Boris Johnson accuses Labour-run Sandwell Council of 'levelling down'

Boris Johnson has "wholeheartedly" agrees with a Tory MP that the Labour-run Sandwell Council is 'levelling down' the area.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire.

The Prime Minister waded in to criticise the scandal-hit authority after it was raised by West Bromwich East MP Nicola Richards at Prime Ministers' Questions.

The Conservative backbencher had asked Mr Johnson whether he agreed the authority "has done nothing" but level down the area rather than improve it.

Ms Richards cited uncollected bins, council tenants being forced to live in damp and cold homes, £22 million lost on Providence Place in West Bromwich and a claimed there had been a £10 million overspend on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) contracts "which were almost awarded to Labour councillors' friends."

She said: "The council's external auditors [have] released a damning report that surprises not one of us. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that 47 years of Labour control in Sandwell has done nothing but level down my constituency of West Bromwich East and that my constituents in West Bromwich, Friar Park and Great Barr deserve better?"

The Prime Minister said: "Yes [..] I wholeheartedly agree with my honourable friend because the instinct of Labour councillors up and down this country is yet again to level down rather than level up."

Mr Johnson went on to encourage the MP's constituents to install a Labour-run council there "as soon as possible" before correcting his mistake and concluding: "A Conservative council as soon as possible."

Nicola Richards MP used Prime Minister's Questions to raise the topic of Sandwell Council

It comes after Blackheath councillor Kerrie Carmichael was installed as the authority's new leader on Tuesday.

Councillor Carmichael becomes the sixth Labour leader of the council in the last three years, having replaced Rajbir Singh who resigned as leader in November after six months in the role.

After claiming he was unable to balance the role with family and business commitments, Mr Singh also quit being a councillor altogether.

Councillor Carmichael pledged to do "whatever it takes" to make the borough a success story.

She said: "I will be focusing on improving the council's key policies and procedures so that there's a stronger structure in place and creating a more supportive environment for members as she is interested in good ideas wherever they come from."

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