A VALE Labour councillor has quit his party, blaming what he calls ‘a culture of bullying’, ‘poor leadership’ and the use of all-women shortlists.

Cllr Richard Bertin, who has represented Barry’s Court ward for ten years, resigned following a Labour Party Welsh Executive Committee Disciplinary hearing which decided he had ‘failed to understand his responsibilities as an elected member and work as a team’.

The panel also concluded his attacks on the party, made via local media, for which it said he had previously been warned, were unacceptable and it was ‘apparent he did not understand the party’s commitment to equal opportunities’.

Cllr Bertin wrote to newspapers voicing his opinion on the selection of Alana Davies as Labour’s candidate for the Vale in this year’s general election.

The party said it would review his case in a year’s time, ‘remind the Vale Labour Group about effective discipline’, and refer his case to the National Constitutional Committee if he breached further rules.

But Cllr Bertin said he now plans to remain as an independent until the local elections in 2012. He said: "For years I have fought as a trade unionist against bullying and joined the Labour party to continue in that fight.

"There is a problem within the local Labour group on the Council and nothing is being done about it."

He called the leaders of the Vale Council opposition Labour group ‘negative, weak and are not proactive enough’.

He said: "It is time to speak up and say what is going on is wrong.

"How can I remain in a party supposed to promote fairness and equality when we have bullying of members, male members cannot stand for office, and that has a weak leader on the council?"

"The best thing that could happen is for the Labour leader to stand down."

Labour Vale group party leader, Cllr Neil Moore said he was always sad when someone decided to leave the party, but he did not intend to resign. He said: "The Labour party is a broad church and although everyone may not agree with everything that is decided, everyone’s views are taken into consideration. "No-one is bullied and I refute the comments absolutely. "Regrettably Richard has rarely been a team player and often ignores what is said in group or agreed as a strategy and often goes off on his own path, without in my opinion, considering the consequences."

He added: "We are in opposition and regrettably the Cabinet system limits the powers of ordinary back bench members. "It is difficult to get things changed directly, but we do change things through the scrutiny process.

"I think that Richard should consider his position, having stood as a Labour candidate and elected as such, and not as an independent or individual." Independent group FocusBarry member and former Barry Labour town councillor and leader, Dennis Harkus said he had been aware of Richard’s feelings for some time.

He said: "Leaving the party that I supported all my life was quite a traumatic process for me when I resigned and my motivation also related to the way the local party was being managed.

"There has to be more to local politics than obediently following the ruling clique’s wishes.

"Richard can now concentrate his energy on representing the people in his ward."