Life is busy and fun but I've just had time to catch up with the Stoke-on-Trent full council meeting and watched the webcast. I present my personally selected 'highlights' with webcast times given in brackets.
Petition against coal bed methane extraction
Emanuel Blondel (00:16:00) from 'Gas Free Stoke' presented a petition against coal bed methane extraction. He expressed concerns about potential safety issues with the mine shafts and the effect on the water table. He did not think drilling was needed as we have existing methane vents. He said coal bed methane extraction would be contracted to large companies providing only poorly paid short term jobs. He expressed a preference for energy from biomass and industrial heat and he wanted a more local focus.
Update on capital spending plans
Cllr Andy Platt (00:26:53) talked about the green enterprise programme and mentioned some of the issues raised in the petition. He said a biomass boiler would be commissioned by the end of the month in Longton and a wood fuel processing hub should be operational by next summer although a site has yet to be selected. He said they were looking at organic waste treatment but gave no details. He also said they were considering geothermal sources including mine water although current investigations are inconclusive as to whether this is viable or not. He mentioned that the ceramics industry uses gas but measures 800 oC on the roof where heat escapes. He wants to find ways to use this to heat homes but didn't give further detail. He said coal bed methane shouldn't be confused with shale gas and it would be useful to collect and use the coal bed methane readily available.
CllrJack Brereton (00:32:52) criticised the council's move of the civic centre and the risky debt involved. He rightly pointed out that leaving out interior costs for the new building was misleading and verges on negligence.
Cllr Paul Breeze (00:44:09) also criticised the debt, lack of openness and lack of public support. He said they were holding back the Potteries Shopping Centre from opening a business. He accused the council leaders of recklessness and said he could not support the proposal.
Cllr Ann James (0:45:33) said she and the city independents had voted against the capital programme in February because they weren't happy with the risk assessment and costings, they are not allowed to debate this and at the last cabinet they were not allowed to call in the issue for scrutiny! She criticised the accuracy of the figures because an extra £30million is now required including 7.5million for the central business district. She questioned how many times it would come back requiring more money and said she would not support the proposal.
Cllr Adrian Knapper (0:52:19) talked about other cities and their shopping centre developments. He seems to want another shopping centre, but we've got the Potteries shopping centre. In my view it would be all very well having another one if there were any businesses or customers wanting it, but there doesn't appear to be much evidence of this.