ANGRY scenes erupted at a meeting of Hyndburn Council on Tuesday following the shock resignation of Tory stalwart Councillor Ann Scaife.
The former Cabinet environment chief decided to step down as she has been living in Oxfordshire since April.
But her Tory colleagues blamed her decision to resign on members of the council's Labour group for "hounding" her over the past five months.
Councillor Malcolm Pritchard sparked the row when he asked council leader Peter Britcliffe if it was true Mrs Scaife was living and working in Oxfordshire and if she was still claiming her basic council expenses which are believed to be around £4,000 a year.
Council Britcliffe replied: "I am not aware she is working so perhaps you know something I don't."
He denied she was still claiming her expenses.
But Councillor Pritchard persisted, saying he had heard she was working as a driving instructor in the area.
This prompted a furious outburst from Councillor Britcliffe who replied: "She would have come back but you have hounded her from the council.
"She has now resigned because of the actions of people like you going round to her house and asking questions."
In a statement given to the Observer, Mrs Scaife said: "I moved to Oxfordshire to support my daughter for family reasons and it was my intention to be back in Rishton by the beginning of September. During this period I have returned to Hyndburn on a fortnightly basis to do my council work and attend various meetings.
"It has now become evident that I will have to spend longer there than I expected and I am unable to return to Rishton at the present time.
"In the circumstances I feel, sadly, that in all fairness to the people I represent in Rishton I should stand down and allow them to have a new councillor working for them.
"I would like to thank all the Rishton residents for the wonderful support they have given me over the last six years.
"And finally I would like to wish Councillor Peter Britcliffe and the Conservative group all the very best for the future. It has been a great pleasure for me to be a part of the excellent Conservative team running Hyndburn and I shall miss them all."
There will be a by-election in Rishton on 2 November.