Cabinet members have discussed a variety of topics including landlord licencing, the brand new East West retail development, new schools and even expanding the lifespans of Stoke residents.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s executive cabinet have agreed
to a whole range of proposals with the overarching aim of kick-starting regeneration
across the city.
Leader of the Council Mohammed Pervez was absent from the
meeting due to personal circumstances but all other members were present, with
Deputy Chair Paul Shotton chairing the meeting
EastWest Retail Development
The cabinet have agreed to enforce Community Purchase Orders
(CPOs) if necessary when developing the brand new EastWest retail development area in Hanley.
The council had announced that the purchase of the land surrounding
the existing bus station in order for it to be demolished was essential in
keeping the project on track and on budget.
According to the report produced to the cabinet, failing to
own the land in its entirety will risk not only the completion of the new bus
station due to a hold-up in funding, but also the entire East West Shopping
Centre project which has been in the works for several years.
Cabinet member for regeneration Ruth Rosenau told The
Sentinel: “The reason why we need CPO powers is
for a worst-case scenario.
“We will still do everything we can to reach an amicable agreement with these
“City Centre Realm” Regeneration
The cabinet member for Finance, Sarah Hill, spoke at the
cabinet meeting of how previous plans to update the city centre have perhaps
faltered but that the plans in place today will provide Hanley with a new hope
Cllr Hill told cabinet: “I want to be in the position where
I go into Hanley and my heart sings.”
This optimism was unanimous as the council approved plans to
redevelop Hanley’s walkways over the next two years. Pedestrian zones linking
the existing Potteries Shopping centre, the new bus station and the planned
East West retail development will be overhauled.
A total of almost £29,000 will be injected into Tontine and
Percy Street providing seats, bins, hanging baskets and trees as well as
changes to the road layouts.
Cabinet member for Economic Development, Mark Meredith,
urged cabinet members that the “proof will be in the pudding that we can
The controversial topic of a pigeon cull was also raised at the meeting, with the possible deployment of falcons to the city centre suggested. The cabinet didn’t overturn the decision despite complaints from residents.
Two more phases of redevelopment are currently being
Building Schools For Future
The cabinet also discussed the Building Schools for Future scheme currently
rolling out across Stoke-on-Trent. Many of the city’s secondary schools and new
academies are receiving a massive overhaul thanks to government grants.
The government will continue to invest over £200m into
Stoke-on-Trent schools, with the city council providing £55m in partnership,
with £35m being supported borrowing.
The result of the works, expected to be seen by 2015, will
give “staff a fantastic environment to work in and [Stoke-on-Trent] will become
a beacon for teachers looking for a great place to work” according to Cllr
The Deputy Chair, Cllr Shotton noted that credit should be
given to both the previous and current governments for continuing to invest in
Stoke-on-Trent’s school system.
One of the city’s most deprived residential areas is to be
the centre-point of a new council policy aiming to improve living standards.
Selective Licensing is all about the city council being able
to “act proactively in partnership with landlords to address the problems” of
low living standards. It means the council will be regulating landlords in the
area, ensuring they’re keeping their properties to a high and lawful standard.
Two areas have been selected across Bond Street and Pinnox
Landlords will have to apply for a licence from the council
and will have to meet the following requirements:
– provide a gas safety certificate
– keep electrical appliances and
furniture (supplied under the tenancy) in a safe condition;
– keep smoke alarms in proper working
– supply the occupier with a written
tenancy agreement; and
– demand references from persons wishing
to occupy the house.
This is all part of the city council’s plan to make the city
a great place to live and work.
Landlords in the agreed areas will be liable for prosecution
for not obtaining a licence or breaching its conditions.
Cabinet member for Housing and Neighbourhoods, Gwen Hassall,
informed the cabinet that the house values in the trial are were 61% down on
average prices in the nearby area and that the low demand for housing and high
levels of anti-social behaviour make the area perfect for selective licensing
She said: “We’ve got to raise the standard of the
properties. We really do need to protect the people who live there. They’re
afraid to come out of their homes now as a result of anti-social behaviour.”
She also highlighted the importance of the five year project
as some 3.4m properties in the city are privately rented.
Deputy chair of the cabinet Paul Shotton told the council he’d
like to see the scheme rolled out into other areas.
Local Transport Plan
Cabinet members also agreed to submit the new Local Transport Plan 3 to the next full City Council meeting in September. The plan outlines the vision Stoke-on-Trent City Council will adopt to transport in the city for the next 15 years.
The Plan had been looked at previously by the City Renewal Overview and Scrutiny committee and although not yet released, the comments made in the meeting suggest the plan may include plans to promote bus use.
City Council Vehicles
During a report outlining the plan for renewing lease-holds and purchasing
council vehicles, cabinet member for City Services, Janine Bridges, told the
cabinet that some of the council’s vehicles do not live up to EU standards and
that in the future, she will be looking into the possibility of dual fuel cars
and a more environmentally-friendly approach to the council’s fleet.
Although this item was closed to members of the public
during the cabinet meeting due to its close relation to council finances –
cabinet members have probably approved plans to reinvest in the city’s CCTV and
ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) systems by building a brand new control
centre and updating the current but outdated system.