Another new Labour leader chosen in Sandwell as two more councillors kicked out of party
Sandwell Council's Labour group elected its latest new leader just hours after two more of its councillors were ejected from the party.
Councillor Yvonne Davies defeated Ann Shackleton 35 to 33 votes at the Labour group's annual general meeting last night and is now set to be formally chosen as leader of the council next week.
Councillor Davies will replace Steve Trow, who is stepping down after just two months in charge of the Labour group and council.
Councillor Trow, who became leader in February when predecessor Steve Eling was suspended by Labour's National Executive Committee as part of an investigation into unspecified allegations, informed fellow Labour councillors of his decision to quit shortly after the party swept the board in the local elections last month.
'Time to move forward'
Speaking after the AGM on Monday, Councillor Davies said her first step would be to take stock, talk to people and take advice.
She said: "I hope that everyone recognises that we have spent past years on the wrong side of doing the right thing and actually we need to move forward with integrity, honesty, transparency and openness, and political infighting benefits no-one.”
The leadership vote was held just hours after councillors Julie Webb and Bill Cherrington were stripped of their membership.
Both councillors had said they were planning to attend the meeting, only to say shortly afterwards that they had both received emails telling them they were no longer party members.
'Support for de-selected candidates'
Councillors Webb and Cherrington are alleged to have supported opposition candidate Dave Hosell during the local elections.
Councillor Caroline White was thrown out of the party last week for the same alleged offence.
Mr Hosell and wife Shirley Hosell stood as independent candidates after they were among seven Sandwell councillors to be deselected by the national Labour party in the build-up to the election.
Mr Hosell lost his Newton seat by 305 votes to new Labour candidate Richard McVittie, while Mrs Hosell came fourth in Great Barr as Labour replacement Gurdesh Gill won comfortably.
The three deselections since the election mean 10 Sandwell councillors have been ejected from the Labour party this year.
'They knew the rules'
In an unusual step the leadership election was overseen by the party’s executive committee after complaints about the conduct of a previous AGM.
Councillor Davis insisted the meeting was run correctly.
Speaking of the expulsions she said: “Certainly this was nothing to do with me whatsoever and things go on.
"If you support an independent candidate it is automatic grounds for expulsion and every Labour party member knows that.
“I don’t know if they did or they didn’t because I haven’t actually looked at to be honest.”
- Leader Steve Trow resigns after two months despite election victory
- See the full Sandwell Council election results here
- Deselected councillor: I'll make Sandwell great again
- Sandwell councillors to stand independent after being deselected
A second meeting of the Labour group will now take place before Councillor Davies is formally chosen as the political leader of the authority at the next full council meeting on Tuesday, May 21.
The other Labour councillors to be deselected were former leader Steve Eling, Sandwell’s mayor Joy Edis, deputy mayor Carol Goult, Hateley Heath’s Pat Davies and Keith Davies, who represents the Smethwick ward.