Senior Labour Councillors Take Pay Cut

Walsall’s new cabinet has handed back £100,000 in allowances to the council’s coffers as the first step in the Labour Party’s promise to implement its election pledges. The Leader of the Council, more>

Labour Take Control of Walsall Council

Labour councillors are elated after taking control of Walsall Council following a knife edge vote at an extraordinary meeting of the authority on Monday night. The new leader of the council, Sean more>

Urgent Change Needed In Walsall’s Schools

Ofsted’s slamming of Walsall’s schools improvement service as ineffective is ‘disappointing but unsurprising’; Labour’s spokesperson for education has said. Cllr Barbara Cassidy,  Chair of Walsall Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny and more>

Team Mates’ Memorial Match For Tim Oliver

A memorial match for former Walsall Health skipper Tim Oliver will take place on Sunday August 24. Two clubs which Tim held close to his heart – Walsall Health and Rushall – will more>

Labour Welcome Tory U-turn On Living Wage.

The Labour Party have welcomed Walsall Council Conservative leader’s sudden conversion to  its policy of paying council staff the Living Wage; after he condemned the proposal as too costly only two days more>

Labour’s Hard Work Brings Win

Labour Party supporters celebrated last night as they held the Birchills-Leamore seat on Walsall Council, despite a concerted effort by Conservatives and Ukip. Local candidate, Chris Jones, took 47% of the poll more>

Labour Combating Beechdale’s Dangerous Drivers

  Local residents and campaigners have welcomed the announcement of measures to tackle speeding cars which have been caught in excess of ninety miles an hour through a large housing estate. The more>

Community Giving Making Communities Great

Regulars at a Darlaston gym have thrown their weight behind Birmingham Children’s Hospital by raising £1500 for the care of ill youngsters. Members of Sprintz Health and Fitness Centre came together to more>

Ukip’s Support for NHS Privatisation

The Labour candidate for the Birchills-Leamore’s by-election has said the planned visit by Ukip’s Deputy Leader, Paul Nuttall, to the ward will expose the reality of voting for the party. Chris Jones, more>

Social Care At Tipping Point

Social Care budgets are reaching a tipping point where funding is being outstripped by demand and the elderly and vulnerable face the prospect of having no support from their local councils; senior more>

Senior Labour Councillors Take Pay Cut

Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council's Labour group.

Sean Coughlan, Leader of Walsall Council’s Labour group.

Walsall’s new cabinet has handed back £100,000 in allowances to the council’s coffers as the first step in the Labour Party’s promise to implement its election pledges.

The Leader of the Council, Sean Coughlan, his deputy and six members of the cabinet along with two chairs of scrutiny have waived controversial increases in senior councillor allowances brought in by the previous Tory and Lib Dem coalition. Along with reductions in the number of cabinet members from eight to six the total saving will come to £99,383 a year.

The move is the first decision by the cabinet, which has been in place for less than a week after the Labour Party took control of the authority at a special meeting on Monday August 11th.

Labour councillors have voluntarily waived the increase before a special remuneration board’s report is brought to full council in September to make the change permanent.

Cllr Coughlan, who will lose £3765 a year, said the party had contested the increases when brought in by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and Labour had promised in their manifesto to scrap them.  “We have always said that when you are asking staff to do more for less then it is only right that as councillors, we should do the same. We put it at the top of our manifesto and now we are implementing it.”

Savings include payments to chairs of four scrutiny committees which are headed by two Labour and two Conservative members; the Labour members have already waived their increases and the Conservatives will be asked to do the same.

 

Labour Take Control of Walsall Council

Cllr Sean Coughlan , center, with Labour councillors celebrating taking control of Walsall Council.

Cllr Sean Coughlan, center, with Labour councillors celebrating taking control of Walsall Council.

Labour councillors are elated after taking control of Walsall Council following a knife edge vote at an extraordinary meeting of the authority on Monday night. The new leader of the council, Sean Coughlan, said the party would now implement its election pledges, including the introduction of a living wage and reversing the previous Tory administration’s pay rise for councillors.

Cllr Coughlan said Labour’s control of the council reflected the wishes of electors.“At the May local election and the recent Birchills-Leamore by-election we, as a party, took the biggest share of the vote. With our 30 seats to the Conservatives 21 and Lib Dems three, it’s clear the voters had rejected the previous administration and wanted change.

“The Labour Group and party members worked hard for this result and I’m elated that we have taken control. There are many major problems we have to face including the state of our schools and the funding crisis in adult social care but as a Labour administration I believe we can run the council differently and better.”

The final vote was 31 votes in favour of replacing the Conservative’s Mike Bird as leader of the council with Sean Coughlan, 12 against and 16 abstentions. Walsall Labour Party paid to fly back three of its members from holidays aboard after the date of the meeting was unilaterally changed from the 20th to the 11th of August. One Labour member, Kath Phillips, attended despite breaking her ankle only the day before and arrived at the council chamber with her leg in plaster and on crutches.

The high number of abstentions amongst Conservative, Lib Dem, Ukip and Independent councillors indicated their confidence they would win the vote. But, when faced with all 30 Labour members, many didn’t know whether to vote against or abstain. Ukip councillor, Steve Craddock, did not attend.

 

Urgent Change Needed In Walsall’s Schools

educationOfsted’s slamming of Walsall’s schools improvement service as ineffective is ‘disappointing but unsurprising’; Labour’s spokesperson for education has said.

Cllr Barbara Cassidy,  Chair of Walsall Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny and Performance Panel, said the latest findings were predictable following revelations in February that one in three children are attending under performing schools. Responding to the latest findings she said it was time for a more robust and demanding local approach to drive standards in schools upward.

