ANOTHER senior Labour politician has quit the party over "a small group of manipulative and vindictive individuals".

Hyndburn Council planning chair Councillor Eamonn Higgins has resigned over behaviour in the constituency branch branding it "a disgrace".

He is the fourth high-profile figure in the borough to leave Labour after Council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson, former cabinet member Gareth Molineux, and Cllr Jenny Molineux, while several others are not standing in May's local elections.

Cllr Higgin's announcement follows borough leader Cllr Parkinson quitting Labour at Hyndburn's Full Council meeting last week blaming "certain individuals who are operating behind the scenes".

In the margins of the meeting on March 24, Labour councillors were privately naming former Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones as the prime mover among the "certain individuals".

Lancashire Telegraph: Cllr Miles Parkinson has quit Labour but stayed on as Council Leader as an IndependentCllr Miles Parkinson has quit Labour but stayed on as Council Leader as an Independent

During proceedings a councillor stage-whispered "Graham Jones" while Independent Cllr Pat McGinley said afterwards: "I understand from members of the Labour and Tory groups that the individual Miles Parkinson was referring to is ex-MP Graham Jones.”

Cllr Higgins, 52, has been a Labour member for eight years and intends to complete his term a councillor for Huncoat ward as an Independent, but not stand again in May 2023.

He has written a letter to Cllr Parkinson which reads: "I have today written to the chief executive to say that I will be resigning as a member of the Labour Party with immediate effect.

"Having watched you and a number of other good Labour councillors being bullied, harassed and hounded out of office by a small group of people who are pulling the strings in the Labour office, I no longer feel willing to stand by and just let this happen.

"The public needs to know the Hyndburn Labour Party has been destroyed by a small group of manipulative and vindictive individuals who are completely out of control.

"I have been a Labour supporter all my life. It breaks my heart to say that what is happening in the Hyndburn Labour Party is nothing short of a disgrace.

"The truth is that the reputation of the Labour Party in Hyndburn has been dragged into the gutter and the damage done will last for many years to come.

"I know this mess has been reported a number of times to the Regional Labour Party in the hope that they would do the right thing and stop the nasty and vicious attacks.

"I and many other party members are appalled that they have done nothing.

"I will no longer stand by and pretend it is alright to bully women in the party, to run a constant campaign of personal abuse and poisonous rumours against people that dare to disagree with the out of control gang that is driving the party office, and for a vindictive minority to plot and scheme and hound out good, decent Labour members.

"The Hyndburn Labour Party is a disgrace and I can no longer be a part of it."

Graham Jones has been approached for comment but not responded.

A Labour party spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that Cllr Higgins has taken the decision to resign from the Labour Party and he will be missed. The party is taking steps to address the situation.”

Cllr Parkinson added: "I am not surprised. Unfortunately there are dark forces in the Hyndburn Labour Party that do not have the best interests of the residents at heart."

Conservative group leader Cllr Marlene Haworth said: "It's very sad it has come to this. It's up to Hyndburn Labour Party to sort their problems out."

Acting Labour group leader Cllr Paul Cox said: "It is sad to see an experienced councillor choose to leave but I appreciate his reasons and wish him well."