LABOUR is set to regain power at a council it lost control of in May last year.

Its local boss Cllr Mark Townsend is expected to be confirmed as leader of a minority administration at an extraordinary general meeting of Burnley Council on Wednesday.

The move follows that collapse of the coalition which has run the borough for 17 months after Labour fell one seat short of keeping control in local elections.

On Friday last week the former leader Cllr Charlie Briggs of the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party quit his post over the row about who should represent the Conservatives on the council ruling executive.

He said he had resigned the position because of ‘petty ambition, petty one-upmanship and petty squabbling.’

It followed a row between the coalition parties after Conservative leader Cllr Alan Hosker removed the party’s representatives Cllrs Cosima Towneley and Ivor Emo from the executive.

He proposed to replace them with himself and his predecessor Cllr Andrew Newhouse which was unacceptable to the third party in the coalition, the Liberal Democrats. After a series of heated meetings, its leader Cllr Gordon Birtwistle and his colleague Cllr Maggie Lishman quit their executive positions saying they could not work with former Brexit Party member Cllr Hosker.

Now Labour, which had taken part in failed talks to join the coalition, is expected to propose Cllr Townsend as leader at Wednesday’s full council meeting and take control of the authority as a minority administration.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems are both set to abstain if there is a vote with lone Independent Cllr David Roper understood to be considering standing for the leadership.

Cllr Hosker said: “I am disappointed the coalition collapsed. As Conservative leader I am entitled to select the group’s two executive members. If there is a vote on Cllr Townsend becoming leader we will abstain.”

Cllr Birtwistle said: “I expect Cllr Townsend to become leader and expect we will abstain in any vote so he can.”

Cllr Townsend said: “Labour will propose me as leader. I think we can run the council until May with goodwill from the other parties.”

Cllr Briggs said: “I expect Mark Townsend to become leader of the council.”

Cllr Roper was unavailable for comment.

Green Party leader Cllr Andy Fewings said: “We find it shameful that the other parties are unable to put their differences aside and come together during a virus pandemic.”