Labour councillor resigns after motion to oust council leader

Coun George Ayre.
Coun George Ayre.

A Labour councillor has resigned from his senior role within Wakefield Council, after declaring he can no longer support leader Peter Box.

Pontefract representative George Ayre has stepped down as deputy portfolio holder for culture, leisure and support after moving a motion to oust the long-serving Coun Box on Monday.

The motion was narrowly defeated and Coun Box, who has been council leader since 1998, has stated his intention to continue in the role.

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box vows to stay on in role
Now Coun Ayre, who says he wanted a secret ballot rather than the show of hands which accounted for the vote, says he made the decision to resign on “principle”.

In a letter which was circulated on social media, Coun Ayre said: “It is public knowledge that I was the councillor that moved such resolution to the Labour group calling on a vote of no confidence in the leader.

“It is reported that the leader narrowly survived the ‘no confidence’ vote by three to five votes. I had pressed the leadership for a secret ballot, only for it to be refused.

“As I have made clear in my resolution to our colleagues that I cannot support Peter Box, I have resigned my position as deputy portfolio holder for culture, leisure and sport.

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box survives ‘no confidence’ vote
“I will remain a Labour councillor for Pontefract South and your chair of the joint wards Labour Party Pontefract North and South, as this issue is not party political it is simply what I believe to be best for the people of the entire district.

“Sometimes principle is more important than position and that’s why I have resigned, in doing this I have urged the leader to do the same.”

“I will continue to work hard for you as Labour Party members and the residents of Pontefract, however at this time I have no confidence in the leadership of Wakefield District Council and I have made my voice heard.”

The Labour group’s chief whip, Coun Richard Forster said: “I’d like to thank Coun Ayre for his contribution and we will be confirming a new appointment shortly.”