Town hall colleagues reacted with shock today after Coun Simon Blackburn stood down as Blackpool Council leader while an investigation is carried out into allegations made against him.
Coun Blackburn, who has been suspended from the Labour Party, has denied the allegations and said he has “no doubt” the investigation by the party will “confirm his innocence”.
It is not known what the claims relate to, but Lancashire Constabulary have confirmed to Radio Wave News that they are NOT involved in the investigation.
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, said Coun Blackburn had called him personally to inform him of his decision to step down.
He said: “I got a phone call from Simon which was very honourable of him to do.
“I was quite shocked and I hope the situation is resolved, whatever the allegations are.
“He has done the right thing to step down as leader while there is an investigation.”
Coun Gary Coleman, leader of the Independents on Blackpool Council, said: “It is only fair to everyone involved that due process is followed.
“Coun Blackburn should be afforded the same dignity and consideration that any person undergoing investigation should be allowed.
“From a personal perspective I ask that people refrain from making unfounded or untrue comments on social media or in the press. Our family is painfully aware of the consequences that outright lies can have even on the most decent of people, especially when they are innocent of the allegations made against them.
“I trust the Labour Party will investigate the allegation accordingly and will act on their findings appropriately.
“It is no secret there is no love lost between Coun Blackburn and myself but it is imperative that justice and fairness prevails in these situations.”
Coun Maxine Callow, of Norbreck Independents, said it was vital the investigation was completed swiftly.
She said: “I’m shocked and suprised, and I hope for everyone’s sake the whole thing is resolved as quickly as possible.
“It’s no help to the council having this uncertainty when we are in this difficult time.”
Deputy leader Coun Lynn Williams is now acting leader until the next full council meeting when a new leader will be appointed.
Coun Blackburn is the third Blackpool councillor to be suspended by their party in recent times.
Former deputy leader Coun Graham Cain was suspended at the end of last year and is no longer a member of the Labour Party, while Conservative councillor Danny Scott was suspended by his party last November and is still awaiting the outcome of an investigation.