FORMER members of Forest of Dean Labour accused the party of “pulling every trick” to make themselves look more popular having used old photos of them in their leafleting for this week's local elections.

Party Chair Shaun Stammers says the use of old photographs is “regrettable” but that Labour is the largest party in the Forest, and that Covid is to blame for a lack of recent photo opportunities.

The front of a handout, titled ‘Team Labour - Election Issue’, is a collage of photographs of local members campaigning for the party in recent elections.

That includes the general election in 2019 - now four years ago - in which Di Martin was the Labour candidate for the Forest.

One photograph from that time includes some five people who have since left the party.

And the former members - Angela Sullivan, Caroline Moor, Roger Holmes, Sue Holmes and Steve Stockham - are not happy that there image has been used to promote the party with which they are no longer aligned.

Roger Holmes and Steve Stockham were suspended from the party when they discussed the suspension of former leader Jeremy Corbyn in a meeting, against the wishes of current leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Mr Holmes says he will not be voting Labour in the upcoming local elections, and suggested a lack of membership locally as the reason the photo had been used.

He commented: “Basically they have so few members they’re pulling every trick to make it seem otherwise.”

But Forest of Dean Labour Party Chair Shaun Stammers said that wasn’t the case, and that he would be contacting Mr Holmes and his wife Sue to offer his apologies.

“The use of an old campaign photo is regrettable and I sincerely apologise for any distress or offence caused to Mr & Mrs Holmes by its use”, Mr Stammers said.

“I will be contacting them personally to apologise.

“The focus of the photo was to highlight the dynamism of Cllr Di Martin during her 2019 Parliamentary campaign and I made a poor choice from the selection available.

“The impact of Covid has limited the opportunities to gather publicity material over recent years and I hoped the photo montage captured the period since the last District Election in 2019.

On Mr Holmes’s claim the use of the photos was due to a lack of membership, Mr Stammers said: “With over 500 members I believe the Labour Party remains the largest in the Forest.”