LABOUR party chiefs admitted they had failed to get their message across in Burnley after the BNP took six new seats.

The far right party now holds eight seats and MP Peter Pike and council leader Stuart Caddy both said the failure was the reason why the BNP was now the official opposition in Burnley.

For the next four years at least seven BNP councillors will sit in Burnley's council chamber.

They held one of the three seats they won last year, did not contest a second, while the third is not due for re-election until next year.

Although Labour party workers tried to hide their disappointment, Mr Pike said: "I believe we have to do more to get the message across about what we are doing. So far we have failed to do that.

"We have to analyse how we failed to get our message across, find out where our support is and get them out to vote."

Mr Pike said he would now do more to focus on what is happening in Burnley by raising it with Government Ministers. "I will point out to the Government that I believe that until we can convince people we are delivering we will continue to have difficulties", he added.

The BNP won seats in Whittlefield with Ightenhill, Hapton with Park, Brunshaw, Lanehead, Gannow, Briercliffe and Cliviger with Worsthorne. The wins add to another Cliviger seat won by councillor David Edwards last year.

The biggest upset of the night came when the council's deputy leader Andrew Tatchell was ousted from his Hapton seat to make way for a BNP victor.

Council leader Stuart Caddy paid tribute to his former colleague, saying: "I am absolutely disappointed. Andrew Tatchell has been a sterling worker and a credit to the council."

After hearing that the BNP had taken seven seats, which means the party has a total of eight in Burnley, Coun Caddy added: "We have still got overall control of the council, but I believe they will now have to demonstrate what they are really about.

"They have been democratically elected, and we can't take that away, but we will still do our best for the people of Burnley."

The new BNP councillors remained tight lipped after winning their seats, although one, Maureen Stowe said: "I am very happy. I am chuffed to bits."

Rafique Malik, an Asian Labour councillor and former Mayor called the results "very depressing". He added: "I think the people who stay at home have got to realise they are hurting us.

"People have got to wake up and stop these irrational thugs from getting on the council."

After the count Labour county councillor Marcus Johnstone rushed into the car park at Turf Moor and shouted at the BNP councillors: "It's like the Nuremberg rally", a reference to events in Nazi Germany.

BURNLEY 2003-2004

Lab... 23

Lib-Dem... 7

BNP... 8

Ind ...3