LABOUR lost its fourth councillor in as many weeks after Simon Evans quit the party amid an accusation of abusive language online.
The Advertiser understands Cllr Evans, who will sit as an independent, had been suspended by the party pending a hearing over the Facebook post.
Labour says this was set for last Thursday (28) — the day after Cllr Evans quit — but he insists he knew nothing of this and the timing was coincidence.
“As far as I’m aware, there was nothing scheduled party-wise,” said the Wath ward member, elected in 2015.
“There was a complaint made last September by someone who I’ve known for 25 years. I got an email from Labour two weeks ago saying they were investigating.
“Throughout lockdown I’ve been considering what I was going to do anyway. My priority is my business. It’s been a time for reflection.”
He added: “I’m taking each week as it comes, taking advice from people, listening to what people say.
“We’ll see where we are at the end of June. But I was already two feet out of the door with Labour anyway.”
Rotherham Council leader Cllr Chris Read said: “It’s disappointing that someone who is elected on a Labour party ticket has not followed through with the processes and responsibilities that we would expect.”
It means a fourth red seat lost at town hall in a month, following the departures of Katherine Wilson, Richard Price and Leon Allcock, who had not attended meetings for six months.
The local elections were put back a year and it leaves the Rotherham council chamber with 44 Labour members, 11 from the Rotherham Democratic Party, four independents and one Liberal Democrat.
Cllr Read said: “It’s deeply regrettable that four councillors have, for different reasons, stood down or left the group.
“That in itself doesn’t affect us too much. The political balance of the council remains roughly the same.
“I think it was somewhat inevitable, having had people be asked to do an extra year, that it would be quite a big ask for some.”
A Labour party spokesperson said: “We don’t tolerate abuse and threats, either in person or on social media.”
Having left the party, Cllr Evans faces no further action on the allegation.