CONSERVATIVE councillors have resigned en masse from Bury's licensing and safety panel over comments made by its chairman last month.

The four Conservative councillors on the panel resigned, saying they were "appalled" by comments made by Cllr David Jones.

Conservative group leader Cllr James Daly said: "Conservative councillors were appalled at the comments made to the Bury Times by the chairman of the licensing and safety panel, Cllr Jones, regarding the outcome of a standards committee meeting into the ongoing saga surrounding the investigation into a number of Labour councillors and their involvement in the conviction of Simon Carter.

"It would appear that Cllr Jones sat on the committee and only when the decision emerged, which was not what he wanted, he resigned from that committee and then made comments to the press.

"Conservative councillors felt that Cllr Jones is not able to accept a democratic decision arrived at by established rules and procedures and therefore believed that he was not suitable to be the chairman of any committee of Bury Council, let alone its quasi-judicial licensing panel.

"For these reasons, Conservative councillors regretfully felt unable to serve on the licensing and safety committee with Cllr Jones and collectively resigned."

Cllrs Ian Bevan, Rob Hodkinson, Gregory Keeley and Oliver Kersh have now left the licensing and safety panel.

Labour's Cllr Jones resigned from the standards committee in January because of the outcome of its hearing of allegations against former-Conservative group leader Cllr Iain Gartside.

At the time, Cllr Jones said: "I found the process we went through was just farcical and the fact I was outvoted is not the point.

"I have been known to be wrong, but on this occasion I had the same view as the two independent advisors — that Iain Gartside had breached the code of conduct."

The hearing against Cllr Gartside was brought because a letter in his possession never made its way to the Newsam review — an investigation into the council's actions after it was informed then-councillor Simon Carter was being investigated for child pornography offences.

Cllr Gartside was not found to have breached the council's code of conduct and Cllr Jones expressed concerns the independent people on the standards committee did not have a vote, only councillors.

A spokesman for the Labour party said: "David Jones is a well-respected councillor and retired police inspector with over 30 years service.

"We are now in the absurd position where Bury Conservatives are seeking to have him disciplined for calling for more independent scrutiny of the behaviour of councillors — rather than allowing their friends to do it.

"Openness, transparency and accountability should be at the heart of everything that the council does.

"The Conservatives’ mass resignation from the licensing and safety committee (a non-political body aimed to make Bury safer), simply because Cllr David Jones is the chairman, appears to be a crude attempt to bully him.

"It is time that Bury Conservatives realised that they serve the people of this borough, not themselves."

Cllr Daly added: "Labour will say and do anything to deflect attention away from the appalling behaviour of certain Bury Labour councillors identified in the Newsam and Bourne reports.

"They have sole responsibility for the issues and events surrounding Simon Carter that led to the reports being commissioned.

"Being lectured on 'openness, transparency and accountability' by the Bury Labour Party is laughable."