The deputy mayor of Redcar and Cleveland Council is the latest to resign from the Labour party after a week of turmoil at the authority.
Ten Labour councillors resigned their membership last week after council leader George Dunning, deputy Sheelagh Clarke and members of the authority’s cabinet were told by Labour that they had not been selected to stand again for their party in May’s elections.
Now Doreen Rudland, who represents the Brotton ward, has confirmed she is the 11th current councillor to leave the party.
She said: “I think it is disgraceful what has happened to those councillors who were deselected by the party.
“Ten councillors resigned last week – and I am supporting them.”
Cllr Rudland, 77, is the authority’s deputy mayor and was elected at a by-election in Brotton more than four years ago.
She confirmed that she was not planning on standing in the May elections.
“I had already taken that decision, I did not want to stand because of my age.
“I have enjoyed being a councillor, and I have particularly enjoyed my time as deputy mayor.”
On Sunday, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Constituency Labour Party selected its candidates to stand in May’s election.
Current Labour cabinet members Joan Guy and Helen McLuckie were selected to stand again in their Saltburn and Skelton wards, the local party confirmed.
The ten councillors who resigned from the party at a protest outside Milbank Terrace office of Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley last week were: George Dunning (Teesville), Sheelagh Clarke (Teesville) Steve Goldswain (Eston), Olwyn Peters (Eston), Norman Pickthall (Teesville), Mark Hannon (Kirkleatham), Vic Jeffries (Marske), Brian Briggs (Skelton), Carole Simms (Normanby) and Wendy Wall (Normanby).
A vote of no confidence in leader George Dunning has been tabled by the council’s Liberal Democrat group for Thursday’s meeting of the full council.
In the wake of the row, Councillors Steve Goldswain and Olwyn Peters spoke out about alleged bullying in the local party, while the chairman of the Redcar constituency party Neil Bendelow confirmed that Cllr Vic Jeffries had made a formal complaint about bullying.
Cllr Dunning said that the resignations came after a long-running internal dispute in the Labour Party between council leadership, and the offices of Ms Turley and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop.
After Councillors Dunning, Clarke, Hannon and Jeffries joined Steve Goldswain, Brian Briggs and Norman Pickthall in being deselcted by the party, Mr Blenkinsop said that “he wasn’t part of the selection process”.
Ms Turley said in a statement:
“I am sad that the councillors and members who didn’t get selected don’t feel they can continue to be part of the Labour movement without being paid councillors, but the party cannot be held to ransom.
“There were simply other candidates who won their elections and they deserve their opportunity to serve their local communities.”
In response to Mrs Rudland’s announcement, Labour repeated its statement made in the wake of the other resignations that it was “disappointing but unsurprising”.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 09 Feb 2015