Councillor faces suspension over conference no-show claims

CONFERENCE CLAIMS ... Coun Eddie McAtominey.
CONFERENCE CLAIMS ... Coun Eddie McAtominey.

SOUTH Tyneside’s longest-serving councillor is facing possible suspension from the Labour Party over an alleged no-show at a conference – but he has pledged to defend his reputation.

Coun Eddie McAtominey faces a showdown with other members of South Tyneside Council’s Labour group at South Shields Town Hall on Monday night.

This is not something I am taking lying down, and I intend to put forward a staunch defence.

Coun Eddie McAtominey

It is understood that a recommendation will be put forward for his suspension from the party for six months over claims that he didn’t represent the authority, as he was due to, at a Tyne and Wear Pensions Fund training day in York earlier this month.

Coun McAtominey, a ward member for Hebburn South since 1973, plans to put forward a defence with regard to his alleged non-appearance at the gathering.

He is understood to have travelled to York by train on Sunday, March 2, and stayed overnight in the city for a training day on Monday, March 3.

The disciplinary action centres on claims that he did not attend the event.

He said: “This is not something I am taking lying down, and I intend to put forward a staunch defence.

“I have various options available to me, but there is nothing I want to say with regard to them at this point.”

Coun McAtominey, of Sullivan Walk, Hebburn, was invited to the York event in his capacity as chairman of South Tyneside Council’s pensions committee, which oversees the pension fund on behalf of the other Tyne and Wear local authorities.

The claim against him is that he breached the council’s code of conduct.

Next week’s D-Day Labour gathering casts doubt over the long-term political future of the veteran councillor.

Coun McAtominey is due to defend his Hebburn South seat at May’s local elections.

If a secret ballot of Labour members agrees to a six-month suspension next week, he will not be able to stand.

That would mean the party would face a tight timescale to select another candidate, with Thursday, April 9, being the deadline for nominations to be submitted.

If suspension is confirmed, the decision would need to be ratified by the Labour Party regionally, and Coun McAtominey would have 14 days to appeal.

Wilf Flynn, secretary of Jarrow Constituency Labour Party, declined to comment on the proceedings.

A major figure on the borough’s political scene for more than four decades, Coun McAtominey has also been a driving force behind the regeneration of Hebburn town centre.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul