Labour turned independent councillor says he can represent Blackpool ward from Devon

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A Blackpool councilor has defended his decision to move around the country, saying he can continue to represent his ward from his new location in Devon.

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Simon Blackburn, who represents the Brunswick ward in the city centre, resigned as leader of Blackpool council in March after “serious allegations” were made about him by a woman.

The nature of the complaint has never been made public, and after the allegations were made, Labor suspended them pending an investigation.

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But, when he decided not to renew his Labor membership in April this year, Labor dropped the inquiry, saying it had no power to investigate non-members.

Mr Blackburn has since relocated to the West Country, and questions have been raised about how he can represent residents in his ward, some 300 miles away.

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Fellow Brunswick councilor Gary Coleman told the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service that the situation was “embarrassing” for Mr Blackburn.

He said it was “sad” for the residents of Brunswick who had selected him for the role which offers a basic allowance of £10,480 per year.

Mr Coleman, who is also sitting as an independent following his separate dispute with Labour, said: “It seems hard to imagine that he will be driving 560 miles weekly in Blackpool for council and ward business during the next 18 months.” will travel.”

Councilor Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “I’m not sure how anyone could effectively represent the people who voted for them when they were living about 300 miles apart.”

“It was up to the people of Brunswick Ward to decide whether they were happy with this long-distance arrangement,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Blackburn said Brunswick residents would continue to be “fully and firmly represented” by him.

He said he is “proud” of his “100% attendance at council meetings” and that much of his work is done “through email, phone and video conferencing.”

Mr Blackburn said he would give up his Brunswick seat in the 2023 local election.

When he left Labor to sit as an independent, the party lost majority control of Blackpool Council.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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