Husband and wife councillors Matt and Daisy Bailey have severed ties with the Labour party after criticising the group for being unsupportive of their family situation.

The couple, who have three young children and represent Radcliffe East on Bury Council, announced their “heartbreaking” decision to quit last week and will now stand as independents.

They said they had been criticised for failing to attend meetings when Cllr Daisy Bailey was unwell after the birth of the couple’s third child last June.

A Labour Party spokesman said Cllr Matt Bailey did not meet the “high standards” needed to be re-selected as their candidate for next year’s elections.

Cllr Matt Bailey said they had both offered to help in other ways, such as by speaking to ward members over the telephone instead, but the offers were rejected.

He said he was “disappointed” his decision to support his wife and family had led to his de-selection.

In a joint statement, Cllr Matt Bailey said: “Events over the past year or so have led us to believe that this is the best decision for us, our family, and the people we are elected to represent.

“After Daisy became unwell, I made the decision to support her and sometimes stayed at home rather than attending Labour meetings, or campaign events.

“Like many others in these difficult times, I am on a zero hours contract at work, and had to take work whenever, and wherever, it became available. The group has a whip system and we always let them know our situation. However, there was very little support forthcoming.”

Both councillors have promised to remain active in the ward and say they are “excited” to represent Rad-cliffe as independents.

Cllr Daisy Bailey’s seat will be up for re-election in May, 2016, and Cllr Matt Bailey’s in May next year.

Their statement read: “To sit as independents is a huge decision, but we both feel we will be able to redirect our energies back into Radcliffe and the people we represent in a more personalised way. We care deeply about the community we live in.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “The party has high standards in determining whether a sitting councillor should be entitled to be re-selected, and, unfortunately, on this occasion Cllr Matt Bailey did not meet these standards.”