Sandwell councillor convicted of assault faces further investigation by council

A Sandwell councillor who was re-elected this year is under investigation by the council after a court case where he pleaded guilty to assault by beating.

Steve Melia
Steve Melia

Councillor Steve Melia, who represents Great Barr with Yew Tree, was conditionally discharged for 12 months and ordered to pay £130 legal costs and £200 compensation for the offence, which took place in Freeth Street, Oldbury in 2021.

The Labour councillor now faces a further investigation into the matter by Sandwell Council. It is unclear when a meeting considering the findings will take place.

In February, Dudley Magistrates heard that Mr Melia had knocked a phone out of the hands of Julian Saunders, who blogs under the title ‘The Sandwell Skidder’. Mr Saunders was filming elected councillors entering Sandwell Council chambers ahead of a full council meeting last December.

Mr Saunders, 63, could be heard in the video saying to councillors: “Back to the future? More corruption? More cronyism? More incompetence?”

Councillor Melia then walked past, pointed a finger at Mr Saunders and knocked the phone from his hand. During the court case, Shelia Hincklin, defending, said the case marked “the end” of Melia’s political career. Deputy district judge Bal Dhaliwal said Wednesbury-born Melia had “lost his good name” after years of service to his local community.

The councillor had initially been suspended by the Labour Party over the incident in December, but was able to stand as a Labour candidate for Great Barr with Yew Tree during this year’s local elections.

Councillor Melia won and held his local seat by only 166 votes, beating the Conservative runner-up, Connor Jones, a former chairman of the Sandwell Conservatives.

Great Barr with Yew Tree was the last seat to be called at Sandwell Council’s election count, held at Tipton Sports Academy.

During his speech, councillor Melia said: “Democracy won in the end. I was, and still am, the best candidate. Mr Jones [the Conservative candidate] asked for recount after recount. And I got a better result. Unbelievable. I will always be out and about in the ward day in and day out throughout the year.”

Councillor Melia declined to comment further, on what “may or may not” have taken place.

A Sandwell council spokesperson said: “The matter has been referred for investigation under our ethical framework process.

“A decision on whether the matter progresses to the standards’ panel will be made by the monitoring officer once the investigation is completed and the final report received.”

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