LIBERAL Democrats have increased their majority on Pendle Council, despite losing two seats in a night of election surprises.

The ruling party regained seats of the three former LibDem councillors who defected to turn Independent earlier this year.

And they proved the key to the party increasing its total number of seats by one to 27 and its overall majority to seven from five.

But they lost long-serving councillor David Robinson, who had represented the Tory target seat of Boulsworth in Colne for more than 20 years.

After three recounts he was ousted by just seven votes by 72-year-old Conservative Violet Vaughan, who said she "nearly had a nervous breakdown" during the tense wait for the announcement. Mr Robertson left soon after the result without comment-ing but LibDem leader Coun Alan Davies said he was extremely grateful for his support and work over the years.

Senior Liberal Democrat Jamil Munir, who served on the executive committee, lost his seat in Bradley in Nelson by 226 votes after a Labour onslaught to get Nadeem Younis elected.

Mr Munir said he had been very disappointed to lose but would stand again.

LibDems now have 27 seats on the council, up from 26. Labour have six, up from five and Conservatives have 14, up from 13. The BNP fielded six candidates but did not add to their one seat.

Coun Davies said: "We would like to thank the people of Pendle for putting their faith in us again.

"It is disappointing to have lost two councillors but we have done well top hold on to our majority and there will be more of the same and we will continue to work hard for the people."

Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell said: "Congratulations to the Liberal Democrat team in Pendle. Their leadership of the council has delivered improvements for the community and better council services for residents. I know that they will continue to work hard on behalf of local residents."

Labour group leader Coun Mohammed Iqbal said the party was delighted to have gained a seat from such a senior Liberal Democrat.

He said: "It's a massive boost and I am very grateful to the people of Bradley for giving us such a big majority."

Tory group leader Coun Tony Beckett said his party had made significant increases in its share of the vote in many wards.

Votes cast in elections in Burnley and Rossendale, where a third of seats are up for re-election, will be counted today.