HITLER ROW ERUPTS IN MAYORAL DEBATE.
Byline: Jonathan Walker
PLANS to give Birmingham a "shadow mayor" have sparked more controversy after Adolf Hitler was dragged into the argument.
Labour shadow local government minister Jeremy Beecham was branded "crass and insensitive" by comparing the proposal to Nazi Germany's occupation of Austria in March 1938.
The Localism Bill will allow Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to nominate city council leader Coun Mike Whitby as the city's "shadow mayor" in advance of a referendum next May.
Only at that point will residents be asked whether they want a fullblown elected mayor or not. Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Beecham told fellow peers: "In Birmingham, for example, a Conservative council leader would be appointed shadow mayor and continue to hold office, assuming a referendum next year confirmed the mayoral model, for a further year from next May even though Jonathan Walker it is highly probable that Labour will take control of that council then. "The nearest precedent that occurs to me, though absolutely without the horrific overtones of the original,istheAnschluss: occupy Austria first and have a referendum afterwards."
Tory MP Stephen Hammond, who is Mr Pickle's right-hand man in Parliament as his Parliamentary Private Secretary, said: "If these comments are correct they are incredibly crass and insensitive and show how out of touch Jeremy Beecham is.
"He should do the right thing and immediately apologise."
Local Government Minister Baroness Hanham (Con) told the Lords: "I understand there are still concerns over the shadow mayors and those concerns were widely expressed.
"It is important that we put mayors into the context of the overall package that we feel will be good both for cities and local democracy."
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'Crass': Jeremy Beecham. Nominating powers: Eric Pickles.