Investment in Birmingham: the politicians who will determine the future

BECG’s latest member of their Birmingham team, Tristan Chatfield is a former Cabinet Member at Birmingham City Council. Having spent 10 years as a local government councillor in the city and three years as Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, he has a unique insight into how his former colleagues operate, their priorities and the opportunities that exist across the city.  Here he explores the recent battle for the Council Leadership, ultimately won by his former boss, Councillor Ian Ward. 

The news that the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward was to face a leadership challenge from former cabinet member for Transport and the Environment Cllr Waseem Zaffar along with Cllr Liz Clements (chair of the Sustainability and Transport Overview & Scrutiny Committee) caused significant surprise. This unsuccessful challenge came despite Labour under Ian Ward’s leadership securing a strong election result in Birmingham, with only two net seat losses, and the so far broadly successful preparations for the Commonwealth Games.  

Cllr Ward triumphed over Cllr Zaffar and was narrowly re-elected following a vote of the ruling Labour Group, by 33 votes to 31 in a second round of voting following the elimination of Cllr Clements.  

Cllr Ward’s re-election is likely to be met with relief from both national government and the business community as it is a continuation of the political stability that Birmingham has enjoyed since his election as leader in 2017. The long-term consequences of this unexpected challenge are yet to be seen. But Cllr Ward’s re-election should ensure that Birmingham is well placed to pursue the opportunities created by the Commonwealth Games and large-scale regeneration projects including HS2 and Smithfield.  

The composition of the new cabinet also suggests that little will change in policy terms with the focus remaining on tackling inequality, attracting investment and rapidly expanding green travel. 

You can find out more about the new Birmingham cabinet, their backgrounds and priorities by downloading our guide to
Birmingham Decision Makers: 2022.