Thursday 16 May 2019

Local Election results at last

It's taken a long while but we finally have the done-and-dusted result from the recent local council elections in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Conservatives more than doubled their councillors in Stoke-on-Trent on the night, and now have 15 members on the council. Having concluded talks with the City Independent group councillors, it's being reported that the Conservatives will continue to work with Independents to run the city. Abi Brown (Conservative) will be the council leader for the city.

There was quite a lot of variation in turn-out for the local elections, by the look of it, from pathetically quiet in Hanley Park to what could well have been surges and queues in Baddeley.

Elsewhere, the Conservatives lost Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to 'no overall control', but it's pleasing to see that the questionable Labour candidate there lost having had a mere 77 votes. There's nothing in the news yet about who, if anyone, will be in control of a Staffordshire Moorlands coalition. I guess they're still negotiating.

The Conservatives also won the single seat that was up for grabs in a by-election over in Newcastle-under-Lyme (Maer and Whitmore Ward).

So it's on to the MEPs, next.

Thursday 9 May 2019

EU elections for North Staffordshire - who's standing?

Ok, with the Council election out the way it's now time to take a look at who Stoke and North Staffordshire gets to vote for on 23rd of May. According to the Returning Officers' official list, the parties standing EU MEP candidates for the West Midlands are, A-Z:

   Change UK — The Independent Group.
   Conservative and Unionist Party.
   Green Party.
   Labour Party.
   Liberal Democrats.
   The Brexit Party.
   UK Independence Party (UKIP).

The Brexit Party is Nigel Farage's new party, and he aims to ensure we get the Brexit we voted for.

Change UK is also an unfamiliar party name, but it seems they're the pro-EU hard-liners who recently broke with the Labour Party.

The rest of the parties you'll already be wearily familiar with.

Unlike normal elections, we don't vote for an individual candidate but rather for a Party. Each Party puts up a slate of candidates for each large region (West Midlands, North West etc). After that it all gets a bit hazy and the final results seem to involve lots of maths and proportional representation juggling — which I have no inclination to delve into. Apparently it takes forever to calculate, and the results can come a week later. But it does mean that our votes matters a bit more, more than if you're stuck in a UK Parliamentary seat with an overwhelming majority.

Old elms, new elms

Got an elm tree near you? These giants once towered over the English landscape, and are commonly supposed to have all died of imported Dutch Elm Disease in the late 1970s. But a few survived the blight.

The Great British Elm Search is mapping the still-living elm trees on its Elms Map and they want to hear about more.

"The Great British Elm Search is recording mature elm trees across the UK to build an accessible, public database that records the state of the elm population and potentially disease-resistant trees. Your help is needed to record mature elms and update the records, which are verified by a group of elm experts."

The above map shows the old trees. There's another map that shows where the newly bred disease-resistant elm saplings have been planted.

The new plantings are looking a bit sparse for North Staffordshire, though. It's still only a pioneering experiment to bring back the elms, but it would be good to see North Staffordshire doing our bit and a dozen new elms saplings springing up in and around the city.