Anita Ward sacked by Hodge Hill Labour members in her absence
Anita Ward bowed to the inevitable and did not bother to attend a meeting of Hodge Hill Labour party which decided not to reselect her for election as a Birmingham city councillor, Chamberlain Files can reveal.
The former Lord Mayor and current chair of the Birmingham branch of the Royal British Legion has been fighting for her political life since the end of last year when it first became clear local party members were unlikely to reselect her for the May 2016 civic elections.
Hodge Hill Labour finally came to a decision last night, selecting constituency Labour party chair Diane Donaldson, who turned out to be the sole candidate.
Following a secret ballot, 33 members voted for Ms Donaldson and one voted against.
Although the Hodge Hill party is believed to have over 100 members, only about 50 have been verified by officials and are able to vote in selection ballots. Of those, only 34 turned out on the night.
Cllr Ward has represented Hodge Hill on the city council since 1996.
She is generally regarded as having been one of Birmingham’s most popular Lord Mayors when she held office during 2011-2012, and has also won praise for her enthusiastic support of armed forces charities.
Hodge Hill members are believed to have fallen out with Cllr Ward partly because she does not live in the area she represents. Some have claimed on social media that they rarely see her in Hodge Hill – an allegation strongly rejected by Cllr Ward’s supporters.
Her deselection, although expected, provoked an angry response across the political divide.
The most outspoken attack on the deselection came from Hall Green Labour councillor Barry Bowles who said he felt ashamed to be a member of a party that could treat someone in such a fashion.
Cllr Bowles wrote on Facebook:
I am ashamed to be in the same organisation as some of the people who helped get her deselected. I am not only ashamed of some of my so called fellow councillors but of the Birmingham Labour party and the regional office.
It is thought the selection of Ms Donaldson will help new council leader John Clancy see off any attempt to oust him at Labour’s AGM after the May elections. The prospective new Hodge Hill councillor is believed to be a supporter of Cllr Clancy, while it is thought Cllr Ward is not.
It’s not known whether Cllr Ward will seek selection for another ward, although most of the Labour nominations for winnable seats have already been decided.
Although she has not made any public comment on failing to be selected, Cllr Ward used her Twitter feed to congratulate Ms Donaldson on her victory – a gesture described as “typically generous” by friends. She also stated that she would “remain silent and smile, at least until the time is right”.
Cllr Ward was unavailable for comment.
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