LABOUR retained overall control of Rossendale Council following a vote which saw the Liberal Democrats lose their sole councillor in the Valley.

Sitting Lib Dem Jim Pilling came a distant third in Whitewell as the Conservatives’ Karl Kempson pipped Labour’s Jean Hayler to the post by 13 votes after a tense recount at the Riverside Civic Hall in Whitworth.

Whitewell was the only ward to change hands as stalwarts from both of the two main parties held their ground.

Labour’s council leader Alyson Barnes increased her majority in Goodshaw, Jackie Oakes comfortably saw off UKIP in Stacksteads, while Colin Crawforth (Hareholme), Liz McInnes (Longholme) and Ann Kenyon (Worsley) all kept their seats at a canter.

In Irwell, however, Helen Jackson required a recount to see off the Conservatives’ former county councillor Peter Steen by 40 votes.

For the Tories, ex-Mayor Brian Essex (Helmshore) and veteran Granville Morris (Greenfield) both polled more than 1,000 votes. Anne Cheetham won in Eden to keep the south-west of the borough blue.

Fellow Tory Jimmy Eaton kept his Greensclough seat in Bacup despite a strong showing for Labour’s Pat Smith, while Alan Neal, Community First’s only representative, easily held on to his Healey and Whitworth seat.

Coun Barnes said: “I’m delighted with our results. We’ve made great gains in the last two years and I’m so pleased to have held on to them.”

Over the border in Bury, Ramsbottom Tory Ian Bevan held his seat while his party colleage James Daly held on to North Manor ward.