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Posted on 19 July 2013 at 15:17 GMT

Press statement from Warrington rebel councillor

Warrington's rebel Labour councillor Kevin Bennett has spoken of his disappointment at being suspended from the Labour Party for six months for "voting against the whip".

He points out that he has effectively been given a nine-month suspension, because he had already been suspended for three months when the decision was made by an appeal panel convened by the national Labour Party.

Kevin, a councillor for Fairfield and Howley, said:

A spokesperson from the Labour group has been quoted as saying I had apologised for breaking the whip, I made no apology at any time during my appeal, all I ever tried to do was to speak up against the cuts and protect the people who had voted for me.

The alternatives that I tried to put forward within the Labour Group are in-line with Unite policy.

My appeal hearing lasted two hours and 15 minutes and the decision was to suspend me for six months from the date of the appeal.

It seems that the three months that I had already served while waiting for my appeal has not been taken into consideration.

I have been told that I must abide by the Labour Group's decisions whilst on suspension.

I feel that I am being made an example of because Unite the Union are supporting me.

There was a precedent set in Hull when three Labour councillors voted against their budget, two of them have had their suspensions reduced to three months and the third to six months.

I have effectively got nine months suspension. I don't understand how they couldn't have taken into consideration the bullying and intimidation that I and others have been put through.

Earlier this year, I voted against the council budget put forward by the Warrington borough council's executive board.

Since then I have made a number of further controversial statements, including a call for councillors to take a pay cut.

As I said earlier Unite the Union are supporting me and I would like to thank all of the members and others who have supported me right through my ordeal.

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