The far-right British National Party suffered a serious setback last night after losing one of its council seats in its Burnley stronghold.
It was beaten into third place in a by-election which was called due to the resignation of a BNP councillor who was expelled from the party for allegedly attacking another activist with a bottle.
The contest in the Lanehead ward was comfortably won by the Liberal Democrats with 1,070 votes, with Labour on 464 and the BNP trailing on 357.
The party's defeat will be hailed as evidence that the BNP advance can be reversed after rising to prominence in the past 18 months. It is the first seat the party has lost in Burnley, where it was briefly the official opposition to Labour. The BNP now has 15 seats in Lancashire, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Hertfordshire and Essex.The BNP also failed in an attempt to gain a third seat on Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire last night.
The Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "With our first ever gain from the BNP, it is a sign that support for them is waning while support for the Liberal Democrats continues to grow."Reuse content