SOURCES within York’s ruling Labour party say there is dissent in its ranks following the shock resignation of one of its councillors.
The Press understands some members of the group fear at least one more councillor may be considering their position as the fall-out continues from the decision by equality campaigner Lynn Jeffries to quit the party this week.
Coun Jeffries, who represents Westfield on City of York Council , said cuts to social care for 184 vulnerable people were “the final straw”.
The Liberal Democrat group say the door was open for Coun Jeffries, who intends to continue as a councillor, to talk to them about joining. She said she had become disillusioned with Labour over a string of issues, including the proposed sale of the Union Terrace car park, the removal of litter bins in York and the closure of Beckfield Lane recycling centre.
Labour sources have now told The Press:
• The party’s response to Coun Jeffries’ resignation is to “try to pretend it never happened”, which is seen as “strange”.
• The group “doesn’t talk enough” and there is little group-wide debate on important matters. One source said: “If we get half-an-hour for the whole group to discuss a major issue, we’re lucky”.
• Concerns raised to the group’s leadership have “fallen on deaf ears” and there is no “strategy for involvement” or “proper dialogue”.
• Some members have become “too interested in jockeying for position” since Labour took council control.
However, Ken King , Labour councillor for Clifton , said: “When you have a large group, as we have, there can be discontent and differences of opinion, but people must realise that you have to abide by the majority, otherwise it leads to chaos.”
A Labour spokesman said: “The group does not make comment on speculation and anonymous remarks.”
Lib Dem leader Carol Runciman said her group would “obviously be interested” if Coun Jeffries wanted to speak to them, but added: “She has made a major decision and it’s important to remember that any approach must come from her, not us.”
Meanwhile, Coun Sonja Crisp , cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, has apologised for a twitter comment she posted following Coun Jeffries’ resignation, in which she said: “Rotten apple out the way and move on”.
She said yesterday: “This particular tweet was posted soon after I learned of the resignation of a colleague, which was obviously disappointing, particularly because I had counted Lynn as a friend as well as a colleague.
“Emotions were running high and I expressed a view in the heat of the moment which, with hindsight, I should have kept private. I apologise if the tweet caused any offence.”
Council leader James Alexander said: “It is now in the best interests of both Coun Jeffries and the Labour Party for each of us to move on, and I have written to Lynn wishing her the very best for the future.”