Controversial Morecambe councillor steps down from city council

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A controversial Morecambe councillor is standing down from Lancaster City Council at the May 4 election.

During eight years as a city councillor, Coun Darren Clifford breached council guidelines three times and switched political allegiances.

Coun Clifford, who represents Harbour ward, was originally elected as a Labour councillor in 2015 but resigned from the party in 2019 when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.

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He became an Independent councillor and is a former group leader.

Coun Darren Clifford pictured on the site where Eden Project Morecambe will be built.Coun Darren Clifford pictured on the site where Eden Project Morecambe will be built.
Coun Darren Clifford pictured on the site where Eden Project Morecambe will be built.

He is currently vice-chair of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee and also sits on the audit and council business committees.

Previously, he spent four years as cabinet member for culture, leisure, tourism and climate change.

“During my time on cabinet, we started the process for Eden, we invested in and turned round Salt Ayre and I’m really proud of supporting the local arts economy while others were arguing we should walk away,” said Coun Clifford.

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In 2018, Coun Clifford breached council guidelines by using official council equipment during office hours to send risqué emails to a junior council officer.

He was later found to have brought the council into disrepute after voting on a future increase in council tax despite being in arrears with his own.

He further breached the code of conduct by leading a private tour of Lancaster Town Hall, despite being previously warned not to do so.

Coun Clifford, 52, said he’d decided to stand down because he felt he’d done his time after being involved in every election since he was eight years old.

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“I’d be lying if I said the hatchet job in the Daily Mail about my private life hasn’t been a factor too,” he added. “While the vast majority of people I meet are supportive and say my private life is my private life, there is the odd one who shouts abuse.”

Coun Clifford also served on Morecambe Town Council from 2011-2019 and Lancashire County Council from 2013-2017.

A former Army officer, he is general manager of The Boardwalk in Morecambe.

“As I reflect on all these years, I note with the sadness those people, on both sides of the chamber, who I regarded as colleagues and friends who passed away,” he said. “I hope the public understand the level of devotion it takes from people like them to serve, with love, their community.”