Express & Star

Tempers flare over Stalin comment during 'messy' Sandwell Council meeting

Insults were traded by councillors at Sandwell Council House as leader Councillor Kerrie Carmichael survived a motion calling her to be removed.

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Leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Kerrie Carmichael

Chairing the full council meeting an exasperated Deputy Mayor Richard Jones ended proceedings by saying “it’s been a messy evening”.

Reading a pre-written speech Acting Conservative Sandwell leader Councillor Archer Williams caused uproar by bringing mass murdering Soviet dictator Stalin into the debate.

He said: ""This council has imposed over a five per cent tax increase without being able to provide reasonable and justifiable explanation for this excruciating increase of council tax to levels that would make Stalin smile."

The Princes End Tory withdrew the comment but then compared Sandwell Council and its leader to Victorian Highwaymen stealing “local residents’ dreams”. Councillor Archer was adamant after the meeting he had not compared Councillor Carmichael to Stalin.

Deputy Mayor Richard Jones had to remind Councillor Williams to use the word “allegedly” as his comments were bordering on slanderous before forcing him to end the speech after noticing there were pages left unread.

Councillor Williams had submitted a motion calling for the leader, Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, to be removed and all the cabinet to resign. With only four Conservative Councillors in the chamber the motion never stood a chance of succeeding however Labour and Tory councillors took the opportunity to have a row over procedures.

Labour councillors used a convention to close the debate down by getting five councillors to say the vote should be held immediately, a named vote was called for and Labour won as it was in effect a vote of confidence on Councillor Carmichael’s leadership.

Councillor Williams, who confirmed he writes his own speeches, wanted to go on record to say just because he disagreed with the Labour leader of Sandwell Council that did not mean he did not respect her.

Councillor Williams took over as Conservative Group in January after previous leader Laured Kolari was suspended by the Conservative Party after misogynistic tweets viciously attacking the friends of murder victim Sarah Everard surfaced. Councillor Kolari had taken over from Councillor David Fisher who had stood down due to old racist social media posts.