New Council Leader Elected
John Clancy was elected the new Labour leader of the City Council. He won by only one vote from his nearest rival Cllr Penny Holbrook in Monday night's vote (23/11/15).
It remains for us to see how he will manage the City Council's relations with the Trade Unions in these most difficult times. He is also under pressure from the recommendations of the Kerslake report. But he has indicated that he wishes to meet with us as soon as is practicable and we look forward to working with him.
He has said that providing new homes and improving existing social housing should be the authority's "top priority". He also pledged to enable more Primary School children to have access to free school meals and to regenerate areas outside the city centre.
There is a good article on The Chamberlain Files about John Clancy's manifesto pledges during the leadership election.
"Key policies outlined by Cllr Clancy in his “Every Child, Every Citizen, Every Place Matters” manifesto include:
- A zero-based budget review to address severe cuts to revenue in particular over next two years “where nothing is ruled out and everything is on the table”. All contracts, all books will be given over to the public’s immediate scrutiny.
- Setting up a City Region Sovereign Wealth Fund – this would use the council’s £5-6 billion physical asset base to generate capital spend in building housing, and investing in business, jobs and infrastructure across all wards of the city, to generate economic growth city-wide and to build thousands of new homes.
- Make Birmingham a Free School Meals City. “After our zero-based budget review we will look to reset our budget to invest first in children, not IT. We will make Free Hot School Meals available to both infant and junior pupils at all of our LEA primary schools”.
- Scrap the Capita-Service Birmingham contract. “In its current form there is effectively a protected £80-100 million a year department and this is simply no longer the kind of spend we can contemplate when we will have to take tough decisions elsewhere. We should look to our own West Midlands firms to do our IT”.
- Challenge the £45 million extra top-up payments each year to the Local Government Pension Fund when it has now revealed it pays £90 million a year to investment managers. “We will challenge and decline to pay those unnecessary top-up payments to the fund of £45Million each year for the next few years and ask for a refund”.
Cllr Clancy has said he will appoint four assistant council leaders with responsibility “for overseeing and enabling real devolution”
He wants to devolve control of rubbish collection, recycling, roads and pavements, trees, parks, lighting and community safety to “the most local appropriate areas”.
The assistant council leaders would devise ways of bringing “real devolution of the most local influence over services and provision, and of its governance, challenge and scrutiny”.
He is stressing that community areas would be based as much on character, identity and need as geography and would not necessarily reflect the current ten parliamentary constituencies and 40 council wards.
He is also promising to renegotiate the £2.8 billion contract to manage Birmingham’s roads and pavements the council has with Amey. This follows on from a previous pledge to scrap the Capita-Service Birmingham contract and transfer responsibility for the council’s IT services to local firms."