A CULL of senior Labour councillors in Bradford is continuing, with the latest victim comparing the shake-up to Adolf Hitler's infamous 'night of the long knives'.

Councillor Ruth Billheimer (Eccleshill) is the fourth sitting councillor to be told by her regional office that she is not fit to stand as a Labour candidate in next year's local elections.

She said she had been told she did not have sufficient commitment to the party's aims - an accusation she has branded 'ridiculous'.

And Cllr Billheimer went on to claim the shake-up was "politically motivated", comparing it to the Nazi purge of 1934, when at least 85 of Hitler's political opponents were slain.

Labour's regional office for Yorkshire and the Humber is making big changes to the Bradford party in response to the upset caused by George Galloway's Respect victory in the 2012 Bradford West by-election.

Three other senior councillors have so far failed the assessment process for election candidates - Councillor Amir Hussain (Toller), Bradford Council's executive member for adult services, Councillor Ghazanfer Khaliq (Bradford Moor), a former Lord Mayor, and Councillor Rizwan Malik (Heaton), the chairman of the Council's corporate overview and scrutiny committee.

It is understood Cllrs Hussain and Malik are appealing the decision.

Cllr Billheimer, who is the deputy chairman of the Council's Bradford East Area Committee, said she would not be appealing.

She said: "After 30 years’ service to the party I am naturally surprised to be told that I do not have a sufficient 'commitment to Labour’s aims and values', but I would not stoop to defend myself against such a ridiculous accusation.

"I feel that I have been caught up in a 'night of the long knives' and I fully support those of my comrades who are going to appeal.

"Our rejection, I believe, was politically motivated: indeed the regional Labour Party has admitted that its decisions were made in response to the recent by-election defeat in Bradford West.

"I think they have learned the wrong lesson from that defeat."

Cllr Billheimer said it had been an honour to serve the residents of Eccleshill and that she would continue to do so until "the last day" of her term, which ends in May.

She added: "I have no plans to join any other political group or to stand in the local or general elections as an independent candidate.

"My commitment to Labour will not be shaken by the actions of a few misguided individuals in our regional organisation.

"My loyalty to the Labour Party is a matter of principle and the political convictions of a lifetime."

A spokesman for the Yorkshire and Humber Labour party said: "A rigorous assessment process is taking place for those wanting to put themselves forward as Labour candidates in Bradford’s local elections, and the people of Bradford would expect nothing less."

Local party members reacted with shock at the latest development, with many saying Cllr Billheimer was a well-respected and committed councillor.

And rumours continue to circulate about the fate of other Labour councillors whose terms in office are due to end next year.

One of those whose future was rumoured to be under threat was Keighley Central Councillor Kaneez Akthar, but she has since confirmed that she has passed the assessment process.

Cllr Akthar will now also need to be selected by her local branch.

She said: "It gives me great pleasure to dissolve some of the incorrect rumours and confirm that I have been recommended as a candidate, and to assure the local people of Keighley central ward that the local Labour team will be continuing to work hard for them."