A LABOUR councillor has quit the party blaming “nastiness” from the hard left.

Horwich and Blackrod councillor Ann Cunliffe has quit the Labour Party describing its attitude, demands and approach as “soul-destroying”.

The former executive cabinet member for children’s services is the third female councillor from the last Labour cabinet to quit the party in 12 months.

She said: “I have thought long and hard and had already taken the decision not to stand for election in May, having fulfilled my four-year commitment to the electorate.

“I took this decision due to the soul-destroying attitude, demands and rigid approach of Local Labour Forums, and also the national and regional Labour Party, along with personal issues.

“I have re-evaluated my life and decided not to remain as a Labour councillor.

“I have been a Labour Party member for nearly 40 years and the Labour ethos will remain at my heart, but due to the hard left elements of the Labour Party – both national, regional, local campaign forums and a number on the group – I feel it is best to serve my remaining year imposed on me by COVID-19 as an independent.

“The nastiness that has crept into the Labour Party I find totally unacceptable.”

This comes a year after Cllr Debbie Newall, now a Lib Dem councillor, left the Labour Party after making a series of allegations against a former colleague.

Cllr Anna-Marie Watters quit Labour in February due to the direction the party was going in and candidates being set “unrealistic targets” for campaigning.

Revealing her resignation, Cllr Cunliffe also blamed the Labour Party’s “ineptness” in dealing with disciplinary matters for her departure.

She said: “I am not willing to further witness or be part of any misconduct of councillors just being swept under the carpet and ignored.

“I find these actions insulting to the genuine councillors and residents who this misconduct affects."

Cllr Cunliffe will continue to represent Horwich and Blackrod for the next year as an independent councillor.

She added: “I have enjoyed the last eight years representing both my residents and Bolton and I will carry on doing so as an independent – I’m sure I can manage by myself for the next year.

“I have also made many lasting relationships with some of my colleagues both past and present who I truly respect and wish well.

“I have already received many personal messages from members and colleagues, stating they are saddened with my decision but wish me well in my future.”

Cllr Cunliffe said she hopes Keir Starmer will “weed out” any “nasty and dysfunctional” members as Labour leader and make the party strong again.

She also wished the new Labour group leader at Bolton Council a “long and successful” term in office, adding that Sir Keir’s appointment should help.

Newly-elected Labour leader Nick Peel said he is sorry to see Cllr Cunliffe leave the group and thanked her for the work she did at the town hall over the years, particularly for children’s services, and for supporting him.

He said: “When I became the leader, I said that I wanted us to build a new relationship with the people of Bolton and regain their trust.

“I know that this will not be an easy task and some of the issues that Ann has raised has hammered this point home, but Ann should have been willing to be part of the solution instead of leaving.

“I wish her well for the future, but my role is to ensure that the other 21 Labour councillors remain focussed on the task in hand, which is to hold the Tory council to account.”