DOWN BUT NOT OUT

The postponement of local council elections to 2021 because of coronavirus means that a number of existing Sandwell Labour councillors will sleep more soundly in their beds. Those who still toss and turn instead of counting sheep can tot up the money they will rake in, in the coming year from those bogus jobs they laughingly call posts of special responsibility.

Previously, there were a number of uneasy, heads fearful that if the Labour party did not do for them with de-selection then the electorate, newly liberated from the psychological shackles of voting Labour as a family tradition, would.

The 12th December 2019, General Election day was a watershed. Many traditional Sandwell Labour voters realised what should have been obvious long before, that Labour was not the party for the working wo/man. Some stayed home. Others took courage and voted Tory and the sky did not fall. Instead Sandwell people got what they wanted; Britain out of the E.U. proper border and immigration control and a renewed pride in country.

One of the odd features of Labour politics in Sandwell is the number of councillors who are married or related to other councillors and have other relatives working for the council. Understandably this produces concern in households in which two or more face re-election at the same time.  Overnight they face the prospect of losing their basic household income, because many have no other employment or are retired.

A married retired couple of councillors, Peter and Pamela Hughes exemplify the difficulty. At the same time, he faces re-election in Wednesbury North; she does in Wednesbury South.

Under the tyrannical Eling regime, Peter Hughes worked hard to impress the leader. Hughes allowed no meeting to pass without praising the council to the skies and by necessary implication its great leader. His sucking up rivalled Dyno-Rod. Where Peter led Pam followed and rewards showered upon them with special responsibility posts for both. And posts mean prizes. In the year ended 31st March 2019, the pair collected £47,028.62 in allowances from Sandwell.

He pocketed £26,797.02.

Interestingly, in his first election leaflet Peter Hughes made a point about the sitting councillor’s allowances. “£24,000 a year no wonder she can get a few bus shelters erected. Your Tory Councillor MAVIS can claim allowances in excess of £24,000 a year as a councillor and Tory Rep on CENTRO, she gets extra money but says very little about it” Hughes, of course, made no distinction between being paid for another second job and responsibility and the Sandwell Labour council tactic of creating non jobs to inflate councillors' earnings and buy support..

So far Peter Hughes seems not to have endowed Wednesbury residents with any bus shelters. Nor has he said a great deal publicly about the rivers of cash flooding into maison Hughes. Funny that.

Another Peter Hughes hobby horse, at least in leaflets, has been residence in the ward a candidate aims to represent. Thus he wrote in another of his leaflets in a later election “Peter will vote for himself. Unlike 3 other candidates who do not even live in Wednesbury North.” In that election the Tory candidate lived in Wednesbury but just across the border in Wednesbury South ward. Peter presented that as a form of carpet bagging and betrayal..

He was at it again in a leaflet he produced for Elaine Costigan with its “HOME OR AWAY” sneer.Again the Tory candidate lived in Wednesbury South ward.

With such strongly held principles, one can only speculate at the dissension and discord chez Hughes when Mrs. H decided to put herself forward as a candidate in Wednesbury South despite living, you’ve got it, In Wednesbury North. Hard cash can however soothe the troubled beast. Peter made no public complaint. Perhaps, by then, he was aware that few Labour councillors live in the wards they represent and some not in Sandwell at all.

With the dethronement of Eling and the Wednesbury North Labour party taken over by hard left Corbynistas, Peter Hughes may simply be enjoying a reprieve before he’s dumped. But who can tell what will emerge from the wash tub that is the current Labour party. Certainly some colours will run in the trimmings.

Another result of the election postponement is that with illness, death and retirement some Sandwell wards have now been left with two or fewer active councillors instead of three. This is making no difference and shows that Sandwell has too many councillors per ward. Too much paid to too many.