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 »

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 »

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 »