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Residents of Walsall are the third most likely in Britain to be snooped upon by Town Hall officials, but that doesn’t trouble Council leader Mike Bird – in an astonishing interview this week he said he was aiming for top spot. He’s now been given a national “Bad Boy” award and been compared to M in James Bond.

According to pressure group Big Brother Watch Walsall Council has authorised 215 covert surveillance operations under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) in the last two years – just 16 fewer than Newcastle-upon-Tyne which came top with 231.

Birmingham ranked fifth (176) and Sandwell 10th (135).

Far from blushing at the statistics, Walsall’s Tory leader Cllr Bird said on BBC WM this week, “I'm proud that we do this. When I heard we'd come third, I was disappointed. I wish we'd come first. Now we've got something to aim at next year”.

Alex Deane from Big Brother Watch asked, “But if you watch people and find that they're innocent, you never tell them that they've been watched - are you proud of that too?

To which Bird replied: “Oh, yes - that's how it works! It wouldn't work, otherwise! The police don't tell terrorists they were watched - so why should we?”

Now Bird has been named the first Big Brother Watch Bad Boy Of The Week, an award he no doubt cherishes.

Meanwhile the town’s Labour group has weighed in, with their leader Cllr Tim Oliver saying: “It’s time the council leader Mike Bird stopped acting like ‘M’ in a James Bond film and told the council tax payers what he is spending their money on and why.”



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