Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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Walsall about to return to the dark days of the 1990’s

by Ian Shires on 16 May, 2018

Cllr Mike Bird

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. Cllr Bird, seeing that his bully boy tactics weren’t going to work, reached for the nuclear button – and pressed it sending Walsall Council spinning right back to the bad old days of the 1990’s. The only difference this time round being that it’s not the far left that’s driving us over the cliff edge, it’s the far right in the form of Walsall’s Tories.

Cllr Bird tries to justify his ruthless treatment of the Mayor Elect, Cllr Paul Bott by saying that he has 30 of the council’s 60 seats so he should take over. Problem with that is that there are another 30 Councillors who think he shouldn’t. The impasse can only be broken by the casting vote of the Mayor at the Adjourned Annual Council meeting on Wednesday 23 May 2018. By then the Mayor, on seniority should be Cllr Paul Bott (Ind Darlaston South). Or will that be the case?

Cllr Marco Longhi Walsall’s 640th Mayor

In a desperate bid to grab control Walsall’s Tory Leader Cllr Mike Bird contacted Cllr Bott and threatened not to support him as the Mayor for 2018/19 by forcing a vote at the Mayor making on Monday 21 May 2018 to install a Tory into the post on the casting vote of the current Mayor Cllr Longhi (Con). This would be a major departure from a long standing all Party protocol which supports the concept of the Mayor being decided on seniority. That being the case then the next Mayor of Walsall should be Cllr Paul Bott.

Cllr Bird can argue that he has the moral high ground as much as he likes. He might have 30 seats but across Walsall more people voted against him and his Tories than voted for him he hasn’t got a majority on the Council and no amount of gerrymandering of the protocols can justify what is about to happen. Is it any wonder that people feel the way they do about politicians when there egos transcend common decency?

   2 Comments

2 Responses

  1. John Garbett says:

    I just do not understand how a councillor when elected is subject to be controlled by this broken political system.Bird and Andrews have the worst reputation for claims of service that are minimal at best and because of the , “i have allways voted Tory “Senior citizens. There record in power has failed the people of the Borough through the there incompetence in whatever position they hold , i would be interested to see exactly just how much these so called peoples choice are rewarded and do they really attend the full session or like there cousins at Westminster ,sign in and walk out. Nothing will change untill this broken career politics system is changed. And yes i do vote and try to look past the huge amount of elaborate flyes the the above seem to be able to finance, the opposition leaflets pale into insignificance when compared that used by the Tory 3 Musketeers.

    • Ian Shires says:

      Thanks for your thoughts John, I suspect that you have articulated the thoughts of a lot of people.
      You make reference to this “broken career politics system” much of which was introduced as part of the Local Government Act 2000. By that I mean the scraping of the Committee System in favour of the current Cabinet/Scrutiny model.
      The argument for the latter was always that it speeded up the decision making process. Placing much of the day to day decision making into the had of a few Councillors who form the Executive better known as the Cabinet. This is where the real power rests and why there is so much at stake in a “No Overall Control” (NOC) situation such as exists right now in Walsall.
      Currently there are eight Councillors on the Executive. The other 52 Councillors are, like the majority of MP’s, reduced to the status of “Back Benchers”. Their role is to keep an eye on what the Executive (Cabinet) is doing, challenge and hold it to account.
      Fine so far. In reality what happens is that even if the Cabinet is successfully found to be wanting, they can ignore any recommendations made by the Scrutiny process and carry on doing what they wanted to do in the first place. And let’s not forget that many of the decisions made by Cabinet can in principle be made behind closed doors away from the prying gaze of Back Benchers and the public. How democratic is that!
      Is it any wonder most folk nowadays feel disengaged with the decision making process and politics in general. In my view what needs to happen is to dump the failed Cabinet?Scrutiny model in favour of a Leader and Committee system. Yes decision making might take longer, there would be wider debate, people would be able to hear the views of others, and the quality of those decisions would be better and take into account more the cross – party views reflecting more the the wishes of the people which is what most of us think democracy should be all about.

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