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Labour councillor doubtful Conservatives on Burntwood Town Council will back leader’s plan for members to drop party lines

A Labour councillor says he doesn’t believe Conservative members of Burntwood Town Council will back their leaders bid to remove party lines.

Cllr Doug Pullen has written to his colleagues on the Tory-controlled parish council urging them to lay down their political arms in a bid to improve decision-making and better represent local residents.

He claimed that party politics was not necessary at such a local level.

Cllr Rob Birch
Cllr Rob Birch

But Cllr Rob Birch, who represents Labour in the Boney Hay and Central ward, said a number of Conservatives had shown where their allegiances lie after a controversial by-election last year.

Cllr Birch had been expected to replace a Labour councillor who stood down by being co-opted uncontested – but the Conservatives instead went back on the agreement to allow a direct replacement by fielding a candidate who won the vote amongst councillors.

The only councillor who did not support the eventual Tory winner, Cllr Norma Bacon, was Cllr Pullen who opted to support a continuation of the previously-held Labour seat.

But Cllr Birch said the saga had cast doubts over whether the Conservatives would follow their leader’s proposal.

“Whilst I don’t doubt for a second that Cllr Pullen is honourable in his views and intentions, I can’t say that I am overly optimistic that his group will share his view,” he said.

“I only need to look back a short while to the Chasetown co-opt which saw the whole group, with the decent exception of Cllr Pullen, vote against the electorate and against an agreement they made with the Labour group.

“That saw the highly effective Cllr Bacon take up what the voters had decided to be a Labour seat.”

“Doing the right thing for Burntwood”

With the local elections in May, Cllr Pullen’s suggestion would see all prospective candidates standing as independents.

But Cllr Birch believes there would need to be cast iron promises that the non-party arrangement would continue beyond the forthcoming ballot.

“It is a little late in the day to see their whole group have a dramatic change of heart,” he said. “I could be being overly cynical but let’s not forget that there is only one more council meeting before the elections in May, would this new order continue afterwards?

“I have never had any issue with doing the right thing for the town, it is why I stood for election in the first place. The Labour group’s views have always been reflective of the needs of our town and we will always put the town first in our decisions.

“Cllr Pullen is absolutely right, national politics is very different to local politics but the financial influence is always there. It is the party politics that results in bin tax, ungritted roads, endless potholes and countless other cuts to services directed by their national party.

“Invariably our suggestions to deal with some of these challenges locally have been ignored by the Tory group, who spend hours and pounds organising events instead of solutions.

“Doing the right thing for our town will be easy for the Labour group as it’s what we have been doing for some time. I for one am more than happy to work with a spirit of cooperation, but the lack of trust from the recent co-option will take some forgetting on my part.

“I expect time will tell.”

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  1. Dave King

    12th February, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Political obsessions spoil most of BTC meetings. Meetings should not be a soap box for political obsessions

  2. John Griffiin

    12th February, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    A third of BTC either doesn’t live in Burntwood or never attends.

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