LABOUR lost control of Pendle Council but was the victim of a dirty tricks campaign, according to ousted leader Azhar Ali.

Mr Ali, who also lost his Southfield seat to the Lib-Dems, made the claim as the Lib-Dems became the largest single party in Pendle, although they do not have overall control.

He suggested that, as well as suffering an anti-war backlash, he had also witnessed the "dirtiest campaigning ever" and that leaflets with personal and nasty comments about him had been circulated prior to the election.

He added: "You have to respect the democratic actions of the people of Southfield and I want to thank them for their support over the past 12 months.

"I am still involved in a number of other things. I came into politics to help people and I will be back."

Leader of the Lib-Dems Alan Davies said: "Yes, there have been leaflets which said the Labour leader should be ashamed of the dereliction in his own ward -- the electorate simply agreed with that. It wasn't anything personal.

"We had an excellent night and with our four gains saw the complete annihilation of the Labour Party.

"It was very rewarding -- particularly gaining the scalp of the Labour leader and for that I must praise Sonia Robinson, who ran an excellent campaign -- she knocked on every door in that ward by herself.

PENDLE 2003-2004

Lib-Dem... 23

Lab... 15

Con... 11