A LABOUR councillor who stepped in as chief whip shortly after being elected in May has quit the party to become independent.

Cllr Pam Howard, ward member for Earlestown, became St Helens Labour group’s chief whip earlier this year after West Park councillor Paul Pritchard stepped down following a brief stint in the role.

However, it is understood Cllr Howard has become increasingly frustrated with the behaviour of some members of late and has voiced these concerns with a number of councillors as well as regional Labour and union officials.

A meeting was recently held with Labour North West to discuss some of the chief whip’s concerns, but Cllr Howard feels she has not been fully supported by the leadership of the Labour group.

Things came to a head this week and on Thursday evening Cllr Howard notified councillors of her decision to resign the Labour group whip with immediate effect.

Cllr Howard told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she feels she has “no choice but to walk away”.

The former Labour councillor said is “100 per cent committed” to her ward, Earlestown, where she will now sit as an independent.

Cllr Howard said: “As a long-standing Labour Party member and a full-time trade union official, with the ability and professional experience to be a fair, firm and effective chief whip, I now feel I have no choice but to walk away from the St Helens group and Labour Party, with a heavy heart, but with 100 per cent commitment to the my home ward of Earlestown.

“I will continue to work for and support all within that community, now as an independent councillor, as the actions and values of some in Labour locally are not what I wish to be associated with.”

St Helens Star: St Helens Town HallSt Helens Town Hall

St Helens Labour said the group takes any accusations of improper conduct “extremely seriously”.

A St Helens Labour spokesman said: “It is disappointing that Cllr Howard has made this decision at a time when the council and our Labour leadership are working hard to make positive changes and progress for the people of St Helens borough.

“The reasons she has given for her resignation are surprising and we take any accusations of improper conduct extremely seriously. If presented with evidence we will of course investigate.

“Labour are committed to make things better in St Helens borough, and issues such as this won’t distract us from the work residents rightly expect us to be doing.”