A BOROUGH’S three Brexit Party councillors have joined the Conservatives.

The defection of Hapton with Park ward’s councillors Alan Hosker, Tom Commis and Peter Gill increases the Tory group on Burnley Council from four to seven.

This make the Conservatives the third largest party but group leader Cllr Andrew Newhouse has no plans to change the current coalition running the borough, led by Burnley and Padiham Independent Cllr Charlie Briggs.

Cllr Hosker, the former Brexit Party group leader, has also switched allegiance as Lancashire County Councillor, for Padiham and Burnley West.

Cllr Mark Townsend, leader of Burnley Council Labour group which lost control of the borough to the multi-party coalition in May, branded the move ‘political opportunism at its worst’ and demanded all three resign their seats and fight by-elections.

Cllr Hosker said: “We stood for the Brexit Party for two things - to leave the European Union and do the best for our ward.

“We are now leaving the EU and think that by joining the Conservative Group we will have more say for our residents.

“I was the Brexit group leader and I am up for election in May so voters will be able to make their choice then. 

“By-elections would be expensive and unnecessary and did not happen when Bill and Margaret Brindle joined Labour in 2018.

“We are happy with the direction the Conservative Party is now going in and look forward to working with their new Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham for the benefit of the borough and our ward.”

Cllr Townsend said: “My view of these defections is that it is political opportunism at its worst.

“I’m not surprised as the local Tory Party has been taken over in recent months by former UKIP/Brexit Party members.

“Hapton woke up today with three Tory councillors they didn’t vote for. 
“If these councillors had any integrity at all they would resign their seats on the council and by-elections would be held. 

“Many residents in the ward must feel terribly let down and angry.”

Cllr Newhouse said: “I am pleased we now have three new Conservative councillors.
“Alan and his colleagues are happy to join our party and I look forward to working with three keen and passionate councillors. There will be no changes to the coalition until after the May local elections.”

Cllr Briggs said: “This is a matter for the three councillors and the Conservatives. There will be no changes to current arrangements until after the local elections when Labour could be in for another shock.”