CONTROVERSIAL changes to slash the number of councillors in a borough will now go ahead in May with slight changes to the new ward map.

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has published its final recommendations for the new electoral arrangements for Pendle.

The current 49 representatives for 17 wards in Pendle will be cut to 33 politicians representing 12.

All Pendle’s council wards will change as a result of the review proposed by the previous Conservative administration.

They all will be up for election in May.

The Commission has made changes to the original map.

In the west of Pendle, local people and organisations argued against original proposal to include the rural parishes of Old Laund Booth and Higham with West Close Booth in a ward with the urban parishes of Brierfield and Reedley.

The Commission’s final recommendations now propose a one-councillor Fence and Higham ward alongside a two-councillor Brierfield West and Reedley ward to better reflect community interests and identities.

In the north of the borough, it listened to feedback in favour of changing the names of the proposed West Craven West ward and West Craven East ward.

The wards will now be called Barnoldswick and Earby and Coates wards.

In the east of the borough, the Commission agreed to change the name of the proposed Waterside ward to Waterside and Horsfield ward.

In the south of the borough, the it has agreed to change the name of the proposed Southfield and Marsden ward to Marsden and Southfield ward.

Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, leader of the council and its Labour group, said: “We are still not happy with the overall proposal put forward by the Tories which will leave a democratic deficit in large swathes of the borough.

“However it is good that the commission has listened to the council and made some changes to the new map.

“We will get on with fighting the all-out elections in May and hopefully securing a Labour majority.”

Waterside ward representative and Liberal Democrat peer Cllr Tony Greaves said: “The whole thing has been a complete waste of time and money.

“However the creation of a separate Fence and Higham ward is a major victory for local people.”

Senior Tory councillor Jonathan Nixon, who represents Horsfield ward said: “I am pleased that the reduction in councillors will go ahead.

“On a personal level I am gutted that Horsfield ward, one of the oldest in Colne, will be abolished."