Audit, Inspection and Safety

24.01.19

Labour suspends council leader in ‘latest twist in the saga of Sandwell Labour Party’

Sandwell Council’s leader has been suspended by the Labour Party pending further investigation following a complaint after months of “rumours, speculation, and allegations.”

The decision was taken by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), meaning councillor Steve Eling can no longer lead Labour’s 70 members at the authority.

The reason behind his suspension is not yet known, however the NEC is reportedly conducting a lengthy investigation into the case.

The group’s deputy leader, Syeda Khatun, is now expected to take over, and if the decision is upheld, Eling could be de-selected as a candidate in May’s election.

Eling can continue in his role as leader of the council unless the NEC instructs the Sandwell Labour Group to move a vote of no confidence, which would force a formal vote in the council chamber.

The announcement follows months of internal fighting within the group which has seen a number of embarrassing rumours, allegations, and investigations involving councillors who have since stepped down.

When approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, a spokesperson said the regional Labour Party group would “fully investigate in line with its rules and procedures in order to take any appropriate disciplinary action.”

The party said it “cannot comment on individual cases” but stated it “takes all complaints extremely seriously.”

“We can confirm on background that as part of a lengthy investigation on behalf of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), Steve Eling has been suspended pending further investigation,” it added.

Conservative MP James Morris voiced his concern regarding the situation on twitter.

He said: “Today sees a further twist in the saga of Sandwell Labour Party with Cllr 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.”

Morris said there had been five years of rumours, speculation, allegations and gossip about councillors and officials, stating it was “time this was finally put to rest.”

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