Mirza Ahmad: ‘I can run Birmingham and be a barrister at the same time’

Mirza Ahmad

Mirza Ahmad has become the first of Birmingham’s mayoral candidates to suggest that he would be able to combine running the city with a second full time job.

Dr Ahmad, a lawyer, is promising to accept only a “fraction” of any recommended pay package for the mayor, but intends to continue to practice as a barrister from St Philip’s chambers.

The former Director of Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer at the city council also took a sideswipe at his former colleagues, describing them as working in “highly overpaid, inefficient and ineffective structures”.

He made it clear that he would abolish the post of Read the rest of this entry »

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Birmingham’s appointment with history: the perils and pitfalls of an elected mayor

* Birmingham Skyline from the west Selfridges ...

The political scene in Birmingham could be transformed over the next six months as the city moves slowly but surely towards being governed by an elected mayor.

On the other hand, it could be a case of more of the same if voters reject the idea of having a mayor in a referendum.

Paul Dale examines the timetable, and the perils and pitfalls ahead.

May 3: One-third of Birmingham City Council seats will be contested at the local elections.

Voters will also be asked whether they wish to move from a council leader and cabinet system, which is the current arrangement, to a mayor who would be chosen once every four years directly by everyone in Birmingham who is registered to vote and bothers to do so.

May 4: At about 4am on Friday May 4, Read the rest of this entry »


Scale of the challenge: report illustrates size of Brum mayor’s job

A timely report from the Centre for Cities spells out the size of the challenge for any new mayors that appear following next week’s referendum – none larger it seems than that in Birmingham.

Throughout the report’s survey of the education, business and employment challenges in each of the cities, Birmingham sticks out in all the graphs like a lanky teenager. Here’s one, just for example:

The report says:

New city mayors will need to support and respond to the needs of their population. A mayor of Birmingham, for example, with a constituency of 1,036,900 people, would have the second biggest constituency in the country after the Mayor of London.

The Centre for Cities echoes the call of the Warwick Commission on Elected Mayors and City Leadership for the Government to look to introduce ‘Metro Mayors’ whose responsibilities cover geographical areas much wider than those proposed currently.

The think tank also makes the case for mayors to co-chair their Local Enterprise Partnerships and to head up their Integrated Transport Authority. (I report on TheBusinessDesk.com today that Sir Albert Bore, now Liam Byrne’s running mate for mayor, has said he wants to see the Birmingham and Black Country LEPs united.)

Well worth a read. The full report is here.

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Backbench Labour rebellion prompts hasty re-write of leadership rules in ‘two-jobs Bore’ row

QE Hospital

Sir Albert Bore is coming under renewed pressure to give up his £60,000-a-year job as chairman of the QE Hospital if he becomes the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council.

Amid signs of unease among councillors, he may have to concede that leading Britain’s biggest local authority is a full time commitment and that the post-holder cannot have a second job.

Officials decided to withdraw a nomination form that has to be be filled in by candidates wishing to stand for election as Labour group leader following a dispute over the wording, which was unclear over whether the job ought to be a full time role.

The form simply said the leader should Read the rest of this entry »


Sion Simon to offer mayoral olive branch to sceptical Birmingham trade union leaders

Birmingham City Council House by Yeoville Thom...

Birmingham Council House

Sion Simon will promise city council trade unions a “new age of partnership working” if he becomes the elected mayor of Birmingham.

In a speech to Birmingham Trades Council, Mr Simon will pledge to mend the fractious relationship between union members and council leaders since 2004 that has prompted protests over a range of issues including a pay and grading review and the removal of bonuses for blue collar workers.

The scrapping of a 50-year-old bonus system left some workers more than £5,000-a-year out of pocket and resulted in strike action by refuse collectors.

Mr Simon, who hopes to win the Labour Party nomination to run for mayor, is also expected to give further details of his “Buy Brummie” campaign which would safeguard jobs by committing the council to purchase goods and services from local firms whenever possible.

In his speech, Mr Simon will say Read the rest of this entry »


Government unpopularity may mean ‘tsunami-like’ council election defeat for Tories and Lib Dems

Birmingham Skyline from the west

View from Edgbaston

The latest opinion polls make grim reading for Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, and it seems certain that barring an incredible reversal in political sentiment before May 3 the control of Birmingham City Council will swing back to Labour for the first time since 2004.

Since Labour needs to pick up only four seats to win a majority in the 120-seat council chamber, the result itself would appear to be pretty much a foregone conclusion.

But if the polls are right, a huge shift of national opinion against the Tory-Liberal Democrat Government will gift Labour a massive majority on the city council.

Councillors sometimes like to comfort themselves by suggesting Read the rest of this entry »


Byrne talks strategy while Simon gets back to basics with buses as Labour’s mayoral tussle hots up

Bus on Colmore Row, Birmingham, England.

Labour’s internal battle to select a candidate to run for mayor of Birmingham is rapidly developing into a clash of contrasting styles, between Sion Simon’s man of the people approach and Liam Byrne’s grasp of grand strategy.

The differences were noticeable at a Vote Yes to Birmingham Mayor rally at the Town Hall, where Mr Byrne was at pains to hammer home his experience as a former West Midlands Minister and the role he played in knocking heads together to secure approval for the redevelopment of New Street Station.

The subtext here is obvious enough: “I already have the experience a mayor will require. Please select me as your candidate.”

The Hodge Hill MP went on to outline Read the rest of this entry »