Change of meeting “prevents council change” – claim.
Opposition councillors in Walsall are furious over a decision by the town’s mayor to move the date of a knife-edge vote which will decide who runs the authority. The switch could prevent all of the council’s Labour members from attending an extraordinary meeting where a vote of confidence will be moved in the ruling Conservative and Lib Dem coalition.
The Labour Party called the meeting for the 20th after it won the recent Birchills-Leamore by-election giving it 30 of the 60 seats in the chamber. But the Mayor, Cllr Pete Smith, has used his powers to schedule the meeting nine days earlier on Monday 11th.
Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Sean Coughlan, said the decision was taken without consultation with his members and would favour the present Tory/Lib Dem coalition which relies on the votes of independents and Ukip councillors. “At the May elections and now at the recent by-election, voters clearly reject both the Tories and Lib Dems, who have only 24 seats in the chamber.”
He added: “The coalition has to rely on the votes of Ukip and independents councillors, of which the Mayor is one. We fear that, because of previous commitments, some Labour members will not be able to attend. Despite this, we will try to get as many there as possible because we owe it to the voters who have clearly shown they don’t want the Tories and their partners.”
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The Mayor has the powers to do this but this is all about Pete Smith not wanting to vote with the Tories against Labour and use his casting vote. He has heard some Labour councillors are not available and hopes this gets him out of an hole. Remember if everyone is available then if he abstains as in June, Labour win the council, something he would hate.
I should add that of course he hates Labour more than the Tories but can not be seen as voting with them.
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