Cllr Mike Wilcox

The former leader of Lichfield District Council has admitted he did not expect to be ousted from the role by his Conservative colleagues.

Cllr Mike Wilcox

Cllr Mike Wilcox lost the leadership of his controlling group after a secret ballot of councillors following the local elections which saw the Tory majority reduced.

Doug Pullen

He will be replaced by Cllr Doug Pullen who was elected as the new leader, with Cllr Iain Eadie as his deputy. Both had previously been Cabinet members before resigning in the wake of the collapse of the Friarsgate redevelopment.

And Cllr Wilcox admitted that while he accepted the decision, it had come out of the blue.

“I’m obviously very disappointed,” he told Lichfield Live. “But that’s democracy.

“You never expect it to happen and I’m always the optimist so I hadn’t expected not to carry on as leader. But the group has decided it is time for a change.

“We’ve come through an election, albeit with a reduced majority, but we’re still in power and have a new mandate that we went to the electors with and were elected on.

“But the group obviously felt they wanted to have a new start and fresh ideas and a new leader to take that forward, which is fine.

“I’ll do all I can to get behind Doug and Iain as the new leadership team and give them as much support as I can from the back benches.”

“Enjoyed every moment”

Cllr Wilcox has been in the leader’s seat for more than a decade at the local authority and has seen significant changes in the shape of the council during that time.

But the latter stages of his leadership saw Cllr Wilcox forced to admit defeat on the long-awaited Friarsgate redevelopment.

Despite the failure to see the scheme over the line, he revealed that he had “enjoyed every moment” of leading the council.

“My wife will say there are some positives to finishing as we’ll get our life back,” he explained. My life’s been on hold while I’ve been leader.

“I’ve got grandchildren and all the rest of it to think about and look forward to spending more time with, because you do get embroiled in the council.

“It has been my life, but I’ve enjoyed every moment.

An artist’s impression of the doomed Friarsgate development

“Even during the absolute depths of despair with Friarsgate, I still enjoyed being the leader of the council.

“I do ultimately believe we made the right decision not borrowing the money for Friarsgate. We’re in a different landscape now and the world has changed and the high street has changed.

“I’m sure we will bring forward a leisure scheme that will replace what Friarsgate didn’t deliver.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to bring forward stuff like the cinema and some more public realm open space and better leisure facilities within the city.”

“The biggest challenges”

Cllr Wilcox has also overseen the Fit for the Future programme at Lichfield District Council which saw a reshaping of the local authority as it battles to adapt to a new era of funding.

But he admitted that trying to overcome some of the issues posed had been amongst the most rewarding elements of his period at the helm.

“The biggest challenges we’ve had over last ten years has been the reduction in government funding settlement that we’ve got,” he said. “We’ve seen that reduced from £12million to nothing next year.

“I can look at the efficiencies we’ve found and the shared services we’ve established such as the joint waste partnership with Tamworth which has been a great success.

“We’ve also been able to move forward in partnership with Burntwood to bring forward plans for the future of areas such as the blue hoardings site.”

And Cllr Wilcox has backed his replacement to steer the district in the right direction.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Doug and Iain,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll bring a different dimension to the council and we’ll all get behind them and support them with what they do and the challenges they face going forward.”

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

31 replies on “Former leader admits he didn’t expect to be ousted from Lichfield District Council role by Conservative colleagues”

  1. Oh dear! He didn’t expect it. The arrogance of the man. He could have had even more time with his grandchildren if he’d had the good grace to NOT stand for re-election.

  2. Let’s hope Wilcox is true to his word and gets behind the direction the Council travels in because the last thing anyone needs right now is a disgruntled back bencher leading a group who act in spite for revenge rather than to find a resolution to some of the major issues this district faces.

  3. Why does he still have a job? How can someone waste 10,000000 million pounds of tax payers money and still have a job, sack him before he wastes anymore of our coffers. Also he was deliberately withholding information and excluding other councillors from his secret meetings on a regular basis so they couldn’t challenge and oppose his badly judged decisions.

