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Labour call for Conservative leader to step down after half of Cabinet resign

The position of the leader of Lichfield District Council is now “untenable”, according to the Labour opposition group.

Lichfield District Council leader Mike Wilcox

Lichfield District Council leader Mike Wilcox

The Conservative Cabinet group was decimated last night following the resignation of three of the six-man team led by Cllr Mike Wilcox.

Cllr Doug Pullen, Cllr Andy Smith and Cllr Iain Eadie all stepped down after the meeting which saw private discussions around controversial plans to foot the £49million bill for Friarsgate.

But with the wider Conservative group apparently rejecting the proposal, sources revealed to LichfieldLive that the potential collapse of the entire redevelopment scheme after the best part of a decade has ultimately led to the resignations.

Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the opposition Labour group at the local authority, said that Cllr Wilcox now had little option but to step aside.

“In light of the resignations of three Cabinet members – 50% of the council’s executive – I believe that the leader should now consider his own position and stand down,” she said. “You simply cannot lose half of your team and continue as though nothing has happened.

“It is regrettable in some ways as Cllr Wilcox and I have worked well together on a range of issues, as I have with the three now former Cabinet members, but I believe that his position is now untenable.”

The call for Cllr Wilcox to resign as leader follows the confirmation from Cllr Pullen that he had resigned from the Cabinet as the executive group “cannot credibly continue”.

Sources within the Conservative group on Lichfield District Council have told LichfieldLive that members will not back the plan to spend £49million on Friarsgate.

Such a move would mean the local authority has to go back to the drawing board and could face the prospect of writing off millions as a result of the redevelopment scheme not going ahead.

Cllr Woodward said the Conservative leader’s decision to keep discussions around the proposals away from public view had not helped the situation.

“The resignations follow last night’s Cabinet meeting on the future of the Friarsgate shopping development,” she said. “I’m still not at liberty to disclose any of the details or indeed the decision made and that is at least part of the council’s current difficulties.

“Things simply can’t carry on as they are.”

Cllr Wilcox has been approached for comment.

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  1. Ken

    14th June, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    It’s all very well calling on him to resign, but then what? Who’s going to replace him? Another Conservative suit who thinks only of money rather than the actual wellbeing of the district’s population? The problem is not that Cllr Wilcox is in charge, but that we have a council with such an overwhelming Tory majority that they can do whatever the hell they like.

    Wilcox’s resignation would change nothing. There’d be talk of him having done “the honourable thing” etc but the truth is that the current ruling majority haven’t a shred of honour between them. Even Cllr Pullen’s resignation statement is nothing more than a load of political double-speak that ultimately does nothing to help any of the thousands of Lichfield and Burntwood residents who are suffering under the continued cruelty of Tory austerity.

    There are council elections next May, but the really worrying prospect is that these incompetent fools will easily get re-elected despite the desperate mess they’re making of Lichfield and Burntwood. God help us all.

  2. Nick S

    14th June, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    “In light of the resignations of three Cabinet members – 50% of the council’s executive – I believe that the leader should now consider his own position and stand down,” she said. “You simply cannot lose half of your team and continue as though nothing has happened.

    Really, Cllr Woodward? Didn’t Jeremy Corbyn do precisely that after losing half his front bench team?

  3. Darryl Godden

    14th June, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Slightly confusing shadow and cabinet there Nick.

  4. Nick S

    14th June, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Not really, Darryl – I think you understand the general point being made. Half the shadow cabinet resigned – Corbyn carried on as if nothing had happened.

    I don’t really think that party politics are hugely relevant to this mess. The Council should never have considered stepping in to ‘fund’ a commercial development for all of the reasons stated previously. An error of judgement? Probably, yes. But the intentions were good and the site needs to be turned into something useful.

    And Ken – instead of just whinging, why don’t you stand for office?

  5. Darryl Godden

    14th June, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    A shadow cabinet isn’t in government, Corbyn can select another 6 empty suits and carry straight on, there’s no GE going to be forced by the shadow C resigning.

    Your analogy is wrong.

  6. Cllr Sue Woodward

    14th June, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    In response to Nick S, I absolutely agree that Party politics are irrelevant here. It’s about leadership and accountability and principles – and, on a point of principle, I asked the same of the Labour Party Leader to do the same in similar circumstances (see link – number 581). It certainly was not a popular decision among Labour members, believe me, but if elected politicians don’t sometimes put partisanship to one side for the sake of principles, politics generally is all the poorer. I don’t, for example, agree with the reason behind Cllr Eadie’s decision to resign but I admire his principled action. And that’s why I still believe that the Leader should resign.

  7. Muriel

    14th June, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Yes it’s disappointing that The scheme isn’t going ahead but the writing has been on the wall for years.

    The worry for me is that the council have taken so long to make a decision – there hand has only been forced because the agreement they have with their private sector partner is about to expire.

    Why have they not changed the scheme to reduce the retail and chain restaurants and increase the housing which will bring footfall and support the commercial units?

    It’s because either a) the council hasn’t been able to because of the development agreement, which means that someone didn’t know what they were doing when they signed it; or b; they haven’t acted quick enough which shows complete lack of understanding and leadership. The article in the Mercury last week said the l e p had flagged up problems months ago!

    It will be interesting to know how long councillors have known about the problems and what advice they have had from their officers . Someone has to take some responsibility and someone has to say, ok what next?

    It’s all very well launching new websites and marketing campaigns to attract people to the events which seem to be overpriced food and drink that take trade from the current shops, markets and restaurants. It’s another to deliver a scheme on what should be an easy city centre site.

  8. Ross

    15th June, 2018 at 6:41 am

    As a minor point, the stories in the Mercury have followed on from our own efforts to uncover the truth on Friarsgate. We’re sure they’ll eventually acknowledge this at some point in their articles…