Councillors play with Lego in workshop to 'build relationships with communities'

By Thomas Parkes | Walsall | Politics | Published:

Councillors in Walsall were made to play with Lego to teach them how to build relationships with communities.

Lego was put on the tables at the training session.

Labour and Lib Dem councillors slammed a training session where they used the blocks – calling it a "waste of taxpayers' money" and "patronising".

But Walsall Council leader Mike Bird hit back, telling critics to "go back to kindergarten" if they failed to see the benefits of the training.

Labour councillor Paul Bott, who represents Darlaston South, said: "We do not need to play Lego games to show we can build community relationships.

"Those people around the table are intelligent members, elected members, and we were playing with building blocks.

"I refused to take part – I thought it was childish.

"I was playing with Lego with my granddaughter, who is two, and it was like I went from one situation to another – except there were grown men and women around the table.

"It's a game for children and elected members are not children."

Councillor Bird, who took part in the session, said: "The Lego was just an interpretation of how you can build a community.


"The theme was 'how resilient communities can work' – and how we could bring people together.

"The idea of Lego, the building blocks, was to show how to make something out of its parts. What do building blocks mean? It means you build things with them.

"We have to cater for the children and the children at the Labour group were well at home with the toys.

"You start with the component parts and build it up – then you have the finished article, it's just an interpretation of that.


"If councillors don't follow that then it just shows their mentality.

"That was clearly the message and if they don't understand they should go back to kindergarten where they belong."

Labour councillor Diane Coughlan, who represents Willenhall South, said she thought it was a "waste of time", adding: "I do not need to play with Lego to show how I can engage with communities."

Councillor Ian Shires, who represents Willenhall North for the Lib Dems, said he found it "patronising" and described the session as "entry-level stuff".

It comes after the Tory run authority launched the Walsall Proud Programme, aimed at delivering £78 million of savings over the next 10 years.

"We're a professional administration and we will be doing things properly," Mr Bird said.

A spokeswoman for Walsall Council added: "Walsall Council is developing new and collaborative ways of working with elected members and stakeholders to look at long term planning strategies in the borough.

"Building strong and safe communities is our priority. We have therefore developed a series of workshops with a range of stakeholders asking them to be part of the conversation and help us to deliver our collective vision.

"The use of interactive tools, as used in yesterday’s workshop is a creative alternative, commonly used to engage audiences. "

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at


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