Birmingham embraces political change

16 Dec 99
Britain's largest council, Birmingham City, this week elected an all-Labour Cabinet team as political reforms at the authority gathered pace.

17 December 1999

The ten-strong team have all been assigned various portfolios, including one for Best Value, one for budget review and scrutiny, and another for regeneration.

One-party cabinets are not discouraged by the government, which claims their composition is a matter of 'local choice'.

Birmingham denied the changes would prejudice the findings of a democracy commission which is examining the possibility of new political arrangements in the city.

One of the options the commission is looking at is the possibility of the city having a high-profile, directly elected mayor.

The council said the new arrangements were interim ones in line with the government's call for political reform. A council spokeswoman said: 'The democracy commission is going to be looking at the issue of directly elected mayors, among other issues. It is a question which we would like to throw open to public debate.'

Council leader Albert Bore has publicly expressed his support for a directly elected mayor. But, privately, some commentators are fearful that Birmingham could deal a blow to government plans by rejecting such a proposal.

The commission, which has 11 members, five of whom are councillors, is expected to present its findings in the spring.


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