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

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