  4. Literally In any other role he would have been sacked for Friarsgate. He can console himself as much as he wants with “funding was withdrawn” excuses etc., but the bottom line is – he was head of a council that spent £10m on a project that went belly up. If I did that in my job, I would be sacked and, rightly so. This guy is a cretin of epic proportions.

  5. I am sure Mr Wilcox was well meaning when he started out but like many in local office and in Westminster become engaged in a bubble that detaches them from real life and who they represent. We are seeing it all too often and that is why there is little or no respect for them. He should not be surprised at his demise a better man would have resigned.

  6. Can I applaud Lichfield Live for their new photo of Wilcox. You’ve replaced sneery-face with defeated-face and it’s simply made my year. Cheers guys.

  7. @John Collins:”Why does he still have a job?”
    It’s called the public sector. Have you seen how much the NHS loses every year, to fraud alone? No wonder they’re short of money, they’ve got more than they know what to do with.

  8. Totally irrelevant nonsense from Rob, as per usual.

    “The NHS is short of money because they’ve got more than they know what to do with”. Utterly meaningless.

    Anyway, back on point, Wilcox isn’t a paid employee of Lichfield District Council, or the NHS for that matter. He’s still “got a job” as a councillor, simply because the residents of the Alrewas and Fradley ward voted him in a couple of weeks ago.

  9. Sad to see Mike Wilcox losing his leadership on the Lichfield district council. He always dealt with me very fairly when I was on the District Council. Derek Love

  10. People should get their facts correct before they condemn a hard working and dedicated man. Mike gave his all to LDC and deserves more respect. Everyone thinks they can do better, well let’s see them try.

  11. Walsall Council have rebuilt the area around High Street and Lower Hall Lane; there are brand new retail units that are sitting empty. Half of the Saddlers Centre is empty and most of the Old Square shopping centre is empty since the focus of retail moved towards the Wharf area. The market is a shadow of its former self. I’m grateful that the plug was pulled on the Friarsgate plan before we suffered the same fate in Lichfield. A demolished car sales garage, empty Police Station and a tatty bus station are relatively easy problems to resolve in the grand scheme of things.

  12. I hear what you say Dave Giles but the cost to our small city was great anyway. There are many reasons for the decline in city centres. The protracted recession which still leaves most with less disposable income is one. Oversupply, where far East goods have flooded the market and spawned same same stores. The internet where goods are usually better priced and available rather than trolling round shops trying to find something. Incidently, try going to a garden centre to buy a lawnmower (of decent quality). I was told ‘We don’t stock heavy machinery ‘! I also have doubts about charity shops. How are ordinary shops competing with free goods and staff and peppercorn rents? If the shops get replaced with housing you dont have a city centre. That’s what some advocate. Communities need a heart where they identify themselves as part of something greater than the individual. As your comments suggest planning for the long term is very difficult and no one has a crystal ball for national or international changes which might occur. Some places buck the trend. I have just come back from Lincoln and it is a city that appears to be thriving with both national and artisan shops doing well. How do they do that? Perhaps an in depth study of successful comparable places might produce a better plan for Lichfield.

  13. It’s time this personal vendetta against Mike Wilcox is stopped by those who do not know him, never met him and quite frankly have no idea. Mike is a thoroughly decent caring family man who would wish no harm on a single person. It is all too easy to make shallow and derogrity comments from the comfort of an armchair and yes behind those supposedly closed doors.

  14. A man who wasted taxpayers money (therefore my money) on Friarsgate, abused his taxpayer funded (therefore my money) email address by flogging his holiday home (his money surprise surprise) and hung onto a taxpayer funded (therefore my money) position.

    Thanks for the advice Richard Cox, but I think we are entitled to have a view on his performance as an elected councillor.

    If he can’t or couldn’t stand the fire then he should have got out of the kitchen before he let the city’s future burn.

  15. @richardcox

    I find your remarks bizarre.

    As far as I am aware, the comments have been focused around incompetence, which may seem harsh – but if you can explain how Friarsgate “just happened” then feel free.

