Former deputy leader of St Helens Council deselected by Labour

Coun Andy Bowden
Coun Andy Bowden

The former deputy leader of St Helens Council has been deselected by Labour ahead of next year’s local elections.

It is understood a decision was taken earlier this month by the Parr branch of the Labour Party to not reselect Coun Andy Bowden to stand in the ward in the May 2020 local elections.

Instead, Coun Bowden was shortlisted alongside Simon Neal, husband of Windle councillor Gill Neal, and current Town Centre ward councillor Lynn Clarke.

It is understood that Coun Clarke, who is the cabinet member for environmental services, was removed from the shortlist prior to the meeting taking place.

After being interviewed at Monday evening’s selection meeting, which was chaired by Coun Neal, branch members voted on their preferred candidate.

Mr Neal was subsequently selected as the Labour candidate to represent Parr in May.

Following the decision, Coun Bowden said: “After 10 years serving as a Labour councillor in Parr, I am naturally disappointed to see that the local party has decided to deselect me as their candidate.”

Coun Bowden, who will continue to serve as ward councillor for Parr until next May, stepped down as the cabinet member for balanced development, housing and economic opportunity, and deputy leader of the council in January.

Prior to this, Coun Bowden served as the portfolio holder for children, families and young people between August 2015 and May 2017.

He served as deputy leader of the council for part of that time and served as mayor of St Helens between May 2013 and June 2014.

Coun Bowden twice mounted leadership challenges during his time of the council.

He led a failed coup against the then-leader, Barrie Grunewald at Labour’s AGM in 2017 and was subsequently sacked along with half of the cabinet.

Twelve months later, he challenged interim leader Derek Long, who took the helm following Coun Grunewald’s shock resignation in April 2018, at the AGM only to lose out again.

While his leadership challenge was unsuccessful, Coun Bowden re-entered the cabinet as the portfolio holder for balanced development, housing and economic opportunity as well as deputy leader of the council.

Coun Bowden stepped down from cabinet in January, citing “personal reasons”.

Following Monday night’s Labour selection meeting, Parr Labour announced the new candidate on Twitter.

Parr Labour said Mr Neal has promised to be a “strong voice” for the people of Parr.