A LIBERAL Democrat candidate has criticised Bury's Labour group over the unnecessary cost of the upcoming Besses by-election.

Gareth Lloyd-Johnson, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the upcoming Besses ward by-election, said the procedure will cost an estimated £15,000 of taxpayers money, just weeks after a full round of local elections was held in Bury.

The by-election, due to take place on Thursday, July 19, was prompted by the resignation of Cllr Elizabeth FitzGerald — who had represented the ward since 2012.

Mr Lloyd-Johnson said: "That we’re having this by-election now just highlights the chaos that surrounds Labour’s leadership of Bury Council.

"This election will cost taxpayers £15,000 and we now know that there will be a further by-election next month.

"Labour can’t find money for road improvements but are happy to fritter away taxpayer’s money in this way."

A Labour spokesman said it was unusual for Besses elected members to step down, and cited the long service of former councillors Alan Matthews and Derek Bowden.

The spokesman said: "Cllr FitzGerald had to stand down due to a promotion at work which would have potentially conflicted with her work on the Council.

"It was therefore right and proper that she take immediate steps to vacate her position as an elected member.

"It should be remembered that Cllr FitzGerald took over from former councillor Derek Bowden who served the people of Whitefield for more than 40 years. And last year, Cllr Alan Matthews stood down after 38 years.

"Labour councillors in Besses do not step down on a regular basis."

He added: "In terms of finding money for roads, potholes are being filled in Bury at a faster rate than they have ever been, as part of our £10 million programme."

Mr Lloyd-Johnson is one of six candidates vying for votes at the by-election called in Besses ward, Whitefield.

He joins Glyn Harvey Heath (Green Party), Jordan Lewis (Conservative Party), Stephen Morris (English Democrats), Lucy Smith (Labour), and Michael Zwierzanski (UK Independence Party).

Mr Lloyd-Johnson has pledged to improve mental health services should he be elected.