    Secondly, the decision to hold meetings concerning Friarsgate behind closed doors simply invites accusations of incompetence & cover-up.

    I don’t care if he’s really kind to animals or kisses the head of every baby he meets, one fact remains – this is not his money, it’s ours and he lost sight of that and I think we’re not speaking out of turn, considering he was ousted by his own party, they’re not tone deaf, it appears he is, considering his response to criticism of how he conducted his leadership.

  16. This is about being civil without being personal. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but for the grace of God, have respect for others for the better of man kind.

  17. I’ve seen nothing that is, and I feel that Lichfield Live wouldn’t publish anything that was, simply an unwarranted attack.

    So the question stands, where is this personal vendetta of which you speak?

  18. His name was on the ballot paper. His name was on the door at the council. His name was on the agreements signed to allow millions to be spent on a development that currently lies in rubble despite years of telling us all it was going to be built. His name was on the documents that were ultimately forced businesses to lay people off to make way for the phantom Friarsgate development. His name was definitely on the website promoting his holiday home and the taxpayer email he used to do so. He appointed a cabinet laden with people who seemed to forget they had to declare their interests. He decided he didn’t need to apologise for any of this.

    So, remind me again why it shouldn’t be about him?

  19. @Richard Cox. I wrote to Mike Wilcox, as head of the council , complaining (in a civilised mannor) about the conduct of a planning meeting. He was not in attendance at that particular meeting and I advised him that the proceedings were far short of what might have been expected from an elected committee. Your caring public servant did not reply. His time is obviously more important than mine.

  20. Because he didn’t solely make the decisions and therefore unfair to single him out whoever you happen to be. Friarsgate started prior to Mike joining the Council.
    Under Mike’s leadership through very difficult times he has overseen a very well authority including financial compared to many councils including City of Birmingham and Northampton County Council to name just two. The Fit for Future program has not been easy and strong leaders make tough decisions that are unliked.

    The advertising of a holiday villa was before standards were strengthened therefore at the time no wrong done under the code of conduct. Obviously this has now been rectified and rightly so to prevent such abuse of public privilege. But to keep dragging it up is not going to change what happened and quite frankly is becoming tedious
    Scrapping Friarsgate was the right decision for the right reasons as the risk would have been far to great for anyone to accept.

    I will repeat my plea, time to stop this personal arrack on Mike as the decisions were not his alone and have respect for those who put themselves forward to serve their community.

  21. Lots of things happen before they’re against the rules… doesn’t make them right does it?

    I’m sure Mike, as an experienced former leader, will be able to cope with people criticising his record. If not, he can always be shielded by the padding of the considerable remuneration he received during his time at the top, particularly given the Wilcox household have cushioned the blow of losing the leadership uplift by getting Mrs Wilcox a standard allowance too. Nice work if you can get it.

  22. These aren’t personal attacks Richard, if you can’t tell the difference then perhaps you should seek more informative material than self-help websites.

    Mike Wilcox has a hook nose and looks like Blakey off On The Buses.

    That’s a personal attack.

    Mike Wilcox made bizarre decisions and kept scrutiny at arms length.

    That’s a criticism of his management.

  23. @Cllr. Richard Cox…. The articles relates to medical conditions brought about by stress. How is this appropriate to this situation? Mike Wilkox has chosen to put himself up for office and must be aware from experience the pressures involved. In my experience people readily forgive genuine mistakes and errors of judgment from those that show some degree of regret and humility. These have been sadly lacking in this case. In fact my previous post is an example of an elected officer of the council not fulfilling his duty. To get respect you first have to earn it. The last period of administration by the council is likely to live long in the memory of Lichfield citizens, and not for the right reasons.

  24. Maybe we should be questioning the ability of the paid officers of LDC at the same time as criticising Wilcox. After all, they gave him the advice.

  25. @Michel Souris. I totally agree.

    I have spoken to them a number of times and have never failed to be underwhelmed.

    Regularly told they are too busy and have too much work. That they only visit sites for a couple of minutes, basically to tick a box, to say they have visited and inspected the site.

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