THE borough’s newest political contenders have accused one of their opponents of 'dirty tricks' in the run up to a by-election.

Farnworth and Kearsley First has used Trinity Methodist Church to hold its meetings - most recently to elect its candidate to fight the Farnworth ward by-election next month.

But they have been told by the church that its rules do not allow it to take bookings from a single political group, and cannot uphold any future bookings.

Bolton UKIP chairman Cllr Paul Richardson has told The Bolton News that a query was made by one of his party’s members — but insists there was no malice behind it.

Paul Heslop, Farnworth and Kearsley First’s election officer, said his party was ‘furious’ about the matter.

He said: “To be honest I’m fuming with them, they are trying to stifle us by any means possible.

"This epitomises how low they are as far as I’m concerned.”

Mr Heslop said the venue had been used by the party about eight times, and it had already publicised a meeting to elect candidates for the local elections, which it would have to cancel.

He continued: “It all feels like very dirty tricks, that’ s what it is. We’re aware of dirty tricks in campaigning, we’re not naive.

"But to do that really does epitomise how scared they are.

“It’s very annoying that they would stoop to that, our only hope is that it hit them right back in the face and they get their comeuppance politically.”

And Paul Sanders, Farnworth and Kearsley First’s candidate for the March 8 by-election, said he was ‘shocked’ by the situation.

He said: “It is disappointing, it’s something I honestly wouldn’t have expected to happen, but such is the climate of political tactics.

“We don’t want to stifle debate in our town — that’s why we are here. We need to encourage debate.

“It’s the first time I can remember that the town is actually talking about the town , people have concerns.

“I’m shocked it’s happened, our party is about promoting debate and conversation in our town and this is an attempt to stifle that debate.”

But Cllr Richardson said there was no ill intent on behalf of the UKIP member who queried Farnworth and Kearsley First’s use of the church.

He said: “It was one one of my members who had some notification that they couldn’t use the church for political purposes, other than area forums.

“He queried it and this seems to be the result of it , but it’s not been done maliciously.”

The Bolton News was unable to contact Trinity Methodist Church.