Clancy’s denials proved to be one last throw to keep his job
himself as the hero leader blocked by interfering officials, unions and Blairites.
He may have even come out of the crisis stronger.
It was a tactic which had worked when he stood up to the West Midlands Pension Fund board last year and saved the council some £24 million in unnecessary deficit reduction payments – money which then went back into the budget for libraries, social services, roads and. of course, bins.
Instead he went for the denial and blame-shifting which widened the circle of those angry with him.
There's a lesson for people in public life. It is rarely the act itself which causes the downfall, but the attempts at a cover-up and blameshifting.
And even with his resignation looming he was spinning furiously to cling on and a prepared statement to the council that every member of suggested he could be considering a take-over.
Mr Javid's timing could not have been better.
His threatening letter arrived just as the Labour council's cabinet was meeting to discuss the leadership question and before the wider Labour group was set to discuss the same.
The clear indication was: “If you don't remove Clancy, I will and you won't get to choose the next occupant of the leader's office.”
THE over-riding concern for interim leader Ward and the cabinet is to end the bins dispute as quickly as possible.
The crucial sticking point is the position of the 113 workers who face either a pay cut, moving to another council department on the same pay, or taking redundancy.
Redundancy notices were issued to them at the start of September, and those notices are now being challenged with an attempted legal injunction.
With the Unite union having declared victory following Clancy's now discredited deal in August, any compromise in which those jobs are downgraded could be seen as a massive climb-down.
But interim leader Cllr Ward has strongly stated the deal being offered to binmen is very reasonable, especially the offer of alternative jobs on the same salary, and needs to be accepted by the union.
The council is sticking to its guns saying that to retain the jobs will risk costly equal pay claims. The council has of course been burned before.
The union and Acas (as well as Clancy before his denial) thought the jobs could be redesigned – given extra responsibilities – to justify the higher rate. It has been done elsewhere.
The council tried this before and failed – the courts saw through it. The council has also refused to share its legal advice for fear the details added fuel to the no-win no-fee lawyers circling and prompt a flood of claims.
So we have the unions and Acas saying that a compromise can be found which allows the binmen to retain their current pay grade.
But the council saying it absolutely cannot and refusing to show its working out.
While such a polarised situation persists, it is difficult to see any negotiated end to the dispute.
There’s a lesson for people in public life. It is rarely the act itself which causes the downfall, but the attempts at a cover-up and blame-shifting
John Clancy stepped up to the oche to try to sort out the city bins dispute ...but instead of hitting the bullseye his comments fell on stony ground