Whilst smokers around the rest of the country have been banished to outdoor shelters, there is one place the United Kingdom where they can still enjoy a cigarette in the comfort of a bar or pub without fearing the long arm of the law. That’s right, Stoke-On-Trent Council haven’t failed to disappoint and have continued their almost uninterrupted chain of mishaps and blunders with the failure to get enforcement powers in time for the 1st July ban.
According to some reports the council, named as one of the worst in the country by the Audit Commission, may not be able to enforce the smoking ban until councillors finally approve it on 2nd August. The reason for this slip-up? The complete disorganisation of the council, many not knowing what is delegated to whom. A council spokesman said: "We don't have enforcement powers because Stoke has both a mayor and a council manager. We thought enforcement powers were delegated to the director of community services - but they weren't." Hardly a satisfactory explanation.
This error may seem comical and relatively easily rectified, but in reality it should worry Stoke taxpayers that their council was unable to act efficiently on bringing in a nationwide piece of legislation – something that each council had fair warning of and no others fell short on. More worrying still is that the CPA report rated Stoke’s progression as ‘Not Adequate’ and their benefits system was given the lowest possible mark, as were their services for children. Overall the council were given the lowest possible mark for value for money.
Let’s hope that this national humiliation will force Stoke-On-Trent Council into re-working its structure, clarifying who takes responsibility for what measures, cutting down staff numbers to improve lines of communication and giving local taxpayers the service they pay for.