OUTGOING council leader Cllr Terry O’Neill believes more could have been achieved for Warrington if he had a ‘working relationship’ with MP Helen Jones.

Cllr O’Neill (LAB – Burtonwood and Winwick), who has been in the post since 2011, is stepping down from the borough’s top job.

Current deputy Cllr Russ Bowden will formally be appointed as leader at the full council meeting on December 17.

Cllr O’Neill says he is delighted Warrington has two Labour MPs – Warrington North MP Mrs Jones and Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid.

But he did raise some concerns about his relationship with Mrs Jones.

He said: “I was very pleased he (Mr Rashid) was elected and very pleased we have got two MPs in the town – it is not before time.”

However, in relation to Mrs Jones, he added: “I think if we had a working relationship we could have done more for the town.

“But I would not say it has frustrated me – we have delivered what we have delivered anyway.

“Hopefully with the new leader now they will have a better relationship.”

Labour’s Nick Bent – who has lost out in two Warrington South general election battles – put forward his views on the relationship between Cllr O’Neill and Mrs Jones.

He labelled Mrs Jones’ behaviour as ‘unpleasant’ and ‘unprofessional’.

He added: “Terry’s achievements for Warrington are impressive given the regular public and private hostility from Helen Jones since 2011.

“Warrington deserves better than an MP who finds time to claim expenses for attending Remembrance Sunday but refuses to meet the council leader or LiveWire to discuss the issues that matter to her constituents.

“I believe Helen will not be the MP for much longer, but until she goes I hope she behaves constructively towards the new leader, in the best interests of the town.”

Mrs Jones has not directly responded to the claims – but did issue a statement.

She said: “I have no interest in responding to unsubstantiated and untrue allegations made by disaffected people.

“I have far more serious work to get on with.”

Meanwhile, LiveWire confirmed it will continue trying to arrange for its representatives to meet with Mrs Jones.

A LiveWire spokesman added: “We have made repeated attempts to seek a meeting with Helen Jones and have invited her to meet us several times, but unfortunately – as yet – we have not managed to find an appropriate time.”