MEMBERS of a breakaway political party have been accused of “spitting their dummy” after pulling out of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ruling coalition.

An extraordinary meeting has been called for Thursday after the For Darwen Party withdrew following a bitter row with the Liberal Democrat group.

Members will elect a ruling administration for the council – and current leader Colin Rigby said he expected a fight between Labour and his Conservative-Liberal Democrat partnership.

The numbers are on a knife-edge, and power could even be decided by Labour mayor Mohammed Khan’s casting vote.

Fears have also been raised that the unstable situation could cost the borough millions of pounds in funding if it is not resolved quickly. The row has been sparked by the wording of October’s referendum on Darwen Town Council.

Tory leader Coun Rigby, who has been at the head of the ruling coalition since it ousted Labour in 2007, said For Darwen had last week promised to abide by a vote on the matter, which went against them.

He said: “Their behaviour is reminiscent of little children who spit their dummy out when they don’t get their way, believing that this will get them the result that they want.”

Coun Rigby called For Darwen, which campaigned for a town council, a “single issue party” with members “who did not understand the democratic process”.

But For Darwen deputy leader Trevor Maxfield said: “We agreed to abide by the decision as long as we were in the partnership – but we’re not part of it so we feel completely justified.”

One of the options being discussed is a Labour and For Darwen partnership which could amass 32 councillors, although this could cause discontent within Labour ranks.

Thirty two is the same amount as a combination of Tory, Lib Dem and independent councillors, so control could turn on the mayor’s vote.

It is also possible Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem leaders could agree to join forces to isolate For Darwen’s five councillors in key votes.

Next month the council will be inspected by the government – and Lib Dem leader David Foster said the unrest could affect its rating and see the borough miss out on vital funding.

He said: “My priority is to ensure the council goes into the assessment with a stable administration, because of the possible consequences in terms of funding.”

He said it would be ”difficult” for the Lib Dems to work with For Darwen.

Labour leader Kate Hollern said the party would vote against the Liberal and Conservatives retaining control, but said no further decisions had been taken by her group.