Garforth councillor Mark Dobson resigned earlier this week from the Leeds Labour Group after claims of poor leadership and stifled debate. Party rules say anyone resigning has a 14-day cooling off-period.
Councillor Dobson’s departure was followed yesterday by his ward colleague Sarah Field also walking out. The two have now formed a new independent party.
Posting on Facebook last night, Coun Dobson said he was ”ashamed” he had ever joined the Labour party.
“What a sad end,” he said in a post on the Garforth and Swillington Independent Group page.
“Taking back the seat for Labour in 2007 to recording the highest vote for Labour in Leeds three times on the bounce only to be told tonight to get lost with no opportunity to say goodbye or thank you.
“I’m ashamed to have ever carried the Labour Party card.”
In the accompanying video, councillor Dobson explained how he and Coun Field turned up at a local Labour branch meeting but were not allowed to speak. He said that after many years of campaigning hard for the party, “we did no get the reception we thought we would get” and it had been a “disappointing evening”.
Both councillors have stated that they have lost faith in the current leadership of Leeds council, and that their decision to leave was fuelled by a belief that key recent decisions about care home closures and a planned taxpayer funded grant to help redevelop Yorkshire cricket club - which has now been scrapped - were flawed.
The Leeds Labour Group last night declined to comment further over the ongoing saga.
However a spokesman said earlier in the week that the party was “disappointed with both Mark and Sarah’s decisions”.
He added this was especially as “the Labour Group has worked hard to secure a future for The Green Care Home and the grant for Yorkshire Cricket was withdrawn some time ago”.
“The fact their resignations are based on these issues unfortunately shows a misunderstanding on their part of some of the hugely significant issues a councillor in Leeds has to deal with,” the spokesman said.
“The priority for the Labour Group is to continue to focus on providing the best public services possible, albeit in the face of severe Government cuts, for the people of Garforth and Swillington and across the city of Leeds.”
The YEP has approached the Labour Party’s Yorkshire office for comment about the branch meeting claims.