Triumphant Tories accused of 'desperate grab for power' in Pendle
Triumphant Tories have regained control of Pendle Borough Council - but in controversial fashion.
The Conservative group now holds 25 seats on the council, but only after welcoming back shamed former Mayor Rosemary Carroll back into the fold who was serving as an independent following suspension for sharing inappropriate jokes on Facebook.
The majority of one that the Tories now hold over the Labour Liberal Democrat coalition is enough to give them control, to the delight of new leader Coun. Paul White, and the anger of Labour leader Coun. Mohammed Iqbal who accused the Tories of "ignoring racism in a desperate grab for power".
Earby ward Coun. Rosemary Carroll, had been suspended by her party last June, following complaints that she had shared an offensive joke on her personal Facebook page. The previous Mayor had to undergo diversity training before being allowed back into the party.
A delighted and bullish Coun. White said: "Labour are angry because they have lost the council. We have 10 more councillors. I won't be taking any lectures on racism from the Labour group, a party which has colluded with the BNP in Marsden. Rosemary Carroll is an excellent local councillor."
Marsden ward, which was held by the British National Party's Brian Parker, who had stood aside, was won in a straight fight with Labour by the Tories.
Coun. White added: "Now we are in control we will be looking at how to tackle the education divide in the borough, and seeing how we can reduce the number of homes being built on our greenbelt land. Finally we want to boost the borough's economy."
A furious Coun. Iqbal accused the Tories of "appalling politics".
He said: "Reinstating Rosemary Carroll shows just how desperate the Tories were after telling me they wouldn't have her back. It shows that her suspension was just a gimmick. It is appalling politics."
Although there were no major shocks, it was a day for bright young things in the borough with 19-year-old Lib Dem candidate Tom Whipp, the son of party stalwart David Whipp, winning the Barnoldswick Coates ward from the Conservatives.
And in a reversal of that result, 32-year-old Victoria Fletcher who beat sitting Lib Dem David Clegg in a tight contest in Colne's Vivary Bridge ward.