Updated: Wednesday, 11th December 2019 @ 3:04pm

Stockport Labour leader a cancer that needs to be cut out, claims councillor who quit over 'bullying' storm

Stockport Labour leader a cancer that needs to be cut out, claims councillor who quit over 'bullying' storm

| By Richard Brown – MM exclusive

Stockport’s Labour council leader is a ‘cancer that needs to be cut out’, claims a councillor who quit the party amid claims of a 'culture of bullying'.

In an exclusive interview with MM last week, councillor Paul Moss, who, along with Councillor Laura Booth, left the Labour party earlier this month, gave an insight into their departure.

Councillor Moss pointed the finger almost solely at councillor Andrew Verdeille, a representative of Reddish South, and current Labour leader for Stockport, for allowing a bullying culture within the council.

"I personally felt systematically bullied by a certain individual within Stockport Labour group. I cannot go back to that culture," he told MM.

Councillor Moss launched a scathing attack against councillor Verdeille, calling for the Labour leader to step down from the party.

"Quite simply, I call for the resignation of councillor Verdeille,” he said.

"He is the cancer that needs to be cut out of Stockport Labour group and once that happens the party may be able to heal itself. He's not the only one but that is my strong opinion."

Councillor Verdeille told MM the accusations are 'completely unfounded', and expressed his disbelief at being labelled as a 'cancer'.

"I think he’s sick," councillor Verdeille told MM. 

"I’m amazed, I’ve never heard language used like that by anyone. I just think he’s off the wall. I feel sorry for him."

The row that led to councillor Moss' departure from the party came over controversial plans to build houses on Reddish Vale Country Park, a move that Moss strongly objected to.

"My views on the planning application are well known," he said. "Even if you believe in building houses on the Vale, they aren't even social housing.

“There are 7,000 people on the housing waiting list and it isn't affecting that."

Stockport Labour were given an opportunity to present a motion to the council to stop a planning application going ahead after Council Leader Sue Derbyshire chose to abstain from the vote.

Labour however refused to do so, a move that caused confusion and sparked a backlash from a number of councillors, not least councillor Moss.

However councillor Verdeille says the council were given a free vote on the issue, with no formal opposition from councillor Moss.

"Our members voted, with him present. He didn’t go against it at all, we voted to give our members a free vote.

"It’s the exact opposite of bullying, exact opposite.

"The accusation about bullying is completely unfounded."

Councillor Verdeille also says councillor Moss' accusations only came out when he was deselected from the Labour party register last month.

He said: "Paul Moss has started to shout after the September 26. September 26 was an important date for Paul because that was the day the Labour party register deselected him.

"From that date he started to cry foul about bullying, and to vilify me for reason that we don’t know about.

"I’m amazed that he would think anyone in our group would bully him, but there is a reason for his outburst, because he was deselected. 

"He won’t be a candidate for the Labour party in May in Reddish."

However, this is not the first time accusations of bullying have been levelled at Stockport Labour group.

"Under his leadership he's lost three, maybe four councillors," councillor Moss added.

Another former Labour councillor left the party two years ago under similar circumstances.

As MM reported last week, councillor Patrick McAuley compared the running of Stockport Labour to a North Korean dictatorship, and Councillor Moss agreed with the assessment.

He said: "If it is run like a North Korean dictatorship then Councillor Andrew Verdeille is Kim Jong Un. He rules the group with a rod of iron. Any form of dissent and you suffer the consequences."

 

Councillor Moss also took aim at Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, saying his comments on Twitter are 'disgusting'.

"What you're getting now is Andrew Gwynne saying one thing and Ann Coffey (MP for Stockport) saying another," Moss added.

As well as impacting on the Reddish Vale decision, Mr Gwynne has courted controversy after a member of his team branded Councillor Moss 'a waste of space'.

"What he's doing on Twitter is demeaning for a Shadow Health Minister and someone with aspirations of being a cabinet minister,” councillor Moss told MM.

“It's quite frankly disgusting.

"I'm sick to death of the abuse I'm getting on Twitter from a clique: that's all it is, a clique."

As far as his political career is concerned, councillor Moss has emphasized his desire to stay in local politics, albeit not as a member of the Labour party.

"I will continue to represent Reddish North and fight public service cuts and the austerity agendas adopted by the three main political parties,” he told MM.

"I'm seriously considering standing as an independent in May next year. I think the public need to be told the truth and whether I win or lose I want to do that.

“I want to keep my integrity.”

Main image courtesy of HolidayGems.co.uk, with thanks.