A TOP Labour politician has sensationally defected to the Liberal Democrats.
Great Harwood county councillor George Slynn, pictured, a former Hyndburn Council leader, made the shock move after being deselected.
He was hoping to defend his seat in May but after a selection interview he was told he had not made the panel of suitable candidates.
The 68-year-old disabled Labour veteran insisted that he was fit enough to continue his long political career.
He said: "I have nothing against the Labour group at County Hall and I have not fallen out with the Labour Party.
"But due to a decision not to place me on the panel, I was effectively left in a position of not being able to stand for election. I had two options - I could accept that and retire or I could retain my right to stay in politics.
"I feel that as an amputee I am pretty fit and I don't want to be sat at home twiddling my thumbs. It has not been an easy decision but it is a necessary decision if I am to stay in politics."
County Councillor Slynn, a bachelor, said he had appealed against the decision not to include him on the selection panel but had been unsuccessful.
He added: "I don't know what I have done wrong and until I know what I have done how can I put it right?"
The former postman has had a distinguished career in politics, starting on Great Harwood Urban District Council in the 1960s. He took up his role as a county councillor in 1981 and was also a Hyndburn councillor and council leader until losing his seat in the late 1990s.
His allegiance to Labour dates back to his childhood when he helped his father deliver leaflets for the party.
Members of the Labour group this week expressed their regret at Councillor Slynn's decision.
County Councillor Jean Battle, who is current leader of Hyndburn Council's Labour group, said: "We are sorry to hear that George has gone to the Liberal Democrats because he has served many years as an effective member of the party and he has put a lot of time into the Labour Party."
County council leader Hazel Harding added: "I think it is sad when a political career and political commitment to a party ends like this.
"He had not been put on the panel for selection for the forthcoming elections but that is a process we all have to go through. It was a decision for him to make, it was not a case of him being expelled from the party.
"Obviously he has given a great deal of time and service to the party and we appreciate that."
Meanwhile, Councillor Slynn's new colleagues in the Liberal Democrats are pleased to have him on board.
Chairman of the Hyndburn branch and prospective parliamentary candidate Bill Greene said: "We welcome George into the party. We appreciate that this is a traumatic time for him and we hope that he will enjoy being with us."