A CONSTITUTIONAL coup claims to have unseated the controversial leader from the Wigan political party he founded.
Former Green Party activist and original deputy leader Michael Moulding took advantage of the expiry of the national rights to the original Community Action Party (CAP) to reregister the title under his own name while personally replacing outspoken Peter Franzen as its chief.
The new version of CAP, which came closer than any other opposition party to breaking Labour’s 100-year control of Wigan, is now pledging to field a “significant” number of candidates in May’s town hall elections.
But today angry Peter Franzen insisted that the original Community Action Party - which at its height had 18 councillors - still existed and was operational. He is pledging legal action to wrest back control of the rights to the party name.
He claims missing membership paperwork in Mr Moulding’s possession - which he said he had been trying to recover since last autumn - meant he had been unable to reregister CAP with the Electoral Commission before it expired in November.
Ashton-based Mr Moulding said CAP was now being relaunched with a “whole new team” leading the Wigan-based political party.
He said: “Members of the Community Action Party approached me as its former Deputy Leader to lead the party into this year’s local elections campaigns and beyond with a view to getting Community Action councillors on Wigan Council once again and I had no hesitation in accepting the leadership role.
“The party will now move on and provide a Wigan alternative to Labour and its stranglehold on power on the council.
“It will be a tough task politically but one that I am relishing.”
Newly appointed CAP chairman, Catherine Aspey, said: “The Community Action Party has a proud record in Wigan and we want to pass on our sincere thanks to our former Leader Peter Franzen who has led it with distinction and with his own unique style.
“The party has to move forward because Wigan will lose a vital electoral choice if we don’t.”
But Mr Franzen said: “I founded the Community Action Party in 2002 which fulfilled its purpose in exposing Labour and Tory corruption for almost fourteen years and getting rid of 33 career pay-roll vote Labout councillors.
“The name Community Action Party remains my intellectual property right despite being de-registered and now hijacked by Michael Moulding.
“I am taking legal advice.”