Former Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby has cleared his desk – and stunned the new leadership by taking much of his old office furniture with him.
The new city council leader, Labour’s Sir Albert Bore, was said to have been stunned to arrive in his new base to find a coffee table and armchairs, a coat stand and two large paintings had all vanished.
A Labour Party source said officials were amazed at the move and added: “We half expected the light bulbs and fixtures to have gone as well.”
Rumours were circulating that Sir Albert was scouring the Council House on the hunt for new furniture and pictures.
Conservative group leader Coun Whitby admitted he took the table, chairs and pictures when he vacated the council leader’s office earlier this month – but insisted they belonged to him.
Coun Whitby said the paintings, large images of Selfridges and the Mailbox, were a gift from Marketing Birmingham in recognition of his efforts to promote the city and encourage tourism and foreign investment.
“They are in storage at the Conservative group office until we can find somewhere to hang them,” he said.
“The coat stand disappeared years ago and the coffee table and chairs were mine.
“But Sir Albert can lease them back if he can’t find his own.”
Coun Whitby was forced to move out of the council leader’s office after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition which used to run Birmingham was battered at the local elections earlier this month.
But he said he vacated the space in just two days – and accused Sir Albert of taking four weeks to clear the base when the Labour leader’s first spell in charge of the authority ended in 2004.
Sir Albert may be able to seize extra furniture left unused by a shake-up of the council’s powerful cabinet, which has been reduced from ten members down to just eight.
Six of the eight now share a large open-plan office with senior officials.
Only a couple of private offices are now available for confidential meetings with staff.