A last-minute change to the criteria for allocating small local authority grants is to be reviewed by a special committee of councillors.

Hyndburn Council's Labour group has 'called in' the award of grants to organisations from the borough's Community Chest Fund.

There was a bitter row at January's meeting of the authority's cabinet when deputy leader and finance boss Cllr Peter Britcliffe revealed the late change in how the fund, worth £80,000, worked.

The original intention was to allocate this money on the basis of £5,000 for each of the borough’s 16 wards but he and fellow deputy leader Cllr Steven Smithson decided to alter the system to award the grants across ward boundaries and in sometimes larger sums.

In all 52 grants totalling £80,000 were approved.

Lancashire Telegraph: Cllr Munsif Dad has said the Tories are playing politics with charity cashCllr Munsif Dad has said the Tories are playing politics with charity cash

But Labour accused the Conservative administration of favouring Tory wards in a bid to win votes in May's local elections.

Now the opposition group has convened an extraordinary meeting of the council's resources overview and scrutiny committee on Friday, February 16, to review the decision.

The call in notice says: "The community chest was to award £5,000 per ward in funding for community groups. This was agreed by the cabinet.

"The report on the allocation was a departure from this decision and appears to have disproportionately impacted certain wards over others.

"This therefore should be reviewed including how the funds were allocated for transparency, integrity and honesty."

Hyndburn Council Labour group leader Cllr Munsif Dad: "Hyndburn Conservatives have a record of reckless spending.

"Cllr Britcliffe has a track record of hasty decisions.

"This recent report's unilateral deviation from agreed terms underscores Cllr Britcliffe's irresponsibility, disproportionately affecting wards and leaving community groups in the dark.

"This is nothing short of 'Britcliffe's Bingo'— reckless electioneering at its worst."

In response, Cllr Britcliffe said: "I cannot believe this has been called in by the Labour Party.

"This is delaying monies to worthy organisations throughout the borough.

"If monies are reallocated who would be cut out, who would be deprived of much needed monies?

"Should we take it from Accrington Stanley Community Trust, who cater for 150,000 youngsters every year?

"Should we take it from Great Harwood Agricultural Society who provide a major attraction every Spring Bank Holiday?

"Or should we take it from Milly's Smiles- who support bereaved parents throughout the borough?

"This is what their call in will mean. This will unnecessarily have caused concerns to community groups about the funding.

"This isn't about accountability. It's about playing politics."