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Clancy launches ‘Labour red meat’ campaign to oust Bore

Clancy launches ‘Labour red meat’ campaign to oust Bore

🕔16.Apr 2013

John Clancy has launched his campaign to become the leader of Birmingham City Council by promising to add some “red meat” to Labour party policies.

The Quinton councillor will challenge Sir Albert Bore for leadership of the controlling Labour group on Saturday May 11th, and if he wins will become council leader at the annual meeting later in the month.

Cllr Clancy is proposing a huge boost to council house building and would provide free school meals for all primary school children, funded through a major launch of Birmingham bonds.

He insisted his campaign would be about policies not personalities. This is not anti-Albert, he added,

However, Cllr Clancy stated that his aim was to ensure that “Birmingham feels like a Labour-led city again”.

His team has decided against challenging Ian Ward for the deputy leadership, which means that the campaign will focus entirely on the question of who would make the best council leader for Birmingham.

The three policies issued so far by Cllr Clancy, under the banner “An alternative vision for Birmingham” are:

  • A major, accelerated council house building programme funded by city housing bonds.
  • Programme of free breakfast and/or free school meals for all primary school pupils funded in part by social impact bonds.
  • Major council-led Investment in Small and Medium-sized Businesses across all wards in the city through business investment bonds from a Birmingham municipal bank and a remodelled LEP.

Cllr Clancy said he hoped to build 3,000 houses a year with funding from UK pension funds and other institutional investors. “We can’t just sit back and wait for the Government to give us money, we have to go out there and battle for it. Many pension funds are keen to invest in council housing because they see it as a safe long term bet.”

He added: “We have to seek out these funds – we can’t wait for government, the Tory LEP or private construction. We can’t wait for private sector construction to build, either. We need to do it ourselves, and partner with other social housing providers, too, to accelerate massively our existing plans to build homes.”

Commenting on his school meals initiative, Cllr Clancy said: “One of the most effective ways to attack child poverty and improve educational performance, as well as children’s health, is through ensuring every child in this city is well fed in school.

“Blackpool, Islington and Southwark Councils and the Welsh Government’s Primary School Free Breakfast Initiative have led the way. Birmingham should look to commit to this fully over the next three years.

“We can start with all pupils in the 135 primary schools across the city where the need for this is greatest, and look also at secondary schools later.”

He wants the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP to concentrate more on assisting small and medium sized businesses rather than helping “big retail and big construction” firms.

He added: ““We have to leave big commerce, big retail, big construction and big business to find their own sources of funds. Instead we need to seek out new sources of finance to invest direct, including taking shares, in small, medium-sized and micro-businesses, and remodel the existing Tory LEP to support them.

“We need to become a city of a thousand trades once more – through 100s of new SMEs and sustaining our existing, endangered SMEs. We need to step in where the banks have failed. Not just in hubs and zones, not just in corridors and belts but in every ward in the city.”

Asked what he felt he could offer, Cllr Clancy said: “I have the political will and the vision to get Birmingham going. It’s a bold vision to stimulate the economy.”

The Clancy campaign is expected to make regular policy announcements over the next three weeks.

Sir Albert Bore has been regularly challenged for the Labour leadership since 1999, once by Cllr Clancy in 2010, and has always managed to hold on. However, the amount of work put into policy formation by Cllr Clancy and his backers suggests that this may be a more interesting challenge than usual.

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