THE DEPUTY leader of a party set up to fight for the interests of Darwen people has defended his decision to live in Hyndburn.

Phil Jones, who represents the Marsh House ward for the For Darwen Party, said he was living in Rishton with his girlfriend and insisted: “Politics should not come into it”.

But a rival politician said councillors should live in the ward they represent.

Lib Dem Paul Browne, who represents Sudell, said: “I have always said councillors should live in the ward they represent, never mind living in the actual town.

“That’s how I have gone through my political life.”

Coun Browne claimed the ethos of For Darwen, to stand up for the town on Blackburn with Darwen Council, had “backfired”.

But Coun Jones branded criticism of his living arrangements “extremely petty”, pointing out he still owned a property in Primrose Terrace.

He said: “I still own a house in Darwen, my business is in Darwen and I am in Darwen every single day.

“My constituents are four minutes away, and my work as a councillor has certainly not suffered.

"I love Darwen and have lived here all my life.”

The council website lists Coun Jones’s address as 100 Sudell Road in Darwen, which is the registered base of his plastic mouldings business.

The building still carries the name of the previous occupants.

Coun Jones, who also works as a driving instructor, admitted the Sudell Road building was “not the prettiest”.

And Coun Eileen Entwistle, a Labour member for Sunnyhurst, said she had received complaints about the site.

But she added: As long as he is around for people, he can be a councillor.”

In order to stand for election, councillors must live or run a business in the borough.