Labour row as deputy leader of South Tyneside Council steps down - leaving some members seeing red

Labour stalwarts are seeing red after a long serving councillor is to set to step down as deputy leader.

By Verity Ward
Friday, 10 May, 2019, 06:00
Changes are expected to be made at South Shields Town Halls council chambers.

Coun Alan Kerr, South Tyneside Council’s current number two will be leaving his role after 11 years’ of service.

A new deputy, which is understood to be Cleadon and East Boldon’s Coun Joan Atkinson, will be voted in tomorrow Saturday at the Labour Group’s All Members Meeting.

Coun Alan Kerr.

A spokesperson from South Tyneside Labour Group said: “Councillor Alan Kerr is stepping down as deputy leader of South Tyneside Council after 11 years of service.

“During his time as deputy leader he has served the council and the people of South Tyneside with distinction. The Labour Group will meet at the weekend to vote for a replacement.

Coun Kerr, who represents the Monkton ward in Jarrow, has been deputy, under leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, for the last 11 years.

The sudden change earmarked to take place within the party’s ranks has cause upset.

Coun Joan Atkinson

Coun Atkinson represents the Cleadon and East Boldon Ward.

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One Labour source said: “The rule has always been that the deputy leader has to be from Jarrow, if the leader is from Shields, and vice-versa, it’s always been this way.

“But now suddenly we have a councillor who lives in Cleadon and who was raised in Biddick Hall being put up for this position.”

The source added: “Alan is a lovely man, who has a lot of time for people.

“For this to happen is just really unfair, he’s been a councillor for around 30 years now.

“He’s done nothing wrong. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t continue in his position.

“He’s been forced to step down.”

The potential appointment of Coun Atkinson, who represents the Cleadon and East Boldon Ward, has also sparked upset due to her location.

Coun Kerr did not wish to comment on the issue.

Coun Atkinson also did not wish to comment prior to tomorrow’s meeting.