CONTROVERSIAL plans to rename Hyndburn as Accrington and District have been placed on the back burner after a heated council meeting.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe suggested postponing the decision for at least six months but met with fierce opposition from Labour councillors.
He and the ruling Tory group argued that to hold a referendum on the issue next May would cause confusion with the separate issue of setting up town and parish councils.
He said: “There has been a lot of support for the name change from all parts of the borough.
“Only one area council, Great Harwood, voted against it. We have also had approval from the police, the Primary Care Trust and other agencies in the borough, but we must listen to the public.
“All the advice from regeneration experts is that we need to rename the borough because nobody knows where Hyndburn is and brand names sell. However, this is an important decision that cannot be rushed.”
Labour amendments to either hold a low-cost referendum in May or make a decision there and then were defeated and councillors then voted 17-11 in favour of putting the plan on ice.
Labour opposition leader, Councillor Graham Jones, said: “We want to make a decision on this once and for all as costs are spiralling out of control. The leader of the council is hiding and he won’t answer the big important questions.”
e added: “The name change plan has caused bitterness and sets one town off against another. Hyndburn is a unifying name under which we can all work together.
“To suggest that people can’t vote on two subjects at once in a referendum is insulting to the electorate.
“The Tories voted to delay the issue because they are frightened of losing votes in Great Harwood. They hope to win more seats in May and then force the name change through.”
He also warned there was a massive cost implication, particularly over replacing wheelie bins, blue boxes and recycling bags and changing direct debit payments.
But Councillor Britcliffe insisted that any expense had already been taken into account during budget planning in April.
The Tories insisted that the proposal to create Accrington and District Council was not dead in the water and that it would be discussed again before and after a referendum, possibly in May, on whether town councils should be introduced in a bid to give more power to the people.
Councillor Britcliffe said: “We have gone from a proposed referendum to a dictatorial decision by the minority of the council.’’
And he warned the opposition: “You cannot take the public for granted. We will take a decision in spite of you.
“Your actions are worse than the Prime Minister’s when he bottled out of a General Election. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”