Politician’s suspension from Lancashire County Council’s Labour group confirmed (From Burnley and Pendle Citizen)
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Politician’s suspension from Lancashire County Council’s Labour group confirmed
POLITICIAN Clare Pritchard vowed to clear her name as her suspension from Lancashire County Council’s Labour group was confirmed.
She remains the Accrington North representative on the authority, despite losing her Milnshaw ward seat to her father, Malcolm, in last week’s Hyndburn borough elections.
Just days before the poll, he reported his daughter for alleged electoral fraud, leading to a police investigation and her suspension from office, pending the inquiry, by the Labour Party, although is still a member of the party.
County deputy leader David Borrow confirmed she would not attend meetings of the authority’s Labour group while the inquiry continues, and is unlikely to chair the council’s audit and governance committee.
Clare Pritchard, deputy leader of Hyndburn until losing by 112 votes, said: “I am hoping to clear my name in the near future.”
Her pledge is the latest twist in the row between the two who both used to be borough Labour councillors for Milnshaw.
Malcolm Pritchard became an independent and was ousted as county councillor for Accrington North by his daughter last year.
Last week he stood in Milnshaw for UKIP, and days before the poll reported her to Hyndburn’s returning officer, alleging four voters from other wards had been registered at her Milnshaw home.
Her suspension meant if Ms Pritchard had been elected for Labour, she would have been excluded from the Labour group and her positions as deputy lead- er and cabinet member for housing and regeneration.
Coun Borrow said: “Coun Pritchard will be unable to attend Labour group meet-ings, but is expected to follow the Labour whip pend- ing the investigations.”
On her chairing the audit committee, he said: “Council leader Jenny Mein is monitoring the situation carefully. There are no meetings scheduled.”
If a meeting is called dur-ing her suspension, under Labour rules an urgency committee would be called to replace her. Hyndburn leader Miles Parkinson said she would not be replaced as deputy leader, leaving Joan Smith as his lone num- ber two.
Clare Cleary will take her cabinet brief, while fellow Rishton councillor Ken Moss gains education, leisure and arts after the retirement of Ciaran Wells.
Lancashire Police said its inquiry was continuing and Labour North West said Coun Pritchard remained susp-ended from party office pend- ing the results of the probe.
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