THE former leader of Blackpool Council and a current acting councillor was suspended from the Labour Party following an allegation from a woman about his behaviour.
Councillor Simon Blackburn stepped down as council leader while an investigation remains ongoing, yet has remained as a paid councillor and this weekend announced that he will not be standing in any future elections.
Mr Blackburn said he “vehemently denies” allegations of misconduct (the full details not yet made pubic), adding he has “no doubt” the probe will clear his name.
The Labour Party has declined to detail the nature of the claim but said it “takes all allegations extremely seriously”.
Councillor Blackburn, 46, stood down as leader in June last year when he was suspended by the Labour Party, with Cllr Lynn Williams taking over the role.
Blackburn said he wanted to plan his future with his partner Clare Coghill, who is leader of Waltham Forest Council in London, and spend more time with his children.
“I had been clear with my partner Clare, my family, and my friends, for some time now, that I had no intention of remaining as a councillor beyond the end of my current term in 2023.
“The time has now come therefore to formally state that I wish to withdraw from politics and public service, after 18 years. You need time to prepare for the next election, and that time needs to start now.
“Clare and I have exciting plans for our future together, and our time needs to start now.”
But he added “the length of time this has taken, and the fact that I have handed the leadership (as I had always hoped to do) on to the council’s first ever female leader, means that I have no desire to return to the frontline.”
He will serve out his time as a councillor until May 2023, unless the inquiry concludes with a verdict that will compromise his position further.
“I find that I am infinitely happier being a ‘normal’ citizen, and having been able to spend meaningful amounts of time with my amazing partner, Clare, and my fantastic children, Xavier, Regan and Skye, has emboldened me in my decision to move on” Blackburn, who was first elected to represent Bloomfield in 2003, added.