MOMENTUM Warrington has been accused of ‘declaring war’ on the council’s Labour group after claiming the Town Hall needs a ‘reboot’.

Labour’s shortlisting and selection event for the 2020 all-out elections will take place at Orford Jubilee Hub on June 9.

The controversial selections ahead of the all-out elections in 2016 saw six councillors axed – with a number of casualties expected again next month.

And tensions are rising after two-time Warrington South parliamentary candidate Nick Bent accused Momentum Warrington of acting in a ‘nasty’ and ‘divisive’ manner.

It comes after an e-mail from the grassroots political organisation, which is associated to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, told members: “We have a good selection of Momentum supporters keen to stand as ward councillor in all areas of Warrington and we need your help to achieve this.

“Recent announcements about former Warrington Labour members leaving have proven that not everyone elected on a Labour ticket is a true socialist, so we need to give Town Hall a reboot!

“Can we count on your support?”

Mr Bent says party members across the north west are fighting a tough European Parliament election and are trying to stop Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, becoming an MEP next week.

Warrington Guardian:

Nick Bent

Furthermore, he believes it is right to deselect politicians who behave ‘atrociously’ but claimed ‘this declaration of total war by Momentum is absurd’.

He added: “Labour at its best is a broad church of public servants representing a broad coalition of voters, not a Corbyn personality cult.”

But Momentum Warrington chairman Kenny Watson hit back.

He insists Labour is a democratic party and ‘part of this democracy’ is having the choice of candidates in elections.

“The Labour Party membership get together and decide who they think is best to represent them and Labour values as a councillor,” he said.

“It’s not ‘deselection’, it’s selection.

“It’s standard practice to work with the membership during events, elections and selection periods for political parties.

“This coming year we will see many good councillors retire and, therefore, new ones come forward.

“It’s important to focus on rejecting Conservative austerity and support Labour values of equality, social justice and opportunity for all.”

Mr Watson also believes, despite Mr Bent talking about getting Labour MEPs elected and opposing former English Defence League leader Mr Robinson, members have ‘yet to see him campaigning’ ahead of the European Parliament election, including during Mr Robinson’s Warrington visit where Momentum members were out in force.

Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) has not drawn himself directly into the row.

But he did share his hopes ahead of the all-out elections in May next year.

He said: “What matters is that we have a properly conducted selection process on June 9 and, whoever Labour Party members select to be their council candidates, we have a co-ordinated campaign which takes the record of a Labour council in Warrington to the people.

“We obviously hope that the people give us their support and we continue to have a Labour administration beyond May 2020.”

It is rumoured that former borough councillor Chris Vobe, son of Warrington North MP Helen Jones, is bidding to stand in Poplars and Hulme.

A spokesman for Warrington North Labour Party said: “The Labour Party in Warrington North does not comment on internal selections.

“We will announce our candidates for the 2020 local elections in due course.”

A Labour source says some sitting councillors are ‘very worried’ ahead of the selections.