Should the “forgotten” Meir have its own city council?
Community activists are campaigning to set up a town council in Meir to give people more say in what is happening in their “forgotten” neighborhood.
Members of the Meir Matters group say the people of Meir – sometimes called the pottery’s ‘seventh town’ – are sometimes overlooked by Stoke-on-Trent City Council on issues such as planning.
They believe an elected city council – an additional layer of local government below the city council – would give Meir a stronger voice, while raising funds to be spent locally through a council tax precept.
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Meir Matters has started a petition asking the city council to carry out a governance review, the first step towards the establishment of a city council.
The proposed boundaries for the Meir Town Council would encompass the wards of Meir North and Meir South, minus the part of the latter which is in Lightwood, and with the addition of Broadway.
In order to trigger a governance review, 10% of voters must sign a petition, which equates to 1,440 people in Meir.
Once this objective has been achieved, the municipal council must hold a formal consultation within 12 months. As of this writing, a total of 963 people have signed the Meir petition.
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Meir Matters President Michelle Swift believes that local people are increasingly keen to have more influence over the region’s development.
She said: “There have been a lot of changes that have happened in Meir where people feel they haven’t had a say. For example, the king’s arms were such an important part of the Meir’s story, but they were demolished.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t the right thing to do, and now we have a health center on this site. But I think the local people should have been more involved in the decision. Maybe something thing could have been saved.
“Meir Matters has been going on for over three years now, but there are various things we want to do that are made more difficult because the city council has its own procedures that need to be followed – things like Meir in Bloom and the events of Christmas.
“I can understand why they have these procedures, but I think it would be easier if we had our own local council. We would also have a stronger voice on local planning requests.
“The main aim is not to raise a lot of money to spend – most of the work will be done by volunteers. But the precept would be just £2 a month, so £24 a year. And the money could be spent on whatever the people of Meir wanted, for example they might want the town council to employ an enforcer because there have been problems with dog fouling.
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Michelle expects the city council to have 10 to 12 councillors, which matches similar city and parish councils elsewhere.
She added: “I know it’s ironic, but I don’t want to be a councilor myself. There are a lot of capable and enthusiastic people in Meir who have the qualifications to be councillors.”
Unlike neighboring areas such as Newcastle and the Staffordshire moors, Stoke-on-Trent has no parish or town council.
The City Council last carried out a governance review in 2015, following a similar City Council campaign in Fenton.
Councilors ended the Fenton review after deciding there was little public interest in a council, due to the low response rate from the consultation.
Residents who support the Meir campaign are hoping for a different outcome this time.
Nik Worsdale, a resident of Meir, said: “I think the proposal for a town council in Meir is excellent. Meir has been forgotten for too long. There are so many things that can be done in Meir to make it a great place to live, work and visit.
“If Meir City Council has powers and money to spend just on Meir, then I’m all for it.”
The Meir City Council petition can be viewed here.