Nottingham Post

Why Labour’s councillor­s won’t get a totally free say on next city leader


NOTTINGHAM’S Labour councillor­s have been very tightlippe­d, but the national party’s latest interventi­on at the city council will have undoubtedl­y raised eyebrows.

Many in the local group claim they are not focused on the issue of who leads them, arguing that the authority’s multi-million pound financial crisis will be a steep mountain to climb for whoever takes on the role from David Mellen, pictured.

There had already been consternat­ion among some about Labour emailing the 11 councillor­s absent from Nottingham’s annual budget meeting in March. The emails asked them to sign a statement confirming that if they had been at the meeting, they would have approved the cuts.

The one Labour councillor at the meeting who voted against those cuts, the Sheriff of Nottingham, was immediatel­y suspended by the party. Labour’s interventi­on in Nottingham was also on display just before the local elections last May, when it suspended Hassan Ahmed shortly before voters went to the ballot box, though he has since been re-admitted.

This latest interventi­on though is the most significan­t we have seen Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) make in Nottingham in recent times. The interventi­on means that Nottingham’s Labour councillor­s will not get a totally free say on who leads them for the next 12 months. Instead, the candidates they get to choose from will have already been interviewe­d by Labour NEC members, with only those deemed suitable put forward. Rather than this being a case of who Labour at a national level does like, this seems more about who Labour at a national level does not like and who the party does not want to be in a prominent council leader role in a general election year. It is a theme we are seeing at many other Labour-run councils across the country. The NEC became much more heavily involved in Birmingham City Council’s leadership election last year, when the governing body ended up having the final say over councillor­s.

It is being reported that Labour has just confirmed those leadership roles in Birmingham again for the next 12 months, a decision made once again by the NEC rather than elected councillor­s. For Nottingham, as three commission­ers begin their work and as the council stares down the barrel of more multimilli­on pound budget gaps in the coming years, the issue of who leads the council is of course crucial.

The next office holder is due to start their new job in May, so only the coming weeks will show who Labour deems suitable and how many candidates Nottingham’s Labour group will get to pick from.

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