THE Liberal Democrats have kept their grip on power in Pendle despite their losses at the local elections.

The Lib Dems, who lost seven seats at the local elections, now have all eight of the seats on Pendle's ruling executive committee, after councillors passed a motion at the full council meeting with the slimmest of majorities.

Pendle was left with a hung council after the local elections at the beginning of the month gave Labour and Conservatives a combined total of 26 seats compared to the Lib Dems 20.

But both parties denied rumours of a possible power sharing agreement to keep the Lib Dems out of power.

Liberal leader Alan Davies lost his seat in the elections and the party elected a new leader John David earlier this week, who will now be the leader of the council.

The motion giving the Lib Dems all the seats on the executive, passed on 18-17 at Thursday's full council, surp-rised the party, Coun Tony Greaves said.

Labour leaders in the borough were hoping to form a joint coalition with the Tories and Lib Dems.

Coun Greaves, speaking after the meeting, said there was no coalition with the Conservatives and they were surprised at the motion giving them control being passed. He said: "The Tories were obviously frightened if they went through with the deal with the Labour party it would destroy them."

Conservative Andrew Stephenson said: "The Conservative leader is Tony Beckett and he agreed that the council should be run by the Liberal democrats as they are the largest group.

"We will provide a strong opposition and allow them to run the council and judge them on what they will do."

Labour Group Leader, Coun Mohammed Iqbal accused the Conservatives of letting the Liberal Democrats in by the back door.

He said: "I am sure the people of Pendle who were present in the council chamber and those outside will have been appalled and disgusted at the gutless performance of the Lib Dems and Tory Councillors.

"I was prepared to lead Pendle in a shared executive but the other two groups would not allow that.

"The meeting descended into complete and utter chaos due to the inability of the Lib Dem/Tory leadership refus-ing to accept responsibility."