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York Council Deadlock as Labour Clifton Councillor Joins Conservatives

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7:08pm 10th September 2014
(Updated 7:09pm 10th September 2014)

York Council is in deadlock as a Labour councillor in Clifton has left the party to join the Conservatives.

Helen Douglas was elected for the party in 2007 and re-elected in Clifton four years later. She's promising people in Clifton that they won't notice any change in how she serves them.


York Conservative leader Chris Steward said in a statement:

"I am absolutely delighted to welcome Helen to the group. Her record speaks for itself as someone who has always worked hard for her residents and for York. Although until now I have been on the opposite political side to Helen, she is always a councillor that has commanded my respect and I look forward to working with her now on the direction of the Conservative Group and hopefully after May 2015 the future direction of York Council."

In an interview with Minster FM, Helen Douglas said her reasons for joining the Conservatives were "70% national and 30% local".

She added she had no personal issues with York's Labour council leader James Alexander but did say "I do feel there's a lack of democracy within the council, certainly as a councillor I feel that, and I do feel that the Labour Party is a bit too militant for me personally."

Helen Douglas has also blames the controversial York Local Plan, which would see 22,000 homes built in the city for her departure. She also accused her former colleagues of spending too much time talk on various commissions and not taking action to improve York. The level of debt taken on by the city council was also partly to blame for her decision Helen Douglas said.

In a statement, York Council's Labour leader James Alexander said:

“We are disappointed that Helen has decided to embrace the Conservative agenda of austerity after being elected by residents in Clifton to support Labour measures to protect public services. It is a matter of regret that, after failing to secure the support of local Labour members to be re-selected to contest next May's election, she has now decided she is a Tory. The public will make its own judgment on this choice. I am not sure how, after being elected as a Labour councillor, she can now accept and defend Tory policies such as the bedroom tax and total opposition to a new community stadium for York”.

But James Alexander tells Minster FM that Helen Douglas should now put herself up for election as a Conservative in Clifton and let people living in the neighbourhood make the decision.

But Helen Douglas says her record will be judged by people in Clifton in next May's council-wide election.


It means there are now 23 Labour councillors against 10 Conservatives, 7 Liberal Democrats, 2 Green and 3 Independents.

There is one empty council seat at the moment in Westfield, which will be voted on Thursday October 16th. It belonged to Liberal Democrat councillor Lynn Jeffries who passed away recently. If the York Labour Party does not win the seat, they would be a minority on the city council.

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