A SENIOR Leeds councillor who has been ill for some time has been deselected by his party after sitting on the council for 33 years.
Councillor Neil Taggart will not be the Labour candidate for Bramley and Stanningley in May 2014 following a selection meeting this week which chose Kevin Ritchie.
Labour has not commented why it chose to deselect the long-serving councillor but it comes after a difficult time in his personal life.
He has been absent from many council meetings since the summer and has been fighting cancer.
Yesterday he could not be reached for comment but he made several postings on Twitter.
In one, he said: “I was ill four 12 months, much pain, missed several community meetings as a result. Tumour removal in July. Absences unappreciated by some.”
One party colleague in Leicester tweeted that he hoped that health concerns had played no part in branch members’ deselection decision.
Colleagues praised Councillor Taggart’s passion.
Council leader and Labour Party colleague Keith Wakefield said: “Neil Taggart has served this city for many years, as both a local councillor and as a key figure in some of the city’s biggest planning debates.
“Neil’s passion, experience and wealth of knowledge about Leeds will be sadly missed.
“It is a mark of the man that he has already offered his support to the newly-selected candidate for Bramley and Stanningley. Like his other friends and colleagues, I completely understand that his priority now must be to focus on his own health and simply getting better.”
Political opponents also paid tribute to the veteran councillor, first elected in 1980.
Former Lib Dem councillor Jamie Matthews tweeted: “Even though our politics are different I enjoyed sharing a council with you.”
Coun Taggart said he would be devoting his energies to getting better. “I will now concentrate on defeating cancer still in my body. Chemo starts soon.”
Since August Coun Taggart, who lives in Garforth, has been absent from many council meetings. He is a former chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority.