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Sir Albert Bore reinforces Great Survivor reputation by winning Birmingham council leadership vote

Sir Albert Bore reinforces Great Survivor reputation by winning Birmingham council leadership vote

🕔30.May 2014

Sir Albert Bore has confounded his critics yet again by seeing off another challenge to his leadership of Birmingham City Council.

Bore beat backbench councillor John Clancy by 47 votes to 27 to continue as leader of the controlling Labour group. Had he lost, Sir Albert would have had to stand down and Cllr Clancy would have become council leader.

Deputy council leader Ian Ward beat off a challenge from Brandwood councillor Barry Henley, who had been running on a joint ticket with Cllr Clancy. Cllr Ward secured 57 votes to 16 for Cllr Henley.

The victory marks another remarkable performance in Bore’s 15-year leadership of the Labour group, which has been littered with challenges from disgruntled councillors. By the margins of previous contests, this one turned out to be relatively comfortable for the council leader, who has the nickname The Great Survivor.

However, Clancy and his backers took heart from winning 36 per cent of the votes cast and immediately suggested that Bore, approaching his 70th birthday, is now something of a lame duck leader.

Clancy also challenged Sir Albert last year, and managed to secure 23 votes. He had been hopeful of topping 30 votes this time.

The narrowing of the gap and Cllr Clancy’s determination to stand again next year is bound to raise speculation about Sir Albert’s possible exit strategy, and the emergence of other leadership contenders in 2015.

This year’s contest was enlivened by an unusual last-minute appeal for loyalty from Sir Albert and Cllr Ward.

In an email sent to the 77 Labour councillors 24 hours before the leadership vote, Sir Albert and Cllr Ward criticised the manifesto published by Cllr Clancy and Cllr Henley, describing parts of it as uncosted and unworkable.

The manifesto, which Cllr Clancy hoped would propel him and Cllr Henley to the council leadership, promised to build 16,000 new homes across Birmingham over four years, give a free hot meal to all primary school children and reform or scrap the council’s controversial £100 million IT contract with Capita.

Clancy and Henley also pledged a zero-based budgeting approach at the council, ripping up existing spending plans and starting again with a blank piece of paper. They would also have considered replacing the cabinet with a committee system.

Their campaign was based partly on criticising Sir Albert for taking a too gloomy approach over Government spending cuts, and also over an alleged lack of communication with backbench Labour councillors.

In their email to councillors, Bore and Ward said: “To read the proposals put forward very publicly by Cllrs Clancy and Henley you would think that this Labour administration had done very little in our first two years of office.

“The truth is very different. We have been delivering a radical programme of action, which is already addressing many of the points being raised. Many of the other proposals being put forward as an alternative share three basic flaws.

“They could only be implemented with the support of central government or changes in government policy, neither of which are immediately likely. They would require significant extra money, which in the current climate would mean additional, much deeper, cuts in front line services.”

“These alternative proposals simply do not recognise the scale of the financial challenge facing the city council. There is no mention, or attempt to address the serious funding crisis in adult social care and the ongoing challenges faced by children’s services.”

After the vote, Cllr Clancy said: “A large proportion of Labour councillors have voted for change. The leadership simply must listen and react. We cannot go on as we are. The leadership is duty bound now to act upon the policy initiatives set out in my joint manifesto with Cllr Henley.

“It is quite clear that many Labour councillors are very concerned about the direction in which this council is heading. The council leader and cabinet must show that they are listening and willing to change direction.”

Sir Albert is likely to give details of a mini-cabinet reshuffle at the annual council meeting next week. He must replace health and wellbeing member Steve Bedser, who lost his Kings Norton seat at the council elections on May 22, but may strengthen his team with other changes.

 

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