Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Whitby gets his man

Opponents of Mike 'Shambolic' Whitby should quake in their shoes as the Curse of Whitless strikes. After Mike threatened to take his ball away and continue to ignore Birmingham Forward if Andrew Sparrow continued as leader, Mr Sparrow has done the decent thing and resigned.

Mike's refused to comment on the whole affair, but has added that
I have been inundated with letters of support from leading representatives of the business community wishing to express their backing for the council's vigorous approach to regeneration and the building of a better Birmingham for all.

Go on - name five.

Let's see who is prepared to back an approach that has all the vigour of a geriatric snail. These supporters of his do seem to rather quiet, in direct contrast to those who are prepared to stand up and be critical.

Birmingham Forward and Andrew Sparrow are stakeholders in this city and have an absolute right to comment on the progress (or lack of it) that the city is making. Pressurising external groups into silencing criticism isn't the way for any political leader to behave. Mr Sparrow isn't going down without a fight, though...

I just think that making threats of that kind is no way to run a city. It is the politics of the playground and I would have stood up to him. If someone dares to speak out and who turns out to be right in his criticism, for the leader of the council to hold a gun to the head of an independent business lobby group is unacceptable and suggests desperation on his part,I am furious that Mr Whitby has stooped to the levels he has. I can only say that he must feel very uncertain as to his own position to resort to such tactics. I made my comments in the public domain because I knew that all the usual avenues for Birmingham Forward to get a meaningful dialogue with the council were falling on deaf ears.

For 16 months Mike Whitby has refused to commit to dates for private events which afford Birmingham Forward the chance to put their concerns. The council leader's performance at a series of breakfast meetings held jointly with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Birmingham Forward has been described by almost all those present as 'shambolic'. If business thinks that then it should not be afraid to say it. People should not masquerade as lobbyists if, when the test of nerve presents itself, they cave in.

It's vital that talented business people participate in the real politic because we all earn our livelihoods from the city and should look beyond the balance sheet of our respective firms to the civic realm. My comments, which were not made with reckless abandon, have been given emphasis purely due to the hysterical response by Coun Whitby...

...I say again that unless individuals are free to raise matters of concern and base their argument on sound evidence then it is the city that will suffer. I am very disappointed in where we are as a city and the 'buzz' has gone out of Birmingham. I want to make sure we get it back.

I believe that the current administration has, to date, not shown itself to be effective in driving major projects for the city forward. If Birmingham loses momentum then it will manifest itself in a variety of ways very quickly. If the city is perceived to be halted it will prejudice external investment both private and governmental.

This place gets more like North Korea every day - Whitless employed his own mouthpiece to draft hero-worshipping press releases (seemingly without interview and without any post being advertised); tried to keep the failure of the underground plan a secret ; removed the chief executive to silence any internal opposition and has now removed one of his external critics. I'm waiting for the Town Hall to be covered in enormous pictures of Whitby. At least then I could find a use for this huge set of darts I'm building.

I do hope that Hemming and Tilsley are deeply proud of keeping this clown in office.

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