East Lancashire's MPs are putting a brave face on local poll results which raise questions for all of them about holding their seats at the forthcoming general election.

It's not just the five Conservatives who will be worried after the Independent 4 BwD group, created when seven Labour councillors quit the party over Gaza, made big gains in Blackburn, overtaking the Tories, who lost two wards, to become the official opposition with 12 seats.

The scale of their success in the Blackburn with Darwen borough poll has alarmed those close to Labour MP Kate Hollern (who had a majority of 18,304 in the 2019 national poll) especially as they were backed by Rochdale MP George Galloway's Workers' Party of Britain, who are fielding former ambassador Craig Murray against her.

Lancashire Telegraph: Blackburn MP Kate HollernBlackburn MP Kate Hollern (Image: Parliament)

But May 2's results look even grimmer for former Tory chairman and Rossendale and Darwen MP Sir Jake Berry (majority 9,522), who saw Labour make big gains on both wings of his constituency as his party's police and crime commissioner Andrew Snowden was ousted by Labour's Clive Grunshaw.

Lancashire Telegraph: Sir Jake BerrySir Jake Berry (Image: Public)

In Rossendale, Labour won 20 of the 30 seats in an "all-out" election on new ward boundaries to the Conservatives' five.

Darwen saw an almost total Conservative wipe-out as Labour swept the board in both the borough and town council polls with just two Tories elected between them.

Hyndburn Conservative MP Sara Britcliffe (majority 2,951) saw Labour take control of the borough council from the former Tory-led administration winning 10 of the 12 wards up for grabs and ousting her father Peter Britcliffe from his St Andrew's ward stronghold in Oswaldtwistle.

Lancashire Telegraph: Hyndburn MP Sara BritcliffeHyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe (Image: Parliament)

In Burnley there was mixed news from the polling station for Antony Higginbotham, who in 2019 became the constituency's first Conservative MP for 109 years with a wafer thin majority of 1,352.

Lancashire Telegraph: Burnley MP Antony HigginbothamBurnley MP Antony Higginbotham (Image: Public)

Labour (hit by its own Gaza rebellion) made four gains to become the authority's largest group with 15 councillors, while the Tories stayed on eight, losing one but ousting Green Party leader Scott Cunliffe in their once stronghold of Cliviger with Worsthorne ward.

The Liberal Democrats, who have their own ambitions to win back the seat with former MP Gordon Birtwistle, stayed on seven councillors.

With the existing Ribble Valley constituency being split in two between its long-serving Tory MP and deputy speaker Nigel Evans (majority of 18,439) and health minister Andrew Stephenson (majority in his old Pendle seat of 6,186), it is even harder to predict what happens on general election day.

Lancashire Telegraph: Andrew StephensonAndrew Stephenson (Image: Public)

The borough, once a Conservative stronghold, saw big Labour gains in last year's council elections but did not go to the polls on May 2.

Mr Evans' new Ribble Valley County constituency takes in parts of South Ribble (also no election) and Preston borough where Labour kept control and the Tories lost four councillors.

Lancashire Telegraph: Nigel EvansNigel Evans (Image: Public)

Mr Stephenson - who will stand in the new Pendle and Clitheroe seat - saw his party remain the largest group in his Pendle borough with 13 councillors but not enough to replace the Independent/LibDem coalition running the council.

The good news for him was, following the mass resignation of all 10 Labour councillors over Gaza, the party has not a single councillor on the authority.

Sir Jake said: "I was very sorry to see hardworking Conservative colleagues lose their seats in Darwen at the elections, having worked with them for years on the issues that matter to Darreners.

"I will work hard to earn the trust of those voters when the general election comes, and I hope our record of delivery, including the £125million Town Deal, shows that the Conservatives are the only party standing up for Darwen.

"The Rossendale Council elections were clearly disappointing - just a few more votes across the borough and things would have looked very different.

"But I believe they have given us a strong Conservative team ready to hold Alyson Barnes and Rossendale Labour to account.

"I'm also confident that our record here in Rossendale, of more than £120m of investment and towns and villages across the Valley, will serve as a stark contrast to the millions of taxpayers' cash lost by Labour when the general election comes."

Mrs Hollern, choosing to ignore the success of the 4 BwD Independents, said: "It was disappointing to lose hardworking and longstanding councillors in these local elections.

"I would like to put on record my deepest gratitude for the dedicated service these people have given to our community during their time as councillors.

"However, it offers us great hope to gain two seats from the Tories – the elected candidates in Ewood and Blackburn South and Lower Darwen will be strong additions to the Labour group on Blackburn with Darwen Council.

"Labour retaining its control of the council also ensures that local services will continue to be delivered for the people Blackburn with Darwen to the highest standard, amidst the national chaos of the Conservatives."

Miss Britcliffe said: “It was a disappointing result to lose long-standing councillors who have worked around the clock to help residents.

“During that time, they have brought so many improvements to Hyndburn and Haslingden and I know they will continue to help.

“My focus has always been on helping and improving Hyndburn and Haslingden after years of Labour neglect and I will continue to do just that.

“I am determined to fight the general election on my record of delivery and on representing my constituents to the best of my ability, making sure their voices are heard.”

Mr Higginbotham said: "The election results show that where we have hardworking Conservative councillors and candidates, we win.

"With Don Whitaker and Alan Hosker securing re-election, and Ivor Emo giving the Green Party the ultimate upset by defeating its leader to return to Burnley Council.

"As a result, we end with the same number of councillors that we had before this election - showing the Conservatives continue to have support across the borough.

"But we've also seen some disappointing results, particularly with Andrew Snowden losing out on his re-election as police and crime commissioner.

"We know that the newly returned Labour commissioner had plans to close Burnley Police Station when he last held the role, and I'll be doing everything I can to stop him reviving those plans because we must protect our police station."

Mr Stephenson said: "I was delighted that the Conservatives won the popular vote across Pendle, and especially pleased to see Cllr Nadeem Ahmed, Cllr Sarah Cockburn-Price and Cllr Ash Sutcliffe re-elected, alongside newly elected councillor Richard O’Connor.

"The failure of the Labour Party to come close to regaining any of the five wards, where their former councillors were standing against them, or to win any seats from the Conservatives doesn’t bode well for their chances in the general election.

"As things stand Pendle remains a Labour free zone. However, I never have been and never will be complacent and will be fighting for every vote in the weeks and months ahead."

Mr Evans said: "I am disappointed by our results.

"We lost some excellent councillors who have done sterling work over the years and our police and crime commissioner Andrew Snowden who reopened the front counter at Clitheroe police station.

"It was local elections and people told me they would have my vote at the general.

"The new constituency is close to what it was in 2010 with some wards coming back to me and we have already had booths open in Fulwood where people have been saying they are glad to have me back, which is good news.

"People feel they can protest in local elections but come the general it will be a choice between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak for Prime Minister which is a different matter.

"I have held my seats since 1992 including in 1997 when Labour's Tony Blair got in with a stonking majority. I shall, as always, campaign as it is a marginal. People deserve no less."

The implications of May 2's council polls will have given all Easy Lancashire's MPs much food for though and plenty to worry about and mean they have a lot of campaigning to do (and in the Labour Party's case bridge-building with South Asian heritage voters) before embattled Prime Minister Rishi Sunak finally fires the UK General Election starting gun.