A FORMER council leader has accused the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership of acting like a ‘private sector club spending millions of pounds of public money’.

Cllr Mark Townsend, whose Labour group lost control of Burnley borough in May, also attacked Jim Carter of construction company Eric Wright Group and accused politicians on the growth and investment body of parochialism.

The row came after the LEP board decided to set up a committee of all 15 councils in Lancashire to scrutinise its work .

Mr Carter, deputy chairman of Eric Wright which built Blackburn’’s Cathedral Quarter and is behind Burnley’s Pioneer Place development, told the board meeting: “I come a little bit wounded from an executive committee where I found that I was constantly having to remind political representatives that they weren’t there solely to represent their borough.

“They must be there to constructively criticise the LEP in terms of its operation across Lancashire and not suggest that it’s underperformed because one area or another has not got as much as it ought to do.”

Cllr Townsend reacted by saying: “This is scandalous.

“Who has ever voted for Jim Carter of Eric Wright to spend taxpayers' money?

“The directors of the LEP don’t want scrutiny at all they just want to carry on operating their private sector club spending millions of pounds of public money with no accountability.

“Local authorities need to push back on this and say ‘no’ to the directors wanting to appoint their own chair and also tell them that they will decide what they want to look into.

“They want a rubber-stamping committee to mark their own homework.”

A LEP spokesman said: “The board has agreed to the principle of establishing an independent scrutiny function to improve collaboration and involvement of Lancashire’s local authorities, as well as overseeing the work and performance of the LEP.

“Lancashire local authority leaders had previously discussed the formation of a joint scrutiny function and agreed that all 15 local authorities would be offered a seat on the committee.

“The board agreed that the LEP chair and chief executive should collaborate with council leaders on the committee’s structure and terms of reference, including who should be chair. At no point in the discussion was it suggested that Jim Carter or any other LEP board member, would chair the scrutiny committee.”

Mr Carter declined to comment.