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Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

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Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council logo
Brian Taylor,
since 16 May 2024[1]
Phil Riley,
since 19 May 2022[2]
Denise Park
since May 2019[3]
Seats51 councillors[4]
Political groups
Administration (29)
  Labour (29)
Other parties (22)
  Independent (13)
  Conservative (9)
Length of term
4 years
Last election
2 May 2024
Next election
7 May 2026
Arte et Labore
Meeting place
Town Hall, King William Street, Blackburn, BB1 7DY

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is the local authority of Blackburn with Darwen in the ceremonial county of Lancashire, England. Since 1998 it has been a unitary authority, being a district council which also performs the functions of a county council; it is independent from Lancashire County Council.

The council has been under Labour majority control since 2011. It is based at Blackburn Town Hall.



The town of Blackburn was governed by a body of improvement commissioners from 1803.[5] The town was incorporated to become a municipal borough in 1851, after which it was governed by a body formally called the 'mayor, aldermen and burgesses of the borough of Blackburn', generally known as the corporation, town council or borough council.[6] When elected county councils were established in 1889, Blackburn was considered large enough to provide its own county-level services, and so it became a county borough, independent from the new Lancashire County Council, whilst remaining part of the geographical county of Lancashire.[7]

A larger Blackburn district was created in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. It gained the neighbouring town of Darwen and several other rural parishes, and became a non-metropolitan district, with Lancashire County Council providing county-level services.[8][9] Blackburn's borough status was transferred to the enlarged district, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor, continuing Blackburn's series of mayors dating back to 1851.[10]

The district was renamed Blackburn with Darwen in May 1997.[11][12]

The council became a unitary authority on 1 April 1998. The way the change was implemented was to create a new non-metropolitan county covering the same area as the borough, but with no separate county council; instead, the existing borough council took on county council functions.[13] Blackburn with Darwen remains part of the ceremonial county of Lancashire for the purposes of lieutenancy.[14]



As a unitary authority, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council provides both district-level and county-level functions. Parts of the borough are covered by civil parishes, which form an additional tier of local government for their areas. The exceptions are the main part of the Blackburn urban area (roughly corresponding to the pre-1974 borough) and the Hoddlesden area, which are unparished.[15][16]

Political control


The council has been under Labour majority control since 2011.

Political control of the council since the 1974 reforms has been as follows:[17][18]

Lower tier non-metropolitan district

Party in control Years
No overall control 1974–1983
Labour 1983–1984
No overall control 1984–1986
Labour 1986–1987
No overall control 1987–1988
Labour 1988–1998

Unitary authority

Party in control Years
Labour 1998–2007
No overall control 2007–2011
Labour 2011–present



The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Blackburn with Darwen. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 1993 have been:[19]

Councillor Party From To
Malcolm Doherty Labour 1993 Jun 2001
Bill Taylor Labour Jun 2001 13 Jun 2004
Kate Hollern[20] Labour 1 Jul 2004 17 May 2007
Colin Rigby Conservative 17 May 2007 29 Jan 2009
Michael Lee Conservative 29 Jan 2009 14 Sep 2010
Kate Hollern Labour 14 Sep 2010 1 Apr 2015
Mohammed Khan[21] Labour 21 May 2015 8 May 2022
Phil Riley[22] Labour 19 May 2022



Following the 2024 election the composition of the council was:[23]

Party Councillors
Labour 29
Independent 13
Conservative 9
Total 51

Of the independent councillors, 12 sit together as the '4 BwD' group, and the other does not belong to a group.[24] The next election is due in May 2026.



Since the last boundary changes in 2018, the council has comprised 51 councillors elected from 17 wards, with each ward electing three councillors. Elections are held three years out of every four, with a third of the council (one councillor for each ward) being elected each time for a four-year term.[25]



The council is based at Blackburn Town Hall on King William Street in the centre of Blackburn. The building was built for the old Blackburn Borough Council and completed in 1856. A tower block annexe was added in 1969, linked to the old building by a bridge. The council also maintains an area office at Darwen Town Hall, completed in 1882 for the old Darwen Borough Council.[26]


  1. ^ Jacobs, Bill (17 May 2024). "Health campaigner becomes Blackburn with Darwen's Mayor". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  2. ^ "Council minutes, 19 May 2022" (PDF). Blackburn with Darwen Council. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  3. ^ "Chief Executive". Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Retrieved 21 June 2023.
  4. ^ "Open Council Data UK - compositions councillors parties wards elections". opencouncildata.co.uk.
  5. ^ "Blackburn Markets and Improvement Act 1803". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  6. ^ A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. London: Victoria County History. 1911. pp. 244–249. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  7. ^ "Blackburn Municipal Borough / County Borough". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  8. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 22 August 2022
  9. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 22 August 2022
  10. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  11. ^ "Historical information from 1973 onwards". Boundary-Line support. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  12. ^ "Lancashire". Database of Local Government Orders. Local Government Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  13. ^ "The Lancashire (Boroughs of Blackburn and Blackpool) (Structural Change) Order 1996", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1996/1868, retrieved 22 August 2022
  14. ^ "Lieutenancies Act 1997", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1997 c. 23, retrieved 26 April 2023
  15. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  16. ^ "Lancashire: Diagram showing administrative boundaries, 1969". National Library of Scotland. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  17. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  18. ^ "Blackburn With Darwen". BBC News Online. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  19. ^ "Council minutes". Blackburn with Darwen Council. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Town hall drama as Labour scrapes back into power". Lancashire Telegraph. 2 July 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  21. ^ Jacobs, Bill (12 May 2015). "Councillor Khan 'privileged' to be new Blackburn with Darwen leader". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  22. ^ Jacobs, Bill (7 May 2022). "Phil Riley 'honoured' to be selected as new leader of borough". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  23. ^ "Local elections 2024: full mayoral and council results for England". The Guardian. 4 May 2024. Retrieved 21 May 2024.
  24. ^ Jacobs, Bill (3 May 2024). "Blackburn with Darwen: Gaza Independents surge rocks Labour". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  25. ^ "The Blackburn with Darwen (Electoral Changes) Order 2017", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2017/1270, retrieved 22 August 2022
  26. ^ "Town Halls". Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Retrieved 21 June 2023.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by LGC Council of the Year
Succeeded by