Pendle Labour and Lib Dems 'made deal with BNP'

Andrew Stephenson
Image caption Conservative MP for Pendle Andrew Stephenson raised the "deal" in the Commons

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been accused of striking a "deal" with the British National Party (BNP) to stay in control of a Lancashire council.

The BNP's only UK district councillor Brian Parker holds the balance of power on the hung authority in Pendle.

Its Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson told the Commons the parties' deal had turned "a blind eye to racism".

Labour and the Lib Dems have denied striking any such arrangement.

The current political makeup of the council is 24 Conservatives, 15 Labour, nine Lib Dems and one BNP.

Mr Stephenson told ministers: "That means the Labour/Lib Dem coalition that run the council currently have to rely on the support of that BNP councillor to get things through.

"Can we have a debate on racism and how the Pendle Labour Party and Liberal Democrats are happy to turn a blind eye to it in order to cling on to their positions and their expenses?"

Image copyright Pendle Council
Image caption Councillor Brian Parker said he was "co-operating" with Labour and the Lib Dems

Mr Parker said Labour, the Lib Dems and the BNP were "co-operating" and would look at working together in the future.

He told BBC Radio Lancashire an agreement had been made with the coalition over local traffic issues in return for his support on their budget.

"We could come to an arrangement on other things. I won't work with the Conservatives because they're starving Pendle Council of millions," he said.

Pendle council leader, Labour's Mohammed Iqbal, said no deal has been done and added he had "never met with the BNP" and did not intend to.

He said the accusation "showed the Conservatives were getting desperate".

The authority's deputy leader Lib Dem Tony Greaves, also denied an agreement had been made with Mr Parker, saying "he is his own free agent and he will no doubt vote according to his views".

Leader of Pendle Conservatives Joe Cooney has written to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Lib Dem leader Tim Farron condemning the situation.

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