A pensioner is taking on council chief Peter Britcliffe in next week’s local elections in protest at the council’s mishandling of a "botched" building contract.
Tony Hindley, 72, is standing as an Independent in St Andrew's, the ward currently held by the council leader.
Mr Hindley, of Manchester Road, Accrington, says he will risk jail by withholding his council taxes unless an ‘independent inquiry’ is launched into the refurbishment of the fire-damaged former Coach House building, in Oakhill Park. He has already been summonsed over outstanding council taxes.
Mr Britcliffe has admitted that mistakes were made.
The council conducted its own internal investigations into the four-year saga, after Mr Hindley claimed that the the building was unfit for purpose.
They revealed that:
- Council contract procedure rules were not correctly adhered to in administering the tender process;
- Refurbishments were sub-standard;
- An insurance quote for fire damages to the Coach House initially claimed by the council was incorrect.
A police investigation into the matter earlier this year, following allegations of fraud, found there was no criminal conduct by any member of the council, and once the insurance claim discrepancy was discovered it was rectified.
But Mr Hindley insists that questions remain to be answered.
Mr Hindley claimed: "The Coach House issue is not resolved. I’ve asked that an independent surveyor goes in the building and investigates it. I won’t let it lie. It’s not a personal vendetta; far from it. But I am forced to pay this council tax and I want to see what’s happened with my money."
Mr Britcliffe told the Observer: "The Coach House issue has been investigated, but as far as I am concerned I'm fighting the election as a ward councillor for St Andrew’s. I feel I have worked very hard for Oswaldtwistle and its residents over the years and I’m proud to put my record in front of them."