Labour look to tighten grip in borough elections

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While no doubt the eyes of the nation will be drawn to Downing Street later on tonight, the impact local elections will have on the future of the town should not be ignored.

Fourteen wards across Burnley are up for grabs as the Lib Dems look to claw back a majority that increased by two seats in 2014 – Labour now holds 28 seats on the council, the Lib Dems 12 and the Conservatives five.

With Labour’s Wajid Khan running unopposed, Daneshouse with Stoneyholme is already a foregone conclusion but that is certainly not the case across the remaining 14 wards.

While Julie Cooper hits the campaign trail in a bid to become Burnley’s next MP, her husband Brian is also looking for votes as he goes up against Lib Dem’s Briercliffe councillor Anne Kelly, Susan Nutter (Conservative), James Macdonald (Green) and Ian Metcalf (UKIP), who polled 27.8% of the votes in 2014’s election, 272 votes behind Coun. Roger Frost.

Council leader Mark Townsend faces re-election in Brunshaw, a seat he won with a 40.5% majority back in 2011, three years after losing his seat in Gannow.

Cliviger with Worsthorne look sets to be a tight affair with Conservative councillor Cosima Towneley facing stiff competition in the shape of Lib Dem stalwart Bill Brindle, Labour’s Andy Devanney and UKIP parliamentary candidate Tom Commis. Coun. Towneley won with a 20% majority in 2011, but with Tom Commis and the Lib Dems both coming within just 100 votes of Conservative councillor David Heginbotham in 2014, this is one seat which could go down to the wire.

Charlie Briggs, who is standing for MP in Salford as a “paper candidate”, told the Express his only priority was representing the people of Gannow. In 2007, he finished just 95 votes ahead of Labour candidate Stephen Large. This time out he faces Michael Rushton from Labour, Tom Watson (Conservative) and Jane Davis (Green Party).

A total of eight candidates will be battling it out in the Hapton with Park Ward with two seats up for grabs following Jonathan Barker’s recent resignation. Padiham Mayor Howard Hudson is the new Labour candidate while Joanne Greenwood, also Labour, will be hoping to hold onto the seat she won in 2011. Sandra Byrne, Stephanie Forrest (both Lib Dem), Ian Dawes, Ivor Emo (both Conservative), Alan Hosker (UKIP) and Ceri Carmichael (Green) will all be standing as well.

Labour’s Paul Reynolds and BNP candidate John Rowe will once again go up against each other in Rosegrove with Lowerhouse, eight years after contesting one of the most controversial seats in Burnley election history.

The 2007 count was equal after three recounts between the two meaning a “draw” had to be made out of a ballot box to decide the winner, which ended up being Mr Reynolds.

Mr Rowe had originally polled two more votes, but during a recount two more Labour votes were then found, one which had been put in a Conservative ballot pile and one which had been thought to have been void but was later accepted, putting the two men neck-and-neck at 489 votes each.

Mr Rowe believed one of the re-discovered Labour votes was not valid but High Court judges later ruled in favour of the victorious Labour candidate.

Barbara Kirker (Lib Dem), Zach Green (Conservative), Mark Girven (UKIP) and Joe Davis (Green) make up the rest of the field.

Two of Burnley’s longest serving councillors are also up for election this year.

Labour’s Liz Monk has represented Trinity for just under 14 years and if elected next month will become the town’s Mayor. Arrangements will be put in place to elect another Mayor if voters instead opt for Stewart Bone (Lib Dem) or Norman White (UKIP).

Ida Carmichael was elected as councillor for Whittlefield with Ightenhill in 1998.

The Conservative councillor will this year face opposition from Labour’s John Fifield, who has chosen not to seek re-election in Bank Hall, Kate Mottershead (Lib Dem) and Christopher Rawson (UKIP).

Polls close at 10pm.