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York councillor Lynn Jeffries wins praise for decision to leave Labour
A YORK councillor has been praised for “standing up for her principles” by residents in the ward she represents after her shock announcement that she has quit the city’s ruling Labour Party.
Lynn Jeffries, who was elected in City of York Council ’s Westfield ward in the May 2011 local elections, said she had left the group after becoming disillusioned with the way it was running the city.
She said its decision to cut community social care for 184 vulnerable residents had been the “final straw”.
Her decision to quit was exclusively revealed by The Press yesterday.
Lynn, who intends to remain a councillor, also criticised Labour and its leader, James Alexander, for its handling of issues such as the proposed sale of Union Terrace car park, the closure of Beckfield Lane waste recycling centre and the removal of hundreds of York litter bins, saying she felt the party had “taken her voice away”.
Coun Alexander has accused Coun Jeffries, 56, of letting down Labour and those who voted for her last year, but residents in Westfield yesterday said they backed her stance.
John Forrester, who lives in Foxwood, part of the ward., said: “I think she has done the honourable thing, because she clearly feel strongly about something which is very important.
“Social care is one of the last things which should be cut and I applaud her for resigning on a point of principle.”
Shirley Gumley, who chairs Foxwood Residents’ Association, said she knew Coun Jeffries well.
She said: “She is a wonderful councillor and such a big asset to the community.
“Lynn is a genuine person who fights your corner. If she felt she was not being listened to, the best thing for her to do was to leave the Labour group because it is meant to be all about consultation.”
Westfield resident Robert Gibson said: “It’s good to see a politician standing up for her principles and sticking her head above the parapet.”
However, Coun Jeffries’ decision was criticised by another ward resident, Mary Groves, who said: “She was elected as a Labour councillor and should stick by them and look to work out any differences she might have with the party – things happen in politics that people don’t like, but I don’t see how just resigning is going to help.”
Coun Jeffries can continue as an independent councillor, although it is believed the Liberal Democrat group – who held all three Westfield seats before the last elections - have made overtures to her about defecting to them.