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Former Sandwell Council leader to launch complaint against current boss

By Jamie Brassington | Sandwell | Politics | Published:

A former leader of Sandwell Council is launching an official complaint against the current leader over what he claims are unfounded allegations.

Steve Eling, inset, stepped down as council leader in February and quit as a councillor in May

Steve Eling has denied he was responsible for suspending six cabinet secretaries for allegedly leaking information two years ago.

Current leader Yvonne Davies said Mr Eling was likely to have been involved in the talks which led to the suspensions in January 2018.

An independent investigation, requested by Sandwell, has found that the secretaries were wrongly suspended and were not responsible for disclosing information.

The disclosure relates to a secret meeting which became public knowledge after it was held before an ethics hearing into a councillor's conduct.

Yvonne Davies became Sandwell Council's third different leader in four months in May

Former council leader Mr Eling said: "Her comments are a disgrace without any foundation. She should have kept her mouth shut. I refute what councillor Davies has said.

"This is a breach of standards in public life to make such a statement. There is no evidence for this.

"She has interfered in a staffing matter when she shouldn't have been involved.

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"It was reasonable for the acting chief executive to make a statement on the outcome of the inquiry.

"But it certainly wasn't appropriate for the leader of the council to start pointing fingers at people without any evidence.

"I will have to put a standards complaint in against her. I can't just let it go. If I do, it just makes what she has said right."

He added: "I always say suspensions are neutral and they don't mean someone is either guilty or not guilty. But it is a management decision to suspend someone."

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Apology

Chief executive David Stevens made an apology to the secretaries this month on behalf of Sandwell Council after the investigation concluded.

The inquiry was requested by Mr Stevens after he took over as chief executive from Jan Britton, who resigned in July.

The suspensions were made when Mr Eling and Mr Britton were in charge of Sandwell Council.

Mr Eling stepped down as a councillor in May after resigning as leader of the council in February.

His resignation came after he was suspended by the Labour Party in January following a complaint, the details of which have never been made public.

Mr Eling was replaced as leader by Steve Trow, who in turn stepped down in the immediate aftermath of the local elections having spent just two months in the role.

Councillor Davies was elected council leader when she defeated Ann Shackleton by 35 votes to 33 in May.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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