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Six Rochdale Liberal Democrats resign over leadership

Rochdale Town Hall
Image caption Rochdale Council is currently led by a coalition of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives

Six Liberal Democrat councillors in Rochdale have resigned from the party in protest over its leadership nationally and locally.

Pat and Ted Flynn, Peter Davison, Doreen Brophy Lee, Barbara Todd and Naim Mahmood will sit as independents.

Councillor Pat Flynn said the party was "doing too many U-turns".

Councillor Dale Mulgrew, deputy leader of Rochdale Lib Dems, said the resignations were part of a dispute over the party's selection process.

Two of the councillors had been deselected by the party ahead of next year's local elections.

Rochdale Council is led by a coalition of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.

'Dissatisfied for months'

Mrs Flynn said she expected other councillors to resign in the coming days - which could strip the coalition of its majority.

She said: "We didn't like the direction the leadership were taking us.

"There has been a lot of dissatisfaction for many months."

She said she and her colleagues were equally dissatisfied with the local and national leadership.

Nationally, she was unhappy with Nick Clegg's U-turn on tuition fees, she said.

"They are doing too many U-turns nationally," she said.

"Locally we feel the wrong things are being cut within the council. It should be at the top rather than on old peoples' homes, after schools clubs, etc.

"We don't feel this is the party we were elected to - that is the bottom line."

'Difference of opinion'

Mr Mulgrew said the councillors had given "many dedicated and loyal years of service" to the party.

"Unfortunately, there was a difference of opinion on the selection process that the party uses to select candidates, and, instead of exercising a right of appeal, a decision has been taken to leave the party," he said.

"This was the only reason that has caused for this to occur.

"It is also unfortunate that all of this has happened whilst the leader of the party (Irene Davidson) is in hospital having a major operation.

"Clearly, it is always sad that in such difficult circumstances there could not have been a reconciliation, but we will continue to try and talk to the councillors.

The Lib Dem resignations follow several others at councils in other parts of the country.

Sheffield Liberal Democrat councillor Ben Curran defected to the Labour Party in September.

He said his decision was made due to the "lack of resistance" shown by the Lib Dems locally to the cuts.

Two Lib Dem councillors in Exeter also defected to Labour in June, in protest over the coalition government.

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