Now the dust has settled following the local elections earlier this month, BECG looks at the big post-election battles for control of some of the region’s biggest councils.
Birmingham Council Leader victorious as he sees off leadership challenge
Following a successful election night for Labour in Birmingham, Leader of the Council, Ian Ward was “delighted” with the result. However, this delight was short lived, Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport, challenged him for the leadership position.
Councillor Zaffar was not the only challenger with backbencher Councillor Liz Clements also putting her name forward to lead Europe’s largest local authority. Councillor Clements threw her name in the hat after no other “experienced female colleagues felt able to commit to making a bid”.
In a tense battle for the role, Councillor Ward was successfully re-elected as Leader of Birmingham City Council winning by 33 votes to 31 against Councillor Zaffar. Following his victory Councillor Ward has appointed a new Cabinet, this time with more women than men for the first time in the council’s history.
Changes will occur on the Planning Committee following the former Chair, Councillor Karen McCarthy’s appointment to the Cabinet.
Walsall Conservative leader survives challenge, but division remains among the Tories
Conservative councillor, Suky Samra issued a challenge to incumbent leader Councillor Mike Bird. Councillor Samra claimed Councillor Bird’s policies were “divisive” and members had been promoted to the Cabinet without the necessary skills. Councillor Bird denied this, arguing members were appointed on merit and Councillor Samra was in fact the divisive one.
Councillor Bird successfully defeated his challenger but due to a secret ballot the margin of victory is unknown. It is understood tempers flared at the meeting, attended by regional Tory bosses with allegations flying back and forth between party factions.
Following the challenge, Councillor Bird said: “I was backed to continue to lead the council and lead the group. We made our pledges in the elections as a group and will carry them out as a group. I see it as unfinished business.”
Worcester Green’s hold balance of power
The Conservatives lost control of Worcester City Council following the local elections but their Leader, Councillor Bayliss remains in control.
Labour’s request to form an alliance was rejected by the Greens. The Green’s said they wanted Labour and the Conservatives to work together in a shared leadership role. Green Leader, Councillor Louis Stephen claimed a committee system rendered the position of Leader largely irrelevant.
The Green Party motion to change the council’s constitution to a power sharing dynamic was passed. The Conservatives nominated former leader Councillor Bayliss to be its Co-Leader but Labour refused to join the power sharing arrangement leaving the Conservatives leading a council with a left-leaning majority.