Hull's budget rebels to appeal Labour suspensions
THREE Labour councillors are set to appeal the decision to suspend them from the ruling group on Hull City Council.
Gary Wareing, Dean Kirk and Gill Kennett all defied the party whip to vote against the Labour budget at last month's full council meeting.
Now, they have been suspended from the Labour group after an internal disciplinary hearing into the budget vote.
Cllrs Wareing and Kirk have been handed indefinite suspensions, while Cllr Kennett has been suspended for three months.
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Cllr Wareing said: "We are all appealing against this.
"The indefinite suspensions are particularly harsh because we feel the punishment certainly doesn't reflect our alleged crimes.
"We feel it is far too severe when all we were doing was reflecting the views of many people in the party over the impact of government cuts on local services."
Before last month's budget-setting meeting, all three signed up to a new national anti-cuts movement launched by local Labour councillors.
Cllr Wareing, who had urged fellow councillors to rethink budget proposals to cut jobs and services, said: "We remain Labour councillors and we will carry on doing our ward work as normal.
"From that point of view, everything stays the same.
"The only thing the Labour group has lost is our input into group meetings."
He said the trio remained unrepentant over their stance.
Last week, Labour councillors on the authority's Riverside area committee removed Cllr Wareing as its chairman in a no-confidence vote.
The move also meant he lost a £4,700 special responsibility allowance for being the committee's chairman.
He is the most high-profile of the trio, having previously been a Labour cabinet portfolio holder.
He also finished runner-up to Karl Turner in a selection contest to find a successor to John Prescott as Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hull East.
Councillor Colin Inglis, who tabled the motion to unseat Cllr Wareing last week, said: "It was a relatively straightforward issue.
"When a majority on a committee doesn't have any confidence in the chairman, the chairman has to go."
Ironically, Cllr Inglis was the last person to be suspended from the Labour group after being charged with historic child abuse.
He was reinstated after being cleared of all the charges following a crown court trial.
However, the latest suspensions have angered some Labour activists.
Party member Mark Anfield said: "I am disgusted such actions are taking place within a democratic organisation and smacks to me of bullying and dictatorship.
"Clearly, these people are principled and not about to sell out the people who have voted them to their positions.
"I know Gill Kennett personally and admire her reluctance to follow the herd and allow central government to dictate and decimate local services."