A senior management shakeup at Birmingham City Council, including the appointment of an interim chief executive, has been condemned as unconstitutional and improper.
Council leaders "abused" their roles by allowing strategic director of resources Stephen Hughes to become £165,000-a year acting chief executive without putting the matter before a committee, according to Labour group leader Sir Albert Bore.
Sir Albert was also critical of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition for unilaterally announcing major personnel changes in the social
education departments-In addition to Mr Hughes' promotion, education boss Tony Howell has become director designate of children's services. Social Services director Peter Hay has been appointed director designate of adult services.
A decision to confirm the appointments was taken two weeks ago by Mike Whitby, the leader of the council.
Mr Hughes' appointment will be rubber stamped at a full council meeting next week.
Sir Albert (Ladywood) said: "Labour members of the council have not been consulted on these appointments. In previous years, with a Labour controlled council, all such matters were put before an appointments sub-committee for decision - a panel which included the leaders of the three political groups on the council.
"This panel has not met to discuss these matters and, therefore, the decisions taken regarding these appointments are not valid. Whilst I cannot comment on the suitability of these senior officers to take up the new roles, I am very concerned that decisions are being taken contrary to the constitutional requirements. Consequently, Labour has no alternative but to oppose these appointments."
Sir Albert added: "I am seriously concerned that the Conservative and Lib Dem leadership of the council have abused their authority in respect of recruitment to senior posts."
A decision by Alan Rudge, cabinet member for human resources, to delay the recruitment of a new chief executive in order to judge how well Mr Hughes performed and to rule out potential candidates from abroad was also criticised by Sir Albert.
He said: "The leadership of the council has no authority to make such statements nor can it pre-judge the views of the appointments panel. The Labour members of that panel will wish to consider all bonafide applications for the post, wherever these individuals are from."
Coun Whitby said: "We acted decisively to appoint Mr Hughes, in whom I have every confidence. We could not allow things to drift.
"The appointment will go before the full council for a decision and you can't get more democratic than that."