TWO senior Conservatives suspended last month by their council group are back in the party fold but have quit the authority's ruling cabinet.

Burnley Council's leisure boss Cllr Ivor Emo and its environment chief Cllr Cosima Towneley have yet to be replaced in their posts.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands talks are taking place about replacing them with Labour substitutes.

Burnley Council is run by a coalition of the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives after Labour lost control in May last year and no single group had a majority.

Conservative leader Cllr Alan Hosker confirmed that Cllrs Emo and Towneley had rejoined his group but left their cabinet posts.

Cllr Charlie Briggs, leader of the Council, said: "I'd like to thank Councillor Emo and Councillor Towneley for their hard work as very effective executive members. A decision on the future make-up of the executive will be made shortly."

Cllr Hosker said: "We put forward myself and Cllr Andrew Newhouse for the vacant posts but have heard nothing. Why won't they agree a straight swap? We do not want to put Labour back in power.

"Cllr Emo and Cllr Towneley are now back in the group after an investigation which found their suspension was justified. It was for a minor breach of party rules."

Cllr Towneley said: "The allegations were spurious and unfounded. I object to Conservative Party rules being misappropriated in this way."

Cllr Emo declined to comment.

Labour group leader Cllr Mark Townsend, who had branded the suspensions 'shambolic', declined to comment.