Simon Blackburn investigation dropped as former Blackpool Council leader quits Labour
A year long investigation into the conduct of former Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn has been dropped by Labour after he left the party voluntarily.
Coun Blackburn had been suspended by Labour nationally since June 2020 following a ‘serious allegation’ but remained a member of the council’s Labour group.
But after his membership of the Labour Party lapsed in April, he has opted to become a non-aligned Independent member on the council.
The move means Labour has lost overall control of the council – although Coun Blackburn said he will continue to support his former party in the council chamber.
A spokesperson for the national Labour party said Coun Blackburn was “no longer a member and this does mean that the investigation is dropped. We have no powers to investigate non-members.”
Coun Blackburn, who has always denied the allegations which have never been made public, said: “My membership of the national Labour Party lapsed on April 9, meaning that in order to carry on going through the investigatory process, I would have needed to rejoin an organisation from which I had been suspended.
“There seemed little point in doing so, given that it is now some time since I decided not to continue in frontline politics, and had previously announced my intention not to seek re-election in 2023.
“I wish the Blackpool Labour Group well, and will continue to support them as and when required, the council now technically being in no overall control.
“The residents of Brunswick ward will continue to be represented by me until they elect a replacement at the next election.”
Coun Blackburn announced in March he would not be standing at the next local elections in 2023.
His partner Clare Coghill also announced in June she is standing down as leader of the London borough of Waltham Forest after four years in the role and would also not be seeking re-election.
The couple are planning to relocate to the West Country.
Coun Blackburn said the decisions had enabled the couple “to buy and renovate our dream home, and pursue our own career and business interests.”
He stood down as leader of Blackpool Council in June last year with Coun Lynn Williams taking over the role.
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.
His decision to quit Labour leaves Blackpool Council with 21 Labour councillors, 16 Conservative, three non-aligned Independents and two Blackpool Independents.
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