A NEW party with ambitions to run in borough council elections face another hurdle as their name is trademarked by a man unknown to the group.

A website using the group's name has also been launched, claiming to be part of the Horwich First Residents Action Group.

Members of the group are questioning who might be behind the attempt to use their identity which may be delaying their official recognition as a party.

In September, they announced that they would form a new political party under the name of Horwich and Blackrod First Independents.

A combination of six councillors from the two town councils agreed to join the new party with other members belonging to online community groups Horwich First and Blackrod First.

Horwich First Community Group has been a force in the town for four years, and members encouraged Farnworth and Kearsley First to start an online community group to mirror their success on social media.

However, the party’s genesis has been surrounded by mystery as two applications were submitted to the Electoral Commission by unknown individuals trying to form a party with similar names.

But Labour councillor for Horwich North East, Cllr Kevin McKeon, denies any involvement by his party saying that any member supporting an opposition party would be automatically disqualified from Labour.

He said: “We are as mystified as everyone about the source of the application for political party status from the group calling itself, Horwich First."

In December, it was revealed that the name Horwich First has been trademarked by a Mr John Aherne who lives in the borough, but when approached by The Bolton News, refused to comment.

Using the registered trademark, a website was created claiming to be part of a group created in 2010, three years before Horwich First Community Group was set up by Mick Stevens.

This confusion means that Horwich and Blackrod First independents ended 2018 without the official party status necessary to run in borough elections under their new name. But Horwich town councillor Steven Chadwick remains hopeful.

He said: "If the Electoral Commission haven't reached a decision by the election then there will be Independent Candidates standing for town and borough council elections in May."