By-election call after switch shock

Councillor Frank Carmichael
Councillor Frank Carmichael

A COUNCILLOR sparked fury today after crossing the town hall floor to Labour.

Hindley Green’s Frank Carmichael - one of just two unaligned independents on the authority - joined the ruling group stating he could better serve constituents from within the party.

But his independent ward partner today accused him of “selling out” with an eye to his own re-election next year which, because it is also a General Election, will see a bigger turn-out and that traditionally favours Labour.

Coun Bob Brierley today demanded that Coun Carmichael stand down and fight the seat for Labour in a by-election.

The move leaves him as the only independent without a group and returns Labour to a 63-strong majority.

Coun Carmichael cited the strong record of the authority under the leadership of Lord Smith - plus his frustration at the “poor behaviour” of opposition councillors and in particular Coun Gareth Fairhurst’s “Tweetgate” April council meeting - for the decision.

Coun Carmichael said he stood for council because he was “passionate about making a positive difference” and had been impressed with the Labour’s Believe campaign for generating a “tremendous positivity.”

Plus the fact it had recently been nominated as one of the country’s best councils.

But he said he was saddened that some opposition councillors had adopted a negative approach instead.

He said: “It is now very clear to me that Hindley Green residents will be best served if I continue my hard work from within Labour.”

But remaining ward independent Coun Brierley said: “He has disagreed with me over what I do as a councillor, such as cutting the grass for free and buying my own gritter to use in Hindley Green in the winter. which has been very, very upsetting because I worked hard to get him elected.

“The people of Hindley Green are going to be really upset about this so he should step down and allow a by-election.”

Hindley Green Labour Coun Keir Stitt said that Coun Carmichael’s contribution had been “valued.”

He said: “The real winners are the residents who will see much more co-ordination between the work of their local councillors.”