Councillor hangs on by just 2 votes

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A SENIOR Labour councillor has survived a deselection bid – by just two votes.

A move to block Maureen Child as a candidate for the party in the Portobello/Craigmillar ward in next year’s local election was defeated by 26 votes to 24. Party sources said the selection meeting on Wednesday night saw a bigger than expected turnout of activists to decide who should stand next May. The vote is understood to reflect long-standing divisions inside the local party.

One opponent of Councillor Child, who is Labour’s health and social care spokeswoman on the council, claimed she had “failed to serve the people of Craigmillar particularly over the last five years”.

Another opponent said the fact that 24 people had turned up to vote against her should act as a “wake-up call”.

But one of Cllr Child’s supporters said there had been “a great deal of confusion” surrounding the deselection bid and claimed it should never have been put to a vote.

“It was an error in the procedure,” he said. “Under Labour Party rules, where there is a sitting female candidate and there is no challenger, it should just be an automatic reselection. There was no need for an affirmative vote. If this had gone the other way, it would very quickly have been shown to be a mistake in procedure and would have been overturned.”

He also dismissed the claims she had not served the people over the past five years. “She is one of the most popular councillors right across the ward.”

Cllr Child, who was the city’s finance convener when Labour was in power, was first elected as councillor for Milton ward in 1995 and became one of three members for Portobello/Craigmillar in 2007 when the new Single Transferable Vote system saw the creation of new super-wards.

The selection meeting also chose David Walker to stand in the forthcoming election. He emerged the victor in a three-cornered fight, defeating local activist Alex Lunn and former councillor Lawrence Marshall.

Paul Nolan, procedural secretary for the Edinburgh Labour Party, said: “I can confirm that Maureen Child and David Walker have been selected as the Labour Party candidates for the Portobello and Craigmillar ward.”

Councillor Child said: “I am honoured and delighted to have the opportunity to stand again as a candidate in May 2012 to represent Portobello/Craigmillar ward.”

gedwards@edinburghnews.com

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