Leaked emails between Birmingham City Council chief executive Stella Manzie and leader John Clancy (Lab) suggest he repeatedly ignored senior officers’ advice in agreeing a deal to end the city’s long-running bin strike.
In the emails, obtained by respected local blog The Chamberlain Files, Ms Manzie is reported to have warned Mr Clancy that the deal he agreed with Unite could lead to “major financial risk to the authority, breach of the Equality Act as well as trade union and workforce unrest”.
She warns that the deal, which included a commitment to not make any redundancies, would leave the council’s section 151 officer “having to consider whether the council was in a position to set a lawful and balanced budget”. Ms Manzie also warned it could prompt pay claims under the Equality Act from unions representing workers in other parts of the council.
Ms Manzie points to three occasions on which Cllr Clancy was given legal advice about the deal. However, in his responses Cllr Clancy is reported to have accused senior officers of “an extremely serious failure… in relation to the conduct of this contingency in this dispute”.
The heated exchange came just weeks after the improvement panel, sent into the council by the government following concerns about governance, announced it was ready to step aside due to confidence in the councils leadership. Panel chair John Crabtree previously said positive working between Cllr Clancy and Ms Manzie meant “the prospects of further improvements are good”.
A statement setting out the deal to end the strike was published by workforce dispute resolution service Acas on 16 August. However, the strike was resumed after the council announced last week that it would be issuing redundancy notices, although it said those affected would be offered jobs elsewhere in the council on the same salary grade.
In a video posted on Twitter by Cllr Clancy on Friday he said there was “never a deal to end the bin strike, merely an agreement to pause it while all sides got round the table with Acas”. Acas has disputed this version of events.
Cllr Clancy has faced calls to resign from within the Labour group but insisted yesterday he would not be standing down. He told the BBC: “I won’t be going. Sometimes you to take tough decisions… You can’t kick the can down the road, you to take tricky judgements and that will end up with tricky political situations but I’m confident we can carry on especially in discussions with Acas and appropriate officers will be having discussions on either side”.