Next May, in a departure from previous practice, all 101 Council seats will be up for election. (This is down from 120, after recent boundary revisions.) Not surprisingly, the selection of party candidates has been the subject of keen interest, vigorous competition and some manouvreing.
In what are now the neighbourhood’s two Wards (West Balsall Heath, and Sparkbrook and East Balsall Heath) there has been no reduction in the number of Councillors – there were three when it was all one Ward, and there still will be. One Councillor for West Balsall Heath, two for East Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook. However, in a surprise decision by the local Labour Party members, Tony Kennedy, who has been a Councillor for six years and by general consent a hard-working man who has done many good things for the neighbourhood and its residents, has lost out in the selection process. Instead, the seat will be contested for Labour by Zhor Malik, known to many residents as a former Local Leagues development officer, and more recently, a leisure centre manager. (Currently suspended from his post Zhor is taking the Council to an employment tribunal to fight what he sees as injustice.)
Commiserations to Tony Kennedy – nothing if not a persistent character, he expects to be back before too long – as he has been before, having originally been a Councillor for Sparkbrook in 1993. This time he has been in office for only six years but has been a very busy and successful representative and lately, an Assistant Leader.