Birmingham bin strike: John Clancy resigns as city council leader

The leader of Birmingham City Council, John Clancy, has resigned following criticism of his handling of industrial action by refuse workers.

In a statement, he said "frenzied media speculation" about the dispute was beginning to harm both the council and the Birmingham Labour Party.

Labour councillors last week proposed a no-confidence motion in Mr Clancy.

He said he accepted he had made mistakes "for which he is sorry" and takes "full responsibility".

The cost of Birmingham's bin strike

Workers resumed their strike on 1 September after a deal, which had seen the seven-week action suspended, fell apart.

Mr Clancy, who has been leader of Birmingham City Council since December 2015, said the actions he took to negotiate an end to an "extremely complex and difficult industrial dispute were done with the best of intentions".

He also mentioned in his statement that "events in his personal life" had convinced him there were "issues of far more importance than Birmingham City Council".

Mr Clancy ended it by saying: "I really am looking forward to spending more time with my family."

Refuse workers started strike action on 30 June in a dispute over job re-grading and shift patterns. The Unite union says restructuring plans threaten the jobs of more than 120 staff, while the council says the changes will modernise the service and save £5m a year.

The action was suspended on 16 August when conciliation service Acas said the city council had agreed certain posts would not be made redundant, and bin collections resumed.

But on 31 August, the council said it was issuing redundancy notices and the industrial action restarted the following day.

Urgent update

Mr Clancy's announcement came just after it emerged that the government has written to Birmingham's Improvement Panel asking it for an urgent update into events.

The panel, which was overseeing the running of the council, was set up in 2014 following an inquiry into the so-called Trojan Horse letter and council services.

In August it said it was satisfied the council could continue under its own steam.

But Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government has written to the panel saying that "clearly, there have been some developments since then which could have major implications" both for the council's leadership and finance and asked for an urgent update before he decided what the next steps should be.

Andy Street, Metro Mayor for the West Midlands, tweeted to say Mr Clancy has been a "generous colleague".