Blackpool Councillor Simon Blackburn, who now lives in Devon, has insisted he can still represent residents in the town after criticism that he resides 300 miles away.
Councillor Blackburn, who was Council Leader until March, previously said he would relinquish his Brunswick Ward seat at the 2023 local election after a ‘serious allegation’ was made about him. A Labour probe into this allegation was dropped when he quit the party. The National Labour Party suspended Mr Blackburn after the complaint, the nature of which has never been made public, was made.
Mr Blackburn has since relocated to the West Country, raising questions about his ability to represent his ward for which he receives the basic councillor’s allowance of £10,480 a year.
However, Councillor Blackburn said Brunswick residents would continue to be ‘fully and robustly represented by me until the next election in May 2023. Most tasks can be done via email, phone and video conferencing.’
Councillor Tony Williams, Leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, said: ‘I’m not sure how anyone can effectively represent the people who voted for them when they are living nearly 300 miles away.’
Whilst leader of Blackpool Council, Councillor Blackburn got into hot water with town hall bosses when he failed to declare that Blackpool Pleasure Beach gave him and his family two years of free season tickets worth a total of £875. Councillor Blackburn apologised saying, ‘With the benefit of hindsight, I should have declared the Platinum Passes, and will do so in future. I am pleased that my apology was accepted by the board.’ Blackpool Councillors must declare any gift or hospitality within 28 days of receiving it if the value is £25 or more.