A CONSERVATIVE councillor has been expelled from the party after an investigation into his benefit claims.

Cllr David Stansfield, who represents the Helmshore area on both Rossendale Borough and Lancashire County Councils, was suspended last month pending an investigation.

It followed it emerging he paid back £3,000 in wrongly-claimed council tax benefits plus a £1,000 fine in 2016.

Yesterday Lee Parker, the chairman Rossendale and Darwen Conservative Association , said: “Cllr Stansfield has been expelled due to a breach of the Code of Conduct and behaviour not befitting a Conservative councillor”.

It is understood the decision to expel rather than further suspend Cllr Stansfield relates to his initial denials of his being the unnamed councillor fined by Rossendale Council.

His suspension reduces the Conservative majority on Lancashire County Council to just two.

It also emerged yesterday that Cllr Stansfield and his wife, Greenfield’s Cllr Val Roberts, also face investigation over social media postings.

Mrs Roberts, a member of Hyndburn Conservative Association who became Rossendale Council’s Tory group leader earlier this year, and her husband are alleged to have shared “offensive” comments about Muslims and refugees on Facebook,

A Tory Party spokesman said the comments were ‘completely unacceptable’ and Cllr Roberts had been ‘suspended from the party’.

The couple have been reported to the council’s monitoring officer by Hareholme Labour councillor Patrick Marriott who claimed they had breached the authority’s code of conduct.

He said:“Both councillors represent a diverse community and I feel these posts are not only extremely offensive, but seek to create divide in our community and undoubtedly bring the office they hold into disrepute.”

Cllr Peter Britcliffe, chairman of the Lancashire County Council Conservative Group and President of Hynburn Conservative Association, said: “We shall discuss the complaint about Cllr Roberts at our next association meeting. Following Cllr Stansfield’s expulsion, we now have a fine majority of the county council but I hope he and two others who have left the group will support us on major issues.”

Neither Cllr Stansfield nor Cllr Roberts responded to requests for comment.