Tories gain in Pendle but still no overall control

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It was a good day for the Conservatives in Pendle as they gained three seats in the borough council elections – but they must wait to discover who will have overall control after failing to secure an overall majority.

The Tories gained two seats from Labour in Reedley and Vivary Bridge where Labour Coun. Mohammed Hanif and Coun. Ian Tweedie lost their seats.

Labour did gain a seat from the Tories in Walverden, however, where George Adam gained 772 votes to defeat the Tory incumbent Abdul Aziz who received 378 votes.

The most high profile member to be up for re-election was Liberal Democrat leader Coun. Tony Greaves who held his Waterside seat.

Lord Greaves made a stinging attack on the Tory election campaign in Pendle, describing it as “the least principled campaign I’ve ever witnessed.”

The veteran politician, who is the current deputy leader of the council, added that the Tories would have to make significant in their attitude towards his party before coalition negotiations begin.

He said: “I will sit down and talk with anyone about how we can move forward regards control of the council, but if the Tories want to talk to me they will have to make substantial changes in their attitude towards us.

“They have spent a year attacking us, abusing us and insulting our members. There have been very personal and unpleasant remarks made to ordinary members in meetings.

“To use a football analogy, the Tories have gone for the man and not the ball. It has been the least principled campaign I have witnessed in all my years.”

Lord Greaves also made reference to his ongoing dispute with Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, who he said continues to refuse to speak to him.

Tory leader, Coun. Joe Cooney, said: “It has been an excellent day and campaign for us.

“We are especially pleased to gain Reedley. We’ve knocked on doors and worked hard over the past few months.

“Once again we are the largest group on the council and we have to have some involvement. We will be seeking negotiations in the coming days.”

But the Labour leader of the council, Coun. Mohammed Iqbal, said there would be no guarantees as the Tories still did not have a majority.

Coun. Iqbal said: “It has been a day of mixed emotions. We lost two fantastic, hard-working councillors in Mohammad Hanif and Ian Tweedie, who I would like to thank.

“However, we are very pleased to have George Adam back after he won in Walverden. Overall, the Labour vote held up well against a very nasty, vicious and personal campaign by the Tories.

“Regarding the future control of the council we will be having a group meeting on Sunday and take things forward from there.”

The overall make-up of the council now sees the Conservatives with 21 seats, Labour 17, Liberal Democrats 10 and the BNP one seat.