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Sandwell Council leader steps down after party suspension

Cllr Steve Eling in front of Sandwell Council house Image copyright Sandwell Council
Image caption Councillor Steve Eling said he does not know the details of the complaint against him

A council leader has stepped down from his role after being suspended from the Labour Party following a “complaint”.

Steve Eling resigned as Sandwell Council leader on Wednesday, three weeks after his suspension..

A new leader will be formally elected in March and Mr Eling said he will continue to serve his ward, Abbey.

Conservative MP James Morris – who has long called for Mr Eling’s resignation – said his leadership were the council’s “darkest days”.

The MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis denounced the council as a “rotten regime” in January 2018, prompting a retort from Mr Eling who branded him “a coward”.

Investigation

It is unclear why Mr Eling was suspended by the Labour party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), but it is understood it is conducting a lengthy investigation.

Mr Eling said he has been given no details of the complaint against him.

After his resignation, in an email to Labour councillors Mr Eling, who has been a councillor since 1986, said he has “made a few enemies… but all my critics can throw at me is personal abuse,” the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

“The successes of Sandwell Council and needs of the community are taking second place to internal Labour Party squabbling,” he added.

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

Deputy Leader Syeda Khatun will assume Mr Eling’s responsibilities before a formal election on 5 March.

Labour councillors have chosen Councillor Steve Trow to replace Mr Eling as head of their group and he is expected to seek election next month.

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