THE selection of the new Labour leader of Sandwell Council is to be run by national party officials following complaints about last year’s internal election.

Labour’s ruling NEC has decided the choice of the borough’s senior elected positions will be overseen by officers from its Governance and Legal Unit instead of local councillors.

The decision comes after regional party bosses prevented a number of leading local councillors from standing as local election candidates this year amid complaints of a ‘witch hunt’.

All of the council’s 72 elected Labour members are expected to vote for a new leader after Cllr Steve Trow announced he was stepping down after his party swept the board in last week’s local elections.

Cllr Trow led the party for only two months after he replaced Steve Eling in March.

After seeing the party take every seat at Thursday’s council elections he told fellow councillors he no longer wanted the top job, citing personal reasons.

Elected members normally choose their leader and senior party positions in local private meetings but party officials will now run the process.

It follows controversy and complaints over last year’s internal election when ex-councillor Steve Eling was chosen as group leader.

He stood down in March after his party membership was suspended, preventing him standing as a candidate in Thursday’s council election.

Labour members are now being asked to nominate their choice for the new leader before an internal election is held.

The winner will be formally nominated as authority’s political  leader at a full council meeting on May 21 but with Labour holding all the 72 seats, no other names are expected to be put forward.