I received an e-mail response from Gary Coleman (current mayor of Blackpool and Blackpool Councillor for Brunswick Ward) as I had been trying to make contact with regarding an Open Letter BST (Blackpool Supporters Trust) were compiling to be signed to by local MP’s (Maynard, Marsden, Smith, Wallace and maybe Menzies) and leaders of the groups on Blackpool Council (Simon Blackburn, Tony Williams and Gary). The Open Letter was basically a plea on behalf of the people of Blackpool and local businesses for Owen Oyston for once to do a decent thing and to leave the football club so the majority of the community would return after their 4 year long civil war with the Oystons and the EFL.
An Open Letter with cross-party support would in years to come be a powerful symbol of just how deep the ill-feeling toward the Oyston regime once was – how often do you get MP’s of other parties to sign a joint-letter and work together ? Will probably reveal more about the frustrations we have been having with this Open Letter (particularly from Simon Blackburn and to a lesser extent Mark Menzies). Anyhow when Gary e-mailed to say he had been having some issues with his e-mail and telephone provider, the idea of standing in the local elections was not even on my mind …. when we spoke later that day I found out standing again was not something that Gary was contemplating either.
I was surprised to hear that as an incumbent Gary wasn’t standing. This was the first time I had spoken with Gary and only knew of him what I had seen on the web and in the local press. His tenure as mayor runs up until May 22nd 2019 and both he and his wife Debbie (Blackpool Councillor for Marton Ward) had resigned from the Labour Party to become INDEPENDENTS – their official title is Blackpool Independent Rate Payers Group.
As we chatted I quickly formed the impression that Gary seemed a very decent guy. He didn’t want to go into any of the issues which had resulted in him leaving Simon Blackburn’s Labour Group, although I could detect that something quite significant and upsetting had happened. These brief discussions would turn out to be pivotal in changing both our minds about standing. Later that day we agreed we would both sleep on it in the knowledge that if we did decide to stand we would need to move very quickly as nominations and the requisite signatures had to be gathered and submitted on before Wednesday’s deadline.