The leader of Lichfield District Council has been warned it’s the electors and not his councillors he really needs to persuade of his ability to continue in the top job.
Cllr Mike Wilcox survived a leadership challenge at a meeting of Conservative council members last week, with sources telling LichfieldLive the result had been “very close”.
But the leader said he was “delighted with this endorsement” after his colleagues opted to keep him in the hot seat after the failure to make Friarsgate a reality and defeat in the Curborough ward by-election.
But Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the opposition Labour group, said Cllr Wilcox should listen to the wider electorate rather than just the closed circle of his own party.
“Conservative councillors at Lichfield District Council may have backed their current leader, but that’s at odds with the message I’m hearing from electors across the District,” she said.
“People are incensed by the complete shambles around the Friarsgate project – and the recent by-election result in Curborough underlined this.
“It’s not just the fact that so much of our money has been wasted on this failed vanity project, supported, I might say, by all of the Conservative candidates at the last district elections in 2015 – even those now trying to distance themselves from it. It’s also been about the failure to engage with the public, not for the first time, and the complete lack of transparency in decision-making.
“The council has become far too complacent and self-satisfied so, regardless of political persuasion, many local residents have joined my call for the leader to stand aside and allow a new leadership with fresh ideas and outlooks to take over.”
Cllr Woodward also challenged her Conservative counterpart to reveal just how many of his colleagues had backed him so the public could see for themselves how strong the foundation was for his continued leadership.
“As Cllr Wilcox says, the meeting was held in private so we don’t know whether the endorsement he received was a robust one or a slender one,” Cllr Woodward said
“To me, though, it reinforces the view that the Conservatives at Lichfield District Council – the leadership and the back-benchers – seem to be completely out of touch with their electors.”