Friday, March 06, 2009

A secret scandal

It seems that Local Government in Stoke-on-Trent is in total freefall.

I've not got time to put all the links in here to the stories I'll mention, but they can be found on the net and in the local press - though they have received little coverage nationally.

First, the education authority has been taken out of control of the council and is in special measures, mainly because of deep seated weaknesses in children's services. The proposals of outside agents Serco are meeting with much controversy in the city, and reorganisation of the city's schools is first on, then off, and under review again.

Secondly, an independent body has found the city council fundamentally unfit for purpose, and has proposed a radical reshaping of the council, reducing it from 60 members to 20, which would mean one councillor per ward. The councillors have rejected these proposals (hardly surprising, as at least 40 of them will lose their seats). This means that the changes are delayed, and the elected members have in effect extended their terms. We now wait for the government overrule the council and to impose the changes.

Thirdly, the electorate - always ready to vote against the status quo - voted to remove the elected mayoralty. It will be replaced in May by a leader elected by councillors, and with no clear candidate there is the real possibility that the council could have a leader from the BNP.

Fourthly - and fifthly - arrests have taken place of the leader of the conservative group and of the elected mayor over allegations of corruption. Details are thin, but with many millions of pounds of regeneration funds being poured into the city it is not hard to guess that the allegations may concern the awarding of contracts or favouring of developers or something along those lines. Of course these are currently only allegations - but in how many other parts of the country have the elected mayor and the leader of a party group on the council been arrested and are currently out on bail?

Yet to my astonishment there seems to be no mention in the National News and no one seems to be linking these sad instances of disfunction together ...

... it all makes my little bleating about the Coachmakers seem small beer (excuse the expression) but I think it is symptomatic of this greater malaise of a local government which is ... as we watch ... just falling apart.

Will anyone do anything about this? Can anyone? Who cares about Stoke-on-Trent?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fr Peter..can you update to my new blog??