Former Blackpool Council leader is to step down from politics

Blackpool’s former council leader Simon Blackburn has announced he will not stand again at the next local elections in 2023.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 3:55 pm

Coun Blackburn, 46, stood down as leader in June last year when he was suspended by the Labour Party nationally amid allegations which are still under investigation, with Coun Lynn Williams taking over the role.

He said his decision to leave politics in two years time – when he will have served for 20 years on the council – had been made prior to the inquiry being launched.

Coun Blackburn said he wanted to plan his future with his partner Clare Coghill, who is leader of Waltham Forest Council in London, and spend more time with his children.

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Coun Simon Blackburn

In a letter revealing his decision to town hall colleagues, he said: “I had been clear with my partner Clare, my family, and my friends, for some time now, that I had no intention of remaining as a councillor beyond the end of my current term in 2023.

“The time has now come therefore to formally state that I wish to withdraw from politics and public service, after 18 years. You need time to prepare for the next election, and that time needs to start now.

“Clare and I have exciting plans for our future together, and our time needs to start now.”

Coun Blackburn says he expects to be cleared by the inquiry into his conduct, details of which have not been revealed.

But he added “the length of time this has taken, and the fact that I have handed the leadership (as I had always hoped to do) on to the council’s first ever female leader, means that I have no desire to return to the frontline.”

He will serve out his time as a councillor until May 2023.

He says in the letter: “I find that I am infinitely happier being a ‘normal’ citizen, and having been able to spend meaningful amounts of time with my amazing partner, Clare, and my fantastic children, Xavier, Regan and Skye, has emboldened me in my decision to move on.”

Coun Blackburn was first elected to represent Bloomfield in 2003 before switching to his current Brunswick seat.

He was elected leader of the Labour group in 2010 winning local elections in 2011, 2015 and 2019.

During his time in charge achievements included securing a developer for the £300m Central Car Park leisure scheme, bringing the Blackpool Museum forward and construction of the new conference centre.

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