MP Scott Benton defends his record on Blackpool Airport and regeneration after former Tory adversary calls for his resignation

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The MP says he has worked hard in his constituency

A prominent former Tory councillor has called for MP Scott Benton to resign ahead of a possible by-election in Blackpool.

Tony Williams, who was Conservative group leader on Blackpool Council for eight years, says Mr Benton's failure to stand down from his seat 'has damaged Blackpool's reputation'. He also attacked the MP's record since being elected in Blackpool South as a Conservative in 2019.

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Blackpool South MP Scott Benton  has had his appeal against a recommended 35-day suspension from Parliament dismissed.  Credit: David Woolfall/UK Parliament/PA Wire Blackpool South MP Scott Benton  has had his appeal against a recommended 35-day suspension from Parliament dismissed.  Credit: David Woolfall/UK Parliament/PA Wire
Blackpool South MP Scott Benton has had his appeal against a recommended 35-day suspension from Parliament dismissed. Credit: David Woolfall/UK Parliament/PA Wire | PA

Mr Benton, who now sits as an independent, is facing a recall vote in Parliament after an independent panel upheld a finding that he should be suspended from the Commons for 35 days. He was found to have breached Commons rules after an undercover sting investigation by Times newspaper journalists posing as gambling investors.

He appealed against both the finding and the suspension, but an independent panel upheld the Standards Committee’s original decision.

Mr Williams, who warned Mr Benton in February last year of a vote of no confidence in him by Conservative councillors, said it was "inevitable that Mr Benton's reign would come crashing down on him".

He added: "He has brought disgrace to the Government and to Blackpool and provided very little that he promised including 'Save the Airport'. There has been no promised improvement to the South Shore area and the £400m he claims he helped bring to Blackpool was secured by the council's economic development, not Mr Benton."

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Mr Williams said the MP's failure to resign following the Times sting operation had "cost the government a great deal of money and damaged Blackpool's reputation". He added: "I have no doubt the vote to suspend will be passed in Parliament and Scott Benton for once should do the decent and honourable thing by resigning immediately."

But Mr Benton defended his record and said he would not take lectures from someone who "got trounced at the ballot box last year."

He said: "I stand by my strong record both in Blackpool and in Westminster of being an active MP whose work has borne results for our community.

"Over £400m in extra funding and investment has come into Blackpool since I was elected – one of the highest amounts in the whole country. The council have more than played their part in this, but you are fooling yourself if you think any of this money would have come without the personal commitment to Blackpool and Levelling Up of Boris (who started the ball rolling), and having two Tory MPs to persistently champion of our cause with ministers."

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He said he was on the verge of securing tens of millions of pounds to regenerate South Shore, and the council had "changed their tune completely" over the future of the airport following his intervention.

He added: "As an MP my office has helped over 18,500 people with different issues; I’ve held over 200 surgeries to help constituents, and spoken in Parliament 359 times."

Mr Williams resigned from the Conservative party last February and lost his seat at the May local elections after standing as an independent in Norbreck ward.

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