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Leader of Birmingham City Council resigns over bin dispute

The Leader of Birmingham City Council John Clancy has resigned just 21 months after his appointment, blaming 'frenzied media speculation' over the bin dispute.

There's been mounting pressure on Mr Clancy to step aside ever since a deal he personally brokered with striking refuse workers collapsed 10 days ago.

A personal involvement criticised by some as being beyond his authority as leader.

Afterwards he was adamant even pressure from within his own party wouldn't make him walk. This was Councillor Clancy speaking to ITV News Central correspondent Andy Bevan last week.

But on Friday there was an unprecedented move by all of the city's Labour MPs, who wrote a letter to the leader describing him as an 'obstacle' to resolving the dispute.

And tonight ahead of another meeting in which is was expected more of his own Labour Councillors would turn against him in a possible vote of no confidence, he's decided to go.

In a statement he said:

"None of us are perfect, and I made some mistakes, for which I am sorry and take full responsibility.

It has become clear to me that frenzied media speculation about the Birmingham waste dispute is beginning to harm Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Labour Party. I can see no end to such speculation, as ill-informed as much of it is, for as long as I remain Leader.

I have therefore decided to resign both as Leader of the Labour group and as the Leader of Birmingham City Council with immediate effect.

I would wish to stress that the actions I took along with my cabinet to negotiate an end to an extremely complex and difficult industrial dispute were done with the best of intentions. None of us are perfect, and I made some mistakes, for which I am sorry and take full responsibility.

I am honoured to have been Leader of the council since December 2015 and proud of the many achievements during my time in charge. These include issuing the first £45 million ‘Brummie Bond’ for local housing, and two other initiatives that generated substantial savings for the council – renegotiating the ICT joint venture agreement with Capita, and reaching agreement to reduce the council’s annual payments to the West Midlands Local Government Pension Fund.

Events in my personal life during this year have convinced me that there are issues of far more importance than Birmingham City Council, and although this has been said by politicians many times before, on this occasion I really am looking forward to spending more time with my family."

– Cllr John Clancy

Unsurprisingly the reaction from opposition councillors has been positive to today's news, but they are maintaining pressure for the Labour cabinet to resolve the strike and get refuse workers back to their regular schedule.

The union Unite at the centre of this dispute is now also calling for the council's Chief Executive to resign too.

But as the strike enters its 75th day tomorrow, it's now not only the streets that are in a mess, but a council house too.

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