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EXCLUSIVE: Longest Serving Councillor in York Goes Independent After Labour Deselection

Brian Watson

2:56pm 8th May 2014
(Updated 5:09pm 8th May 2014)

The longest serving councillor in York tells Minster FM he's "pig sick" after being deselected by the York Labour Party and will serve the rest of his term as an Independent.

Brian Watson, who's currently the Sheriff to the Lord Mayor of York, has been a councillor for the Guildhall ward since 1980 and is the longest serving member of the city council.

Brian tells Minster FM he was deselected because he refused to deliver party leaflets on a Saturday morning, choosing instead to use the time to meet the people in his local area. He also says he was deselected because in a party interview for re-selection he failed to mention the government's cuts, leading a panel to decide he was not sufficiently politically motivated.

The councillor adds he did get a letter of support from council leader and York Labour leader James Alexander when he tried to appeal the decision, but says his appeals to the party to reconsider have not been successful.

Brian Watson says he will continue to serve his term as an Independent and is still considering whether to stand as at the 2015 election as an Indepdent.

It means the ruling Labour Party's majority on York Council is cut from three councillors to just one.

The leader of York Council and Labour Group Leader, James Alexander said:

“I’m sorry to hear of Brian’s decision having got on well with him for a number of years and having previously nominated him for an award for his long service. 

“Standing for re-election is a process independent of the council Labour Group that all Labour councillors have gone through and I supported Brian in his appeal following this decision of the party.

“I respect his decision and the Labour Group will continue to focus on its priorities of jobs and homes for York residents. I look forward to continuing to work with Brian constructively”.

Viv Kind, Chair of York Labour Party, said;

"It is very sad to that Cllr Brian Watson has decided to become an Independent councillor after many years in the Labour Party. As one of York’s longest serving councillors, Brian has given years of dedicated service to the Labour Group."

"The job of a councillor has become much more demanding in recent years, so the Labour Party’s selection process has to be rigorous for all candidates. Brian has used the Labour Party’s regional appeals process – with support from Cllr James Alexander – but sadly was not reselected."

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