MERSEYTRAVEL chief Mark Dowd's chances of remaining in power were fading last night after his appeal against deselection was rejected by Labour's national body.
Sefton's local government committee had accepted an appeal by Coun Dowd and Labour leader Dave Martin that there had been "procedural errors" in the original ballot which ousted Coun Dowd, and that it should be re-run.
But the regional executive, which oversees the entire North West, sent details of the events to Labour's National Constitutional Unit in London. Last night it emerged that this unit had overturned the decision.
This means the original vote stands and a fresh ballot planned for tomorrow night has been scrapped. A senior Labour source said that Sefton party bosses were still trying to find a way out of the situation, but were beginning to accept that Coun Dowd will be unable to stand in next year's elections, making him ineligible to serve as chairman of Merseytravel.
Party bosses had looked to find him a safe seat elsewhere, but most seats in Sefton have been filled while Coun Dowd was waiting for the outcome of the appeal.
It is understood that attempts have been made behind the scenes to persuade sitting councillors to stand down in favour of Coun Dowd. He could still stand in Crosby's Manor ward, but this is considered such a safe Tory seat that Coun Dowd would face a major uphill battle to seize it.
Coun Dowd, one of Merseyside's most powerful politicians, was not selected to fight the council seat he has held for 20 years at the end of October following a long-running feud with fellow Labour councillor John Rice.
He argued that the ballot was invalid after one member voted who lived in another ward, while three other members had not received notification of the ballot.
If he is no longer a councillor, Coun Dowd will not be able to head Merseytravel, the region's public transport executive, and will have to quit following elections for Sefton Council next month.
He had played a leading role alongside Merseytravel's chief executive, Neil Scales, in turning the authority into one of the country's most powerful and forward thinking.