Ex-leader blamed media as colleagues urged him to go
JOHN Clancy’s surprise resignation as council leader on Monday came as a direct result of his involvement in the bins dispute – and in particular, the fall-out from the aborted deal he struck with the Unite union in mid-August.
He announced his resignation via his personal blog following a meeting with his cabinet, who are reported to have urged him to go, and after it was confirmed that Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid had ordered an investigation into the controversy.
It was also just hours before he was likely to face a vote of no confidence from Labour colleagues at their monthly meeting.
His 21-month reign as leader began to unravel ten days ago when it became clear that the council was not following through with a deal struck by Cllr Clancy with Unite union boss Howard Beckett to end the strike.
As his efforts to end the damaging strike collapsed, Cllr Clancy attempted to shift blame to the union, claiming there never was a deal. This was then contradicted in both a leaked email he sent to bins depot staff and a statement from the conciliation service ACAS.
He was accused of overstepping his authority, souring relations with unions and senior council staff and ignoring crucial legal advice in order to force through the deal. A string of Labour colleagues, both in private and in public, called for him to go. But in his resignation statement Cllr Clancy blamed “frenzied media speculation” for his decision to quit. He added: “I 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. None of us are perfect, and I made some mistakes, for which I am sorry and take full responsibility.” A Quinton councillor, he became leader in December 2015, taking over from Sir Albert Bore. His key achieve- ments were delivering on a pledge to cut the costs of the Capita IT contract, saving about £43 million, saving the council a further £24 million on pension deficit costs and securing major investment in housing.
But his chaotic management of the bitter bins strike, which began on June 30, prompted direct intervention of government and senior Labour Party figures.
Opposition Conservative group leader Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington) said: “This crisis could 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.”
> Tory leader Robert Alden