Absent freinds

This is a political post. Regulars will know the drill – if you don’t like it, or my views, go here instead. Normal service will be resumed soon. If you want to disagree, you’re welcome, of course, and I invite comment. 


A member of Walsall’s Labour Group flies in. Image from ClassicCycleus.

Last night at an extraordinary meeting of Walsall Council called by the Labour Group, a motion was made to remove the leader Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird and for Labour to take control of the authority.

The motion succeeded by 31 votes, including 30 from the Labour Group and unexpectedly, 1 from the Mayor, Pete Smith. Perhaps the fence had been hurting his arse.

This means that after 14 years of Conservative control, Labour now govern Walsall council.

Notably, the Conservative/LibDem/UKIP/Independent rainbow coalition formed in May – consisting of the 21 Tories, 3 LibDems, 3 UKIP and 3 independents – could not in any case  have won, as they were a councillor down.

There is coverage of this at the BBC, Express & Star, Birmingham Mail and Advertiser.

The story of this meeting is complicated. Following the sad passing of Labour Group Leader Tim Oliver in May, a by-election was held a couple of weeks ago, which was won by Labour, who called an extraordinary meeting to try and gain control of the council.

Originally called for the 20th August, but cancelled by the mayor following complaints that councillors would be absent, it was rearranged for the 11th August, apparently to the chagrin of Labour.

In the event, the local party paid for 3 of their councillors to fly back from holiday (contrary to the assertions of UKIP supporters on social media, who tried to spread the disinformation that the taxpayer footed the bill), and Councillor Kath Phillips even attendeded despite breaking her leg in Wales the previous day.

This brought Labour up to a full compliment of 30 attending Councillors.

The only member missing was recently elected Brownhills UKIP Councillor Steve Craddock, who was, it is said, on a family holiday somewhat ironically in Europe. Steve’s absence made it impossible for Labour’s motion to be defeated.

It’s things like this that I find to be a true indicator of priorites.

The irony of UKIP causing this situation is not lost on me. I’d use the word Schadenfreude, but that would be too delicious for words. The party that promised change certainly delivered it, but not intentionally. Proving themselves little more than muddled Tories, they propped up Bird after election, and by their actions yesterday evening, have delivered a Labour controlled council for the first time in Walsall for 14 years.

I have to say at this point that I thought calling this meeting was a bad idea, and never in my remotest thoughts imagined Labour pull it off. I was wrong, and my congratulations to all their Councillors. Walsall needs a change from 14 years of the same party rule, but more so from the stale politics of the last five years.


The end for yellow fungus in Walsall?

I, for one, will be glad to see the back of Mike Bird and Ian Shires from the council leadership. Presumably Mike will be spending more time at the charm school and Ian will blog even more about how nobody appreciates him.

I’m under no illusions; Labour have a lot to prove. Their often shambolic opposition has been painful to watch at times and I have some reservations – but I wish them well, and these will be very difficult months to come. Huge cuts will still have to be made, and commitments left behind by the Tories as a poisoned chalice have not gone unnoticed.

However, I welcome the change, and wish all the councillors well in guiding Walsall through some very tough decisions ahead.

A vote for UKIP in Walsall has turned into a vote for Labour. That must pain them immensely, and for that I’m glad.

One final point – there’s clearly been some horse trading going on. The revamp of the leisure centres, including Oak Park that had been pushed off the agenda has now been put back in to the 2014-15 budget. I’m unclear why this is, and as soon as I’ll get more info, I’ll share it – I’m pleased to see it back in the offing.

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14 Responses to Absent freinds

  1. Edwina. says:

    Politics is beyond me they’re all in it for themselves and what they can get and a genuine MP with feelings for his ward are rare if non-existent. Fiddle and backhanders is all I think of when MPs are mentioned. Time for a major change regarding MPs and their funding. I know they can’t be expected to do it for nothing, but the fiddle that they are on … and take part in is disgusting and I loathe them all whatever their ilk. They give themselves a massive pay rise and at the same time expect everyone else to have nothing … What does that tell you … Bah it’s all a load of codswallop…

    • Hi Edwina

      We’re talking about the Council and Councillors here, not MPs. There’s a difference.

