Blackpool’s outgoing mayor ‘heart-broken’ as comment row leads to resignation

Coun Ian Coleman
Coun Ian Coleman

Blackpool’s Labour group today distanced itself from outgoing Mayor Coun Ian Coleman who has stepped down from his civic  role.

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It comes after the council received complaints about comments Coun Coleman is said to have made at an event he attended in March.

Three complaints over comments made at the same event - two of them from organisations – were made to the council, which investigated the claims.

Coun Coleman has formally apologised and stepped down as Mayor, and has also resigned from the Labour group meaning he will now sit as an independent councillor for Talbot ward.

Council deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell, said: “Coun Ian Coleman has voluntarily resigned the Labour whip, and will sit as an independent councillor until the May 2019 elections, when he will not seek re-election”.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said: “Coun Coleman has a huge and friendly personality without an ounce of malice.

“Like everyone he has his own ways of making people feel comfortable when they meet him and it would appear his crime was to put both feet in his mouth and make some misguided and badly aimed attempt at friendly humour.

“While I don’t condone any bad behaviour by anyone in public office, in Coun Coleman we have a first citizen of Blackpool who has up until now had an exemplary year as our Mayor and raised £35,000.

"He would never wish to knowingly offend anyone, however his remarks were not totally appropriate and made whilst he was under personal duress and he admits and accepts this.”

He said he accepted it was right for Coun Coleman to step down under the circumstances.

Former Blackpool Mayor and businessman Robert Wynne spoke in support of Coun Coleman,

He said: "Ian Coleman has been a great representative of the town, both as Mayor and also for the last 40 years when he has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.

"I know that he doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body and that whatever he said will not have been meant to offend.

"With just one month of his year as Mayor to go I am sure a quiet word would have been the correct way to have dealt with this."

Coun Coleman, 78, who has attended around 200 events during his Mayoral year and raised £35,000 for the Mayoral Charities, said there “were no excuses”.

But he added the stress of combining the role with caring for his ill wife had affected his judgement.

He said: “I can put my hand on my heart and say there is no way I would want to hurt anyone.

"All I have wanted to do in life is help people, but I have decided to stand down.

“It has been an honour to hold this position and I am heart-broken that it has ended this way.

“I have apologised to the complainants and the organisation that hosted the event.”

Mark Towers, the council’s monitoring officer, said: “Following Coun Ian Coleman’s attendance at an event in March we received complaints in relation to unsuitable words being said towards and in the presence of young people.

“The complaints have been reviewed in line with the code of conduct procedure and Coun Coleman has accepted he has breached the code of conduct for members.

“As a result he will step down from his role as Mayor of Blackpool, he has formally apologised to the complainants and organiser of the event and is committed to attending training in relation to equality and diversity.”

Coun Coleman is a former president of the Blackpool branch of the Royal British Legion where he organised the ‘Poppython’ for 25 years, raising £130,000 for charity.

He was re-elected to the council at a by-election in 2014 after previously serving from 1987 until 1995, and was nominated to be Mayor by council leader Coun Simon Blackburn.