The Conservatives have taken control of a bitterly divided local authority after a stormy annual meeting.

Hyndburn Council's local elections left the Tories and Labour both with 16 councillors, plus two Greens (who quit Labour 12 months ago) and one former Labour Independent Cllr Joyce Plummer.

But last night its annual meeting voted Conservative boss Cllr Marlene Haworth as its leader for the next four years, allowing her party to take control as a minority administration.

A bid by Labour to cut her term off office to just one year was defeated.

And its boss Cllr Munsif Dad's bid to take over as leader was also lost by two votes.

Cllr Plummer, suspended by Labour last year when she joined a rainbow cabinet led by ex-Labour independent Miles Parkinson, backed Cllr Haworth while Green Party representatives Cllrs Paddy Short and Caroline Montague did not attend the meeting.

Milnshaw Labour councillor Andrew Clegg also had to leave the meeting before the key vote.

Cllr Haworth - deputy for 12 months to the Independent leader of the council Miles Parkinson before the May elections in which he lost his seat - said: "It is with great pride that I take on the responsibility of leading this council and becoming the first Conservative leader since 2011.

"I am fully committed to ensuring the people of this borough have a strong and effective council that works tirelessly for their benefit.

"Today, with a new party controlling the council we mark a fresh start in Hyndburn.

"Closing a chapter in which bullying and mismanagement came to characterise a council that should be working for the people not for the egos of a select few.

"We can promise a fresh start, a cohesive and competent council where our councillors will work hard for their local areas and our new cabinet members will ensure the shortcomings of the past are rectified, as we step up to the plate and bring about positive change where others have faltered.

"We have secured increased investment through the Shared Prosperity Fund and an impressive £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund.

"As this investment pours in, it becomes paramount that we improve all of Hyndburn for the benefit of everyone.

"Whether it be Great Harwood, Rishton, Oswaldtwistle or Clayton-le-Moors every township deserves its fair share of the pie."

Labour leader Cllr Dad said after the meeting: "I congratulate Cllr Marlene Haworth on being elected as leader of the council.

"Hyndburn and its residents need a real transformation to drive the borough forward.

"The Labour Party I lead is ready to deliver on this and will be a constructive and effective opposition with ideas and vision to improve Hyndburn and that also address the cost of living crisis residents are facing."