Good day for Labour and the Liberal Democrats as Conservatives lose overall control of Pendle Council

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It was a good day for the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but a blue one for the Conservatives who lost control of Pendle Council and three stalwart councillors.

The Conservatives now hold 14 seats on Pendle Council while Labour have 11 and the Liberal Democrats seven councillors, as well as one independent.

The hung result means that no party has overall control, but talks are expected to take place between Labour and Lib Dems about a power-sharing agreement, something which has happened previously.

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Three long-serving Tory councillors lost their seats – deputy leader and deputy Mayor Mike Goulthorp in Earby and Coates, Jenny Purcell in Barnoldswick and Neil McGowan in Marsden and Southfield.

It was a good day for the Liberal Democrats at the Pendle Borough Council electionsIt was a good day for the Liberal Democrats at the Pendle Borough Council elections
It was a good day for the Liberal Democrats at the Pendle Borough Council elections

Liberal Democrat leader, Coun. David Whipp, said: “I’m delighted with the results. It’s a verdict on Tory rule locally and nationally. There are huge challenges facing Pendle, not helped by two years of a lacklustre administration.”

Pressed on who his party would side with, the potential kingmaker said his party was “clearly at loggerheads with the Conservatives” but would talk to both sides.

“We have a set of policy objectives so we will talk to both groups and see where there’s the greatest meeting of minds. We’re not happy with the Conservatives’ attempt to centralise planning or the fact that leisure centres in the borough are under threat due to their review.”

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Independent and former Labour leader, Coun. Mohammed Iqbal, said: “For the Tories to lose Brierfield West and Reedley, which used to be a safe Tory seat, is really something.

“Clearly the Tories have taken an absolute hammering, and the cost of living crisis is a big reason.”

Meanwhile, Tory leader Coun. Nadeem Ahmed highlighted the fact that despite today’s losses, his party was the only group to have representatives in each ward on the council. He also pointed to the various streams of investment into Pendle in recent years including the £25m. Nelson Town Deal and the £6.5m. for Colne’s market and theatres.

He said: “I’m proud of what we’ve achieved locally in attracting investment to the borough and we want to make sure it is spent wisely. We lost three stalwart councillors today but, as they say, a day is a long time in politics.”

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Pendle’s Tory MP Andrew Stephenson was also understandably disappointed with the council election results, locally and nationally.

He said: “The results are very disappointing, particularly so in losing three very hardworking stalwart councillors. There is no denying we have had a bad set of local elections results but I think there are a combination of factors for that.

“Big global shocks, such as Covid which has created NHS backlogs, and the war in Ukraine, which has contributed to the energy crisis, are definitely two of them. People want to see the government getting to grips with these.”

Pressed on how the government could achieve this, the longstanding senior Tory added: “I believe we are getting on top of the backlogs and inflation but it will take time. In terms of inflation, we have to be disciplined in terms of the public sector and offer settlements that are fair but do not fuel inflation.”