A LABOUR councillor refused to answer questions from one of the founders of a new political party at a bad-tempered forum meeting.

Farnworth and Kearsley First's Paul Heslop argued with Cllr Liam Irving, who chairs the Kearsley Area Forum, at a meeting last night.

The row broke out after Mr Heslop, whose party was officially recognised by the Electoral Commission in September, asked what the ward's councillors were doing to bring back civic facilities to Kearsley.

Mr Heslop, who is the party's election officer, said: "Other councillors in Great Lever have been trying to secure funding for their particular ward, £600,000 for the Carnegie library.

"Kearsley has lost its library and its civic facilities. Are councillors doing anything to bring back something similar?"

Cllr Irving replied that the cycle track proposed for the Singing Clough would represent a major investment.

He said: "The cycle track and the 3G football pitch will be happening. That is going to cost an awful lot of money. Compared to what you are talking about in Great Lever, we will have a lot of funding put into Kearsley."

He added that the council was 'skint' after years of Government funding cuts.

As the argument continued, Cllr Irving said: "I won't speak to you again."

One resident then asked if a new chairman of the area forum could be appointed.

Mr Heslop, who lives in Kearsley, added: "The concern for people in Kearsley and Farnworth is the fairness of decision-making.

"People are having to leave these towns to find locally-accessible services.

"Nobody in Bolton has to come to Farnworth or Kearsley for anything, but we have to go to Bolton. People don't want that."

Mr Heslop had earlier raised the ire of Cllr Irving by questioning the relevance of a presentation about changes to childcare arrangements.

He accused councillors of 'padding' the area forum meeting with a presentation about a national issue, adding: "This is a local area forum and we should be talking about Kearsley."

Cllr Irving responded: "This presentation was targeted at young mothers and advertised at every nursery in Kearsley. If they don't turn up then I can't drag them here."

Farnworth and Kearsley First says it would ultimately like the towns to break away from Bolton Council — a move dubbed ‘Fexit and Kexit’.