Opposition group hit by resignations

Former councillor Brian Merry

Former councillor Brian Merry

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WIGAN’s official council opposition have split only weeks after the elections following a major internal row.

Hindley Green members Coun Bob Brierley and Coun Frank Carmichael have left the Independent Group and will now operate in the town hall debating chamber without a whip.

Attempts to form a new opposition “super group” with them joining forces with the Lib Dems and the Standish Independents to become the second biggest force at the Metro would eventually fail.

Controversial Coun Brierley says he has now been removed from the Independents by Leader Coun Gary Wilkes because of his furious opposition to the Independent Group’s new attempts to bring former coun Brian Merry - who stood against the official Independent candidate in Ashton splitting the vote to allow in Labour - back into the group.

But Coun Carmichael says he resigned from the group, rather than being pushed.

Independents leader Coun Wilkes - they now number five councillors - declined to discuss the development.

But said he wished both councillors well and thanked them for their service.

Coun Brierley said that after his hard fought election victory for the Independents he was approached to form another group along with Coun Carmichael.

He said: “I had a meeting with Gary Wilkes to discuss my suggestion of placing an Independents’ representative on an outside body.

“Its true I had talks with Robert Bleakley (Lib Dems) and Gareth Fairhurst (Standish Independents) but in the end I chose to stay with the independent group and we both signed the document to stay.

“Then I heard that Gary Wilkes has sent the council a group list of just five, without Frank and myself.”

Coun Frank Carmichael said: “I believe that Hindley Green is best served by being in a position where I can work with councillors of any denomination or affiliation.”