Conservative councillors are refusing to attend an 'expensive taxpayer-funded farce' of a meeting which is designed to 'humiliate' the mayor following his decision to join the Tories.

Copeland’s Labour councillors Mike McVeigh, Gwynneth Everett, John Kane, Allan Forster and Sam Pollen called an extraordinary council meeting last week to debate Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie’s decision to join the Tories and to ask him to resign and call a by-election for May 2021.

Mr Starkie was first elected in 2015 and re-elected last year as an independent candidate.

In June he announced he had joined the Tory party.

Last week’s meeting was adjourned after three hours and will reconvene on Tuesday at 12.45pm.

David Moore, leader of the Conservative group, said: “My fellow Conservative councillors and I will not be attending the council meeting in respect of the Labour group’s bid to continue to humiliate the elected mayor.

“The full council meeting held on Tuesday September 8, lasted three hours which was largely spent on attacking the elected mayor, which was unnecessary and a complete waste of time and resources.

“The meeting was funded by the public and once again as over many years Labour certainly have become experts at wasting public money which should be much better spent on delivering services to our Copeland residents.

“Our decision not to attend reflects our desire not to participate in this shambolic, petty, destructive and expensive taxpayer-funded farce.

“The Copeland Labour group should hang its head in the shame which they have brought about themselves.

“Our country, and indeed our Copeland, is undergoing a pandemic which has cost lives and livelihoods.

“That is what we should be focussing on as a council, not petty party politics.”

Mr Starkie said he would be attending the meeting, however his position would not change. He said: “What the Labour group is requesting will not be actioned. That was said in no uncertain terms after three hours of debate and it will not change.”

Councillor McVeigh said the matter would be discussed as per the agenda set. He added: “If Conservative members chose to take another position, that’s not my remit. I presented a requisition that the mayor comes in front of the ballot box.”