A former high ranking Leeds city councillor has quit the ruling Labour group amid claims that genuine debate is being stifled, and the direction of the current administration is making him “increasingly uncomfortable”.
Garforth councillor Mark Dobson, who lost his position in Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board after a reshuffle last year, is now intending to stand as an independent, but says he will remain a member of the national Labour party unless he is told otherwise.
Councillor Dobson told the Yorkshire Evening Post today: “No one resigns their party whip lightly.
“However I am increasingly uncomfortable with the direction and leadership of the Leeds Labour group.
“Since 2015 decisions around dementia care units being closed, to gifts of many millions of pounds to Yorkshire Cricket, to name but two, have made me question if these are the best decisions for a Labour Authority.
“Sadly questioning decisions and requesting meaningful debate have proved impossible.
“Until told otherwise I am still a member of The Labour Party, but no longer a member of the Leeds Labour Group.
“The leadership needs to urgently reassess its priorities and support the many hard working Labour councillors fighting to make a difference in their communities across Leeds.”
A spokesperson for Leeds Labour Group said: “Mark has struggled for some time with the pressures that come with being an elected councillor but we’re disappointed that, despite our efforts to support him, it has come to a head in this manner.
“Leeds Labour Group remains completely committed to providing the very best public services possible to the people of Garforth and across our city.”
The YEP understands Coun Dobson has expressed particular concerns around a long-running debate about the future of The Green care home in Seacroft, which was earmarked for closure.
Last week, the executive board approved a plan for it to be used as a 37-bed NHS intermediate care and recovery support centre instead, thus ensuring that The Green continues to be a council-run centre.
This came after an earlier political backlash from within the administration’s own ranks, as five Labour councillors signed a request to ‘call-in’ and review a previous decision to approve the closure of the care home.
It was believed to be the first time councillors from the governing administration in Leeds have called for an executive board decision to be reviewed.