Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson has slammed the opposition Conservative group for ‘boycotting’ the latest full council meeting.
The Labour boss said the no-show from all seven Tory councillors was ‘unforgivable’ and accused them of pulling a ‘cheap political stunt’.
The Conservative group submitted a letter to chief executive David Welsby stating they were boycotting the meeting over ‘the way the council is being run’.
The letter, read out at the start of Thursday’s meeting by Mr Welsby, said: “The Hyndburn Conservative group are boycotting tonight‘s meeting at the way the council is being run.
“All the issues raised are not the responsibility of Hyndburn council, so why on earth can we not spend an evening discussing the issues facing us that we can control, for instance Accrington town centre?
“One only needs to look at Accrington town centre to realise that our Labour colleagues are only interested in playing politics rather than facing up to their local responsibilities.
“On a lighter note, we would like to recognise the commitment that Bernard Dawson [a retiring Labour councillor who has served on the council for 38 years] has made to Hyndburn council over the years.
"His friendly and jovial demeanour and the commitment that he has shown to those residents who he has represented not only on Hyndburn council but also at a county level, we wish you all the very best in your retirement.”
The boycott drew an angry response from Coun Parkinson who accused the Tories of a ‘dereliction of duty’.
He told the meeting: “I’m very surprised. It’s a dereliction of duty of elected members not to come to this council chamber and represent the people they are elected to.
“They do get an allowance and simply cheap political stunts coming up to an election is unforgivable.”
The council meeting was the last to be held before the local elections in May and items discussed by councillors included plans for a new bus lane in Clayton-le-Moors and the success of Accrington Stanley Community Trust.
Coun Parkinson added: “These are the issues we are debating tonight. They are local issues.
“We debate what is important to this borough, whether it’s in the town centre or across the borough.
“Political stunts by the opposition just to get a cheap headline is unforgivable.”