Opposition politicians have been told there’s little they can do to change the agenda at Lichfield District Council. The Conservatives extended their majority at the elections in May by taking 41 of a possible 47 seats. Labour picked up four, with UKIP and the Liberal Democrats taking the two remaining seats. Cllr Joseph Powell, Conservative representative for Little Aston and Stonnall, believes the Tories comfortable majority means they will be able to fully set the agenda. “A lot of people were surprised by the scale of the Labour Party’s defeat in Lichfield and Burntwood in May,” he said. “I think the Labour Party will pick one or two subjects to oppose, such as the civic budget or staff conditions, but the fact we have a huge majority means that even the best opposition – while not being ignored and always considered by us – will be unlikely to change the agenda. “With just four elected representatives, as well as one UKIP and Liberal Democrat councillor, it means that the Labour Party haven’t got much to work with.”

Lewis Deakin

NCTJ-trained reporter with experience in a wide variety of journalism settings.

6 replies on “Conservative councillor says opposition can’t change the agenda”

  1. This shows complete arrogance and a lack of awareness. Labour at LDC, as it always has, is focussing on issues of importance to local people and – if he’d been at the last Council meeting: he wasn’t – he would know that we raised a whole range of issues and concerns, many of which were supported by his colleagues.

    Labour pressed for the public consultation on cuts; Labour has pressed for improved Scrutiny; Labour is making sure that councillors do what they should in debating decisions rather than acting as rubber stamps. But it is not just Labour who are for the first time questioning the civic budget and Cllr Powell has every opportunity to have his say. (He wasn’t at first meeting of the group looking into this either.)

    Cllr Powell needs to open his mind and realise that the Labour Group does not do opposition for opposition’s sake but to try to improve decision-making for the benefit of local residents. We’ll carry on doing our job as effectively as possible – and look forward to the results of his work as Chairman of the Employment Committee in revising and widening its terms of reference which he promised almost 6 months ago.

  2. Good arguments, backed up by facts, can or at least should, be able to change minds – whoever makes them.
    The Labour government made the most important change to local government in my time as an elected member namely scrutiny.
    This enables controlling groups (whether your own or’the other side’s’) to change their minds in the face of such arguments because there is no whip used in scrutiny.
    This meant Burntwood’s councillors were able to prevent the closure of the town’s Household Waste Site twice. Once under a Labour Cabinet and once under a Conservative Cabinet.
    I know that Councillor Powell was a lone voice in arguing every year for increased allowances and he clearly has a closed mind on the Civic Budget which I hope will get proper, non-party, scrutiny in the working group at LDC.
    I also hope Lichfield District’s Tories don’t become as arrogant as their County colleagues did in 2009 who had said in opposition that scrutiny commiteees should be chaired by opposition members but not only took the chairs but also the vice chair positions too when elected! Fortunately there is no sign of that from the newly elected members whom I wish well.

  3. Speaking of arrogance and lack of awareness, how can Labour claim to focus on issues of importance to local people when they were absolutely trounced and rejected by them at the last elctions? The “local people” let you know what they thought of you, so don’t claim to speak for them.

    Good of councillor Woodward to take it upon herself to mark the register at meetings, but she may like to consider that it’s easier to get a full turn out when your entire party can turn up in a single Ford Fiesta.

    The authoriatarian streak continues to bubble just below the surface, this time announcing that someone “needs to open his mind”, thank goodness yours is just perfect as it is.

  4. “I think the Labour Party will pick one or two subjects to oppose, such as the civic budget or staff conditions, but the fact we have a huge majority means that even the best opposition – while not being ignored and always considered by us – will be unlikely to change the agenda.

    Good grief, was “na na na na na” cropped from the end of that statement?

    The ONLY agenda you should have is how to improve the lives of your constituents.

  5. Just for the record: we did change the agenda in opposition on a number of occasions – and not just through scrutiny. The consultation that led to the civic car issue (not the most important issue for LDC’s financial situation) came about through pressure from our band of 10 out of 56.
    How about our getting the Tories to vote AGAINST their government’s bedroom tax legislation? I could go on but have confidence our depleted group, already making their mark, will continue to improve LDC for residents by their constructive opposition.

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