Backlash for unitary dissenters

Coun Alan Whittaker at Boyes Farm, Ulnes Walton, where a slurry lagoon plan is proposed.
Coun Alan Whittaker at Boyes Farm, Ulnes Walton, where a slurry lagoon plan is proposed.
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Two councillors say they have been punished by their party after they spoke out against plans for Chorley to become a unitary authority.

Councillors Alan Whittaker and Richard Toon say they have been suspended from the Labour group whip on Chorley Council.

Coun Whittaker received a one-month ban, while Coun Toon was given one week.

However, council leader Alistair Bradley claimed they had not been suspended and the matter was being discussed at a group meeting last night.

The two councillors voted FOR the ruling Labour group’s proposal for investigating unitary status – which would mean Chorley Council leaving Lancashire County Council and running its own services – at a special council meeting on September 4.

But in speeches at the meeting, they each said they did not agree with the proposed unitary move for a number of reasons – including the cost involved and the ability to run local services efficiently.

Coun Whittaker said he was informed about the action against him an email from group whip councillor Marion Lowe and has replied to it.

He said: “I’m extremely angry. I’ve been sent an email to the group whip, who suggested I needed some training.”

Coun Whittaker has been a Chorley borough councillor for 24 years.

He was Mayor of Chorley between 1998-99 and was a Lancashire County councillor for 12 years and chairman of LCC between 2008-09.

“I’m slightly incandescent, to suggest I need some training, it’s a little bit

insulting.”

He said he was told by the whip that there had been a number of written complaints from councillor colleagues about him. He also asked the whip when his suspension started and finished and says he was told: “The rules state the period of suspension commences from the day of the decision/notification of the decision so four weeks from the 18/9/14 in this case.”

Coun Whittaker has appealed to the North West Labour Party to intervene. He said: “Personally now I’m free to vote and say what I like. That’s what I’m doing. Presumably I can challenge this. I quite certainly will.”

Coun Toon was unavailable for comment. Coun Bradley said: “Any investigation that may be undertaken is a party matter only, and will not affect or involve the council or the wider public in any way whatsoever.”