Leader rules out Westminster bid

Simon Blackburn says he will not make a bid to become an MP.
Simon Blackburn says he will not make a bid to become an MP.
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BLACKPOOL’S council leader today ruled himself out of making a bid to become an MP for the town.

Coun Simon Blackburn wanted to fight for the Blackpool North and Cleveleys seat at the last General Election in 2010 – until the Labour party decided to draw up an all-woman short list.

Labour has just confirmed it will hold an open selection process for its candidates for the seat ahead of the next General Election in 2015 – but Coun Blackburn has decided not to throw his name into the hat.

The Brunswick ward councillor said he wanted to concentrate on his town hall duties instead.

He said: “I consider it a great privilege to be the leader of Blackpool Labour Group and leader of the council.

“Throughout my decade of public service in Blackpool, people have sought to associate me with a wide variety of Parliamentary seats, 
irrespective of the reality of the situation, which is something I have grown used to.

“Blackpool is at a pivotal point in its improvement journey. The council is a very different organisation now to the one we inherited in May 2011, but there is considerable work still to do.

“In 2010, I was prepared to assist the Labour Party by standing in Blackpool North and Cleveleys, in what was always going to be a very difficult election, which I privately felt we were unlikely to win, whoever the candidate was. The next election will be very different, nationally the party is in a much better place, and locally our members and activists are enthused and motivated by the work of the Labour Council.

“My assessment of the situation therefore is that we will almost certainly win the Blackpool North seat in 2015.

“Taking that into account, bearing in mind the work we still need to do at the town hall, the fact that I live and work in Blackpool South, that my children all attend schools in Blackpool South, and the fact that I want to lead Labour’s local campaign in 2015, I have therefore informed the Labour Party that I do not wish to be considered for selection.”

The selection process begins after the county council elections in May.

Wyre councillor Penny Martin contested the seat for Labour in 2010 but lost out to Tory candidate Paul Maynard.

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