NEC steps in again in under-fire Birmingham to reappoint leaders

Katie Neame
© Tony Nolan/Shutterstock

Labour’s national executive committee has stepped in again in Birmingham City Council, LabourList understands, reappointing the council’s current leader, deputy leader and other key positions for another year.

Councillors were informed in an email that the NEC has decided to reappoint the council’s current leader, deputy leader, chair, secretary and chief whip for 2024/25, with the leader due to appoint and announce cabinet members by May 10th.

Elections for all other roles will be held on May 11th at the Labour group’s annual general meeting, the email added.

A report into the local Labour group last year – commissioned by the NEC – accused the council of having a “dysfunctional climate” and concluded that the “status quo is not an option”.

The report claimed: “A legacy of years of personality driven factionalism, cultural challenges, two particularly bitter industrial disputes, a recent divisive leadership contest and changes to governance have had a detrimental impact on the mood and morale of the Labour group.”

The report proposed that a panel of NEC and appointed regional executive committee members from outside the region interview and appoint the leader, deputy leader and group officers of the council – with the changes understood to have been signed off by Labour’s general secretary and the NEC’s organisation sub-committee chair.

The council – Britain’s largest local authority – signed a section 114 notice in September last year, effectively declaring bankruptcy. It has since signed off on huge budget cuts, described as “unprecedented” in scale by council leader John Cotton.

Last year, the government appointed eight commissioners to run the council for the next five years. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the intervention would remain in place until October 2028, unless he considered it appropriate “to amend or revoke them at an earlier date”.

“This is a longer duration than in previous interventions [and] reflects the severity and size of the challenge at Birmingham, in comparison to other intervention areas,” he added.

Commenting on an earlier report from BirminghamLive that the council’s leader and deputy leader would be imposed for another year, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “Birmingham City Council needs stability.

“John (Cotton) and Sharon (Thompson) have been the leaders for less than a year, but a solid start has been made on tackling the historic issues and improving basic services for the people of Birmingham.

“Much hard work remains and 14 years of government cuts, which have taken £1bn from Birmingham’s budget, can’t be fixed overnight, but we are committed to supporting the progress that has already been made.”

One Birmingham Labour councillor told LabourList: “The new leadership team have bought stability and are up to the challenge of making the council better.”

Labour was not immediately available for comment.

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