Birmingham's opposition Conservative deputy leader has claimed that the group is in rude health and ready to take on the Labour leadership despite the sudden resignation of a senior colleague.
Coun Phil Parkin is the fourth senior Tory councillor to leave the group ahead of next month’s local elections.
Councillor Robert Alden, who although officially deputy leader has been de facto leader in recent months, said that there will always be a churn of councillors and this presented an opportunity for a pool of new talent waiting in the wings.
He said: “There are always changes in personnel as people’s work and personal commitments changes.
“What is clear is we have a very strong team of candidates going into the May elections.
“We will be highlighting to the electorate how Labour are letting Birmingham down and looking to continue the momentum from the Kingstanding by-election.”
He was referring to the February by-election in which the Conservatives took a Kingstanding seat from Labour for the first time since 1968.
Support for the Tories nationally is beginning to pick up and locally the group is looking to bounce back, or at least consolidate its position, following a string of disappointing local election results since the 2010 general election.
But Coun Parkin’s resignation two years early from his very safe Sutton Trinity seat was a surprise to many. Although he had in recent years stepped down as group deputy leader and later resigned from the shadow cabinet.
Coun Parkin is also a former chairman of the leisure, sport and culture scrutiny committee and responsible for the Destination Birmingham report into popular music promotion, heritage and tourism which recommended a Black Sabbath day, Freedom of the City for Ozzy Osborne, and a permanent exhibition to highlight Birmingham’s role in the creation of Heavy Metal music.
He cited the demands of his family business and other commitments for his resignation. He also told colleagues his heart was no longer in it and others should be given a chance.
He said: “It’s time for a change. My business as well as a number of other commitments mean I’m no longer in a position to be able to devote the time that is needed to being a councillor.
“There are lots of keen people out there who will do a very good job.”
Group leader Lord Whitby has stepped down from his Harborne seat following his elevation to the House of Lords.
Although officially group leader he has in reality taken a back seat since being consigned to opposition in 2012.
The last two local elections have also seen the Harborne seat fall to Labour leaving Lord Whitby vulnerable.
Another senior Conservative, Coun Alan Rudge, who was eight years cabinet member for human resources, was forced out of the Sutton Vesey seat he held since 1982 following a falling out with his local party. He was replaced with another candidate.
And finally the shadow cabinet spokesman for children’s services, Coun James Bird is also stepping down due to work commitments, having served a single four-year term in Sutton New Hall.
He has been one of the more successful opposition councillors and has been tipped for future greatness. Many expect to see him gracing the House of Commons in the future.
His resignation has opened the door for the ambitious former councillor Ken Wood to make a come back just two years after he lost his Kings Norton seat.