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 »


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 »


Politics ‘too important to be left to politicians’, warns Warwick Commission mayoral study

City Council, Birmingham

Birmingham Council House

The most comprehensive study yet conducted into the role that elected mayors could play in major cities poses a huge number of questions, but the general drift of a University of Warwick report is that answers are only really likely to emerge as the new system develops.

Ten cities including Birmingham will vote in referendums on May 3 to

Read the rest of this entry »


Labour shortlists two for West Midlands Police Commissioner role, as Mike Olley misses out

Mike Olley

West Midlands Labour Party members will be given just two names from which to choose a candidate to run for the region’s first elected Police and Crime Commissioner, raising fears that a similarly constrained shortlist might be used to select a Birmingham mayoral candidate.

The party’s regional board conducted interviews over the weekend and decided to shortlist local councillor Bob Jones, from Wolverhampton, and Yvonne Mosquito, from Birmingham. Both are long-serving members of the West Midlands Police Authority, and Coun Jones chairs the finance committee.

The decision appears to put paid to the chances of a political comeback by former Birmingham city councillor Mike Olley, who has been 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 »


Will a Mayor have the chutzpah as well the clout to make a difference?

“Whoever you vote for,” an old geezer told me recently, “It’s a bloody politician who gets in.”

I’ve been asked a few times recently if/how I’ll vote on the mayor-issue. My heart sinks. This mini-referendum is boring, important, difficult. Can I be bothered?

What are we voting for? What powers would a Mayor have? Would it make a difference?

Even asking the questions numbs my mind, let alone listening to answers that come my way.

To me, this is the issue: Read the rest of this entry »