LABOUR town hall bosses have been 'found guilty' of mishandling the procedures that led to a fiasco of a scrutiny meeting, a Tory councillor has claimed.

The accusation was made as Blackburn with Darwen Council's Standards Committee discussed a letter to borough Conservative Group leader Cllr John Slater from the Local Government Association.

It concerned the opposition's anger over the handling of a 'Call-In' meeting he requested to examine the decision to extend the lease on the new Reel Cinema building in Blackburn town centre from 20 to 25 years.

After council officials failed to provide Cllr Slater with the information he requested in time for the original date of Monday September 28, it was rescheduled for the following day when no Conservative councillors could attend.

The Tory group boss then wrote to the LGA, which represents councillors and councils nationwide, asking for it view on the behaviour of officials and the controlling Labour group.

Cllr Mike Wilcox , the body's Conservative regional lead member peer for the West Midlands and North West, replied: "I have listened and taken account of the sequence of events that took place following a recent 'Call-In' request.

"I have also spoken and discussed these with my Principal LGA Advisor Clare Hogan to get an officer perspective.

"Both Clare and I have concluded that in this situation officers did not act in a professional manner in communicating with members, which has been acknowledged by your Chief Executive Officer.

"We have suggested that a channel of dialogue be opened to look at what can now be done to avert this situation arising in the future."

Cllr Neil Slater, brother of the Tory leader, then said: "The facts are that the LGA have found the council guilty. That is the findings. We have got it in an email."

Committee chairwoman Cllr Saima Afzal intervened to say: "I'm not sure that's the correct terminology."

The council's legal director David Fairclough then said: "I have to say that the LGA don't have a role of finding anybody guilty or not guilty of anything. The operation of the call-in meeting and the associated administration has raised a number of issues."

Cllr Kevin Connnor, Conservative vice-chair of the committee, said: "Basically the intention tonight was just to flag this up. It has to be stressed these are suggestions the LGA made so they're not sanctions or anything like that. It's not who's guilty, who's not guilty."

The committee agreed the council's Policy and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee undertake a full review of the call-in procedure and that the Standards Committee consider relevant code of conduct points and the expectations of members relating to their participation in the 'Call-In' process.

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: “The LGA works on behalf of our member councils and offers a wide-range of support to help promote and improve local government. The LGA is not a regulatory body and it is not our role to provide rulings on matters such as these.”