Labour senses historic city council election victory, while Tories and Lib Dems sulk in silence

Birmingham City Council House is in Victoria S...

Birmingham Council House

The Labour Party is continuing to ramp up its campaigning efforts in the run up to the Birmingham council elections on May 3, in stark contrast to the city’s ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition which has made no effort to seek publicity in recent weeks.

A flurry of policy announcements by Labour during April included a promise to give a wage rise to 2,743 low-paid council workers and a commitment to appoint a “Victims Champion” to make sure that the voices of those affected by crime are heard in all local authority departments.

Further details setting out how Labour would go about making sure that the council uses its £1 billion-a-year procurement powers to buy goods and services from local firms is expected before polling day.

Labour’s 16-page manifesto – A Vision for Birmingham – has been regarded as Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »


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 »


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 »


Vote Labour for a £686 pay rise, Sir Albert Bore tells Birmingham City Council workers

Victoria Square, in central Birmingham

Birmingham Council House

Almost 3,000 low-paid Birmingham City Council workers will receive an immediate wage rise of up to £50 a month if Labour takes control of the local authority at the elections on May 3.

The party is committed to dismantling the lower scale of a controversial pay and grading review forced through against bitter trade union opposition by the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, by introducing a pledge that no council worker will earn less than £7.20 an hour.

The promise will cost £1.2 million a year to deliver and means that 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 »


Labour’s back-room mayoral fixers a ‘cynical kick in the teeth’ for democracy in Birmingham

Sion Simon

It is certainly unpalatable. Unthinkable even. But could each of the two main political parties in Britain really enter the contest to select a candidate for mayor of Birmingham with a shortlist of one?

Although it would be a cynical kick in the teeth for democracy and localism there is a growing possibility that, for very different reasons, both Labour and the Conservatives might end up presenting their members with no choice at all over who they put forward for the powerful mayoral role.

On the Conservative side, there is only city council leader Mike Whitby. Said to rule the Birmingham Tory party with a rod of iron, Coun Read the rest of this entry »