A COUNCIL leader was accused of being dictatorial, undemocratic and 'despicable' as a debate on a £77million package of cuts ended in chaos.

Lancashire County's Tory boss Cllr Geoff Driver ended discussion on the savings programme after two adjournments and a confrontation with Liberal Democrat leader Cllr David Whipp.

The latter's attempt to present a 2,000 signature petition against possible new on-street parking charges in Colne to the authority's Cabinet yesterday provoked the row which led to the debate's premature end.

Cllr Whipp's intervention came as Labour leader Cllr Azhar Ali attacked the financial package as 'government-imposed cuts' branding plans to turn off 18,000 of the county's 100,000 residential street lights at night as creating 'a muggers paradise'.

Cllr Driver said Cllr Whipp was not entitled to take part in the meeting, paused it and went to remonstrate with him.

After a second adjournment, he moved discussion onto the next item.

Cllr Ali said: "You are a dictator who does not allow debate."

Cllr Whipp shouted: "This is undemocratic."

His Pendle LibDem colleague Lord Tony Greaves added: "I have never seen anything so despicable."

During the chaotic scenes the Cabinet approved the the package of measures aimed at saving £77m by 2022, some subject to consultation.

They involve reducing services for vulnerable adults and young people including cutting the number of care workers attending many older and disabled people and ending the current Lancashire Breaktime Service of school holiday daycare for disabled children.

Cllr Driver said: "Cllr Whipp's childish stunt was anti-democratic and designed to disrupt an important debate. The package is prudent and realistic financial management aimed at delivering services more efficiently and effectively."