I spend time on office work and discussing the campaign with some members of the team. We have a very talented bunch and lots of support by way of volunteers and funding etc.
I am on the campaign trail and today we have a successful concert in the city centre. This is an opportunity to chat to people in a relaxed atmosphere about their concerns and issues of importance. So far people feel very positive about my re-election which is very encouraging. The issue is clearly going to be whether or not enough of them - particularly on general election day - will break their lifetime habit of blind loyalty to the Labour Party. I think the pace of change in the last two years has been so quick that people have noticed it and this will be enough to encourage them to allow me the time I need to nurture the green shoots to full growth.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I open the Observatory Clubhouse which is a new community centre for people facing mental health challenges. This is a development out of the Cobridge American Clubhouse and the new building will specialise in creative arts. There is a very nice gallery in which people can sell paintings etc thus having a permanent exhibition based on the very successful “Hidden Talents” exhibition which was at the art gallery. Talking to many of the service users I am struck by the importance of allowing them a big say in the design of the services which they need and also of the creativity of people which society often tends to “write off.”

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I visit a successful local firm that does shop fitting nationwide from its Blurton headquarters. Once again a clear demonstration that manufacturing is not dead but that it requires a high standard of design and is likely to work best with small numbers of high quality custom built goods.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I launch a consultation event for Dransfield Properties in Tunstall. This is looking at the next phase of their redevelopment there which will include a very exciting new health centre. I spend the afternoon at a RENEW away day which is an opportunity to think strategically about the direction the project is taking. In particular we do need to communicate much better with the public in order to demonstrate to them the fact that RENEW really is about improving housing. So far it seems to have talked more about demolition than the end product which will be better housing for everybody whether in refurbished or new build units.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I visit Mould Art who are a local company that are successfully linking a number of redundant pottery designers, mould makers etc to employment opportunities. They are also exporting our design skills to China and the Far East which is an example of how our high value working can be retained in the global economy.

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