Former Labour councillors today called on Ed Miliband to investigate after a bitter row in the Redcar party led to the departure of a number of high-profile members.
Former Redcar and Cleveland Council leader George Dunning headed a demonstration in Redcar asking for a full investigation into the party’s “flawed selection process”.
The call came ahead of the Labour leader’s question and answer session at Redcar and Cleveland College.
Mr Dunning’s deselection followed those of Redcar and Cleveland Council cabinet members Steve Goldswain (Eston) and Norman Pickthall (Teesville), the chair of Cleveland Fire Authority, Cllr Brian Briggs (Skelton) and Cllr Olywn Peters (Eston).
The deselections meant Mr Dunning and his colleagues could not stand for Labour in May’s elections and followed claims of bullying and harassment in the local party.
Mr Dunning, who has since quit the party, said:
“I was and still am the longest serving leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council.
“But I was deselected due to the influence of a group within the party who have never been voted for by the public.
“Everybody knows the selection process is flawed from start to finish.
“I’m absolutely appalled by the Labour Party. I’m nearly 65 and this is the first time ever I will not be voting for Labour. It is not a democratic party anymore and it no longer represents the working class.
“I’ve asked the question, will Ed Miliband carry out a full investigation into Labour Party North’s deeply flawed selection process?”
The deselections have seen Labour lose control of Redcar & Cleveland Council.
> Which seems a weird thing to do just before elections….
The upheaval in the Redcar and Cleveland Labour group follows a similar row in the Middlesbrough party last year.
Five councillors were deselected following interviews, and although Cllr Derek Loughborough won an appeal against the decision, he quit the party along with Cllrs Len Junier, Pervaz Khan, Sajaad Khan and John McPartland.
In a statement issued at the time of the deselections, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop and Anna Turley, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Redcar, said it was “time for change”.
“Leader George Dunning and deputy leader Sheelagh Clarke have served Redcar and Cleveland with great commitment and have a lot to be proud of,” the statement said.
“However, local Labour Party members have today voted to replace them with other candidates for the ward of Teesville. We have a wealth of talent in the Labour Party and the bar has been set very high this year.
“The people of Redcar and Cleveland deserve the very best representation that the Labour party has to offer in the local community and members have chosen some fantastic local candidates. It is time for change. We are building a fresh, exciting and committed new team.”
The statement was released in the names of Mr Blenkinsop, Ms Turley and John McCormick, chair of Redcar and Cleveland Local Campaign Forum, Neil Bendelow, chair of the Redcar Constituency Labour Party and Bill Suthers, chair of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour Party.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 06 Mar 2015
Five Middlesbrough councillors have taken a 5% cut in their allowances.
Members of the newly-formed Association of Independent Middlesbrough Councillors (AIM) have taken the voluntary reduction after the idea was vetoed by other councillors.
North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward councillor Len Junier raised the issue at a full council meeting in May but the proposal failed to win support of members.
Now Cllr Junier and colleagues Cllr John McPartland (Middlehaven), Cllr Pervaz Khan (Middlehaven), Cllr Michael Hudson (Coulby Newham) and Cllr Derek Loughborough (North Ormesby and Brambles Farm) will receive about £300 a year less.
All councillors receive a basic allowance of £6,130 per year while those with special responsibilities are paid more.
Cllr Junier said: “We are living in very difficult times. We are under no illusion that 5% will make a big difference but if it saves one job that one person will be forever grateful.”
At the time Cllr Junier proposed the reduction, Mayor Ray Mallon said the suggestion was “narrow-minded” and insisted the cut would not “be a pin prick” in relation to the savings required.
AIM was formed after Cllrs Junier, McPartland, Sajaad Khan, Pervaz Khan and Loughborough were deselected by the Labour party.
The five appealed against the decisions but only Cllr Loughborough was successful.
He then joined Cllrs Junier, McPartland and P Khan in setting up AIM after all resigned from the Labour party.
Cllr Hudson, who was previously an independent, joined the association shortly afterwards.
AIM is the second largest political group in Middlesbrough after Labour.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 07 July 2014