It was a celebration time for the Tories in South Ribble last night after the party gained 20 seats to seize control of the council.

Overall the Conservatives came away with 44 of the council's 55 seats in its 27 wards, all of which were up for grabs.

Labour saw its 17 seats slip to just eight on the council with losses in traditional Labour strongholds such as Moss Side ward in Leyland and Kingsfold, Penwortham.

The Liberal Democrats, who had 14 seats and were in coalition with Labour, came away with just one seat having lost 13.

The Idle Toad lost one of its three seats.

Labour candidates blamed their defeat on an increase in the 32 percent turnout at the last local elections claiming the party's actual number of votes had been the same as it was previously.

Labour councillor Matthew Tomlinson, who retained his Golden Hill seat with 511 votes, said: "The number of Labour votes has been the same as before.

"The problem is all to do with national politics than Labour party.

"We are proud of what we have achieved in the past 12 years.

"In the last residents' survey 80 percent of residents were happy with the council."

Conservative leader, Coun Margaret Smith, who represents New Longton and Hutton East, said the party's majority win was in part down to a hard fought campaign.

"We are delighted with the result," she said.

"It is due to the hard work of candidates and shows we are in touch with what the people what."

Christine Harrison, who lost her Liberal Democrat seat in Farington East to the Tories, said she was outraged by the Conservative's "dirty tricks" election campaign after the party issued a leaflet to residents stating it would meet the shortfall needed by the Residents Against the Waste Site action group if they won control of the council.

The £45,000 figure would mean the campaigners could take their fight to stop a waste plant being built in Farington to judicial review.

Ms Harrison said: "If a bit of bribery and corruption gets you in then I feel very sorry for the electorate.

"I have done a lot of work in that ward and I feel outraged with the electorate because they have been bought for £45,000.

"But I still ask myself where is this money going to come from?"

Labour MP, David Borrow, who was at the count to support the party's local councillors, said he was disappointed with the result but would have been more concerned had the party seen the number of Labour voters fall.

"It would have been more worrying if the Labour vote was collapsing and if people were switching from being Labour to Tory.

"The Tories have fought a national campaign and the Tory voters have turned out and some of the voters are those who would have voted Liberal Democrat in the past."

The make-up of the council now stands at Conservative 44; Labour 8; Idle Toad 2; Liberal Democrat 1.