A LEADING Labour councillor has reversed his decision to retire and announced he will instead stand against the party he represented for over a quarter of a century.

Tom Curley, a former Provost of North Lanarkshire who quit Labour in recent days, said he expects several party veterans to stand as independents next May.

He has accused the party of hanging him out amid local claims he had been blocked from standing again regardless of his decision to quit, claiming he would not give his former colleagues “a free run”.

Earlier this week The Herald revealed how a number of de-selection of a number of Lanarkshire councillors as candidates for next year’s local government elections.

Mr Curley has said a number of those axed by Labour and two of those who left the ruling administration in North Lanarkshire earlier this year are likely to run.

The move comes as Labour councillors in Glasgow are told they may have to undertake a training course on gender equality following a series of complaints from female members of the administration.

A leaked internal report states that “mindsets have to change” and that female councillors should “empowered and supported...not criticised”.

It also calls for a review of why so many of the current crop of councillors on the ruling Labour group plan to quit next year and comes on top of internal warnings from whips that they are effectively operating as a minority administration in Glasgow.

The Herald understands one councillors has informed colleagues they will not attend any further group meetings or the full-council, where Labour has been outnumbered at at least one recent meeting.

Mr Curley, who represents Airdrie, said he had been offered no support by senior Labour figures after it had been claimed he had been axed by the party.

He said: “I had not intended to stand but have decided to go again as an independent. I will not give Labour a free run and it will be my intention to sit as an independent in the next council term. Right now I am an independent councillor after 25 years representing Labour.

“I have a strong personal vote in Airdrie South. This, rather than the political ticket, I hope will carry me through.

“I am also aware of discussions amongst those who have been de-selected about standing again and believe several will. Two others who left Labour in March are certain to stand as independents.”

One Labour source said: “Curley was apoplectic that he was being described as ‘de-selected’ after announcing his retirement. He’s got a reasonable local following but the issue will be whether he has the stomach for the fight.”

Jim Brooks, who led Monklands Council at the time of its 1990s cronyism scandal, is the highest-profile casualty of those who have not been selected and amongst the names understood to be planning standing again.

The others de-selected include Cumbernauld’s Bob Chadha, John Higgins who represents Coatbridge, Wishaw’s Frank McKay, Peter Sullivan of Airdrie and John McLaren of Strathkelvin. Senior local sources had described most of those axed as “malcontents”.

A Labour spokesman said: “We thank Tom Curley for his service to the Labour Party and regret his decision to leave.

“Despite millions being cut from local services, North Lanarkshire Labour is ambitious for the future of our community with a plan to build 1800 homes over the next ten years.”

A Glasgow Labour Group spokesman said that after adopting 50:50 gender balance policy a Women’s Representation Group was convened to attain its target and that its recommendations “will now be pursued in cooperation with the Glasgow Local Campaign Forum and Scottish Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee”.