A PROMINENT Carlisle city councillor has been kicked out of the Labour party after revealing that he will be standing as an Independent.

Stephen Sidgwick says he has had the Labour Group Whip removed and has received formal notice from the Labour Party in London that his membership has been revoked.

Mr Sidgwick, who was not selected as a Labour candidate ahead of the elections on May 2, has claimed that “hard left” radicals were seeking to impose “extremist views” on the people of Carlisle.

He has blamed a minority of politicians and activists who he said were “determined” to impose their extreme policies on the people of Carlisle and has warned that more Labour resignations may follow.

He has also spoken out against the non-selection of long-serving Labour councillors amid claims hardcore activists are heaping shame on the party.

The comments come in the midst of a major change in the political landscape with the number of city council seats up for grabs slashed from 52 to 39 following a boundary review, making this election battle one that will be particularly hotly contested to seize control of the authority

Colin Glover, city council and Labour leader, has insisted that the Labour party is “committed to open and transparent selection” of candidates”.

He says he is “disappointed” that Mr Sidgwick’s had decided to stand as an Independent while praising his record as a Labour councillor.

Mr Sidgwick has pledged to stand against what he has called the “hounding, bullying and de-selection” of seasoned local councillors.

The 67-year-old, who has been a city councillor in the Castle ward since 2016 said that he was “proud” of what the Labour group had achieved.

He also stressed that he was not referring to the administration or the vast majority of Labour councillors but to a small minority of activists.

Mr Sidgwick said: “If elected, I will continue to stand against the hounding, bullying and de-selection of dedicated, experienced and committed local councillors across the city by a small number of radical hard left activists that disgraces the name of the Labour Party that they hide behind.

“I will also stand against all former politicians who have said, amongst other things, that they are retiring from front line politics but who continue to run down this great city of ours with increasingly irrelevant and outdated personal views.”

But Mr Glover said: “The Labour Party is committed to open and transparent selection of all our candidates, who are chosen through a democratic process involving all our members.

“We have worked hard to ensure that our councillors are representative of the communities we serve and this has increased the numbers of younger people and women expressing an interest in becoming Labour councillors.

“Following boundary changes and the significant reduction in the number of Carlisle City councillors from 52 to 39, we were always aware that some potential candidates would be disappointed if not selected for their preferred wards.

“The Labour council has delivered significant achievements and valued services for the people of Carlisle and Stephen has contributed towards that success.”

“All Labour Group actions and policies are delivered for the benefit of local residents and businesses and we can rightly be proud of what has been achieved”

Other parties are also fielding candidates in the new ward.