The Labour Party has won a key by-election for a bitterly divided council, holding its seat despite the ongoing problems the party is dealing with in the borough.

The party's candidate, education tutor Colin McKenzie, took Great Harwood's Overton ward in Hyndburn by 173 votes in Thursday's poll to hold the seat for Labour.

His majority was down on Labour's 244 votes in May's local elections but well up on the 2019 figure of 89.

The by-election was was caused by veteran Labour politician Michael Hindley resigning after being cautioned by the police and suspended by the party over an altercation during a break in a council meeting.

Hyndburn Council is currently run by a partnership of Independents and Conservatives led by Cllr Miles Parkinson, who quit Labour in March claiming it was "unpleasant, bullying and vindictive".

Cllr Parkinson has so far continued to resist calls for him to relinquish his leadership and to resign from the council after quitting Labour.

After Thursday's poll, the balance of the council is now 14 Conservatives, 14 Labour and seven Independents - six of whom have quit Labour and Independent Tory Cllr Pat McGinley - whose wife Liz came second as the official Conservative candidate.

Lancashire Telegraph: Labour's campaign team are celebrating holding OvertonLabour's campaign team are celebrating holding Overton

Mr McKenzie got 773 votes, Mrs McGinley got 600, Reform UK's (formerly the Brexit Party) Richard Oakley got 36 and Independent Michael Miller, a former Tory councillor for Rishton, got 71.

The turnout was 31.32 per cent.

Mr McKenzie said: "I am very proud and honoured to be elected. I will serve the people of my home town to the very best of my ability.

"It has been a great privilege to take part in this campaign, and I am immensely grateful for the efforts of Hyndburn Labour – a great team of committed, united and principled people working for the good of this borough."

Conservative group leader Cllr Marlene Haworth said: "Obviously the result was disappointing but we are pleased our vote increased.

"We cut Labour's majority. We made inroads into their support so that is good."

Kimberley Whitehead, Hyndburn Labour Secretary, added: "Congratulations to Colin. He will be a real asset to Hyndburn Council, Great Harwood and Hyndburn Labour.

"This result was beyond what we expected with a 9.1 per cent swing to Labour since 2019 in what traditionally has been a seat that has been very hard to win.

"We are now looking to move on and challenge the Conservative Coalition running the council."

On Reform UK's bottom-placed finish, Lancashire spokesman Wayne Fitzharris said: "This is a clear picture that Labour's position in Great Harwood is still strong.

"The Conservatives had a great chance to win with an outstanding candidate and were not helped with the antics of Boris or the intervention from Michael Miller."

Cllr Parkinson said: "The turn out was down. The real winner was apathy. We will put forward a positive agenda."