TWO Labour defectors have been booted out of Winsford Town Council committees after a party split came to a head.

Tempers flared as a simmering rift between two Labour factions erupted in the council chamber at an emotionally charged emergency meeting on Wednesday evening.

Former Labour councillors Mike Kennedy and Dave Edwards were thrown off all the committees they served on and former mayor Cllr Kennedy stripped of his seat as finance and grants chair after they both declared themselves Independents.

Cllr Joanne Moorcroft, chairman of Winsford Labour team, told members: "As Councillors Kennedy and Edwards have resigned from the Labour Party they have no mandate. Therefore they must be removed from roles and positions of authority. This safeguards the fairness of proportional appointments.

"All committee and outside body places have been offered on a proportional basis.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Joanne Moorcroft said Cllrs Mike Kennedy and Dave Edwards have no mandate and therefor must be removed from roles of position and authority

"Without a democratic mandate their positions are untenable. The only reason for proposing new committee and outside body places is to maintain the proportionality of the council.

"The actions of Councillors Kennedy and Edwards have been an attempt to undermine the standing of the local Labour Party."

The debate became so heated, mayor Cllr Ailsa Gaskill-Jones intervened at least six times calling for order and warning people in a packed public gallery to be quiet or she would eject them.

Winsford Guardian:

Mayor Cllr Ailsa Gaskill-Jones had to call for order as emotions ran high in the public gallery

Onlooking supporters jeered and cheered as each side of the warring feud called for resignations in a torrent of accusations.

Cllr Kennedy described the decision to remove him from office as 'shameful'.

Allegations made against him by newly elected councillors that he had 'acted illegally', he said, were "daunting, unjustified and deeply upsetting".

Cllr Kennedy said: "This is now a case of victimisation. They shouldn't come in here and bulldoze their way into committees and chairmanships. This is an attempt by the Labour Party to come in and make statements and proposals and vote on items. It's already a done deal. They're taking over everything.

"I do not believe I have done anything illegal whatsoever. Nothing I have done is in any way, shape or form illegal. I have provided 100 per cent evidence to the mayor and the town clerk.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Mike Kennedy described the decision to remove him from office as 'shameful'

"I voted Labour for 47 years and have been a councillor for nine-and-a-half years. I've learnt a lot in that time and always got on with my fellow councillors and Lib Dems.

"We decided to leave because we don't like the way the local Labour party is doing things."

Cllr Edwards said: "I've been a long time activist in the town. Suddenly this Labour Party has been taken over. We're here to represent people to the best of our ability and deliver services to the community.

"They're having their little private meetings with people who are not councillors.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Dave Edwards 'a long time activist' in the town

"We're moderate Labour people. They should resign."

Cllr Stella Mellor claimed she had been visited at home by Labour councillors and alleged that five members had been threatened that if they failed to attend group meetings they would be "kicked off committees".

"It's a Mexican wave of bullying," said Cllr Mellor. "Threats have been made."

Cllr David Ellis said: "I have no confidence in Cllr Kennedy's ability to chair the finance or grants committee effectively. Cllr Kennedy's lack of scrutiny does not meet the duties of chair of finance and his behaviour represents a serious breach of the expected behaviour of an elected councillor.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr David Ellis said he had lost confidence in Cllr Kennedy

"His actions have also resulted in numerous unlawful and retrospective grants being approved and he has contributed to the council being at risk of legal action over breach of contract."

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Cllr Nathan Pardoe added: "We have experienced intimidation by planning agents when attempting to scrutinise planning applications, have been falsely accused of blocking some grants when they were in fact unlawful and have been misrepresented when changing meeting venues from a room which was not compliant with fire safety regulations.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Nathan Pardoe said councillors had experienced intimidation by planning agents

"As councillors we welcome criticism and difference of opinion but baseless accusations and intimidation by a small number of people must be called out as unacceptable. Their behaviour and actions are not representative of Winsford residents."

After a stormy debate lasting 90 minutes, members voted 9 to 5 in favour of nominating a new make-up of all council committees, working groups and outside bodies.

Former vice chairman Cllr Don Beckett was elected chairman of finance and grants.