Proposed Lord Mayor of York Peter Dodd today resigned through ill-health.

Coun Dodd's decision, following a cancer prognosis made only on Monday, destroys Labour's majority on City of York Council and means there will be two by-elections in the city next month.

Coun Dodd said today: "I have got cancer, I have had it for four years and I had an extremely disappointing prognosis on Monday.

"It is coming to terms emotionally with the problems of the disease which rates the highest at the moment."

Coun Dodd's announcement follows Coun Ken Cooper's resignation from the Bootham ward last week, also on grounds of ill-health.

A by-election in Coun Dodd's Monk ward has already been set for May 18, a week after the Bootham ward election.

The new resignation leaves Labour with 25 seats on the council, while the Liberal Democrats have 22, the Conservatives three and Independents one.

Liberal Democrat leader Steve Galloway said: "Peter is a great chap that everybody gets on with. This means his reasonable and laudable ambition to become Lord Mayor is not going to be realised.

"Everybody is genuinely deeply saddened that this has happened.

"On a political level, it gives us a by-election in a ward where we were very well-placed last May, but it is a tragedy that these by-elections have arisen in the way they have."

The Liberal Democrats believe the electorate will use their vote to show dissatisfaction with Labour's recent council tax increase and unpopular service cuts.

York Labour Party chose Coun Dodd to replace outgoing Lord Mayor Peter Vaughan next month.

It will make another nomination as soon as possible, although it is not expected to be in the next week.

Coun Dodd is an Anglican priest who spent several years as a hospital chaplain at Castle Hill hospital near Hull.

He said: "I have some experience of helping other people, and I am trying to come to terms with this myself."

Campaigning for Coun Cooper's Bootham seat started today as MP Clare Short gave her support to Labour's candidate.

The International Development minister backed Alexander Fraser for the by-election on May 11.

Ms Short has been a friend of Mr Fraser's since her husband Alex Lyon was the city's MP more than 20 years ago.

She said: "Alex has been involved in York for many years. He loves the place and he knows it intimately. He is absolutely the right man to represent Bootham."

Alexander Fraser, 51, has lived in York for more than 25 years.

He is the regional head of health for Unison and is a member of the York Community Health Council.

He spent a term as chairman of the York Labour Party, most recently acting as its press officer.

He said: "I think it is a privilege to be selected to follow Ken Cooper, who is a personal friend of mine, and I certainly feel that he will be a hard act to follow."

see also 'Illness forces city councillor to quit'

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