LABOUR and the Liberal Democrats hope to make local elections gains in the Tory political fortress of Ribble Vally Council after a year of splits in the ruling party.

Five councillors quit to form a breakaway Democratic Conservative group in protest at the actions of borough leader Ken Hind before he quit his post in December following Lancashire Telegraph revelations of a complaint alleging bullying against him by former planning chair Sue Bibby.

Now the Democratic Conservative group has collapsed, the established Tory group are confident of regaining their complete stranglehold on the council when voters go the the polls on Thursday May 2.

There will be all-out elections for 40 councillors in 26 wards, some with redrawn boundaries to take account of new housing developments.

On the dissolution of the authority's current set up there were 30 Conservatives, four LibDems, four Democratic Conservatives after Waddington and West Bradford's Paul Elms resigned in February creating a vacancy, and a lone Labour councillor Maureen Fenton in Edisford and Low Moor.

The Conservatives have put up 40 candidates with two - Rosie Elms in Bowland and Simon Hore in Chipping - unopposed.

Labour have a record 35 with the LibDems fielding 16.

The green Party have two candidates - Gaye McCrum fighting Tory Gary Scott in Chatburn and Oi Mei Wrightson among seven candidates fighting for two seats in Wiswell and Barrow. (CORR SPELLINGS)

This ward sees the only sitting Democratic Conservative Robert Thompson standing as one of two independents alongside David Birtwhistle.

UKIP have a lone candidate Stephen Sanderson in Mellor.

Despite the breakaway and the surprise last-minute decision not to select current group deputy leader Rupert Swarbrick to defend his Dilworth seat, Tory agent Mr Hind is confident.

He said: "We are not divided. We are united and expect to perform well."

His successor as council leader Stephen Atkinson said: "We are happy to stand on our track record."

Labour agent David Hinder said: "We are fielding a record number of candidates. We expect to profit from Tory splits locally and nationally."

LibDem leader Allan Knox said: "We had a bad year in 2015 after the end of the coalition government but hope to gain councillors at the expense of a divided Conservative party."

There will also be parish elections in Balderstone; Bolton-by-Bowland, Gisburn Forest and Sawley; Clayton-le-Dale, Mellor, Read, Salesbury; Slaidburn and Easington, as well as the Edisford and Low Moor; Littlemoor, Primrose, St Mary’s and Salthill wards of Clitheroe, and Derby in Longridge.

CANDIDATES LIST (Will need link to website if not printed in paper):

Alston and Hothersall: Judith Clark (Con), Maria Gee (Lab), Stephanie Lomas (Lab), Jim Rogerson (Con).

Billington and Langho: Tony Austin (Con), Ruth Baxter (Con), Maya Dibley (Lab), Anne Taylor (Lab).

Bowland: Rosie Elms (Con).

Brockhall and Dinckley: Stephen Atkinson (Con), Gerald Davies (Lab).

Chatburn: Gaye McCrum (Green), Gary Scott (Con).

Chipping: Simon Hore (Con).

Clayton-le-Dale and Salesbury: Louise Edge (Son), Philip Gedling (Lab).

Derby and Thornley: Stuart Carefoot (Con), Bryan Dalgleish-Warburton (Lab), Jonathan Irwin (Lab), Sarah Rainford (Con).

Dilworth: Harold Gee (Lab), Brian Holden (Con), Angeline Humphreys (Con), Nicholas Stubbs (Lab).

East Whalley, Read and Simonstone: Richard Bennett (Con), Michael Graveston (Lab), Christopher O'Connor (Lab), David Peat (Con).

Edisford and Low Moor: Maria Berryman (Con), Peter Byrne (Con), Maureen Fenton (Lab), Simon O'Rourke (LD), Terry Richardson (Lab), Jennifer Schumann (LD).

Gisburn and Rimington: Richard Sherras (Con), David Waters (Lab).

Hurst Green and Whitewell: Jan Alcock (Con), Tony Halliwell (LD), Andrew MacFarlane (Lab).

Littlemoor: Katei Blezard (Con CORR), Giles Bridge (Lab), Mark French (LD), Sue Knox (LD), Lisa Quinn-Jones (Con), Sue Riley (Lab).

Mellor: Stephen Adnitt (LD), Stella Brunskill (Con), Sheelagh Donnelly (Lab), John Hymas (LD), Dani Murtagh (Lab), Stephen Sanderson (UKIP), Noel Walsh (Con).

Primrose: Karl Barnsley (Lab), Ronald Corbin (Lab), Kevin Horkin (Con), Allan Knox (LD), Charles McFall (Con), Mary Robinson (LD).

Ribchester: Jenny Berry (Lab), Alison Brown (Con).

Sabden: Liz Birtwistle (Lab), Ricky Newmark (Con).

Salthill: Ian Brown (Con), Pam Dowson (Con), Carol Makin (Lab), Donna O'Rourke (LD), Liv Pamplett (Lab CORR), Chantelle Seddon (LD).

St Mary's: Warren Bennett (Con), Jordan Campion (Lab), Garry Dugdale (Lab), Stewart Fletcher (LD), Jonathan Hill (LD), Sue Hind (Con).

Waddington, Bashall Eaves and Mitton: Bob Buller (LD), Ken Hind (Con).

West Bradford and Grindleton: Ed Clayton (LD), Mary Hilton (Con).

Whalley and Painter Wood: Mark Hindle (Con), Joseph Kellaway (Lab), Ged Mirfin (Con), Margaret Young (Lab).

Whalley Nethertown: David Berryman (Con), Ian Metcalfe (Lab), Mark Powell (LD).

Wiswell and Barrow: David Birtwhistle (Ind CORR), Julian Dunn (Lab), Steve Farmer (Con), Simon Kerins (Con), Robert Thompson (Ind), Ian Turner (Lab), Oi Mei Wrightson (Green).

Wilpshire and Ramsgreave: Sue Bibby (Con), Katherine Burn (Lab), Charles Cathcart (Lab), Stuart Hirst (Con).