NEXT month's elections for Rossendale Council are pretty well a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives.

Both main parties are fighting all 12 of the 14 borough wards up for grabs.

While sitting Community First councillor Alan Neal is likely to hold on to his Healey and Whitworth ward the other two non-mainstream candidates have little hope to getting elected.

Kevin Bryan is fighting Irwell ward for the far-right National Front and Independent Granville Barker is seeking election in Worsley.

Currently Labour, led by Alyson Barnes who is up for election in Goodshaw ward, has 22 councillors against the Conservatives 13.

Two of the party's sitting councillors are standing down: Colin Crawforth in Hareholme and Annie McMahon on Longholme to be replaced as candidates by Christine Gill and Joseph Stevens respectively.

Labour's push to keep power has been hindered by Whitewell's councillor Pam Bromley's suspension from the party over allegations of anti-Semitic social media posts, which she vigorously denies.

Labour are defending six ward to the Tories five.

All the Conservative candidates are sitting councillors.

The opposition's drive to win back the borough is affected by the fact their interim boss, Greenfield ward's Annabel Shipley, is their fourth leader in two years.

Her predecessor Val Roberts,also a representative for Greenfield, was suspended and then reinstated over allegations of offensive and anti-Muslim posts on Facebook.

Cllr Robert's husband, Helmshore's David Stansfield, was expelled from the Conservative Party and then let back in over after paying back wrongly-claimed benefits to the Department of Work and Pensions.

Cllr Barnes said: "We are fighting on the impact of government cuts on Rossendale and how we have dealt with them.

"We will also be stressing our success in bringing investment in to Rawtenstall and Bacup town centres through the Spinning Point development and the Townscape Heritage Initiative as well as our bid for National Lottery cash for the Whitworth Art Gallery to create a new arts centre."

Former Tory group leader and Greensclough councillor Peter Steen said: "We believe voters should reject Labour for their arrogance, failure to listen to residents and financial mismanagement.

"We are talking about wasting £5million and rising on the empty homes initiative and their ignoring local views on the plans for Bacup and Rawtenstall town centres."

Cllr Barnes is hopeful Labour will keep power in what she says is "a Conservative borough with a small 'c' '' but admits many of the wards up for election are so marginal they could go either way.