THE FAMILY of a former mayor have criticised council bosses who have refused to hang his picture on the stairs of the town hall.

Frank Gorton served as a councillor in Blackburn for 47 years until 2007 and was one of just 21 people to have been given the borough’s prestigious civic medal.

The former Labour member for the former St Jude’s and Greenbank wards, who was mayor between 1980 and 1981, died in 2007. His daughter Eileen Hall wants his portrait to hang in a public space in Blackburn town hall alongside other former mayors.

But she has been told the gallery on the stairs is only for mayors who have been in office since 1997, when Blackburn with Darwen became a unitary authority, independent from Lancashire County Council.

The 54-year-old, of Eden Park, Beardwood, said: “I am pretty angry. When my dad died, I took the picture home and kept it. My mum passed away last year, and I thought it would be nice to have it in the town hall.

“I wrote to the chief executive of the council, and he didn’t reply but got the mayor’s staff to ring me. They were very nice, but they said the picture could go in the town hall, but not in the public area.

“They offered to put it in the Labour Party room, but the public would not see it there.

“I was not pleased and I thought they might make an exception for him, especially as they gave him the civic medal, which was given to very few people. I am sure a lot of people in Blackburn, especially in his ward, agree he should be recognised.”

Coun Damian Talbot, the chairman of Blackburn Labour Party, backed Mrs Hall's battle: “This is a man who gave more than 40 years of service to this borough, and it’s a shame the council can’t find somewhere in a public space to hang his picture.”

But Graham Burgess, chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said they would not put up the picture.

He said: "Frank Gorton was a popular, hard working and well respected councillor, who was mayor from 1980 to 1981.

“The photo gallery in the town hall features all the mayors since we became an unitary authority in 1997."