West End councillor

A West End councillor is facing calls to stand aside after being selected as Labour’s candidate for parliament in Bournemouth.

Jessica Toale, who has served as a Westminster councillor since last May, will take on Conservative former minister Conor Burns in his Bournemouth West constituency at the next general election.

Toale, 36, is running to be Labour’s first MP in the seat since it was created in 2019, and was endorsed by a range of party figures including Council Leader Adam Hug, current MPs Stephen Kinnock and Catherine West, and former candidate David Stokes.

On being selected as parliamentary candidate, Toale said: “Absolutely honoured to have been selected in Bournemouth West. Thank you for putting your faith in me.

“It’s clear people are fed up with the Conservatives. I’m looking forward to turning Bournemouth red for the first time at the next general election!”

But the councillor also faced calls from other politicians to vacate her seat while campaigning on the South Coast.

Two Cities MP and former council leader Nickie Aiken called for a by-election in the ward for Soho residents to have a ‘councillor concentrating on them full time’.

She tweeted: “Surely that means a by-election now @Adam Hug to ensure the people of Soho, Mayfair and Fitzrovia have a councillor concentrating on them full time rather than on Bournemouth.”

Aiken, who herself served on the council until May 2022 while also sitting in the House of Commons, was joined by former Marylebone councillor Eoghain Murphy, who despite congratulating Toale, also called on her to step down.

He said: “Well done Jessica Toale. I hope you last longer in Bournemouth than your few months in the West End. I always felt you’d be better suited to being a parliamentary candidate and wish you well at it.

“Meanwhile please resign to allow a by-election.”

Toale, who grew up in the Dorset city, paid tribute to her 91-year-old grandfather who supported her selection campaign. She saw off another London councillor, Catherine Deakin, and train driver Jamie Martin, to win the candidature.

Image: Westminster City Council.

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