A FORMER senior Labour councillor is to stand for the Conservatives in this year’s Lancashire County Council elections while his wife remains a major figure in his old party.

Gareth Molineux joined the Tories in September and, at the weekend was chosen to fight the Great Harwood, Clayton, Rishton and Altham division in the poll due in May.

His wife Jenny is a member of Hyndburn Council’s Labour Cabinet and represents Overton ward in Great Harwood.

Mr Molineux, a 39-year-old IT support analyst and father of three, quit Labour in June claiming the local party had ‘a culture of bullying, harassment and victimisation’.

His wife, who is standing down from the county council, said: “I shall support Gareth but I shall not be voting for him or canvassing. I am a Labour Party member.

“There is more to a marriage than whether you are Labour or Conservative.”

Oswaldtwistle Conservative Cllr Peter Britcliffe said: “Gareth is another one who has trodden the road to Damascus and seen the truth.

“Gareth has a strong track record as a hard-working councillor representing the people of Great Harwood.”

Mr Molineux, a former Hyndburn Cabinet member who had been a Labour county councillor until he lost his seat for boycotting meetings as a protest in January 2017, said: “I have always been a moderate and a centrist.

“I was even known to some as the ‘Red Tory’.

“I have been a Labour Party member since 2010.

“This is about representing the people of my area which is why I went into politics.

“After leaving Labour, I took some time out from politics but was repeatedly approached by the Conservatives to join and stand.

“I had felt increasingly uncomfortable in the Labour Party, especially after Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

“The membership has moved towards the hard left.

“Now I feel that the Conservatives as a ‘One Nation’ party committed to ‘levelling up’ the country better represent my views.

“This is about representing the people of Great Harwood and the surrounding area.

“I shall not be fighting a bitter or personal campaign.

“My wife Jenny remains a member of the Labour party.”

Cllr Miles Parkinson, Labour leader of Hyndburn Council, said: “This is regrettable but people’s political views do change.

“Gareth was a very diligent councillor for Great Harwood.

“There is no problem regarding Jenny. She remains a Labour party member and member of the Cabinet bringing her personal experience of disability to her health and wellbeing brief.”