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Blackpool's mayoral pair leave ruling Labour party

Couns Debbie and Gary Coleman with their daughter Charlotte
Couns Debbie and Gary Coleman with their daughter Charlotte

Two Blackpool councillors at the centre of a selection row have resigned from the Labour party.

Coun Gary Coleman, who represents Brunswick, and Coun Debbie Coleman, who represents Hawes Side, say they have decided to leave Labour following “tremendous disappointment in some of those we thought to be colleagues and friends.”

The couple, who are currently serving as the town’s Mayor and Mayoress, will spend the rest of their time on the council as independents ahead of next May’s local elections.

It comes after Coun Debbie Coleman was deselected by the party last month, while Coun Gary Coleman announced he would not be standing again next year.

The couple have fallen out of favour since Coun Ian Coleman, Gary’s father, stepped down as 2017/18 Mayor in March after allegations he made inappropriate comments to young people at an event.

He remains an independent councillor for Talbot ward.

Coun Debbie Coleman said: “It is with some sadness that Gary and I have decided to leave the Labour Party.

“I was informed by the leader of the council I was being stripped of all the positions I held on committees and outside bodies.

“It had become quite clear over the last few weeks that Gary and I were not looked upon favourably by the leadership of the local party.

“I will still serve the residents of Hawes Side to the best of my ability until the local elections next year. I also know that Gary will miss Brunswick ward.

“I do not feel it right to go into the workings of the Labour Party, all I will say is we have tremendous disappointment in some of those we thought to be colleagues and friends.”

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “I note that both Gary and Debra Coleman have resigned from the Labour Party, therefore making themselves ineligible to sit as Labour councillors.

“They state they intend to see out their terms of office as Independents.

This was entirely their own decision.

As they have chosen not to discuss the matter with me, I am unable to comment further.”