Labour lifts ban on councillor who spoke out against cuts

Rosalind Copeland
Rosalind Copeland
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A LABOUR councillor who was suspended by the party has had her ban lifted.

Last month, the Echo reported how Rosalind Copeland was hit with a three-month suspension by Sunderland’s Labour Group.

Coun Rosalind Copeland at a national anti-cuts protest

Coun Rosalind Copeland at a national anti-cuts protest

The ban meant the Southwick ward member was not able to take part in the group’s meetings or sit with Labour members at council meetings.

However, the suspension has been lifted after just three weeks, following an appeal to party whips.

At the hearing on Tuesday, fellow Labour councillors defended Coun Copeland at the hearing on Tuesday, according to one insider. The Labour Party member, who did not want to be named, said: “If you started slinging people out of the Labour Party for opposing Tory cuts, there would be nobody left.

“She is a good local councillor. I hope the witch hunt stops now.”

The Echo understands the row was ignited after the grandmother-of-two joined placard-carrying protestors in the city centre, ahead of an annual budget-setting meeting last month.

A group from North East People’s Assembly met to lobby councillors before the meeting, during which £35million of cuts for 2014/15 were given the green light.

Coun Copeland attended the lobby in Park Lane before the meeting and spoke to the Echo.

Pointing out that she was not there to criticise the council, but to defend what it is legally bound to do in the face of Government cuts, she said: “I am here to defend my council and the decision my council will have to make – the agony we are facing as councillors.

“As council members, we are having to do things we don’t want to do. The Coalition is pilfering the working class. It is not this Labour group at fault.”

Coun Copeland did not return the Echo’s calls asking for a comment.

A spokesman for Labour North confirmed she had won her appeal after appearing in front of a panel of regional board members.