Labour set to remain in power in Walsall after deal struck
Labour is set to retain control of Walsall Council after striking a deal to run a minority administration.
The party has four less seats than the Tories after this month's local elections, but is set to remain in power after Labour group leader Sean Coughlan secured the support of two independent councillors and two Lib Dem councillors.
Furious Tory group leader Mike Bird has branded the deal 'undemocratic' and insisted he had not given up on leading the authority for a fifth time.
"Nothing is decided as yet and discussions will continue until next week's AGM," he said.
"It is all about numbers and the fact is that we haven't got enough councillors for an overall majority.
"We have 50 per cent of the council so for Labour to do this deal seems undemocratic. I may have cobbled together coalitions before but never when the opposition has been so strong.
"But anything could happen between now and next week. It ain't over until the fat lady sings."
In the May 3 elections the Conservatives came within one seat of winning overall control of the council after gaining five seats for a total of 30.
Labour appeared to have given up hope, finishing on 26 seats, but has evened the score with support from independent councillors' Paul Bott and Chris Bott, who used to be Labour, and Lib Dems Ian Shires and Dan Barker.
Mr Bott is due to be sworn in as Walsall Mayor on May 21 and will have the deciding vote.
Mr Shires, who was a cabinet member in the most recent Lib Dem alliance with Labour, said: "We made it quite plain before the elections that we would not strike a deal with the Tories.
"The Conservatives have shifted so far to the right in order to demolish UKIP it would be impossible for us to support them.
"We have made considerable changes to the way the council operates and we need more time to let those changes percolate through the system."
Labour councillor Ian Robertson, a cabinet member in the last administration, said: "Nothing is signed, sealed and delivered yet, but we are certainly hopeful of being able to continue our good work."
The council's AGM takes place on May 23. Walsall has now been under no overall control since 2011.