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I just thought I’d draw reader attention to the excellent article published yesterday by the Walsall Advertiser, regarding the fallout from the recent Walsall Council elections, and the struggle for control of our divided authority.
The last election in May resulted in Councillors being split 30 Labour, 21 Conservative, 3 Liberal Democrat, 3 UKIP and 3 Independents. This meant that Walsall has, as per the last few years, no overall control, but now it’s even more complex.
Following the tragic passing of Labour Group Leader Tim Oliver, the balance currently sits at 29-21-3-3-3.
There were two meetings of full council this week – one on Monday to appoint this years Mayor, Councillor Pete Smith, and another on Wednesday. As expected, on Wednesday evening, Labour attempted to gain control of the council as the largest group. They failed to gain a majority, as the vote came to 29-29 with Mayor Pete Smith abstaining.
Thus, Mike Bird – with only 21 Conservative Councillors – goes on to form a minority council, supported by 2 independents, the 3 Liberal Democrats and the 3 UKIP councillors, including Brownhills’ own Steve Craddock.
Mayor (and Councillor) Pete Smith has previously – despite claiming to be the sole remaining occupant of the threadbare coat of true local socialism – remarkably lent his support to the Tories, a transition gruesomely illuminated by his odd hagiography of Thatcher in the Advertiser after her passing.
This means that the status quo has largely been maintained. Those who voted for UKIP expecting some kind of political upheaval actually succeeded in keeping things just as they are – which may or may not have been the intention; but this must be somewhat galling to those UKIP voters who bought the pitch that UKIP weren’t mainstream and would lead to change.
Regrettably, the new kids on the block appear supine to Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird, who’s currently wandering around telling anyone who’ll listen that he’s made no deals. And I’m Mary Poppins.
Perhaps they discussed the weather at their previous meeting. Perhaps the upcoming world cup. I gather that the Environmental Health team have some great material available for schoolchildren on the dangers of accepting gifts from strangers – I hope the rookie Councillors take advantage of the advice available, before the department is axed to fund construction of the fence the Mayor will be trying to sit on.
Sadly, I fear it may be too late.
Still, fried Kipper is a pleasing dish. I love the smell of it in the morning.
Walsall Council is now very finely balanced, and one can reasonably expect it to be a very, very interesting 12 months to come; Blofeld has to corral the support now not just of Ian Shires and the Indies, but of the Kippers too, and one absence or abstention will leave him wide open to defeat or a vote of no confidence, particularly after July’s by-election.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again – we live in interesting times, and now the Tory group have to deliver on some of the cuts they avoided last year, with a ragbag rainbow coalition of malcontent Liberal Democrats – LibDem leader Councillor Shires seems to be finding letting go particularly difficult, bless him – wavering Independents, novice Kippers and a Mayor that seems to want to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
I think this year is going to be very interesting indeed.