Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling suspended by Labour party
The leader of Sandwell Council has been suspended by the Labour party.
Councillor Steve Eling has been suspended pending further investigation by the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).
Th exact reasons for the NEC's decision are unclear, although it is understood that officials looked into the behaviour of a number of party members in a long-running probe into regional Labour bodies.
A regional Labour Party spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.
"We cannot comment on individual cases.”
Mr Eling has faced calls to stand down in recent years amid allegation that he has abused his position of power.
Recently he was reported to have been told to stop wasting police time after repeatedly demanding the arrest of a blogger who made claims about council corruption.
He has denied all claims against him and has vowed to improve the Labour-run council's reputation following the publication of the explosive Wragge report in 2016.
Mr Eling, who has led the authority since May 2016, said he is not allowed to comment under party rules.
Conservative MP James Morris, who represents Rowley Regis, has been a critic of conduct by councillors at the authority.
He said: "Today sees a further twist in the saga of Sandwell Labour Party with Councillor Steve Eling being suspended pending further investigation.
"Yet again, residents are left in the dark about what is going on.
"It’s vital that this sorry affair comes to an end, and taxpayers get the services they deserve from their local council.
"For nearly five years there has been rumours, speculation, allegations and gossip about elected councillors and officials.
"It’s time this was finally put to rest, a fresh start and a clean break.
"Sandwell residents are sick to the back teeth of these sort of headlines, and demand that action is finally taken to clean the swamp."