A ROW has broken out in the run-up to a by-election in Spring Hill, after a Labour councillor suggested the Tories could save the council money by not fielding a candidate.
In a phone conversation with Conservative Councillor Marlene Haworth, Labour group leader Councillor Graham Jones suggested her party could save Hyndburn Council more than £20,000 by not running a candidate in the forthcoming by-election, prompted by the death of Councillor Edith Dunston last month.
Councillor Jones has said the remark was made in jest.
In the local elections earlier this year, Spring Hill Labour Councillor Pam Barton beat Tory contender Imran Arif by 838 votes to 338.
Councillor Haworth said: "The phone call was about a licensing decision that we had made and during the course of that conversation I asked him had they chosen a candidate for the by-election.
"He told me they hadn't yet made a decision. He then proceeded to suggest that we didn't place a candidate as that would save the council between £20,000 and £25,000.
"I said that's not right. The people of Spring Hill have the right to choose. We are in a democracy. He agreed, but said it was worth me considering.
"I have a great deal of respect for Councillor Jones, but I was quite upset. I was disappointed in him. I will be out campaigning strongly for the Tory candidate in the by-election."
Councillor Jones said: "It was said in jest and as part of a different conversation. It's up to the Tories whether or not they field a candidate."
For a list of candidates for the Spring Hill by-election, see next week's Observer.