A historic day in local elections saw the UK Independence Party (UKIP) secure their first ever seat on Burnley Borough Council as Labour strengthened their grip on power.
Labour gained a seat to bring the number of their councillors to 29 with the Liberal Democrats losing two seats meaning they now have 10 councillors, and the Conservatives remaining on five members.
But the big news from the day saw UKIP gain their first councillor in the form of Padiham taxi firm operator Alan Hosker who has been elected in the Hapton with Park ward.
The Sunday league referee said he was persuaded to stand because he wanted a better future for his children.
He said: “I’m delighted that the voters of Hapton and Padiham have chosen me. I am Padiham born and bred and I want to do my best for all the residents.
“This is my first foray into politics and I chose to do it because I want a better future for my children and other young people.
“There were eight candidates in this ward and two seats up for grabs. It was very hard fought and I’m glad to have gained one of them.”
Mr Hosker, who runs Alan’s First Choice Taxis in Padiham, is a well-known face in the area, not least for his many years as a referee in the Burnley district leagues.
Labour’s Joanne Greenwood picked up the seat in Hapton with Park gaining 996 to Mr Hosker’s 964.
Burnley’s UKIP leader and parliamentary candidate Tom Commis said Mr Hosker’s win had transformed the day for his party.
Mr Commis who finished third in the Cliviger with Worsthorne ward and third in the General Election said: “Alan’s win has turned it into a good day for us. I’m delighted for him and he will be a terrific councillor.
“It gives us a foot in the door. Elsewhere was a little disappointing although we did finish second again in some wards.
“We have a lot of work to do now in the next year.”
The Labour leader of the council Mark Townsend, who retained his seat in Brunshaw with a resounding 1,257 votes, said he was pleased his party and gained an extra seat.
He said: “We lost a seat in Hapton but gained two in Rosehill and Queensgate. It is progress and shows that the people of Burnley trust us.
“However, I’m very concerned with the national picture now and how a majority Conservative Government will hit the people of Burnley.
“I’m fearful the Tories will cut harder and faster now. We have got to find new and innovative ways of delivering services for the people of Burnley.
“I’m looking forward to working with our new MP (Julie Cooper). We have to work together to put pressure on the Government to get the best deal for Burnley.”
Burnley Tory leader Ida Carmichael also retained her seat, despite initial worries she might lose in Whittlefield with Ightenhill.
She beat a strong challenge from Labour’s John Fifield and Lib Dem Kate Mottershead.
She said: “We had a few new candidates this year and a lot of young ones.
“We have been canvassing hard. I’ve served 17 years and built a good relationship with the parish council, PACT committee and Friends of the Park so I hope this continues.
“Elsewhere, I’m glad we held some important seats. I think we have a lot of new young and hungry members.”
The next Mayor of Burnley, Labour’s Elizabeth Monk, also retained her seat in Trinity ward which had the lowest turnout of 51.3%. She secured 950 votes.
The highest turnout came in Cliviger with Worsthorne ward where an impressive 73.7% turned out to vote.
Conservative Cosima Towneley retained her seat with 1,040 votes from Lib Dem challenger Bill Brindle with 760.
His wife Margaret Brindle retained her seat in Coalclough with Deerplay ward.
Lib Dem leader Charlie Briggs also secure his seat, winning 1,128 votes in Gannow ward, beating Labour’s Michael Rushton.
Coun. Briggs said: “I’m very grateful to the people of Gannow for voting me back in.
“There is much work to do and I will continue to work hard and carry on the job.”
Former Mayor of Burnley, Labour’s John Harbour, comfortably retained his seat in Gawthorpe ward where he picked up 1,417 votes to the Conservatives’ Barrie Bamford who gained 530 votes.
The sole British National Party candidate, John Rowe, who stood in Rosegrove with Lowerhouse ward, gained just 42 votes. The ward was held by Labour’s Paul Reynolds.