Labour has lost control of Burnley Council after a group of councillors who quit over the party's stance on the Israel/Gaza conflict formed a new coalition with the Greens and the Lib Dems.

A total of 11 councillors, including council leader Afrasiab Anwar, who resigned from the Labour Party made the shock announcement this morning.

The new Co-operative Alliance includes the new Independent Group, the Green Group, and the Liberal Democrat Group, and will have 25 councillors which gives the coalition an overall majority on Burnley Council.

Leader Cllr Afrasiab Anwar had quit Labour earlier this month citing party leader Keir Starmer's leadership the stance over ceasefire calls as the reason.

Labour's official position is calling for humanitarian pauses to fighting between Israel and Hamas to allow aid in and hostages to be released, as opposed to a total ceasefire due to concerns it will allow Hamas to regroup, or that it will not respect the agreement.

Since the terrorist attack carried out by Hamas militants in Israel on October 7, in which hundreds of Israeli civilians were killed, injured and captured, there has been a bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli army.

Israel says it has been carried out targeted attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza, but more than 10,000 innocent people, many children, in the Palestinian enclave have been killed in the bombing.

Cllr Anwar was joined by Ishtiaq Mohammed, Shah Hussain, Asif Raja, Sehrish Lone, Syeda Kazmi, Arif Khan, Lubna Khan, Saeed Chaudhary and Nussrat Kazmi.

The resignation statement, was also been shared on behalf of community activists Zahid Khan and Aurangzaib Ali and County Councillor Usman Arif.

Cllr Christine Sollis, who is a member of the Women for Peace Group and has travelled to Palestine to take part in numerous charitable activities, also resigned days later.

Cllr Afrasiab Anwar will remain as leader of the council, whilst the council’s new executive will include six members, with two members from each of the parties in the Co-operative Alliance.  

Cllr Margaret Lishman of the Liberal Democrats will be the council’s deputy leader, returning to the resources and performance portfolio she has held on three previous occasions.  

Green leader Cllr Scott Cunliffe will take responsibility for the economic development brief.

Burnley councillors and leader quit Labour Party over Gaza stance

Another Burnley councillor quits Labour over Gaza ceasefire

Other members of the new executive will be Cllr Lubna Khan of the Independents, with the housing and development brief, Cllr Jack Launer of the Greens with health, culture and wellbeing, and Lib Dem leader Cllr Howard Baker as executive member for community and environmental services.

In a joint statement, Cllrs Anwar, Baker and Cunliffe said: “The most important reason for the Co-operative Alliance is that it gives stability to Burnley’s Council which means we can concentrate on the things that matter most to Burnley people.

“The greatest challenge is the cost-of-living crisis which our residents face, particularly over the winter months.  

“Our top priority is to do everything the Council can do to help Burnley people to keep warm, well-fed and secure.

"It’s crucially important for the future of our town that we concentrate on local jobs, helping businesses to survive and do well, and bringing new investment into Burnley. 

“The climate change crisis is a threat to our future and that of future generations. We shall do all we can to address it.

"We will also be looking at how Burnley Council involves all our residents in the decisions that have to be taken and makes sure that people know and understand the work we do."

The statement adds: “We look forward to working together so that Burnley Council can come together across all Parties to deliver for all the people of Burnley and Padiham."

Following the resignations of Labour councillors on November 5, the party was left with 11 councillors from a total of 22.

There were 11 former party members who became Independents, seven Liberal Democrats, seven Green councillors, seven Tories and two other Burnley and Padiham Independents.

The local Labour party said their aim was to 'deliver cleaner streets, good quality housing, stronger communities and new opportunities across all the communities of Burnley and Padiham'. 

They said the council leader was being 'propped up' by the Greens and the Lib Dems.

Leader of the Labour Group on Burnley Council Mark Townsend said, “We are proud of our record and disappointed to be leaving office due to matters that are totally unrelated to providing good local services and major projects for the people of the town in these tough times.

"Labour will be working harder than ever, both at the Council and in all communities across the Borough, in holding this new administration to account to ensure that the progress made under Labour is built on and not lost.”