BLACKBURN is becoming a “junior partner” to Darwen, according to a councillor who has quit the town hall’s ruling group.

Arif Waghat stunned Lib Dem colleagues this week by resigning from the party, which runs Blackburn with Darwen council alongside the Conservatives and the For Darwen Party.

In a parting shot, Coun Waghat, a former deputy group leader, said: “I have been frustrated with the direction and the politics for a while now.

"The fact is that Blackburn seems to be becoming a junior partner to Darwen.

“This is mostly to do with growth of the For Darwen Party.

"It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog.”

Coun Waghat, who represents Shear Brow, said he would not be joining any other party and had not yet decided whether to seek re-election in May.

A year ago he was readmitted to the Lib Dem group having resigned after admitting benefit fraud, The move leaves the Lib Dem with 12 councillors. The coalition has 35 members, to Labour’s 27.

Coun Waghat’s decision to leave was slammed by veteran Lib Dem Paul Browne – who himself came close to joining the For Darwen Party in 2007.

Coun Browne, who represents Sudell, said: “To leave on these grounds is absolutely pathetic.

"I have had my issues with the Lib Dem group in the past, but I went back to the group and sorted them out. I am glad he has left.”

Local leader David Foster, who was at the Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth when he heard, said: “I am mystified.

“I have tried to ring and email him but have not had a response.”

Coun Waghat’s departure follows an attack on the council last week by Lib Dem executive member and close friend Salim Lorgat.