THE former North West regional director of the Brexit campaign group ‘Vote Leave’ Paul White has been elected leader of the Pendle Council Conservative group.

The 31-year-old councillor succeeds Cllr Joe Cooney in the post.

Cllr Cooney stepped down as leader of the Conservatives last week after six years in the post claiming the council had a ‘toxic’ atmosphere of ‘bullying and intimidation’.

Cllr White was elected to the job on Monday night beating Barrowford ward’s Cllr Ken Turner in a secret ballot. He will now lead the Tory opposition group into May’s local elections.

Cllr White, has been deputy leader of the group for five years, will make education, economic development and social inclusion themes of his leadership.

He hopes that the Conservatives, the largest group on the Pendle council with 22 members, can take back control from the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition which runs the borough.

Pendle Conservatives leader steps down amid 'bullying' claims

Cllr Cooney, 38, said: “Paul will make an excellent leader as week seek to take back control of Pendle Council in May.

“Last night’s election was a good exercise in democracy which parked a lively debate.”

Cllr White, brought up in Laneshawbridge where he lives and who runs a marketing company in Colne, said: “I am delighted and excited.

“We are now seeking to take control of the borough back in the local elections.

“My priorities will be education, social inclusion, tackling loneliness and economic development.

“I want a Pendle which serves everyone.

“We currently have the poorest results in the county for children at both primary and high schools.”

Cllr White in February was one of the leaders of a bid to break Pendle away from Lancashire County Council which has responsibility for schools in the borough. He lost his Pendle Rural seat on the authority in last year’s county elections.

He has been a Boulsworth councillor for seven years.

Pendle Labour leader Mohammed Iqbal, councillor for Bradley ward, said: “I would like to see Cllr White attend as many meetings as possible of the council in his new role.

“I would also like to see him join us and the Liberal Democrats in lobbying for fair funding for Pendle from his Tory government.”