THREE Labour councillors in York have been axed by their local party branch ahead of next May's local elections.

Ken King, David Scott and Helen Douglas all lost out in a selection battle in Clifton, which all three currently represent.

Boundary changes meant the ward had to cut from three councillors to two, but all three have been stopped from standing as Labour candidates in the ward.

The three were on a shortlist of possible candidates but lost out in a secret ballot on Tuesday, which the Press understands saw fewer than 20 members of the Clifton branch vote in two new candidates.

Ken King has been a councillor for 32 years, representing first Bootham and later Clifton ward after an earlier reorganisation. He has served as Lord Mayor and until April this year served as consort to his daughter Cllr Julie Gunnell during her year as Lord Mayor.

David Scott has been a councillor for 11 years and led Labour from 2007 to 2010, before losing a leadership battle with James Alexander.

Helen Douglas has been a councillor since 2007 and is chairman of the council's Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

All three said they supported Labour democratic process which gave branch members power to chose council candidates, but after growing up in Clifton and spending his life in the area, Cllr King said he was sad to leave the seat.

He added: "I am a socialist and I have been a member of the Labour party for 50 years. It has been my life and I have no intention of leaving the party.

"I have been knocked down before, and I have got up and I will get up again this time."

The two candidates chosen were Margaret Wells, who is a member of York Central MP Hugh Bayley's staff, and Danny Myers.

Other wards are still to hold their selection meetings. All three said they would consider standing elsewhere in the city and ruled out leaving the party.

Cllr Douglas said: "What I know is that the Labour party needs more women councillors. I will go through the process that everybody is going through."

York's Labour party chairman Viv Kind said: "From a party point of view we need to provide a strong list of candidates for all branches to select their candidates. I can understand these three councillors will be shocked and disappointed, but I am encouraging all three to stand in other wards."

All three pledged to continue to work for the people of Clifton until May's elections.

Cllr Scott said: "I am focusing on what I need to focus on, which is making sure the residents of Clifton are well represented."

The news follows the deselection in May of Labour stalwart Brian Watson, who was dropped by the party while serving as Sheriff of York.

Cllr Watson, who has now left the party and is an independent councillor, did not make it onto the shortlist of possible Labour candidates for Guildhall.

Clifton branch chairman Jim Begley he thanked the three Clifton councillors for their hard work for the ward, particularly on taking up the fight over traffic problems at Clifton Green and introducing alleygating schemes to the area.

“They have been very very nice people and taken up a lot of cases in Clifton.”

He added: “It was always going to be a difficult reselection because of the boundary revisions – we were always going to lose one seat.”

The selection meeting was a democratic process scrutinised by the Labour party’s executive council, Mr Begley said.

He said Ms Wells and Mr Myers were excellent candidates. He said Mr Myers was a Clifton businessman and Ms Wells  was schooled in the ward and has connections with St Luke’s Church.