A CONFLICT of interest could arise when a new mayor of Ribble Valley is elected in May according to Conservative borough councillors.

Coun Michael Ranson, a former leader of the council, is set to become the borough’s mayor after serving as deputy since last year.

Coun Ranson, who stepped down from his council leadership role in 2013, is currently the chairman of the local Conservative Association and is the constituency election agent. He believes there will be no conflict of interest.

Ribble Valley mayors are required to step down from political roles in the borough council during their mayoral year because of the non-political nature of the role and rarely have offical outside political positions.

Councillors have reportedly written to the council’s chief executive, Marshal Scott, to ask for further clarification on the existing rules.

The Ribble Valley Conservative Association have also contacted Mr Scott to seek guidance on the issue.

Tory councillors are set to discuss the issue at a group meeting on Monday, which Mr Scott is due to attend.

Coun Ged Mirfin said: “As the situation stands at the moment, there could be a conflict of interest if Coun Ranson becomes mayor.

“I will asking the chief executive for further clarification on the rules and regulations and to see if anything needs to be done.

“I’m not aware of this happening before and it could set a new precedent.

“I would like to see a mayoral code of conduct setting up if one is not already in existence.

“We need to make sure we are water-tight so there can be no alligations of there being a conflict of interest come May.”

Coun Kevin Horkin said: “From the councillors that I’ve spoken to there does seem to be a great deal of concern.

“I’m looking forward to hearing what the chief executive has to say on Monday because at the moment it does seem to set a precedent.

“I think Coun Ranson has to work out whether he can both hats to the satisfaction of those concerned.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council's chief executive, Marshal Scott, said: "I have been contacted by the Ribble Valley Conservative Association seeking guidance on this issue.

"Providing the roles of mayor and chairman of the association are kept separate, I do not foresee a conflict of interest."

Coun Ranson said: “My role as mayor will be completely non-political and there will not be a conflict of interest.

“I have talked to the chief executive about this and he agreed.

“I was re-elected recently as association chairman and no councillor raised the issue then.”