A controversial councillor who has been involved in numerous social media spats with residents, including one in which he accused campaigners of hurling “slanderous and racist abuse”, has dramatically stepped down from his cabinet post.
Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron announced he was stepping down just days after his appointment as the portfolio holder for economic development, citing a busy personal life.
The shock announcement comes days after the Rainford Action Group (RAG) and the chairman of the St Helens branch of the Green party criticised his appointment to the role, with James Wright, RAG’s chairman, calling the move deliberately provocative.
In a statement, Coun Gomez-Aspron said: “I have many things going on in my personal life this year and don’t want to commit to something I don’t have the time to focus on properly, so I feel it is important to step aside before it is formalised at full council tomorrow.
“Before I had the portfolio, I gave vocal support to the Local Plan and other planning applications. It is not fair on the council that the objections that this has attracted should overshadow the delivery of an ambitious Local Plan that this council deserves.
“There will also be some important developments in Newton this coming year and it is only fair on residents that I concentrate on them fully.”
Following Coun Gomez-Aspron’s decision, Coun John Fulham has been appointed as cabinet member for growth. He was sacked from the cabinet last week after attempting to oust council leader Barrie Grunewald.
Coun Gomez-Aspron has long been a controversial figure at St Helens town hall and his previous cabinet role as head of regeneration saw him become a focus for protestors angry about plans to build homes on the borough’s greenbelt land.
Last week, he provoked fury by accusing some greenbelt protestors of hurling “slanderous and racist” abuse at councillors and MPs.
Ahead of his dramatic cabinet departure he deactivated his Twitter account.