TWO Labour councillors dramatically resigned at Thursday night's full council meeting.

Party veteran Ken King and former leader David Scott made the announcement at the beginning of the meeting at Guildhall.

The meeting was set to have been dominated by a vote on whether the council should approve £4 million for the community stadium project. That vote was passed, despite the change in council make-up.

York Press: A library picture of inside the council chamber at City of York Council where councillors last night approved the authority’s budget plans

The resignations mean five Labour councillors have now left the party since it was elected in 2010. The late Cllr Lynn Jeffries resigned in 2012 and later joined the Liberal Democrats, Brian Watson went independent in May, and Helen Douglas defected to the Conservatives last month.

Cllrs Scott and King launched stinging attacks on the York Labour leadership.

Cllr Scott told the meeting it was with a heavy heart that he had sent emails announcing his intention to resign the whip, and went on the say that there was not a single member of the current labour leadership to whom he would offer a proper job.

He said the leadership had tried to remove the Labour whip from him last year and accused leader Cllr James Alexander for "stamping his feet" and behaving like a child.

He said he had considered resigning from his council seat and forcing a by-election but said he intended on carrying on representing the people of Clifton as a "true Labour" member, in line with their votes.

Cllr King too said he was sad to make the announcement.

He said: "If I forgot why I was making this announcement, I was reminded by he couple of labour members who smirked at David Scott while he made his sad announcement."

In 40 years in the Labour Party he has held senior positions in the party and the council group, and served for 33 years as a councillor.

He said his decision was not based on the national party, but on the local situation.

"The people in the party group are not the same caring people who were in the group when I joined. 

"My heart is still with Labour, but people in this group have ruined it."

Responding, council leader James Alexander said it was sad to see members feel they had to leave the collective decision making of the Labour group. 

He said Cllr Scott had never forgiven him for beating him in a leadership battle.

He said: "I wish all the best to David and, particularly to Ken who has served for such a long time on the council and for that deserves credit."

Labour now have 21 councillors on the 47-seat authority. There are ten Conservatives, eight Liberal Democrats, two Greens and five independents. One seat is vacant, and will be filled next Thursday in the Westfield by-election prompted by the death of Cllr Lynn Jeffries.

York Press: Coun David Scott, Coun Ken King and Coun Helen Douglas at the reinstated junction at Clifton Green

Cllrs King, Scott and Douglas, pictured above together, all represent Clifton but were deselected by Labour at the start of July, meaning they would not stand for the party in the ward in next May's local elections.

Cllr Scott had been York Labour leader from 2007 to 2010 before being ousted in a leadership contest by Cllr James Alexander.

Cllr King has been a councillor for 33 years, representing Bootham then Clifton. He is also a previous Lord Mayor and served as consort to his daughter Cllr Julie Gunnell when she was Lord Mayor in 2013/14.

Separately, three councillors were absent from the meeting, having submitted their apologies. They were Liberal Democrat Keith Hyman, Conservative Paul Doughty and independent Sian Wiseman.

Cllr Scott's full resignation speech:

"Lord Mayor, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a personal statement.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have to advise this council that I have just sent two emails.  The first is to the General Secretary of the Labour Party resigning my membership of the party.

"The second is an email to the Chief Executive of this council confirming that I have resigned the Labour Party Whip, I am no longer part of the Labour Group and will now be a Labour Independent Councillor.

"It has been a difficult decision for me to take.  I have been a member of the Labour Party for over 20 years.  I come from a long line of active trade unionists.  I didn’t just choose the party I was born into it.

"But the York Labour Party is not the Labour Party I joined.  We now have a Labour Group that is corrupt.  Corrupt intellectually and probably corrupt in other ways too.  There is not one member of this Cabinet I would offer a proper job to, not that many of them know what a proper job is.

"Its leadership team don’t lead  - they bully, scheme and connive.  The Leader behaves like a spoilt child almost stamping his feet if he doesn’t get his own way.

"Some will be aware that the Labour Whip was removed from me last year.  What you will not know is why.  I am now freed from the shackles of the secrecy of the Group and can say that there were two attempts to withdraw the Whip from me.  The first attempt had to be abandoned after it was found that the Chief Whip had broken a number of Party Rules in his haste to withdraw the whip from me.  The second attempt was quash by a regional appeal panel.

"And what was my alleged crime?  I voted in favour of the removal of a number of expenses from members of this council in line with the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel and an earlier decision of the Labour Group.  The Labour Group then broke its own rules to change its earlier decision after its Leader threatened to attend less meetings if his expenses weren’t going to be met.

"I have thought about whether I should resign my council seat.  I won’t for two reasons.  The First is all that would happen is that a York Labour clone will be put in place at the expense of the residents of the city.  Secondly remaining a councillor will allow me to represent the residents of clifton and the city in the proper Labour Way. The way that they thought they were voting for in the first place.

"My first speech in the Council ended with the verse by Pastor Martin Neilmoller.  I will remind you

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

"Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

"Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

"Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

"Recent events with me have shown that I can no longer hide my principles and socialists beliefs.  I have to speak out.  I have to make a stand.  We no longer follow Labour Principles.  We no longer show the Labour difference.

"We are no longer true Labour.

"I do this for the good of the Labour Party in York.  I make a plea to the members of the Party to reclaim their party from those that control it and are destroying it

"For my sins I came up with the phrase that York Deserves Better.  Sadly that still remains the case.  York not only deserves better, it deserves the best.  For the remaining months of this council I will do my best to achieve that with any group or grouping of councillors that demonstrates that they have ideas, drive and commitment to achieve the best for York.

"Thank you Lord Mayor for allowing me the time to make this statement."