Labour chooses new leadership for Birmingham City Council as Cllr Ian Ward ousted
Birmingham City Council has new leadership after a highly damaging internal report saw the national Labour Party move in and remove leader Cllr Ian Ward from his position.
The controversial intervention saw Cllr Ward replaced with Cllr John Cotton as new Council Leader and Cllr Sharon Thompson as Deputy Leader.
Interviews for the positions were held on Friday (19 May) by Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee after a shocking internal report found serious allegations – including racism, misogyny and harassment – levelled at the authority’s leadership.
Despite being told by party members to leave with grace, Cllr Ward not only refused to step down last week but vowed to take part in Friday’s selection interviews for new leader.
Following the interview process, the party held its annual general meeting on Saturday (20 May) and a new leadership announced for Birmingham City Council which saw Cllr Ward ousted from his position.
Cllr John Cotton (Lab, Glebe Farm and Tile Cross) – who until now held the position of Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Community Safety and Equalities – has been selected Leader of Birmingham City Council which is the largest local authority in the land with a staggering £3 billion budget.
Speaking about his new position, Cllr Cotton said: “This is a huge honour, leading the city that has always been home.
“These are not the circumstances I would have wanted to take over in, but I feel I have a duty to serve. I will do all I can to unite the Birmingham Labour Party and deliver for our citizens.
“There is a huge amount of work to do over the coming months. We need to deliver the service improvements our communities deserve and tackle the significant financial and structural issues that threaten to impede our progress.”
Cllr Ward’s Deputy Leader – Brigid Jones – has also been removed from her position and replaced with Cllr Sharon Thompson.
Cllr Thompson has previously spoken about the issue of homelessness, exempt housing and social housing building, and has also lobbied the Government on behalf of victims of the Grenfell tragedy and demanded compensation over dangerous cladding.
Cllr Thompson (Lab, North Edgbaston) said she was honoured to serve her city in her new position as Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council: “It is an honour to become the new Deputy Leader, and serve in the City I love, which has been home all my life.
“I will work everyday to support John Cotton as our Leader, but also to bring people together so we can deliver for our city.”
Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of the Opposition and Birmingham Local Conservatives, is very critical of the way the national Labour Party rushed in to install new leadership at Birmingham City Council.
Voicing his concerns, Cllr Alden said: “The London centric Labour Party takeover of Birmingham Labour is now complete.
“Without a single vote being cast in anger, or otherwise, Labour’s Politburo have installed a new puppet regime in charge of Birmingham Labour.”
Cllr Alden, added: “This regime is made up of two Councillors that were part of a cabinet labelled as ‘dysfunctional’ by Labour only last week, who said the cabinet’s delivery of services was ‘the biggest single threat to the party’s reputation in Birmingham’.
“In reality, while the names of the leadership of the Birmingham Labour Group have changed, their same dysfunctional management of the City, as described by Labour themselves, remains.
“Their new focus, as instructed by London, is to protect the Labour brand, not deliver improved services for residents.
“While the Labour Party have abandoned helping residents in need, residents stuck in damp and mouldy Council houses, with rubbish dumped on their street, they can rest assured the Birmingham Local Conservatives will continue to stand up for those in need in the City and hold the Council to account for their failing services”.