THE opposition leader at Hyndburn Council will remain in charge of the Tory group and undertake BAME training after an internal party review over social media posts.

Cllr Marlene Haworth has been ‘censured’ by party chiefs over posts discussing race on a private Facebook page which was visible to the public.

Tory councillors held a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the former mayor’s actions.

In a statement, chief whip Josh Blayne Allen said: “Following a group meeting to discuss several complaints made against Cllr Marlene Haworth, the group has taken the decision not to suspend or expel Cllr Haworth in relation to the complaints brought against her.

“After carefully investigating the situation, we believe although the social media posts show lack of judgment and understanding around the issues facing the BAME community. 

“We believe there was no intent to cause distress or offence to anyone on Cllr Haworth’s part and she has shown true remorse in sharing these posts and has felt deep regret in the situation, that anyone would think she is remotely racist and states they are in no way a reflection on her beliefs around equality.

“We express great censure in Cllr Haworth over the shared posts, and we personally believe suspension is not the best way forward in this situation but do acknowledge the poor lack of judgement taken. 

“In this case we believe education is better than suspension and would recommend that Cllr Haworth take part in better educating herself on the plights and issues of BAME individuals, to which she has greatly taken up this offer.

“The Hyndburn Conservative Party will always work to ensure that we are all treated as equals irrelevant of background, race, religion, sex or gender and pride ourselves on having a diverse membership locally where everyone is treated equally.

Cllr Haworth added: “Following the complaints made against me suggesting racist posts shared and on Facebook I have been unable to defend myself in anyway owing to the investigation that was taking place by the local Conservative Party.

“First I would like to emphasize with hand on heart that I hate and abhor racism in any form and the people who really know me I’m certain will confirm this, it was a stupid human error on my part that I will regret for ever and I apologize most profusely first to the three people who lodged the complaint Labour candidate Kimberly Whitehead, Labour Cllr Munsif Dad, Tony Grogan and all Facebook followers for any upset this may have caused that was most definitely not my intention.

“Following a full investigation by the Conservative group on this matter they have displayed deep censure in what has happened and I can only apologise to them, but more importantly to anyone who has been offended or hurt by these shared posts.

“Upon the group’s advice, I am to undertake training to better understand the issues BAME are facing in modern day Britain and around the world, which I welcome greatly.

“To the few people out there asking for me to step down I will say at this moment I intend to carry on as leader of the Conservative group, and councillor for St Oswald’s ward in Oswaldtwistle as I was charged to do when elected, what is best for Hyndburn and it’s residents has always been and always will be my top priority and I continue to represent all in Hyndburn irrelevant of background, race, religion, sex or gender.

“We need to remind ourselves that we are living in dangerous times at the moment and should not be wasting precious time fighting amongst ourselves, we have already over the last few months shown how resilient and how much we can achieve when we all work together and should be using our new unified strength to ensure all are treated equally in Britain and around the world. If my error on Facebook caused any divide, I can only apologise once again.”

Meanwhile, Labour bosses have hit out at the news calling for further steps to be taken against Cllr Haworth.

A Hyndburn Council Labour Party spokesman said: “I am absolutely appalled by the decision taken by some members of Hyndburn Conservatives to allow Marlene Haworth to continue in her position as Leader of the Opposition on Hyndburn Borough Council. 

“The disgraceful, racist remarks shared by her on her Facebook posts make her unfit for any democratically elected office in our multi-cultural borough. 

“Surely, it must be the case, that an offence as serious as this should have been submitted to Conservative Central Office to be dealt with by a complaints panel, and at the very least she should have been suspended until a decision was taken. 

“Cllr. Haworth has held other positions within the council, including mayor and Alderman of the Borough, both posts designed to promote the borough and bring people together. It now appears quite clear that these roles she carried out were not done in the spirit in which they were meant.”

Last week, the Lancashire Telegraph reported how Cllr Haworth was also facing a Standards Board investigation about the posts.

It came after complaint that posts discussing race were ‘disgraceful’ from a person in position of responsibility.

A Hyndburn Council spokeswoman said: “A complaint has been received and will be investigated by the Standards Committee.”