Poll-topping Blackpool councillors are axed by their own party

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Two long-standing Blackpool councillors have been thrown out of their seats by their own party ahead of May's local elections.

Councillors Peter and Maxine Callow have not been chosen to fight in Norbreck after representing the area on Blackpool Council for 20 years and 16 years respectively.

Councillors Peter and Maxine Callow

Councillors Peter and Maxine Callow

They say they have received no official explanation for their deselection by the Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative Association.

However party chiefs maintain the correct process has been gone through to choose candidates for the May 2 elections.

In a letter to Coun Mrs Callow, association chairman Richard Rendell also accuses her of 'deliberate deception' by claiming not to have received party emails.

Both the Callows are former mayors, and Peter was council leader when the Tories were in control of the town hall from 2007 to 2011.

Adam Hawkins and Roy Haskett have been selected to contest Norbreck for the Conservatives in their place.

Coun Maxine Callow said: "All the time I have been on the council I have never had any bad publicity, I have been a loyal member and I have never voted against the party.

"We feel that from the beginning of the selection process, they were determined we were not going to get through. I don't know what we have done wrong.

"I think it's absolutely disgraceful to treat us this way. Some of our constituents have said they won't vote Conservative again."

She said the issue over emails was 'a mix up' because the couple's emails were handled by staff at the town hall.

Unbeknown to Coun Callow, staff were only allowed to forward non-political emails, which was why the couple had not received material relating to fundraising and social events for the local Conservative association.

Coun Peter Callow added: "All we wanted to do was continue as councillors serving the people of Blackpool.

"We always topped the poll and combined, we have the most votes in the town."

Candidates must be approved by a panel before appearing before further selection interviews.

Mr Rendell said: "The association clearly went through the due process of approved selection of candidates. Some were successful, others weren't.

"It is a process which has been approved by central office and in the case of Maxine and Peter they were not approved."

He said the reason for decisions was confidential, but an independent assessor attended panels to ensure they were fair to all candidates.

Mr Rendell added: "Those candidates selected were of a high standard, those that weren't left something to be desired."