Council leader calls on Lib Dem quit quartet to resign

Coun. Mark Townsend
Coun. Mark Townsend
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The leader of Burnley Borough Council has called on four former Liberal Democrat members who have sensationally quit their party to stand down so that by-elections can be held.

• Read more: Shock as four Lib Dem councillors quit

Coun. Mark Towsend, the Labour leader of the council, was speaking in the aftermath of the shock news that Lib Dem councillors Charlie Briggs, Neil Mottershead, Mark Payne and Christine White had quit their party and were now sitting on the council as the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party.

The group, which will be led by Coun. Payne, stated that the national party’s stance over Brexit was a key factor in their split from the party. They said they did not agree with the pro-Europe’s party stance on Brexit and that the party had become too southern-centric.

But Coun. Townsend said that the quartet had been “elected under false pretences”.

He said: “These four are councillors who who were only to happy to get elected on undeliverable Lib Dem promises and who are now leaving the sinking ship because they have been found out.

“People will not forget their broken past promises as Lib Dems or whatever they may call themselves in the future. They are the same councillors, just dressing up in different clothes for electoral convenience.”

The four councillors follow fellow Lib Dems Margaret and Bill Brindle, and David Roper to quit the party in the last two years.

Coun. Townsend added: “There are now seven councillors on Burnley Council who were elected as Lib Dems and are now independent. They should all stand down immediately to allow by-elections to be held.

"The Lib Dems had 13 seats after the last borough election only 18 months ago. Over half of them have now left the party. The ones who have left were elected under false pretences."