Labour take back control of Dudley Council from the Conservatives
Labour took back control of Dudley Council at a crunch meeting last night where the only remaining independent councillor joined the party.
Norton councillor Heather Rogers gave Labour a two-person majority, meaning Labour councillor Pete Lowe ousts Tory Councillor Patrick Harley as the new leader with Councillor Judy Foster as his deputy.
After fellow Norton Councillor Mike Attwood switched allegiances from Conservative to Labour in July, the leadership of the council hung in the balance with Labour having 36 councillors and Conservative one less at 35.
Had councillor Rogers chosen to join the conservatives, the casting vote would have come down to Conservative councillor and Mayor of Dudley Andy Taylor.
But she opted for Labour making it 37 to 35.
In a rousing speech to the full chamber at Dudley Council, Councillor Rogers attacked the Conservatives for allowing members of the council to suffer alleged bullying and harassment.
She said: "The leadership is de-valued and disgraced - stop letting your councillors and people down.
"The Conservatives have allowed bullying to continue and for a bullying culture to grow."
Conservative council leader Patrick Harley said: "It's not a shock result, the problem with Councillor Rogers is that she has made so many complaints over so many years - they've been investigated and no wrong doing was found.
"If you keep shouting and moaning then eventually you start to believe you're right and I think that is the case here.
"Any bullying needs to be reported in the correct manner and it never has been since 2013, where the case was looked it and the person was suspended for three months from the party.
"If it isn't reported to us how on earth can we take action.
"None of our elected members have ever been in front of the standards board, so it's quite sickening to see her up in the chamber pontificating like the Pope in the Vatican and showing a lack of respect to the process we have.
"Some of the blame lies with Mike Attwood who threw his dolls out of the pram when he lost out on being Deputy Mayor.
"The people of Dudley voted for a Conservative administration, they didn't vote for people to throw their dolls out of the pram and cross the floor to vote with the opposition.
"My group are planning to ensure we get power back and I am no quitter, I will lead my troops, we will go out and campaign and I will not shift as leader of this group."
New council leader Pete Lowe said: "I don't think the bullying is an issue in this council, it is an issue in the Conservative party.
"I'm extremely saddened that a long-standing Conservative party member and councillor feels compelled to raise in this chamber significant issues of bullying behaviour.
"I hope this will be looked into and that the Conservative party deals with it too."
At the meeting, Councillor Lowe confirmed Councillor Judy Foster as his deputy leader and Councillor Qadar Zada, Councillor John Martin, Councillor Sue Ridney, Councillor Rachel Harris, Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, Councillor Cathy Bayton, Councillor Gaye Partridge and Councillor Kieran Casey among his cabinet.