Labour chief ad­mits ‘I was a se­cret Tory’

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Char­lotte.green@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @CharGreenMEN

LABOUR’S Rossendale group chair­man has ad­mit­ted be­ing a se­cret mem­ber of the Con­ser­va­tive party – while rep­re­sent­ing Labour on the county and bor­ough coun­cils.

Healey and Whitworth ward Coun­cil­lor Sean Ser­ridge, a former deputy leader of Rossendale Coun­cil, ad­mit­ted be­com­ing a paid up mem­ber of the Tories in July last year.

It comes af­ter the chair­man of the bor­ough’s Con­ser­va­tive as­so­ci­a­tion Lee Parker re­vealed that Coun Ser­ridge was a mem­ber of the Con­ser­va­tives for three years, from 2002 un­til 2005.

He also said that Coun Ser­ridge joined the Con­ser­va­tives in July 2016 and paid mem­ber­ship fees un­til Septem­ber that year.

Mr Parker said that de­spite not pay­ing fees af­ter this point, Coun Ser­ridge re­mained a mem­ber of the Con­ser­va­tive party un­der a ‘grace pe­riod’ un­til his mem­ber­ship was ter­mi­nated in March this year when he ‘breached party rules’ by cam­paign­ing for Labour.

When the claims were put to Coun Ser­ridge he con­firmed that he be­came a mem­ber in July last year but would not com­ment on the record about the cir­cum­stances or the rea­sons why he joined.

He de­nied be­ing a mem­ber of the Con­ser­va­tives from 2002 to 2005.

Coun Ser­ridge, who was first elected as a Labour county coun­cil­lor in 2005 when he was just 21, said: “It seems like they are do­ing it to make a story about some­thing that hap­pened 12 months ago.

“There was a lot going on at the time and some­one had to keep an eye on them. I am flat­tered that they then al­lowed me to be a mem­ber for sev­eral months.”

Mr Parker said: “I can con­firm he was ac­tu­ally a mem­ber. He paid his full mem­ber­ship, £25, and joined in July last year, and it was Fe­bru­ary this year he was is­sued with a let­ter by the as­so­ci­a­tion say­ing that his ac­tiv­i­ties cam­paign­ing for the Labour party broke party rules and his mem­ber­ship was ter­mi­nated. We tried to call him, we sent sev­eral emails but had no re­sponse.”

Mr Parker claims that when the party dis­cov­ered that Coun Ser­ridge had been ac­tively cam­paign­ing for the Labour party ahead of the May LCC elec­tions the as­so­ci­a­tion wrote to him to ask­ing him to re­spond, and when no re­ply was re­ceived, they ter­mi­nated his mem­ber­ship.

Along­side be­ing a Rossendale Bor­ough coun­cil­lor and a mem­ber of Whitworth Town Coun­cil, Mr Ser­ridge, who lost his Whitworth and Bacup county coun­cil seat in May, is also em­ployed in the of­fice of Labour MP for Hey­wood and Mid­dle­ton, Liz McInnes, whose con­stituency in­cludes Bam­ford, Nor­den and Castleton.

Mr Parker added: “As far as I’m con­cerned he was work­ing for her and also a mem­ber of the Tory party.

“He was a fully paid up mem­ber from 2002 to 2005 and then he joined the party again on July 8 last year and he signed up to a 12-month mem­ber­ship at a time when he was of­fice man­ager for Liz McInnes and also a bor­ough and a county coun­cil­lor for Labour.

“I find it cu­ri­ous that he joined the party while he’s paid by the op­po­si­tion party as an of­fice man­ager. He was in pub­lic of­fice for the op­po­si­tion party at the time he ap­plied to be­come a mem­ber. It’s very odd.”

●●Coun Sean Ser­ridge

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