Labour members in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean are being urged to attend a ward party meeting this evening (Wednesday 13 August) to discuss the suspension of a local councillor.
An email from ward party chairman Robert Brown to the three ward councillors and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown Nancy Platts also asks for her help while warning about damaging fallout.
It follows the suspension of Councillor Leigh Farrow. He has also been told that he cannot be a candidate in the local elections next year – the second attempt to deselect him.
And it follows the suspension of fellow Moulsecoomb and Bevendean councillor Anne Meadows last year.
Earlier this year concerns were raised when the third councillor Mo Marsh almost lost a selection contest after a handful of votes were miscounted.
Mr Brown wrote: “If they (ward party members) turn up and find that one of the councillors has been deselected without consulting the ward members and if Leigh is not reinstated to his post, I can see members leaving the party because it is undemocratic and a hidden few are overruling the members’ wishes.
“This could backfire no only on the council elections next year but also the general election.
“It will look as if Labour cannot work together in the city and as a party in the Kemptown ward.
“The Tory members are just clapping their hands together at this.
“They will say look at Labour. They deselect candidates which the ward has selected and how can you trust them if they do not do what their own party members want?
“This could mean that the city will not trust Labour and the small amount of councillors we do have may become less.
“What the repercussions will be for Nancy I hate to imagine. I hope she can help in this matter. We need a very quick timeline to get this problem over and dealt with.
“We need clear guidance in what needs to be done. If Leigh is not reinstated, a new candidate must be in post by (the) end of October so they can be introduced to ward members and up and running and involved in the ward.”
Mr Brown apologised to Councillor Farrow for sounding mercenary but said that he had to work for the ward’s sake.
Councillor Farrow won back what is regarded as a safe Labour seat on Brighton and Hove City Council in 2011. It was lost to a Conservative, Maria Caulfield, in 2007 after two sitting councillors stood down amid divisions.
Mr Brown continued: “We will fight on your behalf, and hope that Nancy will fight from her end, to see democracy is and the power of the people is empowered.”
An email from another party member, Ray Metcalfe, carried a similar message.
Mr Metcalfe wrote: “Here we go again. After the slurs against Anne Meadows when she finished her stint as mayor we had the farcical election for the prospective candidates for the Moulsecoomb and Bevendean ward where it was obvious the executive were trying to shoehorn in their preferred choice at expense of Mo Marsh.
“Now it is Leigh Farrow in the firing line.
“If this continues, the people who pull the strings won’t have any strings to pull and the ward will be lost!”
A candidate from the earlier selection contest, Harris Fitch, has ruled himself out of the running.
Mr Fitch, who stood in the safe Conservative seat of Rottingdean Coastal in 2011, said that he was now employed in a politically restricted post. As a result, he said, he could not stand in the elections in May next year.
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