YESTERDAY’s local election results in East Lancashire saw mixed political fortunes for the two main parties as Labour and the Conservatives lost control of a council each.

Thursday’s poll saw the Liberal Democrats, smaller parties and independents do well.

There were also high-profile political casualties including former Ribble Valley Council Conservative leader Ken Hind and former Pendle Tory boss Joe Cooney.

Labour held Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Rossendale councils with ease.

But the party lost control of its former stronghold of Burnley for the second time in recent years as the borough’s Lib Dems, the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party and UKIP took seats on the council.

The Tories held on to Ribble Valley despite a Lib Dem surge but saw their one-seat majority on Pendle disappear despite a visit by Prime Minister Theresa May to Brierfield last week.

Leading Labour and Conservative figures were quick to blame national issues, notably the Brexit deadlock at Westminster for their local troubles.

And they expressed alarm at a generally low voter turnout and an unusually high number of spoiled ballot papers.

Ribble Valley Conservative group leader Cllr Stephen Atkinson said: “It's sad that national issues have affect local politics.

“There is a clear message to the party leadership that the delays over Brexit have harmed the party and we need to get the country out of the European Union as quickly as possible.”

Hyndburn Council's Labour leader Miles Parkinson said: “There was a definite Brexit effect as shown in the low turnout and large number of spoilt ballot papers.

“Unless something is done about this issue there will be flood of votes to the Brexit party in predominantly Leave voting areas like East Lancashire.”

Labour agent in Ribble Valley David Hinder, where the party had hoped to make gains but lost its only councillor, said: “I think there are concerns about the national direction of the Labour party, especially in areas like ours.”

In Burnley Labour lost overall control with just 22 of the 45 councillors and 23 made up of eight Liberal Democrats, four Tories, three UKIP representatives, five Burnley and Padiham Independent Party councillors and one Independent.

Lib Dem leader and former Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “It was good day for the Lib Dems and opposition parties and a terrible one for Labour.”

While talks begin this weekend to form some kind of coalition administration in the borough, negotiations will also start in volatile Pendle after the Tories lost control.

Labour with 16 councillors will try to reform its alliance with the Lib Dems, who have 10, to keep the Conservatives with 23 out of power.

Blackburn with Darwen remained firmly Labour as they lost just one ward - Darwen East - to returning Lib Dem veteran Paul Browne.

Its deputy leader Cllr Phil Riley shared worries about the impact of national issues: “There are clear concerns about the way Brexit has been handled by the government.”

Rossendale saw Labour keep control but the election of an Independent and a second Community First councillor while Ribble Valley gained two Independents.

n A crackdown on possible vote fraud in Pendle angered an 87-year-old pensioner in Colne’s Horsfield ward when she was turned away for having the wrong photo ID despite having voted in every election since she was 21.