Birmingham bin strike: John Clancy resigns as city council leader

The leader of Birmingham City Council, John Clancy, has resigned following criticism of his handling of industrial action by refuse workers.

In a statement, he said “frenzied media speculation” about the dispute was beginning to harm both the council and the Birmingham Labour Party.

Labour councillors last week proposed a no-confidence motion in Mr Clancy.

He said he accepted he had made mistakes “for which he is sorry” and takes “full responsibility”.

The cost of Birmingham’s bin strike

Workers resumed their strike on 1 September after a deal, which had seen the seven-week action suspended, fell apart.

Mr Clancy, who has been leader of Birmingham City Council since December 2015, said the actions he took to negotiate an end to an “extremely complex and difficult industrial dispute were done with the best of intentions”.

He also mentioned in his statement that “events in his personal life” had convinced him there were “issues of far more importance than Birmingham City Council”.

Mr Clancy ended it by saying: “I really am looking forward to spending more time with my family.”

Ian Ward is now acting leader of the council.

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Refuse workers started strike action on 30 June in a dispute over job re-grading and shift patterns. The Unite union says restructuring plans threaten the jobs of more than 120 staff, while the council says the changes will modernise the service and save £5m a year.

The action was suspended on 16 August when conciliation service Acas said the city council had agreed certain posts would not be made redundant, and bin collections resumed.

But on 31 August, the council said it was issuing redundancy notices and the industrial action restarted the following day.

Andy Street, Metro Mayor for the West Midlands, tweeted to say Mr Clancy has been a “generous colleague”.

Unite’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett told BBC WM Mr Clancy “made a mistake by claiming there was no deal in place when everybody knew there was and Acas recorded the deal”.

“I’m just sorry the whole situation has got to this. He did an honourable deal and, I believe we would have had a settlement long ago and he made a crucial error.”

Mr Beckett also stated interim chief executive of Birmingham City Council, Stella Manzie, “must follow in John Clancy’s footsteps and resign”.

“Stella Manzie has twice blocked Unite lawyers meeting council lawyers to discuss the fictitious equal pay concerns she is using to scupper the agreement that Unite reached with the council at Acas.

“John Clancy in his statement has made it clear this agreement was reached with the full knowledge of the cabinet.”

Birmingham’s nine Labour MPs had previously written a letter describing the city council as “an obstacle to moving forward” in resolving the bin strike.

In the letter addressed to Mr Clancy, MPs said delays to finding a solution were “unacceptable”.

The Labour-run council said a swift end to the dispute was its “top priority”.

David Jamieson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, said Mr Clancy “made the right choice” to resign.

“He’s stood back because he feels he’s an impediment to Birmingham going forward. Birmingham has an excellent set of councillors to choose from to choose a new leader.”

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