A FORMER East Lancashire councillor has welcomed Nick Clegg’s call for a police inquiry into the abuse scandal surrounding the disgraced Sir Cyril Smith.

Ex-Rochdale MP Smith, who died in 2010, allegedy abused dozens of boys between the 1960s and his death, including current Rossendale councillor Alan Neal.

Simon Danczuk, from Hapton, who started his political career as a councillor in Blackburn and is the current MP for Rochdale, said Mr Clegg should also launch an internal investigation into the cover-up up of the abuse by members of the Liberal Democrats.

Coun Neal, a former Rossendale mayor who continues to represent Healey and Whitworth, also welcomed the calls for a police inquiry.

But he added that he hoped Mr Clegg’s statement was not ‘an attempt to win votes’ at the forthcoming borough and European elections.

Coun Neal said: “Yes I welcome it. We now need to move along with it. I, and many other victims, need to move on but we can’t because people have dragged their feet.

“There are a lot of people who should have acted before now. I hope Mr Clegg has not just said this because of the elections. I hope he’s genuinely serious about it and the police launch a proper investigation.”

Mr Danczuk, who grew up in Padiham, has written a book about the allegations against Smith.

He said: “I’m pleased that Mr Clegg has finally reached this decision.

"We have had to drag him kicking and screaming to conclude that there should be an investigation.

“What he also needs to do is instigate an internal, independently-led investigation into the actions of the Liberal Democrat party, just like the BBC did into Jimmy Savile.

“These were terrible crimes by a Liberal MP. Mr Clegg is the deputy prime minister, a very powerful figure in this country. People want answers.”

Mr Clegg called for a police investigation during a speech in Colchester at the launch of the Lib Dems’ European election campaign on Thursday.