St Helens councillor who quit Labour will not stand for re-election

Windle councillor Gill Neal
Windle councillor Gill Neal

A former cabinet member who quit Labour to become an independent has announced she will not stand for re-election.

Windle councillor Gill Neal, who has had two stints in St Helens Council’s cabinet, left the party in October following a bitter internal row.

Coun Neal initially said she would not stand for re-election in May but later announced she would be standing as an independent in Windle.

Shortly afterwards it was revealed that she had joined The Independents, alongside Rainhill councillors James Tasker and Donna Greaves.

But it appears Coun Neal has had a change of heart over the Christmas period and this week announced that she will not contest the seat in May.

Coun Neal, who was elected in 2016, has deleted her Twitter profile and created a new one, with no reference to St Helens Council or Windle in her bio.

In her first tweet on the new account, she said: “As we rolled into 2010 I wanted to change the world.

“Today as we approach 2020 I know I can’t and I’m okay with that.

“For 10 years God has been granting me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”

Coun Neal announced via her Facebook page that she would not be seeking re-election in May 2020 for Windle.

She also responded to recent criticism levelled at opposition councillors on Twitter from Labour’s Seve Gomez-Aspron and council leader David Baines.

Coun Neal said she did not need the “toxicity” in her life and denied accusations from the Labour camp that she had sought election for financial gain.

“So, I won’t be seeking election in May 2020 for Windle,” Coun Neal wrote on her Facebook page.

“I have loved representing you, I am going to work hard for you until my time is up, and am going to be introducing you to your new candidate very soon.

“But for now, thank you for electing me, thank you for having faith in me, thank you for asking me to stay. It’s been an honour.”

Prior to quitting the party in October, Coun Neal was selected as the Labour candidate for the Town Centre ward in the upcoming local elections.

This was after she withdrew herself from the selection process for Windle.

Coun Neal was selected ahead of Lynn Clarke, a sitting Town Centre councillor and cabinet member for environmental services.

But days later Coun Neal announced on Twitter that she had resigned the Labour group whip and would not be standing for election in May 2020.

Simon Neal, Coun Neal’s husband, also declined the invitation to stand as the Labour candidate in Parr after narrowly beating sitting councillor Andy Bowden.

In an email to the Labour group informing them that she had resigned the whip, Coun Neal accused members of leaking “damaging” confidential details to the media and setting up stories that had “maligned” her family.

Her decision to quit the party prompted calls from Labour for her to resign and contest the seat in a by-election.

Coun Neal has been approached for comment.