      For the record, Councillor’s allowances are fixed.


  2. sox123 says:

    Enjoyable read on local goings on Bob. Loved the photo of the yellow fungus. Bastard, I had to click the go here link out of curiosity. WOnder how many others did ?

  3. Cllr Mike Flower says:

    After 9 years on the Council I am delighted to be able to deliver on my pledge for a new Oak Park Leisure Centre. We have fought, lobbied and campaigned and finally won. A great facility for our area, our young people and future generations.

    Thank you to all the residents of Aldridge North and Walsall Wood for your support via email, letter, phone, this blog and in person. I look forward to translating this support into bricks and mortar very soon.

    • Peter says:

      Hi Mike. Really? A new Oak Park? When does the work begin? When does the work finish? When will it open? Would be very interested in hearing from you mike.
      All the best

      • Hi Peter

        The plans have been fully detailed here – check the link in the text of the above article. Planning permission was granted late last year, and now it seems to be in the budget for 2014-15.

        In my opinion it’s needed and very probably a precursor to trusting the service out like Brum have done.


        • Peter says:

          Hi Bob, hope the foot is getting better. I had something very similar and it took ages to finally clear, thankfully in the end.
          I’m sure Mike has put a lot of work into the Oak Park saga, but is it really done and dusted? Is it right to blow ones own trumpet and declare 9 years of being a councillor a success based on something that has been “horse traded” for political reasoning?
          It doesn’t matter that it’s Walsall council and it doesn’t matter who controls it, the fact is it is under direction and control of a council, there is plenty of time for things to change yet!
          I just hope that Mikes shout from the rooftop doesn’t come back to bite him on the backside thats all !
          Keep up the good work

          • Hi Peter

            The foot is somewhat troublesome, but on the mend, cheers.

            I think Mike is fair to claim credit for this. I know he put a lot of work into stuff for the kids at Oak Park over the years and he really has tried, so that’s good enough for me.

            Yes, there’s potential for stuff to fail, but even if it does at this stake, Mike’s sincerity on this isn’t in doubt. He’s tried, and that’s been a hard fight in itself.

            Mike is a tory and we’ve clashed many times, and we don’t see eye to eye on politics at all. But beyond that, I do recognise someone who genuinely cares and gives a toss.

            There will be plenty of time for backbiting if the project does stall. Give the chap a break.

            Best wishes

            • Peter says:

              Hi Bob. It doesn’t matter that it’s Mike, it doesn’t matter that he’s a Tory, I just feel a little uncomfortable with someone, anyone, claiming a victory before a victory has happened. Mike has worked hard on this no doubt and has dealt with a couple of local issues on my behalf recently to great satisfaction, and yes he gives a toss which is why i don’t want it to bite him back later, it isn’t a question of waiting to backbite.
              Keep up the good work……..

    • Hi Mike, good to see you’re still reading
      Your work on this is greatly appreciated, thank you. I have feared for a long time that Oak Park left in the current condition would result in it closing pretty soon due to maintenance costs.
      I’d welcome any further info you have.
      Cheers and thanks

  4. Great post, apart from the politics, could you please set up another site to blog about kittehs and unicorns. Thanking you in advance.

    • I’m just in the process of recruiting several PA’s to stream my output into different channels to suit the consumers.

      All of us here at BobCo. will be happy to welcome new subscribers for a small fee, and hope to maintain multiple consumer streams that will suit those of a variety of nervous dispositions and cultural tastes!

      Obviously there will be some adjustments in the corporate image, but…

      Those who don’t know what this is about, it relates to a bizarre conversation I had on twitter on Monday evening. You can find out at the following link.

      Beware, /very/ strong language and terms more delicate souls may find somewhat offensive.



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