LONG serving Stonehouse councillor and leader of the Labour group on Gloucestershire County Council, Lesley Williams MBE, has been deselected by members of her local Labour Party branch.

Mrs Williams who has served as a county councillor since 2001 and as leader of the Labour group for 10 years is a well known local politician.

Local Labour members have chosen Tasneem Jones as their candidate for the Stonehouse Division in next year’s May Election. The Division covers Stonehouse Town together with Eastington Parish and Standish Parish.

The members held an open selection process and conducted a secret ballot through which it was decided to adopt Taz Jones as the Labour Party candidate.

Commenting on her deselection Lesley Williams said: “I am of course really disappointed that I will no longer be able to serve the people of Stonehouse on the county council as a Labour councillor.

"The people of Stonehouse need and deserve the best possible representation, and in this, they have endorsed my work and my core Labour values on their behalf time and again over the last 20 years.

"This is why I was puzzled by my sudden and unlooked-for deselection by my own local branch.

"Weakening the Labour ticket cannot help in our fight to represent the voices of the poor against parties who have left them in the lurch time and time again.

"I did not want to leave the county council in this way, however I am proud of what Labour has achieved on the council from a position of opposition. The living wage, support of apprentice travel and renewed focus on children's services are just a few of the things the Labour group has achieved on the council under my leadership.

"And most recently the town has seen a new library open in the Old Post Office.

"I will continue to support the Labour Party nationally and I will continue to try and bring about positive change through volunteering in the local community.”

A spokesperson for Stroud Labour Party said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lesley for her dedication and hard work in representing the people of Stonehouse over many years, and for all that she has achieved in that time.

“We here in Stonehouse very much look forward to working with Tasneem. Her experience, skills, knowledge and commitment very much impressed the members.”

Tasneem said: “I look forward to continuing the work of Cllr Lesley Williams, MBE, who has served the community well. I hope to bring a fresh perspective to many of the issues that Stonehouse faces, including transport links and supporting and revitalising the High Street.”

Cllr Neil Gibbs, Mayor of Stonehouse: “Stonehouse Town Council would like to thank county councillor Lesley Williams for the hard work and support she has given to the residents and businesses of the town over the last 19 years.

"She has been a dedicated and loyal representative who has always been happy to get stuck in, whether that be helping Stonehouse in Bloom with planting; filling the book shelves at the new Library or acting as a marshall at our Christmas Goodwill event. 

"We will miss her positivity and enthusiasm but wish her well for the future.”