Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham City Council coalition hits seven-year itch

The first year of coalition government at Westminster seems to have led to a seven-year itch for Birmingham's own marriage of convenience.

Image caption Councillor Paul Tilsley has previously sung the praises of coalition government

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have been in partnership on the city council since 2004.

After last week's poor local election results and a resounding No to AV, the deputy council leader and Liberal Democrat Paul Tilsley's love affair with his party's coalition at Westminster seems to be hitting the rocks.

"I thought that it had been going quite well, up until the referendum and then I think the relationships that had been built up, during the referendum, have been fractured.

"I think it's going to be very difficult to put things back together the way they were."

'Tide go out'

Is this the same Paul Tilsley I spoke to a year ago?

The Lib Dem deputy leader of the city council then sang the praises of coalition government and bragged about sharing tips with his party's leader on how to make good bedfellows of Conservatives.

Yes, the man before me is the very same one, but with the wind knocked out of his sails.

"I've seen the tide come in… I've seen the tide go out…

"It's the old adage: seven years [of] famine, seven years [of] plenty and it tends to work on a cycle."

Was he in famine at the moment? He sighed and said: "Not too much food on the table."

Shout louder

That is for sure. Labour, in opposition on the council, is on track to win back overall control next year, after becoming the largest single party in the city last week.

The Tories and Lib Dems, who have been in coalition in Birmingham for seven years, lost six and seven seats respectively.

But who is to blame? On election night an ever-loyal Mr Tilsley said it was down to national factors.

Now, on the anniversary of coalition building, he said it was time for his party to shout louder about its achievements.

"Nick Clegg and the Parliamentary party really have to start to differentiate what we are putting into the coalition and our successes within the coalition, because they have been submerged."

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