THE Conservative opposition boss on Blackburn with Darwen Council has warned its new leader that he has 'some tough decisions to make'.

Councillor Phil Riley was chosen by his Labour colleagues on Friday night as their new chief after the party strengthened their hold on Blackburn with Darwen Council following Thursday's elections.

The Roe Lee councillor is set be confirmed as leader of the borough council at its annual meeting on May 19, succeeding Mohammed Khan who stood down from the council last week.

Mr Khan served as a councillor for 30 years and led the council from 2015 until last week, and also served a term as Mayor in 2008/09. In 2020 he was made a CBE in recognition of his service to local government.

Lancashire Telegraph: Cllr Slater said the new leader has tough decision to makeCllr Slater said the new leader has tough decision to make

Conservative group leader Cllr John Slater said: "Good luck to Cllr Riley.

"He has got a big job to do and some tough decisions to make.

"We will support him where we think he is right and scrutinise and oppose him where we think he is getting it wrong as you would expect."

The authority's lone Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Browne said he expected Cllr Riley to be a good choice.

Darwen East ward's Cllr Browne said: "I am very, very disappointed with the election results.

"The results that we got did not reflect the work we put in.

"They were the worst we have ever had but the people decide at the end of the day.

"Personally I think Cllr Riley will make a better leader than the last one.

"I think he has been behind the reins of the council for years."

Cllr Riley, currenrtly the executive member for growth and development, said: "I owe a great debt of gratitude to Cllr Khan for the support he has given me over the last number of years.

"I think he has been a great leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council and if I am considered in the same light when I come to retire I shall be happy.

"There will be tough decisions to take but we have been taking them for a number of years.

"There are going to be challenges dealing with the cost of living crisis which has hit some of our less well off residents hard.

"There is not a lot we can do about the over-riding causes but, as we always do, we will do everything we can do to support the most vulnerable.

"The [Conservative Government's] austerity programme which has been around since 2010 has done our borough no favours.

"We have seen resources taken away and redirected to the South of England and we can see the difference.

"I remain committed to the growth agenda and investment as it is the best way to ensure that our young people can make their lives and careers here in the borough."