Sandwell Council confirms Jan Britton resigned from £140k per year post without ‘compensation package’
As the SKWAWKBOX reported yesterday Jan Britton, the chief executive officer of Sandwell Council – the borough at the heart of the Labour right’s West Midlands stronghold – resigned yesterday from his £140,000-a-year position, a week after being placed on ‘extended leave’ because of what the council termed ‘serious concerns’.
Britton was a close ally of former councillor Steve Eling, in turn a close ally of local MPs Tom Watson and John Spellar. Eling lost his position after being suspended by the Labour Party after serious complaints of bullying and other misconduct. In spite of the reported efforts of Tom Watson to derail the disciplinary proceedings, Eling’s case is now with the party’s ultimate disciplinary body for judgment.
A sign of the closeness between the two MPs and the two former council officials was seen yesterday when Spellar, in spite of the circumstances of Britton’s departure, paid tribute to the former CEO.
But the manner of Britton’s departure – it is almost unheard of for a senior council executive to resign with no pay-off – raises serious questions about what happened in Sandwell Council during his and Eling’s tenure.
One or both of the two men:
- were accused of bullying a female council employee out of her post
- pursued a legal case against a local blogger that fell apart when video evidence revealed that their allegations were untrue
- were rebuked by a senior police officer for wasting the force’s time in further attempts to pursue the blogger
- were accused of bullying a female councillor who also complained that Tom Watson made her life ‘a misery’
These are just some of the the issues that are currently publicly known. But Britton’s unusual resignation raises a number of questions:
- what are the ‘serious concerns’ for which the council placed Britton on ‘extended leave’?
- are Eling and other Watson allies and employees on the council also in the frame?
- are the police involved?
In the run-up to May’s local elections, after a lengthy investigation that also involved the suspension of the Sandwell ‘local campaign forum’ that runs candidate selections, a number of local councillors failed their reselection interviews with the the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and were replaced by new candidates. The changes, along with Labour’s success in winning all of the seats up for election resulted in a new council leader and an entirely new cabinet apart from Syeda Khatun, another Watson ally who remained as deputy leader.
The reasons for the failures were not made public. But the sudden and bizarre departure of the council’s most senior employee may not be unconnected.
Jan Britton could not be reached for comment.
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