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Anita Ward admits ‘I’m finished’ in bitter Hodge Hill selection battle

Anita Ward admits ‘I’m finished’ in bitter Hodge Hill selection battle

🕔07.Dec 2015

Anita Ward has said she is “finished” as a Birmingham city councillor for Hodge Hill and has no chance of winning a reselection battle after 20 years spent representing the seat.

Councillor Ward, a popular former Lord Mayor, failed to win automatic reselection when Labour party members voted 18 to three to hold a formal process to select a candidate for the May 2016 council elections.

And while there are more than 100 members in the Hodge Hill branch, Cllr Ward said she was resigned to losing when the local party meets on December 10 to choose a candidate.

She told Chamberlain Files: “I’m finished. I know I can’t win now.”

She hinted at an organised campaign against her, but would not elaborate on who might be behind attempts to oust her.

Cllr Ward was speaking on the steps of the Council House after leaving last Tuesday’s full council meeting early. She was accompanied by a grim-faced Mick Brown, her husband, who is a Labour councillor for Tyburn ward.

The pair left immediately after the election of new city council leader John Clancy, who has replaced Sir Albert Bore as the political head of the country’s largest local authority.

While she was in the meeting several councillors made a point of commiserating with Cllr Ward, some openly hugging her and wishing her well.

Many of her supporters claim Cllr Ward is being deselected because she is believed to have voted for Cllr Penny Holbrook in in the Labour group leadership election rather than Cllr Clancy. Her fellow Hodge Hill councillor Majid Mahmood is one of Cllr Clancy’s closest allies. The third Hodge Hill councillor, Fiona Williams, also voted for Cllr Clancy as leader.

Cllr Clancy won the leadership by the narrowest of margins – 38 votes to 37 with two spoilt ballot papers. Supporters of Sir Albert have claimed on social media that a “purge” is underway to shore up Clancy’s position ahead of another Labour group leadership battle after the 2016 council elections.

They fear other backers of the former council leader may face tough reselection battles.

Hall Green Labour councillor Kerry Jenkins tweeted: “And so it starts….” She urged Labour members to “stand alongside such a hardworking and dedicated colleague”.

Fellow Hall Green councillor Barry Bowles tweeted that he had known Cllr Ward for 30 years and that “she stands for integrity, supporting her community and truth”. The decision not to reselect her was “perverse” and taken by “people never seen in the branch before”, he added.

Cllr Bowles warned that Cllr Ward may stand down from the council in January, forcing a by-election in Hodge Hill.

Both Cllr Bowles and Cllr Jenkins have joined with other supporters of Cllr Ward in a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #IstandWithAnita

Talk of a purge has been rejected by Cllr Clancy who has told friends he regards Cllr Ward’s difficulties as solely a Hodge Hill issue and nothing to do with him or his supporters.

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