Bham council must not be allowed to scapegoat Clancy to renege on bin deal

Birmingham City Council (BCC) leader John Clancy is under pressure to resign after the SKWAWKBOX this morning exclusively revealed an email he sent advising council officers that a deal struck with union Unite had been fully approved:

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As of this evening, he is also facing a formal vote of no confidence put forward by two Labour councillors – Clancy is also on the Labour group – as well as an open letter calling for his resignation published by a third Labour councillor:

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On the face of it, this seems like good news. However, the content of the no-confidence motion suggests otherwise:

No-one doubts how difficult it has been for John Clancy and the Cabinet in recent weeks – relentless and complex negotiations on a matter which challenges us as Labour politicians. Nonetheless, this has been seriously mishandled, and the extent of this is being revealed to our citizens.

We cannot brush this under the carpet. If we do not act, it will be interpreted as support for this way of doing politics, of running the city. This will lose us the trust of our citizens, our friends and neighbours.

Multiple emails and statements demonstrate that the Leader struck a deal at ACAS, without Cabinet approval and against the advice of senior officers. Having taken such a decision, he compelled officers to implement his decision, without any authority to do so. When confronted with this in the media, he denied it.

Rather than facing censure because he made a deal and then reneged on it, the motion sets Clancy up for a fall for allegedly exceeding his authority. This would make room for the council to continue to deny the validity of the deal it struck with Unite on the grounds that it was unauthorised.

However, this does not fit with the facts that the SKWAWKBOX put into the public domain this morning.

The email that the Birmingham Mail refers to, which this blog published this morning, emphatically does not show Clancy acting as a maverick. On the contrary, the whole council cabinet ratified the deal:

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In addition, the email makes clear that authority resides with the elected officials and not with paids officers:

“Officers of the council are required to act in accordance with cabinet decisions.”

No officers, including the interim chief executive, have the authority to overturn a cabinet decision.

In this context, the no-confidence motion looks like an attempt to scapegoat Clancy for exceeding his authority in making the deal, rather than a disciplinary move for breaking it, so that the council can wash its hands of the matter and claim the deal was never binding.

The email tells us – and more importantly the people of Birmingham – differently.

Rather than trying to shift the blame onto an individual, the whole council cabinet needs to take responsibility for its formally and properly approved decision – and stand by it.

Unite assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett gave the SKWAWKBOX his verdict:

Any Labour Councillors who are wedded to cuts to the salaries of low paid workers are a disgrace. Those councillors are masquerading as Labour. Purely and simply, Councillors need to stand up and say cutting wages is not the answer. They were elected on the promise of no more cuts and that is the Labour people voted for.

Let no one lose focus here that this is a cuts agenda being forced through by a paid officer, Stella Manzie, who takes home £180,000 a year and in her last year at Rotherham claimed over £160,000 in expenses.

The last minute scare-mongering about equal pay cases, as if Unite do not support gender balance, is disgraceful and wholly misconceived. People will see through this and understand that if bin loaders keep the same responsibilities as they have had since 2011, the claimed “risk” simply does not happen.

The Council have agreement with the unions for changes in a working week, shift patterns, increased waste revenue. The Labour Cabinet needs now to honour the Acas deal and in doing so do the right thing by workers and the people of Birmingham. I say to those Councillors: find the strength to represent true labour values, do not be bullied by paid officials.

John Clancy must answer for saying there is no deal but the council needs to admit it did ratify it and stand by it – and if it doesn’t, it needs to be honest and admit it’s going back on its decisionThis is a fair deal and the equal pay issues are made up.

Saying Clancy had no authority is a red herring. Acas contacted [BCC CEO] Manzie and Kennedy (who had asked us to go to Acas that day – in the media) and neither attended. Both knew Clancy was going and never gave any hint that he couldn’t do a deal. They knew he was doing a deal.

[Clean streets councillor] Lisa trickett most of all knew as she was on the phone to Clancy throughout talking about the wording of the deal. Not once did she contact Acas to say John wasn’t authorised can’t do a deal.

The council is disgracing itself. It publishes its ‘values’, which include keeping its word and acting courageously – it’s doing neither.

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Birmingham City Council’s value statement

BCC – dominated by right-wing, so-called ‘moderate’ Labour must not be allowed to dodge its obligations and the deal the council itself made and ratified by scapegoating one individual.

And the people of Birmingham need to understand exactly what it is trying to do.

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  1. ToryLabour councillors. They’re still infecting local government.

    I don’t suppose any of this will make it into the national press or any of Birmingham’s local Tory rags. I expect they’ll put their fingers in their ears, go “La la la” and continue to spin their own doctored version of events.

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