Long-serving councillor resigns from Leeds Labour group amid 'fit-up' claims

A LONG SERVING Leeds Labour councillor has resigned from the party amid claims of a 'fit up' linked to his stance on a controversial green belt housing development.
Coun Jack Dunn, Leeds City Council's  lead member for parksCoun Jack Dunn, Leeds City Council's  lead member for parks
Coun Jack Dunn, Leeds City Council's lead member for parks

Ardsley and Robin Hood councillor Jack Dunn - who has represented the ward for 22 years - walked out after he was deselected to defend his seat in May’s all-out local elections, and will now stand as an independent.

Councillor Dunn claims he was pushed out in a hastily arranged and “predetermined” selection interview for the candidate shortlist.

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The party has flat out denied these claims - and defended its “robust and fair process to assess new candidates as well as sitting councillors”.

Councillor Dunn’s resignation is the latest in a number of walkouts from the ruling Leeds council Labour group in recent months - and the fifth in less than a year.

Veteran local politician councillor Dunn, who served as a support cabinet member, was a lead member for parks and sits on the licensing committee at Leeds City Council, told the Yorkshire Evening Post today (Monday): “Due to serious insurmountable issues...and after serving the party as a local councillor for 22 years, I have made the decision to resign the party whip and serve as an independent councillor for Ardsley and Robin Hood Ward.

“This decision has not been made in haste.

“I am aware that my stance in objecting to the attempt to assist a business concern in the city to get planning permission to build on green belt land in Tingley and Weetwood...has not gone down well with certain individuals.

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“The electorate of Ardsley Robin Hood ward, who I am proud to represent, have always been at the forefront in any decisions I make and that will always be the case.”

Councillor Dunn had previously campaigned against plans for nearly 200 homes to be built on land in Tingley, which is owned by Leeds Rhinos, to fund upgrades at Headingley Stadium.

In a stinging and extended parting shot to the council’s ruling Labour group, councillor Dunn claimed genuine debate was being stifled, and claimed he was the victim of a “fit up, in this case a 15 minute interview process with a pre-determined outcome from start to finish”.

He added: “I will continue to be alongside the local community in defending our green areas, and I will continue to serve the electorate of Ardsley Robin Hood as an independent councillor without political bias and will be standing in that capacity in the May elections.”

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A Labour party spokesperson said: “Councillor Dunn’s claims are simply untrue.

“The Labour party is determined to ensure it is putting forward high calibre candidates for local elections and has a robust and fair process to assess new candidates as well as sitting councillors.”

The YEP understands councillor Dunn went through a thorough selection process in line with party rules, where all candidates have to provide evidence of their campaigning and other work.

Councillor Dunn’s appeal against the panel’s decision - which included a number of supportive letters from political and party colleagues - was also thrown out.