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Preston Labour ditch initial candidate for Lea and Larches by-election to bring in Ashton stalwart

Posted on - 7th June, 2024 - 9:35am | Author - | Posted in - Ashton-on-Ribble, Larches, Lea, Politics, Preston News
Avery Greatorex at the local election count in May Pic: Blog Preston

Preston Labour have decided to change their candidate for the upcoming Lea and Larches by-election at the last moment.

Avery Greatorex, a 20-year-old student at UCLan, had been due to stand for the party – who hold control of the Town Hall – in the ward after a by-election was triggered by the resignation of long-standing councillor David Borrow.

The chair of the UCLan Labour Society, who is trans, stood unsuccessfully the Greyfriars ward in May’s local elections – shared on X she had decided not to stand citing ‘reasons outside of my control’ and went on to say it ‘wasn’t a personal decision’. She had just a week ago been announced in a series of gushing social media posts by the party.

Read more: New constituency boundaries and candidates in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble for the 2024 general election

Avery told Blog Preston: “I am of course incredibly frustrated with what has happened which I will not comment on further because I don’t see it necessary to do so. I know Mark Routledge well and wish him the best with his campaign.

“I am proud of the support the campaign gained in such a small period of time when I initially announced that I would stand and, I’m really proud of how much the community has come together to make sure I’m okay now that we have a different candidate, it’s the Preston spirit and community that I’ve come to love during my time here. I’ve had supportive messages from people from all three major parties in our city and I’m massively appreciative of those messages in this frustrating time period.

“I hope to stand again somewhere in our city in future but for now, I wish Mark Routledge the best with his campaign and I will support him the same as I would any other Labour candidate.”

Former councillor Borrow stood down shortly after the May local elections – releasing no statement or comment on his decision – in a ward where Preston Labour lost a seat to the Liberal Democrats as a result of an independent anti-Ashton Park Sports Hub campaigner Ann Cowell taking a large share of the vote and splintering what should be a safe Labour seat.

Mark Routledge, a former councillor in Ashton-on-Ribble for many years, has been selected to fight in the ward. He stood in the Sharoe Green ward in May’s elections and came second. The change was announced in a video with Labour candidate for the general election Mark Hendrick endorsing Mr Routledge – with no mention made of Avery and all previous posts announcing her standing in the ward being removed from social media accounts.

The Labour administration has faced a barrage of criticism for its handling of the £9.7m Sports Hub proposals for Ashton Park, utilising Levelling Up cash with a campaign group being formed to oppose the new 3g sports pitch and pavilion although the scheme also received vocal support from football clubs and others in the area.

Ann Cowell, standing as an independent, secured a strong vote share and saw former Preston and Lancashire Labour leader Jennifer Mein booted out of the ward – traditionally a safe Labour seat in the city.

A final list of candidates for the Lea and Larches by-election, which takes place on Thursday 4 July alongside the general election, is due to be confirmed during Friday (7 June).

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