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Councillor claims Burntwood has lost out in outgoing Leader’s reign

A Labour councillor has claimed the people of Burntwood have “lost out” during the reign of Lichfield District Council’s outgoing Conservative Leader.

Cllr David Smith (Cons, Stonnall) told The Lichfield Blog he was stepping down from his leading role in the council yesterday (April 21).

But Cllr Steve Norman (Lab, Summerfield) believes the ruling Tories have sold Burntwood short – but admitted his Conservative counterpart had always tried to do what he believed was best for the area.

Cllr Steve Norman

Cllr Steve Norman

And despite their political differences, CllrNorman revealed he would miss challenging Cllr Smith in the council chamber.

He explained:

“I have had my battles with him over the years and had great fun pinning him down on a number of questions at full council, but I never doubted that he was always trying to do what he believed was best for Lichfield District from the Conservative viewpoint.

“But Burntwood residents have lost out under his leadership. The council has benefited from generous Labour Government grants over the years and whilst the Conservatives carried on with the Lottery grant we won to rebuild the Leisure Centre in Burntwood when in control of Lichfield District Council, the town has still not had the Arts/Community space he had promised time and again.

“By contrast many millions have been spent on the Lichfield Garrick theatre, contrary to his press release of September 1998 in which claimed £1.8million would be an adequate budget to complete the refurbishment of the Civic Hall and replace the Arts Centre.

“It is also worth pointing out that Labour left the council debt free in 1999 but he is relinquishing a council that is strapped for cash and has no money to spend in Burntwood – or anywhere else!”

But despite his criticism of Cllr Smith, Cllr Norman admitted the Leader had increased the profile of Lichfield District Council and allowed it to punch above its weight.

Cllr Norman explained:

“Working with the Chief Executive and a first class management team he has given Lichfield District a bigger reputation than its size would suggest. He has also played his part in the West Midlands Regional Assembly of local authorities arguing the case for small rural districts in the region.”

However, Cllr Smith told The Lichfield Blog that he had left Lichfield District Council in good shape for his successor.

He said:

“We are now at a stage where the district is ready to move forward. Everything is coming together, from the Bird Street car park through to Friarsgate, and the vision we had is now coming together. But I feel it is the right time to hand over the baton of realising our ambitions to the next generation.”

Despite standing down as Leader, Cllr Smith has confirmed he will continue as a councillor for Stonnall. He will relinquish the leadership on May 11.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.