Sutton Coldfield has a Town Council with very limited powers, it is not Westminster or even Birmingham City Council, I campaigned along with SCCA against setting it up in the first place as I feared it would become an expensive talking shop. When faced with the reality that it was going to happen SCCA saw it as a threat and set out to ensure that it came under their control. They had the financial power and the numbers to field 24 candidates knowing that none of the other groups could do the same. This year the other parties have decided not to split the vote and concentrate on achieving a town council that is run by Residents working together for Residents and councillors should be elected on their merits – not what colour rosette they wear.
The conservatives are up in arms and calling it a shady deal and a choice between Chaos and competence. Their competence is open to discussion when you consider that they could not even organise the ‘Annual Town Meeting’ efficiently.
Those of us who remember the 2016 campaign might well ask what happened to the £200K cap on running costs (2018/19 Budget £480K with over £100K on consultants?) What happened to the Boldmere Playground where £3k was spent on a public consultation the result of which was ignored, why was £90K spent on subsidising the CBSO concert with no record being kept on the number of precept payers who attended. Why is the bulk of the precept sitting in the bank? (It was even described as the ‘Council’s Money’ in the minutes of the Financial and General Purposes Committee Meeting.) Now they are going to employ treasury consultants to tell them how to invest the reserves.
This council is more concerned with knocking Labour and BCC than doing what is best for the Town. They do not run an effective rolling consultation programme; a prime example is the Town Centre Wi Fi which is a total waste of £60K if it ever gets installed – this is justified by the statement that it was in the Conservative 2016 Manifesto – however there is no evidence of need or public demand.
It is not all bad – Some good work has been done, the library, the Town Hall and the community grant programme but so much more could have been done if they had been more open minded and less concerned with playing party politics. We can only hope that come May 3rd we get a more balanced council which everyone can support.