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Two-jobs Sir Albert in double trouble

Two-jobs Sir Albert in double trouble

🕔26.Jun 2012

Opposition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are set to launch a twin attack in a move calculated to embarrass Birmingham City Council’s new Labour administration.

Resolutions before next Tuesday’s (Jul 3) full council meeting contain thinly veiled criticism of city leader Sir Albert Bore’s two jobs, as well as the start of a campaign to oppose plans to build 70,000 new homes in and around Birmingham.

Tory councillors are trying to force Sir Albert to resign as chairman of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, a part-time job for which he receives a salary of about £45,000 a year.

They say it is wrong that he should be paid twice by the public purse – he already receives £50,000 a year in a special responsibility allowance to reflect his work as council leader and a £16,000 basic allowance as a councillor.

Although a resolution tabled by councillors Deirdre Alden and Anne Underwood does not mention Sir Albert by name, it is clear that the wording refers to him.

It states: “This council believes that members of the council who are paid extra responsibility allowances should put in the required number of days which they are paid for.

“It is especially wrong for any council member to accept payment from the public purse for a second job whose hours clearly conflict with the work they are being paid to do to serve Birmingham City Council – since it effectively means that tax payers are paying a person two salaries to do two jobs in two places – but both at the same time.

“This council therefore calls upon any member of this council who finds themself in such a position to resign from one or other of their roles with immediate effect, so that Birmingham tax payers can be assured that, in these harsh economic times, they are receiving value for money from all their representatives.”

There is no chance of the resolution being passed in its current form. The wording will be amended by Labour to change the original meaning.

However, the Tory attack reflects unease about Sir Albert’s two jobs among some Labour members. The council leader has until now managed to brush aside criticism by claiming that he is used to working long hours and can easily combine his council and hospital roles.

The matter is expected to be raised again at the next Labour group meeting, where Sir Albert may drop broad hints that he expects to resign the hospital chairmanship later in the year.

Proposals to build 70,000 new homes for Birmingham people by 2026 could be more problematic for Labour. Sir Albert announced his intention to plan for huge development and warned that almost a third of the new dwellings might have to be built outside of Birmingham in areas like South Staffordshire, Redditch and Bromsgrove.

A Liberal Democrat resolution to the next council meeting raises the prospect of bitter battles over green belt development if the 70,000 new-build target is approved.

Lib Dem councillors David Radcliffe and Jerry Evans will point out that a previous plan to build 65,000 homes was rejected as too intrusive and thrown out by the council.

Their resolution notes: “There has been no valid public consultation on the 70,000 target. On present policies there is unlikely to be housing land available for more than 43,500 properties.”

It urges the council to reaffirm its support for the protection of public open spaces, and the protection of industrial land to provide employment opportunities.

It adds that policies should be developed which “ensure that brownfield development within the city is fully completed before the massive greenbelt developments required by the new policy are commenced and that if the policy is pursued escalating greenfield site values are captured for the public benefit.”

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