Labour selects new leader for Birmingham City Council

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The Labour Party has chosen its next leader for Birmingham City Council.

John Cotton, formerly the cabinet member responsible for social justice, community safety and equalities, is set to replace Ian Ward as leader of the Labour group, with Sharon Thompson as his deputy.

Interviews were carried out on Saturday and the recommendations are due to be confirmed by a vote on Tuesday.

The decision was taken after a report criticised the “dysfunctional” climate at the Labour-run authority. 

The National Executive Committee (NEC) appointed the Birmingham Campaign Improvement Board last year with the group returning with more than 50 recommendations after speaking to around 50 people over three months.

The board found that, “women councillors and BAME (black, Asian minority ethnic) councillors in particular reported that they felt disengaged and disempowered. There were a concerning number of members who highlighted the levels of misogyny”.

It also said, “it is clear the existing culture and processes have contributed to a dysfunctional climate”.

The city councillor for Glebe Farm and Tile Cross said: “This is a huge honour, leading the city that has always been home. These are not the circumstances I would have wanted to take over in, but I feel I have a duty to serve. I will do all I can to unite the Birmingham Labour Party and deliver for our citizens.

“I want to pay tribute to Ian Ward who has not only led Birmingham City Council through a cost of living crisis, pandemic and delivered the greatest ever Commonwealth Games, but has given a lifetime of service to our movement.

“There is a huge amount of work to do over the coming months. We need to deliver the service improvements our communities deserve and tackle the significant financial and structural issues that threaten to impede our progress.”