Labour have taken control of Hyndburn council after eight years of unbroken Conservative rule.
Labour have taken control of Hyndburn council after eight years of unbroken Conservative rule. On a dramatic night at Hyndburn Leisure Centre, they took two Tory and two Independent seats to achieve the four gains they needed to seize a wafer thin majority of 1.
Councillors Paul Barton, Janet Storey and Stan Horne were unseated on an unpalatable night for Peter Britcliffe's Conservatives, while Independent Mayor Malcolm Pritchard, and the leader of the Independents in Hyndburn group David Mason were also beaten.
The only setback for Labour was missing out in Clayton-le-Moors by just four votes as former Independent councillor Nick Collingridge returned in a seat defended by the Conservatives.
After the dust had settled, Labour were left with 18 seats and the Tories 14, with three Independent in Hyndburn councillors.
The result, delivered on a turnout of 44.4 per cent, makes Labour leader Miles Parkinson council chief elect.
He said: "The people of Hyndburn have sent a clear message to David Cameron and George Osborne that the Tory-led Government's policies are hurting but they are not working.
"A Labour council will now stand up for people of this borough and be their voice in tough times. We have a difficult task ahead of us, as we assess what we have inherited and look to build for the future, and the hard work starts immediately."
Malcolm Pritchard loses his seat - video below...
Red rosettes were on view from early on at the count, with MP Mr Jones and Accrington Stanley chairman Ilyas Khan all smiles with a large Labour contingent.
Outgoing council leader Peter Britcliffe only arrived at the count after midnight.
With some counts still to be declared, he offered his opposite number Councillor Parkinson his hand in congratulation, which, looked like a handover of power.
Coun Britcliffe told the Observer the results were a national protest, and he had no regrets locally.
"Obviously along with all of my colleagues we are feeling sad," he said.
"We always knew it was going to be an uphill battle this year to keep six seats. The results weren't good for the Conservatives across the north west in the typical working class seats.
"It's a typical Hyndburn result. The electorate always seems to vote against the government of the day, and I'm quite sure that's the major reason for our defeat on Thursday."
Malcolm Pritchard reflects on the result - video below ...
Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones said: "This is a real blow for the Conservatives. I look forward to working with a Labour council and fighting for the services that our residents rely on and deserve. There is plenty of work to be done."
The borough is also waving goodbye to its previous two mayors - with Malcolm Pritchard well beaten by Labour's Paul Cox in Milnshaw, and his predecessor Paul Barton falling to June Harrison in Barnfield.
The outgoing mayor will definitely not return to borough politics after nine years on the council. He will instead concentrate on his duties as a Lancashire county councillor. He also intends to step up his activity as a disabled people's champion.
Mr Pritchard said: "There is life after politics. What I'm going to do now is concentrate on the disability centre and I will be giving 110 per cent to that, like I have to my politics.
"I have had an excellent year as mayor and nobody can take that away from me."
Hyndburn overwhelmingly rejected AV in the referendum on a proposed change to the electoral system from First Past the Post.
Only 6,167 voters voted Yes to the Alternative Vote system, compared to 17,891 who opposed its introduction.
That gave the No vote an emphatic 74.4 per cent share, even greater than the 69 per cent achieved nationwide and the 67 per cent across Greater Manchester. The absence of a traditional Liberal Democrat vote undoubtedly skewed the figures against the Yes campaign.
The No campaign was backed by both Labour and the Conservatives in Hyndburn, with only Great Harwood Independent councillor Ian Robinson publicly endorsing the Yes campaign.
Coun Parkinson said: "People were quite happy with the status quo. The leaders of the Labour and Conservative groups and the MP made their views known they were voting no and there was no real Liberal basis to speak up for the yes campaign."