A CONTROVERSIAL plan to give Hyndburn a new name has been postponed for at least six months after a heated extraordinary council meeting tonight.

Ruling Tory councillors failed to win a public referendum on the plans after Labour objections meant they failed to get the two thirds majority they needed.

But council leader Coun Peter Britcliffe insisted the idea to create Accrington and Districts Council was not dead in the water.

And he said it would be discussed again before and after a referendum, possibly in May, on whether town councils should be introduced across the borough in a bid to give local areas more power.

However Labour wants to scrap the plans "once and for all" and retain Hyndburn's name to save "money and time".

Fears have been voiced that the cost of the changes would be reflected in future council tax bills.

And residents in some parts of the borough, such as Great Harwood and Rishton, were opposed to the Accrington name being used for the whole borough when asked during a public consultation.

The two thirds majority was set out in the Local Government Act as the requirement for a name change motion to be passed at the extraordinary meeting, which had to be called to discuss the proposal.

Instead, councillors voted 17-11 in favour of putting the plans on ice.

The ruling Conservative group now wants to see residents vote in a town council referendum, and Coun Britcliffe hopes that gaining more local power might then persuade objectors to back the name change plan.

He said that the expense of changing the borough's identity had already been taken into account in budget planning in April.

He said: "We have gone from a proposed referendum for the public to decide on a name change to a dictatorial decision by the minority of the council.

"We have asked you to listen to those who say what's best for the regeneration of the borough.

He warned the opposition: "You can't take the public for granted. We will take a decision in spite of you."

He said it was important to separate the issues of the name change and proposals to introduce town councils to Hyndburn and hold separate referendums to avoid any confusion.

Labour opposition leader Coun Graham Jones said thousands had been wasted debating the issue.

He added: "We have had a public consultation, we have listened to people and it's time this was resolved once and for all.

"We have heard that asking two questions is too complicated for the public and they may get confused. What rubbish."