Local Liberal Democrats in Sutton Coldfield have criticised Birmingham City Council for what they are calling a snub to the hard work and initiative of the people who have fought for and won the campaign for a Town Council.
The steering group set up by Birmingham to establish the new council will have just three places for the Referendum Group, the local organisation which initiated the campaign for a Sutton Town Council, collected the 10,000 signature petition which forced Birmingham to hold a vote and won the ballot decisively. According to guidelines issued by the National Association of Local Councils, the group which is at the forefront of the campaign is presumed to have the leading role in setting up the new council. But Birmingham Council has allocated eight places on the steering group to sitting councillors from Sutton Coldfield wards, seven of whom are likely to be Conservatives and only three to the Referendum Group. Other places will be taken by another Birmingham councillor, Sutton Business Improvement District and the Sutton Charitable Trust.
In a statement the Chairman of Sutton Coldfield and Erdington Liberal Democrats, Graham Lippiatt, said: "While I welcome the Council's decision to go for a fast track approach and set up the Town Council with elections next May, I feel the allocation of just three seats on what is effectively our Shadow Town Council to the Referendum Group, the organisation which actually brought about the creation of the Town Council, is something of a snub. The Conservative party in Sutton were at best ambivalent over the Town Council issue and at worst were downright hostile, yet they get the lion's share of places on the Shadow Council. The Referendum Group is an umbrella organisation consisting mainly of representatives of Neighbourhood Forums and residents' groups. They should have been given a bigger role."