A RENEGADE councillor could hold the balance of power in Burnley – even after a by-election victory for the Lib Dems.

Former nurse and barmaid Iris Gates held onto the Rosegrove with Lowerhouse seat for the Lib Dems, after a poll prompted by the resignation of Coun Bernard Hill.

The new Lib Dem councillor polled 645 votes, beating the British National Party’s John Cave into second place with 400, followed by Labour’s Charles Bake and Tory Barry Elliott.

But it has emerged that Coun John Jones has left the Lib Dems to become an independent after a bust-up with his party.

The Lib Dems now have 22 councillors, with Labour on six members, the Conservatives on six, the BNP on four and Coun Jones as the sole Independent.

Council leader Coun Gordon Birtwistle said he had not attended a party gathering, prior to the meeting, and had broken party rules over his stance.

Coun Jones was unavailable for comment last night and did not attend the vote countings.