A NEW leader has emerged for the Conservative party in Sandwell, bringing an end to Cllr David Fisher’s tenure of almost seven months at the top of the local party.

Cllr Laured Kalari, (Cons, Rowley), a relatively unknown figure in Sandwell politics, was backed by a majority decision of Sandwell Conservative councillors on Monday (January 3).

Cllr Kalari will find his time as leader dominated not by coronavirus, but how the Conservatives will be able to respond to a flagging national party, and the cost of living crisis set to hit Sandwell residents hard this year.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Cllr Kalari, (Cons, Rowley), said: “It is a privilege and a huge responsibility to be elected as leader of the opposition of Sandwell council.

“The Conservative group under my leadership will be the voice of Sandwell residents, especially the vulnerable and the needy.

“I will question the council wherever and whenever needed , at the same time giving constructive feedbacks and alternatives to the ruling Labour.

“The priorities of Sandwell borough remains clear. Better council estate management, utilising brownfield sites and saving our green spaces, providing more efficient council services, creating local jobs, encourage businesses to invest in Sandwell, and fighting crime by bringing in more police patrols along with community policing.

“And as opposition we will make sure the Sandwell council focuses on these priorities both strategically and operationally to deliver them to the people of the borough making sure transparency is maintained at all times.”

Cllr Kalari also gave thanks to the NHS, saying: “Our NHS and Public health officials are doing an incredible job in the fight against Covid , let us complement their work by following the relevant preventive guidelines and save lives.”

The appointment of Cllr Kalari, and the now demotion of previous leader Cllr David Fisher, (Cons, Charlemont with Grove Vale) signals a new turn of leadership for the party.

Last year, it was revealed that Cllr Fisher put forward a resolution at a full Sandwell Council meeting demanding all councillors pass a DBS check to ensure they are “fit and proper” to be elected officials.

However the spotlight fell on his own position after the emergence of social posts complaining “there are no white doctors and nurses” in the NHS and  comments about Wednesbury KFC selling halal meat.

While Cllr Fisher said he “apologises wholeheartedly” for the comments, he declined to apologise over “asking people to respect the tradition of Christmas”.

It is unclear whether Cllr Fisher will be investigated by Sandwell Conservatives over the comments.

When asked by the LDRS what he would do differently, Cllr Kalari said: “Racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, or any kind of discrimination has no place in our society.

“Those medieval attitudes will not and cannot be tolerated. Under my leadership we will promote diversity and inclusion – all sections of the society should be able to live a life free from harassment and discrimination and be able to participate in all walks of civic endeavours.”

Cllr Kalari was first elected as a local councillor elected in May 2021 as one of two Conservative councillors in the Rowley ward.

According to the register of members interests on Sandwell council’s website, Cllr Kalari is also a director of Kalari Capital Ltd – a venture and development capital company.