Leader of Blackpool Council steps down and is suspended from Labour Party following 'serious allegation'
A 'serious allegation' made against the leader of Blackpool Council - Coun Simon Blackburn - has forced him to step down and has led to him being suspended from the Labour Group.
Blackpool Council has confirmed that Coun Blackburn's suspension from the party is with immediate effect and his deputy, Cllr Lynn Williams, is now acting leader.
It is not clear what the nature of the allegation is at this stage, but the Labour Party has said it is 'serious' and a full investigation is underway.
Coun Blackburn has denied the allegation and said he has "no doubt" the investigation will "confirm his innocence".
"I vehemently deny any allegation against me," said Cllr Simon Blackburn.
"It is my intention to step down as leader so that a thorough and immediate investigation can take place. I have no doubt that this investigation will confirm my innocence.
"I am confident that in my absence my Cabinet colleagues will deliver the support and leadership that is required to help the people of Blackpool during the worst public health crisis of our time.”
Blackpool Labour Group declined to comment.
A spokesman for the party said: "We have no comment as there is an active investigation."
Similarly, a spokesman for the national Labour Party said: "Simon Blackburn has been suspended from the Labour Party following a serious allegation. An investigation is ongoing in line with our policies and procedures.
"The Labour party takes all allegations extremely seriously. We do not comment on specific cases."
Blackpool Council said a permanent replacement for the Council leader will be appointed at its next full meeting.
A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: "We are aware that an allegation has been made against Cllr Blackburn and that the Labour Party has suspended him while an investigation is carried out.
"He has now stepped down as leader of the Labour Group on Blackpool Council and his deputy, Cllr Lynn Williams, will become acting leader until the next full Council meeting when a new leader will be appointed.
"This will not have any impact on the day-to-day business of the Council.
"We are all completely focused on helping and supporting our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and leading on the town’s economic recovery.
"We cannot make any further comment on the complaint at this time."
Lancashire Police said it has investigated the allegations after receiving a complaint regarding Coun Blackburn, but the force said no criminal offence has been committed.
A police spokesman said: "Having been made aware of this matter and assessed the information provided to us we are satisfied that there is currently no role for Lancashire Constabulary."