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Chamber POTY: Sir Albert Bore by Paul Dale

Chamber POTY: Sir Albert Bore by Paul Dale

🕔18.Dec 2012

We’ve all had a bit of fun with this contest but, seriously, I’m with Martin Mullaney. There really is only one candidate for Birmingham’s Person of the Year: Sir Albert Bore.

The Great Survivor, the man with more front than Blackpool, is back in charge of the city council after eight years seething in opposition.

And the incredible self-belief, the chutzpah, whether intentional or not, is still there.

During his first period as council leader, from 1999 to 2004, Albert sent out an important decree when the cabinet system began. The members of his cabinet would have to give up their day jobs because running the council would call for full time commitment, he warned.

No one took a blind bit of notice. A decade later, Sir Albert holds two time consuming jobs and sees nothing untoward in this. He is chairman of the Birmingham University Hospitals NHS Trust as well as the leader of Britain’s largest local authority.

The Chamber POTYs are the first Person of the Year Awards run by The Chamberlain Files. To see who else has been nominated, click here

He was challenged for the Labour leadership every year from 1999 to 2003, often managing to cling on by the narrowest of margins. After one particularly fraught contest, having won by, I think, a majority of two, Albert stated that he would like to thank the Labour group for its continuing confidence in his leadership. And he managed to keep a straight face.

The cabinet second jobs issue actually says a lot about Sir Albert Bore. In common with many very intelligent people, his unerring ability to approach problems logically isn’t always appreciated by Labour colleagues.

It suited Albert in 2002 to reason that cabinet positions should be full time. But anyone with an ounce of political nous would have realised immediately the impossibility of getting such a notion approved by the Labour group.

A similar issue has arisen with the 2013-14 council budget, shaped by the harshest public spending cuts in living memory.

Sir Albert reasoned that the limited funds at his disposal should be diverted to those most in need, which inevitably would mean many families that currently receive council services would not do so in future. He proposed closing about 40 children’s centres in ‘wealthier’ parts of Birmingham.

The Labour group wouldn’t have it and the council leader was forced to back down, for now.

Sir Albert’s approach will, of course, prove to be correct in the long run. The council cannot achieve a 50 per cent budget cut in six years with the usual salami slicing cop-out. Some lateral thinking is called for with a far more strategic approach and an acceptance that many services currently run by the council will, unfortunately, have to be decommissioned.

Sir Albert Bore, survivor of the decade, is most certainly Person of the Year.

 

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