A bitter row erupted at an East Lancashire local authority's annual meeting as its new Labour leadership blocked a veteran councillor's elevation to Mayor of the borough.

Former Labour now Independent Councillor Joyce Plummer, 83, had been due to become Hyndburn's 'First Citizen' for 2024/25,

However, on Thursday night Barnfield ward's Cllr Mike Booth was chosen in her place.

The authority's retiring Conservative group leader, Cllr Marlene Haworth, described the move as 'purely a revenge decision' as the new Mayor had only been a councillor for 12 months.

Cllr Plummer was elected for Labour in Accrington's Peel ward in 2014 and served as its borough finance boss.

Lancashire Telegraph: Cllr Mike Booth will serve as MayorCllr Mike Booth will serve as Mayor

In June 2022 she was suspended by the group after she accepted an offer to stay in the job from then Independent council leader Miles Parkinson, who had quit Labour three months earlier alleging a 'bullying and vindictive culture' as he assembled a 'rainbow' coalition to run the borough.

Cllr Haworth told the meeting "Several words spring to following this decision.

"Contemptible, disgusting, disrespectful, but most of all disappointing.

"The Labour Party by their actions have proved tradition and respect mean nothing to them.

"Cllr Joyce Plummer has served as a councillor in Hyndburn for many years and is highly thought of by residents and colleagues, and definitely deserves this honour regardless of her political views.

Lancashire Telegraph: Tory Marlene Howarth branded the move 'disgusting'Tory Marlene Howarth branded the move 'disgusting'

"It is purely a revenge decision brought about by her decision to speak out about the way she was treated by the Labour group over several years.

"They are more concerned about how much they can hurt her and have put in her place a person who has only been a councillor for 12 months.

"We demand they reverse this disgraceful decision and allow this wonderful 83-year-old to act as Mayor - a position she was elected to carry out."

Netherton ward's Labour Cllr Noordad Aziz proposed former Rhyddings High School history teacher Cllr Booth as Mayor in the 50th anniversary year of Hyndburn Council's foundation.

He said: "For half a century Cllr Booth has not only taught history but has lived it, contributing to the fabric of the Hyndburn community with steadfast commitment.

Lancashire Telegraph: Noordad Aziz defending the decisionNoordad Aziz defending the decision Lancashire Telegraph: Noordad Aziz defended the decisionNoordad Aziz defended the decision

"His journey from the classroom to the council chamber embodies a lifetime of service and a deep-rooted connection to the people of Hyndburn.

"In this important year, as we reflect on our borough's history and look to a promising future, it is fitting we honour someone who has been a cornerstone of this community."

Cllr Plummer said after the meeting: "I feel this is a personal vendetta because of the action I had to take when I was forced to leave the Labour Party.

"The Labour group have made a total mockery of the Mayoralty."

The meeting unanimously selected Immanuel ward Conservative Cllr Josh Allen as deputy mayor.