Southend Labour councillors said to have been ‘deselected’

A former Southend Council leader and a parliamentary hopeful have been deselected ahead of the upcoming council elections in May, the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands.

Labour councillor for Westborough, Aston Line – who is hoping to be selected as the parliamentary candidate for Southend West and Leigh – will not be able to stand for the Labour Party in May’s council elections, according to reports from a number of well-placed sources.

Former council leader Stephen George, who is ward councillor for Milton, is also reported to have been deselected by Labour.

The party did not respond to a request for confirmation about the fate of the two long-standing councillors. Daniel Cowan, leader of the Labour Group, would only say the candidates were yet to be announced.

However, a reliable source confirmed the decision to oust Mr Line and Mr George.

The source said appeals could be lodged and therefore it was officially currently speculation, but they added: “To deselect Aston is a travesty after all the work he has put in.”

Mr Line was previously selected for the Southend West seat in 2019 and has the backing of trades unions.

The popular councillor, chairman of the Labour group of councillors, has based his parliamentary bid on preserving the NHS, beating the cost-of-living crisis and backing green technology, infrastructure and jobs.

Long-serving councillor Mr George became leader of a Labour-led joint administration in 2022 after Ian Gilbert was ousted as group leader.

He previously served on the council for 11 years until 2011.

Cllr Line and Cllr George were both approached to comment, but did not respond before publication.

Local elections take place on Thursday, May 2.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter