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THE latest news and stories from the campaign trail ...

All confident in knife-edge poll - published 4 June 2004
AS THEY enter the final frantic week of campaigning, both main parties are confident of success in the Hyndburn Council elections.

Hundreds of miles have been walked and countless voters' doors knocked on but candidates show no sign of slowing down with just six days left before councillors are elected for 12 of the borough's 16 wards.

With the current situation of 18 Conservative councillors and 17 Labour, the direction of Hyndburn's political future is wide open and there is everything to play for.

Council leader Peter Britcliffe has been out and about with his candidates, although he is not up for re-election himself.

He said: "I remain cautiously optimistic about our chances. What has been clear is the systematic ebbing away of support for the Labour Party. People have told us they are sick of them generally but particularly the Government."

"People are pleased we have solved the council's budget problems and delivered a relatively low council tax."

Councillor David Myles, deputy leader of the Labour opposition, is battling to defend his Altham seat, and is pleased with the response he has met.

"We seem to be getting a lot of positives from people on the doorsteps," he said. "We really want to concentrate on local issues and it is concerning that voters may be influenced by national topics."

"We have been trying to get the message across that, like the voters, we are local people, concerned about our communities and our children's future. We have focused on the important issues such as road safety, playschemes, litter, care of the elderly and housing."

"We have promised people a public inquiry about last year's cash crisis, a subject that angered and worried lots of voters."

William Greene, Liberal Democrat candidate for St Andrew's ward in Oswaldtwistle, hopes to capitalise on bickering between the two main parties.

He said: "Responses have varied. Some people have made their minds up early and some aren't sure about their choice."

"But we seem to have struck a chord with our promise to make Labour and Tories work together. Voters are disappointed with the mud-slinging and we will fight to get all councillors working for the best for Hyndburn."

Two other Lib Dems are standing for election as well as a Green Party candidate and an Independent.

  • As part of the Tories' election campaign, MEP Den Dover visited Prosperity Recycling in Accrington, along with Councillor Britcliffe and Barnfield ward candidate Councillor Tony Dobson.

    Jennet follows in family footsteps - published 21 May 2004

IT WILL be a real family affair when Jennet Liddle follows in the footsteps of her mum, aunt and uncle by contesting June's local elections.

The 29-year-old has decided to stand as a Conservative candidate in Altham.

Mum-of-two Jennet, of Clayton Way in the village, is the daughter of Janet Storey, a current Tory councillor for Clayton-le-Moors.

Her aunt, former Great Harwood Overton ward councillor Lynn Wilson, is hoping to make a return to Hyndburn Council when she stands for the Tories in neighbouring Netherton.

But her uncle Jack Cooper spent a five-year stint as a LABOUR councillor in Clay-ton.

Jennet, who has an eight-month-old son Oliver and a 10-year-old daughter Katherine, was born and bred in Clayton. She cites her main interests as community issues such as schools, the roads and childcare.

She said: "I have always been involved in local issues and, as I now have a young family, I have to take an interest for their benefit in the future."

Her mum Janet, now in her fifth year as a councillor, says politics runs in the family.

She said: "My grandmother Ellen Royle was a Suff-ragette and went to prison. My dad Robert was an ex-Army officer and our mum Annie was a NAAFI manager at Colchester so they were very strong-willed."

Lynn, who lives in Edge End, was previously a councillor for three years in Overton while Jack stood as an Independent two years ago.

He joked: "The council chamber will be a livelier place if all three are members, as they can all talk. We have always been a political family so this doesn't come as a surprise and I wish them all luck."

Lib Dem trio hope for election success -published 21 May 2004

ONLY three Liberal Democrats are contesting wards in the June council elections but they are all confident of their chances.

Two of the three have a wealth of political experience, having stood for Parliament, and the other is a first-timer who described himself as "not really a political person".

Bill Greene, a leading North West Lib Dem, stood as Hyndburn's parliamentary candidate in 2001 and was a member of Fylde Borough Council for 15 years. He lives in Burns Avenue, Oswaldtwistle, with his wife Irene and has four step-daughters and nine granddaughters.

Asked why he was standing for the St Andrew's ward in Oswaldtwistle, he said: "I want to give something back to an area that has welcomed me in so many different ways. The councillors in this area need to stop fighting and blaming each other. They waste too much time and money on disagreeing. I intend to ensure that they work together for the benefit of all in Hyndburn."

Leslie Jones, of Oakwood Road, Baxenden, contests the Baxenden ward against Labour's Ian Mason and Tory John Griffiths, who is a member of Hyndburn's Cabinet.

Mr Jones said his main aim was to fight for a Baxenden community centre, and claimed Labour and Conservative groups were "both a bit culpable" for last year's financial crisis, "because they had both been in power".

Newcomer Javad Iqbal, of Willows Lane, Accrington, is battling for the Spring Hill ward. He has lived in Accrington for more than 40 years, is married with four children and used to own a newsagent's shop in Blackburn Road.

He said: "We don't have enough jobs around Accrington generally. I want to work to attract more investment to improve the quality of life, and to concentrate on the main issues of housing, general cleanliness and the quality of the roads."

They're off! Labour and Tories in knife-edge battle - published 14 May 2004

CANDIDATES are lining up for what could be the hardest-fought Hyndburn Council election campaign in years.

The Tories currently control the council by just one seat, 18 to 17, and with a third of the seats up for grabs in the all-postal vote there is everything to play for. But there were some surprises when nominations closed.

Contrary to expectations, there are no far-right candidates entering the fray. The BNP is believed to be concentrating all its energies in Burnley while its offshoot the British National Socialist Party, which last week said it would be fielding two candidates, has in the end not done so.

The two main parties will be joined at the polls by Green Party candidate Ian Dixon in Barnfield ward; Liberal Democrats Leslie Jones in Baxenden, Javed Iqbal in Spring Hill and Bill Louis Greene in St Andrew's; and a surprise Independent, Matthew Hartley of Hyndburn Road, in Church.

The council's recent cash crisis, with each party blaming the other, is sure to be one of the main issues and there are already signs of bitterness between leading figures in the two main parties.

With the parties defending six seats each, the result, which will be announced on 10 June along with that of the Euro-election, seems to be on a knife edge.

'We'll stop Hyndburn going backwards' - Published 14 May 2004

LEADERS of the Labour opposition group are confident of taking control of Hyndburn Council in the forthcoming June elections. Their candidates include both new and familiar faces and a husband-and-wife team.

Both leader Jean Battle and deputy David Myles are defending their seats in Church and Altham respectively, as are Sardar Ali (Central), Susan Shorrock (Netherton), Graham Jones (Peel) and Edith Dunston (Spring Hill).

Candidate David Forshaw, a Great Harwood councillor for four years until 1999, is battling for the Rishton ward while others hoping for a comeback include Dennis Baron in Overton ward and and Ian Mason in Baxenden.

Gerald Newton MBE is contesting the Barnfield ward after trying in Rishton two years ago. He said: "There is a big litter problem that needs to be addressed and mainly I want to look at the staple issues such as anti-social behaviour and street lighting."

Husband-and-wife John and Colette McCormack compete in the St Andrew's and St Oswald's wards of Oswaldtwistle respectively.

Discussing Labour's approach to the elections, Councillor Battle said: "We plan to build on our usual approach of listening to people properly. There are lots of issues we want to examine and push forward and I think we have a good enough team to win the election."

Councillor Myles said: "We will act where the Tories haven't. We have had a year of going backwards and hopefully the public will support us because of it. Recycling had been going forward but we are getting more and more complaints about collecting rubbish.

"On environmental issues we have taken 10 steps backwards under a Tory council, but the Labour group will move forward and use council tax properly. The £1.8M black hole was a Tory mess because they have been in control for four years of the last five."

Tories name election line-up

FIVE Tory big guns are seeking to retain their council seats in the forthcoming June elections, along with both new and familiar faces.

Deputy council leader Jim Dickinson is set to defend his Baxenden seat, as are Cabinet members Brian Walmsley (St Andrews), Ann Scaife (Rishton), Peter Clarke (Overton) and Tony Dobson (Barnfield). Four former councillors are also vying for a seat: Stan Horne in Church, Lynn Wilson in Netherton, Derek Scholes in Peel and Eddie Hogan in Altham.

New candidates set to battle it out for a seat include Allah Dad (Central) and Abdul Qayyum (Spring Hill). Marlene Haworth will be standing in St Oswald's after fellow-Tory George Griffiths announced he is to step down.

Council leader Peter Britcliffe unveiled his election promises this week, pledging to give area councils more powers to look after parks and target litter.

Looking back over the past 12 months, since the Tories snatched back control of the council from Labour by just one seat, Councillor Britcliffe said: "We have had to take some very tough and difficult decisions to balance the budget at Hyndburn Council, and let's make no mistake, there were very real problems which would have led to a £1.8M overspend.

"We have shown we are not afraid to take tough decisions to bring down the level of council tax in the borough and we will not shirk from such decisions in the future."

He added: "The candidates we are putting forward have a great deal of experience within the council and the communities in which they live. They are representative of local people throughout the borough."

He said a Tory-led council would plough £40,000 into improving "People's Parks" and devolve powers to area councils to clean up streets.

He said: "This council would continue to oppose regional government, as it would mean the end of small district councils like Hyndburn and lead to us being controlled regionally by Manchester and Liverpool and locally by Blackburn. We would say don't let Labour sell Hyndburn down the river."

Looking ahead to the elections, which are all-postal voting, he added: "We are confident that whatever the method of voting, people will take the opportunity to give Tony Blair and his party the kick in the teeth they deserve."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist