A DIVISIVE town councillor has pledged to put past disputes behind him for the good of the local people going forward.

Westhoughton town councillor Jack Speight has been at the centre of town council turmoil since 2017, with his colleagues claiming that he is bringing the town council "into disrepute".

As recently as April, councillors voiced complaints that Cllr Speight had cast unfounded aspersions on town clerk Christine Morris by his abstaining from voting on agenda items and saying he did not receive minutes. Cllr Speight, formerly an Independent, was then re-elected to the body, representing new party Westhoughton First Independents.

Now, Cllr Speight and his colleagues are hoping to put disagreements aside to make the new council work harmoniously for Westhoughton.

At the first meeting of the newly elected Westhoughton town council on Monday, he said he is hoping for a smoother term this time.

Cllr Speight said: "We want to make it better for our community. We want the best for our town. The council is more harmonised now. We want no exclusion, no party politics — a fresh start."

Cllr David Wilkinson, the freshly inaugurated town mayor and past critic of Cllr Speight, echoed the same messages in a speech after his mayoral election win. The split vote saw some members of the council, including all Westhoughton First Independents councillors, choose another candidate over the Liberal Democrat Cllr Wilkinson.

He said: "Obviously, we've had a split vote tonight, these things happen.

"I hope that we can all work together for the benefit of this town. That is what we are here for. As town mayor I'd encourage all of you to be fully involved not only in the activity of the town council, but in the activity and life of our community."

The new deputy town mayor and vice chair of the town council, Liberal Democrat Cllr Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon also wants to focus on fostering better relations within the council

She said: "I really love my ward and I'm looking forward to bringing the council together."

Town councillor Andy Morgan, a Conservative who was elected again after a five years away from the body, agreed, saying: "I hope the god work continues for the town and that members of all parties work together. It shouldn't be a political organisation."