Talks to be had as Tories lose control of Pendle Council with no party holding a majority

Pendle Borough Council has again fallen under no overall control after a disappointing day at the polls for the ruling Conservative group.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 4:22 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 4:31 pm
Labour's Coun. Mohammed Iqbal (red top) celebrates a good day for Pendle Labour
Labour's Coun. Mohammed Iqbal (red top) celebrates a good day for Pendle Labour

For Tory sadness read Liberal Democrat joy as, like much of the country, the Lib Dems seemed to have capitalised on the public's frustration with the two main parties.

The Lib Dems may now hold an influential hand in Pendle, where they held their three contested seats and gained one from the Conservatives, meaning that Labour will be seeking to do a deal with the yellow rosettes and form a constituency as they did in 2017.

Lib Dem grandee and local leader Coun. Tony Greaves said any deal with any party would have a red line - that Pendle pull out of talks to become part of a Pennine Lancashire unitary authority.

Lib Dem Coun. David Whipp (far right) pleased with his party's performance

Coun. Greaves said: "The Conservatives have been booted out deservedly. They've spent 12 months spreading disruption and mayhem, and the people have seen through them.

"Looking ahead, we now have lots of ideas we want to put to all the parties, which we will be doing in the next few days. One that we have made absolutely clear and is a deal-breaker for us is Pendle being part of a Pennine Lancashire unitary authority.

"Being part of that would be a disaster for Pendle and result in the abolition of local democracy. Pendle would just end up being ruled by the big boys from Blackburn. Overall, though, the important thing from today is that the Tories are out.

"Whoever the next leader of the council is will not have dictatorial power. All major decisions will have to be made by the policy and resources committee in public and not decided in private by one party and imposed on the public."

Conservatives celebrating gaining Bradley ward from Labour

That new council leader is again likely to be Labour's Coun. Mohammed Iqbal who said his party would be having talks with the Lib Dems in the coming days.

He said: "I am absolutely ecstatic. The voters have sent a clear message that they want Theresa May out and here in Pendle this has been a real kick in the teeth for the Conservatives.

"We'll see now if we can come to a positive balance and move away from tribal policies. Clearly, the unitary authority question is an issue with the Lib Dems and we'll have that conversation in the coming days."

It was always going to be a challenging day for the Tories who were defending 11 seats, making their control vulnerable. However, despite a national backlash, they still managed to hold seven seats and even gained Nelson's Bradley ward from Labour where Mohammed Aslam was elected with 1,196 votes in a closely fought contest with Labour's Nadeem Younis who received 1,152 votes.

However, Labour also gained a seat from them in Reedley and Brierfield, while the Lib Dems snatched Vivary Bridge knocking out one-time Tory leader Joe Cooney with David Clegg receiving 535 votes.

In Brierfield, Labour's Qamar Shazad beat Tory Aftab Ahmed, while in Reedley, Conservative Pauline McCormick lost her seat to Labour's Mohammed Hanif.

Acting Tory leader Coun. Nadeem Ahmed said: "It's clearly disappointing to have lost overall control but I am quite pleased considering what's happened nationally. It's been a challenging time for both the Conservatives and Labour with Brexit obviously being the big issue."

The make-up of Pendle Council is now 23 seats for the Conservatives, 16 seats for Labour, and 10 Liberal Democrats meaning no overall control.