BOLTON’s UKIP chief believes the Tories decision to field a candidate in his ward at the recent election helped Labour keep control of the town hall.

Labour now has a majority of two — effectively one as Labour’s Cllr Elaine Sherrington will soon take on the non-political Mayor role.

And UKIP’s Cllr Sean Hornby says a lack of tactical thinking left the way open for Labour’s David Evans, to triumph at the expense of defending UKIP councillor Paul Richardson.

In the event Mr Richardson came third on 926 votes, behind Cllr Evans on 1249 And Tory David Meeham on 1,000.

Cllr Horny said: “I’m disappointed the Tories decided to field a candidate which, in effect, should’ve been a paper candidate but wasn’t.”

He continued: “I’m still in shock really, more than anything I thought there had been a deal brokered – maybe that’s not the right phrase – across the borough, in particular parts where we’re being tactical about what is targeted, so therefore it’s allowed Labour to control the council.

However Cllr Hornby pointed to the fact that late Liberal Democrat councillor Eric Hyde had a loyal vote of around 600, and “nobody knows where those votes went”.

Defeated councillor Paul Richardson agreed with Cllr Hornby on that point, but added: “If the Tories had not put up a candidate here, I may well have held it. Mr Greenhalgh must reflect upon if I could’ve been re-elected, it would’ve been a hung council. But that’s with the benefit of hindsight. It’s democracy. That’s how it works.”

Cllr Greenhalgh said not fielding a candidate in the ward was “never an option” for his party.

He said: “It is a principle that we have adopted for many years that we field a Conservative candidate in every ward. And especially in Little Lever and Darcy Lever where until relatively recently, we have had a Conservative councillor.”

He added: “That message is clear now to voters and next year, will be a straight choice between Labour and Conservative. It will be a ward of interest to us with our candidate working all year round and involved in the community.”