A row has broken out after Labour councillors were accused of a ‘no show’ at an annual charity ball.
Sara Britcliffe organised the mayor’s charity ball after her father Conservative councillor Peter Britcliffe stepped down from the mayoral office last month to ‘clear his name’ after police received sex offence allegations against him.
The ‘non-political’ event on Saturday night was attended by more than 120 people, however it is claimed no Labour councillors were present.
The charity ball was held to raise money for Hyndburn Stray Dogs in Need and community group The Walmsley Foundation.
The council’s Labour chief Miles Parkinson said it was no longer an official mayoral ball as the mayor had stepped down.
He said that all councillors were able to decide whether they attended or not.
However the ‘no-show’ has drawn criticisms from current and former Tory figures.
Former Huncoat Conservative councillor Nick Whittaker said Labour should not ‘play politics with this charity event’ and he had now ‘lost all faith in the two major parties’.
He said: “There were no [Labour councillors] whatsoever. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s a Labour mayor or a Conservative mayor.
“There’s always been a showing of both parties in the past. My annoyance of the whole thing is that whether your independent, Labour, Conservative or whatever, at the end of the day it’s for charity.
“They are Hyndburn charities and they are the one’s that suffer.
“It was a fantastic night. It was probably one of the best one’s I’ve been to. Everybody enjoyed themselves.”
Patrick McGinley, who is standing as an Overton ward candidate for the Conservative’s this May, posted on his Facebook page, describing Labour councillors as petty for not turning up.
He said their behaviour had set a ‘dangerous precedent’, adding, ‘they not know a night they missed’.
Organiser Ms Britcliffe, who was Coun Britcliffe’s mayoress, said: “The main thing is that the event was a success and as far as I’m concerned it’s that we raised £2,500 for our local charities.
“It doesn’t matter to me which parties attended and I’m certainly not getting into a political slanging match about it and neither should anyone else. The mayoralty is neutral, as am I, and people are free to attend or not.”
The council’s Conservative group leader Councillor Tony Dobson also said it was ‘up to individual councillors’ to decide whether to attend.
Coun Parkinson, who has attended 22 previous mayoral balls, said he did not know if any Labour councillors were there, adding that attendance depended on ‘people’s schedules’.
He added: “Councillors make their own arrangements whether they go to an event or not. It was a busy weekend. Many people will have engagements with their mums because it was Mother’s Day on Sunday. Everyone has a hectic schedule of course with the elections as well.
“A lot of the civic heads were unable to attend. I don’t think any of the district mayor’s went along because they had other engagements.
“The event wasn’t a mayor’s ball anyway. It was just a fundraiser because the Mayor stepped aside which is a neutral act.”
Organiser Sara Britcliffe hailed the ‘success’ of the charity ball after it raised more than £2,500.
The event was hosted by radio presenter Stephen Lowe and the money will go towards local charities Hyndburn Stray Dogs in Need and The Walmsley Foundation.
Councillor Peter Britcliffe attended the event and received a ‘round of applause and a good cheer’ by guests.
Sara said: “It was a very successful night and there was a lot of people there.
Coun Britcliffe said: “I’m very proud of Sara and her team for organising a very successful charity evening.”
Coun Tony Dobson said it was a ‘very good atmosphere’. He said: “I was really pleased that the community came out to support the Mayoress’s charity ball. Peter got a good round of applause and a good cheer which helped him because obviously this is a very difficult time for him.
“It’s always good to be able to count on, not only friends and family, but people in the community to come and support the last big event of the year.”