TOWN councils are an “unnecessary layer of democracy” a Tory councillor has claimed — as Horwich prepares to go to the polls for the fourth time in just 12 months.

Cllr Andy Morgan, deputy leader of the Conservatives in Bolton, also hit out at the “one-party state” in Bolton and Horwich controlled by Labour.

In December last year, following the last by-election in Horwich, Cllr Morgan said three town councils in the borough — Horwich, Blackrod and Westhoughton — were not providing residents with value for money.

He has stood by his comments, as Horwich voters get ready to go to the polls again following the resignation of the council’s only Conservative member, Christine Flanagan, who cited work commitments as the reason for her departure.

Mr Morgan praised Ms Flanagan for the timing of her resignation, meaning that the by-election can be held at the same time as the Bolton Council elections on May 22, reducing the cost to the taxpayer.

He said: “In this case, because of the way Christine has timed it, there shouldn’t be too much of an additional cost, and she deserves praise for that.

“But I will continue to question the need for town councils in the current day and age when money is so tight.

“It is a layer of democracy that is not needed, because they do not have any power and in my opinion the money could be much better spent through area forums for a lesser cost.” Mr Morgan also suggested that Horwich, like Bolton Council had developed into a “one-party state.”

He added: “It is bad politics when one party is running things like in Horwich and Bolton, they can do whatever they like.”

Labour leader in Horwich, Cllr Kevan Helsby said: “I think the problem for the Conservatives is simply that they haven’t won any of the by-elections.

“They are struggling in Horwich.

“In terms of the town councils, I think people should be aware that unlike Bolton councillors, we do not collect any expenses and most of the money the council receives goes back into the community for things like the carnivals and to help voluntary groups.”