Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council’s Labour group.
Councillors should put the interests of Walsall people first when they decide tonight who will run the borough for the next 12 months, council leader Sean Coughlan has said.
His call for political responsibility comes as members of the authority vote on a motion by 25 Conservatives to take control of the council but who need the support of Ukip and independents if they are to succeed.
The move is being opposed by Labour Party’s 27 members which has run the council since August last year, and which is being supported by the borough’s two Liberal Democrat councillors.
Cllr Coughlan said the decision taken tonight by the Ukip and independent councillors would have a major impact beyond their own wards and seats and affect the lives of all of Walsall’s 270,000 people.
He added that in the short time Labour has been in control it had begun to deal with many of the long standing problems which previous Conservative administrations had failed to tackle such as poor performing schools, low standards in children services and improving the quality of adult services by ensuring continuity of care for the most vulnerable.
Cllr Coughlan said: “Despite the massive cuts from the Tories in national government, in a relative small space of time we have started to tackle some of the chronic problems that were allowed to develop under the Tories in past years.”
“If councillors tonight decide to back the Conservatives by voting in favour of this motion, then they will return the borough to the control of a party whose only answer is forcing more austerity and deeper cuts on the people of Walsall.
“The Conservatives’ plans for Walsall mirror those for national government, such as their proposal to remove 100% of the council tax relief scheme to the least well off residents of Walsall. A move they put forward in their alternative budget proposal earlier this year; one that would have see even more people relying on food banks and more families with children in poverty.
“In contrast Labour will work with all our partners in other councils, the police, health bodies, the voluntary sector and local communities to address the serious shortfall in levels of external grants coming into the borough. As part of that, we shall look at how we can restore free community alarms for the over 80’s without a challenge under age discrimination legislation. We can do that by working with our partners in health, improving overall care and thereby reducing the numbers and risk of elderly residents requiring emergency hospital admission.
“So there is a very real and major difference between a Labour and Conservative run council and councillors tonight have to decide who they vote for; their own short term interests or the interests of all the people of the borough.”