TWO members of City of York Council have resigned from the Labour party.

Holgate councillor Fiona Derbyshire and Hull Road councillor Hilary Shepherd now say they represent 'Independent Socialists York.'

Their resignations leave Labour with 13 councillors, one more than both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats who have 12 each.

The council also has four independents, who include former council leader David Carr and Suzie Mercer following their resignations from the Conservative party earlier this year.

Cllr Derbyshire told The Press she had had concerns about the Labour party, both nationally and locally, for some time.

She said one of the issues nationally was the party' stance on anti-semitism, in particular its 'disturbing ' refusal to adopt the internationally accepted definition.

Labour's code has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, but excluded several examples that Jewish groups had called for the party to accept in full.

"This is a massive issue for me," said Cllr Derbyshire, adding that she had been finding it 'very uncomfortable' to be associated with a party taking such a stance.

She said she also had issues with the party's position - 'whatever it is' - on Brexit, which she felt would cause so much damage to the UK.

Locally, she said her concerns related in part to issues which led to her resigning as Labour candidate for the York Outer constituency at the next General Election.

When she stood down in May, five months after winning a selection battle, she said the selection had been a huge honour and this decision had “not been taken lightly,' and added: “It’s fair to say I thought I was experienced in the knocks you get in politics, but this has been a lot bloodier than I thought.”

She said it had become apparent the position was going to demand more of her life than she could give, and added that between council work, campaigning and her day job she had been working 70 hour weeks since selection in December.

She said today another factor was what happened during her time as chair of the council's audit and governance committee.

The Press reported in May that architect Matthew Laverack had hit out after being warned not to say anything defamatory or discriminatory - or make a personal attack on officers - before he spoke at such a meeting.

He claimed such a warning constituted an attempt to intimidate residents into not criticising officers and asked why he was singled out.

Cllr Derbyshire apologised then for ‘singling out’ Mr Laverack, saying she should have issued the same warning to all speakers.

The Press has not yet been able to contact Cllr Shepherd for comment.

Labour group Janet Looker said this afternoo: “We’re sorry to lose Fiona and Hilary. 

"It appears that a number of issues, principally at the national level, have contributed to Fiona feeling she wants to leave the Labour Party, and that is clearly a matter for her individually. 

"As a newly formed group to be known as Independent Socialists York, we hope that they will work closely and vote with the Labour Group where possible.

“We wish them well until they stand down from the council in May, which they signalled some months ago."

Liberal Democrat group leader Keith Aspden said that whilst the fallout from Labour’s internal turmoil continued, it was important that the day-to-day business of the council continued to the benefit of residents.

“As we have done so many times before, the Liberal Democrats will continue to work in the best interests of the city; delivering on major projects and protecting our frontline services, despite the internal disputes of other parties," he said.