Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Meeting 30/1/14

I've only just viewed the webcast of the Stoke-on-Trent full council meeting of 30th January 2014, there were speakers for two petitions and an interesting debate on the High Speed 2 rail line plans.


Alan Barrett (00:26:48) presented a petition arguing against council expenditure on the central business district (CBD) and high pay and allowances for councillors and staff.  I would agree that the CBD spending is ill thought out, if businesses want to come to Hanley then fine, but sparse council tax payers money should not be wasted there.  I wouldn't agree with Alan's proposed 30% cut in expenses.  If expenses are what is meant, then actual expenditure should be reimbursed, as even Alan says.  Salaries and allowances were also mentioned and whilst some of these are ridiculously high, I would prefer a solution of curbing pay rises for the higher paid and not taking on staff at crazily high salaries.  Alan highlighted that pay rises for some low paid staff are poor but for some already highly paid staff are high.

Cllr Terry Follows (00:30:24) presented a petition to make Hanford Park an Alcohol Restriction Zone due to the culture of late night drinking and the damage caused to children’s play equipment.  Terry talked about the problems of not only under age drinking but those old enough to drink causing problems by damaging play equipment, leaving broken bottles, bad language and drug taking.  Terry thought that ideally there would be a blanket ban on drinking in all parks in the city, but clearly this park is in his ward (the same ward I live in also).  I wholeheartedly agree, but then I choose not to drink alcohol - so I would say that wouldn't I?  One of the many reasons I choose not to drink, alongside horrible feelings in the head, reduced sensitivity and enjoyment of life, adverse health implications and consuming unnecessary calories, is the damaging effects I see it causing in society.  So I vote with my feet and avoid it myself.  The counter argument that people will make is that responsible drinking in moderation does virtually no harm to anyone so why shouldn't responsible people be allowed to drink in parks?  It's a reasonable point if I accept that others get some pleasure from alcohol, but the facts are that out there on the ground, the sort of drinking that goes on in parks is rarely responsible.  So I hope the Alcohol Restriction Zone goes ahead.

High Speed 2

I'm pushed for time for blogging, so won't refer to individual contributions in detail, but the discussion, commencing at (00:35:05) is worth viewing.  Of course there is a bit of councillor waffle, but there are some decent points made as well. The discussion and vote was on an alternative to the draft HS2 plans, which would include a station in Stoke-on-Trent.  It seems that all councillors agree with this, as I do.  There are disagreements about whether HS2 is a good idea or not.  I'm one of those who can't see a reasonable case for the amount of expenditure on this.  However given the constraint that government and opposition nationally support HS2, so we will get it anyway, the alternative detailed seems a good idea.  I haven''t been able to find a map which would have been helpful.  Points made by councillors included that the council's alternative proposal allows better access to HS2 from our area, improvements to the city that would arise, a better route both environmentally and politically, cheaper and with a sooner completion date.  It was stated that Newcastle Borough Council approves Stoke-on-Trent's alternative proposal but Stone Town Council does not.  There wasn't much clarity presented on Staffordshire County Council's view.

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