Express & Star

'Unfinished business' vow as Walsall Council leader survives challenge

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird has survived a challenge against his leadership.

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Councillor Mike Bird has seen off a challenge to his leadership

The long-standing Conservative leader held off a challenge from Streetly councillor Suky Samra at a heated meeting last night.

The margin of victory has not been declared as the poll was a secret ballot, although a source told the Express & Star that Mr Bird won "with votes to spare".

It is understood tempers flared at the meeting, which was attended by regional Tory bosses, with allegations flying back and forth between different party factions.

Mr Bird, who has represented Pheasey Park Farm for 42 years, said: "There was a challenge against me and I'm pleased to say I was backed to continue to lead the council and lead the group.

"We made our pledges in the elections as a group and will carry them out as a group. I see it as unfinished business."

Announcing his challenge earlier this week, Mr Samra claimed Councillor Bird’s "divisive" policies and promotion of some members into the cabinet without the necessary skills had caused discord in the group.

He had vowed to take the council in a new direction.

Mr Bird denied there was any discord within the party – which he said was proved by its recent election success – and said he appointed people to his cabinet on merit.

The Tories strengthened their grip on the council in last week's local elections, picking up one seat. Mr Bird's group now holds a majority of 16.