Sandwell councillor Bill Gavan – who has acted as driver for Labour deputy leader Tom Watson – resigned this evening
The Labour right in the West Midlands borough of Sandwell has been rocked – yet again – this evening by yet another resignation. Councillor Bill Gavan – a close ally of local MP Tom Watson who has acted as Watson’s driver according to local sources – announced his sudden resignation during this evening’s annual general meeting (part 2 and 3) of the council’s Labour group.
Gavan’s resignation came as a surprise to the gathered Labour councillors and came just hours after the SKWAWKBOX revealed a recording of Gavan’s erstwhile colleague Cllr Bob Piper making comments about Asian residents that have become the subject of a formal racism complaint to the party.
Gavan is also the subject of a complaint made last year by a local Asian councillor and is said locally to have been facing further complaints.
Cllr Paul Moore also recently resigned both from the council cabinet and from his position as Watson’s office manager and research assistant, in what local Labour members considered a sign of the further weakening of what was for years the iron grip of the Labour right on local party structures.
Watson’s close ally, Steve Eling, was forced to resign as Sandwell council leader earlier this year after being suspended by the party pending the investigation of serious complaints. He was consequently ineligible for selection as a Labour candidate and lost his Abbey ward council seat.
Cllr Gavan has been contacted for comment.
Update: Gavan has responded by text to say that he has not resigned from the party. However, several councillors have attested that he stood up during the meeting, in the presence of Labour’s deputy West Midlands regional director, and said: “I resign from the group and the Labour Party and will be joining the opposition and I invite others to join me.”
Cllr Gavan did not respond to a follow-up question whether he had withdrawn his resignation.
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