A SENIOR councillor who was deselected by Labour has been reselected to stand in Parr at the 2020 local elections.

Cllr Andy Bowden was deselected in September by the Parr Labour branch.

The former deputy leader of St Helens Council, who stepped down from cabinet earlier this year, narrowly lost out to Simon Neal at a selection meeting in September.

Shortly after this Mr Neal, husband of Windle councillor Gill Neal, withdrew himself as the candidate for Parr.

Cllr Neal also quit the party to become an independent, shortly after being selected to stand for Labour in the Town Centre ward.

Following this, Labour North West ordered the branch to re-run the selection process and members subsequently voted to reselect Cllr Bowden.

Cllr Bowden said: “Following the regional Labour Party’s decision to re-run the Parr selection meeting, I was delighted the branch members unanimously chose to reselect me as their candidate for May 2020.

“I shall now be focusing on my work within the ward.”

The branch’s original decision to deselect Cllr Bowden, who has previously come close to leading the council, came as a shock to the St Helens Labour group.

Cllr Bowden has held several cabinet positions and had two stints as deputy leader, and is still largely seen as a respected figure within the authority.

But it is understood the decision to deselect Cllr Bowden caused tensions between some members of the Labour camp and the Neal family.

St Helens Star: Cllr Gill Neal, ward councillor for Windle Cllr Gill Neal, ward councillor for Windle

In a final email to the St Helens Labour group, Cllr Neal accused some members of setting up stories that “maligned” her and her family in a stinging email she sent to members.

The former cabinet member for better health and building arts and culture also claimed she had learned of a social media campaign to “smear” her further,

Cllr Neal initially said she would not be standing for election next May but has since announced she will stand for re-election in Windle as an independent.

And on Wednesday the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed Cllr Neal has joined The Independents, a new party set up by Rainhill councillors James Tasker and Donna Greaves.