HORWICH voters are preparing for a busy day at the polls — after the resignation of a town councillor last week was followed by news that borough councillor Lindsey Kell has left her seat.

Christine Flanagan, the town council’s only Conservative member, stood down because of work commitments, triggering the town’s fourth by-election in just 12 months.

The election will be held alongside the Bolton borough council elections on May 22 — when the seat of Horwich and Blackrod ward councillor Stephen Pickup will be contested.

Ms Kell was not due to contest her seat this year but her resignation means both Labour seats will go to the vote.

In November last year, Ms Kell was the subject of a leaflet distributed by the Liberal Democrat party, criticising the fact she was living 175 miles away from the borough, having moved to Oxfordshire.

The leaflet claimed she “ditched” Horwich in June and was using taxpayers’ money to fund a “party lifestyle”. But Ms Kell said she left the area because of problems with a stalker.

She has now cited work commitments as the main reason for her resignation.

She said: “It has been a great honour to represent the people of Horwich and Blackrod since 2011. I have enjoyed working with residents and community organisations across the area, becoming involved in local campaigns and issues.

“I am standing down as my work commitments take me outside the borough and it has been difficult to balance the pressures of my current employment with my role as a councillor.”

Bolton’s Liberal Democrat leader Roger Hayes said the move should have come earlier.

She said: “She has done the right thing, but it should have been a year ago — I think it's disgraceful that she collected her £11,000 allowance without representing the people of Horwich and Blackrod.”

Labour’s elections co-ordinator, cabinet member Cllr Nick Peel defended Ms Kell.

He said: “Lindsey has done the right thing. She was entitled to serve the rest of her term, but felt personal circumstances meant that someone else should get the chance.

“I don’t know where Roger Hayes gets his information from, but he is assuming a lot.”