Southport Labour has taken the unusual step of publically refuting claims that a local park campaigner is a party member after local councillors claimed their group is politically motivated.
Diane Thomas is one of the three main organisers of the Kew Woods Playground Campaign who are battling to have the park re-opened. She was also one of the two young mums who lodged complaints with Sefton Council after Lib-Dem councillors berated and shouted at the women when they attended the last Southport Area Committee meeting. They were attending to ask their ward councillors to release funds to help save the park but say they were left feeling bullied by the response they recieved.
Since those complaints were made there have been repeated attempts to claim she is a Labour party activist and that their campaign is politically motivated.
In the days following the meeting the campaigners banned Cllr Tony Dawson from their Facebook page for what they felt was a further attempt at intimidation, a claim he denies. It came after Cllr Dawson trawled through Diane Thomas’ personal Facebook profile to repost a photo of her with her six-year-old son from the general election period which indicated she was voting Labour and claimed it proved the campaign was political.
It was strongly denied at the time but now Cllr Fred Weavers, one of those named in the Sefton complaint, has reportedly repeated the claims.
Tracy Burke, one of the other organisers explained:
“Lots of people had one of those facebook profile picture frames at the time, it was an election, it doesn’t make Diane a political activist, or a member of the Labour Party or our park campaign politically motivated. We approached all of the parties for help, it’s just the treatment we have received in response has greatly differed. We’ve repeatedly explained this and to bring it up again just seems like an attempt at a smear.”
Diane Thomas says she has made clear to Cllr Weavers that his claims are without any basis:
“I’ve told him it’s simply not true, so has Tracy, so has my husband and we’ve always made clear the campaign is about one thing and one thing only and that’s getting the funds we need to replace the park equipment. We’ve been asking Cllr Weavers and his colleagues, Cllrs Pullin and Booth for months now to release the funds. They have continually failed to do so, they’d be far better employed telling us how much they will contribute from the £40000 or more of funds they have at their disposal than this.”
As a result, Southport Labour has now also publicly refuted the claim to dispel any doubts. Chair of Southport Labour, Mhairi Doyle, explained:
“It’s an unusual form of assistance but if others are trying to use this as a stick with which to try to beat their campaign then we are happy to remove that stick. Kew Woods Playground Campaign deserves the full support of the community and we are happy to do whatever we can to help them.”
The group organisers say they made the request as they are concerned that local business will be put off helping their campaign at a critical juncture, as they’ve just held their first meeting with council officials and Sefton Cabinet Member Ian Moncur to begin the consultation process to replace the park’s condemned equipment.
For Diane Thomas the talks were highly constructive but also slightly concerning:
“The officers are very keen to start on the consultation but they did reveal that there have been repeated requests made to the ward councillors as to how much they will contribute towards the project and they have just been met by a stony silence on the matter. It is unbelievable that these three men will treat the children of Kew in what seems to be a completely uncaring fashion. We are now entering into the end game and they are still sat on the sidelines not even warmed up.”
Southport Libdem named for website activity some years ago by campaigners in Oldham East election.
The full statement by Southport Labour can be found at:
The Kew Plaground Campaign page can be found at: