Former Burnley Tory leader defects to new party
The former leader of the Burnley Conservative Group on Burnley Borough Council has defected to the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party.
Coun. Andrew Newhouse, who has represented Cliviger with Worsthorne ward for the Tories for the last nine years, was replaced as leader earlier this year by Coun. Alan Hosker.
Speaking to the Express, Coun. Newhouse said he had chosen to join the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party because they shared his values of working hard for his local community. He refused to be drawn on the reasons why he had chosen to leave the Conservatives but said that would be a discussion for another time.
Coun. Newhouse said: "I'm looking forward to working for my friends, family and local community with my new party. I served for a good number of years with the Burnley Conservative group and helped to grow them from a small number of members and I hope to do the same again. I learned a lot from my time with the group.
"These are challenging times for Burnley with regards to the coronavirus and there has also been a lot of upheaval at the council, but I think this was the right time to make my move.
"I was due for re-election last May but because of the lockdown this has been extended. It is up to the people of Cliviger and Worsthorne whether they want to elect me again under my new party whenever the next election might be."
Until recently Burnley Council was led by a coalition of Burnley and Padiham Independent Party councillors, led by Coun. Charlie Briggs, as well as Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Coun. Briggs resigned his position, however, citing Conservative infighting.
Labour's Mark Townsend, heading the largest group on the council, was selected as the new leader in an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday night.
A spokesman for the local Conservative Group said: "Andrew was unfortunately suspended from the Council Group on allegations of bullying earlier this year and was reprimanded by the local party.
"We knew he wasn't happy. He has since failed to be re-selected for his council seat in next May's election and as such it appears he has felt it necessary to leave.
"We have two great councillors in Ivor Emo and Cosima Towneley representing the residents of Cliviger and Worsthorne and they will continue to do so."
Burnley's Conservative MP also commented on Coun. Newhouse's defection.
He said: "I understand that, following a decision by the local Association not to re-select him as a candidate next year, Coun. Newhouse has now resigned from the Conservative Party and joined another group on Burnley Council.
"Whilst that is disappointing I’m clear that there’s no place in the Conservatives for those who fail to uphold the standards and values that we expect. We have some brilliant, hard-working councillors in the party and I look forward to continuing to work with them to improve our borough."