COLCHESTER’S long-standing Labour boss has hit out after being accused of lacking in the party’s core values by his own members.

Tim Young has also sought to calm tensions within the constituency Labour Party over the council group’s direction and on the planned cultural quarter.

A cross-party group, which includes prominent Labour campaigners, have been vocal against the plans, labelling them “out of step with Labour values of for the many, not the few”.

Mr Young said: “It’s undeniable there is tension between the group and the constituency party.

“The communication between the two has not been as good as it could be and that is something we need to improve.

“But I have been a member of the Labour Party for 34 years and a councillor for 26 years and suddenly, I’m being accused of lacking in Labour values.”

Mr Young was referring to an opinion piece written by branch chairman Alan Short, published in the Gazette, which severely criticised proposals put forward by the Alumno group for 330 student flats, a hotel, a public space, art studios, a community room and a heritage trail which takes in the Roman wall.

The Labour group leader added: “There is a feeling in the party, I believe, that unless you joined the Labour Party in 2015 [when Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader], you are lacking validity. I don’t think that is a widely help view but there are some who hold it.”

Mr Young stood as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in 2017, coming second in the race behind Conservative Will Quince.

He garnered 18,888 votes, bringing the party ahead of the Liberal Democrats’ 9,087.

He added: “I am not going to criticise Jeremy Corbyn - far from it.

“It was his manifesto which caught the attention of people in that General Election and the membership numbers are incredible.

“But I have fought tooth and nail for Labour values in Colchester for 26 years so don’t tell me I don’t know what the Labour values are.”

Mr Young knew quickly after that campaign he would not be the candidate at the next General Election, with the party labelling Colchester as a target seat which must be contested by a woman.

Tina McKay, who joined the party in 2015, has since been elected as the next parliamentary candidate, ahead of Mr Young’s wife, Julie - herself a high profile female candidate who previously led the Labour group on Essex County Council.

He said: “I am, of course, disappointed I won’t be the one leading the campaign at the next General Election, and I am not on Tina’s campaign team but I will be supporting the Labour candidate. I have done that at every General Election since 1979.”

Mr Young also sought to calm the situation over the planned cultural quarter.

He said: “First of all, I would say to my colleagues in the Labour Party; not everything is a capitalist conspiracy. This is a good scheme which will benefit Colchester.

“Yes, Alumno are developers and they will make money on the project.

“But it was also make the council a capital receipt which we can then use for the benefit of Colchester.”

Mr Young added: “As for the view that it’s missing culture, the culture is already there.

Firstsite is there, and this scheme will enhance it. Curzon is there and starting to make in-roads, there will be cafés there and, of course, it will actually enhance the Roman wall with the boardwalk alongside it.”

“And for example, it will still give a space for the Big Sunday - it just needs someone to organise it and finance it because the council is not in a position any more to do that.

“Perhaps that will be something the Business Improvement District board will look at, given what a success the festival has been.”

He added: “Some people seem to be of the impression having students there will lead to anti-social behaviour but where I live, there are quite a few students too and they are no better or worse than any other neighbours. And although neither Essex University nor Colchester Institute are sponsoring the scheme, they welcome the fact that there will be 300 student residences in the town centre.”

Mr Young also pointed to the knock-on effect the scheme could have on the likes of Priory Walk, which is in need of an overhaul and a meeting has been held between the precinct’s owners and council bosses.