Ofsted inspectors have deemed the Council’s school improvement service to be “ineffective” citing low attainment and poor progress at every key stage of children’s education in too many schools across the borough.

Speaking on behalf of the Labour Group, she said the fault lay with the present Conservative leadership of the authority who had failed a generation of children and young people. She said;

“Walsall Council’s Tories have neglected the needs of children and young people in many of our borough’s schools over the last 14 years – especially those which serve the most deprived wards. It’s also the case that they have been too quick to take the credit for improved attainment and achievement in those schools which managed to improve without council support whilst, at the same time, ignoring those who were struggling and in need of more intensive and targeted help. This has resulted in a ‘lost generation’ as too many have been allowed to leave school with poor or no exam results and little prospect as a consequence of securing decent employment leading to a life of joblessness and poverty.”

Saying change was urgently needed within the school improvement service, Cllr Cassidy added: “Put simply, we can’t go on hoping things will get better, we have to make change a reality. Labour has pledged, as part of its manifesto, to establish an independent Performance Board to oversee, monitor and robustly challenge educational attainment across the Borough, paying particular attention to schools whose key stage results fall below an acceptable level.“

 

Team Mates’ Memorial Match For Tim Oliver

A memorial match for former Walsall Health skipper Tim Oliver will take place on Sunday August 24.

Cricket and politics were Tim Oliver's twin passions.

Cricket and politics were Tim Oliver’s twin passions.

Two clubs which Tim held close to his heart – Walsall Health and Rushall – will be taking part in the game which will include many of his former team mates from down the years, as well as current players.

Tim – who was leader of the Labour group on Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council – died in May after a long battle with illness.

The game at Rushall’s Carter Park home in Pelsall Lane will start at 2pm with a BBQ and a disco and karaoke afterwards. A multiple record holder for The Elf, Tim started playing for the club in the late 80s and soon took over as skipper, continuing to play right up until 2012.

Tim will be remembered as a fiery, committed and supremely talented batsman and bowler whose trademark ‘square-jaw’ look at crucial stages during games served as an inspiration to his team mates and a warning sign to the opposition.

Steve Fell, a long-time team mate of Tim’s, said: “Tim was a much-loved character on the local circuit with both players who played with and against him. As a result, a lot of players around the local circuit will be taking part in the match and it promises to be a great day It might involve trips into the loft to retrieve kit and some sore Bank Holiday limbs for some of the older players, but it will all be worth it.

“The game will be a great opportunity to raise funds for Rushall and also for charity, in addition to celebrating Tim’s life and his love of cricket.”

Team mate Rick Jarrams said: “On the field Tim was a colossus, amazing with both bat and ball and a reluctant but successful captain for several years. Tim will always be a true WHCC legend and will be sadly missed by your team mates past and present and also by many of our friendly opponents over the years.”

reproduced from Walsall Health CC

 

 

Labour Welcome Tory U-turn On Living Wage.

Mohammed Nazir. 'A hand brake turn at speed'

Mohammed Nazir. ‘A hand brake turn at speed’

The Labour Party have welcomed Walsall Council Conservative leader’s sudden conversion to  its policy of paying council staff the Living Wage; after he condemned the proposal as too costly only two days earlier .

Labour councillor, Mohammed Nazir, said Cllr Mike Bird had pulled off the quickest U-turn in the authority’s history; only hours earlier he  had attacked the party’s idea of £1.34 an hour increase for the lowest paid staff by claiming it would cost the authority £2 million a year.

The living wage is a central plank of Walsall Labour Party’s manifesto and is part of its programme to tackle the massive imbalance in wages in the borough where people earn £3432 less a year than the national average.

Presently, low paid authority workers, many who work in schools as cleaners and catering staff, have to rely on council tax relief and housing benefit.

In a front page article on Friday, Cllr Bird firmly ruled out the proposal saying giving the rise to council staff would lead to contractors having to pay their workers the same amount. But by Sunday Cllr Bird issued a statement saying: “I believe it’s the right thing to do.”

Welcoming the sudden about turn the Deputy leader of the labour Group, Cllr Nazir, said: “This isn’t a road to Damascus conversion, more a hand brake turn at speed. I’ve never seen the council leader change his mind so suddenly!”

Speculating  Labour’s recent by-election win in Birchills-Leamore , giving the party 30 seats in the 60 seat council chamber,  may have influenced Cllr’s Bird’s decision, he added: “Mike Bird knows full well that Walsall Labour Party promised to bring in the living wage so as all our staff have a decent standard of living. He also knows the cost of paying all council staff a minimum of £7.65 an hour is approximately £340,000 a year. That cost would be shared between the council and schools.  The Labour Party does want to encourage council contractors to match this reasonable amount when paying their workers but not, as Cllr Bird had implied, by imposing it as a condition of any contract.

Mike Bird; On Friday it was No. On Sunday it was Yes

Mike Bird; On Friday it was ‘No’. By Sunday it was ‘Yes.’

“By misleadingly tying council and contractors’ staff together he claimed it would cost the authority £2 million a year. That was simply not true and he has now had to admit it.”

Cllr Nazir went on to explain that, according to the Office of National Statistics,  the average weekly wage in Walsall is £351 per week compared to the national average of £416; an average loss of nearly £3500 a year to each household.

He added: “We can’t go on accepting that people in Walsall are worth less than the rest of the country and we can’t ask employers to pay more if, as the council, we leave our own staff to struggle on low pay.”