SHOCKWAVES have been sent through the corridors of power in East Staffordshire after it was revealed the main opposition group was set to put forward their own candidate for mayor of the borough in an unprecedented move.
The Mail has learned that the East Staffordshire’s Labour group are preparing to put up their own candidate for the ceremonial role later this year – in a move which breaks with tradition.
The Labour party has decided that they have enough support to push their candidate over the finishing line.
It is thought that the reasoning behind the move comes following the formation of a breakaway protest group from East Staffordshire’s controlling Conservatives last year.
The rebellious ‘gang of four’ – made up of Robert Hardwick, Malcolm Barrett, Nathan Birnie and Peter Ball – quit the Tories to form the East Staffordshire Independent Group following a variety of problems which have never been disclosed to the public.
Due to this, the Conservatives no longer have the majority in the borough with the council now made up of 18 Tories, 16 Labour representatives, one Lib Dem and the new group.
Mr Birnie, spokesman for the group, said: “It is brilliant to hear that the Labour party might be fielding a candidate for mayor.
“The move must come on the back of the knowledge that they have the votes to push the move through.
“I cannot speak for the group in terms of votes but, me personally, I would definitely back a Labour candidate – depending on who it is.”
The current mayor is Liberal Democrat Michael Rodgers with David Leese, a Conservative, all set to take over the role later this year after serving for the past 12 months as deputy.
Conservative MP Andrew Griffiths said: “I was very surprised to learn of the news that Labour look set to offer up a candidate for mayor.”
East Staffordshire’s Labour group could not be reached for comment by the Mail.