The leader of the Labour opposition group at Lichfield District Council has congratulated his new Conservative counterpart.
Cllr Doug Pullen was elected as the Tory group’s leader last night, bringing to an end Cllr Mike Wilcox’s decade-long tenure.
It will mean the first meeting of the council will see a new front bench facing each other across the chamber after Cllr Steve Norman took the reigns from his wife Sue Woodward at the helm of the Labour group.
And he joked that Cllr Pullen – who lost a charity boxing match earlier this year – had finally found a winning formula.
“Clearly Doug Pullen is better at fighting in elections than in the ring,” Cllr Norman said.
“I congratulate him, and his deputy Iain Eadie, on their election.”
Cllr Norman had criticised the previous Conservative leadership for their management of the ill-fated Friarsgate development – and he believes Cllr Pullen will need to tackle the issue sooner rather than later.
“I hope this change of leadership heralds a change in approach to the Friarsgate fiasco that I believe has cost a number of their Conservative colleagues their seats, especially as the new leader of the council is now a Burntwood representative,” he said.
“I get on with Doug and I believe we can work together on this as long as there is openness and realism about this multi-million pound project that, after all, had a start date of 2012.”
Cllr Norman said he had some sympathy for the hand outgoing Tory leader Cllr Wilcox had been left with.
“I have to say that I will miss Mike Wilcox in the front bench place he has had these last 10 years,” Cllr Norman said.
“He inherited problems from their previous leader who set Friarsgate in motion along with the Lichfield Garrick theatre, which we were told was going to be a magnet as a conference venue during the day in addition to the theatre in the evening – albeit subsidised by £750,000 a year.
“Mike always was, and is, a courteous and conscientious councillor and I hope he enjoys the extra time he will be able to have now for other pursuits – but not boxing hopefully!”