Sandwell council leader Steve Eling has been at the centre of long-running controversy in the West Midlands borough, including accusations of vicariously using WhatsApp to leak information to a local blogger to damage political opponents and of using police resources for political purposes.
Now he has been accused by a number of Sandwell councillors of an extraordinary outburst at a female colleague who had criticised then-councillor Richard Marshall – the councillor who leaked the WhatsApp information – during a meeting to discuss Marshall’s behaviour, which included bankruptcy after ‘borrowing’ tens of thousands of pounds from a local widow.
Yvonne Davies, the outspoken councillor who had challenged the council’s attempt to excuse Marshall, has just been exonerated after a long suspension for confronting attempts to sweep aside Marshall’s behaviour – but she and other councillors told the SKWAWKBOX that she was driven out of the meeting room by opponents yelling ‘out’ at her.
And that those opponents included council leader Eling, who also repeatedly banged his walking stick on the table at her as she was drummed out of the room.
Witnesses have also claimed that other councillors pursued Davies into the car park to further harangue her.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Eling for comment about the allegations. He responded:
No it is not true. That was the Tory [sic – apparently autocorrected from a mistyped ‘story’] according to your extreme right wing friends.
Eling has previously bizarrely accused the SKWAWKBOX of involvement with the far right when asked for comment.
The SKWAWKBOX also contacted Sandwell Labour group chief whip John Edwards for comment, as he was said to have been in the room during the events in question:
As you’ll be aware, having personally witnessed it, Steve Eling banged his stick at Yvonne Davies and yelled at her to get out during a meeting to discuss Richard Marshall.
Now that she has been exonerated and reinstated, what action have you taken/will you be taking against Eling and others who behaved aggressively toward her at the meeting and outside in the car park?
He did not deny having personally been present or that Eling had behaved in the manner described, but replied:
Thanks for your email, I’m sure you don’t seriously imagine that I’ll enter into a discussion with you (whoever you are) on internal Labour Party matters.
Mr Edwards has followed the SKWAWKBOX on Twitter for years. He denied that his response constituted a ‘no comment’.
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