A Tory councillor has quit the party over the selection of a former senior Labour politician as a county council candidate.

Cllr Patrick McGinley, who represents Overton ward in Great Harwood, will now sit as an Independent Conservative.

The 68-year-old former police officer will now sit as an 'Independent Conservative'.

His resignation was sparked by Hyndburn Conservative Association choosing former Great Labour councillor Gareth Molineux as candidate for the Great Harwood, Clayton, Rishton and Altham division in the Lancashire County Council poll due in May.

Cllr McGinley, a former senior detective elected in 2018, has also criticised association chairman and Oswaldtwistle County Cllr Peter Britcliffe's 'autocratic and high-handed' style of leadership.

Lancashire Telegraph:

He said: " It is with great sadness that I have, with immediate effect, resigned as a member of the Conservative Party.

"I will continue as a councillor for Overton ward as an 'Independent Conservative' and will fight the borough elections in two years time as that.

"I will forever continue to support our brilliant MP Sara Britcliffe but have to leave the party.

"My main reason is that the local group has made a major mistake in secretly appointing Gareth Molineux as a Tory county council candidate for the next elections in May.

"He was sacked from the county council in 2017 for failing to attend meetings and represent the interests of Great Harwood constituents.

"He left Labour in spring 2020 as he could not get his own way.

"He is an out and out Socialist.

"I cannot any longer support Peter Britcliffe as chairman for his poor leadership tactics and autocratic and high-handed behaviour,

"The most vital issue for me is to represent the voice for the people of Great Harwood."

County Cllr Britcliffe said: "I regret Patrick's resignation.

"Gareth Molineux was selected by a panel attended by county council leader Cllr Geoff Driver in the appropriate way.

"Obviously people in politics are entitled to their own views."

Cllr Marlene Haworth, leader of Hyndburn Council's Conservative group, said: "I am really sorry about Patrick's resignation.

"He was a very hard-working and effective councillor but this is politics.

"He has his own views about Gareth Molineux's selection.

"Peter Britcliffe and I are working closely together to get the best set of candidates for next year's elections."