Bus station campaigner stands down from polls

Standing down: John Wilson at Preston Bus Station
Standing down: John Wilson at Preston Bus Station
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An election candidate is standing down after a split with his party over Preston Bus Station.

John Wilson has removed himself from the running for Labour in the Preston North East ward on Lancashire County Council, after claiming he was told to curtail his outspoken campaign to save the bus station.

He announced to his followers on social networking website Twitter over the weekend: “Official - stood down as candidate to Preston North East. Conflict of interest. Was asked not to engage with media and public on bus station.”

Labour-led Preston City Council agreed in December to press ahead with plans to demolish the bus station, because it says it can no longer afford £300,000-a-year running costs or find enough cash to carry out repairs or refurbishment.

Mr Wilson, of Fulwood, has led a passionate campaign to keep the station, including by collecting 1,435 signatures last year to force the city council to hold an open debate on the facility’s future. He finished second in the city council polls in the Sharoe Green Ward in May last year, before deciding to run in the county council elections this year.

Mr Wilson said: “The reason I’m standing down is because it is a conflict of interests. I’m going against what the Labour group are doing at the moment (on the station).

“I’m walking away from something I hold dear but if I am knocking on doors and people ask about the bus station, I cannot say to the Labour group I will not engage with the public, because I do.”

Mr Wilson added he would continue with his bus station campaign.

Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of the Labour group at LCC, said: “We have not fallen out and John is not leaving the party.

“We are very sorry because he has been a hard worker and enthusiastic. I spoke to him some time ago and in a way he is right - there was a conflict (of interests).

“We all have our views and we all debate them, but not usually within the media but within the party.”