THE leader of the Green Party in St Helens has resigned from a newly established Climate Change Commission after complaints over offensive remarks he was heard making at a private meeting.

The inaugural virtual gathering of the St Helens commission took place last week.

Representatives from a wide range of organisations – including United Utilities, the Environment Agency, St Helens Chamber, and the Mersey Forest – joined the meeting along with councillors and officers.

Complaints were subsequently made about the conduct of Cllr O'Keefe, who represents the Bold ward, after comments were overheard on the meeting's audio feed.

A St Helens Borough Council spokesperson said: "We received complaints about the conduct of Cllr O'Keefe in a meeting of the Climate Change Commission which was not held in public.

"Cllr O'Keefe has offered an apology for his conduct and resigned from the commission."

Political opposition groups had nominated Cllr O’Keefe to take part in the commission.

Labour councillors said he had resigned after making an "obscene" remark while not "realising his microphone was on" at the first meeting.

In a statement, Cllr Andy Bowden, cabinet member for environment and transport, who sits on the commission, said: “The comments made by Cllr O’Keefe are entirely unacceptable and it’s right that he has resigned his place.

"The expert and independent professionals who have agreed to give their time to this vital project deserve our thanks and respect.

"A place remains open for opposition groups, and they will be invited to put forward a replacement for Cllr O’Keefe.”

The commission will aim to be an independent voice and provide authoritative and expert advice on key steps towards achieving targets to tackle climate change.

The Star has approached Cllr O'Keefe for comment.