LABOUR have taken control of Rossendale Council after seizing two wards from the Conservatives in Thursday's local elections.

The party won its two target wards of Irwell and Whitewell, giving Labour 19 councillors to the Tories 11.

Victory for expelled Tory-turned-independent Jimmy Eaton in Greensclough ward in the face of a determined Tory and Green challenge means there are still three Independents including his wife Janet.

Alan Neal's success in retaining Healey and Whitworth means the Community First Party still has two councillors.

The Green challenge, with 11 candidates standing, failed to yield a single victory with Julie Adshead in Whitewell, who defected from Labour in July last year, remaining their only representative in the council chamber.

Labour leader Cllr Alyson Barnes said: "I am delighted.

"We won back our two target wards of Irwell and Whitewell.

"We have now got our mandate back. We have worked well with other parties for the last 12 months but now we have a mandate to bring in our policies.

"These include improving our town centres and helping residents through supporting our food banks, food groups and Citizens Advice Bureau.

"We also have a green agenda. We have declared a climate emergency, planted 7,000 trees towards our target of one for every child in the borough.

"Half our bin wagons now run on recycled cooking oil and all the vehicles will run on biofuel by this time next year.

"I think the Tory vote fell because they are not doing their job whether locally or nationally."

Conservative group leader Cllr David Foxcroft said: "We were up against a very difficult picture nationally.

"Labour threw everything into this election with armies of people and lots of shadow minsters coming to the borough.

"If they really hope to regain power nationally they should be doing much better than they are.

"We are really just back to the status quo."

Cllr Eaton said: "I am over the moon, really pleased.

"I would like to thanks the residents of Greensclough for putting their faith in me.

"It is good for them and the borough to have another independent voice in the council chamber.

"I can follow my judgment not party policies."