Birmingham city council leader John Clancy has sacked almost half his cabinet in a sweeping reshuffle, and taken control of the all-important economic regeneration brief.

Tahir Ali (Development, Transport and the Economy), John Cotton (Neighbourhood Management and Homes), Penny Holbrook (Skills, Learning and Culture) and Shafique Shah (Inclusion and Community Safety) were all told in the afternoon that they were to be dismissed.

There was some compensation for Cllr Cotton, who was elected by his colleagues to chair a scrutiny committee.

Promoted to the cabinet are Kings Norton councillor Peter Griffiths, Hall Green councillor Kerry Jenkins, Hodge Hill councillor Majid Mahmood and Lozells and East Handsworth councillor Waseem Zaffar.

They will take up their new posts following the council AGM on May 24.

Cllr Clancy confirmed to Chamberlain Files that he will personally take charge of economic development and property, pushing froward with regeneration and disposing of some of the council’s land and property.

Ian Ward, the deputy council leader, will take responsibility for overseeing culture and the arts, driving ahead with plans to involve the private sector and voluntary sector in helping fund Birmingham’s cultural offer.

The reshuffle was Cllr Clancy’s first opportunity to select his top team since he replaced Sir Albert Bore as council leader on December 1 last year.

He also took the opportunity to change the titles of several cabinet portfolios.

Cllr Griffiths becomes cabinet member for Housing and Homes, Kerry Jenkins gets Value for Money and Efficiency, Waseem Zaffar is given Transparency, Openness and Equality, and Majid Mahmood gets Jobs and Skills. Cllr Stewart Stacey remains in the cabinet, but with a new portfolio of Transport and Roads, returning to a role he last held 14 years ago.

Cllr Brigid Jones retains the Children’s Services portfolio, re-named Children, Families and Schools.

Cllr Paulette Hamilton stays at Health and Social Care.

Cllr Lisa Trickett remains in the cabinet, but with a new title, Clean Streets, Recycling & the Environment, replacing her current portfolio of Sustainability.

Cllr Waseem Zaffar gets a new portfolio, Transparency, Openness and Equality.

Cllr Majid Mahmood has been handed the Jobs and Skills portfolio.

The reshuffle saw the council leader promote two of his closest political allies – Waseem Zaffar and Majid Mahmood. Cllr Zaffar’s promotion leaves a vacancy for chair of the main scrutiny committee.

Cllr Clancy spent a difficult afternoon summoning each cabinet member to his Council House office where they were told of their fate.

Cllr Holbrook, who lost by a single vote to Cllr Clancy at last November’s election for the Labour leadership, turned down the Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment portfolio and said she preferred to move to the back benches.

It is unclear, had she accepted the portfolio, what would have been the fate of Cllr Lisa Trickett, who was eventually offered and accepted the Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment brief.

Rumours are already circulating through the Labour group about Cllr Hollbrook, a key ally of Sir Albert Bore, mounting a leadership challenge in 2017.

The changes represent the biggest single reshuffle since Birmingham adopted the cabinet system in the early 2000s. Changes over the years, either by Labour or the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, have generally been the result of cabinet members losing their seats at elections.

Ian Ward remains deputy council leader, having defeated a challenge from Tahir Ali by 49 votes to 28 at the first session of Labour’s AGM. Cllr Ali paid the price and was dismissed from the cabinet by Cllr Clancy.

Five scrutiny committee chairs were elected – Victoria Quinn, Susan Barnett, John Cotton, Zafar Iqbal and Mohammed Aikhlaq. Cllr Clancy will decide which committees they chair.

From The Chamberlain Files 16.05.16


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