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Labour back in control of Blackburn with Darwen
LABOUR tonight regained control of Blackburn with Darwen Council after a vote of no confidence in the ruling coalition.
The new council leader is Labour chief Kate Hollern after two members of the For Darwen party withdrew their support for the controlling alliance.
The motion, putting Labour back in power after a three-and-a-half year absence, was carried by 33 votes to 29.
Immediately Coun Hollern pledged to return services to Shadsworth Leisure Centre, but warned she still needed to analyse what facilities would be available.
She said the council would support local groups to help keep open under-threat community centres.
And she said revealed the authority would continue to support Blackburn's new Youth Zone, but that the level of support could be scaled down.
The coalition was made up of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and For Darwen Party.
Tonight's vote came after councillors Trevor Maxfield and Anthony Meleady resigned from the For Darwen Party and withdrew their support from the coalition last month.
The council is trying to save about £40million in the next four years as it prepares for a reduction in grants given to local government.
Measures including the closure of Shadsworth Leisure Centre and cutting funding for community centres had been proposed.
But speaking after the meeting at Blackburn Town Hall Coun Hollern said: "We gave a guarantee to save Shadsworth Leisure Centre and we will do our best to return services there.
"We are under no illusion that there are some challenging decisions ahead.
"But people will be given more time to put together proposals to run the community centres and we will make sure that we consult fully before any decisions are made."
She said the Youth Zone, a centre based on the Bolton Lads and Girls Club to be built off Jubilee Street, would receive 'a level of support' under the Labour administration.
The council had agreed to provide £400,000 a year.
Coun Mike Lee, the outgoing leader, said: "As a coalition we have achieved a great deal over the last three-and-a-half years including the lowest council tax in Lancashire, a return to weekly refuse collections and investing £4m extra per year in adult social care."
* The Lancashire Telegraph provided live updates from the Blackburn with Darwen Council meeting tonight. Replay the updates below.
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