Labour-run Birmingham council warned 'nowhere to hide' after Keir Starmer's election victory

The Labour administration of Birmingham City Council has been warned there’s now “nowhere to hide” following the party’s success in the general election. Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party’s victory in the election last week means that all three tiers of government in Brum are now in the party’s hands.

However, the Labour-run city council in Birmingham (BCC) is currently in the midst of a stormy chapter in its history and recently approved a worrying range of cuts to local services, sparking dismay and anxiety across Brum. The local authority has found itself in this alarming predicament because of Birmingham-specific factors, such as the equal pay issue and the disastrous implementation of a new IT and finance system, as well as the rising demand for services and funding cuts.

In the past, council leader John Cotton pointed the finger at the previous Conservative government and argued that many councils across the country face a bitter cocktail of smaller budgets and higher costs. Tory politicians, such as former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, highlighted mistakes made by the Labour council administration in response.

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Cllr Roger Harmer, leader of the Liberal Democrats at BCC, suggested at a meeting this week that the Labour administration at the council could no longer blame other parties if it faced further turbulence. “Now we have a Labour council, a Labour mayor and a Labour government, there is nowhere to hide and no-one else to blame for any future failings of this council,” he told the meeting of the city council.

“What assurances can he give that radical improvements in our situation will now be made?” Cllr Cotton, leader of the council, responded by saying he was pleased that the country had taken a “decisive view on the last 14 years of mismanagement and misgovernment”.

“We now have a new opportunity to rebuild,” he said. “I am certainly looking forward to working in partnership with our newly elected Labour mayor and newly elected Labour government to face up to the challenges that we have to face in this city.

“I’m very glad we have a government that is committed to working with, rather than working against, local authorities in this country". The council leader was then pressed by Cllr Harmer on whether he believes Birmingham Labour had taken certain communities in the city “for granted for too long”.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer
Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer -Credit:Claudia Greco/PA Wire

“While the election result last Thursday was clearly a great success for Labour nationally, it’s also clear that Labour lost significant amount of votes across Birmingham,” the Liberal Democrat councillor said. Cllr Cotton fired back by saying: “The Birmingham Labour Party has actually been holding the line in the face of 14 years of cuts and austerity.

“The consequences for communities right across Birmingham have been catastrophic in many cases". He continued: “I know there are clearly issues we need to address within this council.

“My cabinet and this Labour group remain united behind the work we need to do to balance the budget of this council and to ensure we’re delivering better basic services for all of our citizens.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service close to the start of the election campaign in May, the former Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said they had backed local government with an extra £600 million of funding. “But the issues at Birmingham Council, as indeed I think the independent inspectors themselves said, are a result of mismanagement at the council,” he added.

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