Birmingham council boss quits over bin strike
Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy has resigned because of a bin dispute controversy – hours before he faced a possible vote of no confidence on the strike’s 74th day.
The Labour leader resigned over his handling of the bin strike – especially the fall-out from the aborted deal he struck with the Unite union last month.
He was due this evening to face calls for his resignation from Labour councillors and a possible vote of no confidence.
He has been leader since December 2015, when he took over from Sir Albert Bore.
John Clancy, who has resigned as Birmingham City Council leader, at his home in Quinton as the bin strike hits its 74th day
In a departing statement issued by Councillor Clancy, he said: ‘It has become clear to me that frenzied media speculation about the Birmingham waste dispute is beginning to harm Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Labour Party.
‘I can see no end to such speculation, as ill-informed as much of it is, for as long as I remain Leader.
One resident decided to give his rubbish a birthday celebration when the strike entered its 50th day
‘I have therefore decided to resign both as Leader of the Labour group and as the Leader of Birmingham City Council with immediate effect.
‘I would wish to stress that the actions I took along with my cabinet to negotiate an end to an extremely complex and difficult industrial dispute were done with the best of intentions.
The strike has been raging for 74 days, leading Unite to call for another resignation today
‘None of us are perfect, and I made some mistakes, for which I am sorry and take full responsibility.
‘I am honoured to have been Leader of the council since December 2015 and proud of the many achievements during my time in charge.
‘These include issuing the first £45 million ‘Brummie Bond’ for local housing, and two other initiatives that generated substantial savings for the council – renegotiating the ICT joint venture agreement with Capita, and reaching agreement to reduce the council’s annual payments to the West Midlands Local Government Pension Fund.
‘Events in my personal life during this year have convinced me that there are issues of far more importance than Birmingham City Council, and although this has been said by politicians many times before, on this occasion I really am looking forward to spending more time with my family.’
Mr Clancy is accused of reaching a deal with the union against the advice of city lawyers and council officials
Deputy leader Ian Ward takes over as interim leader following the resignation.
The union at the centre of the long-running binmen’s dispute, Unite, is now calling for interim council chief executive Stella Manzie to resign too.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: ‘Stella Manzie must follow in John Clancy’s footsteps and resign and the council honour the Acas agreement it reached with Unite to settle this dispute.
‘The interim chief executive has lost the trust of Birmingham city council’s workforce and the people of Birmingham. Time and again through her action Stella Manzie has shown herself to be dishonourable.’
Mr Clancy was facing a possible vote of no confidence this evening over his handling of the bin strike
He added that there is ‘a huge democratic deficit’ at the council with the officials leading the elected councillors.
‘I would call upon Labour councillors to fill this democratic deficit and force Stella Manzie to allow the lawyers to meet to allay any concerns they may have on equal pay and to allow them to implement the Acas deal,’ he said.
‘This is the minimum that the people of Birmingham deserve.’
The crisis unravelled after Mr Clancy’s well-intentioned intervention to end the dispute by taking personal control of negotiations with Unite.
He was alleged to have:
- Struck the deal with the binmen’s union against the advice of senior council officials and city lawyers – risking a flood of equal pay claims from other staff.
- Acted beyond his authority and bypassed management to order the reinstatement of a suspended union representative
- Told management he had cabinet backing for the deal – which some members deny.
Mr Clancy then tried to claim there was no deal and accused the union of ‘wilfully misrepresenting’ the deal to its members.
He subsequently enraged colleagues when he didn’t admit his errors and soured relations with officials and the unions.
Conservatives in the opposition group of the council say Mr Clancy should have gone long before today
Mr Clancy said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family, adding there’s more to life than Birmingham City Council
Leader of the opposition Conservative group, Cllr Robert Alden, has been long highlighting the council’s failure to tackle the bin dispute.
‘While the acceptance finally from the Leader of the Council that it is untenable for him to continue in post, is welcome, the reality is this decision should have been made long before the 74th day of the crisis.
‘Residents of Birmingham have had to endure a summer of rubbish piled up on the streets and the associated health and pest risks that this brought.
‘This crisis could of and should have been avoided and sadly the Labour leader’s actions only worsened the situation.
‘It is sad it had to come to this but Birmingham residents deserve better than the leadership they have had from Labour this summer.’
The bin dispute is ongoing.