THE leader of the 4 BwD group of Independents will take the opposition leader's place on Blackburn with Darwen Council's ruling executive board.

Following Thursday's local elections the Gaza rebels who quit Labour last year are now the largest party on the authority with 12 councillors to the Conservatives' nine after making gains in the poll.

This means the 4 BwD group is entitled to the seat on the executive board previously occupied by Tory leader Cllr John Slater.

Its leader and former Labour adult social care boss Cllr Mustafa Desai said: "Yes indeed I will be taking the opposition seat on the executive board.

"Three particular areas for me would be: supporting, scrutinising and challenging decisions; holding the controlling group to account; and ensuring a focus on sound finances and risk management."

Now Labour leader Cllr Phil Riley is consulting with his group which kept control of the all-purpose authority with 29 councillors on the make-up of his top team.

He is also discussing who it should nominate for the coming year's Mayor of the borough after First Citizen designate Sylvia Liddle lost her Roe Lee ward seat to Independent Imran Ahmed.

Cllr Riley said: "I shall be keeping changes to Labour's team to a minimum.

"I think stability is important after recent tumultuous events for the prosperity and good of the borough."

Cllr Slater said: "Yes we have lost our seat on the executive board but that is democracy.

"I think Mustafa will do a good job. He is a former executive member.

"We shall continue to hold the Labour group to account using the system - calling in decision which we think are wrong. raising issues in Council Forum and tabling questions to the executive board."

One third of the 51 council seats we up for election on Thursday.