Veteran councillors were 'pushed out'

Two veteran Blackpool councillors  - including the current mayor - say they have been 'pushed out' by their own party because of their family ties.

Monday, 28th May 2018, 7:25 am
Councillors Gary and Debbie Coleman with Garys father Ian

Councillor Debbie Coleman revealed that she has been deselected by the Labour party, a move she believes is connected to the furore that forced her father-in-law Ian Coleman to stand down as mayor.

Debbie’s husband – and Ian’s son – Gary Coleman, who is the current mayor, has announced that he will not be standing again next year.

Debbie, who has been on the council for seven years, said: “We have been pushed out. I could understand if I had done something wrong.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“But I can honestly say I have done nothing apart from have the Coleman name, which I am married into and I am proud to have.”

Coun Ian Coleman handed over the mayoral chains and left the Labour party in March of this year after allegations that he made inappropriate comments to young people at an event.

He remains an independent councillor for Talbot ward.

Yesterday Gary, who represents Brunswick ward, announced that he would not be running again as a Labour party member in 2019.

He said: “It’s not an easy decision. I have been in the Labour Party now since 1996.

“Suffice to say I am disappointed to be standing down. I’m proud to be Mayor of Blackpool and if it wasn’t for the people of Brunswick I wouldn’t be able to carry out that role.”

His wife Debbie was informed last week that she had been deselected by the Labour party, meaning that she will not be able to stand as a Labour councillor in 2019.

In the meantime, the couple will both remain on the council as Labour members.

She said: “Gary has done 12 years on the council. He is gutted, as we all are.

“It’s the way that it has been done, more than anything. If we had done something wrong, I would hold my hands up and apologise to the residents.

“I’m hurt and upset.”

Debbie, who served for three years at Marton ward and four at Hawes Side, has brought in a host of local initiatives in that time.

She said: “We have had alley gates in, we have cleaned up rubbish, we have helped local business with their council tax.

“We helped Marton Institute and set up The Martonians, who put on events for elderly people in the community.

“It was the residents who voted me in and I am going to continue to work for the residents of Blackpool and hopefully make Blackpool a better place, and I just feel so sorry that I can’t continue with what I wanted to do.”

She added that she had approached the Labour leader of Blackpool Council, Simon Blackburn, for an explanation for her deselection, but had received no response.

The Colemans will continue to serve as councillors until May 2019. Debbie said she could not say whether they would stand again, either as independents or with another party.

The Labour leader of Blackpool Council, Simon Blackburn, was approached for comment.

The request was passed on to Labour North West. A spokesman said: “The Labour Party does not comment on internal party matters.”

Councillor Tony Williams, the leader of Blackpool Conservatives, said: “I think it’s a sad loss for the town. Debbie Coleman is an excellent councillor and the whole saga is so sad.

“I think it’s such a shame that the town has lost another two great councillors.

“For two great councillors to be treated like this in their mayoral year is disgraceful.”