THE ruling Liberal Democrats in Burnley were beaten into third place by Labour and the British National Party in a by-election yesterday.
Well-known community campaigner Bea Foster triumphed for Labour, winning the Rosegrove and Lowerhouse election in the by-election prompted by the resignation of Lib Dem Julie Johnson.
Labour garnered 521 votes, BNP candidate Paul McDevitt 288 and Lib Dem's Kate Mottershead on 261.
The Lib Dems say they have learned a ‘hard lesson’ folllowing the by-election, which was held against a backdrop of unpopularity nationally for the party over its role in the coalition Government.
The Conservative’s Matthew Isherwood received 81 votes and Independent candidate Andrew Hennessey, who also stood at the General Election, got 58.
Coun Foster, a retired youth and community worker and lay preacher at Greenbrook Methodist Church, thanked voters, for braving stormy conditions to vote and party colleagues for their efforts during the campaign.
She said: “I am a people person and I loved listening to people on the doorstep. Now I want to work with people, not just for them, in dealing with their problems.”
Coun Julie Cooper, Labour group leader, said: “I think we have turned a corner with this result. We worked very hard on this campaign.
“The message on the doorsteps was that people were saying they had voted Lib Dem at the General Election and now feel let down.”
Lib Dem council leader Coun Charlie Briggs said: “We need to get across our message on the things we’ve done in Burnley for Burnley.
“We learned a hard lesson last night and the local party has some serious thinking to do.”
The result means there are now 20 Lib Dems, 15 Labour councillors, five Conservatives, two British National Party and one Independent, with two vacancies, on the council.
Beatrice Foster, Labour 521
Paul McDevitt, British National Party 288
Kate Mottershead, Liberal Democrat 261
Mathew Isherwood, Conservative 81
Andrew Hennessey, Independent 58.