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27th Jun, 2022

New Labour chief ready to 'hold Tories to account' at Town Hall

Ross Crawford 22nd May, 2022

POLITICS have to be done differently in Redditch now – that’s the message from new Labour group leader Councillor Joe Baker after his party’s success in the local elections.

Labour won three seats from Conservative control and boosted their numbers in the council chamber to seven after last year’s disastrous results in the ‘Covid jab rollout’ election of 2021.

Key to their success, said Coun Baker, was their campaign to save the town’s landmark library building, which has been earmarked for demolition under a plan backed by the Redditch Town’s Fund Board and backed by £4.2million in government cash.

But Coun Baker said: “Redditch Borough Council does not own library services, it’s a county council facility.

“There has been no financial plan, the demolition hasn’t been costed, it has not gone to full council to be debated and the overwhelming view of the public is to leave services as they are.

“We saw an online and physical petition signed by more than 2,000 people and in our town centre surgeries 100 per cent of people were in favour of keeping things as they are.

“We’ve got the second busiest library in the county, and it’s not just books that it offers, it’s used by old and young alike, plus it holds the Redditch archives.”

Coun Baker said he would also like to see the return of the outdoor market and for it to be as thriving and vibrant as Bromsgrove’s which stretches the length of the High Street.

“I would also like to see the introduction of community wardens in the districts, people who can get jobs done in their areas, and fully functional staffing at the Town Hall so that visitors can speak to real people instead of a telephone,” he said.

Coun Baker, who himself runs a small business, would also like to see more support for business start-ups and a solution found at national level for the sky high business rates town centre firms have to pay.

“Politics have to be done differently in Redditch now, we have been elected to work for the betterment of everyone in this town,” he said.

As such he said he wants two seats for Labour on the council’s all-powerful executive committee so they can have their say ‘so that decisions are properly debated and not just nodded through’ and also be given the chair of the authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

“I believe what goes around comes around and these are modest requests and as a man of integrity I would show the same consideration to the Tories, just as we did the last time we were in power.”

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