Next Sandwell Council leader set to be elected unopposed

A Blackheath councillor is set to stand unopposed to become the new leader of Sandwell Council.

Councillor Kerrie Carmichael is Sandwell Council's leader elect
Councillor Kerrie Carmichael is Sandwell Council's leader elect

The borough's Labour group is expected to elect Councillor Kerrie Carmichael to the top job at a meeting on Monday night after no other candidates were put forward.

She will become the council's sixth leader in the last three years, succeeding Rajbir Singh who stood down as both leader and a councillor for personal reasons last week.

Warley MP John Spellar said the change will see Sandwell return to "good governance" and be better placed to attract "high quality applicants" for the chief executive post, which is being advertised.

Current interim leader, Councillor Maria Crompton, is expected to be elected as deputy leader, a role she held last year under former leader Yvonne Davies.

Councillor Carmichael has represented Blackheath for nine years and was promoted to the role of cabinet member for neighbourhoods and communities by Mr Singh in September after losing out to him in the last leadership election.

Mr Spellar said: "This means that Sandwell is heading back to good governance and prioritising services for our constituents, which it did for many years.

"I also think that the changes will make it much easier to attract high quality applicants for the very important post of chief executive."

Rajbir Singh has stood down as leader and quit as a councillor

Labour group sources said her election will represent a "major shift" away from events of the last few years when councillors supportive of disgraced former deputy leader Mahboob Hussain have been "running the show".

Councillor Carmichael is expected to officially take over as leader at the next full council meeting on December 7.

She will face a baptism of fire with a number of major issues hanging over the authority, which has stumbled from one crisis to another since the publication of the explosive Wragge report in 2016.

The council is embroiled in allegations of corruption over a £20 million school transport contract and is facing the prospect of more strike action from bin workers.

This week protesters shouted "No racism in Sandwell” outside Labour HQ in West Bromwich after four Asian councillors were deselected for next May's local elections.

A £650 million maintenance contract is under review by scrutiny chiefs, while the council was forced into an embarrassing U-turn over an attempt to stop tenants from making housing complaints on social media.

In recent days both Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have addressed the chaos at the council, with the Prime Minister saying the Government may need to intervene in its running.

Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to sort out Sandwell's problems since he became Labour leader last year.

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