A WESTHOUGHTON councillor has today announced she is quitting the Lib-Dems to join the rival Tory Party.

Cllr Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon, who represents Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, made the shock announcement saying it is no longer "tenable" for her to remain part of the Lib-Dem group, while stressing her commitment to her ward "remains the same".

Cllr Eckersley- Fallon said:“I hope residents have experienced my work ethic during the time I have been a councillor, and my total commitment to Westhoughton, and they will appreciate that I have not taken a decision of this nature lightly.

“During my time as a councillor, I have worked alongside all parties both in Westhoughton and on Council committees, and observed a wider picture, and it is no longer tenable for me to stay within the Liberal Democrat group.”

“I do feel I can work within a Conservative Group led by Cllr David Greenhalgh and I also know I can work alongside Cllr Martyn Cox, and genuinely believe that working as part of a Conservative administration, whose direction and progress over the last couple of years I have appreciated from the opposition benches, will genuinely benefit the residents of Westhoughton.

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“There will be issues on which we will have differences of opinion but I believe these exist within all parties. I believe we share many of the same values, so this is not a massive leap for me.”

Cllr Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon

Cllr Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon

Cllr Eckersley-Fallon added: “My commitment to Westhoughton remains the same, the hours I put in to being a councillor remains the same, and I believe Conservatives, with Martyn and myself leading the way in Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, can deliver for our area in a more positive and productive way than any other party.”

The councillor was first elected in 2019 and has campaigned for road safety measures and for activities for young people.

Cllr David Greenhalgh and Cllr Martyn Cox, picture taken before Covid

Cllr David Greenhalgh and Cllr Martyn Cox, picture taken before Covid

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh said he was pleased to welcome the "hard-working" councillor to the party.

He said: "I am pleased to welcome Bernadette to our Group. These are never easy decisions for any councillor to make. She has the reputation of a very hard-working councillor, committed to the community she represents, and I believe her and Cllr Martyn Cox working as Conservatives alongside each other for the residents of Westhoughton North and Chew Moor will be hugely positive for their residents and for Westhoughton as a whole.”

Deputy leader and fellow ward councillor, Martyn Cox said: "I’m delighted to welcome Bernadette Eckersley Fallon to the Conservative group, Bernadette is a real champion for the town of Westhoughton and passionate about making a difference for the people of Westhoughton and we will do all we can to support her in that role."

Cllr Roger Hayes, leader of Bolton's Lib-Dem Group, said: "We are sad to see her go and we wish her well."