Express & Star

Nine Labour councillors deselected in 'major cull' ahead of Sandwell elections

A total of 17 Labour councillors have either stood down or been deselected in a "major cull" ahead of this year's local elections in Sandwell.

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Sandwell Council House

Those on the way out include three members of the Jones family – current mayor Richard (Old Warley), his brother Stephen (Princes End) and their mother Olwen (Wednesbury South) – as well as Richard's partner Richard McVittie (Newton).

Long-standing Great Bridge councillor Peter Allen has been booted out, as has cabinet member Zahoor Ahmed (St Paul's), Zahir Hussain (Soho and Victoria), Thabiso Mabena (Blackheath) and Karen Simms (Friar Park). Smethwick councillor Manjit Gill has also gone.

Among the new candidates is Jill Tromans, who is standing in Langley and is the mother of current leader Councillor Kerrie Carmichael.

Of the 24 candidates selected for the May elections 17 are new, after nine sitting councillors were canned. The decisions were made following an interview process involving national and regional Labour figures and the Labour group Local Government Association.

A Labour source told the Star: "There is no doubt this is a major cull in Sandwell. Some current councillors were carrying too much baggage and had to go."

Councillor Richard Jones said he and Councillor McVittie were "absolutely gutted" to be deselected, adding: "Frustratingly we have had exemplary records over the past four years and no reason [has been] given for this decision. We’ve been told there is no appeal."

Those standing down are Saikha Kausar (Bristnall), Gurdesh Gill (Great Barr with Yew Tree), Shaheen Akhtar (Rowley) and Lorraine Ashman (Tividale).

Elaine Costigan (Wednesbury North) and Bawa Singh Dhallu (West Bromwich Central) are retiring.

The new candidates include Jennifer Hemmingway, an ally of John Spellar MP who is standing in Abbey in place of Ahmad Bostan, who resigned and has been linked with joining the Tories.

Her partner, Luke Davies, is standing in Smethwick. Pharmacist Jagdeep Grewal is the candidate for Blackheath and school worker Terry Fitzgerald will stand in Friar Park.

In Cradley Heath and Old Hill John Tipper is aiming to return to the council in the seat vacated by the death of long-standing councillor Ann Shackleton. He previously served the ward for four years before standing down in 2016.

Over in Great Barr with Yew Tree, Micheala Allcock has been selected to stand, the wife of Newton councillor Keith Allcock.

A number of candidates are standing for the first time, including Tirath Dhatt in West Bromwich Central, Aemon Khan in Rowley and Ragih Muflihi in Soho and Victoria.

The provisional list of candidates: Jennifer Hemmingway (Abbey), Jagdeep Grewal (Blackheath), Tom Johnston (Bristnall), Liz Giles (Charlemont with Grove Vale), John Tipper (Cradley Heath and Old Hill), Terry Fitzgerald (Friar Park), Micheala Allcock (Great Barr with Yew Tree), Sahdaish Pall (Great Bridge), Jackie Taylor (Greets Green with Lyng), Kay Miller (Hateley Heath), Jill Tromans (Langley), Saj Ashraf (Newton), Suzanne Hartwell (Oldbury), Chipiliro Kalebe (Old Warley), Adrian Johnson (Princes End), Aemon Khan (Rowley), Luke Davies (Smethwick), Ragih Muflihi (Soho and Victoria), Mohammed Loan (St Pauls), Syeda Khatun (Tipton Green), Wakas Younis (Tividale), Nicola Maycock (Wednesbury North), Kulwant Uppal (Wednesbury South), Tirath Dhatt (West Bromwich Central).