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Pickles moves Birmingham council all-out elections to 2018

Pickles moves Birmingham council all-out elections to 2018

🕔13.Mar 2015

Birmingham city council will move to all-out elections in 2018 rather than 2017, the Government announced today.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has decided to allow the current system of re-election by thirds to remain in place for a further 12 months.

The new date, May 2018, will be after the results of a Boundary Commission review into the size of the council and its wards.

The Commission is considering recommendations in the Kerslake Review that Birmingham should have 100 single member wards rather than 40 three member wards – reducing the size of the council from 120 to 100 members.

Mr Pickles’ latest move took the council by surprise.

As was the case when he announced in January that all-out elections would be held in 2017, there was no consultation with council leaders about the decision to push the elections back to 2018.

The decision allows more time to change the size and structure of the council.

It also means that councillors elected in 2016 will serve two years rather than one year.

City council leader Sir Albert Bore emailed Labour councillors late yesterday afternoon:

I have just been advised that the Government are going to put an Order before Parliament tomorrow that will change the date of the all-out elections for Birmingham from 2017 to 2018.

I suspect this will not impact on the work of the Boundary Commission but simply gives a lengthier period in which to put arrangements in place for whatever comes out of the Boundary Commission in 2016.

Of course, that means that councillors facing elections in 2015 and 2016 will have a term of office through to May 2018, rather than May 2017.  I don’t know how many of you will be thrilled with this change but I have passed the information on to you so that you will be aware in advance of what the announcement will be tomorrow.

It seems likely that the three political groups on the council will urge the Boundary Commission not to reduce the size of the council. Sir Albert has pointed out that on a pro-rata basis compared with neighbouring metropolitan authorities Birmingham ought to have 150 councillors.

Meanwhile, the post-Kerslake improvement board set up to provide “robust challenge and support the council needs” will hold its first formal meeting on March 18 to decide whether to sign off the Future Council Plan – a document setting out how the council intends to implement the Kerslake recommendations.

Chamberlain Files has learnt that at least one member of the improvement board has been highly critical of the lack of councillor involvement in drawing up the action plan. Sir Albert has insisted putting the plan together is largely a matter for chief executive Mark Rogers rather than elected members.

It is understood the improvement board is likely to take a dim view of this.

Last week Sir Albert told Chamberlain Files he had met board chair John Crabtree and vice-chair Frances Done only once in six weeks. The pair were talking to officers rather than politicians.

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